From Zebulon Montgomery Pike
Washington City 10th July 1812.
I presume that I shall be pardoned in addressing to you this letter, when it is understood that motives of respect for an aged Father and veteran officer are the causes which induced me to intrude on you. Major Zebulon Pike of the […] ⟨In⟩fantry, enter⟨ed⟩ th⟨e⟩ military service of our country in 1775 and served to the peace of 1783, when he held the rank of Captain of Dragoons for five years; He again entered the army in 1791 and was in the action with the savages under Genl. St. Clair. He continued in actual service untill 1806 or 7 when his infirmities arising from the ardent pursuit of the profession of Arms for twenty three years rendering him unable to perform the duties of his station, he received an unlimited furlough. In consequence of his infirmity it was thought proper to promote Major Richard Sparks over his head, to the rank of Lieut: Colonel, who will now succeed to the command of the 2nd. Regt. of Infantry vice Col: Cushing promoted: I have therefore been emboldened to request from the generosity of the President; that the twenty nine years services (& I may with pride say honorable ones) may be rewarded by a Brevet commission; as He never can take the field, this will only serve to shew him he is held in consideration by the Chief Magistrate of his country and will gratify the Pride of an old soldier.1 Suffer me on my part to assure you sir of my profound respect & sincere veneration,
Z. M. Pike2
Col. 15 Iny
RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, P-173:6). In a clerk’s hand, signed by Pike; docketed as received in the War Department on 15 July 1812. A note at the foot in Pike’s hand reads: “NB. Majr. Pike was promoted to that rank 21 March 1800.” Torn.
1. Zebulon Pike Sr. (d. 1834) was promoted to the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel on 10 July 1812 (Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:792).
2. Zebulon Montgomery Pike (1779–1813) of Lamberton, New Jersey, was both an explorer and a soldier. As a lieutenant under Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson, Pike led a mission in 1805 to explore portions of the Louisiana Purchase in a fruitless attempt to locate the source of the Mississippi River. He was then assigned to search for the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers in 1806, when he found occasion to attempt the peak outside of Pueblo, Colorado, that would eventually be named for him. Suspicious of his intentions, the Spanish authorities terminated Pike’s explorations and forced him to return to the U.S. After 1807 Pike continued to serve on the southwestern frontier, from which post Orleans territorial governor William C. C. Claiborne in March 1812 enthusiastically recommended him to the “further patronage” of JM as “a faithful soldier, & an excellent Citizen.” While it is uncertain whether the president ever received that recommendation, Pike’s subsequent advance was rapid. He served as deputy quartermaster general in the spring of 1812 before being promoted to colonel and stationed on the northern frontier. After another promotion, to brigadier general in March 1813, he led the successful attack on York, Upper Canada, on 27 Apr., where he was killed by the explosion of a British magazine (Niles’ Weekly Register 7 [1814–15], supplement, 1–8; Claiborne to JM, 1 Mar. 1812, in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816 (6 vols.; Jackson, Miss., 1917). description ends , 6:65; Heitman, Historical Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903 (2 vols.; Washington, 1903). description ends , 1:792).