CHAPTER VII. THE SANTA FE TRAIL—EARLY EXPLORATIONS AND EXPLORERS.
Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike—Agriculture— Mining — Population — Navajos—Irrigation —Albuquerque—Santa Fe—Military Government — Colly—James Pursley——Governor Allencaster—First Expedition into Santa Fe—Succeeding Expeditions—Development of Santa Fe Trade—Troubles With Indians—Arrival of Caravan at Santa Fe—Tariffs—Stage Route Established — Pioneers—Jedediah Smith—The Patties — Bill Williams—Felix Aubrey—Pauline Weaver—Kit Carson—Adventures of the Patties—Black Canyon of the Colorado—William Wolfskill—Felix Aubrey's Famous Ride — Bill Williams' Mountain — Bill Williams' Fork — Fremont — Carson's Connection With Fremont—Mexican War—General Kearny—Captain Gillespie—Lieutenant Beale—Battle of San Pascual—Carrying of Dispatches by Carson and Fights With Indians—Death of Kit Carson—Santa Rita Copper Mines—Massacre of Apaches by Johnson—Retaliation by Apaches—Benj. D. Wilson.
The first attempt to explore the western boundaries of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase, was made by Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike, of the Sixth U. S. Infantry, who, in 1806, was sent with 22 men to explore the country of the Arkansas and Red Rivers, and to establish a good understanding with the Indian tribes, particularly the Comanches. Of this trip, extending as far as Santa Fe, he published a full account in 1810. His book gave to Americans the first information in detail concerning that isolated region of which nothing had been heretofore known. He describes the territory inhabited by the Mexicans in New Mexico as being 400 miles in length, and 50 miles in breadth, along the Rio del Norte, and broken by a desert of more than 250 miles. The fertility of the country, as he regarded it, is of special interest to those who inhabit this section at the present day. ‘‘The cotton tree,’’ he says, ‘‘is the only tree of this province, except some scrubby pines and cedars at the foot of the mountains. The former borders the banks of the Rio del Norte and its tributary streams. All the rest of the country presents to the eye, a barren wild of poor land, scarcely to be improved by culture, and appears to be only capable of producing sufficient subsistence for those animals which live on succulent plants and herbage.’’
In reference to mining, he says: ‘‘There are no mines known in the province, except one of copper, situated in a mountain on the west side of the Rio del Norte in latitude 34 degrees. It is worked and produces 20,000 mule-loads of copper annually. It also furnishes that article for the manufactories of nearly all of the internal province. It contains gold, but not quite enough to pay for its extraction, consequently it has not been pursued.’’
The population of New Mexico at that time, he estimated at 30,000 souls. Of its commerce, he says: ‘‘The province sends out about 30,000 sheep annually, tobacco, dressed deer and cabrie (goat) skins, some fur, buffalo robes, salt, and wrought copper vessels of a superior quality. * * * The journey with loaded mules from Santa Fe to Mexico and returning to Santa Fe takes five months.’’
‘‘They manufacture rough leather, segars, a vast variety and quantity of potters' ware, cotton, some coarse woolen cloths, and blankets of a superior quality. All those manufactures are carried on by the civilized Indians, as the Spaniards think it more honorable to be agriculturists than mechanics. The Indians likewise far exceed their conquerors in their genius for an execution of all mechanical operations. New Mexico has the exclusive right of cultivating tobacco.’’
Concerning the method of irrigation, he says: ‘‘Both above and below Albuquerque, the citizens were beginning to open the canals to let in the water of the river to fertilize the plains and fields which border its banks on both sides; where we saw men, women and children of all ages and sexes at the joyful labor which was to crown with rich abundance their future harvest and insure them plenty for the ensuing year. The cultivation of the fields was now commencing and everything appeared to give life and gaiety to the surrounding scenery.’’
