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Each one volume, i2mo, illustrated, $1.50. 






Other Volumes in preparation. 







i 874. 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 






DAVID CROCKETT certainly was not a model man. 
But he was a representative man. He was conspic- 
,3 uously one of a very numerous class, still existing, 
and which has heretofore exerted a very powerful 
influence over this republic. As such, his wild and 

wondrous life is worthy of the study of every 
V> patriot. Of this class, their modes of life and habits 


S* of thought, the majority of our citizens know as 
* little as they do of the manners and customs of the 
Comanche Indians. 

No man can make his name known to the forty 
millions of this great and busy republic who has not 
something very remarkable in his character or his 
career. But there is probably not an adult Ameri- 
can, in all these widespread States, who has not heard 
of David Crockett. His life is a veritable romance, 
with the additional charm of unquestionable truth. 


It opens to the reader scenes in the lives of the 
lowly, and a state of semi-civilization, of which but 
few of them can have the faintest idea. 

It has not been my object, in this narrative, to 
defend Colonel Crockett or to condemn him, but to 
present his peculiar character exactly as it was. I 
have therefore been constrained to insert some 
things which I would gladly have omitted. 




Parentage and Childhood. 


The Emigrant. Crossing the Alleghanies. The Boundless 
Wilderness. The Hut on the Holston. Life's Neces- 
saries. The Massacre. Birth of David Crockett. Peril 
of the Boys. Anecdote. Removal to Greenville ; to Cove 
Creek. Increased Emigration. Loss of the Mill. The 
Tavern. Engagement with the Drover. Adventures in the 
. Wilderness. Virtual Captivity. The Escape. The Re- 
turn. The Runaway. New Adventures 7 

Youthful Adventures. 

David at Gerardstown. Trip to Baltimore. Anecdotes. He 
ships for London. Disappointment. Defrauded of his 
Wages. Escapes. New Adventures. Crossing the River. 
Returns Home. His Reception. A Farm Laborer. 
Generosity to his Father. Love Adventure. The Wreck 
of his Hopes. His School Education. Second Love 
Adventure. Bitter Disappointment. Life in the Back- 
woods. Third Love Adventure. 35 

Marriage and Settlement. 

Rustic Courtship. The Rival Lover. Romantic Incident. 
The Purchase of a Horse. The Wedding. Singular Cere- 
monies. The Termagant. Bridal Days. They commence 
Housekeeping. The Bridal Mansion and Outfit. Family 



Possessions. The Removal to Central Tennessee. Mode 
of Transportation. The New Home and its Surroundings. 
Busy Idleness. The Third Move. The Massacre at 
Fort Mimms. 64 

The Soldier Life. 

War with the Creeks. Patriotism of^Crockett. Remonstrances 
of his Wife. Enlistment. The Rendezvous. Adventure 
of the Scouts. Friendly Indians. A March through the 
Forest. Picturesque Scene. The Midnight Alarm. March 
by Moonlight. Chagrin of Crockett. Advance into 
Alabama. War's Desolations. Indian Stoicism. Anec- 
dotes of Andrew Jackson. Battles, Carnage, and Woe. . 93 

Indian Warfare. 

The Army at Fort Strother. Crockett's Regiment. Crockett at 
Home. His Reenlistment. Jackson Surprised. Military 
Ability of the Indians. Humiliation of the Creeks. March 
to Florida. Affairs at Pensacola. Capture of the City. 
Characteristics of Crockett. The Weary March. Inglorious 
Expedition. Murder of Two Indians. Adventures at the 
Island. The Continued March. Severe Sufferings. 
Charge upon the Uninhabited Village. .... 124 

The Camp and the Cabin. 

Deplorable Condition of the Army. Its Wanderings. 
Crockett's Benevolence. Cruel Treatment of the Indians. 
A Gleam of Good Luck. The Joyful Feast. Crockett's 
Trade with the Indian. Visit to the Old Battle-field. Bold 
Adventure of Crockett. His Arrival Home. -Death of his 
Wife. Second Marriage. Restlessness. Exploring Tour. 
Wild Adventures. Dangerous Sickness. Removal to the 
West His New Home. . 155 


The Justice of Peace and the Legislator. 


Vagabondage. Measures of Protection. Measures of Govern- 
ment. Crockett's Confession. A Candidate for Military 
Honors. Curious Display of Moral Courage. The Squirrel 
Hunt. A Candidate for the Legislature. Characteristic 
Electioneering. Specimens of his Eloquence. Great Pecu- 
niary Calamity. Expedition to the Far West. Wild 
Adventures. The Midnight Carouse. A Cabin Reared. . 183 

Life on the Obion. 

Hunting Adventures. The Voyage up the River. Scenes in 
the Cabin. Return Home. Removal of the Family. ~ 
Crockett's Riches. A Perilous Enterprise. Reasons for his 
Celebrity. Crockett's Narrative. A Bear-Hunt. Visit to 
Jackson. Again a Candidate for the Legislature. Elec- 
tioneering and Election. ....... 212 

Adventures in the Forest, on the River, and in the City. 

The Bear Hunter's Story. Service in the Legislature. Candi- 
date for Congress. Electioneering. The New Speculation. 
Disastrous Voyage. Narrow Escape.^-New Electioneer- 
ing Exploits. Odd Speeches. The Visit to Crockett's 
Cabin. His Political Views. His Honesty. Opposition to 
Jackson. Scene at Raleigh. Dines with the President. 
Gross Caricature. His Annoyance. ..... 240 

Crockett's Tour to the North and the East. 

His Reelection to Congress. The Northern Tour. First Sight 
of a Railroad. Reception in Philadelphia. His First 
Speech. Arrival in New York. The Ovation there. Visit 



to Boston. Cambridge and Lowell. Specimens of his 
Speeches. Expansion of his Ideas. Rapid Improvement . 267 

The Disappointed Politician. Off for Texas. 

Triumphal Return. Home Charms Vanish. Loses His Elec- 
tion. Bitter Disappointment. Crockett's Poetry. Sets out 
for Texas. Incidents of the Journey. Reception at Little 
Rock. The Shooting Match. Meeting a Clergyman. The 
Juggler. Crockett a Reformer. The Bee Hunter. The 
Rough Strangers. Scene on the Prairie 290 

Adventures on the Prairie. 

Disappearance of the Bee Hunter. The Herd of Buffaloes. 
Crockett lost. The Fight with the Cougar. Approach of 
Savages. Their Friendliness. Picnic on the Prairie. Pic- 
turesque Scene. The Lost Mustang recovered. Unex- 
pected Reunion. Departure of the Savages. Skirmish with 
the Mexicans. Arrival at the Alamo. .... 312 


The Fortress of Alamo. Colonel Bowie. Bombardment of 
the Fort. Crockett's Journal. Sharpshooting. Fight out- 
side of the Fort. Death of the Bee Hunter. Kate of 
Nacogdoches. Assault on the Citadel. Crockett a Pris- 
oner. His Death 340 



Parentage and CJiildJwod. 

The Emigrant. Crossing the Alleghanies. The boundless Wilder- 
ness. The Hut on the Holston. Life's Necessaries. The 
Massacre. Birth of David Crockett. Peril of the Boys. 
Anecdote. Removal to Greenville ; to Cove Creek. Increased 
Emigration. Loss of the Mill. The Tavern. Engagement 
with the Drover.-^Adventures in the Wilderness.-^ Virtual Cap- 
tivity. The Escape. The Return. The Runaway. New Ad- 

A LITTLE more than a hundred years ago, a poor 
man, by the name of Crockett, embarked on board 
an emigrant-ship, in Ireland, for the New World. 
He was in the humblest station in life. But very- 
little is known respecting his uneventful career, 
excepting its tragical close. His family consisted of 
a wife and three or four children. Just before he 
sailed, or on the Atlantic passage, a son was born, to 


whom he gave the name of John. The family 
probably landed in Philadelphia, and dwelt some- 
where in Pennsylvania, for a year or two, in one of 
those slab shanties, with which all are familiar as 
the abodes of the poorest class of Irish emigrants. 

After a year or two, Crockett, with his little 
family, crossed the almost pathless Alleghanies. 
Father, mother, and children trudged along through 
the rugged defiles and over the rocky cliffs, on foot. 
Probably a single pack-horse conveyed their few 
household goods. The hatchet and the rifle were 
the only means of obtaining food, shelter, and even 
clothing. With the hatchet, in an hour or two, a 
comfortable camp could be constructed, which would 
protect them from wind and rain. The camp-fire, 
cheering the darkness of the night, drying their 
often wet garments, and warming their chilled 
limbs with its genial glow, enabled them to enjoy 
that almost greatest of earthly luxuries, peaceful 

The rifle supplied them with food. The fattest 
of turkeys and the most tender steaks of venison, 
roasted upon forked sticks, which they held in their 
hands over the coals, feasted their voracious appe- 
tites. This, to them, was almost sumptuous food. 
The skin of the deer, by a rapid and simple pro- 
cess of tanning, supplied them with moccasons, and 


afforded material for the repair of their tattered 

We can scarcely comprehend the motive which 
led this solitary family to push on, league after 
league, farther and farther from civilization, through 
the trackless forests. At length they reached the 
Holston River. This stream takes its rise among 
the western ravines of the Alleghanies, in South- 
western Virginia. Flowing hundreds of miles 
through one of the most solitary and romantic 
regions upon the globe, it finally unites with the 
Clinch River, thus forming the majestic Tennessee. 

One hundred years ago, this whole region, west 
of the Alleghanies, was an unexplored and an 
unknown wilderness. Its silent rivers, its forests, 
and its prairies were crowded with game. Countless 
Indian tribes, whose names even had never been 
heard east of the Alleghanies, ranged this vast 
expanse, pursuing, in the chase, wild beasts scarcely 
more savage than themselves. 

The origin of these Indian tribes and their past 
history are lost in oblivion. Centuries have come 
and gone, during which joys and griefs, of which we 
now can know nothing, visited their humble lodges. 
Providence seems to have raised up a peculiar class 
of men, among the descendants of 'the emigrants 
from the Old World, who, weary of the restraints of 


civilization, were ever ready to plunge into the 
wildest depths of the wilderness, and to rear their 
lonely huts in the midst of all its perils, privations, 
and hardships. 

This solitary family of the Crocketts followed 
down the northwestern banks of the Hawkins River 
for many a weary mile, until they came to a spot 
which struck their fancy as a suitable place to build 
their Cabin. In subsequent years a small village 
called Rogersville was gradually reared upon this 
spot, and the territory immediately around was 
organized into what is now known as Hawkins 
County. But then, for leagues in every direction, 
the solemn forest stood in all its grandeur. Here 
Mr. Crockett, alone and unaided save by his wife 
and children, constructed a little shanty, which could 
have been but little more than a hunter's camp. 
He could not lift solid logs to build a substantial 
house. The hard-trodden ground was the only floor 
of the single room which he enclosed. It was roofed 
with bark of trees piled heavily on, which afforded 
quite effectual protection from the rain. A hole 
cut through the slender logs was the only window. 
A fire was built in one corner, and the smoke eddied 
through a hole left in the roof. The skins of bears, 
buffaloes, and Wolves provided couches, all sufficient 
for weary ones, who needed no artificial ppiate to 


promote sleep. Such, in general, were the primitive 
homes of many of those bold emigrants who aban- 
doned the comforts of civilized life for the solitudes 
of the wilderness.- 

They did not want for most of what are called 
the necessaries of life. The river and the f6rest 
furnished a great variety of fish and game. Their 
hut, humble as it was, effectually protected them 
from the deluging tempest and the inclement cold. 
The climate was genial in a very high degree, and 
the soil, in its wonderful fertility, abundantly sup- 
plied them with corn and other simple vegetables. 
But the silence and solitude which reigned are 
represented, by those who experienced them, as 
at times something dreadful. 

One principal motive which led these people to 
cross the mountains, was the prospect of an ultimate 
fortune in the rise of land. Every man who built a 
cabin and raised a crop of grain, however small, was 
entitled to four -hundred acres of land, and a pre- 
emption right to one thousand more adjoining, to 
be secured by a land-office warrant. 

In this lonely home, Mr. Crockett, with his wife 
and children, dwelt for some months, perhaps years 
we know not how long. One night, the awful yell 
of the savage was heard, and a band of human 
demons came rushing upon the defenceless family. 


Imagination cannot paint the tragedy which ensued. 
Though this lost world, ever since the fall of Adam, 
has been rilled to repletion with these scenes of woe, 
it causes one's blood to curdle in his veins as he 
contemplates this one deed of cruelty and blood. 

The howling fiends were expeditious in their 
work. The father and mother were pierced by 
arrows, mangled with the tomahawk, and scalped. 
One son, severely wounded, escaped into the forest. 
Another little boy, who was deaf and dumb, was 
taken captive and carried by the Indians to their 
distant tribe, where he remained, adopted into the 
tribe, for about eighteen years. He was then 
discovered by some of his relatives, and was pur- 
chased back at a considerable ransom. The torch 
was applied to the cabin, and the bodies of the dead 
were consumed in the crackling flames. 

What became of the remainder of the children, 
if there were any others present in this midnight 
scene of conflagration and blood, we know not. 
There was no reporter to give us the details. We 
simply know that in some way John Crockett, who 
subsequently became the father of that David 
whose history we now write, was not involved in the 
general massacre. It is probable that he was not 
then with the family, but that he was a hired boy 
of all work in some farmer's family in Pennsylvania. 


As a day-laborer he grew up to manhood, and 
married a woman in his own sphere of life, by the 
name of Mary Hawkins. He enlisted as a common 
soldier in the Revolutionary War,, and took part in 
the battle of King's Mountain. At the close of the 
war he reared a humble cabin in the frontier wilds of 
North Carolina. There he lived for a few years, at 
but one remove, in point of civilization, from the sav- 
ages around him. It is not probable that either he or 
his wife could read or write. It is not probable that 
they had any religious thoughts ; that their minds 
ever wandered into the regions of that mysterious 
immortality which reaches out beyond the grave. 
Theirs was apparently purely an animal existence, 
like that of the Indian, almost like that of the wild 
animals they pursued in the chase. 

At length, John Crockett, with his wife and three 
or four children, unintimidated by the awful fate of 
his father's family, wandered from North Carolina, 
through the long and dreary defiles of the moun- 
tains, to the sunny valleys and the transparent skies 
of East Tennessee. It was about the year 1783. 
Here he came to a rivulet of crystal water, winding 
through majestic forests and plains of luxuriant 
verdure. Upon a green mound, with this stream 
flowing near his door, John Crockett built his rude 
and floorless hut. Punching holes in the soil with 


a stick, he dropped in kernels of corn, and obtained 
a far richer harvest than it would be supposed such 
culture could produce. As we have mentioned, 
the building of this hut and the planting of this 
crop made poor John Crockett the proprietor of 
four hundred acres of land of almost inexhaustible 

In this lonely cabin, far away in the wilderness, 
David Crockett was born, on the I7th of August, 
1786. He had then four brothers. Subsequently 
four other children were added to the family-. 

His childhood's home was more humble than 
the majority of the readers of this volume can 
imagine. It was destitute of everything which, in 
a higher state of civilization, is deemed essential to 
comfort. The wigwam of the Indian afforded as 
much protection from the weather, and was as well 
furnished, as the cabin of logs and bark which 
sheltered his father's family. It would seem, from 
David Crockett's autobiography, that in his child- 
hood he went mainly without any clothing, like the 
pappooses of an Indian squaw. These facts of his 
early life must be known, that we may understand 
the circumstances by which his peculiar character 
was formed. 

He had no instruction whatever in religion, 
morals, manners, or mental culture. It cannot be 


supposed that his illiterate parents were very gentle 
in their domestic discipline, or that their example 
could have been of any essential advantage in pre- 
paring him for the arduous struggle of life. It 
would be difficult to find any human being, in a 
civilized land, who can have enjoyed less opportuni- 
ties for moral culture than David Crockett enjoyed 
in his early years. 

There was quite a fall on the Nolachucky River, 
a little below the cabin of John Crockett. Here 
the water rushed foaming over the rocks, with fury 
which would at once swamp any canoe. When 
David was four or five years old, and several other 
emigrants had come and reared their cabins in that 
v'cinity, he was one morning out playing with his 
brothers on the bank of the river. There was a 
canoe tied to the shore. The boys got into it, and, 
to amuse themselves, pushed out into the stream, 
leaving little David, greatly to his indignation, on 
the shore. 

But the boys did not know how to manage the 
canoe, and though they plied the paddles with all 
vigor, they soon found themselves caught in the 
current, and floating rapidly down toward the falls, 
where, should they be swept over, the death of all 
was inevitable. 

A man chanced to be working in a field not far 


distant. He heard the cries of the boys and saw 
their danger. There was not a moment to be lost. 
He started upon the full run, throwing off coat and 
waistcoat and shoes, in his almost frantic speed, till 
he reached the water. He then plunged in, and, by 
swimming and wading, seized the canoe when it was 
within but about twenty feet of the roaring falls. 
With almost superhuman exertions he succeeded in 
dragging it to the shore. 

This event David Crockett has mentioned as the 
first which left any lasting imprint upon his memory. 
Not long after this, another occurrence took place 
characteristic of frontier life. Joseph Hawkins, a 
brother of David's mother, crossed the mountains 
and joined the Crockett family in their forest home. 
One morning he went out to shoot a deer, repairing 
to a portion of the forest much frequented by this 
animal. As he passed a very dense thicket, he saw 
the boughs swaying to and fro, where a deer was 
apparently browsing. Very cautiously he crept 
within rifle-shot, occasionally catching a glimpse, 
through the thick foliage, of the ear of the animal, 
as he supposed. 

Taking deliberate aim he fired, and immediately 
heard a loud outcry. Rushing to the spot, he found 
that he had shot a neighbor, who was there gather- 
ing grapes. The ball passed through his side, 


inflicting a very serious though not a fatal wound, 
as it chanced not to strike any vital part. The 
wounded man was carried home ; and the rude 
surgery which was practised upon him was to insert 
a silk handkerchief with a ramrod in at the bullet- 
hole, and draw it through his body. He recovered 
from the wound. 

Such a man as John Crockett forms no local 
attachments, and never remains long in one place. 
Probably some one came to his region and offered 
him a few dollars for his improvements. He aban- 
doned his cabin, with its growing neighborhood, 
and packing his few household goods upon one or 
two horses, pushed back fifty miles farther southwest, 
into the trackless wilderness. Here he found, about 
ten miles above the present site of Greenville, a 
fertile and beautiful region. Upon the banks of a 
little brook, which furnished him with an abundant 
supply of pure water, he reared another shanty, and 
took possession of another four hundred acres of 
forest land. Some of his boys were now old enough 
to furnish efficient help in the field and in the chase. 

How long John Crockett remained here we know 
not. Neither do we know what induced him to 
make another move. But we soon find him push- 
ing still farther back into the wilderness, with his 
hapless family of sons and daughters, dooming them, 


in all their ignorance, to the society only of bears 
and wolves. He now established himself upon a 
considerable stream, unknown to geography, called 
Cove Creek. 

David Crockett was now about eight years old. 
During these years emigration had been rapidly 
flowing from the Atlantic States into this vast and 
beautiful valley south of the Ohio. With the 
increasing emigration came an increasing demand 
for the comforts of civilization. Framed houses 
began to rise here and there, and lumber, in its 
various forms, was needed. 

John Crockett, with another man by the name of 
Thomas Galbraith, undertook to build a mill upon 
Cove Creek. They had nearly completed it, having 
expended all their slender means in its construction, 
when there came a terrible freshet, and all their 
works were swept away. The flood even inundated 
Crockett's cabin, and the family was compelled to 
fly to a neighboring eminence for safety. 

Disheartened by this calamity, John Crockett 
made another ' move. Knoxville, on the Holston 
River, had by this time become quite a thriving little 
settlement of log huts. The main route of emigra- 
tion was across the mountains to Abingdon, in South- 
western Virginia, and then by an extremeJy rough 
forest-road across the country to the valley of the 


Holston, and down that valley to Knoxville. This 
route was mainly traversed by pack-horses and emi- 
grants on foot. But stout wagons, with great labor, 
could be driven through. 

John Crockett moved still westward to this Hol- 
ston valley, where he reared a pretty large log house 
on this forest road ; and opened what he called a 
tavern for the entertainment of teamsters and othejr 
emigrants. It was indeed a rude resting place. 
But in a fierce storm the* exhausted animals could 
find a partial shelter beneath a shed of logs, with 
corn to eat ; and the hardy pioneers could sleep on 
bearskins, with their feet perhaps soaked with rain, 
feeling the warmth of the cabin fire. The rifle oi 
John Crockett supplied his guests with the choicest 
venison steaks, and his wife baked in the ashes the 
"journey cake," since called johnny cake, made oi 
meal from corn pounded in a mortar or ground in 
a hand-mill. The brilliant flame of the pitch-pine 
knot illumined the cabin ; and around the fire these 
hardy men often kept wakeful until midnight, 
smoking their pipes, telling their stories, and singing 
their songs. 

This house stood alone in the forest. Often the 
silence of the night was disturbed by the ciy of 
the grizzly bear and the howling of wolves. Here 
David remained four years, aiding his father in all 


the laborious work of clearing the land and tending 
the cattle. There was of course no school here, and 
the boy grew up in entire ignorance of all book 
learning. But in these early years he often went 
into the woods with his gun in pursuit of game, and, 
young as he was, acquired considerable reputation 
as a marksman. 

One day, a Dutchman by the name of Jacob 
Siler came to the cabin, driving a large herd of 
cattle. He had gathered them farther, west, from 
the luxuriant pastures in the vicinity of Knoxville, 
where cattle multiplied with marvellous rapidity, and 
was taking them back to market in Virginia. The 
drover found some difficulty in managing so many 
half wild cattle, as he pressed them forward through 
the wilderness, and he bargained with John Crock- 
ett to let his son David, who, as we have said, was 
then twelve years of age, go with him as his hired 
help. Whatever wages he gave was paid to the 

The boy was to go on foot with this Dutchman 
four hundred miles, driving the cattle. This trans- 
action shows very clearly the hard and unfeeling 
character of David's parents. When he reached 
the end of his journey, so many weary leagues from 
home, the only way by which he could return was 
to attach himself to some emigrant party, or sor f. 


company of teamsters, and walk back, paying for 
such food as he might consume, by the assistance 
he could render on the way. There are few parents 
who could thus have treated a child of twelve years. 

The little fellow, whose affections had never 
been more cultivated than those of the whelp of 
the wolf or the cub of the bear, still left home, as 
he tells us, with a heavy heart. The Dutchman 
was an entire stranger to him, and he knew not what 
treatment he was to expect at his hands. He had 
already experienced enough of forest travel to know 
its hardships. A journey of four hundred miles 
seemed to him like going to the uttermost parts of 
the earth. As the pioneers had smoked their pipes 
at his father's cabin fire, he had heard many appal- 
ling accounts of bloody conflicts with the Indians, 
of massacres, scalpings, tortures, and captivity. 

David '-s father had taught him, very sternly, one 
lesson, and that was implicit and prompt obedience 
to his demands. The boy knew full well that it 
would be of no avail for him to make any remon- 
strance. Silently, and trying to conceal his tears, 
he set out on the perilous enterprise. The cattle 
could be driven but about fifteen or twenty miles a 
day. Between twenty and thirty days were occu- 
pied in the toilsome and perilous journey. The 
route led them often through marshy ground, where 


the mire was trampled knee-deep. All the streams 
had to be forded. At times, swollen by the rains, 
they were very deep. There were frequent days of 
storm, when, through the long hours, the poor boy 
trudged onward, drenched with rain and shivering 
with cold. Their fare was most meagre, consisting 
almost entirely of such game as they chanced to 
shoot, which they roasted on forked sticks before 
the fire. 

When night came, often dark and stormy, the cat- 
tle were generally too much fatigued by their long 
tramp to stray away. Some instinct also induced 
them to cluster together. A rude shanty was 
thrown up. Often everything was so soaked with 
rain that it was impossible to build a fire. The 
poor boy, weary and supperless, spattered with mud 
and drenched with rain, threw himself upon the 
wet ground for that blessed sleep in which the 
weary forget their woes. Happy was he if he could 
induce one of the shaggy dogs to lie down by his 
side, that he might hug the faithful animal in his 
arms, and thus obtain a little warmth. 

Great was the luxury when, at the close of a 
toilsome day, a few pieces of bark could be so piled 
as to protect from wind and rain, and a roaring 
fire could blaze and crackle before the little camp. 
Then the appetite which hunger gives would enable 


him to feast upon the tender cuts of venis&n 
broiled upon the coals, with more satisfaction than 
the gourmand takes in the choicest viands of the 
restaurant. Having feasted to satiety, he would 
stretch himself upon the ground, with his feet to 
the fire, and soon be lost to all earth's cares, in 
sweet oblivion. 

The journey was safely accomplished. The 
Dutchman had a father-in-law, by the name of 
Hartley, who lived in Virginia, having reared his 
cabin within about three miles of the Natural 
Bridge. Here the boy's contract came to an end. 
It would seem that the Dutchman was a good sort 
of man, as the world goes, and that he treated the 
boy kindly. He was so well pleased with David's 
energy and fidelity, that he was inclined to retain 
him in his service. Seeing the boy's anxiety to 
return home, he was disposed to throw around him 
invisible chains, and to hold him a captive. He 
thus threw every possible hindrance in the way of 
his return, offered to hire him as his boy of all work, 
and made him a present of five or six dollars, which 
perhaps he considered payment in advance, which 
bound the boy to remain with him until he had 
worked it out. 

David soon perceived that his movements were 
watched, and that he was not his own master to go 


or stay as he pleased. This increased his restless- 
ness. Four or five weeks thus passed away, when, 
one morning, three wagons laden with merchandise 
came along, bound to Knoxville. They were driven 
by an old man by the name of Dunn, and his two 
stalwart sons. They had traversed the road before, 
and David had seen the old man at his father's 
tavern. Secretly the shrewd boy revealed to him 
his situation, and his desire to get back to his home. 
The father and sons conferred together upon the 
subject. They were moved with sympathy for the 
boy, and, after due deliberation, told him that they 
should stop for the night about seven miles from 
that place, and should set out again on their jour- 
ney with the earliest light of the morning ; and that 
if he could get to them before daylight, he might 
follow their wagons. 

It was Sunday morning, and it so happened that 
the Dutchman and the family had gone away on a 
visit. David collected his clothes and the little 
money he had, and hid them in a bundle under his 
bed. A very small bundle held them all. The 
family returned, and, suspecting nothing, all retired 
to sleep. 

David had naturally a very affectionate heart. 
He never had been from home before. His lone- 
ly situation roused all the slumbering' emotions 


of his childhood. In describing this event, he 
writes : 

" I went to bed early that night, but sleep 
seemed to be a stranger to me. For though I was 
a wild boy, yet I dearly loved my father and mother ; 
and their images appeared to be so deeply fixed in 
my mind that I could not sleep for thinking of 
them. And then the fear that when I should 
attempt to go out I should be discovered and called 
to a halt, filled me with anxiety." 

A little after midnight, when the family were in 
profoundest sleep, David cautiously rose, and taking 
his little bundle, crept out doors. To his disap- 
pointment he found that it was snowing fast, eight 
inches having already fallen ; and the wintry gale 
moaned dismally through the treetops. It was a 
dark, moonless night. The cabin was in the fields, 
half a mile from the road along which the wagons 
had passed. This boy of twelve years, alone in the 
darkness, was to breast the gale and wade through 
the snow, amid forest glooms, a distance of seven 
miles, before he could reach the appointed rendez- 

For a moment his heart sank within him. Then 
recovering his resolution, he pushed out boldly into 
the storm. For three hours he toiled along, the 
snow rapidly increasing in depth until it reached up 


to his knees. Just before the dawn of the morning 
he reached the wagons. The men were up, harness- 
ing their teams. The Dunns were astounded at the 
appearance of the little boy amid the darkness and 
the tempest. They took him into the house, 
warmed him by the fire, and gave him a good 
breakfast, speaking to him words of sympathy and 
encouragement. The affectionate heart of David 
was deeply moved by this tenderness, to which he 
was quite unaccustomed. 

And then, though exhausted by the toil of a 
three hours' wading through the drifts, he com- 
menced, in the midst of a mountain storm, a long 
day's journey upon foot. It was as much as the 
horses could do to drag the heavily laden wagons 
over the encumbered road. However weary, he 
could not ride. However exhausted, the wagons 
could not wait for him,; neither was there any place 
in the smothering snow for rest. 

Day after day they toiled along, in the endurance 
of hardships now with difficulty comprehended. 
Sometimes they were gladdened with -sunny skies 
and smooth paths. Again the clouds would gather, 
and the rain, the sleet, and the snow would envelop 
them in glooms truly dismal. Under these circum- 
stances the progress of the wagons was very slow. 
David was impatient. As he watched the sluggish 


turns of the wheels, he thought that he could travel 
very much faster if he should push forward alone, 
leaving the wagons behind' him. 

