Lewis Cass Expedition - From Detroit To The Mississippi

From Detroit To The Mississippi

The expedition departed Detroit in four large canoes on May 24, 1820. It took three days to reach Fort Gratiot, located near the entrance to Lake Huron. The commander of the fort, Major Cummings, exchanged five of his sixty soldiers for two from the expedition who had become ill. On June 6 the expedition reached Michilimackinac where they awaited the arrival of additional supplies. On June 13 the party departed Michilimackinac bound for Sault Ste. Marie escorted by a twelve-oared barge carrying a military detachment intended to overawe the native Americans. At Sault Ste. Marie Cass called a council of the Ojibway to obtain their permission to establish an Indian agency. The Ojibway, many of whom were loyal to the British, expressed their displeasure with the American proposal. One of their chiefs known as "the count", dressed in the uniform of a British officer, raised a British flag near the expedition's camp. Cass tore down the flag and trampled it under foot, which brought about the submission of the native Americans, who ceded 16 square miles (41 km2) on the St. Mary's River where Fort Brady was constructed two years later. The expedition proceeded west along the south shore of Lake Superior portaging across the Keweenaw Peninsula. A contingent including Cass, Schoolcraft, and Doty made a side trip 30 miles (48 km) up the Ontonagon River to see the huge mass of copper known as the copper rock. At the western end of Lake Superior the expedition proceeded up the Saint Louis River to the American Fur Company's post at Fond du Lac. Six miles further up the river Cass split his party. Schoolcraft, Doty, and 14 others struck out across country for the American Fur Company's post at Sandy Lake near the Mississippi River, while Cass and the rest of the party continued up the Saint Louis River heading for the same destination. The overland party lost the trail and struggled through swamps and knee-deep mud, yet arrived at Sandy Lake two days ahead of Cass's group. Cass spent a day at Sandy Lake treating with the native Americans, after which he and the scientific staff ascended the Mississippi in search of its source. They went as far as the lake that now bears Cass's name and then returned to the post at Sandy Lake.

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