Bonneville, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de

Bonneville, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de bŏnˈvĭl [key], 1796–1878, American army officer and trader who blazed portions of the Oregon Trail, b. France, grad. West Point, 1815. Acquainted with the fur trade from his service at frontier posts, he obtained a two-year leave from the army and backing from financiers in New York and in 1832 led an expedition of 110 men to the Green River rendezvous of fur traders in present-day Colorado. Three years of trade and exploration followed. As a trader, Bonneville was a failure, but he was a swaggering, colorful figure who helped to open the Rocky Mt. country and took the first wagon train across South Pass. In 1836 he was restored to the army after his overstayed leave, and subsequently served with distinction in the Mexican War and at frontier posts before he retired in 1861. Washington Irving's highly romanticized The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A. (1837) added much to Bonneville's fame.

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