At length he became so impatient, thoughts of 
home having obtained entire possession of his mind, 
that he informed Mr. Dunn of his intention to press 
forward as fast as he could. His elder companions 
deemed it very imprudent for such a mere child, 
thus alone, to attempt to traverse the wilderness, 
and they said all they could to dissuade him, but in 
vain. He therefore, early the next morning, bade 
them farewell, and with light footsteps and a light 
heart tripped forward, leaving them behind, and 
accomplishing nearly as much in one day as the 
wagons could in two. We are not furnished with 
any of the details of this wonderful journey of a 
solitary child through ,a wilderness of one or two 
hundred miles. We know nofchow he slept at night, 
or how he obtained food by day. He informs us 
that he was at length overtaken by a drover, who 
had been to Virginia with a herd of cattle, and was 
uertrning to Knoxville riding one horse and leading 

The man was amazed in meeting a mere child 
in such lonely wilds, and upon hearing his story, his 
kind heart was touched. David was a frail little 
fellow, whose weight would be no burden for a horse, 


and the good man directed him to mount the 
animal which he led. The boy had begun to be 
very tired. He was just approaching a turbid 
stream, whose icy waters, reaching almost to his 
neck, he would have had to wade but for this Provi- 
dential assistance. 

Travellers in the wilderness seldom trot their 
horses. On such a journey, an animal who naturally 
walks fast is of much more value than one which 
has attained highspeed upon the race-course. Thus 
pleasantly mounted, David and his kind protector 
rode along together until they came within about 
fifteen miles of John Crockett's tavern, where their 
roads diverged. Here David dismounted, and 
bidding adieu to his benefactor, almost ran the 
remaining distance, reaching home that evening. 

" The name of this kind gentleman," he writes, 
" I have forgotten ; for it deserves a high place in 
my little book. A remembrance of his kindness to 
a little straggling boy has, however, a resting-place 
in my heart, and there it will remain as long as I 

It was the spring of the year when David reached 
his father's cabin. He spent a part of the summer 
there. The picture which David gives of his home 
is revolting in the extreme. John Crockett, the 
tavern-keeper, had become intemperate, and he was 


profane and brutal. But his son, never having seen 
any home much better, does not seem to have been 
aware that there were any different abodes upon 
earth. Of David's mother we know nothing. She 
was probably a mere household drudge, crushed by 
an unfeeling husband, without sufficient sensibilities 
to have been aware of her degraded condition. 

Several other cabins had risen in the vicinity of 
John Crockett's. A man came along, by the name 
of Kitchen, who undertook to open a school to 
teach the boys to read. David went to school four 
days, but found it very difficult to master his letters. 
He was a wiry little fellow, very athletic, and his 
nerves seemed made of steel. When roused by 
anger, he was as fierce and reckless as a catamount. 
A boy, much larger than himself, had offended him. 
David decided not to attack him near the school- 
house, lest the master might separate them. 

He therefore slipped out of school, just before it 
was dismissed, and running along the road, hid in a 
thicket, near which his victim would have to pass on 
his way home. As the boy came unsuspectingly 
along, young Crockett, with the leap of a panther, 
sprang upon his back. With tooth and nail he 
assailed him, biting, scratching, pounding, until the 
boy cried for mercy. 

The next morning, David was afraid to go to 


school, apprehending the severe punishment he 
might get from the master. He therefore left home 
as usual, but played truant, hiding himself in the 
woods all day. He did the same the next morning, 
and so continued for several days. At last the mas- 
ter sent word to John Crockett, inquiring why his 
son David no longer came to school. The boy was 
called to an account, and the whole affair came out. 

John Crockett had been drinking. His eyes 
flashed fire. He cut a stout hickory stick, and with 
oaths declared that he would give his boy an " eter- 
nal sight " worse whipping than the master would 
give him, unless he went directly back to school. 
As the drunken father approached brandishing his 
stick, the boy ran, and in a direction opposite from 
that of the school-house. The enraged father pur- 
sued, and the unnatural race continued for nearly a 
mile. A slight turn in the road concealed the boy 
for a moment from the view of his pursuer, and he 
plunged into the forest and hid. The father, with 
staggering gait, rushed along, but having lost sight 
of the boy, soon gave up the chase, and returned 

This revolting spectacle, of such a father and 
such a son, over which one would think that angels 
might weep, only excited the derision of this strange 
boy. It was what he had been accustomed to all 


his life. He describes it in ludicrous terms, with 
the slang phrases which were ever dropping from his 
lips. David knew that a terrible whipping awaited 
him should he go back to the cabin. 

He therefore pushed on several miles, to the hut 
of a settler whom he knew. He was, by this time, 
too much accustomed to the rough and tumble of 
life to feel any anxiety about the future. Arriving 
at the cabin, it so chanced that he found a man, by 
the name of Jesse Cheek, who was just starting 
with a drove of cattle for Virginia. Very readily, 
David, who had experience in that business, engaged 
to accompany him. An elder brother also, either 
weary of his wretched home or anxious to see more 
of the world, entered into the same service. 

The incidents of this journey were essentially 
the same with those of the preceding one, though 
the route led two hundred miles farther into the 
heart of Virginia. The road they took passed 
through Abingdon, Witheville, Lynchburg, Char- 
lottesville, Orange Court House, to Front Royal in 
Warren County. Though these frontier regions 
then, seventy-five years ago, were in a very primi- 
tive condition, still young Crockett caught glimpses 
of a somewhat higher civilization than he had ever 
encountered before in his almost savage life. 

Here the drove was sold, and David found him- 


self with a few dollars in his pocket. His brother 
decided to look for work in that region. David, 
then thirteen years of age, hoping tremblingly that 
time enough had elapsed to save him from a whip- 
ping, turned his thoughts homeward. A brother 
of the drover was about to return on horseback. 
David decided to accompany him, thinking that the 
man would permit him to ride a part of the way. 

Much to his disgust, the man preferred to ride 
himself. The horse was his own. David had no 
claim to it whatever. He was therefore left to 
trudge along on foot. Thus he journeyed for three 
days. He then made an excuse for stopping a little 
while, leaving his companion to go on alone. He 
was very careful not again to overtake him. The 
boy had then, with four dollars in his pocket, a 
foot journey before him of between three and four 
hundred miles. And this was to be taken through 
desolate regions of morass and forest, where, not un- 
frequently, the lurking Indian had tomahawked, or 
gangs of half-famished wolves had devoured the 
passing traveller. He was also liable, at any time, 
to be caught by night and storm, without any 

As he was sauntering along slowly, that he might 
be sure and not overtake his undesirable compan- 
ion, he met a wagoner coming from Greenville, in 


Tennessee, and bound for Gerardstown, Berkeley 
County, in the extreme northerly part of Virginia. 
His route lay directly over the road which David 
had traversed. The man's name was Adam Myers. 
He was a jovial fellow, and at once won the heart 
of the vagrant boy. David soon entered into a 
bargain with Myers, and turned back with him. 
The state of mind in which the boy was may be 
inferred from the following extract taken from his 
autobiography. I omit the profanity, which was 
ever sprinkled through all his utterances: 

" I often thought of home, and, indeed, wished 
bad enough to be there. But when I thought of 
the school-house, and of Kitchen, my master, and 
of the race with my father, and of the big hickory 
stick he carried, and of the fierceness of the storm 
of wrath I had left him in, I was afraid to ven- 
ture back. I knew my father's nature so well, that 
I was certain his anger would hang on to him like 
a turtle does to a fisherman's 'toe. The promised 
whipping came slap down upon every thought of 

Travelling "back with the wagon, after two 
days' journey, he met his brother again, who had 
then decided to return himself to the parental 
cabin in Tennessee. He pleaded hard with David 
to accompany him, reminding him of the love of his 


mother and his sisters. The boy, though all unused 
to weeping, was moved to tears. But the thought 
of the hickory stick, and of his father's brawny arm, 
decided the question. With his friend Myers he 
pressed on, farther and farther from home, to Ger- 


YoutJiful Adventures. 

David at Gerardstown. Trip to Baltimore. Anecdotes. He ships 
for London. Disappointment. Defrauded of his Wages. 
Escapes. New Adventures. Crossing the River. Returns 
Home. His Reception. A Farm Laborer. Generosity to his 
Father. Love Adventure. The Wreck of his Hopes. His 
School Education. Second Love Adventure. Bitter Disap- 
pointment. Life in the Backwoods. Third Love Adventure. 

THE wagoner whom David had accompanied to 
Gerardstown was disappointed in his endeavors to 
find a load to take back to Tennessee. He there- 
fore took a load to Alexandria, on the Potomac. 
David decided to remain at Gerardstown until 
Myers should return. He therefore engaged to 
work for a man by the name of John Gray, for 
twenty-five cents a day. It was light farm-work in 
which he was employed, and he was so faithful in 
the performance of his duties that he pleased the 
farmer, who was an old man, very much. 

Myers continued for the winter in teaming backr 
ward and forward between Gerardstown and Balti- 
more, while David found a comfortable home of 


easy industry with the farmer. He was very careful 
in the expenditure of his money, and in the spring 
found that he had saved enough from his small 
wages to purchase him a suit of coarse but sub- 
stantial clothes. He then, wishing to. see a little 
more of the world, decided to make a trip with the 
wagoner to Baltimore. 

David had then seven dollars in his pocket, the 
careful savings of the labors of half a year. He 
deposited the treasure with the wagoner for safe 
keeping. They started on their .journey, with a 
wagon heavily laden with barrels of flour. As they 
were approaching a small settlement called Ellicott's 
Mills, David, a little ashamed to approach the houses 
in the ragged and mud-bespattered clothes which 
he wore on the way, crept into the wagon to put on 
his better garments. 

While there in the midst of the flour barrels 
piled up all around him, the horses took fright at 
some strange sightwhich they encountered, and in 
a terrible scare rushed down a steep hill, turned a 
sharp corner, broke the tongue of the wagon and 
both of the axle-trees, and whirled the heavy bar- 
rels about in every direction. The escape of David 
from very serious injuries seemed almost miraculous. 
But our little barbarian leaped from the ruins 
unscathed. It does not appear that he had ever 


cherished any conception whatever of an overrul- 
ing Providence. Probably, a religious thought had 
never entered his mind. A colt running by the side 
of the horses could not have been more insensible 
to every idea of death, and responsibility at God's 
bar, than was David Crockett. And he can be 
hardly blamed for this. The savages had some idea 
of the Great Spirit and of a future world. David 
was as uninstructed in those thoughts as are the 
wolves and the bears. Many years afterward, in 
writing of this occurrence, he says, with characteris- 
tic flippancy, interlarded with coarse phrases: 

" This proved to me, if a fellow is born to be hung 
he will never be drowned ; and further, that if he is 
born for a seat in Congress, even flour barrels can't 
make a mash of him. I didn't know how soon I 
should be knocked into a cocked hat, and get my 
walking-papers for another country." 

The wagon was quite demolished by the disaster. 
Another was obtained, the flour reloaded, and they 
proceeded to Baltimore, dragging the wreck behind 
them, to be repaired there. Here young Crockett 
was amazed at the aspect of civilization which 
was opened before him. He wandered along the 
wharves gazing bewildered upon the majestic ships, 
with their towering masts, cordage, and sails, which 
he saw floating there. He had never conceived of 


such fabrics before. The mansions, the churches, 
the long lines of brick stores excited his amazement. 
It seemed to him that he had been suddenly intro- 
duced into a sort of fairy-land. All thoughts of 
home now vanished from his mind. The great world 
was expanding before him, and the curiosity of his 
intensely active mind was roused to explore more 
of its wonders. 

One morning he ventured on board one of the 
ships at a wharf, and was curiously and cautiously 
peering about, when the captain caught sight of 
him. It so happened that he was in need of a sailor- 
boy, and being pleased with the appearance of the 
lad, asked David if he would not like to enter into 
his service to take a voyage to London. The boy 
had no more idea of where London was, or what it 
was, than of a place in the moon. But eagerly he 
responded, " Yes," for he cared little where he went 
or what became of him, he was so glad of an oppor- 
tunity to see more of the wonders of this unknown 

The captain made a few inquiries respecting his 
friends, his home, and his past modes of life> and 
then engaged him for the cruise. David, in a state 
of high, joyous excitement, hurried back to the 
wagoner, to get his seven dollars of money and 
some clothes he had left with him. But Myers put 


a very prompt veto upon the lad's procedure ; 
assuming that he was the boy's master, he declared 
that he should not go to sea. He refused to let 
him have either his clothes or his money, asserting 
that it was his duty to take him back to his parents 
in Tennessee. David would gladly have fled from 
him, and embarked without money and without 
clothes ; but the wagoner watched him so closely 
that escape was impossible. 

David was greatly down-hearted at this disap- 
pointment, and watched eagerly for an opportunity 
to obtain deliverance from his bondage. But Myers 
was a burly teamster who swung a very heavy 
wagon-whip, threatening the boy with a heavy 
punishment if he should make any attempt to run 

After a few days, Myers loaded his team for Ten- 
nessee, and with his reluctant boy set out on his long 
journey. David was exceedingly restless. He now 
hated the man who was so tyranically domineering 
over him. He had no desire to return to his home, 
and he dreaded the hickory stick with which he 
feared his brutal father would assail him. One dark 
night, an hour or two before the morning, David care- 
fully took his little bundle of clothes, and creeping 
noiselessly from the cabin, rushed forward as rapidly 
as his nimble feet could carry him. He soon felt 


quite easy in reference to his escape. He knew that 
the wagoner slept soundly, and that two hours at 
least must elapse before he would open his eyes. .He 
then would not know with certainty in what direction 
the boy had fled. He could not safely leave his 
horses and wagon alone in the wilderness, to pursue 
him; and even should he unharness one of the 
horses and gallop forward in search of the fugitive, 
David, by keeping a vigilant watch, would see him 
in the distance and could easily plunge into the 
thickets of the forest, and thus elude pursuit. 

He had run along five or six miles, when just as 
the sun was rising he overtook another wagon. He 
had already begun to feel very lonely and disconso- 
late. He had naturally an affectionate heart and a 
strong mind ; traits of character which gleamed 
through all the dark clouds that obscured his life. 
He was alone in the wilderness, without a penny; 
and he knew not what to do, or which way to turn. 
The moment he caught sight of the teamster his 
heart yearned for sympathy. Tears moistened his 
eyes, and hastening to the stranger, the friendless 
boy of but thirteen years frankly told his whole 
story. The wagoner was a rough, profane, burly 
man, of generous feelings. There was an air of 
sincerity in the boy, which convinced him of the 
entire truth of his statements. His indignation 


was aroused, and he gave expression to that indigna- 
tion in unmeasured terms. Cracking his whip in 
his anger, he declared that Myers was a scoundrel, 
thus to rob a friendless boy, and that he would lash 
the money out of him. 

This man, whose name also chanced to be Myers, 
was of the tiger breed, fearing nothing, ever ready 
for a fight, and almost invariably coming off con- 
queror. In his generous rage he halted his team, 
grasped his wagon-whip, and, accompanied by the 
trembling boy, turned back, breathing vengeance. 
David was much alarmed, and told his protector 
that he was afraid to meet the wagoner, who had so 
often threatened him with his whip. But his new 
friend said, " Have no fear. The man shall give you 
back your money, or I will thrash it out of him." 

They had proceeded but about two miles when 
they met the approaching team of Adam Myers. 
Henry Myers, David's new friend, leading him by 
the hand, advanced menacingly upon the other 
teamster, and greeted him with the words : 

" You accursed scoundrel, what do you mean by 
robbing this friendless boy of his money?" 

Adam Myers confessed that he had received 
seven dollars of the boy's money. He said, how- 
ever, that he had no money with him ; that he had 
invested all he had in articles in his wagon, and that 


he intended to repay the boy as soon as they got 
back to Tennessee. This settled the question, and 
David returned with Henry Myers to his wagon, 
and accompanied him for several days on his slow 
and toilsome journey westward. 

The impatient boy, as once before, soon got 
weary of the loitering pace of the heavily laden 
team, and concluded to leave his friend and press 
forward more rapidly alone. It chanced, one even- 
ing, that several wagons met, and the teamsters 
encamped for the night together. Henry Myers 
told them the story of the friendless boy, and that 
he was now about to set out alone for the long 
journey, most of it through an entire wilderness, 
and through a land of strangers wherever there 
might chance to be a few scattered cabins. They 
took up a collection for David, and presented him 
with three dollars. 

The little fellow pressed along, about one hun- 
dred and twenty-five miles, down the valley between 
the Alleghany and the Blue ridges, until he reached 
Montgomery Court House. The region then, nearly 
three quarters of a century ago, presented only here 
and there a spot where the light of civilization had 
entered. Occasionally the log cabin of some poor 
emigrant was found in the vast expanse. David, 
too proud to beg, when he had any money with 


which to pay, found his purse empty when he had 
accomplished this small portion of his journey. 

In this emergence, he hired out to work for a 
man a month for five dollars, which was at the rate 
of about one shilling a day. Faithfully he fulfilled 
his contract, and then, rather dreading to return 
home, entered into an engagement with a hatter, 
Elijah Griffith, to work in his shop for four years. 
Here he worked diligently eighteen months without 
receiving any pay. His employer then failed, broke 
up, and left the country. Again this poor boy, thus 
the sport of fortune, found himself without a penny, 
with but few clothes, and those much worn. 

But it was not his nature to lay anything very 
deeply to heart. He laughed at misfortune, and 
pressed on singing and whistling through all storms. 
He had a stout pair of hands, good nature, and adap- 
tation to any kind of work. There was no danger 
of his starving; and exposures, which many would 
deem hardships, were no hardships for him. Un- 
dismayed he ran here and there, catching at such 
employment as he could find, until he had supplied 
himself with some comfortable clothing, and had a 
few dollars of ready money in his purse. Again he 
set out alone and on foot for his far-distant home. 
He had been absent over two years, and was How 
fifteen years of age. 


He trudged along, day after day, through rain 
and sunshine, until he reached a broad stream called 
New River. It was wintry weather. The stream 
was swollen by recent rains, and a gale then blowing 
was ploughing the surface into angry waves. Teams 
forded the stream many miles above. There was a 
log hut here, and the owner had a frail canoe in 
which he could paddle an occasional traveller across 
the river. But nothing would induce him to risk his 
life in an attempt to cross in such a storm. 

The impetuous boy, in his ignorance of the effect 
of wind upon waves, resolved to attempt to cross, 
at every hazard, and notwithstanding all remon- 
strances. He obtained a leaky canoe, which was 
half stranded upon the shore, and pushed out on 
his perilous voyage. He tied his little bundle of 
clothes to the bows of the boat, that they might 
not be washed or blown away, and soon found 
himself exposed to the full force of the wind, and 
tossed by billows such as he had never dreamed of 
before. He was greatly frightened, and would have 
given all he had in the world, to have been safely 
back again upon the shore. But he was sure to be 
swamped if he should attempt to turn the boat 
broadside to the waves in such a gale. The only 
possible salvation for him was to cut the approach- 
ing billows with the bows of the boat. Thus he 


might possibly ride over them, though at the immi- 
nent peril, every moment, of shipping a sea which 
would engulf him and his frail boat in a watery 

In this way he reached the shore, two miles 
above the proper landing-place. The canoe was 
then half full of water. He was drenched with 
spray, which was frozen into almost a coat of mail 
upon his garments. Shivering with cold, he had to 
walk three miles through the forest before he 
found a cabin at whose fire he could warm and dry 
himself. Without any unnecessary delay he pushed 
on until he crossed the extreme western frontier line 
of Virginia, and entered Sullivan County, Tennessee. 

An able-bodied young man like David Crockett, 
strong, athletic, willing to work, and knowing how 
to turn his hand to anything, could, in the humblest 
cabin, find employment which would provide him 
with board and lodging. He was in no danger of 
starving. There was, at that time, but one main 
path of travel from the East into the regions of the 
boundless West. 

As David was pressing along this path, he came 
to a little hamlet of log huts, where he found the 
brother whom he had left when he started from 
home eighteen months before with the drove of 
cattle. He remained with him for two or three 


weeks, probably paying his expenses by farm labor 
and hunting. Again he , set out for home. The 
evening twilight was darkening into night when he 
caught *sight of his father's humble cabin. Several 
wagons were standing around, showing that there 
must be considerable company in the house. 

With not a little embarrassment, he ventured in. 
It was rather dark. His mother and sisters were 
preparing supper at the immense fireside. Quite a 
group of teamsters were scattered around the room, 
smoking their pipes, and telling their marvellous 
stories. David, during his absence of two years, 
had grown, and changed considerably in personal 
appearance. None of the family recognized him. 
They generally supposed, as he had been absent so 
long, that he was dead. 

David inquired if he could remain all night. 
Being answered in the affirmative, he took a seat in 
a corner, and remained perfectly silent, gazing upon 
the familiar scene, and watching the movements of 
his father, mother, and sisters. At length supper 
was ready, and all took seats at the table. As David 
came more into the light, one of his sisters, observ- 
ing him, was struck with his resemblance to her lost 
brother. Fixing her eyes upon him, she, in a 
moment, rushed forward and threw her arms around 
his neck, exclaiming, " Here is my brother David." 


Quite a scene ensued. The returning prodigal 
was received with as much affection as could be 
expected in a family with such uncultivated hearts 
and such unrefined habits as were found in the 
cabin of John Crockett. Even the stern old man 
forgot his hickory switch, and David, much to his 
relief, found that he should escape the long-dreaded 
whipping. Many years after this, when David 
Crockett, to his own surprise, and that of the whole 
nation, found himself elevated to the position of 
one of our national legislators, he wrote : 

" But if will be a source of astonishment to 
many, who reflect that I am now a member of the 
American Congress, the most enlightened body of 
men in the world, that, at so advanced an age, the 
age of fifteen, I did not know the first letter in the 

By the laws and customs of our land, David was 
bound to obey his father and work for him until he 
was twenty-one years of age. Until that time, what- 
ever wages he might earn belonged to his father. 
It is often an act of great generosity for a hard- 
working farmer to release a stout lad of eighteen 
or nineteen from this obligation, and " to give him," 
as it is phrased, " his time." 

John Crockett owed a neighbor, Abraham Wil- 
son, thirty-six dollars. He told David that if he 


would work for Mr. Alison until his wages paid that 
sum, he would then release him from all his obliga- 
tions to his father, and his son might go free. It 
was a shrewd bargain for the old man, for he had 
already learned that David was abundantly capable 
of taking care of himself, and that he would come 
and go when and where he pleased. 

The boy, weary of his wanderings, consented to 
the arrangement, and engaged to work for Mr. Wil- 
son for six months, in payment for which, the note 
was to be delivered up to his father. It was charac- 
teristic of David that whatever he undertook he en- 
gaged in with all his might. He was a rude, coarse 
boy. It was scarcely possible, with his past train- 
ing, that he should be otherwise. But he was very 
faithful in fulfilling his obligations. Though his 
sense of right and wrong was very obtuse, he was 
still disposed to do the right so far as his unculti- 
vated conscience revealed it to him. 

For six months, David worked for Mr. Wilson 
with the utmost fidelity and zeal. He then received 
the note, presented it to his father, and, before he 
was sixteen years of age, stood up proudly his own 
man. His father had no longer the right to whip 
him. His father had no longer the right to call upon 
him for any service without paying him for it. And 
on the other hand, he could no longer look to his 


father for food or clothing. This thought gave him 
no trouble. He had already taken care of himself 
for two years, and he felt no more solicitude in 
regard to the future than did the buffalo's calf or 
the wolf's whelp. 

Wilson was a bad man, dissipated and unprinci- 
pled. But he had found David to be so valuable a 
laborer that he offered him high wages if he would 
remain and work for him. It shows a latent, under- 
lying principle of goodness in David, that he should 
have refused the offer. He writes : 

" The reason was, it was a place where a heap 
of bad company met .to drink and gamble ; and I 
wanted to get away from them, for I know'd very 
well, if I staid there, I should get a bad name, as 
nobody could be respectable that would live there." 

About this time a Quaker, somewhat advanced 
in years, a good, honest man, by the name of John 
Kennedy, emigrated from North Carolina, and 
selecting his four hundred acres of land about fifteen 
miles from John Crockett's, reared a log hut and 
commenced a clearing. In some transaction with 
Crockett he took his neighbor's note for forty 
dollars. He chanced to see David, a stout lad of 
prepossessing appearance, and proposed that he 
should work for him for two shillings a day, taking 
him one week upon trial. At the close of the week 


the Quaker expressed himself as highly satisfied 
with his work, and offered to pay him with his 
father's note of forty dollars for six months' labor 
on his farm. 

David knew full well how ready his father was 
to give his note, and how slow he was to pay it. 
He was fully aware that the note was not worth, to 
him, the paper upon v/hich it was written. But he 
reflected that the note was an obligation upon his 
father, that he was very poor, and his lot in life was 
hard. It certainly indicated much innate nobility 
of nature that this boy, under these circumstances, 
should have accepted the offer of the Quaker. But 
David did this. For six months he labored assidu- 
ously, without the slightest hope of reward, except- 
ing that he would thus relieve his father, whom he 
had no great cause either to respect or love, from 
the embarrassment of the debt. 

For a whole half-year David toiled upon the 
farm -of the Quaker, never once during that time 
visiting his home. At the end of the term he 
received his pay for those long months of labor, in 
a little piece of rumpled paper, upon which his 
father had probably made his mark. It was Satur- 
day evening. 

The next morning he borrowed a horse of his 
employer and set out for a visit home. He was 


kindly welcomed. His father knew nothing of the 
agreement which his son had made with Mr. Ken- 
nedy. As the family were talking together around 
the cabin fire, David drew the note from his pocket 
and presented it to his father. The old man seemed 
much troubled. He supposed Mr. Kennedy had 
sent it for collection. As usual, he began to make 
excuses. He said that he was very sorry that he 
could not pay it, that he had met with many misfor- 
tunes, that he had no money, and that he did not 
know what to do. 

David then told his father that he did not hand 
him the bill for collection, but that it was a present 
from him that he had paid it in full. It is easy for 
old and broken-down men to weep. John Crockett 
seemed much affected by this generosity of his son, 
and David says " he shed a heap of tears." He, 
however, avowed his inability to pay anything what- 
ever, upon the note. 

David had now worked a year without getting 
any money for himself. His clothes were worn out, 
and altogether he was in a very dilapidated condi- 
tion. He went back to the Quaker's, and again 
engaged in his service, desiring to earn some money 
to purchase clothes. Two months thus passed 
away. Every ardent, impetuous boy must have a 
love adventure. David had his. A very pretty 


young Quakeress, of about David's age, came from 
North Carolina to visit Mr. Kennedy, who was her 
uncle. David fell desperately in love with her. 
We cannot better describe this adventure than in 
the unpolished diction of this illiterate boy. If one 
would understand this extraordinary character, it is 
necessary thus to catch such glimpses as we can 
of his inner life. Let this necessity atone for the 
unpleasant rudeness of speech. Be it remembered 
that this reminiscence was written after David 
Crockett was a member of Congress. 

" I soon found myself head over heels in love 
with this girl. I thought that if all the hills about 
there were pure chink, and all belonged to me, I 
would give them if I could just talk to her as I 
wanted to. But I was afraid to begin ; for when I 
would think of saying anything to her, my heart 
would begin to flutter like a duck in a puddle. And 
if I tried to outdo it and speak, it would get right 
smack up in my throat, and choke me like a cold 
potato. It bore on my mind in this way, till at last 
I concluded I must die if I didn't broach the subject. 
So I determined to begin and hang on a-trying to 
speak, till my heart would get out of my throat one 
way or t'other. 

" And so one day at it I went, and after several 
trials I could say a little. I told her how I loved 


her; that she was the darling object of my soul and 
body ; and I must have her, or else I should pine 
down to nothing, and just die away with consump- 

" I found my talk was not disagreeable to her. 
But she was an honest girl, and didn't want to deceive 
nobody. She told me she was engaged to her 
cousin, a son of the old Quaker. This news was 
worse to me than war, pestilence, or famine. But 
still I know'd I could not help myself. I saw quick 
enough my cake was dough ; and I tried to cool off 
as fast as possible. But I had hardly safety pipes 
enough, as my love was so hot as mighty nigh to 
burst my boilers. But I .didn't press my claims any 
more, seeing there was no chance to do anything." 

David's grief was very sincere, and continued as 
long as is usually the case with disappointed lovers. 

David soon began to cherish some slight idea 
of the deficiency in his education. He had never 
been to school but four days ; and in that time he 
had learned absolutely nothing. A young man, a 
Quaker/ had opened a school about a mile and a 
half from Mr. Kennedy's. David made an arrange- 
ment with his employer by which he was to. go to 
school four days in the week, and work the other 
two days for his board. He continued in this way 
for six months. But it was very evident that David 


was not born for a scholar. At the end of that time 
he could read a little in the first primer. With diffi- 
culty he could make certain hieroglyphics which 
looked like his name. He could also perform sim- 
ple sums in addition, substraction, and multipli- 
cation. The mysteries of division he never sur-. 

This was the extent of his education. He left 
school, and in the laborious life upon which he en- 
tered, never after improved any opportunity for 
mental culture. The disappointment which David 
had encountered in his love affair, only made him 
more eager to seek a new "object uporl which he 
might fix his affections. Not far from Mr. Ken- 
nedy's there was the cabin of a settler, where there 
were two or three girls. David had occasionally 
met them. Boy as he was, for he was not yet eigh- 
teen, he suddenly and impetuously set out to see if 
he could not pick, from them, one for a wife. 