About the irrigation at El Paso, he says: ‘‘About two miles above the town of the Paso del Norte, is a bridge over the river, where the road passes to the west side, at which place is a large canal, which takes out an ample supply of water for the purpose of cultivation, which is here carried
He thus described Santa Fe: ‘‘Situated on the banks of a small creek, which runs west to the Rio del Norte. The length of the capital on the creek may be estimated at one mile; it is but three streets in width. Its appearance from a distance struck my mind with the same effect as a fleet of the flat-bottomed boats which are seen in the spring and fall seasons descending the Ohio river. There are two churches, the magnificence of whose steeples forms a striking contrast to the miserable appearance of the houses. On the north side of the town is the square of soldiers' houses. The public square is in the center of the town; on the north side of which is situated the palace (as they term it) or government house, with the quarters for guards, etc. The other side of the square is occupied by the clergy and public officers. In general the houses have a shed before the front, some of which have a flooring of brick; the consequence is that the streets are very narrow, say in general 25 feet.
‘‘The second cities in the province are Albuquerque and Paso del Norte. The latter is the most southern city of the province, as Tous is the most northern. Between the village of Sibillette and the Paso there is a wilderness of nearly 200 miles.’’
The government, as described by Lieut. Pike, was: ‘‘military in the pure essence of the word, for, although they have their alcaldes, or inferior officers, their judgments are subject to a reversion by the military commandantes of districts. The whole male population are subject to military duty, without pay or emolument, and are obliged to find their own horses, arms and provisions. The only thing furnished by the government is ammunition. * * * There is but one troop of dragoons in all New Mexico of the regular force, which is stationed at Santa Fe, and is 100 strong. Of this troop, the governor is always the captain; but they are commanded by a first lieutenant, who is captain by brevet. The men capable of bearing arms in this province may be estimated at 5,000; of these probably 1,000 are completely armed, 1,000 badly, and the rest not at all.’’
Lieut. Pike found only two Americans from the States living in New Mexico. At Santa Fe, he found a man named Colly, who was an interpreter for the Governor, and had been a member of the ill-fated Nolan expedition into Texas. At Santa Fe, also, he discovered one James Pursley and accords him the honor of being ‘‘the first American who ever penetrated the immense wilds of Louisiana and showed the Spaniards of New Mexico that neither the savages who surround the deserts which divide them from the habitable world, nor the jealous tyrranies of their rulers, was sufficient to prevent the enterprising spirit of the Americans penetrating the arcanum of their rich establishment in the new world.’’ Pursley was from near Bairdstown, Kentucky, which he left in 1799. In 1805, he, and his two companions, and two Indians were selected as emissaries of a large band of Indian hunters and traders to go to Santa Fe and inquire if the Spaniards would receive them friendly and enter into trade with them. ‘‘This
Lieut. Pike and the publication of his book gave to Americans the first detailed description of the great wilderness lying to the west of them, and the advantages of establishing a trade with these distant provinces. From his description of the New Mexican country, the attention of traders, merchants and speculators was immediately attracted thereto. The first expedition into Santa Fe was organized in 1812 by McKnight, Beard, Chambers and eight or nine others, who fitted out a trading expedition and reached Santa Fe over practically the same route described by Pike. They reached their destination during the closing days of the revolutionary movement which had been put down by the Royalists. They were seized as spies, their goods
About the year 1821, Capt. Becknell, with four companies, started from Franklin, Missouri, fitted out with merchandise to trade with the Comanches. He met a party of Mexican rangers who persuaded him to take his wares to Santa Fe, where they were readily disposed of at an enormous profit. Becknell returned east in the following winter, leaving his companions in Santa Fe, but his accounts stimulated others to similar undertakings.
Col. Cooper, his sons, and a score of his neighbors, all Missourians, started in May, 1822, with five thousand dollars' worth of merchandise, which they transported on pack mules to Taos. Capt. Becknell accompanied by about thirty men, in the month of June following, set out upon his second westward trip. To avoid the circuitous route he had followed on the first trip, he left the Arkansas river at "the caches," striking directly for Santa Fe across the unknown desert. Unable to find water, they killed their dogs, and cut off the ears of their mules, quenching their thirst by drinking the hot blood of these animals. On the desert they separated in the hope that some of the party might find water.
