In 1806, U.S. Army General James Wilkinson assigned Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike to explore the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers. From St. Louis, the lieutenant's modest party traveled across the Great Plains to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout the journey, Pike maintained a journal, describing terrain, Indians, hardships, and the group's daily activities. In present-day southern Colorado's San Luis Valley, Pike and his men were captured by the Spanish and taken to Santa Fe, where many of his papers were confiscated by Spanish authorities, not to be uncovered until the early twentieth century.
Pike was taken south by the Spanish to Chihuahua, Mexico. Along the route, he was a keen observer of Spanish settlements, military strength, commerce, natural resources, Indian tribes, and more. Finally, the Spanish governor had Pike and his party escorted through Texas, to Natchitoches, Louisiana, where they arrived on July 1, 1807.
This valuable and long-out-of-print edition of Pike's Southwestern journals is being reissued on the bicentennial of the journey. Editors Hart and Hulbert provide extensive commentary to the journals, as well as significant essays on Pike's papers and the purpose of his famed expedition.