headed the salt works detail during the winter at Fort Clatsop.
Here reenactors today in Seaside, OR, recreate the salt works.
of the earth. A good description for Pvt. William Bratton's character
as well as his skill in a certain area.
by William Clark to join the expedition,
Bratton was known as a hardened, disciplined man. Clark wrote
of him and six others he had selected for
Lewis' approval that these were "the best young woodsmen
& Hunters in this part of the Countrey." At about 6 feet
tall with red hair, Bratton cut a striking figure. His quiet nature
went hand-in-hand with his economical ways. He also held strict
born to Irish parents in 1778 in Augusta County, Va. Even though
he was listed as one of the men from Kentucky, he was living at
his birthplace when he joined the expedition.
Clark thought highly of Bratton as did his fellow enlisted men.
He was one of three candidates voted on to replace
Charles Floyd when Floyd died in Aug. 1804.
Gass won the election, but even being nominated was considered
important talents. He had served as an apprentice blacksmith in
his youth and had completed some schooling. He also was an excellent
gunsmith. During the winter of 1804 at Fort Mandan, Bratton and
Pvt. Alexander Willard set up a
forge and bellows. They repaired and sharpened metal objects that
the Mandans and Hidatsas had gotten from British traders. In return
the Indians traded corn and dried vegetables.
As with most
of the young men in the party, Bratton had signed on for adventure,
and he wasn't disappointed. He appears at various points in the
journals. When Pvt. Moses Reed deserted on Aug. 3, 1804, Bratton
was in the search party that eventually brought Reed back 10 days
bears earned quite a hatred among the expedition. Bratton's encounter
with one on May 11, 1805, showed why Lewis wrote, "I do not
like the gentlemen [the grizzly] and had reather fight two Indians
than one bear." That day Bratton, who was walking along the
Missouri River shore to relieve painful boils, came upon a grizzly.
Bratton shot the bear through the lungs, but that did little more
than anger the bear. The grizzly tore after Bratton for a half
mile before giving up the chase. Bratton caught up to the party
on the river. An enraged Lewis had the crew of the pirogue join
him "in quest of this monster." Together, the men tracked
the bear down before shooting it twice in the head.
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