The Santa Fe trade may be said to date from 1822. Two years thereafter, merchandise was transported upon the backs of mules and horses. In the same year, 1824, a company of about eighty missionaries set out with a trainload of wares, including both pack mules and wagons, the latter being the first wheeled vehicles to cross the plains. Colonel Marmaduke, afterwards Governor of Missouri, was a member of this party, which carried about thirty thousand dollars' worth of merchandise to Santa Fe.
Troubles with the Indians began at an early date, and a demand was made for Government protection, which was met, and in the spring of 1829, Major Riley accompanied an expedition as far as Choteau's Island in the Arkansas. This escort, and one commanded by Captain Wharton in 1834, constituted the only military protection granted the Santa Fe trade until 1843, when Captain Cook commanded large escorts for two caravans as far as the Arkansas river.
The town of Independence, Missouri, was the center of this trade in 1831, from which point to New Mexico, there was not a human abode on the trail or near it. The Commerce of the Prairies, by Gregg, thus describes the entrance of a caravan into the city of Santa Fe;
The arrival produced a great deal of bustle and excitement among the natives: ‘‘Los Americanos!’’ ‘‘Los Carros!’’ ‘‘La Entrada de la caravana!’’ were to be heard in every direction and crowds of women and boys flocked around to see the new comers; while crowds of leperos hung about as usual to see what they could pilfer. The wagoners were by no means free from excitement at this occasion. Informed of the ordeal they had to pass, they had spent the previous morning in rubbing up, and now they were prepared with clean faces, sleek combed hair, and their choicest Sunday suit, to meet the fair eyes of glistening black that were sure to stare at them as they passed. There was yet another preparation to be made in order to show off to advantage. Each wagoner must tie a brand-new cracker to the lash of his whip; for, on driving through the streets and the plaza publica, every one strives to outvie his comrades in the dexterity with which he flourishes this favorite badge of his authority.
Our wagons were soon discharged in the warerooms of the custom-house; and a few days' leisure being now at our disposal, we had time to take that recreation which a fatiguing journey of ten weeks had rendered so necessary. The wagoners, and many of the traders, particularly
* * * The derechos de arancel (tariff imposts) of Mexico are extremely oppressive, averaging about a hundred per cent upon the United States' cost of an ordinary 'Santa Fe assortment.' Those on cotton textures are particularly so. According to the arancel of 1837 (and it was still heavier before), all plain-woven cottons, whether white or printed pay twelve and one-half cents duty per vara; besides the derecho de consumo (consumption duty) which brings it up to at least fifteen. * * *
For a few years, Governor Armijo of Santa Fe established a tariff of his own, entirely arbitrary—extracting five hundred dollars for each wagon-load, whether large or small—of fine or coarse goods! Of course this was very advantageous to such traders as had large wagons and costly assortments, while it was no less onerous to those with smaller vehicles or coarse, heavy goods. As might have been anticipated, the traders soon took to conveying their merchandise only in the largest wagons, drawn by ten or twelve mules, and omitting the coarser and more weighty articles of trade. This caused the governor to return to the ad valorem system. * * *
In his Commerce of the Prairies, from which the most of the above has been drawn, Dr. Gregg estimates the amount of merchandise invested in the Santa Fe trade from 1822 to 1843, inclusive, as follows:
In 1846 or 1847, passenger stages were placed in operation between Santa Fe and Independence, Missouri, each month. A stage would start from Santa Fe and Independence at the same time. Passenger traffic increased and trips were then made semi-monthly, then weekly, and, finally, three times a week. The stages were drawn
The opening of the Santa Fe trail made Santa Fe the mart for the exchange of all the products of New Mexico, Northern Chihuahua, Sonora and what is now Arizona, and also part of California, for immediately thereafter this section of the country was scoured by adventurous men, trappers, who explored every foot of the hitherto unknown country lying to the west. Trails were made on to Arizona and into California
Sylvester Pattie, the father of James, being acquainted with the American method of reducing these ores, succeeded in obtaining a lease upon the mines, which proved very profitable. The younger Pattie, finding life at Santa Rita too monotonous, and despite the remonstrances of his father, on January 26th, 1826, set out with a few companions for the Gila Valley, where he
The adventurers then turned north and pursued an ill defined course, coming back upon the upper Arkansas, and crossing to Santa Fe, where Pattie was again deprived of the harvest of furs gathered with such wearisome labor, the Spanish governor claiming that the young man's former license did not extend to this expedition. Thereupon young Pattie joined his father at Santa Rita.
