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If Meriwether Lewis ever played favorites among the men of the Corps of Discovery, then George Drouillard was his man.

Lewis' journals make it clear: The captain thought as much of Drouillard as anyone:

"I scercely know how we Should Subsist, I believe but badly if it was not for the exertions of this excellent hunter."

Drouillard was almost always the first man Lewis chose to take with him on any exploration. Drouillard had signed on with the expedition at Fort Massac on the Ohio River, a short distance before the junction with the Mississippi. At 28, he already was a well-known woodsman in these parts. The son of a French-Canadian father and a Shawnee mother, Drouillard served as Lewis' main interpreter. His upbringing had made him expert in Indian ways. He spoke a couple of Indian languages fluently. He also spoke French and English expertly and was highly skilled in the Indian sign language.

George Drouillard helped feed the Corps thanks to his ability as a skilled hunter and trapper along the Missouri River.

That's not all Drouillard had going for him. He was a skilled frontiersman, hunter, trapper, and scout. People also spoke of his personality. With his lanky build, straight black hair, and dark eyes he was calm and confident. No situation was likely to rattle him.

Lewis picked up on these traits and liked him from the start.

Drouillard appears in Lewis' journals as much as any man of the Corps. Lewis never hesitated to take advantage of Drouillard's skills. Of course, the only thing Lewis couldn't manage to get right was the spelling of Drouillard's name. Lewis usually wrote "Drewyer," though other versions appeared. Even after the expedition, Lewis misspelled Drouillard's name as "Drulyard" in his formal recommendation letter for pay.

Regardless, Drouillard participated prominently in most of the major events of the expedition. Perhaps chief among them was the Marias River exploration on the return trip in 1806. His cry of "Damn, you!" to the Piegan Indian trying to steal his rifle awakened Lewis on that July 27, and within minutes two young Piegans, members of the Blackfeet, lay dead at the hands of Lewis' small party.


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