Friday, April 30, 2010

Army Scouts - Kit Carson

Christopher "Kit" Carson was born December 1809 in Kentucky.

At 16, Carson took a job as a “mule skinner” taking care of horses, mules and oxen on a wagon train heading from Missouri to New Mexico. He stayed in New Mexico becoming a fur trapper and Mountain Man working and living with Indians where he was reported to become fluent in several languages among them Navajo, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho as well as Spanish.

After moving back to Missouri in 1842 Carson met General John Fremont and signed on to scout and guide his successful expedition to find a pass through the Ricky Mountains.

Following that a year later Kit Carson scouted and guided an expedition from the Great Salt Lake into Oregon . This expedition became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where Caron was accredited with saving the expedition through his wilderness skills accumulated through his years as a Mountain Man.

In 1846 Carson scouted for and guided General Kearney’s troops during the Mexican-American War. His exploits scouting and guiding troops from California to New Mexico and back further heightened Carson ’s reputation.

During the American Civil War, Kit Carson organized the New Mexico volunteer infantry for the Union. During the Navajos uprising at the beginning of the Civil War, then Colonel Carson was tasked with settling the uprising. He accomplished much of his mission through a rather humane method of economic warfare destroying crops and livestock, rather then decimating the Navajo population. He succeeded in forcing the Navajos back to reservation by 1864.

In 1864, Carson was again sent to quell an Indian uprising, this time in West Texas against the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne which resulted in the famous Battle of Adobe Walls where Carson inflicted heavy losses on the attacking warriors.

Shortly afterward Colonel John Chivington led a massacre at Sand Creek where he boasted that he was a batter Indian killer than Carson . Carson was enraged at the massacre and openly denounced Chivington.

After the Civil War, Carson took up ranching but remained an advocate for the Indian, escorting Ute Chiefs to Washington D.C. to meet President Johnson seeking additional government redress.

Carson died in Colorado in May 1868 at age 58, one month after his wife passed away from complications during childbirth. He is buried in Taos, New Mexico.

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