The winter and spring were spent in occasional hunting expeditions and visits to the Spanish settlements. In the spring, a new turn was given to the fortunes of the Patties by the embezzlement and flight of a Spanish subordinate, through whom they lost the savings of several years. They abandoned mining operations and the father and son sought to rehabilitate themselves by another trapping expedition, and set forth with a company of thirty, again in the direction of the Gila. Engagements with hostile Indians were of frequent occurrences. Early in November, 1828, many of their party having deserted, and all of their horses having been stolen
In the city of Mexico, Pattie applied to the American diplomatic representative, also to the President of the Republic, but failed to obtain redress for his losses and injuries. He made his way to Vera Cruz, and there obtained passage to New Orleans where, through the kindly help of compatriots who loaned him money to pay for his boat passage, he ascended the Mississippi to Cincinnati and his early Kentucky home. Here the narrative closes. The only clue we have in reference to his after life is one given by Bancroft, who thinks he was again in San Diego after the American advent. (Bancroft, Hist. of California, iii, p. 171, note 44.)
Captain Jedediah S. Smith, was the first white man to enter Arizona from the north. In August, 1826, he started from Salt Lake, passed south by Utah Lake, and keeping down the west side of the Wasatch and the High Plateaus, reached the Virgin River in Arizona, near the southwestern corner of Utah. This he called, in honor of the President of the United States, "Adams River." Following it southwest through the Pai Ute country, in twelve days he came to its junction with the Colorado. He entered the country of the Mohaves, who gave him a friendly reception, and he and his companions remained with them for some time, recuperating their stock. Leaving the Mohaves, he crossed the desert to the California coast, where he had troubles with the authorities, which, however, did not prevent him from returning again, after a visit to his northern rendezvous. While crossing the Colorado, the Mohaves who, it is said, had been instigated by the Spaniards to harass the Americans, attacked his
In 1830, William Wolfskill and a party of trappers, opened a route to California, going north from Santa Fe, crossing the headwaters of the San Juan, then crossing Grand and Green Rivers, the latter in what is now known as Gunnison Valley, thence across the western base of the Wasatch Range, and south through Mountain Meadows and across the Beaver Dam Mountains. Thence they followed down the Virgin River almost to the Colorado, where they struck across the desert to Los Angeles. For many years afterwards, this route was used and known as the Old Spanish Trail. Wolfskill afterwards settled in Los Angeles, and planted a vineyard, which became famous. Bell says: ‘‘he was a hero. A man of indomitable will, industry and self-denial; an American pioneer hero; one who succeeds in all he undertakes, and is always to be trusted. He died in 1866, leaving a very large fortune.’’
To follow the exploits of these trappers, who were the early explorers of the Great West, would require volumes. I have only room here to note those who afterwards identified themselves with Arizona history. The records of many are incomplete. Pauline Weaver, as will be afterwards shown in the progress of this history, identified himself with the prosperity of Arizona; Felix Aubrey gave his name to localities in the State, probably in the early 30's. Of him we know little beyond the fact that he became
Felix Aubrey was a Canadian by birth, of French extraction, and prior to the Mexican war had been in New Mexico as trapper and hunter with Beaubien, Maxwell and others, and was well acquainted with the plains, as well as along the mountains, from Winnepeg to Santa Fe; and even south of that place. When Tobin's ride from Santa Fe to Fort Leavenworth, in August, 1846, had made him known all over the territory, Aubrey asserted that the time he had required could be reduced one-third, and when doubts were expressed, offered to back his opinion with his money. He soon found men who were willing to accept his wager, and arrangements were at once made for the attempt.
