One of our newest additions to our American County Histories collection includes A History of South Dakota: From Earliest Times compiled and revised by Doane Robinson includes this description of the Lewis and Clark expedition’s activities in what is now South Dakota.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
In the month of January, 1803, anticipating the cession of Louisiana to the United States, President Thomas Jefferson secured authority from Congress to dispatch a small detachment of regular soldiers on an exploring expedition by way of the Missouri river to the Pacific coast. This expedition President Jefferson placed in charge of Captain Merryweather Lewis, his private secretary, with Wm. Clark, as first assistant. The explorers were charged with the duty of examining the country along the route, becoming acquainted with the various Indian tribes and winning their friendship and good will. Before the expedition started, the cession of Louisiana to the United States had been consummated, and Captains Lewis and Clark were further instructed to secure an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the United States over the several Indian tribes.
On May 14, 1804, the party, consisting of forty-three men, including soldiers, boatmen, guides, interpreters, etc., embarked in two pirogues and one bateau, entered the Missouri river and started upon their long journey.
This expedition excited the liveliest interest throughout the country, in which President Jefferson fully shared. He watched it with the greatest solicitude and when information from it came back at the end of the first year, he promptly transmitted it to Congress.
The expedition slowly moved up the river but did not reach the mouth of the Big Sioux and consequently the territory now embraced within South Dakota, until August 21, 1804. Their first night passed on the Dakota side was the night of August 22d and 23d, which was spent on the site of the present city of Elkpoint. Here Patrick Gass was elected as successor to Sergeant Charles Floyd who died two days before, near the site of Sioux City. On the morning of August 23d, on the meadow three or four miles west of Elkpoint, they came upon their first herd of buffalo, and Captain Lewis killed one of them from which they salted two barrels of meat.