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My dear Sir : We have met with very reasonable success and some good results this first long step upon our journey. In order to avoid the chance of snow-storms upon the more exposed Arkansas road, I followed up the line of the Southern Kansas (the true Kansas River) and so far added something to geography. For a distance of 400 miles our route led through a country affording abundant timber, game, and excellent grass. We find that the Valley of the Kansas affords by far the most eligible approach to the mountains. The whole valley soU is of very superior quality, well timbered, abundant grasses, and the route very direct. This line would afford continuous and good settlements certainly for 400 miles, and is therefore worthy of consideration in any plan of approach to the mountains. We found our friend Major Fitzpatrick in the full exercise of his functions at a point about thirty miles below this, in what is called the 'Big Timber,' and surrounded by about 600 lodges of different nations. Apaches, Camanches, Kioways, and Arapahoes. He is a most admirable agent, entirely educated for such a post, and possessing the ability and courage necessary to make his education available. He has succeeded in drawing out from among the Camanches the whole Kioway nation with the exception of six lodges, and brought over among them a considerable number of lodges of the Apaches and Camanches. When we arrived he was holding a talk with them, making a feast and giving them a few presents. We found them all on their good behavior, and were treated in the most friendly manner; were neither annoyed by them, nor had any thing stolen from us. I hope you will be able to give him some support. He will be able to save lives and money for the government, and knowing how difficult this Indian question may become, I am particular in bringing Fitzpatrick's operations to your notice. In a few years he might have them all farming here on the Arkansas.
Both Indians and whites here report the snow to be deeper in the mountains than has for a long time been known so early in the season, and they predict a severe winter. This morning for the first time, the mountains showed themselves, covered with snow, as well as the country around us, for it snowed steadily the greater part of yesterday and the night before. Still, I am in nowise discouraged by the prospect, and believe that we shall succeed in forcing our way across. We will ascend the Del Norte to its head, descend on to the Colorado, and so across the Wahsatch mountains and the basin country somewhere near the 37th parallel, reaching the settled parts of California near Monterey. There is, I think, a pass in the Sierra Nevada between the 37th and 38th , which I wish to examine. The party is in good spirits and good health ; we have a small store of provisions for hard times, and our instruments, barometer included, all in good order. We are always up an hour or two before light, and the breakfasts are all over, and the camp preparing to move, before sunrise. This breakfasting before daylight, with the thermometer ranging from 12° to 18°, is a somewhat startling change from the pleasant breakfast-table in your stove-warmed house. I think that I shall never cross the continent again, except at Panama. I do not feel the pleasure that I used to have in these labors, as they remain inseparably connected with painful circumstances, due mostly to them. It needs strong incitements to undergo the hardships and self-denial of this kind of life, and as I find I have these no longer, I will drop into a quiet life. Should we have reasonable success, we shall be in California early in January, say about the 8th, where I shall expect to hear from all by the steamer. Referring you for other details to Jessie, to whom I have written at length, I remain most affectionately yours,
- John Fremont
- Life, explorations and public services of John Charles Fremont (1856), Boston, Ticknor and Fields