Peter M. Weiser

From Academic Kids

Peter M. Weiser (October 3, 1781 - c.1828) was an American soldier in the American Revolutionary War and member of the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The town of Weiser, Idaho and the nearby Weiser River are named for him.


Weiser was born in Pennsylvania of German parentage, the son of John Phillip Weiser. He was probably the great-grandson of the famous settler and diplomat Conrad Weiser of the Pennsylvania Colony. He was enlisted as a private in the Corps of Discovery by January 1, 1804. He was probably recruited in 1803 by William Clark at Fort Kaskasia, Illinois while he was serving in the 1st U.S. Infantry.

He was one several soldiers in the Corps who faced disciplinary problems before the expedition left Missouri. On March 3, 1804 he was court-martialed and found guilty of asking permission to go hunting as a pretext for an unauthorized visit to a nearby "whiskey shop." As punishment was confined to camp for ten days.

During the expedition he often served as quartermaster, cook, and hunter. During the winter of 1805-06 while the expedition was at Fort Clatsop, Weiser was a member of the salt-making detail on the Oregon coast. In the late spring of 1806, while the Corps was camped near present-day Kamiah in north central Idaho, he took part in a detached search expedition for food in the surrounding mountains. At the time, the Corps was camped by the Clearwater River waiting for the snow to melt on Lolo Pass. After the party noticed that the local Nez Perce had fresh salmon in their lodges, Weiser, along with Private Frazer and Sgt. John Ordway were sent on expedition to hunt for the fish in the nearby Salmon River, which they called "Lewis's River."

In July 1806, he suffered a badly cut leg. Later that summer on August 24, when Lewis had finally gotten the expedition started toward Lemhi Pass, a Shoshone rode up from the rear of the column to inform Lewis that one of his men had taken sick. Lewis went back to discover Weiser, whom he dosed with tincture of peppermint and laudanum.

In 1807 Weiser, along with Corps of Discovery members John Potts and John Colter, joined the party of Spanish fur trapper Manuel Lisa on the Upper Missouri River. He was at Fort Raymond in July 1808. Between 1808 and 1810 he was on the Three Forks of the Missouri and the Snake River. He was killed sometime before 1828, probably in a fight with Native Americans.

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