to Charles Floyd stands on a bluff above the Missouri outside
Sioux City, IA. The sandstone obelisk is 100 feet high. Image
courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For a man
whose fame came by what he was unable to accomplish with the Corps
of Discovery, Charles Floyd is remembered fondly.
the only man in the Corps to die on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Medical historians believe a ruptured appendix caused Floyd's
death on Aug. 20, 1804, outside present Sioux City, IA.
Floyd much weaker and no better," wrote William
Clark in his Aug. 20 journal entry. "Floyd as bad as
he can be no pulse & nothing will stay a moment on his Stomach
or bowels. Floyd Died with a great deal of Composure, before his
death he Said to me, I am going away I want you to write
me a letter.' We buried him on top of the bluff. 1/2 Mile below
a Small river to which we Gave his name, He was buried with the
Honors of War much lamented, a Seeder post with the Name Sergt.
C. Floyd died here 20th of august 1804 was fixed at the head of
today has the largest, most prestigious memorial of anyone in
the Corps, the captains included. A 100-foot-high obelisk made
of sandstone masonry stands 200 yards from where Floyd originally
was buried. This obelisk is second in size only to that of the
Washington Monument. It was dedicated in 1901 and in 1960 became
the first historic landmark added to the national register.
marked the fourth time Floyd's remains were unburied and reburied.
By 1857 the Missouri had eroded and undermined the bluff where
Lewis and Clark had buried Floyd, causing most of his grave to
slide into the river. Many of his bones, including his skull,
were retrieved and buried about 200 yards east of the original
site. Wooden markers were placed at the grave. Over the ensuing
years cattle trampled Floyd's grave and the markers were carved
away by souvenir hunters. In 1894 Floyd's journal was published,
which aroused new interest in his gravesite. Again the grave was
reopened and the remains identified. They were buried again on
Aug. 20, 1895, the 91st anniversary of his death. This time a
marble slab marked the site. In 1900 the cornerstone of the monument
was laid, and Floyd's remains were unburied and then reburied
at the base of the monument.
memorial is a fitting tribute to one of the original three sergeants
for the Corps. Floyd joined the Corps in 1803. He was one of the
original "nine young men from Kentucky." Floyd was a
cousin of Nathaniel Pryor, another member
of the Corps.
a journal faithfully until two days before his death. His journal
reflects his farming background. His entries judged land quality,
including soil conditions. For instance, his May 25, 1804, entry
said, "[T]he land is Good & handsom the Soil Rich."
Floyd a "man of much merit" and wrote in his journal
recounting Floyd's death that "This man at all times gave
us proofs of his firmness and Determined resolution to doe Service
to his Countrey and honor to himself."
was posthumously awarded a land grant, which was deeded to his
brother and two sisters.
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