In 1819, an official US Army expedition was mounted to explore the virgin American territory of the Midwest up to the Rocky Mountains. The result was a gruelling, two-year adventure among the Sioux, Cheyenne and other Indian Plains tribes, not to mention natural obstacles and dangers. The author of this book, Edwin James, was the expedition's botanist, geologist and surgeon - and, as his book proves, his many skills also embraced the writing of a fine historical narrative. The expedition commander, Major Stephen H. Long was ordered to explore and chart the Red and Arkansas rivers, as well as the Colorado Rockies where one mountain they found still bears the name Long's Peak in his honour. Among the goals achieved by the expedition was finding the site of today's Denver, and reaching the Colorado Springs. As a result of mistaking the Canada River for the Red, one branch of the expedition strayed into New Mexico and Texas, where they nearly starved and were the first white men to meet members of the KIowa and Apache Indian tribes. Although Long failed to find the sources of the two rivers he was sent to explore, his expedition remains an important milestone in opening up the American west.
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