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Building Fort Mandan

Sergeant Patrick Gass (1771–1870) was a skilled carpenter. On November 2, 1804, he laid the foundations for Fort Mandan. The fort consisted of two rows of cabins arranged in a “V” shape. A picket fence completed a triangular enclosure, and a palisade surrounded the encampment. The Americans were soon visited by curious tribesmen, who were a constant presence throughout the winter.

First published in 1807, Gass’s journal became quite popular, with a London edition appearing in 1808 and a French translation two years later. Its publication angered Meriwether Lewis, who expected to put out the first report of the expedition himself.

“Captain Clark and Men Building Huts,” in Journal of the Voyages and Travels of the Corps of Discovery, Under the Command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke, 1811.

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