The Quarrel with Kearny
FRÉMONT was never to drink the cup of triumph or prosperity long, and his life was to prove a dizzy alternation of successes and humiliations. But seldom were the alternations so abrupt and pronounced as in the early months of 1847. From the surrender at Couenga and the exultant entry into Los Angeles it was but a single step to isolation, arrest, and attempted degradation. The civil governor of California was converted within a few weeks into a cashiered officer, facing trial on grave charges; the man who had expected to return east a popular hero was dragged thither by his military superior as a prisoner.
That Frémont was himself in part responsible for this sorry change of fortune is undeniable; but circumstances were also to blame, the mistakes of friends like Stockton were to count, and above all the malice of Stockton's and Frémont's enemy, General Stephen Watts Kearny, was at fault. It was a dark day for the young explorer when this last-named soldier, a life-long army man, a veteran of the War of 1812, a grim martinet, a fighter without any mild or ingratiating qualities whatever, entered California with the rank of brigadier-general in command of the Army of the West.1 He was a leader of courage, energy, and a certain ability, who had seen thirty years of service on the frontier after his part in the second war with England. Having won his promotion only with plodding slowness, he was not the man to feel sympathetic toward an officer____________________