No limits were fixed as to the number of mounts he might use—he was to get there, and at his own limit of time; he must do so in seven days and eight hours. Trains which had taken supplies for the army to the territory were returning eastward, and Aubrey, selecting half a dozen good horses, sent one by each train, to be led with it till he overtook it; the first one leaving
There were plenty of Indians along the route, not only on the Arkansas, but in the valley of the Kaw, after he had crossed the divide, between it and the big bend of the Arkansas, and they wouldn't hesitate to lift the hair of any lone white man, if opportunity offered, especially if he rode a good horse. As he was to make the entire journey on horseback, he could sleep with safety only when he found a train in camp, and he made only three halts for that purpose, and in five days and fourteen hours from the time he left Santa Fe, he rode into Independence, Missouri, about two miles east of where Kansas City now stands, that place being the starting point at that time for civilian trains for Santa Fe. He had ridden about 830 miles, had used seven horses, and if he had taken no time for sleep and meals, would have ridden about six
Bill Williams was another of the trailmakers, and for him Bill Williams' Mountain and Bill Williams' Fork are named, and bear his name to this day. He was an old trapper, and knew every crook and turn of every river and every mountain range west of the Missouri River. He was the pilot for Fremont in 1848, when Fremont, against the advice of Williams, his guide, attempted to cross, with his pack animals, a range of mountains covered with snow, and lost a large portion of his command. The only account that I have been able to find of Bill Williams is contained in Ruxton's Life in the Far West, which borders on the romantic, and is as follows:‘‘
The leader of the party was Bill Williams, that old 'hard case' who had spent forty years and more in the mountains, until he had become as tough as the parfleche soles of his moccasins. * * * Williams always rode ahead, his body bent over his saddle horn, across which rested a long, heavy rifle, his keen gray eyes peering from under the sloughed brim of a flexible felt hat, black and shining with grease. His buckskin hunting shirt, bedaubed until it had the appearance of polished leather, hung in folds over his bony carcass; his nether extremities being clothed in pantaloons of the same material (with scattered fringes down the outside of the leg—which
‘‘Do'ee hyar now, boys, thar's sign about! This hoss feels like caching’’, and, without more words, and stoically deaf to all remonstrances, he would forthwith proceed to pack his animals, talking the while to an old crop-eared, rawboned Nez Perce pony, his own particular saddle-horse, who in dogged temper and iron hardiness was worthy companion of his self-willed master.’’
Another account is that he was a Methodist preacher in Missouri in his early life, after which he became a trapper and explorer. He was said to be rather misanthropic in his manner, and did most of his trapping and exploring alone. He was the indefatigable foe of the Indians.
The Prescott Miner of August 13th, 1870, says: ‘‘Bill Williams, for whom Bill Williams' Fork and Bill Williams' Mountain were called, was killed by Utes while trying to relieve the Fremont expedition which was searching for Cochetope Pass, which both Senator Benton and Colonel Fremont thought was the best pass for a railroad. Williams was 60 years old when killed. Dr. Kent was with Williams and both were shot by Utes while quitely smoking in camp, by a party of twelve bucks who entered the camp, professing friendship. The Mexicans in camp were unarmed. This statement is from Dr. H. R. Wirtz, Medical Director for Arizona, 1870.’’
