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Lot 1138
JOHN W. GUNNISON (1812 - 1853) American military officer and explorer, killed by the Ute with Mormons accused of planning the massacre. That accusation helped bring on the Utah War. Exceedingly rare A.L.S. "J. W. Gunnison Lt. T. Engrs", 2pp. 4to., Milwaukee, Feb. 5, 1846 to Capt. W. G. Williams. Gunnison has been attached to a team surveying the Kalamazoo River and is "mortified" at errors made in the measurement of the shoreline. He further reports that spring floods had doubled the width of an outlet of the river. He also again explains that faulty equipment and untrained workmen were likely to blame for the poor measurements submitted: "Éno wilfull neglect on my part is conscious to meÉ". A great rarity!
Very fine condition. Gunnison was assigned to the Corps of Topographical Engineers with which he explored unknown areas of Florida. From 1841-1849 Gunnison explored the area around the Great Lakes and with the Howard Stansbury Expedition was assigned to explore and survey the area of Great Salt Lake where he met and befriended local Mormons. On May 3, 1853 Gunnison received orders to lead an expedition to survey a route for a Pacific railroad. Near Lake Sevier, Colorado on October 26, 1853, Gunnison and the eleven men in his party were attacked by a band of Ute, resulting in the deaths of Gunnison and seven of his men. The second detachment of the survey team arrived to find the mutilated remains of the dead. Most contemporary accounts of the massacre maintain that the Mormons warned Gunnison that his party might be in danger. But after the killings, rumors circulated that the Ute involved in the massacre were acting under the orders of Brigham Young and an alleged secret militia known as the Danites. The accusations flying between both sides of the resulting conflict eventually culminated in the Utah War between the Mormons and federal forces.

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Auction ended on Wed, May 25, 2016
Estimate $1,000 - $1,500
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98 Bohemia Avenue, Suite Two
Chesapeake City, MD 21915
United States
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