How Many People Died On The Lewis And Clark Expedition?

The Lewis and Clark expedition! A perilous journey! A tale of American frontier legends! Intrigue! Danger! When Meriwether "The Funny One" Lewis and William "The Party Animal" Clark set off on their journey of scientific discovery and natural resource accounting in May of 1804, they brought with them a corps of 31 rugged outdoorsmen. Trappers, scouts, and soldiers composed this human mosaic of American grit and gumption. They also had a dog.

The road was long, the terrain was treacherous. At every turn, the Corps of Discovery was met by exotic disease, hostile wildlife, and native peoples who would have very much preferred to be left alone, thank you very much. How many of the men on the Lewis and Clark expedition lost their lives so that we, generations later, would have a passable idea of the shape of Montana?

Bad Luck Chuck

Just the one, actually.

His name was Sergeant Charles Floyd, and he was, at least going by his portrait, hotter than the business end of a soldering iron. Just look at those eyes. Holy smokes. Alright, don't look too long. Wouldn't want you to get attached.

Charles Floyd was the only casualty of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and his death was less legendary than you're probably imagining. He wasn't felled by an arrow or mauled by a Kodiak. Chuck dropped dead on August 20th, 1804 of what was reported at the time to be "bilious colic," which is old-timey speak for "upset tummy." Today, according to History, most researchers agree that he actually died of a ruptured appendix. Yes, the only fatality on one of the most danger-laden chapters of American history was caused by something that Madeline walked off.

If that's sort of a let down, maybe take comfort in the fact that somebody got shot. In August of 1806, Private Pierre Cruzatte, in a move that would later be remembered as "The Cheney Maneuver," mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him square in the old mustn't-touch-it. Yes, Meriwether Lewis took a bullet to the butt. American legends: they're just like us.