The Life of Kit Carson

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Overview

Christopher Carson, or as he was familiarly called, Kit Carson, was a man whose real worth was understood only by those with whom he was associated or who closely studied his character. He was more than hunter, trapper, guide, Indian agent and Colonel in the United States Army. He possessed in a marked degree those mental and moral qualities which would have made him prominent in whatever pursuit or profession he engaged.
His lot was cast on the extreme western frontier, where,...
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The Life of Kit Carson

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Overview

Christopher Carson, or as he was familiarly called, Kit Carson, was a man whose real worth was understood only by those with whom he was associated or who closely studied his character. He was more than hunter, trapper, guide, Indian agent and Colonel in the United States Army. He possessed in a marked degree those mental and moral qualities which would have made him prominent in whatever pursuit or profession he engaged.
His lot was cast on the extreme western frontier, where, when but a youth, he earned the respect of the tough and frequently lawless men with whom he came in contact. Integrity, bravery, loyalty to friends, marvelous quickness in making right decisions, in crisis of danger, consummate knowledge of woodcraft, a leadership as skilful as it was daring; all these were distinguishing traits in the composition of Carson and were the foundations of the broader fame which he acquired as the friend and invaluable counselor of Fremont, the Pathfinder, in his expeditions across the Rocky Mountains.

Contains a new map drawn specially for this edition tracing the routes of John Fremont's first three expeditions into the American West.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781482374001
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/6/2013
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter XXIX: Daring Exploit of Kit Carson and Lieutenant Beale-
General Kearney Saved

The situation of General Kearney and his men could not have been
more desperate. The only subsistence they had were their mules, and
the water was insufficient to meet their wants. They were
completely surrounded by the brave California Mexicans. They might
exist for a time on the bodies of their animals, but they must
perish without water.

General Kearney called his friends together during the afternoon to
consult as to whether any possible means of escape was before them.
He could see none. He had sent three scouts to Commodore Stockton
at San Diego, asking for immediate help, but the three were captured
by the Mexicans on their return. Kearney had succeeded in
exchanging a Mexican Lieutenant, whom he held prisoner, for one of
the scouts, but nothing was gained thereby. The messenger reported
that they had been unable to reach San Diego, and Commodore
Stockton, therefore was in ignorance of the peril of his countrymen
not far distant.

When every one expressed himself as unable to see the first ray of
hope, Carson in his deliberate, modest way said that it was clear
only a single possibility remained-that was by procuring relief from
Commodore Stockton at San Diego. Though the other scouts had failed
to reach him, Carson expressed his belief that he could succeed. At
any rate, he desired to make the attempt to pass the Mexican lines.

Lieutenant Beale, since Minister to Austria, and favorably known
throughout the country, immediately seconded the proposition,
volunteering to accompany Carson. General Kearney gladly and
gratefully accepted the offer, and the arrangements were instantly
made. These arrangements were of the simplest nature. The
beleaguered Americans were surrounded by three cordons of sentinels,
and it was necessary for Carson and Beale to make their way past
them in order to reach San Diego.
When night was fully descended, the two left the rocks and
approaching the first line, sank upon their hands and knees, and
crawled forward with the silence and stealth of Indian scouts.
Despite the utmost care, their shoes made a slight noise now and
then, and to avoid it, they took them off and shoved them in their
belts.

The exploit of Lieutenant Beale and Kit Carson was a most remarkable
one in every respect. Frequently through the gloom, they would
catch the faint outlines of a sentinel, pacing back and forth.
Instantly the two would lie flat on their faces until the man moved
away, when the painful progress would be resumed.

The slightest forgetfulness was certain to prove fatal, for the
Mexicans knowing the desperate straits of the Americans, must have
been expecting some such attempt and were therefore more than
usually watchful.

Once a mounted Mexican rode close to the prostrate figures, sprang
off his horse and lit his cigarette. He was so close that the tiny
flame showed his nose and features, as it was held in front of his
face, while lighting the twist of tobacco. During that most trying
moment as Kit Carson afterwards declared, he distinctly heard the
beating of Lieutenant Beale's heart.

There seemed no escape, but finally the horseman drove away, and the
painful progress was continued for fully two miles, during which
both men were constantly peering through the darkness for signs of
danger. Again and again they were compelled to halt, and lying flat
on their faces, wait till their fate was determined.

"We are through," whispered Carson at last when considerable
distance beyond the last row of sentinels.

"Thank heaven!" exclaimed Lieutenant Beale in the same guarded
voice.

"Now we'll put on our shoes and travel as fast as we know how to San
Diego-"

The mountaineer paused in dismay, for, while creeping over the
plain, he had lost both his shoes that were thrust in his belt. The
Lieutenant had been equally unfortunate, and, as it was utterly out
of their power to recover them, they could only push on barefooted,
over a soil that abounded with thorns and prickly pears. As these
could not be seen in the darkness, their feet were soon wounded to a
distressing degree. It was necessary to avoid the well beaten
trails, so that the route was not only made longer, but much more
difficult on account of the obstacles named.

