This Coming Age

Based on a decade of research, America’s First Great Eclipse takes readers on a thrilling historical journey, revealing that nineteenth-century Americans were just as excited about a total solar eclipse as we are today … and, like us, were willing to travel thousands of miles to see it…………
America’s First Great Eclipse tells the story of a country, and its scientists, on the brink of a new era. Near the end of the nineteenth century, when the United States was barely a hundred years old, American astronomers were taking the lead in a science that Europeans had dominated for centuries. Scientists like Samuel Langley, Henry Draper, Maria Mitchell, and even the inventor Thomas Edison, were putting America at the forefront of what was being called the “new astronomy.”………

On July 29, 1878, having braved treacherous storms, debilitating altitude sickness, and the threat of Indian attacks,………….

Advertising for Steve Ruskin’s book, Americas First Great Eclipse, How Scientists and the Rocky Mountain Eclipse of 1878 Changed Astronomy Forever

It’s very good I understand. The part that attracted my attention, was how this brave band of scientists had to face down the threat of Indian attacks.

Searching for a little more on the subject I strayed across Confluence, a community art and education site, that shares stories concerning the future of the Columbia river system.

It also gave me an insight into different perspectives on the way darkness fell over the land in 1878.

“This day there was as far as the eye could reach a singular appearance of nature, owing to a partial eclipse of the sun. For a while everything appeared very much as when the heavens are obscured by the smoke of forest fires, only now the air was pure and the sky was clear. It seemed to the officers and men as if they had been suddenly ushered into another world, conceivably like that in Bulwer’s ‘Coming Age.’ In a few hours, however, the realities of things were re-established.”

General Howard, describing the eclipse. He is leading four columns of horse from Vancouver Barracks, which during the month following this report will capture 1000 native people and by September will result in the death of 140, men, women and children when the lodges of the Bannock people are attacked.

Here is a description from members of the Nez Perce tribe, 300 fled to Canada and were living with the Sioux. Black Eagle and Yellow Wolf both reported that the eclipse had helped them return secretly from Canada to their Homelands in America.

“In 1878, a group of 29 Nez Perce led by Wottolen left Canada. With the group was Kapkap Ponmi (the daughter of Chief Joseph), Yellow Wolf (who was a member of Joseph’s band), Peopeo Tholekt, and Black Eagle (Wottolen’s son). There were only five warriors in the group, each of whom had about 10 cartridges for his weapon. This small band made their way through Montana by killing livestock here and there for subsistence. At the Middle Clearwater River, soldiers from Fort Missoula attempted to block the Nez Perce passage to Idaho. A detachment under the command of First Lieutenant Thomas Wallace engaged the Indians in battle and claimed to have killed six and wounded three.”


Mary Rose Plunge Into Darkness Part III, The Great Eclipse of 1878 Confluence



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