Kentucky born Christopher Carson, better known as Kit, won early fame in the West. As guide to John Charles Fremont’s expeditions of 1842, 1843, and 1845, he made his name a household word.
Had he wanted a brigadiership, it would have almost certainly been Kit’s for the asking. Instead of seeking command, at age fifty-two he became lieutenant colonel of the First New Mexico Cavalry. Carson led eight companies in the February 21, 1862, battle of Valverde, where his leadership was so significant that he reluctantly accepted a brevet, or honorary promotion, as a reward.