Without delay he made his choice, and made 
his offer, and was as promptly accepted as a lover. 
Though they were both very young, and neither of 
them, had a dollar, still as those considerations 
would not have influenced David in the slightest 
degree, we know not why they were not immediately 
married. Several months of very desperate and 
satisfactory courtship passed away, when the time 


came for the nuptials of the little Quaker girl, which 
ceremony was to take place at the cabin of her 
uncle. David and his "girl" were invited to the 
wedding. The scene only inflamed the desires of 
David to hasten his marriage-day. He was very 
importunate in pressing his claims. She seemed 
quite reluctant to fix the day, but at last consented ; 
and says David, " I thought if that day come, I 
should be the happiest man in the created world, or 
in the moon, or anywhere else." 

In the mean time David had become very fond 
of his rifle, and had raised enough money to buy 
him one. He was still living with the Quaker. 
Game was abundant, and the young hunter often 
brought in valuable supplies of animal food. There 
were frequent shooting-matches in that region. 
David, proud of his skill, was fond of attending 
them. But his Quaker employer considered them a 
species of gambling, which drew together all the 
idlers and vagrants of the region, and he could not 
approve of them. 

There- was another boy living at that time with 
the Quaker. They practised all sorts of deceptions 
to steal away to the shooting-matches under pre- 
tence that they were engaged in other things. This 
boy was quite in love with a sister of David's in- 
tended wife. The staid member of the Society 'of 


Friends did not approve of the rude courting frolics 
of those times, which frequently occupied nearly 
the whole night. 

The two boys slept in a garret, in what was 
called the gable end of the house. There was a 
small window in their rough apartment. One Sun- 
day, when the Quaker and his wife were absent at- 
tending a meeting, the boys cut a long pole, and 
leaned it up against the side of the house, as high as 
the window, but so that it would not attract any atten- 
tion. They were as nimble as catamounts, and could 
run up and down the "pole without the slightest 
difficulty. They would go to bed at the usual early 
hour. As soon as all were quiet, they would creep 
from the house, dressed in their best apparel, and 
taking the two farm-horses, would mount their backs 
and ride, as fast as possible, ten miles through the 
forest road to where the girls lived. They were 
generally expected. After spending all the hours 
of the middle of the night in the varied frolics of 
country courtship, they would again mount their 
horses and gallop home, being especially careful to 
creep in at their window before the dawn of day. 
The course of true love seemed for once to be run- 
ning smoothly. Saturday came, and the next week, 
on Thursday, David was to be married. 

It so happened that there was to be a shooting- 


match on Saturday, at one of the cabins not far 
from the home of his intended bride. David, made 
some excuse as to the necessity of going home to 
prepare for his wedding, and in the morning s-et out 
early, and directed his steps straight to the shoot- 
ing-match. Here he was very successful in his 
shots, and won about five dollars. In great elation 
of spirits, and fully convinced that he was one of the 
greatest and happiest men in the world, he pressed 
on toward the home of his intended bride. 

He had walked but a couple of miles, when he 
reached the cabin of the girl's uncle. Considering 
the members of the family already as his relatives, 
he stepped in, very patronizingly, to greet them. 
He doubted not that they were very proud of the 
approaching alliance of their niece with so distin- 
guished a man as himself a man who had actually 
five dollars, in silver, in his pocket. Entering the 
cabin, he found a sister of his betrothed there. 
Instead of greeting him with the cordiality he 
expected, she seemed greatly embarrassed. David 
had penetration enough to see that something wa"s 
wrong. The reception she gave him was not such 
as he thought a brother-in-law ought to receive. He 
made more particular inquiries. The result we will 
give in David's language. 

" She then burst into tears, and told me that her 


sister was going to deceive me ; and that she was to 
be married to another man the next day. This was 
as sudden to me as a clap of thunder of a bright 
sunshiny day. It was the capstone of all the afflic- 
tions I had ever met with;, and it seemed to me 
that it was more than any human creature could 
endure. It struck me perfectly speech c.- s or some 
time, and made me feel so weak that I thought I 
should sink down. I however recovered from the 
shock after a little, and rose and started without 
any ceremony, or even bidding anybody good-bye. 
The young woman followed me out to the gate, and 
entreated me to go on to her father's, and said she 
would go with me. 

" She said the young man who was going to marry 
her sister had got his license and asked for her. 
But she assured me that her father and mother both 
preferred me to him ; and that she had no doubt 
that if I would go on I could break off the match. 
But I found that I could go no farther. My heart 
was bruised, and my spirits were broken down. So I 
bid her farewell, and turned my loaesome and mis- 
erable steps back again homeward, concluding that I 
was only born for hardship, misery, and disappoint- 
ment. I now began to think that in making me it 
was entirely forgotten to make my mate ;. that I wa ; 


born odd, and should always remain so, and that 
nobody would have me. 

" But all these reflections did not satisfy my 
mind, for I had no peace, day nor night, for several 
weeks. My appetite failed me, and I grew daily 
worse and worse. They all thought I was sick ; and 
so I was. And it was the worst kind of sickness, a 
sickness of the heart, and all the tender parts, pro- 
duced by disappointed love." 

For some time David continued in a state of 
great dejection, a lovelorn swain of seventeen 
years. Thus disconsolate, he loved to roam the 
forest alone, with his rifle as his only companion, 
brooding over his sorrows. The gloom of the 
forest was congenial to him, and the excitement of 
pursuing the game afforded some slight relief to his 
agitated spirit. One day, when he had wandered 
far from home, he came upon the cabin of a Dutchman 
with whom he had formed some previous acquaint- 
ance. He had a daughter, who was exceedingly 
plain in her personal appearance, but who had a very 
active mind, and was a bright, talkative girl. 

She had heard of David's misadventure, and 
rather unfeelingly rallied him upon his loss. She 
however endeavored to comfort him by the assur- 
ance that there were as good fish in the sea as had 
ever been caught out of it. David did not believe 


in this doctrine at all, as applied to his own case. 
He thought his loss utterly irretrievable. And in 
his still high appreciation of himself, notwithstand- 
ing his deep mortification, he thought that the lively 
Dutch girl was endeavoring to catch him for her 
lover. In this, however, he soon found himself mis- 

She told him that there was to be a reaping 
frolic in their neighborhood in a few days, and that 
if he would attend it, she would show him one of 
the prettiest girls upon whom he ever fixed his 
eyes. Difficult as he found it to shu-t out from his 
mind his lost love, upon whom his thoughts were 
dwelling by day and by night, he very wisely de- 
cided that his best remedy would be found in what 
Dr. Chalmers calls " the expulsive power of a new 
affection ; " that is, that he would try and fall in love 
with some other girl as soon as possible. His own 
language, in describing his feelings at that time, is 
certainly very different from that which the philoso- 
pher or the modern novelist would have used, but 
it is quite characteristic of the man. The Dutch 
maiden assured him that the girl who had de- 
ceived him was not to be compared in beauty 
with the one she would show to him. He writes: 

" I didn't believe a word of all this, for I had 
thought that such a piece of flesh and blood as she 


had never been manufactured, and never would 
again. I agreed with her that the little varmint 
had treated me so bad that I ought to forget her, 
and yet I couldn't do it. I concluded that the best 
way to accomplish it was to cut out again, and see 
if I could find any other that would answer me ; 
and so I told the Dutch girl that I would be at the 
reaping, and would bring as many as I could with 

David seems at this time to have abandoned all 
constant industry, and to be loafing about with his 
rifle, thus supporting himself with the game he 
took. He traversed the still but slightly broken 
forest in all directions, carrying to many scattered 
farm-houses intelligence of the approaching reaping 
frolic. He informed the good Quaker with whom 
he had worked of his intention to be there. Mr. 
Kennedy endeavored .to dissuade him. He said that 
there would be much bad company there ; that there 
would be drinking and carousing, and that David 
had been so good a boy that he should be very 
sorry to have him get a bad name. 

The curiosity of the impetuous young man was, 
however, by this time, too much aroused for any 
persuasions to hold him back. Shouldering his 
rifle, he hastened to the reaping at the appointed 
day. Upon his arrival at the place he found a large 


company already assembled. He looked around for 
the pretty girl, but she was nowhere to be seen. 
She chanced to be in a shed frolicking with some 
others of the young people. 

But as David, with his rifle on his shoulder, saun- 
tered around, an aged Irish woman, full of nerve and 
volubility, caught sight of him. She was the mo- 
ther of the, girl, and had been told of the object of 
David's visit. He must have appeared very boyish, 
for he had not yet entered his eighteenth year, and 
though very wiry and athletic, he was of slender 
frame, and rather small in stature. 

The Irish woman hastened to David ; lavished 
upon him compliments respecting his rosy cheeks, 
and assured him that she had exactly such a sweet- 
heart for him as he needed. She did not allow 
David to have any doubt that she would gladly wel- 
come him as the husband of her daughter. 

Pretty soon the young, fresh, blooming, mirthful 
girl came along ; and David fell in love with her at 
first sight. Not much formality of introduction was 
necessary : each was looking for the other. Both of 
the previous loves of the young man were forgotten 
in an instant. He devoted himself with the utmost 
assiduity, to the little Irish girl. He was soon 
dancing with her. After a very vigorous " double 
shuffle," as they \vere seated side by side on a bench 


intensely talking, for David Crockett was never at a 
loss for words, the mother came up, and, in her 
wonderfully frank mode of match-making, jocosely 
addressed him as her son-in-law. 

Even David's imperturbable self-possession was 
disturbed by this assailment. Still he was much 
pleased to find both mother and daughter so favor- 
ably disposed toward him. The rustic frolicking 
continued nearly all night. In the morning, David, 
in a very happy frame of mind, returned to the 
Quaker's, and in anticipation of soon setting up 
farming for himself, engaged to work for him for six 
months for a low-priced horse. 


Marriage and Settlement. 

Rustic Courtship. The Rival Lover. Romantic Incident. The 
Purchase of a Horse. The Wedding. Singular Ceremonies. 
The Termagant. Bridal Days. They commence Housekeep- 
ing. The Bridal Mansion and Outfit. Family Possessions. 
The Removal to Central Tennessee. Mode of Transportation. 
The New Home and its Surroundings. Busy Idleness. The 
Third Move. The Massacre at Fort Mimms. 

DAVID took possession of his horse, and began 
to work very diligently to pay for it. He felt that 
now he was a man of property. After the lapse of 
a few weeks he mounted his horse and rode over to 
the Irishman's cabin to see his girl, and to find out 
how she lived, and what sort of people composed 
the family. Arriving at the log hut, he found the 
father to be a silent, staid old man, and the mother 
as voluble and nervous a little woman as ever lived. 
Much to his disappointment, the girl was away. 
After an hour or two she returned, having been 
absent at some meeting or merry-making, and, much 
to his chagrin', she brought back with her a stout 
young fellow who was evidently her lover. 


The new-comer was not at all disposed to relin- 
quish his claims in favor of David Crockett. He 
stuck close to the maiden, and kept up such an 
incessant chatter that David could scarcely edge in 
a word. In characteristic figure of speech he says, 
" I began to think I was barking up the wrong tree 
again. But I determined to stand up to my rack, 
fodder or no fodder." He thought he was sure of 
the favor of her parents, and he was not certain that 
the girl herself had not given him sundry glances 
indicative of her preference. Dark night was now 
coming on, and David had a rough road of fifteen 
miles to traverse through the forest before he could 
reach home. He thought that if the Irishman's 
daughter cherished any tender feelings toward him, 
she would be reluctant to have him set out at that 
late hour on such a journey. He therefore rose to 
take leave. 

His stratagem proved successful. The girl 
immediately came, leaving her other companion, 
and in earnest tones entreated him not to go that 
evening. The lover was easily persuaded. His 
heart grew lighter and his spirit bolder. She soon 
made it so manifest in what direction her choice lay, 
that David was left entire master of the field. His 
discomfited rival soon took his hat and withdrew. 
David thus was freed from all his embarrassments. 


It was Saturday night. He remained at the 
cabin until Monday morning, making very diligent 
improvement of his time in the practice of all those 
arts of rural courtship which instinct teaches. He 
then returned home, not absolutely engaged, but 
with very sanguine hopes. 

At that time, in that region, wolves were abund- 
ant and very destructive. The neighbors, for quite 
a distance, combined for a great wolf-hunt, which 
should explore the forest for many miles. By the 
hunters thus scattering on the same day, the wolves 
would have no place of retreat. If they fled before 
one hunter they would encounter another. Young 
Crockett, naturally confident, plunged recklessly 
into the forest, and wandered to and fro until, to his 
alarm, he found himself bewildered and utterly lost. 
There were no signs of human habitations near, and 
night was fast darkening around him. 

Just as he was beginning to feel that he must 
look out for a night's encampment, he saw in the 
distance, through the gigantic trees, a young girl 
running at her utmost speed, or, as he expressed it in 
the Crockett vernacular, " streaking it along through 
the woods like all wrath." David gave chase, and 
soon overtook the terrified girl, whom he found, to 
his surprise and delight, to be his own sweetheart, 
who had also by some strange accident got lost. 


Here was indeed a romantic and somewhat an 
embarrassing adventure. The situation was, how- 
ever, by no means so embarrassing as it would have 
been to persons in a higher state of civilization. 
The cabin of the emigrant often consisted of but 
one room, where parents and children and the chance 
guest passed the night together. They could easily 
throw up a camp. David with his gun could kindle 
a fire and get some game. The girl could cook it. 
All their physical wants would thus be supplied. 
They had no material inconveniences to dread in 
camping out for a night. The delicacy of the situa- 
tion would not be very keenly felt by persons who 
were at but one remove above the native Indian. 

The girl had gone out in the morning into the 
woods, to hunt up one of her father's horses. She 
missed her way, became lost, and had been wander- 
ing all day long farther and farther from home. 
Soon after the two met they came across a path 
which they knew must lead to some house. Fol- 
lowing this, just after dark they came within sight 
of the dim light of a cabin fire. They were kindly 
received by the inmates, and, tired as they were, 
they both sat up all night. Upon inquiry they 
found that David had wandered ten miles from his 
home, 'and the young girl seven from hers. Their 
paths lay in different directions, but the road was 


plain, and in the morning they separated, and with- 
out difficulty reached their destination. 

David was now anxious to get married imme- 
diately. It will be remembered that he had bought a 
horse ; but he had not paid for it. The only prop- 
erty he had, except the coarse clothes upon his back, 
was a rifle. All the land in that neighborhood was 
taken up. He did not even own an axe with which 
to build him a log cabin. It would be necessary for 
him to hire some deserted shanty, and borrow such 
articles as were indispensable. Nothing could be 
done to any advantage without a horse. To dimin- 
ish the months which he had promised to work in 
payment for the animal, he threw in his rifle. 

After a few weeks of toil the horse was his. He 
mounted his steed, deeming himself one of the 
richest men in the far West, and rode to see his girl 
and fix upon his wedding-day. He confesses that 
as he rode along, considering that he had been twice 
disappointed, he experienced no inconsiderable 
trepidation as to the result of this third matrimo- 
nial enterprise. He reached the cabin, and his worst 
fears were realized. 

The nervous, voluble, irritable little woman, 
who with all of a termagant's energy governed both 
husband and family, had either become dissatisfied 
with young Crockett's poverty, or had formed the 


plan of some other more ambitious alliance for her 
daughter. She fell upon David in a perfect tornado 
of vituperation, and ordered him out of the house. 
She was " mighty wrathy," writes David, " and 
looked at me as savage as a meat-axe." 

David was naturally amiable, and in the depress- 
ing circumstances had no heart to return railing 
for railing. He meekly reminded the infuriate 
woman that she had called him " son-in-law" before 
he had attempted to call her " mother-in-law," and 
that he certainly had been guilty of no conduct 
which should expose him to such treatment. He 
soon saw, to his great satisfaction, that the daughter 
remained faithful to him, and that the meek father 
was as decidedly on his side as his timid nature 
would permit him to be. Though David felt much 
insulted, he restrained his temper, and, turning from 
the angry mother, told her daughter that he would 
come the next Thursday on horseback, leading an- 
other horse for her ; and that then he would take 
her to a justice of the peace who lived at the dis- 
tance of but a few miles from them, where they 
would be married. David writes of the mother : 

" Her Irish was too high to do anything with 
her ; so I quit trying. All I cared for was to have 
her daughter on my side, which I know'd was the 
case then. But how soon some other fellow might 


knock my nose out of joint again, I couldn't tell. 
Her mother declared I shouldn't have her. But I 
knowed I should, if somebody else didn't get her 
before Thursday." 

The all -important wedding-day soon came. 
David was resolved to crush out all opposition and 
consummate the momentous affair with very con- 
siderable splendor. He therefore rode to the cabin 
with a very imposing retinue. Mounted proudly 
upon his own horse, and leading a borrowed steed, 
with a blanket saddle, for- his bride, and accompa- 
nied by his elder brother and wife and a younger 
brother and sister, each on horseback, he " cut out 
to her father's house to get her." 

When this cavalcade- of six horses had arrived 
within about two miles of the Irishman's cabin, 
quite a large party was found assembled from the 
log huts scattered several miles around. David, 
kind-hearted, generous, obliging, was very popular 
with his neighbors. They had heard of the ap- 
proaching nuptials of the brave boy of but eighteen 
years, and of the wrath of the brawling, ill-tempered 
mother. They anticipated a scene, and wished to 
render David the support of their presence and 
sympathy. This large party, some on foot 'and 
some on horseback, proceeded together to the Irish- 
man's cabin. The old man met them with smiles, 


whiskey bottle in hand, ready to offer them all a 
drink. The wife, however, was obdurate as ever. 
She stood at the cabin door, her eyes flashing fire, 
and quite bewildered to decide in what way to 
attempt to repel and drive off her foe. 

She expected that the boy would come alone, 
and that, with her all-potent tongue, she would so 
fiercely assail him and so frighten her young girl as 
still to prevent the marriage. But here was quite 
an army of the neighbors, from miles around, 
assembled. They were all evidently the friends of 
David. Every eye was fixed upon her. Every ear 
was listening to hear what she would say. Every 
tongue was itching to cry out shame to her opposi- 
tion, and to overwhelm her with reproaches. For 
once the termagant found herself baffled, and at her 
wits' end. 

The etiquette of courts and cabins are quite dif- 
ferent. David paid no attention to the mother, 
but riding up to the door of the log house, leading 
the horse for his bride, he shouted to her to come 
out. The girl had enjoyed no opportunity to pay 
any attention to her bridal trousseau. But undoubt- 
edly she had contrived to put on her best attire. 
We do not know her age, but she was ever spoken 
of as a remarkably pretty little girl, and was proba- 
bly about seventeen years old. 


David did not deem it necessary to dismount, 
but called upon his " girl " to jump upon the horse 
he was leading. She did so. The mother was 
powerless. It was a Waterloo defeat. In another 
moment they would disappear, riding away along 
the road, which wound through the gigantic trees of 
the forest. 'In another hour they would be married. 
And then they would forever be beyond the reach 
of the clamor of her voluble tongue. She began to 
relent. The old man, accustomed to her wayward 
humors, instinctively perceived it. Stepping up to 
David, and placing his hand upon the neck of his 
horse, he said : 

" I wish you would stay and be .married here. 
My woman has too much tongue. You oughtn't 
mind her." 

Having thus, for a moment, arrested their depart- 
ure, he stepped back to the door, where his discom- 
fited wife stood, and entreated her to consent to 
their being married there. After much persuasion, 
common sense triumphed over uncommon stubborn- 
ness. She consented. David and his expectant 
bride were both on horseback, all ready to go. The 
woman rather sullenly came forward and said : 

" I am sorry for the words I have spoken. This 
girl is the only child I have ever had to marry. I 
cannot bear to see her go off in this way. If you'll 


come into the house and be married here, I will do 
the best I can for you." 

The good-natured David consented. They 
alighted from their horses, and the bridal party en- 
tered the log hut. The room was not large, and the 
uninvited guests thronged it and crowded around 
the door. The justice of peace was sent for, and the 
nuptial knot was tied. 

The wedding ceremonies on such occasions were 
sufficiently curious to be worthy of record. They cer- 
tainly were in very wide contrast with the pomp and 
splendor of nuptials in the palatial mansions of the 
present day. A large party usually met at some ap- 
pointed place, some mounted and others on foot, to 
escort the bridegroom to the house of the bride. The 
horses were decorated with all sorts of caparisons, 
with ropes for bridles, with blankets or furs for sad- 
dles. The men were dressed in deerskin moccasins, 
leather breeches, leggins, coarse hunting-shirts of all 
conceivable styles of material, and all homemade. 

The women wore gowns of very coarse home- 
spun and home-woven cloth, composed of linen and 
wool, and called linsey-woolsey, very coarse shoes, 
and sometimes with buckskin gloves of their own 
manufacture. If any one chanced to have a ring or 
pretty buckle, it was a relic of former times. 

There were no carriages, for there were no roads. 


The narrow trail they traversed in single file was 
generally a mere horse-path, often so contracted in 
width that two horses could not pass along abreast. 
As they marched along in straggling line, with 
shouts and jokes, and with the interchange of many 
gallant acts of rustic love-making between the 
coquettish maidens and the awkward swains, they 
encountered frequent obstacles on the way. It was 
a part of the frolic for the young men to throw 
obstructions in their path, and thus to create sur- 
prises. There were brooks to be forded. Some- 
times large trees were mischievously felled across 
the trail. Grape-vines were tied across from tree to 
tree, to trip up the passers-by or to sweep off their 
caps. It was a great joke for half a dozen young 
men to play Indian. They would lie in ambuscade, 
and suddenly, as the procession was passing, would 
raise the war-whoop, discharge their guns, and raise 
shouts of laughter in view of the real or feigned con- 
sternation thus excited. 

. The maidens would of course shriek. The fright- 
ened horses would spring aside. The swains would 
gallantly rush to the rescue of their sweethearts. 
When the party had arrived within about a mile of 
the house where the marriage ceremony was to take 
place, two of the most daring riders among the 
young men who had been previously selected for 


the purpose, set out on horseback on a race for " the 
"bottle." The master of the house was expected to 
be standing at his door, with a jug of whiskey in his 
hand. This was the prize which the victor in the 
race was to seize and take back in triumph to his 

The start was announced by a general Indian 
yell. The more rough the road the more full of 
logs, stumps, rocks, precipitous hills, and steep glens, 
the better. This afforded a better opportunity for 
the display of intrepidity and horsemanship. It 
was a veritable steeple-chase. The victor announced 
his success by one of those shrill, savage yells, which 
would almost split the ears of the listener. Grasp- 
ing the bottle, he returned in triumph. On ap- 
proaching the party, he again gave forth the Indian 

The bottle or jug was first presented to the 
bridegroom. He applied the mouth of the bottle 
to his lips, and took a dram of raw whiskey. He 
then handed it to his next of kin, ahd so the bottle 
passed through the whole company. It is to be 
supposed that the young women did not burn their 
throats with very copious drafts of the poisonous 

When they arrived at the house, the brief cere- 
mony of marriage immediately took place, and then 


came the marriage feast. It was a very substantial 
repast of pork, poultry, wild turkeys, venison, and 
bear's meat. There was usually the accompani- 
ment of corn-bread, potatoes, and other vegetables. 
Great hilarity prevailed on these occasions, with 
wonderful freedom of manners, coarse jokes, and 
shouts of laughter. 

The table was often a large slab of timber, hewn 
out with a broad-axe, and supported by four stakes 
driven into auger-holes. The table furniture con- 
sisted of a few pewter dishes, with wooden plates 
and bowls. There were generally a few pewter 
spoons, much battered about the edges, but most 
of the spoons were of horn, homemade. Crockery, so 
easily broken, was almost unknown. Table knives 
were seldom seen. The deficiency was made up by 
the hunting-knives which all the men carried in 
sheaths attached to their hunting-shirts. 

After dinner the dancing began. There was 
invariably some musical genius present who could 
play the fiddle. The -dances were what were called 
three or four handed reels, or square sets and jigs. 
With all sorts of grotesque attitudes, pantomime 
and athletic displays, the revelry continued until late 
into the night, and often until the dawn of the morn- 
ing. As there could be no sleeping "accommoda- 
tions for so large a company in the cabin of but 


one room, the guests made up for sleep in merri- 

The bridal party stole away in the midst of the 
uproar, one after another, up a ladder into the loft 
or garret above, which was floored with loose boards- 
made often of split timber. This furnished a very 
rude sleeping apartment. As the revelry below 
continued, seats being scarce, every young man 
offered his lap as a seat for the girls ; and the offer 
was always promptly accepted. Always, toward 
morning, some one was sent up into the loft with a 
bottle of whiskey, to offer the bridegroom and his 
bride a drink. The familiar name of the bottle was 
" Black Betty." One of the witticisms ever promi- 
nent on the occasion was, "Where is Black Betty? 
I want to kiss her sweet lips." At some splendid 
weddings, where the larder was abundantly stored 
with game, this feasting and dancing was continued 
for several days. 

Such, in the main, was the wedding of David 
Crockett with the Irishman's daughter. In the 
morning the company dispersed. David also and 
his young bride left, during the day, for his father's 
cabin. As the families of the nuptial party both 
belonged to the "aristocracy of the region, quite a 
splendid marriage reception was held at John 
Crockett's. There were feasting and dancing ; and 


"Black Betty " received many a cordial kiss. The 
bridegroom's heart was full of exultant joy. David 
writes : 

" Having gotten my wife, I thought I was com- 
pletely made up, and needed nothing more in the 
whole world." 

He soon found his mistake, and awoke to the 
consciousness that he needed everything, and had 
nothing. He had no furniture, no cabin, no land, 
no money. And he had a wife to support. His 
only property consisted of a cheap horse. He did 
not even own a rifle, an article at that time so 
indispensable to the backwoodsman. 

After spending a few days at David's father's, 
the bridegroom and bride returned to the cabin of 
her father, the Irishman. Here they found that a 
wonderful change had taken place in the mother's 
feelings and conduct. She had concluded to submit 
good-naturedly to the inevitable. Her "conversa- 
tional powers " were wonderful. With the most 
marvellous volubility of honeyed words she greeted 
them. She even consented to have two cows given 
them, each with a calf. This was the dowry of the 
bride her only dowry. David, who had not 
expected anything, felt exceedingly rich with this 

Near by there was a vacated log cabin with a 


few acres of land attached to it. Our boy bride- 
groom and bride hired the cabin at a very small .rent. 
But then they had nothing whatever to put into it. 
They had not a bed, or a table or a chair ; no cooking 
utensils; not even a knife or a fork. He had no 
farming tools ; not a spade or a hoe. The whole 
capital with which they commenced life consisted 
of the clothes they had on, a farm-horse, two cows, 
and two calves. 

In this emergence the good old Quaker, for 
whom David had worked, came forward, and loaned 
him fifteen dollars. In that wilderness, food, that is 
game and corn, was cheap. But as nearly every- 
thing else had to be brought from beyond the moun- 
tains, all tools and furniture commanded high prices. 
With the fifteen dollars, David and his little wife 
repaired to a country store a few miles distant, 
to furnish their house and farm. Under these cir- 
cumstances, the china-closet of the bride must 
have been a curiosity. David says, " With this 
fifteen dollars we fixed up pretty grand, as we 

After a while, in some unexplained way, they 
succeeded in getting a spinning-wheel. The little 
wife, says David, " knowed exactly how to use it. 
She was also a good weaver. Being very industri- 
ous, she had, in little or no time, a fine web of cloth 


ready to make up. ! She was good at that too, and 
at almost anything else a woman could do." 

Here this humble family remained for two years. 
They were both as contented with their lot as other 
people are. They were about as well off as most of 
their neighbors. Neither of them ever cherished a 
doubt that they belonged to the aristocracy of the 
region. They did not want for food or clothing, or 
shelter, or a warm fireside. They had their merry- 
makings, their dances, and their shooting-matches. 
Let it be remembered that this was three quarters 
of a century ago, far away in the wilds of an almost 
untamed wilderness. 

Two children were born in this log cabin. David 
began to feel the responsibilities of a father who 
had children to provide for. Both of the children 
were sons. Though David's family was increasing, 
there was scarcely any increase of his fortune. He 
therefore decided that the interests of his little 
household demanded that he should move still 
farther back into the almost pathless wilderness, 
where the land was not yet taken up, and where he 
could get a settler's title to four hundred acres, 
simply by rearing a cabin and planting some corn. 

He had one old horse, and a couple of colts, 
each two years old. The colts were broken, as it 
was called, to the halter ; that is, they could be led, 


with light burdens upon their backs, but could not 
be ridden. Mrs. Crockett mounted- the old horse, 
with her babe in her arms, and the little boy, two 
years old, sitting in front of her, astride the horse's 
neck, and occasionally carried on his father's shoul- 
ders. Their few articles of household goods were 
fastened upon the backs of the two colts. David 
led one, and his kind-hearted father-in-law, who had 
very generously offered to help him move, led the 
other. Thus this party set out for a journey of 
two hundred and fifty miles, over unbridged rivers, 
across rugged mountains, and through dense forests, 
whose Indian trails had seldom if ever been trodden 
by the feet of white men. 

This was about the year 1806. The whole pop- 
ulation of the State then amounted to but about 
one hundred thousand. They were generally wide- 
ly dispersed through the extensive regions of -East 
Tennessee. But very few emigrants had ventured 
across the broad and rugged cliffs of the Cumber- 
land Mountains into the rich and sunny plains of 
Western Tennessee. But a few years before, terri- 
ble Indian wars desolated the State. The powerful 
tribes of the Creeks and Cherokees had combined 
all their energies for the utter extermination of the 
white men, seeking to destroy all their hamlets and 
scattered cabins. 


