American legend of the Wild West. Christopher Carson left his home in Missouri at the age of 15 to join a trade caravan bound for Santa Fe in 1824. After that, he became a trapper and roamed the West for the next 15 years.

During this time, Kit made a name for himself when he faced down a bullying French trapper. Both men mounted their horses and grabbed guns. Carson let the Frenchman draw his gun before he fired. The Frenchman's rifle trimmed a lock of Kit's hair, while Kit's bullet splintered the man's hand. Years later, Carson wrote: "During the remainder of our stay in camp, we had no more bother with this French bully."

In 1842, Carson met explorer Charles Fremont, who tapped Kit to lead three expeditions from 1842 to 1846. The third expedition became embroiled in California's Bear Flag Revolt, and Kit became a guide, fighter, and messenger against the Mexican Army. Near Modoc Lake, Carson single-handedly drove off overwhelming numbers of Modoc Indians who had surrounded his expedition. Carson circled the battle, picking off an Indian every few minutes, until the Indians fled, believing themselves surrounded. He also carried military dispatches 3,000 miles to Washington in record time.

Carson bought a ranch in 1853 and tried to settle down, but his fairness and sympathy for the plight of the Indians won him the job of Indian agent at Taos, New Mexico in 1854. During the Civil War, he fought as a full-time Indian fighter, then helped establish Fort Sumner to keep watch over the Navajo Indians at the Bosque Redondo. And his intercession with Washington later helped the Navajo return to their lands.

On his deathbed at Fort Lyon in 1868, Carson demanded a large dinner and a pipe. His doctor warned him that this would kill him, but Kit said, "No matter. Bring me some first rate doin's, a buffler steak, my pipe, and a big bowl of coffee." He died satisfied after eating two pounds of meat and smoking a pipeful of tobacco. He was given a general's funeral and buried in Taos.

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