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One Armed Civil War Army Major Becomes Famous Explorer

One Armed Civil War Army Major Becomes Famous Explorer

Among many of the Native American people of the West, the scientific explorer John Wesley Powell, a former Army Major who had lost his right arm in battle, was known affectionately as Kapurats, or “One-Arm-Off.” During the Civil War he served first with the 20th Illinois Volunteers. At the Battle of Shiloh he lost most of his right arm.

He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers that included the first known passage through the Grand Canyon.

He developed the first comprehensive classification of American Indian languages (1877) and was the first director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology (1879-1902). In 1881 he became director of the U.S. Geological Survey, where he worked extensively on mapping water sources and advancing irrigation projects.

"One Arm Off" was the name he was given during an extensive stay with the White River Ute in the winter of 1868; it’s a soubriquet with which he is still associated today. Unlike most white men of his era, John Wesley Powell had tremendous respect for Native Americans, an insatiable curiosity about their language and institutions, and a belief that they had a right to live their lives according to their own traditions. It was because of this interest and empathy that during all his years in the West, when other scientific teams felt they needed military escorts, he never even carried a gun.-PBS

Read more: Other Source: Wiki

From The Civil War Parlor

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