Narratives of Exploration and Adventure

By John Charles Frémont; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview
This was a large post, having more the air of military construction than the fort at the mouth of the river. It is on the left bank, on a rising ground some twenty-five feet above the water; and its lofty walls, whitewashed and picketed, with the large bastions at the angles, gave it quite an imposing appearance in the uncertain light of evening. A cluster of lodges, which the language told us belonged to Sioux Indians, was pitched under the walls, and, with the fine background of the Black Hills and the prominent peak of Laramie Mountain, strongly drawn in the clear light of the western sky where the sun had already set, the whole formed at the moment a strikingly beautiful picture. From the company at St. Louis I had letters for Mr. Boudeau, the gentleman in charge of the post, by whom I was received with great hospitality and an efficient kindness which was invaluable to me during my stay in the country. I found our people encamped on the bank, a short distance above the fort. . . .*
FOOTNOTES
1. Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell ( 1818-1875) combined the blood of a Scottish American father and a Franco-American mother. He got some schooling at Kaskaskia, Illinois, where he was born. But he was off at an early age to Taos, where he met Kit Carson. Sometime around 1840 he worked at Fort St. Vrain on the South Platte. He was destined to do Frémont good service, especially in the stirring events of the conquest of California. He was also destined to figure in some of the most spectacular land litigation of the century, that revolving around the huge Maxwell Grant in New Mexico, a tremendous tract which he obtained partly by inheritance and partly by purchase.
2. Kit Carson attained such fame that it is difficult to remember that at this time he was practically unknown, and that indeed Frémont's writings were first to bring him to wide public notice. Born in Kentucky in 1809, he died in 1868. He had received no schooling when, after being apprenticed to a saddler, he ran away from his Missouri home in 1826 and joined an expedition to Santa Fe. Years of fighting Indians and trapping beavers in the Far West followed. He hunted buffalo, too, to supply meat for Bent's Fort. He had thus become thoroughly familiar with a great part of the Rocky Mountains and the Southwestern plains when, after a trip to Missouri to put his five-year-old half-breed daughter in school, he met Frémont. The two immediately became fast friends. On the first three expeditions Frémont found Carson almost indispensable. Kit
____________________
*
Frémont's Report at this point includes nearly five pages from the journal kept by Charles Preuss on the journey of his separate party. Their trip up the North Platte to Fort Laramie had been uneventful except for a meeting with a large party of traders and trappers led by Jim Bridger, who warned them of hostile bands of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Gros Ventre. These pages are omitted.

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