At a slow foot-pace the pioneers followed down 
the wild valley of the Holston River, often with 
towering mountains rising upon each side of 
them. If they chanced, at nightfall, to approach 
the lonely hut of a settler, it was especial good for- 
tune, as they thus found shelter provided, and a fire 
built, and hospitable entertainment ready for them. 
If, however, they were overtaken in the wilderness 
by darkness, and even a menacing storm, it was a 
matter of but little moment, and caused no anxiety. 
A shelter, of logs and bark, was soon thrown up, 
with a crackling fire, illuminating the wilderness, 
blazing before it. A couch, as soft as they had ever 
been accustomed to, could speedily be spread from 
the pliant boughs of trees. Upon the pack-colts 
there were warm blankets. And during the journey 
of the day they had enjoyed ample opportunity to 
take such game as they might need for their supper 
and their morning breakfast. 

At length they reached the majestic flood of the 
Tennessee River, and crossed it, we know not how. 
Then, directing their steps toward the setting sun, 
they pressed on, league after league, and day after 
day, in toilsome journey, over prairies and through 
forests and across mountain-ridges, for a distance of 
nearly four hundred miles from their starting-place, 
until they reached a small stream, called Mulberry 


Creek, which flows into the Elk River, in what is 
now Lincoln County. ^ 

At the mouth of Mulberry Creek the adventur- 
ous emigrant found his promised land. It was in- 
deed a beautiful region. The sun shines upon none 
more so. The scenery, which, however, probably 
had but few attractions for David Crockett's unculti- 
vated eye, was charming. The soil was fertile. The 
streams abounded with fish and waterfowl ; and 
prairie and forest were stocked with game. No 
family need suffer from hunger here, if the husband 
had a rifle and knew how to use it. A few hours' 
labor would rear a cabin which would shut out wind 
and rain as effectually as the gorgeous walls of 
Windor or Versailles. 

No jets of gas or gleam of wax candles ever 
illumined an apartment more brilliantly than the 
flashing blaze of the wood fire. And though the 
refectories of the Palais Royal may furnish more 
scientific cookery than the emigrant's hut, they can- 
not furnish fatter turkeys, or more tender venison, 
or more delicious cuts from the buffalo and the bear 
than are often found browning before the coals of 
the log cabin. And when we take into considera- 
tion the voracious appetites engendered in those 
wilds, we shall see that the emigrant needed not to 


look with envy upon the luxuriantly spread tables 
of Paris or New York. 

Upon the crystal banks of the Mulberry River, 
David, aided by his father-in-law, reared his log 
cabin. It is a remote and uncultivated region even 
now. Then it was an almost unbroken wilderness, 
the axe of the settler having rarely disturbed its 

A suitable spot for the cabin was selected, and^a 
space of about fifteen feet by twenty feet was 
marked out and smoothed down for the floor. 
There was no cellar. Trees near by, of straight 
trunks, were felled and trimmed, and cut into logs 
of suitable length. These were piled one above 
another, in such a way as to enclose the space, and 
were held in their place by being notched at the 
corners. Rough boards were made for the roof by 
splitting straight-grained logs about four feet long. 

The door was made by cutting or sawing the 
logs on one side of the hut, about three feet in 
width. This opening was secured by upright pieces 
of timber pinned to the end of the logs. A similar 
opening was left in the end for the chimney, which 
was built of logs outside of the hut. The back and 
jambs of the fireplace was of stone. A hole about 
two feet square constituted the window. Frequently 
the floor was the smooth, solid earth. A split slab 


supported by sticks driven into auger-holes, formed 
a table. A few three-legged stools supplied the 
place of chairs. Some wooden pins, driven into 
holes bored in the logs, supported shelves. A bed- 
stead was framed by a network of poles in one 

Such was the home which David and his kind 
father reared in a few days. It will be perceived 
that it was but little in advance of the wigwam of 
the Indian. Still it afforded a comfortable shelter 
for men, women, and children who had no aspirations 
above a mere animal life ; who thought only of 
warmth, food, and clothing ; who had no conception 
of intellectual, moral, or religious cravings. 

The kind-hearted father-in-law, who had accom- 
panied his children on foot upon this long journey, 
that he might see them settled in their own home, 
now bade them adieu, and retraced the forest trails 
back to his own far-distant cabin. A man who 
could develop, unostentatiously, such generosity and 
such self-sacrifice, must have possessed some rare 
virtues. We regret our inability to record the 
name of one who thus commands our esteem and 

In this humble home, David Crockett and his 
family resided two years. He appears to have 
taken very little interest in the improvement of his 


homestead. It must be admitted that Crockett 
belonged to the class of what is called loafers. He 
was a sort of Rip Van Winkle. The forest and the 
mountain stream had great charms for him. He 
loved to wander in busy idleness all the day, with 
fishing-rod and rifle ; and he would often return at 
night with a very ample supply of game. He would 
then lounge about his hut, tanning deerskins for 
moccasins and breeches, performing other little 
jobs, and entirely neglecting all endeavors to im- 
prove his farm, or to add to the appearance or 
comfort of the miserable shanty which he called his 

He had an active mind, and a very singular com- 
mand of the language of low, illiterate life, and 
especially of backwoodman's slang. Though not 
exactly a vain man, his self-confidence was imper- 
turdable, and there was perhaps not an individual in 
the world to whom he looked up as in any sense his 
superior. In hunting, his skill became very remark- 
able, and few, even of the best marksmen, could 
throw the bullet with more unerring aim. 

At the close of two years of this listless, solitary 
life, Crockett, without any assigned reason, probably 
influenced only by that vagrancy of spirit which 
had taken entire possession of the man, made 
another move. Abandoning his crumbling shanty 


and untilled fields, he directed his steps eastwardly 
through the forest, a distance of about forty miles, 
to what is now Franklin County. Here he reared 
another hut, on the banks of a little stream called 
Bear's Creek. This location was about ten miles 
below the present hamlet of Winchester. 

An event now took place which changed the 
whole current of David Crockett's life, leading him 
from his lonely cabin and the peaceful scenes of a 
hunter's life to the field of battle, and to all the 
cruel and demoralizing influences of horrid war. 

For many years there had been peace with the 
Indians in all that region. But unprincipled and 
vagabond white men, whom no law in the wilderness 
could restrain, were ever plundering them, insulting 
them, and wantonly shooting them down on the 
slightest provocation. The constituted authorities 
deplored this state of things, but could no more 
prevent it than the restraints of justice can prevent 
robberies and assassinations in London or New 

The Indians were disposed to be friendly. 
There can be no question that, but for these unen- 
durable outrages, inflicted upon them by vile and 
fiend-like men, many of whom had fled from the 
avenging arm of law, peace between the white man 
and the red man would have remained undisturbed 


In the extreme southern region of Alabama, near 
the junction of the Alabama River with the almost 
equally majestic Tombeckbee River, there had been 
erected, several years before, for the protection 
of the emigrants, a fort called Mimms. It con- 
sisted of several Strong log huts, surrounded by 
palisades which enclosed several acres. A strongly 
barred gate afforded entrance to the area within. 
Loop-holes were cut through the palisades, just 
sufficiently large to allow the barrel of a musket to 
be thrust through, and aim. to be taken. at any 
approaching foe. 

The space within was sufficient to accommodate 
several families, who were 'thus united for mutual 
protection. Their horses and other cattle could be 
driven within the enclosure at night. In case of a 
general alarm, the pioneers, occupying huts scattered 
through the region for miles around, could assemble 
in the fort. Their corn-fields were outside, to culti- 
vate which, even in times of war, they could resort 
in armed bands, setting a watch to give warning of 
any signs of danger. 

The fort was in the middle of a small and fertile 
prairie. The forest-trees were cut down around, and 
every obstacle removed which could conceal the 
approach of a foe or protect him from the fire of 
the garrison. The long-continued peace had caused 


vigilance to slumber. A number of families resided 
in the fort, unapprehensive of danger. 

One evening, a negro boy, who had been out into 
the forest at some distance from the fort in search 
of cattle, came back saying that he saw far in the 
distance quite a number of Indians, apparently 
armed warriors. As it was known that the Creek 
Indians had been greatly exasperated by recent 
outrages inflicted upon them, this intelligence 
created some anxiety. The gate was carefully 
closed. A guard was -get through the night, and 
some slight preparations were made to repel an 
assault, should one be made. 

Thus several days were passed, and there was no 
attack, and no signs of Indians being near. The gen- 
eral impression was that the timid negro boy was 
the victim of his own fears. Many jokes were per- 
petrated at his expense. With wonted carelessness, 
all precautions were forgotten, and the men sallied 
thoughtlessly forth to disperse through the fields in 
their labors. 

But after several days, the boy was again sent 
out into the woods upon the same errand as before. 
He was a timid little fellow, and had a great dread 
of the Indian. Tremblingly and cautiously he 
threaded the paths of the forest for several miles, 
keeping a vigilant lookout for any signs of the 


savage foe, when his eye fell upon a sight which ap- 
palled him. At but a short distance, as he stood con- 
cealed by the thickets through which he was mov- 
ing, he saw several hundred Indian warriors, plumed 
and painted, and armed to the teeth. They had 
probably just broken up from a council, and were 
moving about among the trees. His fears magni- 
fied their numbers to thousands. 

Terror-stricken, he turned for the fort, and with 
almost the fleetness of a deer entered the gate with 
his tidings. Even his black face was pallid with 
fright, as he breathlessly told his story. "The In- 
dians," said he, " were as many, and as close together 
as the trees. There were thousands." The alarm 
was sounded in the garrison. All the outsiders 
were called in. The sun shone serenely, the gentle 
breeze swept over the fertile prairie ; not a sight was 
to be seen but what was peaceful, not a sound came 
from the forest but the songs of birds. 

It was generally believed that the silly, cowardly 
boy had given a false alarm. They cross-exam- 
ined him. He was so frightened that he could not 
tell a straight story. The men, indignant at being 
thus a second time duped, as they supposed, actually 
tied the poor boy to the whipping-post and com- 
menced whipping him. But a few lashes had left 


their bloody marks upon his back when the uplifted 
arm of the executioner was arrested. 

The awful Indian war-whoop, the precursor of 
blood and flame and torture, which even the bold- 
est heart could seldom hear without terror, burst as 
it were simultaneously from a hundred warrior lips. 
The wary savages had provided themselves with 
sharpened sticks. Rending the skies with their 
yells, they rushed forward from the gloom of the 
woods upon the totally unprovided garrison, and 
very speedily plugged up the loop-holes, so that not 
a musket could be discharged through them. 

Then with their hatchets they commenced cut- 
ting down the palisades. The bewilderment and 
consternation within was indescribable. A few of 
the assailants hewing at the barricades were shot 
down, but others instantly took their places. Soon 
a breach was cut through, and the howling warriors 
like maddened 'demons rushed in. There was no 
mercy shown. The gleaming tomahawk, wielded by 
hundreds of brawny arms, expeditiously did its 
work. Men, women, and children were indiscrimi 
nately cut down and scalped. It was an awful 
scene of butchery. Scarcely an individual escaped. 

One athletic boy, after having seen his father, 
mother, four sisters, and four brothers tomahawked 
and scalped, pursued by the savages, with frantic 


energy succeeded in leaping the palisades. Several 
Indians gave chase. He rushed for the woods. They 
hotly pursued. He reached a sluggish stream, upon 
the shore of which, half-imbedded in sand and water, 
there was a mouldering log, which he chanced to 
know was hollow beneath. He had but just time to 
slip into this retreat, when the baffled Indians came 
up. They actually walked over the log in their 
unavailing search for him. Here he remained until 
night, when he stole from his hiding-place, and in 
safety reached Fort Montgomery, which was distant 
about two miles from Fort Mimms. 


The Soldier Life. 

War with the Creeks. Patriotism of Crockett. Remonstrances of 
his Wife. Enlistment. The Rendezvous. Adventure of the 
Scouts. Friendly Indians. A March through the Forest. 
Picturesque Scene. The Midnight Alarm. March by Moon- 
light. Chagrin of Crockett. Advance into Alabama. War's 
Desolations. Indian Stoicism. Anecdotes of Andrew Jackson. 
Battles, Carnage, and Woe. 

THE awful massacre at Fort Mimms, by the 
Creek Indians, summoned, as with a trumpet peal, 
the whole region to war. David Crockett had list- 
ened eagerly to stories of Indian warfare in former 
years, and as he listened to the tales of midnight 
conflagration and slaughter, his naturally peaceful 
spirit had no yearnings for the renewal of such san- 
guinary scenes. Crockett was not a quarrelsome 
man. He was not fond of brawls and fighting. 
Nothing in his life had thus far occurred to test his 
courage. Though there was great excitement to be 
found in hunting, there was but little if any danger. 
The deer and all smaller game were harmless. And 
even the grizzly bear had but few terrors for a 
marksman who, with unerring aim, could strike him 


with the deadly bullet at the distance of many 

But the massacre at Fort Mimms roused a new 
spirit in David Crockett. He perceived at once, 
that unless the savages were speedily quelled, they 
would ravage the whole region ; and that his family 
as well as that of every other pioneer must inevita- 
bly perish. It was manifest to him that every man 
was bound immediately to take arms for the general 
defence. In a few days a summons was issued for 
every able-bodied man in all that region to repair 
to Winchester, which, as we have said, was a small 
cluster of houses about ten miles from Crockett's 

When he informed his wife of his intention, her 
womanly heart was appalled at the thought of being 
left alone and unprotected in the vast wilderness. 
She was at a distance of hundreds of miles from all 
her connections. She had no neighbors near. Her 
children were too young to be of any service to her. 
If the dreadful Indians should attack them, she had 
no one to look to for protection. If anything should 
happen to him in battle so that he should not 
return, they must all perish of starvation. These 
obvious considerations she urged with many tears. 

" It was mighty hard," writes Crockett, " to go 
against such arguments as these. But my country- 


men had been murdered, and I knew that the next 
thing would be that the Indians would be scalping 
the women and children all about there, if we didn't 
put a stop to it. I reasoned the case with her as 
well as I could, and told her that if every man would 
wait till his wife got willing for him to go to war, 
there would be no righting done until we all should 
be killed in our own houses ; that as I was as able 
to go as any. man in the world, and that I believed 
it was a duty I owed to my country. Whether she 
was satisfied with this reasoning or not she did not 
tell me, but seeing I was bent on it, all she did wa.s 
to cry a little, and turn about to her work." 

David Crockett hastened to Winchester. There 
was a large gathering there from all the hamlets 
and cabins for many miles around. The excitement 
was intense. The nation of Creek Indians was a 
very powerful one, and in intelligence and military 
skill far in advance of most of the Indian tribes. 
Mr. Crockett was one of the first to volunteer to 
form a company to serve for sixty days, under 
Captain Jones, who subsequently was -a member 
of Congress from Tennessee. In a week the whole 
company was organized, and commenced its march 
to join others for the invasion of the Creek country. 
It was thought that by carrying the war directly 
into the Indian towns, their warriors might be 


detained at home to protect their wives and chil- 
dren, and could thus be prevented from carrying 
desolation into the settlements of the whites. 

In the mean time David Crockett revisited his 
humble home, where his good but anxious and 
afflicted wife fitted him out as well as she could for 
the campaign. David was not a man of sentiment, 
and was never disposed to contemplate the possi- 
bility of failure in any of his plans. With a light 
heart he bade adieu to his wife and his children, 
and mounting his horse, set out for his two months' 
absence to hunt up and shoot the Indians. He took 
only the amount of clothing he wore, as he wished 
to be entirely unencumbered when he should meet 
the sinewy and athletic foe on the battle-field. 

This company, of about one hundred mounted 
men, commenced its march for an appointed rendez- 
vous called Beatty's Spring. Here they encamped 
for several days, waiting the arrival of other com- 
panies from distant quarters. Ere long there was 
collected quite an imposing army of thirteen hun- 
dred men, all on horseback, and all hardy back- 
woodsmen, armed with the deadly rifle. A more 
determined set of men was perhaps never assembled. 
While they were thus gathering from far and near, 
and making all preparations to burst upon the foe 
in one of war's most terrific tempests, Major Gibson 


came, and wanted a few men, of tried sagacity and 
hardihood, to accompany him on a reconnoitring 
tour across the Tennessee River, down through the 
wilderness, into the country of the Creek Indians. 
It was a very hazardous enterprise. The region 
swarmed with savages. They were very vigilant. 
They were greatly and justly exasperated. If the 
reconnoitring party were captured, the certain doom 
of its members would be death by the most dreadful 

Captain Jones pointed out David Crockett as one 
of the most suitable men for this enterprise. Crock- 
ett unhesitatingly consented to go, and, by permis- 
sion, chose a companion by the name of George 
Russel, a young man whose courage and sagacity 
were far in advance of his years. 

" I called him up," writes Crocket ; " but Major 
Gibson said he thought he hadn't beard enough to 
please him ; he wanted men, not boys. I must con- 
fess I was a little nettled at this ; for I know'd 
George Russel, and I know'd there was no mistake 
in him ; and I didn't think that courage ought to 
be measured by the beard, for fear a goat would 
have the preference over a man. I told the Major 
he was on the wrong scent ; that Russel could go 
as far as he could, and I must have him along. He 
saw I was a little wrathy, and said I had the best 


chance of knowing, and agreed that it should be as 
I wanted it." 

The heroic little band, thirteen in number, well 
armed and welt mounted, set out early in the morn- 
ing on their perilous enterprise. - They crossed the 
Tennessee River, and directing their steps south, 
through a region almost entirely uninhabited by 
white men, journeyed cautiously along, keeping 
themselves concealed as much as possible in the 
fastnesses of the forest. They crossed the river, at 
what was called Ditto's Landing, and advancing 
about seven miles beyond, found a very secluded 
spot, one of nature's hiding-places, where they took 
up their encampment for the night. 

Here they chanced to come across a man by the 
name of John Haynes, who for several years had 
been a trader among the Indians. He was thor- 
oughly acquainted with the wrfole region about to 
be traversed, and consented to act as a guide. For 
the next day's march, instructed by their guide, the 
party divided into two bands, following along two 
obscure trails, which came together again after 
winding through the wilderness a distance of about 
twenty miles. Major Gibson led a party of seven, 
and David Crockett the other party of six. 

The Cherokee Indians, a neighboring nation, 
powerful and warlike, were not in alliance with the 


Creeks in this war. They were, at that time, in 
general friendly to the whites. Many of their war- 
riors were even induced to join the whites and 
march under their banners. On each of the trails 
that day to be passed over, there M'as the lodge of 
a Cherokee Indian. Both of them were friendly. 
Each of the parties was to collect all the informa- 
mation possible from these Indians, and then to 
meet where the trails came together again. 

When Crockett arrived at the wigwam of the 
Indian he met with a very friendly reception. He 
also found there a half-breed Cherokee, by the name 
of Jack Thompson. This man, of savage birth and 
training, but with the white man's blood in his 
veins, offered to join the reconnoitring party. He 
however was not ready just then to set out, but in 
a few hours would follow and overtake the band at 
its night's encampment. 

It was not safe to encamp directly upon the 
trail, lest some Creek war-party should be passing 
along, and should discover them. It was necessary 
to seek concealment where even the prying eyes of 
the savage would with difficulty search them out. 
The cry of the shriek-owl is exceedingly shrill, and 
can be heard at a great distance. A particular spot 
on the trail was designated, near which Crockett 
would seek his secret encampment. When Jack 


Thompson reached that spot, he was to imitate the 
cry of the owl. Crockett would respond, and thus 
guide the Indian to his retreat. As night approach- 
ed, Crockett, with his party, found a deep and dark 
ravine, where, encircled by almost impenetrable 
thickets, he hid his men and the horses. No camp- 
fires could be built. It was ten o'clock in the night 
when, in the distance, he heard the signal shriek of 
the owl, a cry too common to arrest the attention 
of any Indian bands who might be in the vicinity. 
Jack, guided by a responsive cry, soon found the 
place of concealment, and there the party remained 
through the night. 

The next morning after breakfast they set out to 
join Major Gibson and his band ; but, in some way, 
they had lost track of him, and he could not be 
found. Some were alarmed, as, in so small a band, 
they were entering the domains of their powerful 
foe. Crockett taunted them with their fears ; and 
indeed fear kept them together. The party con- 
sisted now of seven, including the Indian guide. 
Most of them determined to press on. The two or 
three who were in favor of going back dared not 
separate from the rest. 

At the distance of about twenty miles, Jack 
Thompson told them that there was a village of 
friendly Cherokee Indians. As he was leading 


them through obscure trails toward that place, they 
came across the hut of a white man, by the name 
of Radcliff, who had married a Creek woman, and 
had been adopted into their tribe. The man had 
two nearly grown-up boys, stout, burly fellows, half- 
breeds by birth, and more than half savage in charac- 
ter and training. The old man's cabin was slightly 
above the usual style of Indian wigwams. It was 
in a region of utter solitude. 

There Radcliff had taught his barbarian boys 
some of the arts of industry. He had cleared quite 
a space of ground around his hut, and was raising 
a supply of corn and potatoes ample for his family 
wants. With these vegetable productions, and with 
the game which the rifle supplied them, they lived 
in abundance, and free from most of those cares 
which agitate a higher civilization. 

But the old man was quite agitated in receiving 
and entertaining his unwelcome guests. He was an 
adopted Creek, and ought to be in sympathy with 
his nation. He was bound to regard the white men 
as his enemies, to withhold from them all important 
information, and to deliver them up to the Creeks 
if possible. Should he be suspected of sympathy 
with the white men, the tomahawk of the savage 
would soon cleave his brain. He entreated Crockett 
immediately to leave him. 


4< Only an hour ago," said he, " there were ten 
Creek warriors here, all on horseback, and painted 
and armed. Should they come back and discover 
you here, they would certainly kill you all, and put 
me and my family to death also." 

But Crockett, instead of being alarmed by this 
intelligence, was only animated by it. He assured 
Radcliff that he could desire no better luck than to 
meet a dozen Indians on the war-path. He con- 
sidered his party quite strong enough to meet, at 
any time, three times their number. Evening was ap- 
proaching, and the full moon, in cloudless brilliance, 
was rising over the forest, flooding the whole land- 
scape with extraordinary splendor. After feeding 
their horses abundantly and feasting themselves 
from the fat larder of their host, they saddled their 
steeds and resumed their journey by moonlight. 

The trail still led through the silent forest. It 
was, as usual, very narrow, so that the horses walked 
along in single file. As there was danger of falling 
into an ambush, not a word was spoken, and, as 
noiselessly as possible, they moved onward, every 
eye on the eager lookout. They had been thus 
riding along when Crockett, in the advance, heard 
the noise of some animals or persons apparently 
approaching. At a given signal, instantly the whole 
party stopped. Every man grasped his rifle, ready, 


in case of need, to leap from his horse, and select the 
largest tree near him as a rampart for the battle. 

All solicitude was, however, soon dispelled by 
seeing simply two persons advancing along the trail 
on Indian ponies. They proved to be two negro 
slaves, who had been captured by the Indians, and 
who, having escaped, were endeavoring to make 
their way back to their former master. They were 
brothers, and being both very stout men, and able 
to speak the Indian as well as the English lan- 
guage, were esteemed quite a powerful reinforce- 
ment to the Crockett party. 

They rode quietly along another hour and a half, 
when toward midnight they saw in the distance the 
glearn of camp-fires, and heard shouts of merriment 
and revelry. They knew that these must come from 
the camp of the friendly Cherokees, to which their 
Indian guide, Jack Thompson, was leading them. 
Soon a spectacle of wonderful picturesque beauty 
was opened to their view. 

Upon the banks of a beautiful mountain stream 
there was a wide plateau, carpeted with the re- 
nowned blue-grass, as verdant and soft as could be 
found in any gentleman's park. There was no 
underbrush. The trees were two or three yards 
from each other, composing a luxuriant overhanging 
canopy of green leaves, more beautiful than art 


could possibly create. Beneath this charming grove, 
and illumined by the moonshine which, in golden 
tracery, pierced the foliage, there were six or eight 
Indian lodges scattered about. 

An immense bonfire was crackling and blazing, 
throwing its rays far and wide through the forest. 
Moving around, in various engagements and sports, 
were about forty, men, women, and children, in the 
fringed, plumed, and brilliantly colored attire of 
which the Indians were so fond. Quite a number 
of them, with bows and arrows, were shooting at a 
mark, which was made perfectly distinct by the 
blaze of pitch-pine knots, a light which no flame of 
candle or gas could outvie. It was a scene of 
sublimity and beauty, of peace and loveliness, which 
no artist could adequately transfer to canvas. 

The Cherokee's received very cordially the new- 
comers, took care of their horses, and introduced 
them to their sports. Many of the Indians had 
guns, but powder and bullets were too precious to 
be expended in mere amusements. Indeed, the 
Indians were so careful of their ammunition, that 
they rarely put more than half as much powder into 
a charge as a white man used. They endeavored 
to make up for the deficiency by creeping nearer to 
their prey. 

Crockett and his men joined these barbarians, 


merry in their pleasant sports. Such are the joys 
of peace, so different from the miseries of demoniac 
war. At length the festivities were closed, and all 
began to prepare to retire to sleep. 

The Cherokees were neutral in the war between 
the whites and the Creek Indians. It was very 
important for them to maintain this neutrality 
strictly, that they might not draw down upon them- 
selves the vengeance of either party. Some of the 
Cherokees now began to feel anxious lest a war- 
party of the Creeks should come along and find 
them entertaining a war-party of whites, who were 
entering their country as spies. They therefore 
held an interview with one of the negroes, and 
requested him to inform Mr. Crockett that should a 
war-party come and find his men in the Cherokee 
village, not only would they put all the white men 
to death, but there would be also the indiscriminate 
massacre of all the men, women, and children in the 
Cherokee lodges. 

Crockett, wrapped in his blanket, was half asleep 
when this message was brought to him. Raising 
his head, he said to the negro, in terms rather 
savoring of the spirit of the braggadocio than that 
of a high-minded and sympathetic man : 

" Tell the Cherokees that I will keep a sharp 
lookout, and if a single Creek comes near the camp 


to-night, I will carry the skin of his head home to 
make me a moccasin." 

When this answer was reported to the Indians 
they laughed aloud and dispersed. It was not at all 
improbable that there might be an alarm before 
morning. The horses were therefore, after being 
well fed, tied up with their saddles upon them, that 
they might be instantly mounted in case of emer- 
gence. They all slept, also, with their arms in their 

Just as Crockett was again falling into a doze, a 
very shrill Indian yell was heard in the forest, the 
yell of alarm. Every man, white and red, was 
instantly upon his feet. An Indian runner soon 
made his appearance, with the tidings that more 
than a thousand Creek warriors had, that day, 
crossed the Coosa River, but a few leagues south' of 
them, at what was called the Ten Islands, and were 
on the march to attack an American force, which, 
under General Jackson, was assembling on another 
portion of the Coosa River. 

The, friendly Indians were so greatly alarmed 
that they immediately fled. Crockett felt bound to 
carry back this intelligence as speedily as possible 
to the headquarters from which he had come. He 
had traversed a distance of about sixty miles in a 
southerly direction. They returned by the same 


route over which they had passed. But they found 
that a general alarm had pervaded the country. 
Radcliff and his family, abandoning everything, 
had fled, they knew not where. When they reached 
the Cherokee town of which we have before spoken, 
not a single Indian was to be seen. Their fires 
were still burning, which showed the precipitancy 
with which they had taken flight. This rather 
alarmed the party of the whites. They feared that 
the Indian warriors were assembling from all quar- 
ters, at some secret rendezvous, and would soon 
fall upon them in overwhelming numbers. They 
therefore did not venture to replenish the Indian 
fires and lie down by the warmth of them, but 
pushed rapidly on their way. 

It chanced to be a serene, moonlight night. The 
trail through the forest, which the Indian's foot for 
counttess generations had trodden smooth, illumined 
by the soft rays of the moon, was exceedingly beau- 
tiful. They travelled in single file, every nerve at 
its extreme tension in anticipation of falling into 
some ambush. Before morning they had accom- 
plished about thirty miles. In the grey dawn they 
again reached Mr. Brown's. Here they found graz- 
ing for their horses, and corn and game for them- 

Horses and riders were equally fatigued. The 


weary adventurers were in no mood for talking. 
After dozing for an hour or two, they again set out, 
and about noon reached the general rendezvous, 
from which they had departed but a few days before. 
Here Crockett was not a little disappointed in the 
reception he encountered. He was a young, raw 
backwoodsman, nearly on a level with the ordinary 
savage. He was exceedingly illiterate, and igno- 
rant. And yet he had the most amazing self-con- 
fidence, with not a particle of reverence for any 
man, whatever his rank or culture. He thought 
no one his superior. Colonel Coffee paid very little 
respect to his vainglorious report. In the follow- 
ing characteristic strain Crockett comments on the 
event : 

" He didn't seem to mind my report a bit. This 
raised my dander higher than ever. t But I know'd 
that I had to be on my best behavior, and so I kept 
it all to myself; though I was so mad that I was 
burning inside like a tar-kiln, and I wonder that the 
smoke had not been pouring out of me at all points. 
The next day, Major Gibson got in. He brought 
a worse tale than I had, though he stated the same 
facts as far as I went. This seemed to put our Colo- 
nel all in a fidget ; and it convinced me clearly of 
one of the hateful ways of the world. When I 
made my report I was not believed, because I was 


no officer. I was no great man, but just a poor 
soldier. But when the same thing was reported by 
Major Gibson, why then it was all true as preaching, 
and the Colonel believed it every word." 

