Pike, Zebulon Montgomery

Pike, Zebulon Montgomery,

1779–1813, American explorer, an army officer, b. Lamberton (now part of Trenton), N.J. He joined the army (c.1793) and was commissioned second lieutenant in 1799. In 1805 he led an exploring party to search for the source of the Mississippi River; although he mistakenly identified Red Cedar Lake (now Cass Lake) in Minnesota as the source, he was not far wrong. After his return he was sent on an expedition (1806–7) to explore the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers and to reconnoiter Spanish settlements in New Mexico. Pike and his men went up the Arkansas River to the site of Pueblo, Colo., and explored much of the country, sighting the peak that is named after him, Pikes PeakPikes Peak,
14,110 ft (4,301 m) high, central Colo., in the Front Range of the Rocky Mts.; discovered by U.S. explorer Zebulon Pike in 1806. There are many higher peaks in the Rockies, but this is the best known and most conspicuous because of its location on the edge of the
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. When he and a small party went to the Rio Grande, they were taken into custody by the Spanish who brought them to Santa Fe and then to Chihuahua and finally released them at the border of the Louisiana Territory. Upon his return, Pike was accused of complicity in the plot of Aaron BurrBurr, Aaron,
1756–1836, American political leader, b. Newark, N.J., grad. College of New Jersey (now Princeton). Political Career

A brilliant law student, Burr interrupted his study to serve in the American Revolution and proved himself a valiant soldier in
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 and James WilkinsonWilkinson, James,
1757–1825, American general and one of the most corrupt and devious officers in the nation's early army, b. Calvert co., Md. Abandoning his medical studies in 1776 to join the army commanded by George Washington, he served as a captain in Benedict
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 to detach Western territory from the United States, but he was exonerated by the Secretary of War. Pike was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during the War of 1812. He was killed while commanding his troops during the successful assault on York (now Toronto).

Bibliography

See his journals (2 vol., 1987) and biography by W. E. Hollon (1949, repr. 1981).

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