James William Abert

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James William Abert
Abert James William 1820-1897.png
Born (1820-11-18)November 18, 1820
Mount Holly Township, New Jersey
Died August 10, 1897(1897-08-10) (aged 76)
Newport, Kentucky
Buried Evergreen Cemetery (Southgate, Kentucky)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1842–1864
Rank Major
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Corps of Topographical Engineers
Painting of the trail to Acoma Pueblo by J.W. Abert, 1848

James William Abert (November 18, 1820 – August 10, 1897) was an American soldier, explorer, bird collector and topographical artist.

Early life[edit]

Abert, the son of John James Abert,[1] was born in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey, and graduated from West Point in 1842.

Military career[edit]

Abert joined the Corps of Topographical Engineers, which was headed by his father,[1] in 1843. He joined several expeditions into the west, including John Frémont's third expedition, and illustrated these expeditions reports with his sketches. He was also put in charge of a detachment to map the Canadian River. In 1846 he was sent west to join the army of General Kearney in the war against Mexico, returning to Fort Leavenworth in the following year. It was during this time that he acquired a new species of bird, which was named the Abert's towhee in his honour. During the American Civil War, he served on the staffs of Robert Patterson, Nathaniel P. Banks and Quincy A. Gillmore. He was wounded during the Maryland Campaign, and retired from the Army in June 1864.

James Abert's Towhee

Later life[edit]

After the Civil War, he became a professor of English literature, mathematics and drawing at the University of Missouri. His original watercolors are now privately owned.


  • Who's Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1967.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]