It’s no secret that I am a Lewis and Clark aficionado. I’ve studied them, spoken about them, read about them, and wanted to invite them to the theoretical dinner party where I am allowed to invite ten people, living or dead. I’ve traveled the Lewis and Clark Trail from Harper’s Ferry to Camp River DeBois to Fort Mandan to Fort Clatsop. If you’re not familiar with all those names, don’t worry. You didn’t flunk American History in fourth grade (or eight grade, or high school), it’s just that their adventure got folded into the section on Manifest Destiny and didn’t really impair your ability to be promoted to the next grade.
I, however, am the history dork that you would have asked to be your partner on the team assignments because you knew I would do all the work and you’d get an A. So it’s probably not surprising that in addition to all of those places I can name, I have likewise visited all these sites. I can tell you what happened at each of them, why they are significant, what dates the Expedition visited each of them, and I can find them on Google Maps when asked about them. I’m not limited to these locations, either. I know where the keelboat first launched, where the three forks of the Missouri River merge, where Sergeant Floyd left the expedition, and where they built dug-out canoes with the Nez Perce. Yup, I’m that geek.
Yes, the locations along the Lewis and Clark Trail are amazing, but one of the most fascinating aspects of the Expedition are the names and the stories of the men who made up the Corps of Discovery – and, of course, the one kick-ass woman (see Sakakawea – Sacajawea – Sacagawea from February 2021). There are even fun stories to be recalled about Meriwether Lewis’ dog that he bought specifically to join him on the journey to the Pacific: Seaman. He splashed in the rivers, he caught squirrels to live off the land, he complained about the mosquitos, and he participated in many four-legged activities across the future United States. You might think when it came time to name my own dog, I might snag this name for my pup (see One Bark And One Bark Only from January 2021). You would be incorrect.
The aforementioned kick-ass woman brought along her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who at the ripe old age of three months, became the youngest member of the Corps of Discovery. By the time he returned from his road trip, he was a year and a half old and had become so adored by William Clark, that the military leader offered to raise the boy once he was old enough to be apart from his mother. He even nicknamed him Little Pomp, or Pompey, and named Pompey’s Pillar after him (see The Tower That Became My Pillar from May 2021). Yep, a big burley explorer, frontiersman, master cartographer, and the younger brother of a Revolutionary War hero fell in love with an infant while voyaging across the country. I’d say that’s closer to how I feel about my dog and why she is my Little Pomp.