West of Green River: A novel of the Bonneville Expedition 1832-1835 by Jerry Keenan.

Publication Date: 10/15/2011
ISBN: 978-0-9834764-0-5
Price: $16.95
Pages: 258

 

Also available for the Kindle and Nook

 

Was Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, captain of the U.S. Army, granted a two-year leave to try his hand as a fur trader in the Rocky Mountain West? Or did his superiors have ulterior motives, tasking Bonneville to spy on the British in the Pacific Northwest? The Bonneville expedition began in Missouri and made its way to the Oregon country, territory at the time shared through mutual agreement by the U.S. and Great Britain. Yet the British presence there caused grave concerns about the geographic boundaries of our nation. This fictional account of the Bonneville expedition brings to life the difficult trek facing Bonneville and his men in their encounters with Native Americans and their struggles against the harsh elements on their westward journey to Oregon.
 

About the Author

Retired from the book publishing industry, Jerry Keenan writes about the people, places and events that make up the tableau of Western History. His publications include A Life of Yellowstone Kelly, The Great Sioux Uprising: Rebellion on the Plains, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, and The Wagon Box Fight: An Episode of Red Cloud's War. 

West of Green River is available from Follett Library Services, YBP, Coutts, Brodart, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Book Distributors.
 

West of Green River: a novel of the Bonneville Expedition 1832-1835

SKU: 978-0-9834764-0-5
$16.95Price
  •  

    HE FELT THE FIRST drops of rain as he approached the three-storied brick structure with its huge portico of marble pillars that housed the departments of State, War and Navy. Although the season was young— late May 1831—it had been oppressively warm and there had been none of the usual mighty thunderstorms that tended to quickly restore tem- peratures to their more seasonal norm. Glancing at the sky now he judged a change in the offing. The newly leafed-out trees—said to be the finest in all of Washington—bent and swayed before a stiffening breeze from the north that put a sudden chill in the air.

     

    The atmosphere was charged and he could sense an outburst build- ing. He felt the same sense of electricity within himself as he prepared to deal with the matter at hand. Why a plain and simple clerk in the offices of the War Department should be summoned to report to none other than the secretary himself, was, he decided, ample cause for the nervous- ness that now troubled him.

     

    Standing an inch under six feet, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and clean shaven features, he was what might be described as good looking, if not exactly handsome. Having but recently begun his twenty-third year, he was a young man who was, for the most part, reasonably content with his station in life, which held promise of a comfortable if not spectacular future. Notwithstanding this general sense of contentment he occasion- ally found himself longing for some distant, adventurous challenge of the

     

    sort one heard about emanating from Texas and Thomas Jefferson’s dis- tant Stony Mountains.

     

    Entering the building the sound of his boots echoed hollowly down the long, empty corridor. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, he passed the now silent and empty general office, noting his own desk near the center of the room. Approaching the solid oaken door to the secre- tary’s office he knocked once. The door opened, admitting him to the sanctum sanctorum, the private name bestowed on the secretary’s office by the office staff.

    In the far corner of the room a single oil lamp burned steadily on the corner of Secretary of War John Eaton’s massive desk, behind which sat the secretary himself. The room itself was bathed in a diffused light made eerie by the dancing flames in the fireplace that cast strong shadows across the features of the office. Standing before the fireplace, staring pensively into its flames was the U.S. Army’s top man, Major General Alexander Macomb, whom he recognized immediately, the general being as noticeable a presence around the War Department as that of the secre- tary. A younger officer in the rank of lieutenant, stood on the opposite side of the fireplace, subsumed somewhat by the room’s lengthening shadows. Across the room, gazing out at the rain that was just then be- ginning to drum across the glass, stood a figure of medium height and solid build, garbed in the uniform of a captain in the United States Army.

     

    Waved to a chair in front of the secretary’s desk the young man seated himself in a somewhat rigid position, wondering—again-- why a mere clerk, should have been summoned into the presence of these gi- ants.

    “Nathaniel, isn’t it?” The secretary inquired.
    “Yes sir.”
    “I know your father,” General Macomb volunteered, interrupting his

    study of the fire. “A stout soldier, right enough,” he continued. “We served together in ’12.” 

    “Yes sir. He speaks often of those days.”
    The general grunted softly. “Hmmm.”
    “I’m told you have flair for literary expression,” the secretary said. “Yes sir, I suppose so,” the young man replied, shifting uncomforta-

    bly in his chair.
    “Princeton?” the secretary inquired.
    “Yes sir.”
    “Princeton is a fine school,” the secretary mused.
    “It is indeed. I am most fortunate to have had the benefit of a at-

    tending so fine an instution.”
    “Your father, I understand, was a close friend of President Madi-

    son.”
    “Yes sir, he was. It is why I bear the middle name of Madison.” “Nathaniel Madison Wainright, then?”
    “Yes, sir. I am the third generation of our family to carry the given

    name of Nathaniel. My grandfather, Nathaniel I served in the Continental Line; Grayson’s Regiment; wounded at Monmouth.”

    The secretary smiled quickly.

     

    Presently the door opened, admitting a thin, gray-haired, slightly stooped black man who shuffled into the room, depositing a tray contain- ing glasses and a decanter on the secretary’s desk. After pouring a portion into each glass he then carried one to General Macomb and the younger officer and yet another to the man at the window, who nodded briefly, then resumed his study of the pounding rain that now lashed the window, his features momentarily reflected by a sudden stab of lightning. Lastly Nathaniel, was given a tumbler.

     

    “Well, gentlemen,” General Macomb announced at length. “A toast to our good captain, here,” he said, raising his glass in the direction of the man standing at the window.

     

    Nathaniel rose to join the toast. He hoped he did not appear as awk- ward as he felt. 

  • Book Club Discussion Guide

     

    West of Green River: a novel of the Bonneville Expedition 1832-1835 by Jerry Keenan.

     

    Was Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, captain of the U.S. Army, granted a two-year leave to try his hand as a fur trader in the Rocky Mountain West? Or did his superiors have ulterior motives, tasking Bonneville to spy on the British in the Pacific Northwest? The Bonneville expedition began in Missouri and made its way to the Oregon country, territory at the time shared through mutual agreement by the U.S. and Great Britain. Yet the British presence there caused grave concerns about the geographic boundaries of our nation. This fictional account of the Bonneville expedition brings to life the difficult trek facing Bonneville and his men in their encounters with Native Americans and their struggles against the harsh elements on their westward journey to Oregon.

     

    Discussion Questions

    On the face of it, Captain Bonneville’s orders simply called for him to report on what he observed in the Oregon Country; was there anything more to it than that?

     

    Given that Capt. Bonneville sent a letter to Gen. Macomb through one of his lieutenants, requesting an extension of his leave for legitimate reasons, why was that request not honored? We know for certain that Gen. Macomb did receive the letter and read it.