Lot 299: Gen. Wilds P. Richardson - Alaska explorer

East Coast Books

October 29, 2016, 4:00 PM EST
Wells, ME, US
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Description: Wilds Preston Richardson (1861-1929) was an officer of the United States Army notable for being an explorer and geographer of Alaska in the early decades of the 20th century. During World War I he was promoted to the rank brigadier general and, because of his cold weather experience, sent to lead the Polar Bear Expedition, part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. Richardson retired after the war and died in Washington, D.C. in 1929. Richardson received an appointment to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1880. After graduation in 1884, Richardson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 8th Cavalry Regiment, serving in California and other western posts. Richardson was promoted to first lieutenant in 1889, and joined the faculty at West Point three years later. In 1897, Richardson was sent to Alaska to begin what would be a twenty-year stay. Initially in charge of scouting locations and supervising construction of military installations, in 1905 Richardson was appointed head of the War Department's Alaska Road Commission, which oversaw federal road construction projects in the territory. His major project was the completion of a 380-mile road from Valdez to Fairbanks, later named the Richardson Highway in his honor. After the entry of the United States into World War I, Richardsonpromoted to brigadier general in August 1917was assigned to command the 78th Infantry Brigade of the 39th Infantry Division at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, in March 1918. Arriving at Brest, France, on 3 September 1918, Richardson's unit participated in the closing stages of the war. After the Armistice, General John J. Pershing assigned Richardsonbecause of his Alaskan cold-weather experienceto the Polar Bear Expedition in Murmansk. Returning to the U.S. in October 1919, Richardson reverted to the rank of colonel and retired the following October. Offered here is a 1923 signed Riggs National Bank check. VG.
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