lewis and clark bicentennial


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The Lewis and Clark Expedition:
Blacksmiths in the Corps of Discovery

Arms and Supplies

The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Blacksmiths in the Corps of Discovery, by David G. Allen for the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association © 2003


Arms & Supplies

Items supplied by Harper’s Ferry Armory: 

  • 15 Model 1803 muzzleloaders; .54 cal., 33'' barrel

  • 24 Pipe tomahawks

  • 36 Pipe tomahawks for "Indian Presents"

  • 24 Large knives

  • 15 Powderhorns and pouches

  • 15 Pairs of bullet molds

  • 15 Wipers (gun worms)

  • 15 Ball screws

  • 15 Gun slings

  • Extra locks and tools

  • 40 Fish giggs

  • Collapsible iron boat frame

Other arms and munitions:

  • 500 rifle flints 

  • 420 pounds of sheet lead for bullets 

  • 176 pounds of gunpowder packed in 52 lead canisters 

  • 1 long-barreled rifle that fired its bullet with compressed air

Lewis and Clark were meticulous in their planning.  The expedition returned with enough gunpowder and bullets to mount another, albeit smaller, expedition, which is remarkable given they constantly had to hunt for food.  The gunpowder was packed in lead so that the canisters could be melted down for bullets. 


The Expedition's Air Rifle

Captain Clark wrote: “... we Showed them (Indians) many Curiosities and the air gun which they were much astonished at.” August 19, 1804

Gunsmith Isaiah Lukens of Philadelphia built the .31 cal. air rifle for the expedition.

Air gun technology was first developed in the 16th century.

lukens air rifle

The Lukens air rifle is on display at the Virginia Military 
Institute Museum
, Lexington, VA. VMI photo

New information, Nov. 26, 2005:  Robert Beeman Ph.D., Airgun Information International, has published a lengthy, detailed research report on the air rifle used by Lewis & Clark which contradicts the Lukens air rifle claim.  You can read the report at:


Dr. Beeman's site also has many photos of air rifles and also the Model 1803 muzzleloader used by Lewis & Clark.



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