Yet they were working for a great stake. The lives of General
Kearney and his brave men were in the balance. If Carson and Beale
failed to bring help right speedily, they were doomed.
All night long, through the succeeding day and far into the
following night, the couple, worn, wearied and with bleeding feet,
pushed ahead. When exhausted, they would halt for a brief while,
but the thought of their imperiled comrades, and the fear that some
of the Mexicans were pursuing them, speedily started them off again
and they kept to their work with a grim resolution which heeded not
fatigue, suffering and wounds.

The only compass Carson had was his eye, but he was so familiar with
the country that he never lost himself. The weary men were still
trudging forward, when through the darkness ahead suddenly flashed
out a star-like point of light. Several others appeared and a
minute after they dotted the background of gloom like a
constellation.

"That's San Diego!" exclaimed Carson, who could not be mistaken.
The couple could scarcely restrain their joy. New life and activity
thrilled their bodies, and they hurried on with the same elastic
eagerness they felt at the beginning.

In a short while they were challenged by sentinels, and making known
their mission, were taken before Commodore Stockton. That officer,
with his usual promptness, sent a force of nearly two hundred men to
the relief of General Kearney. They took with them a piece of
ordnance which for want of horses the men themselves were forced to
draw.

They advanced by forced marches to the endangered Americans,
scarcely pausing night or day, until in sight of the Mexicans, who
considering discretion the better part of valor, withdrew without
exchanging a shot with the naval brigade.

As may be supposed, the feet of Carson and Beale were in a frightful
condition, when they reached San Diego. The mountaineer, on that
account, did not return with the reinforcements, but he described
the course and location so minutely that no difficulty was
experienced by the relieving force.

Lieutenant Beale was a man of sturdy frame, accustomed to roughing
it on the frontier, but the sufferings he underwent on that eventful
night were such that he felt the effects for years afterward.
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Table of Contents

1 Kit Carson's Youth-His Visit to New Mexico-Acts as Interpreter and in Various Other Employments-Joins a Party of Trappers and Engages in a Fight with Indians-Visits the Sacramento Valley

2 California-Sufferings of the Hunters-The Mission of San Gabriel-The Hudson Bay Trappers-Characteristics of Carson-He Leads the Party Which Captures an Indian Village and Secures some Criminals

3 The Trapper's Life-Indian Horse Thieves-Carson's Skillful Pursuit and Surprise of the Indians-Arrival at Los Angeles-Trouble with the Authorities-A Singular Escape

4 An Alarming Visit-Carson's Resources-On the Colorado and Gila-Capturing a Herd of Horses and Mules-The Raiders-Turning the Tables-Caching their Peltries-Return to Santa Fè-Carson Goes upon a Second Trapping Expedition-Hunting with an Old Mountaineer-A Visit from Crow Indians

5 Kit Carson's Decision-A Hot Pursuit and an Unexpected Discovery- Weary Waiting-A Snow Balling Party-A Daring Attack-Brilliant Exploit

6 The British and American Trapper-Hunting on the Laramie-The Deserters-The Vain Pursuit-Arrival of Friends-The Return Journey-The Night Alarm-The Attack Upon the Camp-Pursuit and Recovery of Horses

7 An Unexpected Meeting-The Ambush-A Daring and Perilous Ride-Return to Camp-Disappointments-The Beaver

8 Carson and Two Companions Set Out on a Trapping Expedition of Their Own-They Meet With Great Success-Is Engaged by Captain Lee-Carson's Pursuit of an Indian Thief

9 A Hot Pursuit-An Unexpected Calamity-Carson Continues the Chase Alone-The Result

10 Carson Returns with the Recovered Property-Journey to Snake River- Starts on a Trapping Expedition with Three Companions-Carson's Stirring Adventure with Two Grizzly Bears

11 On the Green River-In the Blackfoot Country-The Blackfeet-An Unwelcome Visit-The Pursuit and Parley-Dissolution of the Peace Congress

12 Carson Badly Wounded-A Drawn Battle-An Ineffectual Pursuit-The Summer Rendezvous-Carson's Duel

13 On the Yellowstone-Repeated Disappointments-Carson Enters the Employ of a Hudson Bay Trader-Poor Success-A Trying Journey-Arrival at Fort Hall-The American Buffalo or Bison

14 A Strange Occurrence-Arrival of Friends-Carson Joins a Large Company-Trapping on the Yellowstone-The Blackfeet-A Dreadful Scourge- In Winter Quarters-The Friendly Crow Indians-Loss of Two Trappers-On the Head Waters of the Missouri

15 A Fierce Battle with the Blackfeet-Daring Act of Kit Carson-Arrival of the Reserves and End of the Battle

16 At Brown's Hole-Trading in the Navajo Country-Carson Serves as Hunter at Brown's Hole-Trapping in the Black Hills-On the Yellowstone- Fight with the Blackfeet-Their Retreat to an Island-Their Flight During the Night-An Imposing Array of Warriors

