Lorenzo Sitgreaves

Lorenzo Sitgreaves (February 15, 1810 – May 14, 1881) was a U.S. Army officer from Pennsylvania who led the 1851 Sitgreaves Expedition down the Zuñi and Colorado rivers.

Early life and careerEdit

Lorenzo Sitgreaves was born on February 15, 1810, in Easton, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Sitgreaves.[1] He was a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, from July 1, 1827, to July 1, 1832, when he graduated 25th in his class of 45. He was appointed Brevet 2nd Lieutenant of the 1st Regiment of Artillery, July 1, 1832. He served on the Black Hawk Expedition of 1832, but not at the seat of war. Later that year he served in the garrison at the Bellona Arsenal in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and from 1832 to 1833 in a garrison in the Creek Nation, until he was promoted Second Lieutenant, 1st Artillery, September 30, 1833. Transferred, he served in garrison at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in 1833-34, then from 1834-36 again in the Creek Nation, until he resigned his commission on August 31, 1836.[2] From 1836 to 1838, he was a civil engineer.

Corps of Topographical EngineersEdit

Sitgreaves was again appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers on July 7, 1838. As Assistant Topographic Engineer he served in the construction of roads in Wisconsin from 1839‑40, and on a survey of Sault Ste. Marie, 1840-41 during which he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Corps of Topographic Engineers, July 18, 1840. He then served as an Assistant Topographic Engineer in surveying the U.S. border with Texas in 1841 and near New Orleans in 1841-42. In 1842-43 he served as an assistant in the Topographical Bureau in Washington, D.C. Returning to the field from 1843–44, he was Assistant Topographic Engineer in the improvement of the Hudson River, and in the 1844-45 survey of the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and of the reefs of Florida in 1845-46.[2]

During the Mexican–American War, Sitgreaves marched with Gen. John E. Wool from San Antonio through Chihuahua in the fall of 1846, and helped map the route and the region. He fought in the Battle of Buena Vista, February 22–23, 1847, for which he was promoted to Brevet Captain on February 23, 1847, for "Gallant and Meritorious Conduct" in the battle. When peace returned, he was put in charge of the Boundary Survey of the Creek Indian Territory in 1849 and then again was Assistant in the Topographical Bureau, at Washington, D.C., in 1850.[2]

In 1851, Brevet Captain Sitgreaves led an expedition down the Zuni River and westward to the Colorado River, with John G. Parke his second in command and Antoine Leroux as his guide. This expedition was the first systematic survey of the area of the upper region of New Mexico Territory between Zuñi Pueblo and the Colorado River, in search of a route to California.[3] The trip took from September 4 to November 30, 1851, between Zuñi and the Yuma Crossing.[2]

Following the expedition, he spent most of 1852 preparing a report on the expedition, which was published in 1853.[4] Soon afterward, on March 3, 1853, he was promoted to Captain, Corps of Topographical Engineers, after 14 years of continuous service in the Corps.[2]

Sitgreaves married Lucy Ann Jesup, daughter of Thomas S. Jesup, in 1854.[5] They had two daughters, the younger of whom died in childhood.[6]

He served as Light-House Inspector, 11th District (Detroit, Michigan), from December 21, 1852, to December 11, 1856, and as Light-House Engineer in the 5th District (Baltimore), from May 15, 1857, to August 8, 1859. He was on a sick leave of absence from August 1859 to 1861.

Recalled at the start of the Civil War, he served as Mustering Officer at Albany, New York, in 1861-62, then as Superintendent of Volunteer Recruiting Service and Disbursing Officer at Madison, Wisconsin from April 20, 1863, to October 20, 1864. During this time he was promoted to Major, Corps of Topographical Engineers, on March 3, 1863, and to Lieutenant‑Colonel, Corps of Engineers, on April 22, 1864. He conducted the inspection of the temporary defenses in Kansas and Nebraska from October 25, 1864, to July 1865.[2]

Later lifeEdit

When the Civil War ended, Sitgreaves was placed in charge of the harbor improvements on Lake Michigan, from August 3, 1865, to June 11, 1866. Sitgreaves retired from active service on July 10, 1866, for "Disability, resulting from Long and Faithful Service, and Disease contracted in the Line of Duty."[2] He died at the age of 78 on May 14, 1888, at Washington, D.C., and was buried there at Oak Hill Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b Col Lorenzo Sitgreaves from findagrave.com accessed July 8, 2016
  2. ^ a b c d e f g George W. Cullum's Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, since its establishment in 1802, Vol. I of Three, 1891, pp. 518-519: "Lorenzo Sitgreaves"
  3. ^ Thrapp, Dan L., Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, In Three Volumes, Vol.III P - Z, Index; University of Nebraska Press, A. H. Clark Co., Glendale, 1988, p.1313
  4. ^ Report of an Expedition Down the Zuñi and Colorado Rivers, Captain L. Sitgreaves, Corps Topographical Engineers, Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, Washington, 1853
  5. ^ Virginia Jeans Laas, Dudley Taylor Cornish, Wartime Washington: The Civil War Letters of Elizabeth Blair Lee, University of Illinois Press, Mar 1, 1999, p.379, note 3.
  6. ^ Lucy Ann Jesup Sitgreaves from findagrave.com accessed July 8, 2016