Carson, for the next five years, was on the plains continually. He made one expedition from Sante Fe to El Paso, and from thence to Chihuahua, and several trips across the continent into California and Oregon. He became familiar with other portions of this comparatively unknown country. He explored the headquarters of the Columbia River, the Missouri River, the Arkansas River, and almost every foot of what is now the States of New Mexico and Arizona. Although from 1832 to the time of his death he made his home in New Mexico, yet his name and fame and exploits are as much a part of Arizona and other of the great Western States as of New Mexico itself. He was the soul incarnate of that spirit of enterprise which carried the American flag across
When returning from his first visit to Missouri, he met Fremont upon a boat on the way up the Mississippi with his first exploring party, and entered the Government service under Fremont as official guide of the expedition. Of this
Carson, at this time, was less than thirty-three years old, and had already made a national reputation. Imagination would paint him as an athlete, six feet high, with long whiskers and long hair, loud-spoken and boastful, such being the usual physical development and characteristics of the trapper. Instead of this, he was a man of five feet six inches tall, under medium size, with little or no beard, a low-spoken voice as soft as a woman's, never boastful nor indulging in rough speech. One of his biographers, who knew him well, said that in all the years of his intercourse with Carson, he never knew him to tell an obscene story. Pure in mind as well as in morals, he had become a national character.
From this date until after the close of the Mexican war, Carson was closely identified with Fremont in all his explorations, and to him and not to the general belongs really the reputation of being the "Pathfinder," for it is of record that Fremont found no paths and no trails in the great Rocky Mountain region, except those which were shown him by Basil Lajeunesse and Carson.
Throughout his life Carson never engaged himself permanently to any one man, or with any single enterprise. While trapping he would break away from large parties and with two or three companions go upon independent expeditions. On July 14th, 1843, he joined Fremont's second expedition near the headwaters of the Arkansas River, and accompanied him throughout his second trip into Oregon and the Northern California country, returning by way of Sutter's Fort and the southern route to Santa Fe.
After a year's absence, he reached Bent's Fort in the summer of 1844, having journeyed four thousand miles, where he settled down upon a ranch in Northern New Mexico, about fifty miles east of Taos, but not for long, for his home life was again interrupted by thrilling adventures. In the autumn of 1845, at the earnest request of Fremont, Carson conducted the former's third and most famous expedition into Oregon and California. On this trip the party had several clashes with the Klamath Indians, in one of which Lajeunesse was killed. during this trip Fremont attempted to pass with his pack animals over a ridge covered by six feet of snow, and his expedition was only saved from disaster through the skill and energy of Carson.
In the meantime the Mexican War had broken out and Carson, pushing south with Fremont's command, shared with high distinction in the conquest of California, the details of which are told in the reports of Kearny, Stockton and Fremont.
In 1846, following the preliminary events incident to the California conquest, Carson was sent East as special Government messenger, bearing dispatches from Commodore Stockton to the Federal authorities in Washington. With a party of fifteen men, he started late in the summer, and proceeded to a point near Socorro, in New Mexico, where he met General Kearny in command of the Army of the West, on his way to California. Kearny assumed the responsibility for the delivery of Carson's dispatches, and ordered him to act as guide for his command to California. The command reached the Rancho Santa Maria, about sixty miles from San Diego, about December 5th, where they were joined by Captain Gillespie and Lieutenant Beale, with 35 men. On the following day, the combined forces fought the bloody battle of San Pascual, in which Carson bravely bore his part. Following this fight, and the ineffective skirmish at San Bernardo, Kearny's command was besieged by a superbly mounted force of Mexican cavalry. They were in a famished condition and immediate relief was demanded. A small party had been sent out by Kearny, but they were captured. The situation was desperate. On the night of December 8th, Kearny sent out Kit Carson, accompanied by Lieut. Beale and a friendly Indian. They traveled at night. Crawling through the enemy's lines, their sufferings were great. They were hungry and thirsty, their feet were lacerated by the cactus needles, but, under the lead of Carson, they reached San Diego, successfully, and secured the desired succor.
