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Durbin, Elizabeth (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 25, Number 4 (September 1979)

Goff, Charles D.
Captain Whiting's journal,   pp. 3-10


Page 3


  CAPTAIN WHITING'S JOURNAL
In 1819, 30 years before Increase Lapham, a young army captain
  noted in a diary his scientific observations about the state.
     His accompanying watercolors may be the first artistic
                  renderings by an American citizen of
                        Wisconsin's natural beauties.
                                    by Charles D. Goff
The unpublished Journal of the
March of the Fifth Regiment in
June 1819 From Green Bay to
Prairie du Chien by Captain Henry
Whiting of the US Army proves
him to be a keen observer of natural
phenomena in Wisconsin, a compe-
tent cartographer and a talented ar-
tist. The importance of the Journal,
however, lies in the vivid descrip-
tion of a bit of Wisconsin history
and in the establishment of the
author's position as the earliest
known discoverer of several
geological facts peculiar to Wiscon-
sin.
While Captain Whiting's Journal
was chiefly a description of the
Fox-Wisconsin valleys through
which the Fifth Regiment
"marched" in 1819, his account
contained several scientific obser-
vations which preceded by 30 or
more years similar findings by In-
crease Lapham, "Wisconsin's First
Scientist." For example, Whiting's
"Notes on the Tide at the Head of
Green Bay" preceded by three
decades Lapham's "Rise and Fall of
Lake Michigan," mentioned as a
possibility in 1847 and confirmed
in 1849.
Whiting's description of Middle
Woodland (Hopewellian) or Late
Woodland Indian structural
remains on Lake Buffalo preceded
Lapham's "Antiques of Wiscon-
sin" (1855) by 36 years. Whiting's
speculation that the difference in
height between the left and right
banks of the Fox seems "to favor
an opinion that the left bank was
once the boundary of Lake
Michigan when the interjacent
country might have overflowed"
preceded Lapham's "Geological
Formations in Wisconsin" by 32
years. Whiting's speculation was
September 1979/Wisconsin Academy Review/3


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