Civil War Union Army Major General, US Senator, Explorer. He was known as "The Pathfinder" and "The Champion of Freedom". He attended Charleston College, but was expelled before graduation. College authorities granted his degree in 1836. After taking a two year cruise on the war ship Natchez where he taught mathematics, he passed an examination and was appointed professor of mathematics in the United States Navy. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army in 1838. Between that time and the beginning of the Mexican War in 1846, he went on three expeditions exploring the vast western portion of the United States. He surveyed the Des Moines River in 1841 and mapped the Oregon Trail in 1842. In 1843, with Kit Carson and Tom Fitzpatrick, he followed the Cache de la Poudre River into the Laramie Mountains and then crossed the Rocky Mountains. He scaled the highest peak in the Wind River Mountains which is now known as Fremont Peak. Then they followed the Bear River until it reached the Great Salt Lake. On his return to ST Louis on August 6, 1844, he made a very difficult midwinter crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While on his third expedition starting in 1845 exploring the Great Basin and the Pacific Coast, the Mexican War broke out and Fremont was appointed to the rank of major. Upon learning that Monterey had been seized by the Americans, Fremont joined General Stockton there. Stockton appointed Fremont as the civil governor of California. When General Kearney arrived and said he had orders to establish a government, Fremont chose to obey Stockton and continued as governor in spite of Kearney's orders. Fremont was arrested and sent to Washington for court-martial. After a year-long trial he was found guilty of mutiny, disobedience to a lawful command of a superior officer, and conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline. President Polk approved of the conviction of disobedience and mutiny, but remitted the penalty and Fremont resigned. In October of 1848, he began an independent expedition and reached Sacramento in the spring of 1849. While in California, he represented the state in the US Senate from September, 1850 to March 1851. In 1853 he made his fifth and final expedition, crossing the Rockies by a route he had attempted to follow in 1848. His known opposition to slavery won him the Republican Party nomination for president in 1856, but he lost the election to Buchanan by 60 electoral votes. After the start of the Civil War, he was appointed major-general in the regular army. He was to command the newly organized Western Department with headquarters in St. Louis. He then raised the ire of President Lincoln when, immediately following the battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861, he proclaimed martial law, arrested active secessionists, suspended publication of papers charged with disloyalty, and issued a proclamation assuming the government of the state and announcing he would free the slaves of those in arms against the Union. When Lincoln asked him to withdraw the proclamation, he refused and Lincoln had to declare it as unauthorized and premature. He was relieved of that command on Nov 2, 1861 and assigned in March of 1862 as the commander of the Mountain Department of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In June of 1862, he pursued General Stonewall Jackson for eight days and after finally engaging him at Cross Keys on June 8, he allowed Jackson to escape with his army. On June 26, the Army of Virginia was formed and it was to include Fremont's corps with General Pope in command. Fremont declined to serve because he was senior to Pope and he also claimed personal reasons. He returned to New York to await another command that never came. He was again nominated for president in 1864, but his support was so small he withdrew. He was appointed governor of the Arizona Territory from 1878 to 1882, and appointed major-general on the retired list by act of Congress in 1890. Upon his death, caused by peritonitis, his original interment was in the Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan, NY. His remains were moved to their present location in 1891.
Bio by: Tom Todd
Gravesite Details 77 years old. Birth year estimated. Death date shown above may be interred date.