Bonneville, Benjamin L. E.

1818 DS Signed 3 Times as 2nd Lieutenant of Light Artillery, Before His Explorations in the American West

Price: $295.00

Description:
(1796-1878) French-born US Army officer, fur trapper, and explorer in the American West. He is noted for his expeditions to the Oregon Country and the Great Basin, and in particular for blazing portions of the Oregon Trail. Bonneville was made famous during his lifetime by an account of his western explorations written by Washington Irving. His family moved to US in 1803, their passage paid by Thomas Paine, his godfather. USMA 1815 (graduating after 2 years), commissioned brevet 2nd lieutenant of light artillery. In 1824, he was sent to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory and promoted to Captain, and transferred in 1828 to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Inspired by the writing of Hall J. Kelley and editorials in the St. Louis Enquirer (Thos. Hart Benton, ed.), he sought to explore the West. He petitioned Gen. Alexander Macomb for a leave of absence to perform reconnaissance among the Native Americans in the Oregon Country, then under a precarious joint US-British occupation, but largely controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. Macomb granted him a 26-month leave, instructing him to pose as a fur trader and gather all useful information on the natural history of the region, its climates, soils, geography, topography, mineral production, geology, and character of the local tribes. In May 1832, he left Missouri with 110 men, his voyage financed by John Jacob Astor, rival of the Hudson's Bay Company. The expedition proceeded up the Platte River, and across present-day Wyoming. They reached the Green River in August and built a fur trading post named Fort Bonneville. In the spring 1833, he explored along the Snake River in present-day Idaho, drifting into the head of the Salmon River and eventually into Fort Nez Perce. He also sent a party under Lt. Joseph Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake and to find an overland route to California. Walker discovered a route along the Humboldt River across present-day Nevada, as well as Walker Pass across the Sierra Nevada. The path became known as the California Trail, the main route to the gold fields during the California Gold Rush. In summer1833, Bonneville ventured into the Wind River Range in present-day Wyoming to trade with the Shoshone. By this time, he realized that he would not be able to return east by October as planned. He wrote Gen. Macomb summarizing some of his findings and requested more time to survey the Columbia River and parts of the Southwest before his return. In Jan. 1834, he set out to reach the Willamette Valley. He traveled up the Snake River, through Hells Canyon, and into the Wallowa Mountains, where they were welcomed by the Nez Perces along the Imnaha River. On Mar. 4, 1834, they reached Fort Nez Perces, a Hudson's Bay Company outpost; the Company commander welcomed him but refused to do business with him. Bonneville and his men retraced their course back to SE Idaho and made camp on the Portneuf River. In July he made a 2nd trip west to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company but found the same rejection so he turned back east. He spent the winter of 1834–35 with the Shoshone along the upper Bear River, and in April 1835 began the return to Missouri. He reached Independence by August and discovered his letter requesting an extension had not been delivered to Macomb and his commission had been revoked. He went east to recover his commission. On the way to Washington, he stopped in New York City and was received by his patron John Jacob Astor. While staying with Astor, Bonneville met Washington Irving and regaled Irving with tales of his adventures. A month or two later, Irving visited Bonneville and they agreed that for $1000, Bonneville would turn over his maps and notes so Irving could use them as the basis for his 3rd "western" book. The result was “The Adventures of Captain Bonneville”, publ. 1837.Bonneville petitioned Secretary of War Cass to have his commission reinstated and in early 1836 he was successful. He was given assignments at Fort Kearny in Nebraska Territory and in the New Mexico Territory at Fort Fillmore, where he commanded the 3rd Inf. Regt. in 1855. He served in the Mexican-American War in Winfield Scott’s Veracruz campaign. One of his later assignments was a colonel at the Columbia Barracks in Oregon Territory, next to Fort Vancouver, which became a US Army post in 1849.He retired from the military in 1861 but was recalled in the Civil War, becoming brevet Brigadier General. He was superintendent of recruiting in Missouri 1861-63 with a brief stint as commander of Benton Barracks in St. Louis in 1862. He retired a 2nd time in 1866 and moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas. His namesakes include: Bonneville Salt Flats; Bonneville Dam, after which the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was named; the Pontiac Bonneville (General Motors automobile); Bonneville International (broadcasting company); Bonneville crater on Mars, etc. Partly-printed 10 ¼ x 16 DS completed by him as 2nd Lieutenant of light Artillery, Fort Independence (Boston Harbor),July 20 1818, pay voucher for his $86.60 pay and subsistence May 1-June 30, 1818, signed at top and twice below.

Condition: Very good, folds, signature below right slightly light at end, few fold starts carefully repaired
Type:Document






[View Shopping Cart]
[Home] [Articles] [Biography] [Calendar]
[Catalogue] [Search]



enbainc@cs.com

Edward N. Bomsey Autographs, Inc.
7317 Farr Street
Annandale, VA 22003-2516
(703) 642-2040(phone & fax)




Home
Home

Articles
Articles

Biography
Biography

Calendar
Calendar

Catalogue
Catalogue

Search
Search