There was indeed cause for alarm. Many of the 
Indian chiefs displayed military ability of a very 
high order. Our officers were frequently outgen- 
eralled by their savage antagonists. This was so 
signally the case that the Indians frequently amused 
themselves in laughing to scorn the folly of the 
white men. Every able-bodied man was called to 
work in throwing up breastworks. A line of ram- 
parts was speedily constructed, nearly a quarter of 
a mile in circuit. An express was sent to Fay- 
etteville, where General Jackson was assembling an 
army, to summon him to the rescue. With charac- 
teristic energy he rushed forward, by forced marches 
day and night, until his troops stood, with blistered 
feet, behind the newly erected ramparts. 

They felt now safe from attack by the Indians 
An expedition of eight hundred volunteers, of which 
Crockett was one, was fitted out to recross the 
Tennessee River, and marching by the way of 
Huntsville, to attack the Indians from an unex- 
pected quarter. This movement involved a double 
crossing of the Tennessee. They pressed rapidly 
along the northern bank of this majestic stream, 


about lorty or fifty miles, due west, until they came 
to a point where the stream expands into a width 
of nearly two miles. This place was called Muscle 
Shoals. The river could here be forded, though 
the bottom was exceedingly rough. The men were 
all mounted. Several horses got their feet so en- 
tangled in the crevices of the rocks that they could 
not be disengaged, and they perished there. The 
men, thus dismounted, were compelled to perform 
the rest of the campaign on foot. 

A hundred miles south of this point, in the State 
of Alabama, the Indians had a large Village, called 
Black Warrior. ' The lodges of the Indians were 
spread over the ground where the city of Tuscaloosa 
now stands. The wary Indians kept their scouts 
out in all directions. The runners conveyed to the 
warriors prompt warning of the approach of their 
foes. These Indians were quite in advance of the 
northern tribes. Their lodges were full as comfort- 
able as the log huts of the pioneers, and in their 
interior arrangements more tasteful. The buildings 
were quite numerous. Upon many of them much 
labor had been expended. Luxuriant corn-fields 
spread widely around, and in well-cultivated gardens 
they raised beans and other vegetables in consider- 
able abundance. 

The hungry army found a good supply of dried 


beans for themselves, and carefully housed corn for 
their horses. They feasted themselves, loaded their 
pack-horses with corn and beans, applied the torch 
to every lodge, laying the whole town in ashes, 
and then commenced their backward march. Fresh 
Indian tracks indicated that many of them had 
remained until the last moment of safety. 

The next day the army marched back about fif- 
teen miles to the spot where it had held its last 
encampment. Eight hundred men, on a campaign, 
consume a vast amount of food. Their meat was 
all devoured. They had now only corn and beans. 
The soldiers were living mostly on parched corn. 
Crockett went to Colonel Coffee, then in command, 
and stating, very truthfully, that he was an experi- 
enced hunter, asked permission to draw aside from 
the ranks, and hunt as they marched along. The 
Colonel gave his consent, but warned him to be 
watchful in the extreme, lest he should fall into an 
Indian ambush. 

Crockett was brave, but not reckless. He 
plunged into the forest, with vigilant gaze piercing 
the solitary space in all directions. He was alone, 
on horseback. He had not gone far when he found 
a deer just killed by a noiseless arrow. The animal 
was but partially skinned, and still warm and smok- 
ing. The deer had certainly been killed by an 


Indian ; and it was equally certain that the savage, 
seeing his approach, had fled. The first thought of 
Crockett was one of alarm. The Indian might be 
hidden behind some one of the gigantic trees, and 
the next moment a bullet, from the Indian's rifle, 
might pierce his heart. 

But a second thought reassured him. The deer 
had been killed by an arrow. Had the Indian been 
armed with a rifle, nothing would have been easier, 
as he saw the approach of Crockett in the distance, 
than for him to have concealed himself, and then 
to have taken such deliberate aim at his victim as 
to be sure of his death. Mounting the horse which 
Crockett rode, the savage might have disappeared 
in the wilderness beyond all possibility of pursuit. 
But this adventure taught Crockett that he might 
not enjoy such good luck the next time. Another 
Indian might be armed with a rifle, and Crockett, 
self-confident as he was, could not pretend to be 
wiser in woodcraft than were the savages. 

Crockett dismounted, took up the body of the 
deer, laid it upon the mane of his horse, in front of 
the saddle, and remounting, with increasing vigilance 
made his way, as rapidly as he could, to the trail 
along which the army was advancing. He confesses 
to some qualms of conscience as to the right of one 
hunter thus to steal away the game killed by another. 


It was late in the afternoon when he reached the 
rear. He pressed along to overtake his own com- 
pany. The soldiers looked wistfully at the venison. 
They offered him almost any price for it. Crockett 
was by nature a generous man. There was not a 
mean hair in his head. This generosity was one 
of the virtues which gave him so many friends. 
Rather boastfully, and yet it must be admitted 
truthfully, he writes, in reference to this adventure : 

" I could have sold it for almost any price I 
would have asked. But this wasn't my rule, neither 
in peace nor war. Whenever I had anything and 
saw a fellow-being suffering, I was more anxious to 
relieve him than to benefit myself. And this is one 
of the true secrets of my being a poor man to the 
present day. But it is my way. And while it has 
often left me with an empty purse, yet it has never 
left my heart empty of consolations which money 
couldn't buy ; the consolation of having sometimes 
fed the hungry and covered the naked. I gave all 
my deer away except a small part, which I kept 
for myself, and just sufficient to make a good sup- 
per for my mess." 

The next day, in their march, they came upon 
a drove of swine, which belonged to a Cherokee 
farmer. The whites were as little disposed as were 
the Indians, in this war, to pay any respect to 


private property. Hundreds of rifles were aimed 
at the poor pigs, and their squealing indicated that 
they had a very hard time of it. The army, in its 
encampment that night, feasted very joyously upon 
fresh pork. This thrifty Cherokee was also the pos- 
sessor of a milch cow. The animal was speedily 
slaughtered and devoured. 

They soon came upon another detachment of 
the army, and uniting, marched to Ten Islands, on 
the Coosa River, where they established a fort, 
which they called Fort Strother, as a depot for 
provisions and ammunition. They were here not 
far from the centre of the country inhabited by 
the hostile Indians. This fort stood on the left 
bank of the river, in what is now St. Clair Coun- 
ty, Alabama. It was a region but little explored, 
and the whites had but little acquaintance with the 
nature of the country around them, or with the 
places occupied by the Indians. Some scouts, from 
the friendly Creeks, brought the intelligence that, at 
the distance of about eight miles from the fort, there 
was an Indian town, where a large party of warriors 
was assembled in preparation for some secret expe- 
dition. A large and select band was immediately 
dispatched, on horseback, to attack them by sur- 
prise. Two friendly Creeks led them with Indian 
sagacity through circuitous trails. Stealthily they 


approached the town, and dividing, their force, 
marched on each side so as to encircle it completely. 
Aided by their Creek guides, this important move- 
ment was accomplished without the warriors discov- 
ering their approach. The number of the whites 
was so great that they were enabled to surround the 
town with so continuous a line that escape was im- 
possible for any enclosed within that fearful barrier 
of loaded rifles wielded by unerring marksmen. 
Closer and more compactly the fatal line was drawn. 
These movements were accomplished in the dim 
morning twilight. 

All being ready, Captain Hammond, and a few 
rangers, were sent forward to show themselves, and 
to bring on the fight. The moment the warriors 
caught sight of them, one general war-whoop rose 
from every throat. Grasping their rifles, they rushed 
headlong upon the rangers, who retired before them. 
They soon reached one portion of the compact line, 
and were received with a terrible fire, which struck 
many of them down in instant death. The troops 
then closed rapidly upon the doomed Indians, and 
from the north, the south, the east, and the west, 
they were assailed by a deadly storm of bullets. 

Almost immediately the Indians 'saw that they 
were lost. There was no possibility of escape. 
This was alike manifest to every one, to warrior, 


squaw, and pappoose. All surrendered themselves 
to despair. The warriors threw down their weapons, 
in sign of surrender. Some rushed into the lodges. 
Some rushed toward the soldiers, stretching out 
their unarmed hands in supplication for life. The 
women in particular, panic-stricken, ran to the sol- 
diers, clasped them about the knees, and looked up 
into their faces with piteous supplications for life. 
Crockett writes : 

" I saw seven squaws have hold of one man. So 
I hollered out the Scriptures was fulfilling; that 
there was seven women holding to one man's coat- 
tail. But I believe it was a hunting-shirt all the 
time. We took them all prisoners that came out to 
us in this way." 

Forty-six warriors, by count, threw down their 
arms in token of surrender, and ran into one of the 
large houses. A band of soldiers pursued them, 
with the apparent intent of shooting them down. 
It was considered rare sport to shoot an Indian. A 
woman came to the door, bow and arrow in hand. 
Fixing the arrow upon the string, she drew the bow 
with all the strength of her muscular arm, and let 
the arrow fly into the midst of the approaching foe. 
It nearly passed through the body of Lieutenant 
Moore, killing him instantly. The woman made 
no' attempt to evade the penalty which she knew 


would follow this act. In an instant twenty bullets 
pierced her body, and she fell dead at the door of the 

The infuriate soldiers rushed in and shot the 
defenceless warriors mercilessly, until every one was 
fatally wounded or dead. They then set the house 
on fire and burned it up, with the forty-six warriors 
in it. It mattered not to them whether the flames 
consumed the flesh of the living or of the dead. 

There was something very remarkable in the 
stoicism which the Indians ever manifested. There 
was a bright-looking little Indian boy, not more than 
twelve years of age, whose arm was shattered by one 
bullet and his thigh-bone by another. Thus terribly 
wounded, the poor child crept from the flames of the 
burning house. There was no pity in that awful 
hour to come to his relief. The heat was so intense 
that his almost naked body could be seen blistering 
and frying by the fire. The heroic boy, striving in 
vain to crawl along, was literally roasted alive ; and 
yet he did not utter an audible groan. 

The slaughter was awful. But five of the 
Americans were killed. One hundred and eighty- 
six of the Indians were either killed or taken 
prisoners. The party returned with their captives 
the same day to Fort Strother. The army had so 
far consumed its food that it was- placed on half 


rations. The next day a party was sent back to the 
smouldering town to see if any food could be found. 
Even these hardy pioneers were shocked at the 
awful spectacle which was presented. The whole 
place was in ruins. The half-burned bodies of the 
dead, in awful mutilation, were scattered around. 
Demoniac war had performed one of its most fiend- 
like deeds. 

On this bloody field an Indian babe was found 
clinging to the bosom of its dead mother. Jackson 
urged some of the Indian women who were captives 
to give it nourishment. They replied: 

" All the child's friends are killed. There is no 
one to care for the helpless babe. It is much better 
that it should die." 

Jackson took the child under his own care, 
ordered it to be conveyed to his tent, nursed it 
with sugar and water, took it eventually with him 
to the Hermitage, and brought it up as his son. He 
gave the boy the name of Lincoyer. He grew up 
a finely formed young man, and died of consumption 
at the age of seventeen. 

Jackson was a very stern man. The appeals of 
pity could seldom move his heart. Still there were 
traits of heroism which marked his character. On 
the return march, a half-starved soldier came to 
Jackson with a piteous story of his famished condi- 


tion. Jackson drew from his pocket a handful of 
acorns, and presenting a portion to the man, said: 

" This is all the fare I have. I will share it with 

Beneath one of the houses was found quite a 
large cellar, well stored with potatoes. These were 
eagerly seized. All the other stores of the Indians 
the insatiable flames had consumed. Starvation 
now began to threaten the army. The sparsely 
settled country afforded no scope for forage. There 
were no herds of cattle, no well-replenished maga- 
zines near at hand. Neither was there game 
enough in the spreading wilderness to supply so 
many hungry mouths. The troops were compelled 
to eat even the very hides of the cattle whom they 
had driven befor-e them, and who were now all 

While in this forlorn condition, awaiting the 
arrival of food, and keeping very vigilant guard 
against surprise, one night an Indian, cautiously 
approaching from the forest, shouted out that he 
wished to see General Jackson, for he had important 
information to communicate. He was conducted 
to the General's tent. The soldiers knew not the 
news which he brought. But immediately the beat 
of drums summoned all to arms. In less than an 
hour a strong party of cavalry and infantry, in the 


darkness, were on the march. General Andrew 
Jackson was one of the most energetic of men. 
The troops crossed the Coosa River to the eastern 
shore, and as rapidly as possible pressed forward in 
a southerly direction toward Talladega, which was 
distant about thirty miles. Gradually the rumor 
spread through the ranks that General Jackson had 
received the following intelligence : At Talladega 
there was a pretty strong fort, occupied by friendly 
Indians. They had resolutely refused to take part 
in the war against the Americans. Eleven hundred 
hostile warriors, of the Creek nation, marched upon 
the fort, encamped before it, and sent word to the 
friendly Indians within the palisades, that if they 
did not come out and join them in an expedition 
against the whites, they would utterly demolish the 
fort and take all their provisions and ammunition. 
The Creeks were in sufficient strength to accomplish 
their threat. 

The friendly Indians asked for three days to con- 
sider the proposition. They stated that if, at the 
end of this time, they did not come out to join them 
in an expedition against the whites, they would sur- 
render the fort. The request was granted. In- 
stantly an Indian runner was dispatched to inform 
General Jackson, at Fort Strother, of their danger 


and to entreat him to come to their aid. Hence the 
sudden movement. 

The Creek warriors had their scouts out, care- 
fully watching, and were speedily apprised of the 
approach of General Jackson's band. Immediately 
they sent word into the fort, to the friendly Indians 
there, that the American soldiers were coming, with 
many fine horses, and richly stored with guns, 
blankets, powder, bullets, and almost everything 
else desirable. They promised that' if the Indians 
would come out from the fort, and help them attack 
and conquer the whites, they would divide the rich 
plunder with them. They assured them that, by 
thus uniting, they could easily gain the victory over 
the whites, who were the deadly foes of their whole 
race. The appeal was not responded to. 

A little south of the fort there was a stream, 
which, in its circuitous course, partially encircled it. 
The bank was high, leaving a slight level space or 
meadow between it and the stream. Here the hos- 
tile Indians were encamped, and concealed from any 
approaches from the north. It was at midnight, on 
the 7th of December, that Jackson set out on this 
expedition. He had with him, for the occasion, a 
very strong force, consisting of twelve hundred 
infantry and eight hundred cavalry. 

When they reached the fort, the army divided, 


passing on each side, and again uniting beyond, as 
they approached the concealed encampment of the 
enemy. While passing the fort, the friendly In- 
dians clambered the palisades, and shouted out 
joyously to the soldiers, " How-de-do, brother 
hovv-de-do, brother?" 

The lines, meeting beyond the fort, formed for 
battle. No foe was visible. Nearly a thousand 
warriors, some armed with arrows, but many with 
rifles, were hidden, but a few rods before them, 
beneath the curving bank, which was fringed with 
bushes. Major Russel, with a small party, was sent 
cautiously forward to feel for the enemy, and to 
bring on the battle. He was moving directly into 
the curve, where a concentric fire would soon cut 
down every one of his men. 

The Indians in the fort perceived his danger, 
and shouted warning to him. He did not under- 
stand their language. They made the most earnest 
gestures. He did not comprehend their meaning. 
Two Indians then leaped from the fort, and run- 
ning toward him, seized his horse by the bridle. 
They made him understand that more than a thou- 
sand warriors, with rifle in hand and arrows on the 
string, were hidden, at but a short distance before 
him, ready to assail him with a deadly fire. The 
account which Crockett gives of the battle, though 


neither very graphic nor classic, is worthy of inser- 
tion here, as illustrative of the intellectual and 
moral traits of that singular man. 

" This brought them to a halt ; and about this 
moment the Indians fired upon them, and came 
rushing forth like a cloud of Egyptian locusts, and 
screaming like all the young devils had been turned 
loose with the old devil of all at their head. Rus- 
sel's company quit their horses and took into the 
fort. Their horses ran up to our line, which was 
then in view. The warriors then came yelling on, 
meeting us, and continued till they were within 
shot of us, when we fired and killed a considerable 
number of them. They broke like a gang of steers, 
and ran across to the other line. 

" And so we kept them running, from one line to 
the other, constantly under a heavy fire, till we had 
killed upwards of four hundred of them. They 
fought with guns and also with bow and arrows. 
But at length they made their escape through a 
part of our line, which was made up of drafted mili- 
tia, which broke ranks, and they passed. We lost 
fifteen of our men, as brave fellows as ever lived or 
died. We buried them all in one grave, and started 
back to our fort. But before we got there, two more 
of our men died of wounds they had received, making 
our total loss seventeen good fellows in that battle." 


Indian Warfare. 

The Army at Fort Strother. Crockett's Regiment. Crockett at 
Home. His Re-enlistment. Jackson Surprised. Military Abili- 
ty of the Indians. Humiliation of the Creeks. March to Florida. 
Affairs at Pensacola. Capture of the City. Characteristics of 
Crockett. The Weary March. Inglorious Expedition. Murder 
of Two Indians. Adventures at the Island. The Continued 
March. Severe Sufferings. Charge upon the Uninhabited 

THE army, upon its return to Fort Strother, 
found itself still in a starving condition. Though 
the expedition had been eminently successful in 
the destruction of Indian warriors, it had consumed 
their provisions, without affording them any addi- 
tional supply. The weather had become intensely 
cold. The clothing of the soldiers, from hard usage, 
had become nearly worn out. The horses were also 
emaciate and feeble. There was danger that many 
of the soldiers must perish from destitution and 

The regiment to which Crockett belonged 
had enlisted for sixty days. Their time had long 
since expired. The officers proposed to Jackson 


that they and their soldiers might be permitted to 
return to their homes, promising that they would 
immediately re-enlist after having obtained fresh 
horses and fresh clothing. Andrew Jackson was by 
nature one of the most unyielding of men. His 
will was law, and must be obeyed, right or wrong. 
He was at that time one of the most profane of men. 
He swore by all that was sacred that they should 
not go ; that the departure of so many of the men 
would endanger the possession of the fort and the 
lives of the remaining soldiers. There were many 
of the soldiers in the same condition, whose term of 
service had expired. They felt that they were free 
and enlightened Americans, and resented the idea of 
being thus enslaved and driven, like cattle, at the 
will of a single man. Mutinous feelings were ex- 
cited. The camp was filled with clamor. The sol- 
diers generally were in sympathy with those who 
demanded their discharge, having faithfully served 
out the term of their enlistment. Others felt that 
their own turn might come when they too might be 
thus enslaved. 

There was a bridge which it was necessary for 
the soldiers to cross on the homeward route. The 
inflexible General, supposing that the regulars would 
be obedient to military discipline, and that it w r ould 
be for their interest to retain in the camp those 


whose departure would endanger all their lives, 
placed them upon the bridge, with cannon loaded 
to the muzzle with grape-shot. They were ordered 
mercilessly to shoot down any who should attempt 
to cross without his permission. In Crockett's ludi- 
crous account of this adventure, he writes : 

" The General refused to let us go. We were, 
however, determined to go. With this, the General 
issued his orders against it. We began to fix for a 
start. The General went and placed his cannon on 
a bridge we had to cross, and ordered out his regu- 
lars and drafted men to prevent our crossing. But 
when. the militia started to guard the bridge, they 
would holler back to us to bring their knapsacks 
along when we came ; for they wanted to go as bad 
as we did. We got ready, and moved on till we 
came near the bridge, where the General's men 
were all strung along on both sides. But we all 
had our flints ready picked and our guns ready 
primed, that, If we were fired on, we might fight 
our way through, or all die together. 

"When we came still nearer the bridge we heard 
the guards cocking their guns, and we did the same. 
But we marched boldly on, and not a gun was fired, 
nor a life lost. When we had passed, no further 
attempt was made to stop us. We went on, and 
near Huntsville we met a reinforcement who were 


going on to join the army. It consisted of a regi- 
ment of sixty-day volunteers. We got home pretty 
safely, and in a short time we had procured fresh 
horses, and a supply of clothing better suited for the 

The officers and soldiers ere long rendezvoused 
again at Fort Deposit. Personally interested as 
every one was in subduing the Creeks, whose hos- 
tility menaced every hamlet with flames and the 
inmates of those hamlets with massacre, still the 
officers were so annoyed by the arrogance of Gen- 
eral Jackson that they were exceedingly unwilling to 
serve again under his command. 

Just as they came together, a message came 
from General Jackson, demanding that, on their 
return, they should engage to serve for six months. 
He regarded enlistment merely for sixty days as 
absurd. With such soldiers, he justly argued that 
no comprehensive campaign could be entered upon. 
The officers held a meeting to decide upon this 
question. In the morning, at drum-beat, they 
informed the soldiers of the conclusion they had 
formed. Quite unanimously they decided that they 
would not go back on a six-months term of service, 
but that each soldier might do as he pleased. 
Crockett writes : 

" I know'd if I went back home I wouldn't rest, 


for I felt it my duty to be out. And when out, I 
was somehow or other always delighted to be in the 
thickest of the danger. A few of us, therefore, de- 
termined to push on and join the army. The num- 
ber I do not recollect, but it was very small." 

When Crockett reached Fort Strother he was 
placed in a company of scouts under Major Russel. 
Just before they reached the fort, General Jackson 
had set out on an expedition in a southeasterly 
direction, to what was called Horseshoe Bend, on 
the Tallapoosa River. The party of scouts soon 
overtook him and ledtheway. As they approached 
the spot through the silent trails which threaded 
the wide solitudes, they came upon many signs of 
Indians being around. The scouts gave the alarm, 
and the main body of the army came up. The 
troops under Jackson amounted to about one 
thousand men. It was the evening of January 23d, 

The camp-fires were built, supper prepared, and 
sentinels being carefully stationed all around to 
prevent surprise, the soldiers, protected from the 
wintry wind only by the gigantic forest, wrapped 
themselves in their blankets and threw themselves 
down on the withered leaves for sleep. The Indians 
crept noiselessly along from tree to tree, each man 
searching for a sentinel, until about two hours before 


day, when they opened a well-aimed fire from the 
impenetrable darkness in which they stood. The 
sentinels retreated back to the encampment, and the 
whole army was roused. 

The troops were encamped in the form of a 
hollow square, and thus were necessarily between 
the Indians and the light of their own camp-fires. 
Not a warrior was to be seen. The only guide the 
Americans had in shooting^ was to notice the flash 
of the enemy's guns. They fired at the flash. But 
as every Indian stood behind a tree, it is not proba- 
ble that many, if any, were harmed. The Indians 
were very wary not to expose themselves. They 
kept at a great distance, and were not very success- 
ful in their fire. Though they wounded quite a 
number, only four men were killed. With the dawn 
of the morning they all vanished. 

General Jackson did not wish to leave the. 
corpses of the slain to be dug up and scalped by 
the savages. He therefore erected a large funeral 
pyre, placed the bodies upon it, and they were soon 
consumed to ashes. Some litters were made of long 
and flexible poles, attached to two horses, one at 
each end, and upon these the wounded were con- 
veyed over the rough and narrow way. The 
Indians, thus far, had manifestly been 'the victors. 
They had inflicted serious injury upon the Ameri- 


cans ; and there is no evidence that a single one 
of their warriors had received the slightest harm. 
This was the great object of Indian strategy. In 
the wars of civilization, a great general has ever 
been willing to sacrifice the lives of ten thousand 
of his own troops if, by so doing, he could kill 
twenty thousand of the enemy. But it was never 
so with the Indians. They prized the lives of their 
warriors too highly. 

On their march the troops came to a wide creek, 
which it was necessary to cross. Here the Indians 
again prepared for battle. They concealed them- 
selves so effectually as to elude all the vigilance of 
the scouts. When about half the troops had crossed 
the stream, the almost invisible Indians commenced 
their assault, opening a very rapid but scattering 
fire. Occasionally a warrior was seen darting frcm 
one point to another, to obtain better vantage- 

Major Russel was in command of a small rear- 
guard. His soldiers soon appeared running almost 
breathless to join the main body, pursued by a large 
number of Indians. The savages had chosen the 
very best moment for their attack. The artillery- 
men were in an open field surrounded by the forest. 
The Indians, from behind stumps, logs, and trees, 
took deliberate aim, and almost every bullet laid a 


soldier prostrate. Quite a panic ensued. Two of 
the colonels, abandoning their regiments, rushed 
across the creek to escape the deadly fire. There 
is no evidence that the Indians were superior in 
numbers to the Americans. But it cannot be de- 
nied that the Americans, though under the leader- 
ship of Andrew Jackson, were again outgeneralled. 
General Jackson lost, in this short conflict, in. killed 
and wounded, nearly one hundred men. His dis- 
organized troops at length effected the passage of 
the creek, beyond which the Indians did not pursue 
them. Crockett writes : 

" I will not say exactly that the old General was 
whipped. But I think he would say himself that he 
was nearer whipped this time than any other; for I 
know that all the world couldn't make him acknowl- 
edge that he viz.?, pointedly whipped. I know I was 
mighty glad when it was over, and the savages quit 
us, for I began to think there was one behind every 
tree in the woods." 

Crockett, having served out his term, returned 
home. But he was restless there. Having once 
experienced the excitements of the camp, his wild, 
untrained nature could not repose in the quietude 
of domestic life. The conflict between the United 
States and a small band of Indians was very unequal. 
The loss of a single warrior was to the Creeks 


irreparable. General Jackson was not a man to yield 
to difficulties. On the 2/th of March, 1814, he 
drove twelve hundred Creek warriors into their fort 
at Tohopeka. They were then surrounded, so that 
escape was impossible, and the fort was set on fire. 
The carnage was awful. Almost every warrior 
perished by the bullet or in the flames. The 
military power of the tribe was at an end. The 
remnant, utterly dispirited, sued for peace. 

Quite a number of the Creek warriors fled to 
Florida, and joined the hostile Indian tribes there. 
We were at this time involved in our second war 
with Great Britain. The Government of our mo- 
ther country was doing everything in its power 
to rouse the savages against us. The armies in 
Canada rallied most of the Northern tribes beneath 
their banners. Florida, at that time, belonged to 
Spain. The Spanish Government was nominally 
neutral in the conflict between England and the 
United States. But the Spanish governor in 
Florida was in cordial sympathy with the British 
officers. He lent them all the aid and comfort in 
his power, carefully avoiding any positive violation 
of the laws of neutrality. He extended very liberal 
hospitality to the refugee Creek warriors, and in 
many ways facilitated their cooperation with the 


A small British fleet entered the mouth of the 
Apalachicola River and landed three hundred sol- 
diers. Here they engaged vigorously in construct- 
ing a fort, and in summoning all the surrounding 
Indian tribes to join them in the invasion of the 
Southern States. General Jackson, with a force of 
between one and two thousand men, was in Northern 
Alabama, but a few days' march north of the Florida 
line. He wrote to the Secretary of War, in sub- 
stance, as follows: 

" The hostile Creeks have taken refuge in Flor- 
ida. They are there fed, clothed, and protected. 
The British have armed a large force with muni- 
tions of war, and are fortifying and stirring up the 
savages. If you. will permit me to raise a few hun- 
dred militia, which can easily be done, I will unite 
them with such a force of regulars as can easily be 
collected, and will make a descent on Pensacola, and 
will reduce it. I promise you I will bring the war 
in the South to a speedy termination ; and English 
influence with the savages, in this quarter, shall be 
forever destroyed." 

The President was not prepared thus to provoke 
war with Spain, by the invasion of Florida. Andrew 
Jackson assumed the responsibility. The British 
had recently made an attack upon Mobile, and 
being repulsed, had retired with their squadron to 


the harbor of Pensacola. Jackson called for volun- 
teers to march upon Pensacola. Crockett roused 
himself at the summons, like the war-horse who 
snuffs the battle from afar. " I wanted," he wrote, 
" a small taste of British fighting, and I supposed 
they would be there." 

His wife again entered her tearful remonstrance. 
She pointed to her little children, in their lonely 
hut far away in the wilderness, remote from all 
neighborhood, and entreated the husband and the 
father not again to abandon them. Rather unfeel- 
ingly he writes, " The entreaties of my wife were 
thrown in the way of my going, but all in vain ; for 
I always had a way of just going ahead at whatever 
I had a mind to." 

Many who have perused this sketch thus far, 
may inquire, with some surprise, " What is it which 
has given this man such fame as is even national? 
He certainly does not develop a very attractive 
character ; and there is but little of the romance of 
chivalry thrown around his exploits. The secret is 
probably to be found in the following considerations, 
the truth of which the continuation of this narrative 
will be continually unfolding. 

Without education, without refinement, with- 
out wealth or social position, or any special claims 
to personal beauty, he was entirely self-possessed, 


and at home under all circumstances. He never 
manifested the slightest embarrassment. The idea 
seemed never to have entered his mind that there 
could be any person superior to David Crockett, or 
any one so humble that Crockett was entitled to 
look down upon him with condescension. He was a 
genuine democrat. All were in his view equal. And 
this was not the result of thought, of any political 
or moral principle. It was a part of his nature, which 
belonged to him without any volition, like his stature 
or complexion. This is one of the rarest qualities 
to be found in any man. We do not here condemn 
it, or applaud it. We simply state the fact. 

