Narratives of Exploration and Adventure

By John Charles Frémont; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
First Expedition: From Missouri to Fort Laramie*

All was now ready. I left Washington for the West on May 2d, 1842, Mrs. Frémont remaining at home with her family during my absence.

Arriving at St. Louis, I was received at her home with cordial hospitality by Mrs. Sarah Benton Brant, the favorite niece of Mr. Benton and wife of an old friend and army officer. In all my journeys from St. Louis, and in my visits to it in later years, I have been always welcomed by her with an affectionate regard which I have reciprocated and cherished to the present hour as among the most satisfactory of my recollections.

This expedition, directed as it was toward the opening of the Western territory, was pleasing to the people of St. Louis, who furthered my preparations with prompt and willing aid.

For this journey, which would be exposed to serious contingencies, good men and fitting animals were a first necessity. The getting these together -- the necessary equipment which it needs experienced foresight to provide -- required time; but at the end of several weeks this had been done, and a party of valuable and experienced men selected. Among these I had engaged as hunter Lucien Maxwell, 1 a son-in-law of one of the principal merchants in New Mexico, Mr. Beaubien, and brother-in-law of Christopher Carson, better known as "Kit Carson,"2 who also had his home in Taos. Maxwell was about twenty-eight years of age, about five feet ten inches in

____________________
*
The first three pages are from Frémont's Memoirs, pp. 73-75, which give his fullest account of preparations for the first expedition. The remainder of the chapter is from his Report on an Exploration of the Country Lying between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains, on the Line of the Kansas and Great Platte Rivers ( 1843).

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