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2007 Catalog > 14. Abert & Peck, Fremont's Expedition to New Mexico.


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14. James W. Abert / William G. Peck. “Map Showing the Route pursued by the Exploring Expedition to New Mexico and the Southern Rocky Mountains made under the orders of Captain J. C. Fremont, U. S. Topographical Engineers” (Washington, D.C.: 1845). Published in Message from the President of the United States, . . . communicating a report of an expedition led by Lieutenant Abert, on the Upper Arkansas and through the country of the Camanche Indians, in the fall of the year 1845 . . . Journal of Lieutenant J. W. Abert, from Bent’s Fort to St. Louis, in 1845 (Washington, D.C.: Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 438, 29th Cong., 1st Sess., 1846). Lithographed folding map, black and white as issued. 19 1/4 x 28 1/4". Sheet size: 22 1/4 x 31". Old folds visible; very faint occasional spotting. Overall excellent.

Price: SOLD.

Upon his third and last expedition for the government in 1845, Frémont detached Topographical Officers Abert and Peck at Bent’s Fort to survey the Canadian River Valley in anticipation of military conflict with Mexico over the impending annexation of Texas. Heading a thirty-five-man party, the two lieutenants explored the entire course of the Canadian River from its headwaters in northeastern New Mexico to its confluence with the Arkansas River in eastern Oklahoma. Congress published Abert’s official report in 1846 under the title Journal of Lieutenant J. W. Abert from Bent’s Fort to St. Louis. Considered one of the best travel diaries by a soldier-engineer, it provided insightful observations about the region’s natural history and the feared but little-known Kiowas and Comanches.

Issued with the report was the large foldout map offered here. The map represents the area from Westport Landing (present-day Kansas City) northwest to Fort Laramie, southeast to Fort Smith, and southwest to Santa Fe. Most likely compiled by Frémont’s famous cartographer Charles Preuss, the map exhibits an amazing level of topographic detail, especially for the mountains of southern Wyoming, northern New Mexico, and Colorado where Long’s and Pike’s Peaks are named. The route of the expedition is plotted with dates marking the progression of the surveyors. Wheat describes the map as reflecting the first accurate astronomical observations in what was mostly unknown country. It continues to be an important and highly desirable map of the southwestern frontier.

Refs.: Ehrenberg, book review for the “Society for the History of Discoveries” at www.sochistdisc.org; Graff, 6; Howes A10; Streeter, vol. I, no. 161; Wagner-Camp, 120; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. II, no. 489.

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