Peale, C.W., Meriwether Lewis, 1807
Meriwether Lewis was born on this day in 1774.
How he led is no mystery. His techniques were time-honored. He knew his men. He saw to it that they had dry socks, enough food, sufficient clothing. He pushed them to but never beyond the breaking point. He got out of them more than they knew they had to give. His concern for them was that of a father for his son. He was the head of a family.
These are some of the qualities that make for a good company commander. Lewis had them in abundance, plus some special touches that made him a much-loved commander. He had a sense, a feel, for how his family was doing. He knew exactly when to take a break, when to issue a gill, when to push for more, when to encourage, when to inspire, when to tell a joke, when to be tough. He knew how to keep a distance between himself and the men, and just how big it should be. He knew his profession and was proud of it and one of the very best at it.
Stephen A. Ambrose on Meriwether Lewis, from Undaunted Courage