In the army he acquired boundless populari- 
ty from his fun-making qualities. In these days 
he was always merry. Bursts of laughter generally 
greeted Crockett's approach and followed his depar- 
ture. He was blessed with a memory which seemed 
absolutely never to have forgotten anything. His 
mind was an inexhaustable store-house of anecdote. 
These he had ever at command. Though they were 
not always, indeed were seldom, of the most refined 
nature, they were none the less adapted to raise 
shouts of merriment in cabin and camp. What Syd- 
ney Smith was at the banqueting board in the pala- 
tial saloon, such was David Crockett at the camp- 
fire and in the log hut. If ever in want of an 


illustrative anecdote he found no difficulty in man- 
ufacturing one. 

His thoughtless kindness of heart and good 
nature were inexhaustible. Those in want never 
appealed to him in vain. He would even go hungry 
himself that he might feed others who were more 
hungry. He would, without a moment's considera- 
tion, spend his last dollar to buy a blanket for a 
shivering soldier, and, without taking any merit for 
the deed, would never think of it again. He did it 
without reflection, as he breathed. 

>uch was the David Crockett who, from the 
mere love of adventure, left wife and children, in 
the awful solitude of the wilderness, to follow Gen- 
eral Jackson in a march to Pensacola. He seems 
fully to have understood the character of the Gen- 
eral, his merits and his defects. The main body of 
the army, consisting of a little more than two thou- 
sand men, had already commenced its march, when 
Crockett repaired to a rendezvous, in the northern 
frontiers of Alabama, where another company was 
being formed, under Major Russel, soon to follow. 
The company numbered one hundred and thirty 
men, and commenced its march. 

They forded the Tennessee River at Muscle 
Shoals, and marched south unmolested, through the 
heart of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, and 


pressed rapidly forward two or three hundred miles, 
until they reached the junction of the Tombeckbee 
and Alabama rivers, in the southern section of the 
State. The main army was now but two days' march 
before them. The troops, thus far, had been mount- 
ed, finding sufficient grazing for their horses by the 
way. But learning that there was no forage to be 
found between there and Pensacola, they left their 
animals behind them, under a sufficient guard, at a 
place called Cut-off, and set out for the rest of the 
march, a distance of about eighty miles, on foot. The 
slight protective works they threw up here, they 
called Fort Stoddart. 

These light troops, hardy men of iron nerves, 
accomplished the distance in about two days. On 
the evening of the second day, they reached an 
eminence but a short distance out from Pensacola, 
where they found the army encamped. Not a little 
to Crockett's disappointment, he learned that Pen- 
sacola was already captured. Thus he lost his 
chance of having " a small taste of British fighting." 

The British and Spaniards had obtained intelli- 
gence of Jackson's approach, and had made every 
preparation to drive him back. The forts were 
strongly garrisoned, and all the principal streets of 
the little Spanish city were barricaded. Several 
British war-vessels were anchored in the bay, and so 


placed as to command with their guns the principal 
entrance to the town. Jackson, who had invaded 
the Spanish province unsanctioned by the Govern- 
ment, was anxious to impress upon the Spanish 
authorities that the measure had been reluctantly 
adopted, on his own authority, as a military neces- 
sity; that he had no disposition to violate their 
neutral rights; but that it was indispensable that 
the British should be dislodged and driven away. 

The pride of the Spaniard was roused, and there 
was no friendly response to this appeal. But the 
Spanish garrison was small, and, united with the 
English fleet, could present no effectual opposition 
to the three thousand men under such a lion- 
hearted leader as General Jackson. On the 7th of 
January the General opened fire upon the foe. The 
conflict was short. The Spaniards were compelled 
to surrender their works. The British fled 'to the 
ships. The guns were turned upon them. They 
spread sail and disappeared. Jackson was severely 
censured, at the time, for invading the territory of 
a neutral power. The final verdict of his country- 
men has been decidedly in his favor. 

It was supposed that the British would move for 
the attack of Mobile. This place then consisted of 
a settlement of but about one hundred and fifty 
houses. General Jackson, with about two thousand 


men, marched rapidly for its defence. A few small, 
broken bands of hostile, yet despairing Creeks, fled 
back from Florida into the wilds of Alabama. A 
detachment of nearly a thousand men, under Major 
Russell, were sent in pursuit of these fleas among 
the mountains. Crockett made part of this expedi- 
tion. The pursuing soldiers directed their steps 
northwest about a hundred miles to Fort Mont- 
gomery, on the Alabama, just above its confluence 
with the Tombeckbee, about twelve miles above 
Fort Stoddart. Not far from there was Fort 
Mimms, where the awful massacre had taken place 
which opened the Creek war. 

There were many cattle grazing in the vicinity 
of the fort at the time of the massacre, which 
belonged to the garrison. These animals were now 
running wild. A thousand hungry men gave them 
chase. The fatal bullet soon laid them all low, 
and there was great feasting and hilarity in the 
camp. The carouse was much promoted by the 
arrival that evening of a large barge, which had 
sailed up the Alabama River from Mobile, with sugar, 
coffee, and, best of all, as the soldiers said worst 
of all, as humanity cries, with a large amount of 
intoxicating liquors. 

The scene presented that night was wild and 
picturesque in the extreme. The horses of the army 


were scattered about over the plain grazing upon 
the rich herbage. There was wood in abundance 
near, and the camp-fires for a thousand men threw 
up their forked flames, illumining the whole region 
with almost the light of day. The white tents of 
the officers, the varied groups of the soldiers, run- 
ning here and there, in all possible attitudes, the 
cooking and feasting, often whole quarters of beef 
roasting on enormous spits before the vast fires, 
afforded a spectacle such as is rarely seen. 

One picture instantly arrested the eye of every 
beholder. There were one hundred and eighty-six 
friendly Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, who had 
enlisted in the army. They formed a band by 
themselves under their own chiefs. They were all 
nearly naked, gorgeously painted, and decorated 
with the very brilliant attire of the warrior, with 
crimson-colored plumes, and moccasins and leggins 
richly fringed, and dyed in bright and strongly con- 
trasting hues. These savages were in the enjoyment 
of their greatest delight, drinking to frenzy, and 
performing their most convulsive dances, around 
the flaming fires. 

In addition to this spectacle which met the eye, 
there were sounds of revelry which fell almost ap- 
pallingly upon the ear, The wide expanse rever- 
berated with bacchanal songs, and drunken shouts, 


and frenzied war-whoops. These were all blended 
in an inextricable clamor. With the unrefined emi- 
nently, and in a considerable degree with the most 
refined, noise is one of the essential elements of fes- 
tivity. A thousand men were making all the noise 
they could in this midnight revel. Probably never 
before, since the dawn of creation, had the banks of 
the Alabama echoed with such a clamor as in this 
great carouse, which had so suddenly burst forth 
from the silence of the almost uninhabited wilder- 

This is the poetry of war. This it is which lures 
so many from the tameness of ordinary life to the 
rank.5 of the^army. In such scenes, Crockett, burst- 
ing with fun, the incarnation of wit and good nature, 
was in his element. Here he was chief. All did 
him homage. His pride was gratified by his dis- 
tinction Life in his lonely hut, with wife and chil- 
dren, seemed, in comparison, too spiritless to be 

The Alabama here runs nearly west. The army 
was on the south side of the river. The next day 
the Indians asked permission to cross to the north- 
ern bank on an exploring expedition. Consent was 
given ; but Major Russel decided to go with them, 
taking a company of sixteen men, of whom Crockett 
was one. They crossed the river and encamped upon 


the other side, seeing no foe and encountering no 
alarm. They soon came to a spot where, the wind- 
ing river, overflowing its banks, spread over a wide 
extent of the flat country. It was about a mile and 
a half across this inundated meadow. To journey 
around it would require a march of many miles. 
They waded the meadow. The water was very cold, 
often up to their armpits, and they stumbled over 
the rough ground. This was not the poetry of war. 
But still there is a certain degree of civilization in 
which the monotony of life is relieved by such 

When they reached the other side they built 
large fires, and warmed and dried themselves. They 
were in search of a few fugitive Indian warriors, 
who, fleeing from Pensacola, had scattered them- 
selves over a wilderness many -hundred square 
miles in extent. This pursuit of them, by a thou- 
sand soldiers, seems now very foolish. But it is 
hardly safe for us, seated by our quiet firesides, and 
with but a limited knowledge of the circumstances, 
to pass judgment upon the measure. 

The exploring party consisted, as we have men- 
tioned, of nearly two hundred Indians, and sixteen 
white men. They advanced very cautiously. Two 
scouts were kept some distance in the advance, 
two on the side nearest the river, and five on their 


right. In this way they had moved along about 
six miles, when the two spies in front came rushing 
breathlessly back, with the tidings that they had 
discovered a camp of Creek Indians. They halted 
for a few moments while all examined their guns 
and their priming and prepared for battle. 

The Indians went through certain religious cere- 
monies, and getting out their war-paint, colored 
their bodies anew. They then came to Major Rus- 
sell, and told him that, as he was to lead them in the 
battle, he must be painted too. He humored them, 
and was painted in the most approved style of an 
Indian warrior. The plan of battle was arranged 
to strike the Indian camp by surprise, when they 
were utterly unprepared for any resistance. The 
white men were cautiously to proceed in the ad- 
vance, and pour in a deadly fire to kill as many as 
possible. The Indians were then, taking advantage 
of the panic, to rush in with tomahawk and scalp- 
ing-knife, and finish the scene according to their 
style of battle, which spared neither women nor 
children. It is not pleasant to record such a meas- 
ure. They crept along, concealed by the forest, and 
guided by the sound of pounding, till they caught 
sight of the camp. A little to their chagrin they 
found that it consisted of two peaceful wigwams, 
where there was a man, a woman, and several chil- 


dren. The wigwams were also on an island of the 
river, which could not be approached without boats. 
There could not be much glory won by an army of 
two hundred men routing such a party and destroy- 
ing their home. There was also nothing to indicate 
that these Indians had even any unfriendly feelings. 
The man and woman were employed in bruising 
what was called brier root, which they had dug 
from the forest, for food. It seems that this was 
the principal subsistence used by the Indians in 
that vicinity. 

While the soldiers were deliberating what next 
to do, they heard a gun fired in the direction of the 
scouts, at some distance on the right, followed by 
a single shrill war-whoop. This satisfied them that 
if the scouts had met with a foe, it was indeed war 
on a small scale. There seemed no need for any 
special caution. They all broke and ran toward 
the spot from which the sounds came. They soon 
met two of the spies, who told the following not 
very creditable story, but one highly characteristic 
of the times. 

As they were creeping along through the forest, 
they found two Indians, who they said were Creeks, 
out hunting. As they were approaching each other, 
it so happened that there was a dense cluster of 
bushes between them, so that they were within a 


few feet of meeting before either party was dis- 
covered. The two spies were Choctaws. They 
advanced -directly to the Indians, and addressed 
them in the most friendly manner ; stating that they 
had belonged to General Jackson's army, but had 
escaped, and were on their way home. They shook 
hands, kindled a fire, and sat down and smoked in 
apparent perfect cordiality. 

One of the Creeks had a gun. The other had 
only a bow and arrows. After this friendly inter- 
view, they rose and took leave of each other, each 
going in opposite directions. As soon as their 
backs were turned, and they were but a few feet 
from each other, one of the Choctaws turned around 
and shot the unsuspecting Creek who had the gun. 
He fell dead, without a groan. The other Creek 
attempted to escape, while the o'ther Choctaw snap- 
ped his gun at him repeatedly, but it missed fire. 
They then pursued him, overtook him, knocked him 
down with the butt of their guns, and battered his 
head until he also was motionless in death. One 
of the Choctaws, in his frenzied blows, broke the 
stock of his rifle. They then fired off the gun of 
the Creek who was killed, and one of them uttered 
the war-whoop which was heard by the rest of the 



These two savages drew their scalping-knives 
and cut off the heads of both their victims. As the 
whole body came rushing up, they found the gory 
corpses of the slain, with their dissevered heads 
u?ar by. Each Indian had a war-club. With these 
massive weapons each savage, in his turn, gave the 
mutilated heads a severe blow. When they had all 
performed this barbaric deed, Crockett, whose pe- 
culiar type of good nature led him not only to desire 
to please the savages, but also to know what would 
please them, seized a war-club, and, in his turn, 
smote with all his strength the mangled, blood- 
stained heads. The Indians were quite delighted. 
They gathered around him with very expressive 
grunts of satisfaction, and patting him upon the 
back, exclaimed, " Good w r arrior ! Good warrior !" 

The Indians then scalped the heads, and, leaving 
the bodies unburied, the whole party entered a trail 
which led to the river, near the point where the 
two wigwams were standing. As they followed the 
narrow path they came upon the vestiges of a cruel 
and bloody tragedy. The mouldering corpses of a 
Spaniard, his wife, and four children lay scattered 
around, all scalped. Our hero Crockett, who had so 
valiantly smitten the dissevered heads of the two 
Creeks who had been so treacherously murdered, 
confesses that the revolting spectacle of the whites, 


scalped and half devoured, caused him to shudder. 
He writes : 

" I began to feel mighty ticklish along about 
this time ; for I knowed if there was no danger 
then, there had been, and I felt exactly like there 
still was." 

The white soldiers, leading the Indians, con- 
tinued their course until they reached the river. 
Following it down, they came opposite the point 
where the wigwams stood upon the island. The 
two Indian hunters who had been killed had gone 
out from this peaceful little encampment. Several 
Indian children were playing around, and the man 
and woman whom they had before seen were still 
beating their roots. Another Indian woman was 
also there seen. These peaceful families had no 
conception of the disaster which had befallen their 
companions who were hunting in the woods. Even 
if they had heard the report of the rifles, they could 
only have supposed that it was from the guns of 
the hunters firing at game. 

The evening twilight was fading away. The 
whole party was concealed in a dense canebrake 
which fringed the stream. Two of the Indians 
were sent forward as a decoy a shameful decoy 
to lure into the hands of two hundred warriors an 
unarmed man, two women, and eight or ten children. 


The Indians picked out some of their best marks- 
men and hid them behind trees and logs near the 
river. They were to shoot down the Indians whom 
others should lure to cross the stream.' 

The creek which separated the island from the 
mainland was deep, but not so wide but that per- 
sons without much difficulty could make themselves 
heard across it. Two of the Indians went down to 
the river-side, and hailed those at the wigwams, 
asking them to send a canoe across to take them 
over. An Indian woman came down to the bank 
and informed them that the canoe was on their side, 
that two hunters had crossed the creek that morn- 
ing, and had not yet returned. These were the two 
men who had been so inhumanly murdered. Imme- 
diate search was made for the canoe, and it was 
found a little above the spot where the men were 
hiding. It was a very large buoyant birch canoe, 
constructed for the transportation of a numerous 
household, with all their goods, and such game as 
they might take. 

This they loaded with warriors to the water's 
edge, and they began vigorously to paddle over to 
the island. When the one solitary Indian man 
there saw this formidable array approaching he fled 
into the woods. The warriors landed, and captured 
the two women and the little children, ten in num- 


ber, and conveyed their prisoners, with the plunder 
of the wigwams, back across the creek to their own 
encampment. This was not a very brilliant achieve- 
ment to be accomplished by an army of two hundred 
warriors aided by a detachment of sixteen white 
men under Major Russel. What finally became of 
these captives we know not. It is gratifying to be 
informed by David Crockett that they did not kill 
either the squaws or the pappooses. 

The company then marched through the silent 
wilderness, a distance of about thirty miles east, to 
the Conecuh River. This stream, in its picturesque 
windings through a region where even the Indian 
seldom roved, flowed into the Scambia, the principal 
river which pours its floods, swollen by many tribu- 
taries, into Pensacola Bay. It was several miles 
above the point where the detachment struck the 
river that the Indian encampment, to which the two 
murdered men had alluded, was located. But the 
provisions of the party were exhausted. There was 
scarcely any game to be found. Major Russel did 
not deem it prudent to march to the attack of the 
encampment, until he had obtained a fresh supply 
of provisions. The main body of the army, which had 
remained in Florida, moving slowly about, without 
any very definite object, waiting for something to 


turn up, was then upon the banks of the Scambia. 
Colonel Blue was in command. 

David Crockett was ordered to take a light birch 
canoe, and two men, one a friendly Creek Indian, 
and paddle down the stream about twenty miles to 
the main camp. Here he was to inform Colonel 
Blue of Major Russel's intention to ascend the 
Conecuh to attack the Creeks, and to request the 
Colonel immediately to dispatch some boats up the 
river with the needful supplies. 

It was a romantic adventure descending in the 
darkness that wild and lonely stream, winding 
through the dense forest of wonderful exuberance of 
vegetation. In the early evening he set out. The 
night proved very dark. The river, swollen by 
recent rains, overflowed its banks and spread far and 
wide over the low bottoms. The river was extremely 
crooked, and it was with great difficulty that they 
could keep the channel. But the instinct of the 
Indian guide led them safely along, through over- 
hanging boughs and forest glooms, until, a little 
before midnight, they reached the camp. There 
was no time to be lost. Major Russel was anxious 
to have the supplies that very night dispatched to 
him, lest the Indians should hear of their danger 
and should escape. 

But Colonel Blue did not approve of the expedi- 


tiori. There was no evidence that the Indian en- 
campment consisted of anything more than half a 
dozen wigwams, where a few inoffensive savages, with 
their wives and children, were eking out a half- 
starved existence by hunting, fishing, and digging up 
roots from the forest. It did not seem wise to send 
an army of two hundred and sixteen men to carry 
desolation and woe to such humble homes. Crockett 
was ordered to return with this message to the 
Major. Military discipline, then and there, was not 
very rigid. He hired another man to carry back the 
unwelcome answer in his place. In the light canoe 
the three men rapidly ascended the sluggish stream. 
Just as the sun was rising over the forest, they 
reached the camp of Major Russell. The detach- 
ment then immediately commenced its march down 
the River Scambia, and joined the main body at a 
point called Miller's Landing. Here learning that 
some fugitive Indians were on the eastern side of 
the stream, a mounted party was sent across, swim- 
ming their horses, and several Indians were hunted 
down and shot. 

Soon after this, the whole party, numbering 
nearly twelve hundred in all, commenced a toilsome 
march of about two or three hundred miles across 
the State to the Chattahoochee River, which consti- 
tutes the boundary-line between Southern Alabama 


and. Georgia. Their route led through pathless wilds. 
No provisions, of any importance, could be found 
by the way. They therefore took with them rations 
for twenty-eight days. But "their progress was far 
more slow and toilsome than they had anticipated. 
Dense forests were to be threaded, where it was 
necessary for them to cut their way through almost 
tropical entanglement of vegetation. Deep and 
broad marshes were to be waded, where the horses 
sank almost to their saddle-girths. There were 
rivers to be crossed, which could only be forded by 
ascending the banks through weary leagues of 

Thus, when twenty-eight days had passed, and 
their provisions were nearly expended, though they 
had for some time been put on short allowance, they 
found that they had accomplished but three-quarters 
of their journey. Actual starvation threatened them. 
But twice in nineteen days did Crockett taste of 
any bread. Despondency spread its gloom over the 
half-famished army. Still they toiled along, almost 
hopeless, with tottering footsteps. War may have 
its excitements and its charms. But such a march 
as this, of woe-begone, emaciate, skeleton bands, is 
not to be counted as among war's pomps and 

One evening, in the deepening -twilight, when 


they had been out thirty-four days, the Indian scouts, 
ever sent in advance, came into camp with the 
announcement, that at the distance of but a few 
hours' march before them, the Chattahoochee River 
was to be found, with a large Indian village upon its 
banks. We know not what reason there was to sup- 
pose that the Indians inhabiting this remote village 
were hostile. But as the American officers decided 
immediately upon attacking them, we ought to sup- 
pose that they, on the ground, had sufficient reason 
to justify this course. 

The army was immediately put in motion. The 
rifles were loaded and primed, and the flints care- 
fully examined, that they might not fall into ambush 
unprepared. The sun was just rising as they cau- 
tiously approached the doomed village. There was 
a smooth green meadow a few rods in width on the 
western bank of the river, skirted by the boundless 
forest. The Indian wigwams and lodges, of varied 
structure, were clustered together on this treeless, 
grassy plain, in much picturesque beauty. The 
Indians had apparently not been apprised of the 
approach of the terrible tempest of war about to 
descend upon them. Apparently, at that early hour, 
they were soundly asleep. Not a man, woman, or 
child was to be seen. 

Silently, screened by thick woods, the army 


formed in line of battle. The two hundred Indian 
warriors, rifle in hand and tomahawk at belt, stealth- 
ily took their position. The white men took theirs. 
At a given signal, the war-whoop burst from the lips 
of the savages, and the wild halloo of the backwoods- 
men reverberated through the forest, as both parties 
rushed forward in the impetuous charge. " We were 
all so furious," writes Crockett, " that even the cer- 
tainty of a pretty hard fight could not have restrained 

But to the intense mortification of these valiant 
men, not a single living being was to be found as 
food for bullet or tomahawk. The huts were all 
deserted, and despoiled of every article of any value. 
There was not a skin, or an unpicked bone, or a 
kernel of corn left behind. The Indians had watched 
the march of the foe, and, with their wives and little 
ones, had retired to regions where the famishing 
army could not follow them 


The Camp and the Cabin. 

Deplorable Condition of the Army. Its Wanderings. Crockett's 
Benevolence. Cruel ' Treatment of the Indians. A Gleam of 
Good Luck. The Joyful Feast. Crockett's Trade with the In- 
dian. Visit to the Old Battle-field. Bold Adventure of 
Crockett. His Arrival Home. Death of his Wife. Second 
Marriage. Restlessness. Exploring Tour. Wild Adventures. 
Dangerous Sickness. Removal to the West. His New Home. 

THE army, far away in the wilds of Southern 
Alabama, on the banks of the almost unknown 
Chattahoochee, without provisions, and with leagues 
of unexplored wilderness around, found itself in 
truly a deplorable condition. The soldiers had 
hoped to find, in the Indian village, stores of beans 
and corn, and quantities of preserved game. In the 
impotence of their disappointment they applied the 
torch, and laid the little village in ashes. 

A council was held, and it was deemed best to 
divide their forces. Major Childs took one-half of 
the army and retraced their steps westward, direct- 
ing their course toward Baton Rouge, where they 
hoped to find General Jackson with a portion of 
the army with which he was returning from New 


Orleans. The other division, under Major Russel, 
pressed forward, as rapidly as possible, nearly north, 
aiming for Fort Decatur, on the Tallapoosa River, 
where they expected to find shelter and provisions. 
Crockett accompanied Major Russel's party. In- 
dian sagacity was now in great requisition. The 
friendly 'savages led the way through scenes of diffi- 
culty and entanglement where, but for their aid, 
the troops might all have perished. So great was 
the destitution of food that the soldiers were per- 
mitted to stray, almost at pleasure, on either side of 
the line. of march. Happy was the man who could 
shoot a raccoon or a squirrel, or even the smallest 
bird. Implicit confidence was placed in the guid- 
ance of the friendly Indians, and the army followed 
in single file, along the narrow trail which the In- 
dians trod before them. 

Crockett, in this march, had acquired so much 
the confidence of the officers that he seems to have 
enjoyed quite unlimited license. He went where 
he pleased and did what he would. Almost invari- 
ably at night, keeping pace with the army, he would 
bring in some small game, a bird or a squirrel, and 
frequently several of these puny animals. It was a 
rule, when night came, for all the hunters to throw 
down what they had killed in one pile. This was then 
divided among the messes as equitably as possible. 


One night, Crockett returned empty-handed. 
He had killed nothing, and he was very hungry. 
But there was a sick man in his mess, who was suf- 
fering far more than he. Crockett, with his inva- 
riable unselfishness and generosity, forgot his own 
hunger in his solicitude for his sick comrade. He 
went to the fire of Captain Cowen, who was com- 
mandant of the company to which Crockett be- 
longed, and told him his story. Captain Cowen 
was broiling, for his supper, the gizzard of a turkey. 
He told Crockett that the turkey was all that had 
fallen to the share of his company that night, and 
that the bird had already been- divided, in very 
small fragments, among the sick. There was no- 
thing left for Crockett's friend. 

On this march the army was divided into messes 
of eight or ten men, who cooked and ate their food 
together. This led Crockett to decide that he and 
his mess would separate themselves from the rest 
of the army, and make a small and independent 
band. The Indian scouts, well armed and very 
wary, took the lead. They kept several miles in 
advance of the main body of the troops, that they 
might give timely warning should they encounter 
any danger. Crockett and his mess kept close after 
them, following their trail, and leaving the army one 
or two miles behind. 


One day the scouts came across nine Indians. 
We are not informed whether they were friends or 
enemies, whether they were hunters or warriors, 
whether they were men, women, or children, whether 
they were in their wigwams or wandering through 
the forest, whether they were all together or were 
found separately : we are simply told that they were 
all shot down. The circumstances of the case are 
such,that the probabilities are very strong that they 
were shot as a wolf or a bear would be shot, at sight, 
without asking any questions. The next day the 
scouts found a frail encampment where there were 
three Indians. They shot them all. 

The sufferings of the army, as it toiled along 
through these vast realms of unknown rivers and 
forest glooms, and marshes and wide-spread, flower- 
bespangled prairies, became more and more severe. 
Game was very scarce. For three days, Crockett's 
party killed barely enough' to sustain life. He 
writes : 

" At last we all began to get nearly ready to give 
up the ghost, and lie down and die, for we had no 
prospect of provision, and we knowed we couldn't go 
much farther without it." 

While in this condition they came upon one of 
those wide and beautiful prairies which frequently 
embellish the landscape of the South and the West. 


This plain was about six miles in width, smooth as a 
floor, and waving with tall grass and the most bril- 
liantly colored flowers. It was bordered with a 
forest of luxuriant growth, but not a tree dotted its 
surface. They came upon a trail leading through 
the tall, thick, grass. Crockett's practised eye saw 
at once that it was not a trail made by human foot- 
steps, but the narrow path along which deer strolled 
and turkeys hobbled in their movement across the 
field from forest to forest. 

Following this trail, they soon came to a creek 
of sluggish water. The lowlands on each side were 
waving with a rank growth of wild rye, presenting a 
very green and beautiful aspect. The men were all 
mounted, as indeed was nearly the whole army. 
By grazing and browsing, the horses, as they moved 
slowly along at a foot-pace, kept in comfortable 
flesh. This rye-field presented the most admirable 
pasturage for the horses. Crockett and his com- 
rades dismounted, and turned the animals loose. 
There was no danger of their straying far in so fat a 

Crockett and another man, Vanzant by name, 
leaving the horses to feed, pushed across the plain 
to the forest, in search of some food for themselves. 
They wandered for some time, and found nothing. 
At length, Crockett espied a squirrel on the limb of 


a tall tree. He shot at the animal and wounded it, 
but it succeeded in creeping into a small hole in the 
tree, thirty feet from the ground. There was not a 
limb for that distance to aid in climbing. Still the 
wants of the party were such that Crockett climbed 
the tree to get the squirrel, and felt that he had 
gained quite a treasure. 

" I shouldn't relate such small matters," he 
writes, " only to show what lengths a hungry man 
will go to, to get something to eat." 

Soon after, he killed two more squirrels. Just as 
he was reloading his gun, a large flock of fat turkeys 
rose from the marshy banks of the creek along which 
they were wandering, and flying but,a short distance, 
relighted. Vanzant crept forward, and aiming at a 
large gobbler, fired, and brought him down. The 
flock immediately flew back to near the spot where 
Crockett stood. He levelled his rifle, took delibe- 
rate aim, and another fine turkey fell. The flock 
then disappeared. 

The two hunters made the forest resound with 
shouts of triumph. They had two large, fat turkeys, 
which would be looked at wistfully upon any gour- 
mand's table, and for side-dishes' they had three 
squirrels. Thus they were prepared for truly a 
thanksgiving feast. Hastily they returned' with 
their treasure, when they learned that the others of 


their party had found a bee-tree, that is, a tree 
where a swarm of bees had taken lodgment, and 
were laying in their winter stores. They cut down 
the tree with their hatchets, and obtained an ample 
supply of wild honey. They all felt that they had 
indeed fallen upon a vein of good luck. 

It was but a short distance from the creek to 
the gigantic forest, rising sublimely in its luxuriance, 
with scarcely an encumbering shrub of undergrowth. 
They entered the edge of the forest, built a hot 
fire, roasted their game, and, while their horses were 
enjoying the richest of pasturage, they, with their 
keen appetites, enjoyed a more delicious feast than 
far-famed Delmonico ever provided for his epicurean 

The happy party, rejoicing in the present, and 
taking no thought for the morrow, spent the night 
in this camp of feasting. The next morning they 
were reluctant to leave such an inviting hunting- 
ground. Crockett and Vanzant again took to their 
rifles, and strolled into the forest in search of game. 
Soon they came across a fine buck, which seemed to 
have tarried behind to watch the foe, while the rest 
of the herd, of which he was protector, had taken to 
flight. The beautiful creature, with erect head and 
spreading antlers, gallantly stopping to investigate 
the danger to which his family was exposed, would 


have moved the sympathies of any one but a profess- 
ed hunter. Crockett's bullet struck him, wounded 
him severely, and he limped away. Hotly the two 
hunters pursued. They came to a large tree which 
had been blown down, and was partly decayed. 
An immense grizzly bear crept growling from the 
hollow of this tree, and plunged into the forest. 
It was in vain to pursue him, without dogs to re- 
tard his flight. They however soon overtook the 
wounded buck, and shot him. With this treasure 
of venison upon their shoulders, they had but just 
returned to their camp when the main body of the 
army came up. The game which Crockett had 
taken, and upon which they had feasted so abund- 
antly, if divided among twelve hundred men, would 
not have afforded a mouthful apiece. 

