[Volume 1] Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819 and 1820 : by order of the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, under the command of Maj. S.H. Long, of the U.S. Top. Engineers : compiled from the notes of Major Long, Mr. T. Say, and other gentlemen of the party / by Edwin James, botanist and geologist to the expedition ; in three volumes.


Date: 1823



In 1818 Stephen Harriman Long was appointed to organize a scientific contingent to accompany soldiers of Col. Henry Atkinson's command on the Yellowstone Expedition (sometimes called the Atkinson-Long Expedition). This was planned to explore the upper Missouri, and Long spent the autumn designing the construction of an experimental steamboat for the venture, Western Engineer.

Departing from St. Louis in June 1819, it was the first steamboat to travel up the Missouri River into the Louisiana Purchase territory, and the first steamboat to have a stern paddle wheel. On September 17, Long's party arrived at Fort Lisa, a trading fort belonging to William Clark's Missouri Fur Company. It was about five miles south of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Long's group built their winter quarters nearby and called it "Engineer Cantonment."

Major Long was the leader of the first scientific exploration up the Platte, which planned to study the geography and natural resources of the area. His party of 19 men included landscape painter Samuel Seymour, naturalist painter Titian Peale, zoologist Thomas Say and Edwin James, a physician knowledgeable in both geology and botany. James led the first recorded ascent of Pikes Peak during this expedition.

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On June 6, 1820, they traveled up the north bank of the Platte and met Pawnee and Otoe Indians. On October 14, 1820, 400 Omaha assembled at a meeting with Long, where Chief Big Elk made the following speech:

"Here I am, my Father; all these young people you see around here are yours; although they are poor and little, yet they are your children. All my nation loves the whites and always have loved them. Some think, my Father, that you have brought all these soldiers here to take our land from us but I do not believe it. For although I am a poor simple Indian, I know that this land will not suit your farmers. If I even thought your hearts bad enough to take this land, I would not fear it, as I know there is not wood enough on it for the use of the white."

After finding and naming Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountains, they journeyed down the South Platte River to the Arkansas River watershed. The expedition was then split, and Long led his group towards the Red River. They missed it, ran into hostile Indians and had to eventually eat their own horses to survive before they finally met the other part of the expedition at Fort Smith (now a city on the western border of the state of Arkansas). Long and his party of scientists would learn much to tell the nation and have the opportunity to show the U.S. flag.

Aquatint engravings by J. Clark, after Samuel Seymour. Map engraved by Sidney Hall.

3 v. : ill., map ; 22 cm.

Evans, Howard Ensign (1997). The Natural History of the Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1819-1820. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-19-511185-9.

Goodman, George J.; Lawson, Cheryl A. (1995). Retracing Major Stephen H. Long's 1820 Expedition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-2703-3.

Nichols, Roger L.; Halley, Patrick L. (1980). Steven Long and American Frontier Exploration. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press. pp. 158–180. ISBN 978-0-87413-149-9.

Lammers, Thomas G. (2016). "Edwin James: First botanist for Iowa (USA)". J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas. 10 (2): 475–500.


Wagner, H.R. The Plains and the Rockies. 1921, p. 95.

Publisher: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row




British Library


ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-05-08

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Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains Vol. 1 - Map of the Country Drained by the Mississippi (1823)

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