17 The Morrow-Withdrawal of the Indian Army-At Fort Hall-In the Blackfoot Country-The Ambush-The Trappers Decide to Withdraw -Trapping in Other Localities-Carson Decides to Abandon the Business-Visits Bent's Fort Where He Serves as a Hunter for Eight Years

18 Carson Visits His Old Home in Missouri-He Goes to St. Louis-Voyage up the Missouri-Makes the Acquaintance of Lieutenant John C. Fremont- Is Engaged as a Guide for Fremont's First Expedition-The Start Westward-Various Mishaps-The Emigrants-The False Alarm

19 On the Platte-A False Alarm-The Cheyennes-Fremont's Account of His Buffalo Hunt-Division of the Party-Fremont's Journey up the South Fork- The Band of Indians-Arrival at St. Vrain's Fort-The Journey to Fort Laramie

20 Alarming News-Fremont Presses Forward and is Not Molested-Arrival at South Pass-Fremont's Account of the Ascent of the Highest Peak of the Rocky Mountains-The Return to Fort Laramie-Carson Starts for New Mexico-End of Fremont's First Exploring Expedition

21 Carson Starts for the States-The Encampment of Captain Cook and His Dragoons-Carson Undertakes a Delicate and Dangerous Mission-The Perilous Journey-Return of Carson and the Mexican Boy-Encounter with Four Utah Indians-Arrival at Bent's Fort

22 Kit Carson Hears Surprising News-He Visits Fremont-Is Re-engaged as Guide-Fremont's Account of His Visit to Salt Lake

23 The Return-Suffering for Food-A Royal Feast-On the Lewis Fork-Fort Hall-Division of the Party-Arrival at Dalles-The Sierra Nevada- Preparations for the Passage Through the Mountains-Fremont's Account

24 The Continuation of Fremont's Account of the Passage Through the Mountains

25 The Start Homeward-The Visitors in Camp and Their Story-Carson and Godey Start to the Rescue-Trailing the Enemy by Night-In Camp-The Attack-An Amazing Success-The Return

26 Arrival at Bent's Fort-Carson goes to Taos and Decides to Become a Farmer-Arrival of a Messenger from Fremont-Carson and Owens Repair Again to Bent's Fort-Carson Engaged as Guide for Fremont's Third Exploring Expedition-On the Great Divide-Division of the Parties-The Journey Across the Desert-A Singular Meeting-Aboriginal Horse Thieves

27 Alarming Sounds-Danger of the Scouts-Fremont Goes to Their Rescue- Arrival at Sutter's Fort-Ordered out of California by the Mexican Governor-Fremont's Refusal-Withdrawal to Sacramento River-Arrival of Dispatches from Washington-War with Mexico-Meeting with Lieutenant Gillespie-Night Attack by Klamath Indians

28 Retaliatory Measures-Fremont's Return to California-Capture of Sonoma-Sutter's Fort Placed Under Military Rule-Monterey Taken by Commodore Sloat-Capture of Los Angeles by Fremont and Commodore Stockton-Carson Sent East as a Bearer of Dispatches-The Meeting with Apaches-General Kearney-Bravery of the California Mexicans

29 Daring Exploit of Kit Carson and Lieutenant Beale-General Kearney Saved

30 Capture of Los Angeles-Court Martial of Fremont-Carson Appointed a Bearer of Dispatches to Washington-His Journey to St. Louis-Visits Washington-Appointed Lieutenant by President Polk-Ordered Back Across the Continent-His Journey-Assigned to Duty at Tajon Pass-Again Ordered to Washington-His Appointment not Confirmed by the United States Senate-Visit to Washington-Return to New Mexico

31 Hostility of the Apaches-Colonel Beale Sends an Expedition Against Them-Nothing Accomplished-Colonel Beale Leads an Expedition with Carson as Guide-Capture and Release of Two Chiefs-March to the Arkansas-Another Failure-Carson and Maxwell Build a Ranch-Fremont's Fourth Expedition-The Murderous Apaches-A Fruitless Pursuit

32 The Wounded Herder-A Successful Pursuit-An Atrocious Plot-How it was Frustrated-Gratitude of the Gentlemen whom Carson was the Means of Saving From Death

33 Carson Visits St. Louis on Business-Encounter with Cheyennes on His Return-His Sagacity Does Not Fail Him-Carson's Last Beaver Expedition- His California Speculation

34 In San Francisco-The Return Homeward-The Mormon Delegate Gives Carson Some Interesting Information-Carson's First Stirring Duties as Indian Agent-The Affection of the Red Men for Father Kit

35 Trouble With the Apaches-Defeat of the Soldiers-Colonel Cook's Expedition Against Them-It Meets With Only Partial Success-Major Brooks' Attempt to Punish the Apaches-A Third Expedition

36 Discovery of the Trail-Prairie Detectives

37 The Pursuit and Attack-"Two O'clock"

38 Letters from General W. T. Sherman, and from General J. F. Rusling
Glossary Map-Illustration of John C. Fremont's First Three Expeditions
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Well.

    Didn't read this book. ANYBODY have some insight.....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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