Answer: The eclipse

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Yellowstone Up Close and Personal Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Beej ( on 16:09:53 07/24/17

In Reply to: One question struck me posted by Ballpark Frank

The first mention I can find of the plan to observe the eclipse is on page 82 of the Raynolds Report, discussing the partioning of the exploration party into two groups, one headed by Lieutenant Maynadier, planning to meet at Three Forks on the last day of June.

"I deem it important that we should effect a junction by this date at the furthest for the following reasons: On the 18th of July will occur the total eclipse of the sun, which is attracting such attention in all scientific circles. My orders from the department require that, if possible, I should visit the line of the total eclipse in British America (permission having been obtained for this purpose from the authorities of those provinces,) and take such observations as may be possible."

Apparently, these orders were received at Winter Quarters, where the expedition was on the mail route, with only two weeks required for communication to Washington, DC. Raynolds was aware that once he got to Three Forks, he had only 17 days to get north. Raynolds' party reached the vicinity of Three Forks on the night before July 1st, so technically he was on time, but did not re-unite with Maynadier until July 3rd. He had calculated that even if the original schedule had been met, Raynolds would have needed to accomplish "only" 29 miles a day, but with the revised schedule and losses of equipment, he would have had to travel 38 miles a day for 13 days, so "relinquished the plan".

When the eclipse happened, Raynolds was in Fort Benton, and doesn't describe it. Maynadier's men returning to Fort Union by way of the Yellowstone River were able to conduct observations from Pompey's Pillar, and a different military party marching along the Mullan Road was able to make observations. The unnamed military party assigned to travel the Mullan Road arrived at Fort Benton and issued orders which monkey-wrenched Raynolds' plans, so there is probably a pretty good reason he doesn't mention them.

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup

Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Please enter the following value as your Submit Key:     
Submit Key:
Note: The Submit Key is Case Sensitive. Do not Copy and Paste!

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Yellowstone Up Close and Personal Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]