The army was in the most deplorable condition 
of weakness and hunger. Ere long they reached 
the Coosa, and followed up its eastern bank. 
About twenty miles above the spot where they 
struck the river there was a small military post, 
called Fort Decatur. They hoped to find some food 
there. And yet, in that remote, almost inaccessible 
station, they could hardly expect to meet with any- 
thing like a supply for twelve hundred half-famished 

Upon reaching the river, Crockett took a canoe 


and paddled across. On the other shore he found 
an Indian. Instead of shooting him, he much 
more sensibly entered into relations of friendly 
trade with the savage. The Indian had a little 
household in his solitary wigwam, and a small quan- 
tity of corn in store. Crockett wore a large hat. 
Taking it from his head, he offered the Indian a sil- 
ver dollar if he would fill it with corn. But the lit- 
tle bit of silver, with enigmatical characters stamped 
upon it, was worth nothing to the Indian. He de- 
clined the offer. Speaking a little broken English, 
he inquired, " You got any powder ? You got any 
bullets? " Crockett told him he had. He promptly 
replied, " Me will swap my corn for powder and 

Eagerly the man gave a hatful of corn for ten 
bullets and ten charges of powder. He then offered 
another hatful at the same price. Crockett took 
off his hunting-shirt, tied it up so as to make a sort 
of bag, into which he poured his two hatfuls of 
corn. With this great treasure he joyfully paddled 
across the stream to rejoin his companions. It is 
pleasant to think that the poor Indian was not shot, 
that his wigwam was not burned over his head, and 
that he was left with means to provide his wife and 
children with many luxurious meals. 

The army reached Fort Decatur. One single 


meal consumed all the provisions which the gar- 
rison could by any possibility spare. They had 
now entered upon a rough, hilly, broken country. 
The horses found but little food, and began to give 
out. About fifty miles farther up the Coosa River 
there was another military station, in the lonely 
wilds, called Fort William. Still starving, and with 
tottering horses, they toiled on. Parched corn, and 
but a scanty supply of that, was now almost their 
only subsistence. 

They reached the fort. One ration of pork and 
one ration of flour were mercifully given them. It 
was all which could be spared. To remain where 
they were was certain starvation. Forty miles 
above them on the same stream was Fort Strother. 
Sadly they toiled along. The skeleton horses drop- 
ped beneath their riders, and were left, saddled and 
bridled, for the vultures and the wolves. On their 
route to Fort Strother they passed directly by the 
ancient Indian fort of Talladega. It will be remem- 
bered that a terrible battle had been fought here 
by General Jackson with the Indians, on the /th 
of December, 1813. In the carnage of that bloody 
day nearly five hundred Indians fell. Those who 
escaped scattered far and wide. A few of them 
sought refuge in distant Florida. 

The bodies of the slain were left unburied. 


Slowly the flesh disappeared from the bones, either 
devoured by wild beasts or decomposed by the ac- 
tion of the atmosphere. The field, as now visited, 
presented an appalling aspect. Crockett writes : 

" We went through the old battle-ground, and . 
it looked like a great gourd-patch. The skulls of 
the Indians who were killed, still lay scattered all 
about. Many of their frames were still perfect, as 
their bones had not separated." 

As they were thus despairingly tottering along, 
they came across a narrow Indian trail, with fresh 
footmarks, indicating that moccasined Indians had 
recently passed along. It shows how little they 
had cause to fear from the Indians, that Crockett, 
entirely alone, should have followed that trail, trust- 
ing that it would lead him to some Indian village, 
where he could hope to buy some more corn. He 
was not deceived in his expectation. After thread- 
ing the narrow and winding path about five miles, he 
came to a cluster of Indian wigwams. Boldly he 
entered the little village, without apparently the 
slightest apprehension that he should meet with any 
unfriendly reception. 

He was entirely at the mercy of the savages. 
Even if he were murdered, it would never be known 
by whom. And if it were known, the starving army, 
miles away, pressing along in its flight, was in no 


condition to send a detachment to endeavor to 
avenge the deed. The savages received him as 
though he had been one of their own kith and kin, 
and readily exchanged corn with him, for powder and 
bullets. He then returned, but did not overtake 
the rest of the army until late in the night. 

The next morning they were so fortunate as to 
encounter a detachment of United States troops 
on the_ -march, to Mobile. v These troops, having just 
commenced their journey, were well supplied ; and 
they liberally distributed their corn and provisions. 
Here Crockett found his youngest brother, who had 
enlisted for the campaign. There were also in the 
band many others of his old friends and neigh- 
bors. The succeeding day, the weary troops, much 
refreshed, reached a point on the River Coosa oppo- 
site Fort Strother, and crossing the stream, found 
there shelter and plenty of provisions. 

We know not, and do not care to know, who was 
responsible for this military movement, which seems 
to us now as senseless as it was cruel and disastrous. 
But it is thus that poor humanity has ever gone 
blundering on, displaying but little wisdom in its 
affairs. Here Crockett had permission to visit -his 
home, though he still owed the country a month of 
service. In his exceeding rude, unpolished style, 
which pictures the man, he writes: 


"Once more I was safely landed at home with my 
wife and children. I found them all well and doing 
well ; and though I was only a rough sort of back- 
woodsman, they seemed mighty glad to see me, 
however little the quality folks might suppose it. 
For I do reckon we love as hard in the backwood 
country as any people in the whole creation. 

" But I had been home only a few days, when 
we received orders to start again, and go on to the 
Black Warrior and Cahaula rivers, to see if there 
were no Indians there. I know'd well enough there 
was none, and I wasn't willing to trust my craw * any 
more where there was neither any fighting to do, nor 
anything to go on. So I agreed to give a young man, 
who wanted to go, the balance of my wages, if he 
would serve out my time, which was about a month. 

" He did so. And when they returned, sure 
enough they hadn't seen an Indian any more than if 
they had been, all the time, chopping wood in my 
clearing. This closed my career as a warrior ; and 
I am glad of it ; for I like life now a heap better 
than I did then. And I am glad all over that I lived 
to see these times, which I should not have done if I 
had kept fooling along in war, and got used up at 
it. When I say I am glad, I just mean that I am 

* He probably means his stomach, the crop of birds being so 



glad that I am alive, for there is a confounded heap 
of things I ain't glad of at all." 

When Crockett wrote the above he was a mem- 
ber of.Congress, and a very earnest politician. He 
was much opposed to the measure of President 
Jackson in removing the deposits from the United 
States Bank a movement which greatly agitated 
the whole country at that time. In speaking of 
things of which he was not glad, he writes : 

" I ain't glad, for example, that the Government 
moved the deposits ; and if my military glory should 
take such a turn as to make me President after the 
General's time, I will move them back. Yes, I the 
Government, will take the responsibility, and move 
them back ag*ain. If I don't I wish I may be shot." 

The hardships of war had blighted Crockett's 
enthusiasm for wild adventures, and had very consid- 
erably sobered him. He remained at home for two 
years, diligently at work upon his farm. . The battle 
of New Orleans was fought. The war with England 
closed, and peace was made with the poor Indians, 
who, by British intrigue, had been goaded to the 
disastrous fight. Death came to the cabin of 
Crockett ; and his faithful wife, the tender mother 
of his children, was taken from him. We cannot 
refrain from quoting his own account of this event, 
as it does much honor to his heart. 


" In this time I met with the hardest trial which 
ever falls to the lot of man. Death, that cruel 
leveller of all distinctions, to whom the prayers and 
tears of husbands, and even of helpless infancy, are 
addressed in vain, entered my humble cottage, and 
tore from my children an affectionate, good mother, 
and from me a tender and loving wife. It is a scene 
long gone by, and one which it would be supposed 
I had almost forgotten. Yet when I turn my 
memory back upon it, it seems but as the work of 

" It was the doing of the Almighty, whose ways 
are always right, though we sometimes think they 
fall heavily on us. And as painful as even yet is the 
remembrance of her sufferings, and the loss sus- 
tained by my little children and myself, yet I have 
no wish to lift up the voice of complaint. I was left 
with three children. The two eldest were sons, the 
youngest a daughter, and at that time a mere infant. 
It appeared to me, at that moment, that my situa- 
tion was the worst in the world. 

" I couldn't bear the thought of scattering my 
children ; and so I got my youngest brother, who 
was also married, and his family, to live with me. 
They took as good care of my children as they well 
could ; but yet it wasn't all like the care of a mother. 
And though their company was to me, in every 


respect, like that of a brother and sister, yet it fell 
far short of being like that of a wife. So I came to 
the conclusion that it wouldn't do, but that I must 
have another wife." 

One sees strikingly, in the above quotation, the 
softening effect of affliction on the human heart. 
There was a widow in the neighborhood, a very 
worthy woman, who had lost her husband in the 
war. She had two children, a son and a daughter, 
both quite young. She owned a snug little farm, 
and being a very capable woman, was getting along 
quite comfortably. Crockett decided that he should 
make a good step-father to her children, and she a 
good step-mother for his. The courtship was in 
accordance with the most approved style of country 
love-making. It proved to be a congenial marriage. 
The two families came very harmoniously together, 
and in their lowly hut enjoyed peace and content- 
ment such as frequently is not found in more ambi- 
tious homes. 

But the wandering propensity was inherent in 
the very nature of Crockett. He soon tired of the 
monotony of a farmer's life, and longed for change. 
A few months after his marriage he set out, .with 
three of his neighbors, all well mounted, on an ex- 
ploring tour into Central Alabama, hoping to find 
new homes there. Taking a southerly course, they 


crossed the Tennessee River, and striking the upper 
waters of the Black Warrior, followed down that 
stream a distance of about two hundred miles from 
their starting-point, till they came near to the place 
where Tuscaloosa, the capital of the State,, now 

This region was then almost an unbroken wilder- 
ness. But during the war Crockett had frequently 
traversed it, and was familiar with its general char- 
acter. On the route they came to the hut of a man 
who was a comrade of Crockett in the Florida 
campaign. They spent a day with the retired sol- 
dier, and all went out in the woods together to hunt. 
Frazier unfortunately stepped upon a venomous 
snake, partially covered with leaves. The reptile 
struck its deadly fangs into his leg. The effect was 
instantaneous and awful. They carried the wound- 
ed man, with his bloated and throbbing limb, back 
to the hut. Here such remedies were applied as 
backwoods medical science suggested ; but it was 
evident that many weeks would elapse ere the man 
could move, even should he eventually recover. 
Sadly they were constrained to leave their suffering 
companion there. What became of him is not 

The three others, Crockett, Robinson, and Rich, 
continued their journey. Their route led them 


through a very fertile and beautiful region, called 
Jones's Valley. Several emigrants had penetrated 
and reared their log huts upon its rich and bloom- 
ing meadows. 

When they reached the spot where the capital 
of the State now stands, with its spacious streets, 
its public edifices, its halls of learning, its churches, 
and its refined and cultivated society, they found 
only the silence, solitude, and gloom of the wilder- 
ness. With their hatchets they constructed a rude 
camp to shelter them from the night air and the 
heavy dew. It was open in front. Here they built 
their camp-fire, whose cheerful glow illumined the 
forest far and wide, and which converted midnight 
glooms into almost midday radiance. The horses 
were hobbled and turned out to graze on a luxu- 
riant meadow. It was supposed that the animals, 
weary of the day's journey, and finding abundant 
pasturage, would not stray far. The travellers 
cooked their supper, and throwing themselves upon 
their couch of leaves, enjoyed that sound sleep which 
fatigue, health, and comfort give. 

When they awoke in the morning the horses 
were all gone. By examining the trail it seemed 
that they had taken the back-track in search of 
their homes. Crockett, who was the most vigorous 
and athletic of the three, leaving Robinson and Rich 


in the camp, set out in pursuit of the runaways. It 
was a rough and dreary path he had to tread. 
There was no comfortable road to traverse, but a 
mere path through forest, bog, and ravine, which, at 
times, it was difficult to discern. He had hills to 
climb, creeks to ford, swamps to wade through. 
Hour after hour he pressed on, but the horses could 
walk faster than he could. There was nothing in 
their foot-prints which indicated that he was ap- 
proaching any nearer to them. 

At last, when night came, and Crockett judged 
that he had walked fifty miles, he gave up the 
chase as hopeless. Fortunately he reached the 
cabin of a settler, where he remained until morning. 
A rapid walk, almost a run, of fifty miles in one day, 
is a very severe operation even for the most hardy 
of men. When Crockett awoke, after his night's 
sleep, he found himself so lame that he could 
scarcely move. He was, however, anxious to get 
back with his discouraging report to his compan- 
ions. He therefore set out, and hobbled slowly and 
painfully along, hoping that exercise would gradu- 
ally loosen his stiffened joints. 

But, mile after mile, he grew worse rather than 
better. His head began to ache very severely. A 
burning fever spread through his veins. He tot- 
tered in his walk, and his rifle seemed so heavy that 


he could scarcely bear its weight. He was toiling 
through a dark and gloomy ravine, damp and cold, 
and thrown into shade by the thick foliage of the 
overhanging trees. So far as he knew, no human 
habitation was near. Night was approaching. He 
could go no farther. He had no food ; but he did 
not need any, for a deathly nausea oppressed him. 
Utterly exhausted, he threw himself down upon the 
grass and withered leaves, on a small dry mound 
formed by the roots of a large tree. 

Crockett had no wish to die. He clung very 
tenaciously to life, and yet he was very apprehen- 
sive that then and there he was to linger through 
a few hours of pain, and then die, leaving his 
unburied body to be devoured by wild beasts, and 
his friends probably forever ignorant of his fate. 
Consumed by fever, and agitated by these painful 
thoughts, he remained for an hour or two, when he 
heard the sound of approaching footsteps and of 
human voices. His sensibilities were so stupefied 
by his sickness that these sounds excited but little 

Soon three or four Indians made their appearance 
walking along the narrow trail in single file. They 
saw the prostrate form of the poor, sick white man, 
and immediately gathered around him. The rifle of 
Crockett, and the powder and bullets which he had, 


were, to these Indians, articles of almost inestimable 
value. One blow of the tomahawk would send the 
helpless man to realms where rifles and ammunition 
were no longer needed, and his priceless treasures 
would fall into their hands. Indeed, it was not 
necessary even to strike that blow. They had but 
to pick up the rifle, and unbuckle the belt which 
contained the powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and 
leave the dying man to his fate. 

But these savages, who had never read our 
Saviour's beautiful parable of the good Samaritan, 
acted the Samaritan's part to the white man whom 
they found in utter helplessness and destitution. 
They kneeled around him, trying to minister to his 
wants. One of them had a watermelon. He cut 
from it a slice of the rich and juicy fruit, and 
entreated him to eat it. But his stomach rejected 
even that delicate food. 

They then, by very expressive signs, told him 
that if he did not take some nourishment he would 
die and be buried there " a thing," Crockett writes, 
" I was confoundedly afraid of, myself." Crockett 
inquired how far it was to any house. They sig- 
nified to him, by signs, that there was a white man's 
cabin about a mile and a half from where they then 
were, and urged him to let them conduct him to 
that house. He rose to make the attempt. But 


he was so weak that he could with difficulty stand, 
and unsupported could not walk a step. 

One of these kind Indians offered to go with him ; 
and relieving Crockett of the burden of his rifle, and 
with his strong arm supporting and'half carrying him, 
at length succeeded in getting him to the log hut 
of the pioneer. The shades of night were falling. 
The sick man was so far gone that it seemed to 
him that he could scarcely move another step. A 
woman came to the door of the lowly hut and 
received them with a woman's sympathy. There 
was a cheerful fire blazing in one corner, giving 
quite a pleasing aspect to the room. In another 
corner there was a rude bed, with bed-clothing of 
the skins of animals. Crockett's benefactor laid 
him tenderly upon the bed, and leaving him in the 
charge of his countrywoman, bade him adieu, and 
hastened away to overtake his companions. 

" What a different world would this be from what 
it has been, did the spirit of kindness, manifested 
by this poor Indian, universally animate human 
hearts ! 

" O brother man ! fold to thy heart thy brother : 
Where pity dwells the peace of God is there ; 
To worship rightly is to love each other, 

Each smile -a. hymn, each kindly word a prayer." 

The woman's husband was, at the time, absent. 


But she carefully nursed her patient, preparing for 
him some soothing herb-tea. Delirium came, and 
for several hours, Crockett, in a state of unconscious- 
ness, dwelt in the land of troubled dreams. The 
next morning he was a little more comfortable, but 
still in a high fever, and often delirious. 

It so happened that two white men, on an ex- 
ploring tour, as they passed along the trail, met the 
Indians, who informed them that one of their sick 
countrymen was at a settler's cabin at but a few 
miles' distance. With humanity characteristic of a 
new and sparsely settled country they turned aside 
to visit him. They proved to be old acquaintances 
of Crockett. He was so very anxious to get back 
to the camp where he had left his companions, and 
who, knowing nothing of his fate, must think it very 
strange that he had thus deserted them, that they, 
very reluctantly, in view of his dangerous condition, 
consented to help him on his way. 

They made as comfortable a seat as they could, 
of blankets and skins, which they buckled on the 
neck of one of the horses just before the saddle. 
Upon this Crockett was seated. One of the men 
then mounted the saddle behind him, threw both 
arms around the patient, and thus they commenced 
their journey. The sagacious horse was left to pick 
out his own way along the narrow trail at a slow 


foot-pace. As the horse thus bore a double burden, 
after journeying an hour or two, Crockett's seat was 
changed to the other horse. Thus alternating, the 
painful journey of nearly fifty miles was accom- 
plished in about two days. 

When they reached the camp, Crockett, as was 
to have been expected, was in a far worse condition 
than when they commenced the journey. It was 
evident that he was to pass through a long run 
of fever, and that his recovery was very doubtful. 
His companions could not thus be delayed. They 
had already left Frazier, one of their company, per- 
haps to die of the bite of a venomous snake ; and 
now they were constrained to leave Crockett, per- 
haps to die of malarial fever. 

They ascertained that, at the distance of a few 
miles from them, there was another log cabin in 
the wilderness. They succeeded in purchasing a 
couple of horses, and in transporting the sick man 
to this humble house of refuge. Here Crockett was 
left to await the result of his sickness, unaided by 
any medical skill. Fortunately he fell into the 
hands of a family who treated him with the utmost 
kindness. For a .fortnight he was in delirium, and 
knew nothing of what was transpiring around him. 

Crockett was a very amiable man. Even the 
delirium of disease developed itself in kindly words 


and grateful feelings. He always won the love of 
those around him. He did not miss delicacies and 
luxuries of which he had never known anything. 
Coarse as he was when measured by the standard 
of a higher civilization, he was not coarse at all in the 
estimation of the society in the midst of which he 
moved. In this humble cabin of Jesse Jones, with 
all its aspect of penury, Crockett was nursed with 
brotherly and sisterly kindness, and had every alle- 
viation in his sickness which his nature craved. 

The visitor to Versailles is shown the magnificent 
apartment, and the regal couch, with its gorgeous 
hangings, upon which Louis XIV., the proudest 
and most pampered man on earth, languished and 
died. Crockett, on his pallet in the log cabin, with 
unglazed window and earthern floor, was a far less 
unhappy man, than the dying monarch surrounded 
with regal splendors. 

At the end of a fortnight the patient began 
slowly to mend. His emaciation was extreme, and 
his recovery very gradual. After a few weeks he 
was able to travel. He was then on a route where 
wagons passed over a rough road, teaming the arti- 
cles needed in a new country. Crockett hired a wag- 
oner to give him a seat in his wagon and to convey 
him to the wagoner's house, which was about twenty 
miles distant. Gaining strength by the. way, wher 


he arrived there he hired a horse of the wagoner, 
and set out for home. 

Great was the astonishment of his family upon 
his arrival, for they had given him up as dead. The 
.neighbors who set out on this journey with him 
had returned and so reported ; for they had been 
misinformed. They told Mrs. Crockett that they 
had seen those who were with him when he died, 
and had assisted in burying him. 

Still the love of change had not been dispelled 
from the bosom of Crockett. He did not like 
the place where he resided. After spending a few 
months at home, he set out, in the autumn, upon 
another exploring tour. Our National Government 
had recently purchased, of the Chickasaw Indians, a 
large extent of territory in Southern Tennessee. 
Crockett thought that in those new lands he would 
find the earthly paradise of which he was in search. 
The region was unsurveyed, a savage wilderness, and 
there were no recognized laws and no organized 
government there. 

Crockett mounted his horse, lashed his rifle to 
his back, filled his powder-horn and bullet-pouch, 
and journeying westward nearly a hundred miles, 
through pathless wilds whose solitudes had a pecu- 
liar charm for him, came to a romantic spot, called 
Shoal Creek, in what is now Giles County, in the 


extreme southern part of Tennessee. He found 
other adventurers pressing into the new country, 
where land was abundant and fertile, and could be 
had almost for nothing. 

Log cabins were rising in all directions, in what 
they deemed quite near neighborhood, for they 
were not separated more than a mile or two from 
each other. Crockett, having selected his location 
on the banks of a crystal stream, summoned, as was 
the custom, some neighbors to his aid, and speedily 
constructed the cabin, of one apartment, to shield 
his family from the wind and the rain. Moving 
with such a family is not a very arduous undertaking. 
One or two pack-horses convey all the household 
utensils. There are no mirrors, bedsteads, bureaus, 
or chairs to be transported. With an auger and a 
hatchet, these articles are soon constructed in their 
new home. The wife, with the youngest child, rides. 
The husband, with his rifle upon his shoulder, and 
followed by the rest of the children, trudges along 
on foot. 

Should night or storm overtake them, an hour's 
work would throw up a camp, with a cheerful fire in 
front, affording them about the same comforts which 
they enjoyed in the home they had left. A little 
meal, baked in the ashes, supplied them with 
bread. And during the journey of the day thr 


rifle of the father would be pretty sure to pick up 
some game to add to the evening repast. 

Crockett and his family reached their new home 
in 'safety. Here quite a new sphere of life opened 
before the adventurer, and he became so firmly set- 
tled that he remained in that location for three 
years. In the mean time, pioneers from all parts 
were rapidly rearing their cabins upon the fertile 
territory, which was then called The New Purchase. 

The Justice of Peace and the Legislator. 

Vagabondage. Measures of Protection. Measures of Government. 
Crockett's Confession. A Candidate for Military Honors. 
Curious Display of Moral Courage. The Squirrel Hunt. A 
Candidate for the Legislature. Characteristic Electioneering. 
Specimens of his Eloquence. Great pecuniary Calamity. Expe- 
dition to the Far West. Wild Adventures. The Midnight 
Carouse. A Cabin Reared. 

THE wealthy and the prosperous are not dis- 
posed to leave the comforts of a high civilization for 
the hardships of the wilderness. Most of the pio- 
neers who crowded to the New Purchase were either 
energetic young men who had their fortunes to make, 
or families who by misfortune had encountered im- 
poverishment. But there was still another class. 
There were the vile, the unprincipled, the despe- 
rate ; vagabonds seeking whom they might devour ; 
criminals escaping the penalty of the laws which 
they had violated. 

These were the men who shot down an Indian 
at sight, as they would shoot a wolf, merely for the 
fun of it ; who robbed the Indian of his gun and 
game, burned his wigwam, and atrociously insulted 


his wife and daughters. These were the men whom 
no law could restrain ; who brought disgrace upon 
the name of a white man, and who often provoked 
the ignorant savage to the most dreadful and indis- 
criminate retaliation. 

So many of these infamous men flocked to this 
New Purchase that life there became quite unde- 
sirable. There were no legally appointed officers of 
justice, no organized laws. Every man did what 
was pleasing in his own sight. There was no col- 
lecting of debts, no redress for violence, no punish- 
ment for cheating or theft. 

Under these circumstances, there was a general 
gathering of the well-disposed inhabitants of the 
cabins scattered around, to adopt some measures 
for their mutual protection. Several men were ap- 
pointed justices of peace, with a set of resolute 
young men, as constables, to execute their commis- 
sions. These justices were invested with almost 
dictatorial power. They did not pretend to know 
anything about written law or common law. They 
were merely men of good sound sense, who could 
judge as to what was right in all ordinary inter- 
course between man and man. 

A complaint would be entered to Crockett that 
one man owed another money and refused to pay 
him. Crockett would send his constables to arrest 


the man, and bring him to his cabin. Aftei hearing 
both parties, if Crockett judged the debt to be justly 
due, and that it could be paid, he would order the 
man's horse, cow, rifle, or any other property he 
owned, to be seized and sold, and the debt to be 
paid. If the man made any resistance he would be 
very sure to have his cabin burned down over his 
head ; and he would be very lucky if he escaped a 
bullet through his own body. 

One of the most common and annoying crimes 
committed by these desperadoes was shooting an 
emigrant's swine. These animals, regarded as so 
invaluable in a new country, each had its owner's 
mark, and ranged the woods, fattening upon acorns 
and other nuts. Nothing was easier than for a lazy 
man to wander into the woods, shoot one of these 
animals, take it to his cabin, devour it there, and ob- 
literate all possible traces of the deed. Thus a large 
and valuable herd would gradually disappear. This 
crime was consequently deemed to merit the most 
severe punishment. It was regarded as so disgrace- 
ful that no respectable man was liable to suspicion. 

The punishment for the crime was very severe, 
and very summary. If one of these swine-thieves 
was brought before Justice Crockett, and in his 
judgment the. charge was proved against him, th<" 
sentence was 


"Take the thief, strip off his shirt, tie him to a 
tree, and give him a severe flogging. Then burn 
down his cabin, and drive him out of the country/' 

There was no appeal from this verdict, and no 
evading its execution. Such was the justice which 
prevailed, in this remote region, until the Legisla- 
ture of Alabama annexed the territory to Giles 
County, and brought the region under the dominion 
of organized law. Crockett, who had performed his 
functions to the entire satisfaction of the community, 
then was legally appointed a justice of peace, and 
became fully entitled to the appellation of esquire. 
He certainly could not then pretend to any pro- 
found legal erudition, for at this time he could 
neither read nor write. 

Esquire Crockett, commenting upon this trans- 
action, says, " I was made a Squire, according to 
law ; though now the honor rested more heavily 
upon me than before. For, at first, whenever I 
told my constable, says I, ' Catch that fellow, and 
bring him up for trial,' away he went, and the fellow 
must come, dead or alive. For we considered this 
a good warrant, though it was only in verbal writing. 

" But a ter I was appointed by the Assembly, 
they told me that my warrants must be in real 
writing and signed ; and that I must keep a book 
and write my proceedings in it. This was a hard 


business on me, for I could just barely write my 
own name. But to do this, and write the warrants 
too, was at least a huckleberry over my persimmon. 
I had a pretty well informed constable, however, 
and he aided me very much in this business. In- 
deed, I told him, when he should happen to be out 
anywhere, and see that a warrant was necessary, 
and would have a good effect, he needn't take the 
trouble to come all the way to me to get one, but 
he could just fill out one ; and then, on the trial, I 
could correct the whole business if he had commit- 
ted any error. 

" In this way I got on pretty well, till, by care 
and attention, I improved my handwriting in such a 
manner as to be able to prepare my warrants and 
keep my record-books without much difficulty. My 
judgments were never appealed from ; and if they 
had been, they would have stuck like wax, as I gave 
my decisions on the principles of common justice 
and honesty between man and man, and relied on 
natural-born sense, and not on law-learning, to guide 
me ; for I had never read a page in a law-book in all 
my life." 

Esquire Crockett was now a rising man. He 
was by no means diffident. With strong native 
sense, imperturbable self-confidence, a memory 
almost miraculously stored with rude anecdotes, and 


an astonishing command of colloquial and slang lan- 
guage, he was never embarrassed, and never at a 
loss as to what to say or to do. 

They were about getting up a new regiment of 
militia there, and a Captain Mathews, an ambitious, 
well-to-do settler, with cribs full of corn, was a can- 
didate for the colonelship. He came to Crockett to 
insure -his support, and endeavored to animate him 
to more cordial cooperation by promising to do 
what he could to have him elected major of the regi- 
ment. Esquire Crockett at first declined, saying 
that he was thoroughly disgusted with all military 
operations, and that he had no desire for any such 
honors. But as Captain Mathews urged the ques- 
tion, and Crockett reflected that the office would 
give him some additional respect and influence with 
his neighbors, and that Major Crockett was a very 
pleasantly sounding title, he finally consented, and, 
of course, very soon became deeply interested in the 

Captain Mathews, as an electioneering measure, 
invited all his neighbors, far and near, to a very 
magnificent corn-husking frolic. There was to be a 
great treat on the occasion, and " all the world," as 
the French say, were eager to be there. Crockett 
and his family were of course among the invited 
guests. When Crockett got there he found an im- 


mense gathering, all in high glee, and was informed, 
much to his surprise and chagrin, that Captain 
Mathews's son had offered himself for the office of 
major, in opposition to Crockett. 

