Kit Carson

Kit Carson

Overview
Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 frontier
Frontier
A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

sman and Indian fighter
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

. Carson left home in rural present-day Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 at age 16 and became a Mountain man
Mountain man
Mountain men were trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1880s where they were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains...

 and trapper in the West. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married into the Arapaho
Arapaho
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early...

 and Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

 tribes. He was hired by John C. Fremont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

 as a guide, and led 'the Pathfinder' through much of California, Oregon and the Great Basin area.
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Encyclopedia
Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 frontier
Frontier
A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

sman and Indian fighter
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

. Carson left home in rural present-day Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 at age 16 and became a Mountain man
Mountain man
Mountain men were trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1880s where they were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains...

 and trapper in the West. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married into the Arapaho
Arapaho
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early...

 and Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

 tribes. He was hired by John C. Fremont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

 as a guide, and led 'the Pathfinder' through much of California, Oregon and the Great Basin area. He achieved national fame through Fremont's accounts of his expeditions. He became the hero of many Dime novel
Dime novel
Dime novel, though it has a specific meaning, has also become a catch-all term for several different forms of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S...

s

Carson was a courier and scout during the Mexican-American war from 1846 to 1848, celebrated for his rescue mission after the Battle of San Pasqual
Battle of San Pasqual
The Battle of San Pasqual, also spelled San Pascual, was a military encounter that occurred during the Mexican-American War in what is now the San Pasqual Valley community of the city of San Diego, California. On December 6 and December 7, 1846, General Stephen W...

 and his coast-to-coast journey from California to deliver news of the war to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. In the 1850s, he was the Agent to the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches. In the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 he led a regiment of mostly Hispanic volunteers at the Battle of Valverde
Battle of Valverde
The Battle of Valverde, or the Battle of Valverde Ford from February 20 to February 21, 1862, was fought near the town of Valverde at a ford of Valverde Creek in Confederate Arizona, in what is today the state of New Mexico. It was a major Confederate success in the New Mexico Campaign of the...

 in 1862. He led armies to pacify the Navajo
Navajo
Navajo or Navaho may refer to:* Navajo people* Navajo Nation, the governmental entity of the Navajo people* Navajo language, spoken by the Navajo people-Places in the United States:* Navajo, San Diego, California* Navajo, New Mexico...

, Mescalero
Mescalero
Mescalero is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southcentral New Mexico...

 Apache and the Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

 and Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 Indians. He is vilified for his conquest of the Navajo and their forced transfer to Bosque Redondo where many of them died. Breveted a general, he is probably the only American to reach such a high military rank without being able to read or write, although he could sign his name.

Kit Carson's alliterative name, adventurous life, and participation in a large number of historical events has made him a favorite subject of novelists, historians, and biographers.

Early life


Born in Madison County, Kentucky
Madison County, Kentucky
Madison County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2008, the population was 82,192. Its county seat is Richmond. The county is named for Virginia statesman James Madison, who later became the fourth President of the United States. This is also where famous pioneer Daniel...

, near the city of Richmond
Richmond, Kentucky
There were 10,795 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.6% were non-families. Of all households, 34.7% were made up of individuals and 8.8% had...

, in 1809, Carson moved at the age of one year with his parents and siblings to a rural area near Franklin, Missouri
Franklin, Missouri
Franklin is a city in Howard County, Missouri, United States. The population was 112 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Columbia, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.- Geography :Franklin is located at...

.
Carson's father, Lindsey Carson, a farmer of Scots-Irish descent, had fought in the Revolutionary War
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 under General Wade Hampton
Wade Hampton I
Wade Hampton was a South Carolina soldier, politician, two-term U.S. Congressman, and wealthy plantation owner. He was the scion of the politically important Hampton family, which was influential in state politics almost into the 20th century...

. He had a total of fifteen Carson children: five by Lucy Bradley, his first wife, and ten by Kit Carson's mother, Rebecca Robinson. Kit Carson was the eleventh child in the family.
He was known from an early age as "Kit". The Carson family settled on a tract of land owned by the sons of Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits mad']'e him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of...

, who had purchased the land from the Spanish prior to the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

. The Boone and Carson families became good friends, working, socializing, and intermarrying.

Carson was eight years old when his father was killed by a falling tree while clearing land. Lindsey Carson's death reduced the Carson family to a desperate poverty, forcing young Kit Carson to drop out of school to work on the family farm, as well as to engage in hunting. At age 14 Carson was apprenticed to a saddlemaker (Workman's Saddleshop) in the settlement of Franklin, Missouri. Franklin was situated at the eastern end of the Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1822 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880...

, which had opened two years earlier. Many of the clientele at the saddleshop were trappers and traders, from whom Carson heard stirring tales of the Far West. Carson is reported to have found work in the saddle shop suffocating: he once stated "the business did not suit me, and I concluded to leave". His master may have agreed with his leaving since he offered the odd amount of 1 cent for his return and waited a month to post the notice in the local newspaper.

At sixteen, Carson secretly signed on with a large merchant caravan heading to Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

—with the job of tending the horses, mules, and oxen. During the winter of 1826–1827 he stayed with Matthew Kinkead, a trapper and explorer, in Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico
Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2000 census, its population was 4,700. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, and El Prado. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American...

, then known as the capital of the fur trade in the Southwest. Kinkead had served with Carson's older brothers during the War of 1812, and he taught Carson the skills of a trapper. Carson also began learning the necessary languages. Eventually he became fluent in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Navajo
Navajo language
Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language spoken in the southwestern United States. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages .Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the...

, Apache
Southern Athabaskan languages
Southern Athabaskan is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken primarily in the North American Southwest with two outliers in Oklahoma and Texas...

, Cheyenne
Cheyenne language
The Cheyenne language is a Native American language spoken by the Cheyenne people, predominantly in present-day Montana and Oklahoma in the United States. It is part of the Algonquian language family...

, Arapaho
Arapaho language
The Arapaho language or hinono'eitiit is a Plains Algonquian language spoken almost entirely by elders in Wyoming, and to a much lesser extent in Oklahoma. It is in great danger of becoming extinct. As of 1996, there were approximately 1,000 speakers of theNorthern Arapaho...

, Paiute
Paiute
Paiute refers to three closely related groups of Native Americans — the Northern Paiute of California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon; the Owens Valley Paiute of California and Nevada; and the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah.-Origin of name:The origin of...

, Shoshone
Shoshone language
Shoshoni or Shoshone is a Native American language spoken by the Shoshone people. Principal dialects of Shoshoni include Western Shoshoni in Nevada, Gosiute in western Utah, Northern Shoshoni in southern Idaho and northern Utah, and Eastern Shoshoni in Wyoming.Shoshoni-speaking Native Americans...

, and Ute
Ute language
Colorado River Numic , of the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, is a dialect chain that stretches from southeastern California to Colorado...

.

The trapper years (1829–1840)


After gaining experience as a teamster
Teamster
A teamster, in modern American English, is a truck driver. The trade union named after them is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters , one of the largest unions in the United States....

 along the Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1822 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880...

 and in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Carson signed on with a party of forty men, led by Ewing Young
Ewing Young
Ewing Young was an American fur trapper and trader from Tennessee who traveled Mexican southwestern North America and California before settling in the Oregon Country. As a prominent and wealthy citizen there, his death was the impetus for the early formation of government in what became the state...

 which in August, 1829 went into Apache
Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 country along the Gila River
Gila River
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 650 miles long, in the southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona.-Description:...

. There, when the party was attacked, Carson first saw combat. Young's party continued on into California trapping and trading from Sacramento to Los Angeles, returning to Taos in April, 1830 after trapping along the Colorado River. See Ewing Young for more detailed information.

