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COLONEL JOHN C. FREMONT.
SHE services of Colonel Fremont in his celeA brated
brated expedition to Oregon, are too well known to require recapitulation here, and
his exploits in California have already been e narrated. We propose merely to give in this connection some illustrations of his character, and to express a hope that the result of a court-martial, before which he is now being tried, at Washington, for alleged offences, growing out of the dispute between Commodore Stockton and General Kearny, may not change his pursuit in life.
Pico, the brother of the governor of California, had been dismissed by the Americans on parole, and was recaptured in the act of breaking it. He was condemned by court-martial to death, and twelve o'clock was the hour fixed for his execution. The soldiers were clamorous for his death as a traitor, but the gallant colonel could not bear the thought of killing an enemy in any
Humanity triumphant over discipline.
other way than on the battle-field, and he was meditating upon the matter with a heavy heart, when a company of ladies and children was led into the room, and on their knees begged the life of a husband and a father. The question was settled. Humanity triumphed over discipline and the laws of war. He raised the mother and exclaimed, “he is pardoned,” and sent for the prisoner that he might learn his fate from the happy faces of his friends. He was overpowered with emo tion. He had learned his fate with all the pride and dignity of a Spaniard, but he could not bear the news of pardon. He threw himself at the colonel's feet, swore eternal fidelity, and begged the privilege of fighting and dying for him. How firm a friend he has since been may be apparent from the subjoined account of Colonel Fremont's ride, taken from the National Intelligencer. They passed over eight hundred miles in eight days, including two days detention and all stoppages. Don Pico is called by his Christian name Jesus, pronounced Haisoos.
“ It was daybreak on the morning of the 22d of March, that the party set out from la Ciudad de los Angelos (the city of the Angels,) in the southern part of Upper California, to proceed in the shortest time to Monterey, on the Pacific ocean, distant full four hundred miles. The way is over a mountainous country, much of it uninhabited, with no other road than a trace, and many defiles to pass, particularly the maritime defile of El Rincon, or Punto Gordo, fifteen miles in extent, made by the jutting of a precipitous mountain into the sea, which can only be passed when the tide is out, and the sea calm, and even then in many places through the waves
Extraordinary travelling. The towns of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo and occasional ranchos, are the principal inhabited places on the route. Each of the party had three horses, nine in all, to take their turns under the saddle. The six loose horses ran ahead without bridle or halter, and required some attention to keep to the track.
When wanted for a change, say at distances of twenty miles, they were caught by the lasso, thrown either by Don Jesus or the servant Jacob, who, though born and raised in Washington, in his long expeditions with Colonel Fremont had become as expert as a Mexican with the lasso, as sure as a mountaineer with the rifle, equal to either on horse or foot, and always a lad of courage and fidelity. None of the horses were shod, that being a practice unknown to the Californians. The most usual gait was a sweeping gallop. The first day they rode one hundred and twenty-five miles, passing the San Fernando mountain, the defile of the Rincon, several other mountains, and slept at the hospitable rancho of Don Tomas Robberis, beyond the town of Santa Barbara. The only fatigue complained of in this day's ride was in Jacob's right arm, made tired by throwing the lasso and using it as a whip to keep the loose horses to the track.
The next day they made another one hundred and twenty-five miles, passing the formidable mountain of Santa Barbara, and counting upon it the skeletons of some fifty horses, part of near double that number which perished in the crossing of that terrible mountain by the California battalion on Christmas day, 1846, amidst a raging tempest, and a deluge of rain and cold more killing than that of the Sierra Nevada—the day of severest suffering, say Fremont and his men, that they have ever Extraordinuy travelling. passed. At sunset the party stopped to sup with the friendly Captain Dana, and at nine San Luis Obispo was reached, the home of Don Jesus, where an affecting reception awaited Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, in consequence of an incident which occurred there, that history will one day record ;* and he was detained till eleven o'clock in the morning receiving the visits of the inhabitants, (mothers and children included,) taking a breakfast of honour, and waiting for a relief of fresh horses to be brought in from the surrounding country.
Here the nine horses from los Angelos were left and eight others taken in their places, and a Spanish boy added to the party to assist in managing the loose horses. Proceeding at the usual gait till eight at night, and having made some seventy miles, Don Jesus, who had spent the night before with his family and friends, and probably with but little sleep, became fatigued, and proposed a halt for a few hours. It was in the valley of the Salinas, (Salt river, called Buena Ventura in the old maps,) and the haunt of marauding Indians. For safety during their repose, the party turned off the trace issued through a canada into a thick wood, and lay down, the horses being put to grass at a short distance with the Spanish boy in the saddle to watch. Sleep, when commenced, was too sweet to be easily given up, and it was half way between midnight and day when the sleepers were aroused by an estampedo among the horses and the calls of the boy.
The cause of the alarm was soon found, not Indians, out white bears—this valley being their great resort,
• The pardon narrated before.