June 6, 1833
6 June: Early in the morning, beautiful, clear weather; early sunrise. At 7:30, 66 1/2°F [ 19.2°C]. Yesterday iron and other merchandise were taken ashore and piled up to our left. This morning, about eight o’clock, a loaded keelboat went down that way again. Dreidoppel took advantage of the opportunity to go along to comb through the hills. A second keelboat with cargo from the steamboat was sent to the left bank. Today, because of the excellent weather, it was very pleasant on our ship, for the Assiniboine has much space and bright, airy rooms. Its aft cabin has eight beds; the large one, twenty-four.[Page 2:108] The crew’s quarters are on deck. We had about sixty persons on board. The capitaine is a reputable man whose name [is] Pratte; his father is a co-owner in the Fur Company, which consists of Messrs. Astor in New York, Chouteau, Cabanné, McKenzie, and Pratte. Messrs. McKenzie, Lamont, and Laidlaw are partners in the fur trade along the upper Missouri. Our quarters on the Assiniboine have a dangerous foundation, for there are about two hundred barrels of gunpowder in the ship’s hold.
At twelve o’clock noon, 73 1/2°F [23.1°C]. An attempt was made to lighten the ship to navigate over to the left bank during the afternoon, but there was not enough water. If the river does not rise, we may stay here a long time. After lunch a loaded keelboat left again, in which Mr. Bodmer crossed the river to scour the area. We soon left our position [and] went several miles down the river to navigate around the sandbars and again load the cargo on the other side—but all in vain. We often ran aground, sometimes listed to one side for a while, and after several hours returned almost to the previous spot. This time, however, we did not anchor by the island (l’ île au Village de terre) but stayed somewhat below it at the mainland. Here there were thickets on shore with cottonwoods, ashes, [and] narrow-leaved willows entangled with grapevines, which were now blooming. The roses (Rosa [— —]), too, with their beautiful dark-red and fragrant flowers, formed a dense, attractive undergrowth in many places, mixed with Rhus, Cornus sericea, and several other thickets. [— —], which resembles our Anemone nemorosa, grew on the ground.
After five o’clock a canoe with two men arrived from the upper Missouri, and at six o’clock Mr. Bodmer and Dreidoppel returned; Captain Pratte had brought [them] back. Dreidoppel had made a wide-ranging prairie excursion in the noonday heat, and he brought back many interesting objects. In a ravine he had seen a pale whitish wolf within shooting range, as well as an antelope. He had shot a splendid buzzard (Falco gutturalis) near its nest and obtained its three eggs, which were already well incubated.M21Falco gutturalis [in my] zoological journal, Falco [----] of American ornithologists. He also saw the striated finch (Fringilla graminea Gm.), with its nest; the black-tailed flycatcher (Muscicapa melanura), also with its nest; then the alpine lark (Alauda alpestris); and the large gray shrike (Lanius septentrionalis Gm.)—all interesting things.M22As well as Fringilla grammacea Say. They brought many interesting plants, including the ball-shaped Cactus mammillaris ?, with its beautiful red flower, yellow on the inside;
several most of the plants I had collected opposite Fort Pierre a few days ago; and several grasses (gramina) not previously obtained.M23Here, too, the beautiful dwarfish Amorpha, which also grows in the prairie near Fort Pierre, completely covered some hillslopes. Allium, with its white flower, was widespread here, as in all prairies. When the bison enter regions like these, their meat tastes like this plant.They had found several of the clay hills that evidently seem to have originated because of fire. Their oily, sticky clay, which is also infertile, was covered with a burned surface and stones but in many places had round masses like melted cakelike matter that seemed to have originated because of fire. The evening on the river was very pleasant. Singing rang out as well as the violin of our Negroes, and in small groups, people were absorbed in conversation.