In March, 1847, he was sent again with dispatches to Washington. On this journey he fought his way through the Indians on and near the Gila, and pushed ahead, following the Santa Fe trail to the Missouri river. He reached Washington in June, having traveled about four thousand miles on horseback within the space of three months. Carson's continued services in winning the southwest had gained him wide recognition. President Polk appointed him second lieutenant in the United States Rifle Corps, which appointment, however, was never confirmed by the Senate. One can easily imagine the excitement which the advent of Carson created in Washington. The statesmen of that day, Webster, Clay, Benton and their colleagues, were surprised to find in him, a man who had written his name indelibly upon the history of the West, a modest, retiring, diffident person, undersized, who took his whole life, which had been one of loyalty to friends and to country, as merely a part of the duty which he owed to himself. He was ordered back to California again with dispatches. At the Point of Rocks on the Santa Fe trail, a noted landmark about 650 miles beyond Independence, he had a desperate fight with the Comanche Indians. He found there encamped a band of volunteers, en route for the Mexican war. The Indians made an early morning raid and drove off the soldiers' livestock.
In the spring of 1848 he was again sent with dispatches from California to Washington. While on his way eastward he managed to spend a day with his family at Taos. His homecomings up to this time had been about three years apart. He made a safe trip to Washington and honorably discharged his duties. Returning to New Mexico, he decided to settle down once more in the ranch business with Lucien B. Maxwell as partner, but the quiet of domestic life was frequently interrupted. Several times he was called into the field to surprise and punish the Apaches and other wild tribes.
In 1851 Carson went to St. Louis, purchased a large stock of merchandise and started West. Upon reaching a village of Cheyennes upon the upper Arkansas river, he learned that the Indians were swearing vengeance against all whites because an army officer had rashly whipped one of their chiefs. It so happened that Carson was the first white man to approach since the offense had been given. Years before, when a hunter at Bent's Fort he had become familiar with all the tribes and was esteemed by them as a friend.
His next unusual exploit was to select a few trusty companions and drive a flock of 6,500 sheep overland from New Mexico to Southern California, about 800 miles. This proved to be a highly profitable speculation. Carson realized about $5.50 a head for his entire herd.
The narrative of the adventures of this extraordinary man would fill a large volume. I can only attempt to give a few notable incidents in his life, which stand out prominently as being of great importance to Arizona and the Southwest in general.
Not only as an Indian fighter and scout did he help win the Southwest, but in the war between the States he helped to retain that region to the Union. At the battle of Val Verde in 1862, as commander of the First Regiment of New Mexican Volunteers, he gave efficient service to the Union arms. As we shall see later on, in the summer of 1863 he conquered the Navajos, who, since that time, have been at peace with the whites. At the close of the war he was brevetted brigadier-general. His last service was in 1865, when, in command of three companies of soldiers, he attacked and destroyed a large Kiowa village near the Cimarron. His word was always kept; he was the soul of honor and the Indians, knowing this, respected Kit Carson. They admired him for his fair dealings and
About the year 1868, while in the mountains one day, he was thrown from a horse and received internal injuries, from which he never recovered. Otherwise in perfect health, says one of his biographers, he is said to have remarked: ‘‘Were it not for this injury, I would live to be a hundred years of age.’’ He did his work well, and with the full assurance that his life had been one of service to humanity and of loyalty to the Government which he loved; death had no terrors for him. Surrounded by friends who loved him, he faced with serenity the approach of old age, conscious of having performed life's duties well. His end came on May 23d, 1868. While visiting a son at Fort Lyons, Colorado, General Carson attempted to mount a horse, resulting in the rupture of an artery in his neck. Surgical attendance was useless. His life quitely slipped away. A brief struggle, three gasping words: ‘‘Doctor, compadre, adios’’, ended his life. Thus ended the last of the great pathfinders of the West. His name is given to three cities, one lake, one river, and numerous peaks and canyons. His fame is perpetuated by a monument in the city of Denver, and also by a bronze table to himself and Lieutenant Beale in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington.
In addition to the trappers killed by the Apaches as above stated, another band was attacked by them, and several men were killed. Among the survivors of this band was Benj. D. Wilson, who afterwards became prominently identified with the early history of California. Up to the time of Johnson's treachery, the Indians of that part of the country had been the white man's friend, but from this time on they killed Mexicans and white men alike.