Marriage to Singing Grass


At the age of 25, in the summer of 1835, Carson attended an annual mountain man
Mountain man
Mountain men were trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1880s where they were instrumental in opening up the various Emigrant Trails allowing Americans in the east to settle the new territories of the far west by organized wagon trains...

 rendezvous, which was held along the Green River
Green River (Utah)
The Green River, located in the western United States, is the chief tributary of the Colorado River. The watershed of the river, known as the Green River Basin, covers parts of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The Green River is long, beginning in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and flowing...

 in southwestern Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

. He became interested in an Arapaho
Arapaho
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early...

 woman whose name, Waa-Nibe, is approximated in English as "Singing Grass" Her tribe was camped nearby the rendezvous. Singing Grass is said to have been popular at the rendezvous and also to have caught the attention of a French-Canadian trapper, Joseph Chouinard. When Singing Grass chose Carson over Chouinard, the rejected suitor became belligerent. Chouinard is reported to have thrown a fit, disrupting the camp to the point where Carson could no longer tolerate the situation. Words were exchanged, and Carson and Chouinard charged each other on horses while brandishing their weapons. Using a pistol, Carson blew off Chouinard's thumb. His opponent barely missed killing Carson with his rifle shot; it grazed below his left ear and scorched his eye and hair. Carson said that the fact that Chouinard's horse shied probably saved him, as Chouinard was a splendid shot.

Controversy regarding Chouinard's fate continues. The duel with Chouinard is said to have made Carson famous among the mountain men but was also considered uncharacteristic of him.

Carson considered his years as a trapper to be "the happiest days of my life." Accompanied by Singing Grass, he worked with the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

, as well as the renowned frontiersman Jim Bridger
Jim Bridger
James Felix "Jim" Bridger was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820-1850, as well as mediating between native tribes and encroaching whites...

, trapping beaver along the Yellowstone
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

, Powder
Powder River (Oregon)
The Powder River is a tributary of the Snake River, approximately long, in northeast Oregon in the United States. It drains an area of the Columbia Plateau on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains...

, and Big Horn rivers. They trapped throughout what is now Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, and Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

. Carson's first child, a daughter named Adeline, was born in 1837. Singing Grass gave birth to a second daughter but developed a fever shortly after the birth, and died sometime between 1838–1840.

At this time, the nation was undergoing a severe depression (see Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

). In addition, the fur industry was undermined by changing fashion styles: a new demand for silk hats replaced the demand for beaver fur. Also, the trapping industry had devastated the beaver population. These factors ended the need for trappers. Carson said, "Beaver was getting scarce, it became necessary to try our hand at something else."

Marriage to Making-Our-Road


He attended the last mountain man rendezvous, held in the summer of 1840 (again at Ft. Bridger near the Green River) and moved on to Bent's Fort
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Bent's Old Fort is an 1833 fort located in Otero County in southeastern Colorado, USA. William and Charles Bent, along with Ceran St. Vrain, built the fort to trade with Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Plains Indians and trappers for buffalo robes...

, finding employment as a hunter. Carson married a Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

 woman, Making-Our-Road, in 1841. She left him only a short time later to follow her tribe's migration.

Marriage to Josefa Jaramillo


By 1842 Carson met and became engaged to the daughter of a prominent Taos
Taos, New Mexico
Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2000 census, its population was 4,700. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, and El Prado. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American...

 family: Josefa Jaramillo. After receiving instruction from Padre Antonio José Martínez
Antonio José Martínez
Father Antonio José Martínez was a New Mexican priest, educator, publisher, rancher, farmer, community leader, and politician. He lived through and influenced three distinct periods of New Mexico's history: the Spanish period, the Mexican period, and the American occupation and subsequent...

, he was baptized into the Catholic Church in 1842. At 34, Carson married his third wife, 14-year-old Josefa, on February 6, 1843. They had eight children together, the descendants of whom remain in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado.

Guide with Frémont (1842–1846)



Carson decided early in 1842 to return to Missouri, taking his daughter Adeline to live with relatives near Carson's former home of Franklin, to provide her with an education. That summer he met John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

 on a Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 steamboat
Steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

. Frémont was preparing to lead his first expedition and was looking for a guide to take him to South Pass
South Pass
South Pass is two mountain passes on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Wyoming. The passes are located in a broad low region, 35 miles broad, between the Wind River Range to the north and the Oregon Buttes and Great Divide Basin to the south, in southwestern Fremont...

 on the Continental Divide
Continental Divide
The Continental Divide of the Americas, or merely the Continental Gulf of Division or Great Divide, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain...

. As the two men became acquainted, Carson offered his services, as he had spent much time in the area. The five-month journey, made with 25 men, was a success, and Fremont's report was published by Congress. His report "touched off a wave of wagon caravans filled with hopeful emigrants" heading West.

Second expedition


Frémont's success in the first expedition led to his second expedition, undertaken in the summer of 1843. He proposed to map and describe the second half of the Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

, from South Pass to the Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

. Due to Carson's proven skills as a guide, Fremont invited him to join the second expedition. They traveled along the Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere, the fourth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of around , but the lake's size fluctuates substantially due to its...

 into Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

. They determined that all the land in the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

 (centered on modern-day Nevada) was land-locked, which contributed greatly to the understanding of North American geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 at the time. Farther west, they came within sight of Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier is a massive stratovolcano located southeast of Seattle in the state of Washington, United States. It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit elevation of . Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most...

, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Hood
Mount Hood
Mount Hood, called Wy'east by the Multnomah tribe, is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc of northern Oregon. It was formed by a subduction zone and rests in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States...

.

One goal of the expedition had been to locate the Buenaventura River
Buenaventura River (legend)
The non-existent Buenaventura River, alternatively San Buenaventura River, Río Buenaventura, etc. was once believed to run from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in what is now the western United States...

, what was believed to be a major east-west river connecting the Continental Divide with the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Though its existence was accepted as scientific fact at the time, it was not to be found. Frémont's second expedition established that the river was a fable.

When the expedition ventured into California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, they crossed into Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 territory. The second expedition became snowbound in the Sierra Nevadas that winter. Carson's wilderness skills averted mass starvation. Food was so scarce that their mules "ate one another's tails and the leather of the pack saddles."

The expedition moved south into the Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

, enduring attacks by Natives, who killed one man. The threat of military intervention by Mexico sent Fremont's expedition southeast, into Nevada, to a watering hole known as Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

. Carson remembered their arrival as follows:
Our adventures in the desert were eventually terminated by our arrival at "Las Vegas de Santa Clara", and a pleasant thing it was to look once more upon green grass and sweet water, and to reflect that the dreariest part of our journey lay behind us, so that the sands and jornados of the Great Basin would weary our animals no more... The [n]oise of running water, the large grassy meadows, from which the spot takes its name, and the green hills which circle it round – all seem to captivate the eye and please the senses of the well-worn "voyageur".


The party traveled on to Bent's Fort. By August 1844 they returned to Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, over a year after their departure. Congress published Fremont's report on his expedition in 1845. It added to the national reputations of the two frontiersmen.

Along the route, Frémont and party came across a Mexican man and a boy who had survived an ambush by a band of Natives. They had killed two men, staked two women to the ground and mutilated them, and stolen 30 horses. Carson and fellow mountain man Alex Godey took pity on the two survivors. They tracked the Native band for two days, and upon locating them, rushed into their encampment. They killed two Native Americans, scattered the rest, and returned to the Mexicans with the horses.
"More than any other single factor or incident, [the Mojave Desert incident] from Frémont's second expedition report is where the Kit Carson legend was born ..."

Third expedition


On June 1, 1845, John Frémont and 55 men left St. Louis, with Carson as guide, on the third expedition. The stated goal was to "map the source of the Arkansas River", on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. But upon reaching the Arkansas, Frémont suddenly made a hasty trail straight to California, without explanation. Arriving in the Sacramento Valley
Sacramento Valley
The Sacramento Valley is the portion of the California Central Valley that lies to the north of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the U.S. state of California. It encompasses all or parts of ten counties.-Geography:...

 in early winter 1846, he sought to stir up patriotic enthusiasm among the United States immigrants there. He promised that if war with Mexico started, his military force would "be there to protect them." Frémont nearly provoked a battle with Mexican General José Castro near Monterey, California
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

. Castro's troops so outnumbered the US expedition that they could likely have destroyed it. Frémont fled Mexican-controlled California, and went north to Oregon, making camp at Klamath Lake
Upper Klamath Lake
Upper Klamath Lake is a large, shallow freshwater lake east of the Cascade Range in south central Oregon in the United States. The largest freshwater body in Oregon, it is approximately 20 mi long and 8 mi wide and extends northwest from the city of Klamath Falls...

.

On the night of May 9, 1846, Frémont received a courier, Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie, bringing messages from President James Polk. Reviewing the messages, Frémont neglected the customary measure of posting a watchman for the camp. The neglect of this action is said to have been troubling to Carson, yet he had "apprehended no danger". Later that night Carson was awakened by the sound of a thump. Jumping up, he saw his friend and fellow trapper Basil Lajeunesse sprawled in blood. He sounded an alarm and immediately the camp realized they were under attack by Native Americans, estimated to be several dozen in number. By the time the assailants were beaten off, two other members of Frémont's group were dead. The one dead attacker was judged to be a Klamath Lake native. Frémont's group fell into "an angry gloom." Carson was furious and smashed the dead warrior's face into a pulp.

To avenge the deaths, Frémont attacked a Klamath
Klamath
]The Klamath are a Native American tribe of the Plateau culture area in Southern Oregon.-Pre-contact:Prior to the arrival of European explorers, the Klamath people lived in the area around the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath, Williamson, and Sprague rivers...

 Tribe fishing village named Dokdokwas, that most likely had nothing to do with the attack, at the junction of the Williamson River and Klamath Lake, on May 10, 1846. Accounts by scholars vary, but they agree that the attack completely destroyed the village structures; Sides reports the expedition killed women and children as well as warriors. Later that day, Carson was nearly killed by a Klamath warrior when his gun misfired as the warrior drew a poison arrow. Frémont trampled the warrior with his horse and saved Carson's life.
"The tragedy of Dokdokwas is deepened by the fact that most scholars now agree that Frémont and Carson, in their blind vindictiveness, probably chose the wrong tribe to lash out against: In all likelihood the band of native Americans that had killed [Frémont's three men] were from the neighboring Modoc
Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma
The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma is the smallest federally recognized tribe in Oklahoma. They are descendants of Captain Jack's band of Modoc people, removed from the West Coast after the Modoc Wars.-Early history:...

... The Klamaths were culturally related to the Modocs, but the two tribes were bitter enemies."


Turning south from Klamath Lake, Frémont led his expedition back down the Sacramento Valley, and promoted the Bear Flag Revolt, an insurrection of United States immigrant settlers. He took charge of it once it had adequately developed. When a group of Mexicans murdered two American rebels, Frémont imprisoned José de los Santos Berreyesa
José de los Santos Berreyesa
José de los Santos Berreyesa , a member of the Berreyesa family, was the last alcalde of Alta California...

, the alcalde
Alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

, or mayor of Sonoma, two other Berreyesa brothers, and others he believed were involved.

Berreyesa killings


On June 28, 1846, Berreyesa's father, José de los Reyes Berreyesa
José de los Reyes Berreyesa
José de los Reyes Berrelleza was born at Mission Santa Clara de Asís in Las Californias on January 6, 1785, the third child and first son in the family of María Gertrudis Peralta and Nicholas Antonio Berrelleza. He served as an army sergeant at El Presidio Real de San Francisco. In 1805, he...

, an elderly man, crossed the San Francisco Bay and landed near the area known as San Quentin
San Quentin, California
San Quentin is a small unincorporated community in Marin County, California. It is located west of Point San Quentin, at an elevation of 30 feet ....

 with two cousins, twin sons of Francisco de Haro
Francisco de Haro
Francisco de Haro was the first Alcalde of Yerba Buena in 1834.-Life:De Haro was born in Compostela, Nayarit, Mexico and came to San Francisco in 1819. He was the first Alcalde of Yerba Buena in 1834. He was instrumental in planning the street grid of the town along with Englishman William A....

, who were 19 years old, to visit his own sons in jail. According to Frémont they were carrying Mexican military dispatches. The men were captured by Carson and his companions when they disembarked. Carson rode to where Frémont was and inquired as to what should be done with the prisoners. Frémont ordered their execution stating, "I want no prisoners, Mr. Carson, do your duty." The men were shot. Afterwards the soldiers robbed them of their belongings and left them naked along the shore. Later, Carson told Jasper O'Farrell that he regretted killing the men, but that the act was only one such that Frémont ordered him to commit.

Mexican American War service


Frémont's California Battalion next moved south to the Mexican provincial capital of Monterey
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

, where they met US Commodore Robert Stockton in mid-July 1846. Stockton had sailed into harbor with two American warships and laid claim to Monterey for the United States. Learning that the war with Mexico
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

 was underway, Stockton made plans to capture Los Angeles and San Diego
History of San Diego, California
The recorded history of the San Diego, California, region goes back to the Spanish penetration of California in the 16th century.-Pre-colonial and colonial period:left|thumb|240px|Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego...

 and proceed on to Mexico City. He joined forces with Frémont, and made Carson a lieutenant, thus initiating Carson's military career.

Frémont's unit arrived in San Diego on one of Stockton's ships on July 29, 1846, and took over the town without resistance. Stockton, on a separate warship, claimed Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

 a few days later. (See Mission Santa Barbara
Mission Santa Barbara
In 1840, Alta California and Baja California were removed from the Diocese of Sonora to form the Diocese of Both Californias. Bishop Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, OFM, established his cathedra at Mission Santa Barbara, making the chapel the pro-cathedral of the diocese until 1849...

 and Presidio of Santa Barbara
Presidio of Santa Barbara
The El Presidio Real de Santa Bárbara, also known as the Royal Presidio of Santa Barbara, was a military installation in Santa Barbara, California. It was built by Spain in 1782, with the mission of defending the Second Military District in California...

). Meeting up and joining forces in San Diego, the men marched to Los Angeles
History of Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles changed rapidly after 1848, when California was transferred to the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War...

 and claimed the town without any challenge. On August 17, 1846, Stockton declared California to be United States territory. The following day, August 18, Stephen W. Kearny
Stephen W. Kearny
Stephen Watts Kearny surname also appears as Kearney in some historic sources; August 30, 1794 October 31, 1848), was one of the foremost antebellum frontier officers of the United States Army. He is remembered for his significant contributions in the Mexican-American War, especially the conquest...

 rode into Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

 with his Army of the West and declared the New Mexican territory conquered.

Stockton and Frémont were eager to announce the conquest of California to President Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. They asked Carson to carry their correspondence overland to the President. Carson accepted the mission, and pledged to cross the continent within 60 days. He left Los Angeles with 15 European-American men and six Delaware natives
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

 on September 5.

Service with Kearny


Thirty-one days later on October 6, Carson chanced to meet Kearny and his 300 dragoons at the deserted village of Valverde. Kearny was under orders from the Polk Administration to subdue both New Mexico and California, and set up governments there. Learning that California was already conquered, he sent 200 of his men back to Santa Fe, and ordered Carson to guide him back to California to stabilize the situation there. Kearny sent the mail on to Washington by another courier.

For the next six weeks, Lt. Carson guided Kearny and the 100 dragoons west along the Gila River
Gila River
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 650 miles long, in the southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona.-Description:...

 over rugged terrain, arriving at the Colorado River on November 25. On some parts of the trail, mules died at a rate of almost 12 a day. By December 5, three months after leaving Los Angeles, Carson had brought Kearny's men to within 25 miles (40.2 km) of their destination San Diego.

A Mexican courier was captured en route to Sonora, Mexico carrying letters to General Jose Castro that reported a Mexican revolt that had retaken California from Commodore Stockton. All the coastal cities were back under Mexican control except San Diego, where the Mexicans had Stockton pinned down and under siege. Kearny and his forces were in danger, as his men were reduced in number and exhausted from the trek from New Mexico. They had to come out of the Gila River trail and confront the Mexican forces, or risk perishing in the desert.

The Battle of San Pasqual




While approaching San Diego, Kearny sent a rancher ahead to notify Commodore Stockton of his presence. The rancher, Edward Stokes, returned with 39 American troops and information that several hundred Mexican dragoons under Capt. Andres Pico were camped at the indigenous village of San Pasqual, between Kearny and Stockton. Kearny decided to raid Pico to capture fresh horses, and sent out a scouting party on the night of December 5–6.

