Monday, December 12, 2016

The Christmas Holidays of 1805 with Explorer Zebulon Pike (1779-1813)

Explorer Zebulon Pike (1779-1813)

Zebulon Montgomery Pike (1779-1813) was an explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. As a United States Army captain in 1806–1807, he led the Pike Expedition, sent out by President Thomas Jefferson, to explore and document the southern portion of the Louisiana territory and to find the headwaters of the Red River, during which he recorded the discovery of what later was called Pikes Peak.  Pike's military career included working on logistics and payroll at a series of frontier posts, including Fort Bellefontaine near St. Louis. General James Wilkinson, appointed Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory and headquartered there.  In 1805, Wilkinson ordered Pike to find the source of the Mississippi River, so Pike traveled into the northern Louisiana Territory, newly purchased from Spain.

The holiday season of 1805 was observed with few frills by Lt. Zebulon Pike and his small force of men who were exploring the limitless wilderness of the North that winter. Pike had built a stockade at Little Falls, limit of navigation for his boats which had carried the expedition from St. Louis, and struck northward to seek the source of the Mississippi. His Christmas entry in his journal is re-printed in toto.

Wednesday, 25th December.--Marched, and encamped at 11:00 o'clock: gave out two pounds extra of meat, two pounds extra of flour, one gill of whiskey, and some tobacco, to each man, in order to distinguish Christmas Day: distance advanced, three miles.