It wasn''t known what happened at ""Camp Dubois"" or ""Camp Wood River,"" until Captain WillI'm Clark''s notes were discovered in 1953 in St. Paul, Minnesota in an attic and covered with dust. Now we have some idea from these notes. While not a complete record, it does indicate what the Captains Lewis and Clark felt they had to do to bring the party into a complete military and functioning unit. The importance of the five plus months spent here and around the Alton, Wood River, and Hartford area was an opportunity for the Captains to observe, test, and determine who, in their minds, would be best suited for such an undertaking as the expedition that President Jefferson wanted them to complete. For the most part this responsibility fell onto Captain Clark, as Captain Lewis was busy with details and collection of needed maps and necessary items in St. Louis and Cahokia. Little is mentioned in these ""lately founded notes"" of the activities that pertained to the preparing for the journey ahead. Such as parching corn, rendered fat into tallow and lard, the packing of powder and shot, and making of sugar from the'sap of area maple trees. As tough as these young men were, each had skills to learn, and ""learned skills"" to teach othe's. At Camp Dubois, the ""training camp or whipping into shape"" began. These men lived together, slept together, fought and drank together. There were fights and misconduct as well as punishments handed down by not only the Captains but by the men the'selves. They learned who could be depended on and whom they couldn''t. In other words what they learned was to SURVIVE. They learned that in order to do that, they had to do it together. What they learned at Camp Dubois stayed with them to the Pacific Ocean and back to St. Louis.
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April 05, 2004
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