Only a zealous patriot like Zebulon Pike could have led such a group to success, surviving encounters with Indians, harsh weather, a critical lack of supplies, and a double agent to carry out this mission.
BUENA VISTA, Colo. –
(PRWEB) October 30, 2014 -- Fresh off the trail of exploring the headwaters of the Mississippi River and purchasing the sites for present-day Minneapolis and St. Paul, ambitious Army officer Zebulon Montgomery Pike is asked to lead a secret excursion to explore the western and southern expanses of the Louisiana Purchase over the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. As this new book reveals, only a zealous patriot like Zebulon Pike could have led such a group to success, surviving encounters with Indians, harsh weather, a critical lack of supplies, and a double agent to carry out this mission.
“Plight of the Dam’d Rascals: The Zebulon Pike Expedition of 1806-1807” combines excerpts of Pike’s own journals and extended and interpretive narration by author Tom Rollings to chronicle this death-defying journey. The author expertly relays how Pike, the son of a Revolutionary War hero who fought with George Washington, sought a way to distinguish himself as an Army officer during a time when the United States was not technically at war. Pike, who grew up on the frontier and was adept at hunting, brought his sharpshooting skills to the task. His crew of 25 (the Dam’d Rascals) was made up of illiterate men who were good at surviving in the wild, hunting game and drinking whiskey.
Little did any of them know that their supposed several-month secret military excursion would last nearly a year, with some of them landing in a Mexican prison. The virtual suicide mission included one doctor and a French frontiersman but no scientists of any kind. Pike’s men had no idea of the odds against them. The outfit’s doctor had secret ambitions to support a Mexican revolution, and Pike’s commanding officer was a double agent working for Spain. The Spanish were well aware of the explorers sent out to define the Louisiana Purchase thanks to General James Wilkinson, and they still considered Louisiana their territory.
The men traveled thousands of miles, suffered terrible hardships and were damaged by frostbite, fatigue and famine before being released to go back home by the Spanish who they encountered in the San Luis Valley. For their reward, the Rascals received no compensation, credit or glory for their sacrifice. Still, the courage and determination of this small band of men did leave an indelible mark in the annals of American history and deserve to be honored for their efforts.
Tom Rollings is a retired teacher and historian who engages in writing, storytelling and re-enacting at his home in central Colorado. He researched the Pike Expedition by taking “Pike hikes” and visiting “Pike sites.” Rollings is a member of the Pike National Historic Trails Association and the Friends of Pike.
For additional information, please visit http://www.tomrollings.com
Plight of the Dam’d Rascals: The Zebulon Pike Expedition of 1806-1807
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4575-2950-4 224 pages $13.95 US
Available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.