Frémont, Pathmarker of the West

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

VII
The First Expedition

PROBABLY there was no happier young man in the country on May 2, 1842, than John C. Frémont. We can imagine him taking leave of his wife of six months in the Benton home; kissing Mrs. Benton; receiving some pompous, fatherly admonitions from the Senator; and, spruce in his blue and gold uniform, running down the steps in the warm spring sunshine to the carriage that was to take him to the railway station. He was but twenty-nine years old. Yet he was at last in full command of his own expedition, with a long summer of outdoor life and adventure ahead of him, and an opportunity to achieve new distinction as an explorer. The poor half-orphan of the Charleston streets, the youth brought into the backdoor of the Army by Poinsett's influence, had achieved a position that any West Pointer might envy: the son-in-law of Senator Benton, the husband of the most charming girl in the capital, the successor of the famous Nicollet.

Could he have foreseen what a pleasant and profitable expedition lay before him, his feeling of elation would have been heightened. Frémont within the next decade was to pass through harrowing physical hardship, but this first expedition included few days that he could not remember with pleasure. It was a summer's tour in the kindliest of weather. It was not too ambitious; going only as far as the South Pass and Wind River Mountains, he penetrated no dangerous country. Yet it was sufficiently full of contacts with Indians, buffalo, and frontiersmen, of adventures on plain, mountain precipice, and river rapids. At the end he was to receive not only the congratulations of Lieutenant-Colonel Abert and Senator Benton,

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Frémont, Pathmarker of the West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I- Charleston Boyhood 1
  • II- An Explorer''s Training 19
  • III- First View of the Great West 29
  • IV- Washington Courtship 46
  • V- A Runaway Marriage 60
  • Vl the Stakes of the West 72
  • VII- The First Expedition 89
  • IX- The First Report 116
  • X- The Second Expedition- Outward Bound 127
  • XI- Over the Winter Sierras 147
  • Xll Sutter''s Fort and California 161
  • Xlll Homeward over the Rockies 175
  • XIV- Washington Expansionists and the Far West 190
  • XV- The Third Expedition 206
  • XVI- A Clash with Californians 217
  • XVII- The Message from Gillespie 234
  • XVIII- The Bear Flag Outbreak 253
  • XIX- The California Battalion 287
  • XX- The Quarrel with Kearny 305
  • XXI- A Famous Court-Martial 327
  • XXII- Starvation and Cannibalism 343
  • XXIII- Golconda and the Senate 373
  • XXIV- Managing the Mariposas 393
  • XXV- The Fifth Expedition 408
  • XXVI- The Republican Nomination 421
  • XXVII- The Campaign of 1856 439
  • XXVIII- New Mariposa Troubles 459
  • XXIX- Civil War in the West 473
  • XXX- Frémont vs. Blair and Lincoln 503
  • XXXI- The End of the "Hundred Days" 529
  • XXXII- The Mountain Department 550
  • XXXIII 564
  • XXXIV- A Financial Debacle 583
  • XXXV- Poverty and Labor 602
  • XXXVI- Character and Fame 612
  • XXXVII - Some New Light on Frémont 623
  • Appendix I- Frémont''s Children 663
  • Bibliographical Note 671
  • Index 675
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