April 24, 1844. Mojave River, California.
Two Mexicans, Andreas Fuentes and an eleven-year-old boy named Pablo Hernandez, rode into camp with an appalling tale... They had been traveling east with a large caravan from Los Angeles. Since the caravan was slow, the small group of family and friends had gone ahead to Archilette Spring where they planned to rest and wait for the caravan.
After they settled in at the spring, Indian warriors attacked them and drove off their horses. Fuentes and Pablo had escaped. Fuentes asked (Brevet Capt. John C.) Fremont to help find his horses and, presuamably, to learn the fate of the other members of the small party. Fremont gave permission to any of his men who wanted to go. Onl;y (Kit) Carsoin and Alexis Godey volunteered.
Carson recalled years later: "Godey and myself volunteered with the expectation that some men of our party would join us. They did not."
After twenty miles of hard riding, they came upon the thieves who had butchered some of the horses and were feasting on the meat. Carson and Godey waited for nightfall to sneak off with the remaining horses.
"The Indians noticed the commotion among the animals and sprang for their arms," Carson recalled.
Now arose the imperative that border men who long survive learned early: If outnumbered by an enemy, hesitate not. Attack with force, or die!
"We now considered it time to charge... They were about thirty in number. We charged. I fired, killed one. Godey fired, missed, but reloaded and fired, killing another... The remainder run."
Carson and Godey gathered the remaining horses and returned to Fremont, who wrote glowingly about the event in his "Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-'44" that he delivered to Congress, saying civilization had triumphed over savagery.
The Life of an American Border Man
by David A. Remley
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012Artwork: Kit Carson Fighting an Indiana
History and American West Titles
Out of the Past