The scouting party set off a barking dog in San Pasqual, and Captain Pico's troops were aroused from their sleep. Having been detected, Kearny decided to attack, and organized his troops to advance on San Pasqual. A complex battle evolved. Twenty-one Americans were killed. By the end of the second day, December 7, the Americans were nearly out of food and water, low on ammunition and weak from the journey along the Gila River. They faced starvation and possible annihilation by the superior numbers of Mexican troops. Kearny ordered his men to dig in on top of a small hill.

Kearny sent Carson and two other men to slip through the siege and get reinforcements. Carson, Edward Beale, and a Native American left on the night of December 8 for San Diego, 25 miles (40.2 km) away. They left their canteens to avoid noise. Their boots also made too much noise, therefore Carson and Beale removed them and tucked them under their belts. They lost their boots, and had to make the journey barefoot through desert, rock, and cactus.

By December 10, Kearny believed all hope was gone, and planned to attempt a breakout the next morning. That night 200 American troops on fresh horses arrived, and the Mexican army dispersed in the face of the superior Americans. Kearny arrived in San Diego by December 12. His arrival contributed to the prompt reconquest of California by the American forces.

Indian activity



Following the recapture of Los Angeles in 1846, Stockton appointed Frémont as Governor of California. Frémont sent Carson to carry messages back to Washington, D.C. He stopped in St. Louis and met with Senator Thomas Benton
Thomas Hart Benton (senator)
Thomas Hart Benton , nicknamed "Old Bullion", was a U.S. Senator from Missouri and a staunch advocate of westward expansion of the United States. He served in the Senate from 1821 to 1851, becoming the first member of that body to serve five terms...

, a prominent supporter of settling of the West and a proponent of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

. He had been instrumental in getting Frémont's expedition reports published by Congress. Once in Washington, Carson delivered his messages to Secretary of State James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

, and had meetings with Secretary of War William Marcy
William L. Marcy
William Learned Marcy was an American statesman, who served as U.S. Senator and the 11th Governor of New York, and as the U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State.-Early life:...

 and President James Polk. The president also proposed Carson as a lieutenant in the mounted rifle regiment, but the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 rejected the appointment.

First Navajo campaign


The Navajo
Navajo people
The Navajo of the Southwestern United States are the largest single federally recognized tribe of the United States of America. The Navajo Nation has 300,048 enrolled tribal members. The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation in the...

 raided Socorro, New Mexico
Socorro, New Mexico
Socorro is a city in Socorro County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It stands in the Rio Grande Valley at an elevation of . The population was 9,051 at the 2010 census...

 near the end of September, 1846. General Kearny, passing nearby on his way to California after his recent conquest of Santa Fe, learned of the raid and sent a note to Col. William Doniphan
Alexander William Doniphan
Alexander William Doniphan was a 19th-century American attorney, soldier and politician from Missouri who is best known today as the man who prevented the summary execution of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Jr. at the close of the 1838 Mormon War in that state...

, his second-in-command in Santa Fe. He ordered Doniphan to send a regiment of soldiers into Navajo country and secure a peace treaty with them.

A detachment of 30 men made contact with the Navajo and spoke to the Navajo Chief Narbona
Narbona
Narbona was a Navajo chief who participated in the Navajo Wars. He was killed in a confrontation with U.S. soldiers on August 30th, 1849....

 in mid-October, about the same time that Carson met Gen. Kearny on the trail to California. A second meeting between Chief Narbona and Col. Doniphan occurred several weeks later. Doniphan informed the Navajo that all their land now belonged to the United States, and the Navajo and New Mexicans were the “children of the United States” . The Navajo signed a treaty, known as the Bear Spring Treaty, on November 21, 1846. The treaty forbade the Navajo to raid or make war on the New Mexicans, but allowed the New Mexicans to make war on the Navajo if they saw fit.

Despite the treaty, the Navajo continued raiding in New Mexico, which they considered a category separate from war, as did the Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache, Ute, Comanche, and Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

. On August 16, 1849 the US Army began an expedition into the heart of Navajo country on an organized reconnaissance to impress the Navajo with the might of the U.S. military. They also mapped the terrain and planned forts. Col. John Washington, the military governor of New Mexico at the time, led the expedition. Forces included nearly 1000 infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 (US and New Mexican volunteers), hundreds of horses and mules, a supply train, 55 Pueblo
Pueblo
Pueblo is a term used to describe modern communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material...

 scouts, and four artillery guns.

On August 29–30, 1849, Washington's expedition needed water, and began pillaging Navajo cornfields. Mounted Navajo warriors darted back and forth around Washington's troops to push them off. Washington reasoned he could pillage Navajo crops because the Navajo would have to reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of the expedition. Washington still suggested to the Navajo that in spite of the hostile situation, they and the whites could “still be friends if the Navajo came with their chiefs the next day and signed a treaty”. This is what they did.

The next day Chief Narbona came to “talk peace”, along with several other headmen. After reaching an accord, a scuffle broke out when a New Mexican thought he saw his stolen horse and tried to claim it from the Navajo. (The Navajo held that the horse had passed through several owners by this time, and rightfully belonged to its Navajo owner). Washington sided with the New Mexican. Since the Navajo owner took his horse and fled the scene, Washington told the New Mexican to pick out any Navajo horse he wanted. The rest of the Navajo also left. At this, Col. Washington ordered his soldiers to fire.

Seven Navajo were killed in the volleys; the rest ran and could not be caught. One of the dying was Chief Narbona, who was scalped as he lay dying by a New Mexican souvenir hunter. This massacre prompted the warlike Navajo leaders such as Manuelito
Manuelito
Manuelito was one of the principal war chiefs of the Navajo people before, during and after the Long Walk Period. His name means Little Manuel in Spanish. He was born to the Clan, near the Bear's Ears in southeastern Utah about 1818. As any Navajo, he was known by different names depending upon...

 to gain influence over those who were advocates of peace.

By the end of the Frémont expeditions and California rebellion, Carson decided to settle down with Joséfa. In 1849 they moved to Taos to take up ranching and farming. However, a peaceful life at home was not to be.

Fame


Carson's public image as a hero had been sealed by the Frémont expedition reports of 1845. In 1849 the first of many Carson action novels appeared. Written by Charles Averill, it bore the name Kit Carson: The Prince of the Gold Hunters. This type of western pulp fiction
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

 was known as “blood and thunders”. In Averill's novel, Carson finds a kidnapped girl and rescues her, after having vowed to her distraught parents in Boston that he would scour the American West until she was found.

In November 1849, Carson and Major William Grier found the camp of the Jicarilla Apache
Jicarilla Apache
Jicarilla Apache refers to the members of the Jicarilla Apache Nation currently living in New Mexico and speaking a Southern Athabaskan language...

s who had captured Mrs. Ann White and her daughter. The Jicarilla had attacked the White home and had killed her husband and others. Knowing the soldiers were near, the Jicarilla killed Mrs. White. While picking through the belongings that the Jicarilla had left in their camp, one of Major Grier's soldiers came across a book that the White family had carried with them from Missouri — the paperback novel starring Kit Carson. This was the first time that Carson had come in contact with his own myth.

The episode of the White family killings haunted Carson's memory for many years. He wrote in his autobiography:
I have much regretted the failure of the attempt to save the life of so esteemed and respected a lady. In the camp was found a book, the first of the kind I had ever seen, in which I was made a great hero, slaying Indians by the hundred, and I have often thought that as Mrs. White would read the same and knowing that I lived near, she would pray for my appearance and that she might be saved.


Later, when a friend offered Averill's book as a gift, Carson told the friend he would rather “burn the damn thing.” In fact, these extravagant novels set the public's view of Carson for a generation. Near the end of his life, Carson met a man from Arkansas. He recounted the incident later:
“I say, stranger, are you Kit Carson?” the man asked. Carson said yes. “Look ’ere,” the Arkansan replied, casting his eye over Carson’s diminutive frame. “You ain’t the kind of Kit Carson I’m looking for.”


Following the March 30, 1854 battle of Cieneguilla
Battle of Cieneguilla
The Battle of Cieneguilla was an engagement of the Jicarilla War involving a group of Jicarilla Apaches, their Ute allies, and the American 1st Cavalry Regiment on March 30, 1854 near what is now Pilar, New Mexico...

, Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke
Philip St. George Cooke
Philip St. George Cooke was a career United States Army cavalry officer who served as a Union General in the American Civil War. He is noted for his authorship of an Army cavalry manual, and is sometimes called the "Father of the U.S...

 of the Second Regiment of Dragoons organized an expedition to pursue the Jicarilla. With the help of scouts led by Kit Carson, he caught and defeated them April 4, at the canyon of Ojo Caliente.

Peace treaty efforts


On January 22, 1858, Kit Carson concluded a treaty of peace between the Muatche Utah, the Arapaho
Arapaho
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early...

, and the Pueblo
Pueblo
Pueblo is a term used to describe modern communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material...

 of Taos. They agreed to support the United States in the event of any issue between them and the people of any Territory, and to do what they could to suppress rebellion in Utah. At one time the US feared that the Muatche Utah were in alliance with the Mormons.

Civil War



When the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 began in April 1861, Kit Carson resigned his post as federal Indian agent
Indian agent
In United States history, an Indian agent was an individual authorized to interact with Native American tribes on behalf of the U.S. government.-Indian agents:*Leander Clark was agent for the Sac and Fox in Iowa beginning in 1866....

 for northern New Mexico. He joined the New Mexico volunteer infantry organized by Ceran St. Vrain
Ceran St. Vrain
Ceran St. Vrain , also known as Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain, was a major fur trader near Taos, New Mexico, where he and his partner William Bent established the trading post of Bent's Fort. St...

. Although New Mexico Territory
New Mexico Territory
thumb|right|240px|Proposed boundaries for State of New Mexico, 1850The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of...

 officially allowed slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, geography and economics made the institution so impractical that there were few slaves within its boundaries. The territorial government and the leaders of opinion all threw their support to the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

.

Overall command of Union forces in the Department of New Mexico fell to Colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 Edward R. S. Canby
Edward Canby
Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War, Reconstruction era, and the Indian Wars...

 of the Regular Army’s 19th Infantry, headquartered at Ft. Marcy in Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

. Carson, with the rank of Colonel of Volunteers, commanded the third of five columns in Canby’s force. Carson’s command was divided into two battalions, each made up of four companies of the First New Mexico Volunteers, in all some 500 men.

Early in 1862, Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 forces in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 under General Henry Hopkins Sibley
Henry Hopkins Sibley
Henry Hopkins Sibley was a brigadier general during the American Civil War, leading the Confederate States Army in the New Mexico Territory. His attempt to gain control of trails to California was defeated at the Battle of Glorieta Pass...

 invaded New Mexico Territory. They aimed to conquer the rich Colorado gold fields and to redirect the resource from the North to the South.

Battle of Valverde


Advancing up the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

, Sibley’s command clashed with Canby’s Union force at Valverde on February 21, 1862. The day-long Battle of Valverde
Battle of Valverde
The Battle of Valverde, or the Battle of Valverde Ford from February 20 to February 21, 1862, was fought near the town of Valverde at a ford of Valverde Creek in Confederate Arizona, in what is today the state of New Mexico. It was a major Confederate success in the New Mexico Campaign of the...

 ended when the Confederates captured a Union battery of six guns and forced the rest of Canby’s troops across the river. The Union lost 68 killed and 160 wounded. Colonel Carson’s column spent the morning on the west side of the river out of the action, but at 1 p.m., Canby ordered them to cross. Carson’s battalions fought until ordered to retreat. Carson lost one man killed and one wounded. Colonel Canby had little or no confidence in the hastily recruited, untrained New Mexico volunteers, “who would not obey orders or obeyed them too late to be of any service.” However, Canby did remark about Carson and his volunteer’s “zeal and energy”.

After the battle at Valverde, Colonel Canby and most of the regular troops were ordered to the eastern front. Carson and his New Mexico Volunteers
1st Regiment New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry
The 1st Regiment New Mexico Cavalry was a volunteer cavalry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War, although it was engaged exclusively against Native Americans.-Service:...

 were fully occupied by “Indian troubles”.

Background


Outlaw Navajos (called ladrones, Spanish for thieves), as well as other Native Americans, and their neighboring New Mexicans, had raided, killed and enslaved each other since they had lived side by side during Spanish rule. A lull had taken place in the 1850s under the jurisdiction of Captain Henry Kendrick, commandant of Fort Defiance
Fort Defiance, Arizona
Fort Defiance is a census-designated place in Apache County, Arizona, United States. The population was 4,061 at the 2000 census.- History :...

 in northeast Arizona, and Henry Dodge
Henry Dodge
Henry Dodge was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, Territorial Governor of Wisconsin and a veteran of the Black Hawk War. His son was Augustus C. Dodge with whom he served in the U.S. Senate, the first, and so far only, father-son pair to serve concurrently....

, the government agent. But after Dodge disappeared in late 1856, and Kendrick was transferred to another post, the raids resumed. With the withdrawal of many troops at the start of the Civil War, New Mexicans became more outspoken and demanded that something be done.

Removal plan


Col. Canby devised a plan for the removal of the Navajo to a distant reservation and sent his plans to his superiors in Washington D.C. But he was promoted to general and recalled east for other duties.

His replacement as commander of the Federal District of New Mexico was Brigadier General James H. Carleton. Carleton believed that the Navajo conflict was the reason for New Mexico's "depressing backwardness". He turned to Kit Carson to help him fulfill his plans of upgrading New Mexico and advancing his own career, as Carson's national reputation had boosted the careers of a series of military commanders who had employed him.


Carleton saw a way to harness the anxieties that had been stirred up [in New Mexico] by the Confederate invasion and the still-hovering fear that the Texans might return. If the territory was already on a war footing, the whole society alert and inflamed, then why not direct all this ramped up energy toward something useful? Carleton immediately declared a state of martial law, with curfews and mandatory passports for travel, and then brought all his newly streamlined authority to bear on cleaning up the Navajo mess. With a focus that bordered on obsession, he was determined finally to make good on Kearny's old promise that the United States would "correct all this".


Carleton believed there was gold in the Navajo country, and that they should be driven out to allow its development. The immediate prelude to Carleton's Navajo campaign was to force the Mescalero Apache to Bosque Redondo. Carleton ordered Carson to kill all the men of that tribe, and say that he (Carson) had been sent to "punish them for their treachery and crimes."

Carson was appalled by this brutal attitude and refused to obey it. He accepted the surrender of more than a hundred Mescalero warriors who sought refuge with him. Nonetheless, he completed his campaign in a month.

When Carson learned that Carleton intended him to pursue the Navajo, he sent Carleton a letter of resignation dated February 3, 1863. Carleton refused to accept this and used the force of his personality to maintain Carson's cooperation. In language similar to his description of the Mescalero Apache, Carleton ordered Carson to lead an expedition against the Navajo, and to say to them, "You have deceived us too often, and robbed and murdered our people too long, to trust you again at large in your own country. This war shall be pursued against you if it takes years, now that we have begun, until you cease to exist or move. There can be no other talk on the subject." However, it was largely Canby's proposed plan, written from a position of relative neutrality and created in hopes of defusing the situation, that Carleton and Carson ultimately carried out.

The Long Walk


Under Carleton's direction, Carson instituted a scorched earth policy, which coerced the Navajo to surrender. Most corn fields were used to feed his horses, and some fields were destroyed. Carleton had insisted that livestock was not to be used for personal use. To carry out his orders, Carson asked that the government recruit Utes to assist him. He did not personally cut down the orchards; he was aided by other Native American tribes with long-standing enmity toward the Navajos. Carson was pleased with the work the Utes did for him, but they went home early in the campaign when told they could not confiscate Navajo booty.

Carson had difficulty with New Mexico volunteers as well. Officers typically came from the ranks of Anglos in the territory, and were not of the best calibre. Carson urged Carleton to accept two resignations he was forwarding, “as I do not wish to have any officer in my command who is not contented or willing to put up with as much inconvenience and privations for the success of the expedition as I undergo myself”.

