The Great Reconnaissance: Soldiers, Artists, and Scientists on the Frontier, 1848-1861

The Great Reconnaissance: Soldiers, Artists, and Scientists on the Frontier, 1848-1861

The Great Reconnaissance: Soldiers, Artists, and Scientists on the Frontier, 1848-1861

The Great Reconnaissance: Soldiers, Artists, and Scientists on the Frontier, 1848-1861

Excerpt

This is the informal story of the men who explored, surveyed, and mapped our new boundary with Mexico after 1848, and then the huge area within it, before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861; and of those who blazed the trails for wagon roads and railroads through this land to the Pacific Coast. Also, it tells of the accompanying artists who sketched, painted, and photographed the Indians, the landmarks, and the scenery; and the scientists who collected, classified, and meticulously illustrated the flora and fauna in those vast regions. It was nearly all unknown country and their activities in these lines were probably greater than similar ones in any other decade of our history, but their achievements were historically blanketed by the great gold rushes to California, Colorado, and Nevada, and by the political excitements leading to the Civil War, so that these unusual pioneers have been undeservedly forgotten.

Some of the official reports of the Topographical Engineers were of necessity highly technical and are to a lay reader repetitious, and dull in their scientific jargon, and so only the more colorful accounts have been chosen to present the high lights, although nearly all the reports are mentioned in one way or another. The Mormon War and the experiments with camels in the Southwest are included because these were reconnaissances . . .

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