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Home | Dealers | Dail, Catherine Fine Art | Major Stephen Harriman Long on the Rocky Mountain Expedition
Titian Ramsay Peale American  1799 - 1855
Major Stephen Harriman Long on the Rocky Mountain Expedition  1819-1820
Oil on Canvas
36 x 31 inches, framed
Signed faintly at right on branch
Category: Paintings - American
Era: 19th Century
Subject: History
TITIAN RAMSAY PEALE (1799-1885) attributed
"Major Stephen Harriman Long on the Rocky Mountain Expedition," 1819-1820
Oil on canvas
27 x 22 inches
36 x 31 inches with fine reproduction frame
Signed faintly at right on branch

Private collection, Virginia

The Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 3-31, 1994
The Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming, April 25- July 31, 1994
Gerald Peters Gallery, 1994
St. Joseph Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri, 1995
Wildling Art Museum, Los Olivos, California, October 20- January 20, 2002

New Hampshire Antiquarium Society Update, Fall 1993, page 1-4, illustrated page 1.
Biard & Globe, The Story of Oklahoma, Oklahoma University Press, 1994, illustrated page 91.
Dunbar, J., The History of Oklahoma, forthcoming.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Titian Peale became one of America's earliest and foremost animal painters and naturalist illustrators. As an expedition artist and museum curator, he traveled widely, including the upper Mississippi River, Rocky Mountains, Florida and the northern regions of South America.

Titian Peale grew up in the atmosphere of the natural science museum founded by his father, Charles Willson Peale, and Titian showed early talent sketching animals. He studied anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania where he made drawings of specimens in the University's collections. In 1817 at age 18, he was elected to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and one year later, accompanied an expedition to Florida to document flora and fauna.

From 1819 to 1820, he was Assistant Naturalist to Thomas Say on Major Stephen Long's topographical expedition to the Rocky Mountains. The specific goal was to find the source of the Platte River with a return through Arkansas and the Red Rivers to the Mississippi. Although they did not find the source of the Platte, the group was the first official party to climb Pike's Peak.

Peale's specific assignment was to collect and record specimens of birds, mammals, reptiles, fishes and insects, and his Long Expedition sketches, numbering over one hundred, also included some landscapes along the way and views of Indian life. He also became a skilled huntsman in addition to serving as recorder.

Peale later joined Wilkes' Expedition to the South Seas and went on a number of other shorter journeys. On all these trips he collected specimens and made watercolor sketches; 50 of them are at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. He did a few oil paintings, and these are extremely rare. "Major Stephen Harriman Long on the Rocky Mountain Expedition" has been counted among them and depicts the intrepid leader pointing West across the Missouri River and toward Manifest Destiny.

Peale later took trips to South America and the Pacific Ocean. He illustrated "American Ornithology" and "Lepidoptera Americana," and in his later years, became a pioneer photographer. His works are held in the National Portrait Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others.

On March 18, 1819, Secretary of War John G. Calhoun gave the following orders to Major Stephen H. Long, Topographical Engineers:

"You will assume the command of the expedition to explore the country between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. You will first explore the Missouri and its principle branches in succession, Red River, Arkansas and Mississippi above the mouth of the Missouri. The object of the expedition is to acquire as thorough and accurate knowledge as can be practicably had of a portion of our country which is becoming more interesting but which is yet but imperfectly known. With this in view, you will permit nothing worthy of notice to escape your attention..."

This excursion, initially termed the Yellowstone Expedition, was an intrepid campaign across the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains. Stephen H. Long was the first military officer to bring with him leading scientific experts of the day from the fields of botany, geology, zoology and cartography. Long eventually commanded 5 separate expeditions covering 25,000 miles. The resulting knowledge was key to the successful expansion of the upper American West.

Long was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire at the end of 1784. His father served under General George Washington at Valley Forge. Long graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He received his bachelor's degree in 1809 and a master's degree by 1812. During the War of 1812, Long worked as a civil engineer on the harbor defenses for New York City. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to duty as Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1814. Long requested and was granted an appointment to the reformed Corp of Topographical Engineers, as a Brevet Major. He was assigned to St. Louis in 1816.

In the summer of 1816, Long lead a survey of the Illinois river and its main tributaries up to the site of Fort Dearborn, the future site of the city of Chicago, on Lake Michigan. The official report that he submitted suggested the building of canals to join the Lake with the Mississippi River, and also the expansion of the national road system to this frontier territory.

The following year, Long lead another expedition, this time up the Mississippi to the Falls of St. Anthony, the present site of Minneapolis- St. Paul. During his trip, he assembled a Winnebago language dictionary, thus making it easier to communicate with the local Indian tribe of the area. Later, in the fall of 1817, General Andrew Jackson had Long travel to Arkansas where he mapped out and built Fort Smith to help in quashing the hostilities between the Osage and Cherokee tribes. Part of Long's report of that period was the recommendation to build new forts along the frontier and at the same time strengthen those forts already in existence.

In the fall of 1818, Secretary of War Calhoun ordered Long to begin construction of a new type of steamboat that would accompany a military expedition up the Missouri to the Yellowstone River. The Western Engineer was put in service in 1819 and used to navigate the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Long established his winter quarters at Engineer Cantonment, about 25 miles north of present-day Omaha. The military part of the expedition was put on hold. Orders were changed and Long went on to lead his Expedition Across the Plains to the Rocky Mountains.

Long and his 12 civilian volunteers plus a small military contingent started out toward the front range of the Rockies. The first sight of the mountains was of a peak known as Les Deux Oreilles (The Two Ears) that was later renamed Long's Peak. The expedition returned via the Arkansas and Canadian rivers to Fort Smith. Long and his staff returned to Philadelphia where their findings were published as Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains Under the Command of Maj. S.H. Long. The maps issued by Long and his crew were so detailed and accurate that some were still used throughout the Civil War. Long's maps and charts were also responsible for naming the area comprising the current state of Wisconsin.

In 1823, Long was once more chosen to lead a survey of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Northern Minnesota. It was during this trip he established the 49th parallel confirming the border between American and Canada. After his return in 1824, Long published A Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of the St. Peter's River, Lake Winnepeek and Lake of the Woods. Long then was assigned the duty of improving the water, rail and road systems throughout the United States. He began to survey sections of the National Road.

From 1827-1830, Long was hired as an engineer by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. It was at this time that a number and variety of bridges that he had patented were built. These designs would be used not only in the construction of railroad bridges but also for regular roads. In 1829, Long published his Railroad Munual& which discussed a system for constructing a railroad using geometric precepts and opposition to locomotion.

The state of Georgia hired Long as its chief engineer and it was at that time he surveyed the routes for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Long's procedure of locating curves and a new fashion of truss bridge would advance the science of laying rail which was embraced most readily by others in the field.

For most of the period from 1840 through 1846, Long's career centered around clearing and dredging the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas Rivers. At the outbreak of the Mexican American War, Long returned to steamboat design and manufacturing. In the fall of 1847, he had launched 6 steamers for the Quartermaster Corps and offered to build another 8. From the end of 1847 through the beginning of 1848, he was a member of the military panel for the Court Martial of John Charles Fremont.

In the early 1850s, Long was made Superintendent of the Western Waters until the post was abolished in 1856. He was transferred then to the lower Mississippi until 2 years before his retirement, in 1863, at the age of 78, when he was promoted to Colonel. Long retired to Alton, Illinois, after 49 years of service to his country. He died September 4th, 1864.

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