Unlike the battles in the Civil War, the campaign did not consist of head-to-head battles. Instead, Carson fought when necessary, to round up and take prisoner all the Navajo he could find, to force them to go to Bosque Redondo, also called Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner was a military fort in De Baca County in southeastern New Mexico charged with the internment of Navajo and Mescalero Apache populations from 1863-1868 at nearby Bosque Redondo.-History:...

.

Finally, in January 1864, after long resisting the plan, Carson sent a company into
Battle of Canyon de Chelly
The Battle of Canyon de Chelly was fought in 1864 as part of the Navajo Wars. It was a successful operation for the United States Army which precipitated the Long Walk and was the final major military engagement between the Navajo and the Americans...

 Canyon de Chelly to investigate the last Navajo stronghold, presuming them to be under the leadership of Manuelito. Carson had feared a trap. But Carleton's orders proved to be effective, and the Navajo realized they had only two choices: surrender and go to Bosque Redondo, or die. By the spring of 1864, 8,000 Navajo men, women and children were forced to march or ride in wagons 300 miles (480 km) from Fort Canby to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Navajos call this “The Long Walk”
Long Walk of the Navajo
The Long Walk of the Navajo, also called the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo , refers to the 1864 deportation of the Navajo people by the U.S. Government. Navajos were forced to walk at gunpoint from their reservation in what is now Arizona to eastern New Mexico. The trip lasted about 18 days...

.

Carson had left the Army and returned home before the march began, but some Navajo held him responsible for the events. He had promised that those who surrendered would not be harmed, and indeed, they were not attacked directly, but the journey was hard on the people, as they were already starving and poorly clothed, and the provisions were scanty. An estimated 300 Navajo died along the way. Many more died during the next four years on the encampment at Fort Sumner. Carleton had underestimated the number of Navajo that would arrive at Sumner, and also had ordered insufficient provisions, a factor that Carson deplored.

In 1868, after signing a treaty with the US government, the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland. Since then the Navajo Reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 has been enlarged several times to its current size. Thousands of other Navajo who had been living in the wilderness returned to the Navajo homeland centered around Canyon de Chelly.

Southern Plains campaign


In November 1864, Carson was sent by General Carleton to deal with the Indians in western Texas. Carson and his 400 troopers and Indian scouts met a combined force of Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

, Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

, and Plains Apache
Plains Apache
The Plains Apache are a Southern Athabaskan group that traditionally live on the Southern Plains of North America and today are centered in Southwestern Oklahoma...

 numbering as much as 1,500 at the ruins of Adobe Walls, Texas
Adobe Walls, Texas
Adobe Walls ia a ghost town in Hutchinson County, northeast of Stinnett, in the U.S. state of Texas. It was established in 1843 as a trading post for buffalo hunters and local Indian trade in the vicinity of the Canadian River. It later became a ranching community. Historically, Adobe Walls is the...

. In the Battle of Adobe Walls
First Battle of Adobe Walls
The First Battle of Adobe Walls, was a battle between the United States Army and native Americans. The Kiowa, Comanche and Plains Apache tribes drove from the battlefield a United States Expeditionary Force that was reacting to attacks on white settlers moving into the Southwest...

, the Indian force led by Dohäsan
Dohäsan
Dohäsan, Dohosan, Tauhawsin or Tohausen was a prominent Native American. He was War Chief of the Kata or Arikara band of the Kiowa Indians, and then Principal Chief of the entire Kiowa Tribe, a position he held for an extraordinary 33 years...

 made several assaults on Carson's forces which were supported by two mountain howitzers. Carson retreated after burning a Kiowa village. Carson lost the battle, but most authorities give him credit for a skillful defense and a wise decision to withdraw when confronted by numerically superior Indian army.

A few days later, Colonel John M. Chivington led US troops in a massacre at Sand Creek
Sand Creek Massacre
As conflict between Indians and white settlers and soldiers in Colorado continued, many of the Cheyenne and Arapaho, including bands under Cheyenne chiefs Black Kettle and White Antelope, were resigned to negotiate peace. The chiefs had sought to maintain peace in spite of pressures from whites...

. Chivington boasted that he had surpassed Carson and would soon be known as the great Indian killer. Carson expressed outrage at the massacre and openly denounced Chivington's actions.

The Southern Plains campaign led the Comanches to sign the Little Rock Treaty of 1865. In October 1865, General Carleton recommended that Carson be awarded the brevet rank of brigadier general, "for gallantry in the battle of Valverde, and for distinguished conduct and gallantry in the wars against the Mescalero Apache
Mescalero
Mescalero is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southcentral New Mexico...

s and against the Navajo natives of New Mexico".

Colorado


When the Civil War ended, and the Indian Wars campaigns were in a lull, Carson was brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

ed a General and appointed commandant of Ft. Garland, Colorado, the heart of Ute country. Carson had many Ute friends in the area and assisted in government relations. He was interviewed there by Wm. T. Sherman. A description of that meeting is included in the Charles Burdett book Life of Kit Carson. After being mustered out of the Army, Carson took up ranching. In late 1867 he personally escorted four Ute chiefs to Washington DC to visit the President and seek additional government assistance. Soon after his return, his wife Josefa ("Josephine") died from complications after giving birth to their eighth child.

Carson died a month later at age 58 on May 23, 1868, in the presence of Dr. Tilton. Dr. Tilton's description of Carson's last days are included in J. S. C. Abbott's Life of Kit Carson. He died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a localized dilatation of the abdominal aorta exceeding the normal diameter by more than 50 percent, and is the most common form of aortic aneurysm...

 in the surgeon's quarters in Fort Lyon
Fort Lyon
Fort Lyon, first named Fort Wise, was operated on the Colorado eastern plains until 1867. That year a new fort called Fort Lyon, and later Las Animas, Colorado, U.S. Naval Hospital and 5BN117, was built near the present-day town of Las Animas, Colorado. First named after Virginia governor Henry...

, Colorado, located east of Las Animas. He was buried in Taos, New Mexico, next to his wife. His headstone inscription reads: "Kit Carson / Died May 23, 1868 / Aged 59 Years."

His last words were: "Adios Compadres" (Spanish for "Goodbye friends").

Reputation


Many general accounts of Kit Carson describe him as an outstanding honorable person. Albert Richardson, who knew him personally in the 1850s, wrote that Kit Carson was "a gentleman by instinct, upright, pure, and simple-hearted, beloved alike by Indians, Mexicans, and Americans".

Oscar Lipps also presented a positive image of Carson in 1909: "The name of Kit Carson is to this day held in reverence by all the old members of the Navajo tribe. They say he knew how to be just and considerate as well as how to fight the Indians".

Carson's contributions to western history have been reexamined by historians, journalists and Native American activists since the 1960s. In 1968, Carson biographer Harvey L. Carter stated:
In respect to his actual exploits and his actual character, however, Carson was not overrated. If history has to single out one person from among the Mountain Men to receive the admiration of later generations, Carson is the best choice. He had far more of the good qualities and fewer of the bad qualities than anyone else in that varied lot of individuals.


Some journalists and authors during the last 25 years presented an alternative view of Kit Carson. For instance, Virginia Hopkins stated in 1988 that "Kit Carson was directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Indians". Tom Dunlay wrote in 2000 that Carson was directly responsible for the deaths of at least fifty indigenous people. Dunlay portrays Carson as a man with divided loyalties whose beliefs and prejudices were shaped by his times.

In 1970, Lawrence Kelly noted that Carleton had warned 18 Navajo chiefs that all Navajo peoples "must come in and go to the 'Bosque Redondo' where they would be fed and protected until the war was over. That unless they were willing to do this they would be considered hostile."

On January 19, 2006, Marley Shebala, senior news reporter and photographer for Navajo Times, quoted the Fort Defiance Chapter of the Navajo Nation as saying, "Carson ordered his soldiers to shoot any Navajo, including women and children, on sight." This view of Carson's actions may be taken from General James Carleton’s orders to Carson on October 12, 1862, concerning the Mescalero Apaches: "All Indian men of that tribe are to be killed whenever and wherever you can find them: the women and children will not be harmed, but you will take them prisoners and feed them at Ft. Stanton until you receive other instructions".

