Kearny’s March: The Epic Creation of the American West, 1846-1847, by Winston Groom
This was a very interesting look at a bit of American history I knew little of. Within one year in the mid 1840s, in only a couple of fell swoops the western frontier of the USA extended from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to the west coast; the southern frontier shot down to the Rio Grande; and the 49th parallel was confirmed as the northern border with Canada. This is how it all happened. The biggest part of this was Kearny’s march: General Stephen Kearny was ordered to march west from Kansas with 600 men and capture New Mexico – which basically means everything north of old Mexico and south of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. In parallel, John C. Frémont and an even smaller force was busy capturing California off the Mexicans. Everything’s here: Mormons, the cannibalism of the Donner party, international tensions, Kit Carson, and lots of young men who became more famous during the Civil War – the seeds for which were essentially planted at this time.