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CHRISTOPHER [" KIT "] CARSON (1809-1868)

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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 411 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHRISTOPHER [" KIT "] CARSON (1809-1868), American hunter and scout, was born in Madison county, Kentucky, on the 24th of December 1809. When he was a year old his parents removed to Howard county, Missouri, then a frontier settlement, and the boy was early trained in the hardships and requirements of pioneer life. He served for a while as a saddler's apprentice, and after 1826 devoted himself to the life of a professional guide and hunter. He was hunter for the garrison at Bent's Fort on the Arkansas river in what is now Bent county, Colorado, from 1832 to 1840, and accompanied John C. Fremont on his exploring expeditions of 1842 and 1843-1844, and on his California expedition in 1845-1846. Carson took part in the Mexican War, and, after the rush to the Pacific Coast began, engaged as a guide to convoy emigrants and drovers across the plains and mountains. In 1854 he became Indian agent at Taos, New Mexico, in which position, through his knowledge of the Indian traits and language, he was able to exercise for many years a restraining influence over the warlike Apaches and other tribes. During the Civil War he rendered invaluable services to the Federal cause in the south-west as chief scout in charge of the various bodies of irregular scouts and rangers participating in the constant border warfare that characterized the conflict in that part of the Union. In March 1865 he was breveted brigadier-general of volunteers for gallantry in the battle of Valverde (on the 21st of February 1862) and for distinguished services in New Mexico, and after the war resumed his position as Indian agent, which he held until his death at Fort Lyon, Colorado, on the 23rd of May 1868. " Kit " Carson occupies in the latter period of American pioneer history a position somewhat similar to that held by Daniel Boone and David Crockett at an earlier period, as the typical frontier hero and Indian fighter, and his hairbreadth escapes and personal prowess are the subject of innumerable stories. See Charles Burdett, Life of Kit Carson, the Great Western Hunter and Guide (New York, 1859; new ed., 1877) ; and De Witt C. Peters, The Life and Adventures of Kit Carson, the Nestor of the Rocky Mountains, from Facts Narrated by Himself (New York, 1858).
End of Article: CHRISTOPHER [" KIT "] CARSON (1809-1868)
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