(December 29, 1809 - May 23, 1868)
Kit Carson is an old west icon who has received bad press during part of his military career. Kit was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri with his family. At the age of 16, he ran away and joined a wagon train heading down the Santa Fe trail. After leading John C. Fremont in his first expedition to the Pacific, Fremont was so impressed with Kit's ability as a scout and guide that Carson also lead the second one.
At 5 feet 8 inches tall, Kit Carson was Herculean in his adventures. His encounters and battles with indians during his life seem unprecedented. In most incidents, he always made the right decision.
After serving as a colonel in the Civil War, Kit was breveted a Brigadier General and began a campaign against the Navajo. During this appeal, Kit killed 600 Navajos, burned their homes, orchards and snuffed their food supplies. It's hard to determine if this method was justified in corralling the fierce Navajos who were 8,000 strong. The Navajo were an ardent and proud people with a history of defeating all their enemies. This sense of invincibility may have prompted Kit in using his drastic measures.
In a final campaign, Kit with some 400 hundred soldiers were attacked by 3,000 plains indians at Adobe Walls in Texas. Carson used his 10 mountain howitzers effectively. After killing about 200 of the attackers and performing a move to wipe out the village, the plains indians set the high grass behind the garrison afire. Kit retaliated by lighting a fire in front of him. The battle eventually turned out to be a draw. Kit knew when leave and fight another day.
Kit Carson died and was originally buried in Boggsville, Colorado, but later moved to the Kit Carson Cemetery in Taos, New Mexico.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence