“I know your treachery. Your words of friendship cannot be believed. Not long ago, you massacred seven Americans. You wish to gain admission to my camp that you may kill us also. I will now allow you till midday to be off. If any of you, after that, are within reach of our rifles you will die.”
Most of the Indians were overawed by this bold talk, and disappeared. A few of the more desperate of the warriors lounged about, apparently doubting his words. At the designated hour he ordered his men to take good aim and fire. Though the Indians were at quite a distance, one of the warriors fell instantly dead. Four others were severely wounded. Soon not a savage was to be seen. Thus fifteen men under Carson, vanquished three hundred Indians. “Better,” said Napoleon, “is an army of deer led by a lion, than an army of lions led by a deer.”
Mr. Carson now pressed on to Monterey, and delivered his dispatches to Colonel Mason. As acting lieutenant in the U.S. army he was placed at the head of a company of dragoons, to guard Tajon Pass, the main outlet through which robber Indian bands conveyed their booty from California to the plains. After spending the winter very successfully in the discharge of this duty, he was again ordered to proceed to Washington with dispatches. Fifteen men were detailed to escort him on the way.
The Chivalry of the Wilderness.
Injustice of the Government.—Heroic
Resolve of Mr.
Carson.—Indian Outrages.—The valley of Razado.—Barbaric
Murders by Apaches.—An Exciting Chase.—An Attractive
Picture.—Plot of Fox Overthrown.—Gift of Messrs. Brevoort and
Weatherhead.—Adventure with the Cheyennes.
On this second excursion of Mr. Carson to Washington as bearer of dispatches, he learned at Santa Fe, that the Senate of the United States had refused to confirm his appointment as lieutenant. It was a great wrong. Party spirit then ran high at Washington. His friends at Santa Fe advised him to resent the wrong, by delivering his dispatches to the officer in command there, saying he could no longer serve a government which refused to recognize him. His heroic reply was:
“I have been entrusted with these dispatches. I shall try to fulfill the duty thus devolving upon me, if it cost me my life. This is service for my country. It matters little, whether I perform it as lieutenant in the army, or as a mountaineer. I certainly shall not shrink from duty because the Senate does not confirm an appointment which I never sought.”
In the then state of the country, there was perhaps not another man who could have conveyed those dispatches over the almost boundless plains, swarming with hostile Indians. It was well known at Santa Fe that the Comanche savages, in bands of two or three hundred, were watching the old Santa Fe road, for two or three hundred miles, that they might murder and rob all who fell into their hands.