Our Georgia History

Zebulon Pike
January 5, 1779 Zebulon Montgomery Pike is born, Somerset County, New Jersey.
  Zebulon Pike
August 9, 1805 Zebulon Pike explores the Mississippi River from Fort Bellefontaine (St. Louis) north to Minnesota.
April 30, 1806
  Zebulon Pike
September 23, 1805 Zebulon Pike meets with Dakota Sioux at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, present-day Minneapolis-St. Paul
  Zebulon Pike
July 15, 1806 Zebulon Pike explores western areas of the Louisiana Purchase.
July 1, 1807
  Zebulon Pike
July 14, 1820 Stephen Harriman Long names and makes the first ascent to the top of Pike's Peak (now Colorado)
  Zebulon Pike
  Stephen Harriman Long
December 9, 1822 Pike County created
  Zebulon Pike
  Creation of Georgia Counties
  Pike County, Georgia

Whether it was simply bad luck, a bad commanding general or Zebulon Pike's own bad judgement will never be known. Pike, who explored about as much territory as Lewis and Clark, is one of the lesser known Western explorers. There is evidence that Pike actually served as a spy for General James Wilkinson and had been ordered to observe the Spanish on the closely guarded Mexican frontier.

Leaving from Fort Bellefontaine (present-day St. Louis), Zebulon Pike followed the Mississippi River north into the wilds of Minnesota. He purchased land on the site of present-day Minneapolis - St. Paul for a fort from the Sioux Indians. Fort Snelling was built on this site in 1819. During this expedition Pike incorrectly labeled the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Upon returning to Fort Bellefontaine Pike was once again ordered out, this time to accompany a party of Osage Indians west to their homes in present-day Kansas. After dropping the Indians off at their villages, Zebulon Pike continued west on a mission to find the headwaters of the Arkansas River, then head south to find the headwaters of the Red River, as order by General Wilkenson, but without the consent of President Thomas Jefferson. At the time Wilkenson was trying to committing treason with Aaron Burr and was using Pike, without Pike's knowledge or consent, as a pawn in a deadly game.

Pike found the headwaters of the Arkansas, climbed the wrong mountain in the Rockies (he meant to climb the tallest in the area, but missed by a few thousand feet), and was detained by Spanish authorities in Santa Fe. Although documentation found with Pike's party proved he was a spy, the Spanish eventually released him and he returned to the United States.

As a Brigadier General he led a group of 1,700 regulars from the naval base at Sackett's Harbor, New York, against the British capital of York. The combined land/sea assault was one of the largest amphibious assaults in the history of the world at the time. Pike lost his life when heavy debris from an exploding mine struck the general. In retaliation for the loss of Zebulon Pike, his men sacked York.

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