Sides said that Carson believed the Native Americans needed reservations as a way of physically separating and shielding them from white hostility and white culture. Carson believed most of the Indian troubles in the West were caused by "aggressions on the part of whites." He is said to have viewed the raids on white settlements as driven by desperation, "committed from absolute necessity when in a starving condition." Native American hunting grounds were disappearing as waves of white settlers filled the region.

In 1868, at the urging of Washington and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Carson journeyed to Washington D.C. where he escorted several Ute Chiefs to meet with the President of the United States to plead for assistance to their tribe.

Novels



At least 25 titles were recorded, from Kit Carson, Prince of the Gold Hunters (1849) through Kit Carson, King of Scouts (1923). Kit Carson is included in a number of 20th century novels and pulp magazine stories: Comanche Chaser by Dane Coolidge, On Sweet Water Trail by Sabra Conner, On to Oregon by H. W. Morrow, The Pioneers by C. R. Cooper, The Long Trail by J. Allan Dunn
J. Allan Dunn
Joseph Allan Dunn , best known as J. Allan Dunn, was one of the high-producing writers of the American pulp magazines. He published well over a thousand stories, novels, and serials from 1914–41. He first made a name for himself in Adventure...

 and Peltry by A. D. H. Smith.

In Willa Cather
Willa Cather
Willa Seibert Cather was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours , a novel set during World War I...

's novel Death Comes for the Archbishop
Death Comes for the Archbishop
Death Comes for the Archbishop is a 1927 novel by Willa Cather. It concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory.The novel was included on Time's 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005...

(1927), the legend of Kit Carson is explored, first as compassionate friend to the natives, later as "misguided" soldier.

William Saroyan
William Saroyan
William Saroyan was an Armenian American dramatist and author. The setting of many of his stories and plays is the center of Armenian-American life in California in his native Fresno.-Early years:...

's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened 25 October 1939 at the Booth Theatre in New York City...

(1939) includes a colorful character, an old man, based on the image and reputation of Kit Carson.

Kit Carson also appears in Flashman and the Redskins
Flashman and the Redskins
Flashman and the Redskins is a 1982 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the seventh of the Flashman novels.-Plot introduction:Presented within the frame of the supposed discovery of a trunkful of papers detailing the long life and career of a Victorian officer, this series centres around...

(1982) by George MacDonald Fraser
George MacDonald Fraser
George MacDonald Fraser, OBE was an English-born author of Scottish descent, who wrote both historical novels and non-fiction books, as well as several screenplays.-Early life and military career:...

.

Carson appears as a supporting character in the The Berrybender Narratives
The Berrybender Narratives
The Berrybender Narratives is a series of novels written by Larry McMurtry. It tells the story of an ill-fated hunting expedition lasting several years and covering much of the early American West...

(2002–2004), a series of four novels by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
Larry Jeff McMurtry is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas...

.

Films


Four silent films were made featuring Kit Carson as the "star" from 1903 to 1928. From 1933-1947 Hollywood produced three talking films: Fighting with Kit Carson
Fighting with Kit Carson
Fighting with Kit Carson is a Mascot Pictures movie serial.-Cast:* Johnny Mack Brown as Kit Carson* Betsy King Ross as Joan Fargo, aka Johnny Fargo* Noah Beery, Sr. as Cyrus Kraft* Noah Beery, Jr...

, a serial (1933), revised as a single movie: The Return of Kit Carson (1947); Overland with Kit Carson (1939); and Kit Carson (1940), starring Jon Hall
Jon Hall
Jon Hall was an American film actor.-Biography:Born Charles Felix Locher in Fresno, California, and raised in Tahiti by his father, the Swiss-born actor Felix Locher, he was a nephew of James Norman Hall, one of the authors of Mutiny on the Bounty...

 in the title role. Disney released Kit Carson and the Mountain Men in 1977.

Television


A fictional western television series, The Adventures of Kit Carson
The Adventures of Kit Carson
The Adventures of Kit Carson is an American Western series that aired in syndication from August 1951 to November 1955, originally sponsored by Coca-Cola. It stars Bill Williams in the title role as frontier scout Christopher "Kit" Carson...

, starring Bill Williams
Bill Williams (actor)
Bill Williams was an American television and film actor. He is best known for his starring role in the early 1950 television show The Adventures of Kit Carson.-Career:...

 and Don Diamond
Don Diamond
Donald Alan "Don" Diamond was an American radio, film, and television actor who portrayed "Crazy Cat", the sidekick and heir apparent to Chief Wild Eagle on the popular 1960s television sitcom, F Troop .-Career:...

, ran in syndication
Television syndication
In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows by multiple radio stations and television stations, without going through a broadcast network, though the process of syndication may conjure up structures like those of a network itself, by its very...

 from 1951-1955. Dream West was a TV 1986 docudrama
Docudrama
In film, television programming and staged theatre, docudrama is a documentary-style genre that features dramatized re-enactments of actual historical events. As a neologism, the term is often confused with docufiction....

 that includes Kit Carson and John C. Fremont as characters. The History Channel produced Carson and Cody, the Hunter Heroes in 2003. In 2008 PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

/The American Experience produced Kit Carson, a film biography.

Music


The Canadian singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll.-Biography:...

, has a track entitled "Kit Carson" on his 1991 album Nothing But a Burning Light that does not present Carson in a positive light.

Comics

  • In 1931 Kit Carson was the subject of J. Carroll Mansfield's daily comic strip High Lights of History, collected as a Big Little Book, Kit Carson (1933).
  • In the Italian comic Tex Willer
    Tex Willer
    Tex Willer is the main fictional character of the Italian comics series Tex, created by writer Gian Luigi Bonelli and illustrator Aurelio Galleppini, and first published in Italy on 30 September 1948. It is among the most popular characters of Italian comics, with translations to numerous ...

    (1948- ), Kit Carson appears as Tex's sidekick.
  • Avon began a series of Kit Carson comic books that lasted nine issues (1950–1955).
  • Boy's Life includes a continuing strip story "Old Timer Tales of Kit Carson" from March 1951 to May 1953.
  • Classics Illustrated No. 112, The Adventures of Kit Carson (October 1953), is based on John C. Abbott's 1873 book; the comic book went through nine printings between 1953 and 1969. Blazing the Trails West, another Classics Illustrated
    Classics Illustrated
    Classics Illustrated is a comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics such as Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Iliad. Created by Albert Kanter, the series began publication in 1941 and finished its first run in 1971, producing 169 issues. Following the series' demise, various companies...

     publication (Special Issue No. 144A, June 1958), includes a chapter on Kit Carson.
  • In England and France, there was a Kit Carson comic that lasted at least 350 issues (1950s), and seven Kit Carson Annuals (1954–1960)
  • Six Gun Heroes had two Kit Carson titles (1957 & 1958), and there was a Kit Carson No. 10 in 1963.
  • The 1970 Walt Disney Comics Digest
    Walt Disney Comics Digest
    Walt Disney Comics Digest was one of three digest size comics published by Gold Key Comics in the early 1970s. The other two were the Mystery Comics Digest and Golden Comics Digest....

    included Kit Carson.

Museums and honors



The Kit Carson House
Kit Carson House
Kit Carson House was a home of frontiersman Kit Carson in Taos, New Mexico.It is operated now as a house museum.It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963.-External links:** at Historic American Building Survey...

 in Taos, New Mexico, is a U.S.-designated National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

. It is operated as a museum.

The Kit Carson Museum in Las Animas, Colorado
Las Animas, Colorado
200px|right|thumb|St. Mary's [[Catholic]] Church in Las AnimasThe city of Las Animas is a Statutory City that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, Bent County, Colorado, United States. The population was 2,410 at the 2010 census. Las Animas, located in southeast...

, is located in an adobe building that was built in 1940 to hold German prisoners of war captured in North Africa during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The museum houses artifacts relating to Bent County, Colorado
Bent County, Colorado
Bent County is one of the 64 counties of the state of Colorado of the United States. The county is named in honor of frontier trader William Bent. The county population was 5,998 at U.S. Census 2000...

 covering the period from the days of Kit Carson, through World War II. It is scheduled to move into a new facility, once completed.

Fort Garland
Fort Garland
Fort Garland , Colorado, USA, was designed to house two companies of soldiers to protect settlers in the San Luis Valley, which was the Territory of New Mexico...

