18 August 2016

Cap au Grès

A Scene in Missouri

From "The 1820 journal of Stephen Watts Kearny : comprising a narrative account of the Council Bluff-St. Peter's military exploration and a voyage down the Mississippi River to St. Louis"

August 18th. [1820]

On awaking in the morning we found we had progressed but slowly during the night, not having made more than 4 or 5 miles.

In the morning passed by ''Quiver" [Cuivre, French for copper] on the West and at noon reached *"Capo Gray." At this point the river is quite narrow, not more than 300 yards wide. On the West side are the remains of old ''Fort Independence," erected [near Troy, Missouri] during the late war for the protection of the Frontier Inhabitants. 12 miles brought us to ''Little Capo Gray" where we saw several settlements, & it being dark all hands retired to rest, the same ceremony of the appointment of watch having been gone thro' as the night previous.

*"Capo Gray" should be Cap au Grès. This is another French term that lent itself to conversion by Americans into an English phrase of similar sound but different meaning. Even the French fell into the habit of rendering the name "Cap au Gris", mistaking gres, a noun, meaning sandstone, for the adjective gris, meaning gray. 

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