Carson caught up with the natives who held her and might have been able to save her, but his commander refused to let him attack. The commander mistakenly thought the Apaches might want to negotiate.
When the U.S. soldiers finally moved in, Carson found Mrs. White’s body, “perfectly warm.” She’d been killed minutes before by an arrow through the heart.
In the same camp where he found her, Carson also came across a dime novel featuring himself as a hero. He imagined that Mrs. White had read it, hoping he’d show up and rescue her.
“I did come,” he later said, “but I had not the power to convince those that were in command over me to pursue my plan for her rescue.”
Lesson: The great showman Buffalo Bill Cody so admired Carson that he named his only son Kit Carson Cody. Nobody remembers the commander.
— Adapted from The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America, Larry McMurtry, Simon & Schuster.