, located within the city of the same name in Colorado, was the location where Kit Carson briefly re-located his family while he served as commandant of a company of roughly 100 New Mexico Volunteers in 1866-1867. It includes original adobe buildings that house a reconstruction of Carson's commandant quarters. The site is a U.S.-designated National Historic Landmark, and is operated as the "Fort Garland Museum".

The Kit Carson Chapel, located in Fort Lyon
Fort Lyon, Colorado
Fort Lyon is an unincorporated town and U.S. Post Office in Bent County, Colorado, United States. The Fort Lyon Post Office has the ZIP Code 81038....

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, was constructed from the stones of the surgeons' quarters where he died. It is open to the public.

In Rayado, NM
Rayado, New Mexico
Rayado or Reyado was the first permanent settlement in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States and an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail.- Overview :...

, the Kit Carson Museum is operated as a living museum
Living museum
A living museum is a type of museum, in which historical events showing the life in ancient times are performed, especially in ethnographic or historical views, or processes for producing a commercial product in terms of technical and technological developments are shown, especially the craft...

, staffed by nearby Philmont Scout Ranch
Philmont Scout Ranch
Philmont Scout Ranch is a large, rugged, mountainous ranch located near the town of Cimarron, New Mexico, covering approximately of wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico...

 interpreters.

San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park honors the soldiers who fought in the 1846 Battle of San Pasqual, the bloodiest battle in California during the Mexican-American War...

, located near Escondido, California
Escondido, California
Escondido is a city occupying a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills, just north of the city of San Diego, California. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County. The city had a population of 143,911 at the 2010 census. Its municipal government set itself an operating...

, is a California State Park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

 which honors the memory of the participants from both the United States and Mexico, including Kit Carson, who contested the Battle of San Pasqual
Battle of San Pasqual
The Battle of San Pasqual, also spelled San Pascual, was a military encounter that occurred during the Mexican-American War in what is now the San Pasqual Valley community of the city of San Diego, California. On December 6 and December 7, 1846, General Stephen W...

 on December 5–6, 1846 during the Mexican-American War. The State Park includes a visitor's center that in addition to housing exhibits and a film about the battle, also includes information about the cultural history of the San Pasqual Valley. The State Park also hosts living history presentations, which once a year in December includes a recreation of the battle itself.

A partial list of places named after Carson:
  • Carson City
    Carson City, Nevada
    The Consolidated Municipality of Carson City is the capital of the state of Nevada. The words Consolidated Municipality refer to a series of changes in 1969 which abolished Ormsby County and merged all the settlements contained within its borders into Carson City. Since that time Carson City has...

    , the capital of Nevada
    Nevada
    Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

  • Carson National Forest
    Carson National Forest
    Carson National Forest is a national forest in northern New Mexico, United States. It encompasses 6,070 square kilometers and is administered by the United States Forest Service...

    , in northern New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

  • Carson Pass
    Carson Pass
    Carson Pass is the Sierra Crest mountain pass over which State Route 88 crosses. The historic pass was a point on the Carson Trail during the California Gold Rush and was used for American Civil War shipping to California until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad...

     in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Carson River
    Carson River
    The Carson River is a northwestern Nevada river that empties into the Carson Sink, an endorheic basin. The main stem of the river is long....

    , flowing from California to Nevada, ending in the Carson Sink
    Carson Sink
    Carson Sink is a playa in the northeastern portion of the Carson Desert that was formerly the terminus of the Carson River. The sink is currently fed by drainage canals of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District...

  • Carson Trail, a branch of the California Trail
    California Trail
    The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California...

  • Carson Valley, Nevada
  • Fort Carson, an Army post in Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in South-Central Colorado, in the southern portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located south of the Colorado...

  • Kit Carson, California
    Kit Carson, California
    Kit Carson is an unincorporated community in Amador County, California, United States.Kit Carson is located at the north end of Silver Lake in the Eldorado National Forest. It lies at an elevation of 7,287 feet ....

     (on the east shore of Silver Lake)
  • Kit Carson, Colorado
    Kit Carson, Colorado
    The historic Town of Kit Carson is a Statutory Town in Cheyenne County, Colorado, United States. The population was 253 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Kit Carson is located at ....

     (on US 287 about 200 miles (321.9 km) south and east of Denver)
  • Kit Carson County
    Kit Carson County, Colorado
    Kit Carson County is the 18th most extensive of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado of the United States. The county population was 8,011 at U.S. Census 2000. The county was named for Kit Carson...

    , located in eastern Colorado
  • Kit Carson Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...

  • Kit Carson Elementary School, Blount County, Tennessee
    Blount County, Tennessee
    Blount County is a U.S. county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Its population was 123,010 at the United States Census, 2010. The county seat is at Maryville, which is also the county's largest city....

     (no longer used) Lat 35d50'59.72"N, Long 83d59'7.30"W
  • Kit Carson Elementary School, Las Vegas, Nevada
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

  • Kit Carson Elementary School, Richmond, Kentucky
    Richmond, Kentucky
    There were 10,795 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.6% were non-families. Of all households, 34.7% were made up of individuals and 8.8% had...

  • Kit Carson Memorial State Park, Taos, New Mexico
    Taos, New Mexico
    Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2000 census, its population was 4,700. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, and El Prado. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American...

  • Kit Carson Middle School, Sacramento, California
    Sacramento, California
    Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

  • Kit Carson Mountain and Kit Carson Peak
    Kit Carson Peak
    Kit Carson Peak is one of the 54 fourteeners in the state of Colorado. It lies in the Sangre de Cristo Range near Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle and is named after the frontiersman Kit Carson...

    , its highest point, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
    Sangre de Cristo Mountains
    The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States...

     of southern Colorado
  • Kit Carson Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...

     (alongside the Rio Grande)
  • Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California
    Escondido, California
    Escondido is a city occupying a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills, just north of the city of San Diego, California. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County. The city had a population of 143,911 at the 2010 census. Its municipal government set itself an operating...

  • Kit Carson Road, Monterey, California
    Monterey, California
    The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

  • Kit Carson Way (Oregon Route 39) is a major expressway in Klamath Falls, Oregon
    Klamath Falls, Oregon
    Klamath Falls is a city in Klamath County, Oregon, United States. Originally called Linkville when George Nurse founded the town in 1867, after the Link River on whose falls this city sat, although no falls currently exist; the name was changed to Klamath Falls in 1892...

  • Kit Carson Way, Vallejo, California
    Vallejo, California
    Vallejo is the largest city in Solano County, California, United States. The population was 115,942 at the 2010 census. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay...

  • Kit Carson Union School District, Hanford, California
    Hanford, California
    Hanford is an important commercial and cultural center in the south central San Joaquin Valley and is the county seat of Kings County, California. It is the principal city of the Hanford-Corcoran, California Metropolitan Statistical Area , which encompasses all of Kings County, including the cities...

  • Kit Carson, a campsite at Woodland Trails Scout Reservation
    Woodland Trails Scout Reservation
    Woodland Trails Scout Reservation is a camping facility owned and operated by the Miami Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America in Camden, Ohio, USA.- History :...

    , Camden, Ohio
    Camden, Ohio
    Camden is a village in Preble County, Ohio, United States. The population was 2,302 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area...

  • Kit Carson, a campsite at Yawgoog Scout Reservation, Rockville, RI
  • Mount Kit Carson, Spokane County, Washington
    Spokane County, Washington
    Spokane County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington, named after the Spokane tribe. As of the 2010 census the population was 471,221, making it the fourth most populous county in Washington state. The largest city and county seat is Spokane, the second largest city in the state,...


See also


  • List of American Civil War generals
  • Kit Carson Scouts
    Kit Carson Scouts
    The Kit Carson Scouts belonged to a special program initially created by the U.S...



Further reading

  • Story of the Wild West and Camp-Fire Chats by Buffalo Bill (Hon. W.F. Cody.) "A Full and Complete History of the Renowned Pioneer Quartette, Boone, Crockett, Carson and Buffalo Bill.", c1888 by HS Smith, published 1889 by Standard Publishing Co., Philadelphia, PA.

External links