The office had, in reality, but few charms for 
Crockett, and he did not care much for it. But this 
unworthy treatment roused ' his indignation. He 
was by nature one of the most frank and open- 
hearted of men, and never attempted to do anything 
by guile. Immediately he called Captain Mathews 
aside, and inquired what this all meant. The Cap- 
tain was much embarrassed, and made many lame 
excuses, saying that he would rather his son would 
run against any man in the county than against 
Squire Crockett. 

"You need give yourself no uneasiness about 
that," Crockett replied. " I care nothing for the 
office of major ; I shall not allow my name to be 
used against your son for that office. But I shall 
do everything in my power to prevent his father 
from being colonel." 

In accordance with the custom of the region and 
the times, after the feasting and the frolicking, Cap- 
tain Mathews mounted a stump, and addressed the 
assembly in what was appropriately called a stump 
speech, advocating his election. 

The moment he closed, Squire Crockett mounted 


the stump, and on the Captain's own grounds, ad- 
dressing the Captain's guests, and himself one of 
those guests, totally unabashed, made his first stump 
speech. He was at no loss for words or ideas. He 
was full to the brim of fun. He could, without any 
effort, keep the whole assembly in roars of laughter. 
And there, in the presence of Captain Mathews and 
his family, he argued his total unfitness to be the 
commander of a regiment. 

It is to be regretted that there was no reporter 
present to transmit to us that speech. It must have 
been a peculiar performance. It certainly added 
much to Crockett's reputation as an able man and 
an orator. When the election came, both father 
and son were badly beaten. Soon after, a commit- 
tee waited upon Crockett, soliciting him to stand as 
candidate for the State Legislature, to represent the 
two "counties of Lawrence and Hickman. 

Crockett was beginning to be ambitious. He 
consented. But he had already engaged to take a 
drove of horses from Central Tennessee to the lower 
part of North Carolina. This was a long journey, 
and going and coming would take three months. 
He set out early in March, 1821. Upon his return 
in June, he commenced with all zeal his electioneer- 
ing campaign. Characteristically he says: 

" It was a bran-fire new business to me. It now 


became necessary that I should tell the people 
something about the Government, and an eternal 
sight of other things that I know'd nothing more 
about than I did about Latin, and law, and such 
things as that. I have said before, that in those 
days none of us called General Jackson the Govern- 
ment. But I know'd so little about it that if any 
one had told me that he was the Government, I 
should have believed it ; for I had never read even a 
newspaper in my life, or anything else on the subject." 

Lawrence County bounded Giles County on 
the west. Just north of Lawrence came Hickman 
County. Crockett first directed his steps to Hick- 
man County, to engage in his " bran-fire " new work 
of electioneering for himself as a candidate for the 
Legislature. What ensued cannot be more graph- 
ically told than in Crockett's own language : 

" Here they told me that they wanted to move 
their town nearer to the centre of the county, and I 
must come out in favor of it. There's no devil if I 
know'd what this meant, or how the town was to be 
moved. And so I kept dark, going on the identical 
same plan that I now find is called non-committal. 

" About this time there was a great squirrel- 
hunt, on Duck River, which was among my people. 
They were to hunt two days ; then to meet and 
count the scalps, and have a big barbecue, and what 


might be called a tip-top country frolic. The dinner 
and a general treat was all to be paid for by the 
party having taken the fewest scalps. I joined one 
side, and got a gun ready for the hunt. I killed a 
great many squirrels, and when we counted scalps 
my party was victorious. 

"The company had everything to eat and drink 
that could be furnished in a new country ; and 
much fun and good humor prevailed. But before 
the regular frolic commenced, I was called on to 
make a speech as a candidate, which was a business 
I was as ignorant of as an outlandish negro. 

"A public document I had never seen. How 
to begin I couldn't tell. I made many apologies, 
and tried to get off, for I know'd I had a man to run 
against who could speak prime. And I know'd, too, 
that I wasn't able to cut and thrust with him. He 
was there, and knowing my ignorance as well as I 
did myself, he urged me to make a speech. The 
truth is, he thought my being a candidate was a 
mere matter of sport, and didn't think fora moment 
that he was in any danger from an ignorant back- 
woods bear-hunter. 

" But I found I couldn't get off. So I deter- 
mined to go ahead, and leave it to chance what I 
should say. I got up and told the people I reckon'd 
"they know'd what I had come for ; but if not, I could 


tell them. I had come for their votes, and if they 
didn't watch mighty close I'd get them too. But 
the worst of all was, that I could not tell them any- 
thing about Government. I tried to speak about 
something, and I cared very little what, until I 
choked up as bad as if my mouth had been 
jamm'd and cramm'd chock - full of dry mush. 
There the people stood, listening all the while, with 
their eyes, mouths, and ears all open to catch every 
word I could speak. 

" At last I told them I was like a fellow I had 
heard of not long before. He was beating on the 
head of an empty barrel on the roadside, when a 
traveller, who was passing along, asked him what he 
was doing that for ? The fellow replied that there 
was some cider in that barrel a few days before, and 
he was trying to see if there was any then ; but if 
there was, he couldn't get at it. I told them that 
there had been a little bit of a speech in me a while 
ago, but I believed I couldn't get it out. 

" They all roared out in a mighty laugh, and I 
told some other anecdotes, equally amusing to them, 
and believing I had them in a first-rate way, I 
quit and got down, thanking the people for their 
attention. But I took care to remark that I was as 
dry as a powder-horn, and that I thought that it 
was time for us all to wet our whistles a little. And 


so I put off to a liquor-stand, and was followed by 
the greater part of the crowd. 

" I felt certain this was necessary, for I know'd 
my competitor could talk Government matters to 
them as easy as he * pleased. He had, however, 
mighty few left to hear him, as I continued with 
the crowd, now and then taking a horn, and telling 
good-humored stories till he was done speaking. I 
found I was good for the votes at the hunt ; and 
when we broke up I went on to the town of Vernon, 
which was the same they wanted me to move. 
Here they pressed me again on the subject. I 
found I could get either party by agreeing with 
them. But I told them I didn't know whether it 
would be right or not, and so couldn't promise either 

This famous barbecue was on Saturday. The 
next Monday the county court held its session at 
Vernon. There was a great gathering of the pio- 
neers from all parts of the county. The candidates 
for the Governor of the State, for a representa- 
tive in Congress, and for the State Legislature, were 
all present. Some of these men were of considera- 
ble ability, and certainly of very fluent speech. The 
backwoodsmen, from their huts, where there were 
no books, no newspapers, no intelligent companion- 
ship, found this a rich intellectual treat. Their 


minds were greatly excited as they listened to the 
impassioned and glowing utterances of speaker after 
speaker ; for many of these stump orators had 
command of a rude but very effective eloquence. 

Crockett listened also, with increasing anxiety. 
He knew that his turn was to come ; that. he must 
mount the stump and address the listening throng. 
He perceived that he could not speak as these men 
were speaking ; and perhaps for the first time in his 
life began to experience some sense of inferiority. 
He writes : 

" The thought of having to make a speech made 
my knees feel mighty weak, and set my heart to 
fluttering almost as bad as my first love-scrape with 
the Quaker's niece. But as good luck would have 
it, these big candidates spoke nearly all day, and 
when they quit the people were worn out with 
fatigue, which afforded me a good apology /or 
not discussing the Government. But I listened 
mighty close to them, and was learning pretty fast 
about political matters. When they were all done, 
I got up and told some laughable story, and quit. 
I found I was safe in those parts ; and so I went 
home, and did not go back again till after the elec- 
tion was over. But to cut this matter short, I was 
elected, doubling my competitor, and nine votes 


" A short time after this, I was at Pulaski, where 
I met with Colonel Polk, now a member of Congress 
from Tennessee.* He was at that time a member 
elected to the Legislature, as well as myself. In a 
large company he said to me, ' Well, Colonel, I sup- 
pose we shall have a radical change of the judiciary 
at the next session of the Legislature.' ' Very 
likely, sir,' says I. And I put out quicker, for I was 
afraid some one would ask me what the judiciary 
was; and if I know'd I wish I may be shot. I don't 
indeed believe I had ever before heard that there 
was any such thing in all nature. But still I was 
not willing that the people there should know how 
ignorant I was about it." 

At length the day arrived for the meeting of 
the Legislature. Crockett repaired to the seat of 
government. With all his self-complacency he 
began to appreciate that he had much to learn. 
The two first items of intelligence which he deemed 
it important that he, as a member of the Legisla- 
ture, should acquire, were the meaning of the words 
government and judiciary. By adroit questioning 
and fixed thought, he ere long stored up those in- 
tellectual treasures. Though with but little capa- 
city to obtain knowledge from books, he became an 

* Subsequently President of the United States. 


earnest student of the ideas of his fellow-legislators 
as elicited in conversation or debate. Quite a heavy 
disaster, just at this time, came upon Crockett. We 
must again quote his own words, for it is our wish, 
in this volume, to give the reader a correct idea of 
the man. Whatever Crockett says, ever comes fresh 
from his heart. He writes : 

" About this time I met with a very severe mis- 
fortune, which I may be pardoned for naming, as it 
made a great change in my circumstances, and kept 
me back very much in the world. I had built an ex- 
tensive grist-mill and powder-mill, all connected 
together, and also a large distillery. They had cost 
me upward of three thousand dollars ; more than I 
was worth in the world. The first news that I 
heard, after I got to the Legislature, was that my 
mills were all swept to smash by a large freshet that 
came soon after I left home. 

" I had, of course, to stop my distillery, as my 
grinding was broken up. And indeed I may say 
that the misfortune just made a complete mash of 
me. I had some likely negroes, and a good stock of 
almost everything about me, and, best of all, I had 
an honest wife. She didn't advise me, as is too 
fashionable, to smuggle up this, and that, and 
t'other, to go on at home. But she told me, says 
she, ' Just pay up as long as you have a bit's worth 


in the world ; and then everybody will be satisfied, 
and we will scuffle for more.' 

" This was just such talk as I wanted to hear, for 
a man's wife can hold him devilish uneasy if she 
begins to scold and fret, and perplex him, at a time 
when he has a full load for a railroad car on his 
mind already. And so, you see, I determined not 
to break full-handed, but thought it better to keep 
a good conscience with an empty purse, than to get 
a bad opinion of myself with a full one. I therefore 
gave up all I had, and took a bran-fire new start." 

Crockett's legislative career was by no means 
brilliant, but characteristic. He was the fun-maker 
of the house, and, like Falstaff, could boast that he 
was not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in 
others. His stories were irresistibly comic ; but 
they almost always contained expressions of profan- 
ity or coarseness which renders it impossible for us 
to transmit them to these pages. He was an inimi- 
table mimic, and had perfect command of a Dutch- 
man's brogue. One of the least objectionable of his 
humorous stories we will venture to record. 

There were, he said, in Virginia, two Dutchmen, 
brothers, George and Jake Fulwiler. They were 
both well to do in the world, and each owned a 
grist-mill. There was another Dutchman near by, 
by the name of Henry Snyder. He was a mono- 


maniac, but a harmless man, occasionally thinking 
himself to be God. He built a throne, and would 
often sit upon it, pronouncing judgment upon 
others, and also upon himself. He would send 
the culprits to heaven or to hell, as his humor 

One day he had a little difficulty with the two 
Fialvvilers. He took his seat upon his throne, and 
in imagination summoning the culprits before him, 
thus addressed them : 

" Shorge Fulwiler, stand up. What hash you 
been doin in dis lower world ? " 

" Ah! Lort, ich does not know." 

" Well, Shorge Fulwiler, hasn't you got a mill ? " 

" Yes, Lort, ich hash." 

" Well, Shorge Fulwiler, didn't you never take 
too much toll?" 

"Yes, Lort, ich hash ; when der water wash low, 
and mein stones wash dull, ich take leetle too much 

" Well, den, Shorge Fulwiler, you must go to der 
left mid der goats." 

" Well, Shake Fulwiler, now you stand up. What 
hash you been doin in dis lower world ? " 

" Ah ! Lort, ich does not know." 

" Well, Shake Fulwiler, hasn't you got a mill?" 

" Yes, Lort, ich hash." 


" Well, Shake Fulwiler, hasn't you never taken 
too much toll?" 

" Yes, Lort, ich hash ; when der water wash low, 
and mein stones wash dull, ich take leetle too much 

" Well, den, Shake Fulwiler, you must go to der 
left mid der goats." 

" Now ich try meinself. Henry Snyder, Henry 
Snyder, stand up. What hash you bin doin in dis 
lower world ? " 

" Ah, Lort, ich does not know." 

" Well, Henry Snyder, hasn't you got a mill?" 

" Yes, Lort, ich hash." 

" Well, Henry Snyder, didn't you never take too 
much toll? " 

" Yes, Lort, ich hash ; when der water wash low, 
and mein stones wash dull, ich hash taken leetle too 
much toll." 

" But, Henry Snyder, vat did you do mid der 
toll ? " 

" Ah, Lort, ich gives it to der poor." 

The judge paused for a moment, and then said, 
" Well, Henry Snyder, you must go to der right 
mid der sheep. But it is a tight squeeze." 

Another specimen of his more sober forensic elo- 
quence is to be found in the following speech. 
There was a bill before the house for the creation 


of a new county, and there was a dispute about the 
boundary-line. The author of the bill wished to 
run the line in a direction which would manifestly 
promote his own interest. Crockett arose and said : 

" Mr. Speaker : Do you know what that man's 
bill reminds me of? Well, I s'pose you don't, so I'll 
tell you. Well, Mr. Speaker, when I first came to 
this country a blacksmith was a rare thing. But 
there happened to be one in my neighborhood. He 
had no striker ; and whenever one of the neighbors 
wanted any work done, he had to go over and strike 
until his work was finished. These were hard times, 
Mr. Speaker, but we had to do the best we could. 

" It happened that one of my neighbors wanted 
an axe. So he took along with him a piece of iron, 
and went over to the blacksmith's to strike till his 
axe was done. The iron was heated, and my neigh- 
bor fell to work, and was striking there nearly all 
day ; when the blacksmith concluded that the iron 
wouldn't make an axe, but 'twould make a fine 

" So my neighbor, wanting a mattock, concluded 
that he would go over and strike till the mattock 
was done. Accordingly he went over the next day, 
and worked faithfully. But toward night the black- 
smith concluded his iron wouldn't make a mattock, 
but 'twould make a fine ploughshare. 


" So my neighbor, wanting a ploughshare, agreed 
that he would go over the next day and strike till 
that was done. Accordingly he went over, and fell 
hard at work. But toward night the blacksmith 
concluded his iron wouldn't make a ploughshare, 
but 'twould make a fine skow. So my neighbor, 
tired of working, cried, ' A skow let it be ; ' and 
the blacksmith, taking up the red-hot iron, threw it 
into a trough of hot water near him, and as it fell 
in, it sung out skow. And this, Mr. Speaker, will be 
the way of that man's bill /or a county. He'll keep 
you all here, doing nothing, and finally his bill will 
turn up a skow ; now mind if it don't." 

At this time, Crockett, by way of courtesy, was 
usually called colonel, as with us almost every 
respectable man takes the title of esquire. One 
of the members offended Colonel Crockett by speak- 
ing disrespectfully of him as from the back woods, 
or, as he expressed it, the gentleman from the cane. 
Crockett made a very bungling answer, which did 
not satisfy himself. After the house adjourned, he 
very pleasantly invited the gentleman to take a 
walk with him. They chatted very sociably by the 
way, till, at the distance of about a mile, they reached 
a very secluded spot, when the Colonel, turning to 
"his opponent, said : 

" Do you know what I brought you here for ?" 


" No," was the reply. 

" Well," added the Colonel, " I brought you 
here for the express purpose of whipping you ; and 
now I mean to do it." 

" But," says the Colonel, in recording the event, 
" the fellow said he didn't mean anything, and kept 
'pologizing till I got into good humor." 

They walked back as good friends as ever, and 
no one but themselves knew of the affair. 

After the adjournment of the Legislature, 
Crockett returned to his impoverished home. The 
pecuniary losses he had encountered, induced him to 
make another move, and one for which it is difficult 
to conceive of any adequate motive. He took his 
eldest son, a boy about eight years of age, and a 
young man by the name of Abram Henry, and 
with one pack-horse to carry their blankets and 
provisions, plunged into the vast wilderness west 
of them, on an exploring tour, in search of a new 

Crockett and the young man shouldered their 
rifles. Day after day the three trudged along, ford- 
ing streams, clambering hills, wading morasses, and 
threading ravines, each night constructing a frail 
shelter, and cooking by their camp-fire such game 
as they had taken by .the way. 

After traversing these almost pathless wilds a 


hundred and fifty miles, and having advanced 
nearly fifty miles beyond any white settlement, they 
reached the banks of a lonely stream, called Obion 
River, on the extreme western frontier of Tennessee. 
This river emptied into the Mississippi but a few 
miles from the spot where Crockett decided to rear 
his cabin. His nearest neighbor was seven miles 
distant, his next fifteen, his next twenty. 

About ten years before, that whole region had 
been convulsed by one of the most terrible earth- 
quakes recorded in history. One or two awful 
hurricanes had followed the earthquake, prostrating 
the gigantic forest, and scattering the trees in all 
directions. Appalling indications remained of the 
power expended by these tremendous forces of 
nature. The largest forest-trees were found split 
from their roots to their tops, and lying half on 
each side of a deep fissure. The opening abysses, 
the entanglement of the prostrate forest, and the 
dense underbrush which had sprung up, rendered 
the whole region almost impenetrable. The country 
was almost entirely uninhabited. It had, however, 
become quite celebrated as being the best hunting- 
ground in the West. The fear of earthquakes and the 
general desolation had prevented even the Indians 
from rearing their wigwams there. Consequently 
wild animals had greatly increased. The country 


was filled with bears, wolves, panthers, deer, elks, 
and other smaller game. 

The Indians had recently made this discovery, 
and were, in ever-increasing numbers, exploring the 
regions in hunting-bands. Crockett does not seem 
to have had much appreciation of. the beautiful. 
In selecting a spot for his hut, he wished to be near 
some crystal stream where he could get water, and 
to build his hut upon land sufficiently high to be 
above the reach of freshets. It was also desirable 
to find a small plain or meadow free from trees, 
where he could plant his corn ; and to be in the 
edge of the forest, which would supply him with 
abundance of fuel. Crockett found such a place, 
exactly to his mind. Being very fond of hunting, 
he was the happiest of men. A lew hours' labor 
threw up a rude hut which was all the home he 
desired. His rifle furnished him with food, and 
with the skins of animals for bed and bedding. 
Every frontiersman knew how to dress the skin of 
deer for moccasins and other garments. With a 
sharpened stick he punched holes through the rank 
sod, and planted corn, in soil so rich that it would 
return him several hundred-fold. 

Thus his tastes, such as they were, were grati- 
fied, and he enjoyed what to him were life's luxu- 
ries. He probably would not have been willing to 


exchange places with the resident in the most costly 
mansion in our great cities. In a few days he got 
everything comfortable around him. Crockett's 
cabin, or rather camp, was on the eastern side of 
the Obion River. Seven miles farther up the stream, 
on the western bank, a Mr. Owen had reared his 
log house. One morning, Crockett, taking the young 
man Henry and his son with him, set out to visit 
Mr. Owen, his nearest neighbor. He hobbled his 
horse, leaving him to graze until he got back. 

They followed along the banks of the river, 
through the forest, until they reached a point 
nearly opposite Owen's cabin. By crossing the 
stream there, and following up the western bank, 
they would be sure to find his hut. Th'ere was no 
boat, and the stream must be swum or forded. 
Recent rains had caused it to overflow its banks 
and spread widely over the marshy bottoms and 
low country near by. The water was icy cold. And 
yet they took to it, says Crockett, " like so many 

The expanse to be crossed was very wide, and 
they knew not how deep they should find the 
channel. For some distance the water continued 
quite shoal. Gradually it deepened. Crockett led 
the way, with a pole in his hand. Cautiously he 
sounded the depth before him, lest they should fall 


into any slough. A dense growth of young trees 
covered the inundated bottom over which they 
were wading. Occasionally they came to a deep 
but narrow gully. Crockett, with his hatchet, 
would cut down a small tree, and by its aid would 

At length the water became so deep that 
Crockett's little boy had to swim, though they evi- 
dently had not yet reached the channel of the stream. 
Having waded nearly half a mile, they came to the 
channel. The stream, within its natural banks, 
was but about forty feet wide. Large forest-trees 
fringed the shores. One immense tree, blown 
down by the wind, reached about halfway across. 
Crocket, with very arduous labor with his hatchet, 
cut down another, so that it fell with the branches 
of the two intertwining. 

Thus aided they reached the opposite side. But 
still the lowlands beyond were overflowed as far 
as the eye could see through the dense forest. On 
they waded, for nearly a mile, when, to their great 
joy, they came in sight of dry land. Their garments 
were dripping and they were severely chilled as they 
reached the shore. But turning their steps up the 
stream, they soon came in sight of the cabin, which 
looked to them like a paradise of rest. It was one 
of the rudest of huts. The fenceless grounds around 


were rough and ungainly. The dismal forest, which 
chanced there to have escaped both earthquake and 
hurricane, spread apparently without limits in all 

Most men, most women, gazing upon a scene so 
wild, lonely, cheerless, would have said, " Let me 
sink into the grave rather than be doomed to such a 
home as that." But to Crockett and his companions 
it presented all the attractions their hearts could 
desire. Mr. Owen and several other men were just 
starting away from the cabin, when, to their surprise, 
they saw the party of strangers approaching. They 
waited until Crockett came up and introduced him- 
self. The men with Mr. Owen were boatmen, who 
had entered the Obion River from the Mississippi 
with a boat-load of articles for trade. They were 
just leaving to continue their voyage. 

Such men are seldom in a hurry. Time is to 
them of but very little value. Hospitality was a vir- 
tue which cost nothing. Any stranger, with his rifle, 
could easily pay his way in the procurement of food. 
They all turned back and entered the cabin toge- 
ther. Mrs. Owen was an excellent, motherly woman, 
about fifty years of age. Her sympathies were im- 
mediately excited for the poor little boy, whose gar- 
ments were drenched, and who was shivering as if in 
an ague-fit. She replenished the fire, dried his 


clothes, and gave him some warm and nourishing 
food. The grateful father writes: 

"Her kindness to my little boy did me ten times 
as much good as anything she could have done for 
me, if she had tried her best." 

These were not the days of temperance. The 
whiskey-bottle was considered one of the indispen- 
sables of every log cabin which made any pretences 
to gentility. The boat, moored near the shore, was 
loaded with whiskey, flour, sugar, hardware, and 
other articles, valuable in the Indian trade in the 
purchase of furs, and in great demand in the huts of 
pioneers. There was a small trading-post at what 
was called McLemone's Bluff, about thirty miles 
farther up the river by land, and nearly one hundred 
in following the windings of the stream. ' This point 
the boatmen were endeavoring to reach. 

For landing their cargo at this point the boat- 
men were to receive five hundred dollars, besides the 
profits of any articles they could sell in the scattered 
hamlets they might encounter by the way. The 
whiskey-bottle was of course brought out. Crockett 
drank deeply ; he says, at least half a pint. His 
tongue was unloosed, and he became one of the most 
voluble and entertaining of men. His clothes having 
been dried by the fire, and all having with boister- 
ous merriment partaken of a hearty supper, as night 


came on the little boy was left to the tender care of 
Mrs. Owen, while the rest of the party repaired to 
the cabin of the boat, to make a night of it in drink- 
ing and carousal. 

They had indeed a wild time. There was whis- 
key in abundance. Crockett was in his element, and 
kept the whole company in a constant roar. Their 
shouts and bacchanal songs resounded through the 
solitudes, with clamor and profaneness which must 
have fallen painfully upon angels' ears, if any of 
heaven's pure and gentle spirits were within hearing 

"We had," writes Crockett, "a high night of 
it, as I took steam enough to drive out all the cold 
that was in me, and about three times as much 

These boon companions became warm friends, 
according to the most approved style of backwoods 
friendship. Mr. Owen told the boatmen that a few 
miles farther up the river a hurricane had entirely 
prostrated the forest, and that the gigantic trees so 
encumbered the stream that he was doubtful whether 
the boat could pass, unless the water should rise 
higher. Consequently he, with Crockett and Henry, 
accompanied the boatmen up to that point to help 
them through, should it be possible to effect a pas- 
sage. But it was found impossible, and the boat 


dropped down again to its moorings opposite Mr. 
Owen's cabin. 

As it was now necessary to wait till the river 
should rise, the boatmen and Mr. Owen all con- 
sented to accompany Crockett to the place where he 
was to settle, and build his house for him. It seems 
very strange that, in that dismal wilderness, Crockett 
should not have preferred to build his cabin near so 
kind a neighbor. But so it was. He chose his lot 
at a distance of seven miles from any companion- 

" And so I got the boatmen," he writes, " all to 
go out with me to where I was going to settle, and 
we slipped up a cabin in little or no time. I got 
from the boat four barrels of meal, one of salt, and 
about ten gallons of whiskey." 

For these he paid in labor, agreeing to accom- 
pany the boatmen up the river as far as their land- 
ing-place at McLemone's Bluff. 


Life on the Obion. 

Hunting Adventures. The Voyage up the River. Scenes in the 
Cabin. Return Home. Removal of the Family. Crockett's 
Riches. A Perilous Enterprise. Reasons for his Celebrity. 
Crockett's Narrative. A Bear-Hunt. Visit to Jackson. Again 
a Candidate for the Legislature. Electioneering and Election. 

THE next day after building the cabin, to which 
Crockett intended to move his family, it began to 
rain, as he says, " rip-roariously." The river rapidly 
rose, and the boatmen were ready to resume their 
voyage. Crockett stepped out into the forest and 
shot a deer, which he left as food for Abram Henry 
and his little boy, who were to remain in the cabin 
until his return. He expected to be absent six or 
seven days. The stream was very sluggish. By 
poling, as it was called, that is, by pushing the boat 
with long poles, they reached the encumbrance 
caused by the hurricane, where they stopped for the 

In the morning, as soon as the day dawned, 
Crockett, thinking it impossible for them to get 
through the fallen timber that day, took his rifle 


and went into the forest in search of game. He had 
gone but a short distance when he came across a 
fine buck. The animal fell before his unerring aim, 
and, taking the prize upon his shoulders, he com- 
menced a return to the boat. 

He had not proceeded far before he came upon 
the fresh tracks of a herd of elks. The temptation 
to follow their trail was to a veteran hunter irresist- 
ible. He threw down his buck, and had not gone 
far before he came upon two more bucks, very 
large and splendid animals. The beautiful creatures, 
though manifesting some timidity, did not seem dis- 
posed to run, but, with their soft, womanly eyes, 
gazed with wonder upon the approaching stranger. 
The bullet from Crockett's rifle struck between the 
eyes of one, and he -fell dead. The other, his com- 
panion, exhibited almost human sympathy. Instead . 
of taking to flight, he clung to his lifeless associate, 
looking down upon him as if some incomprehensible 
calamity had occurred. Crockett rapidly reloaded 
his rifle, and the other buck fell dead. 

He hung them both upon the limb of a tree, so 
that they should not be devoured by the wolves, 
and followed on in the trail of the elks. He did not 
overtake them until nearly noon. They were then 
beyond rifle-shot, and kept so, luring him on quite 
a distance. At length he saw two other fine bucks, 


both of which he shot. The intellectual culture 
of the man may be inferred from the following 
characteristic description which he gives of these 
events : 

" I saw two more bucks, very large fellows too. 
I took a blizzard at one of them, and up he tumbled. 
The other ran off a few jumps and stopped, and 
stood there until I loaded again and fired at him. 
I knocked his trotters from under him, and then I 
hung them both up. I pushed on again, and about 
sunset I saw three other bucks. I down'd with one 
of them, and the other two ran off. I hung this one 
up also, having killed six that day. 

" I then pushed on till I got to the hurricane, 
and at the lower edge of it, about where I expected 
the boat was. Here I hollered as hard as I could . 
roar, but could get no answer. I fired off my gun, 
and the men on the boat fired one too. But, quite 
contrary to my expectations, they had got through 
the timber, and were about two miles above me. 
It was now dark, and I had to crawl through the 
fallen timber the best way I could ; and if the 
reader don't know it was bad enough, I am sure I 
do. For the vines and briers had grown allthrough 
it, and so thick that a good fat coon couldn't much 
more than get along. I got through at last, and 
went on to near where I had killed my last deer, 


and once more fired off my gun, which was again 
answered from the boat, which was a little above 
me. I moved on as fast as I could, but soon came 
to water ; and not knowing how deep it was, I 
halted, and hollered till they came to me with a 
skiff. I now got to the boat without further diffi- 
culty. But the briers had worked on me at such a 
rate that I felt like I wanted sewing up all over. I 
took a pretty stiff horn, which soon made me feel 
much better. But I was so tired that I could 
scarcely work my jaws to eat." 

The next morning, Crockett took a young man 
with him and went out into the woods to bring in 
the game he had shot. They brought in two of the 
bucks, which afforded them all the supply of venison 
they needed, and left the others hanging upon the 
trees. The boatmen then pushed their way up the 
river. The progress was slow, and eleven toilsome 
days passed before they reached their destination. 
Crockett had now discharged his debt, and prepared 
to return to his cabin. There was a light skiff 
attached to the large flat-bottomed boat in which 
they had ascended the river. This skiff Crockett 
took, and, accompanied by a young man by the 
name of Flavius Harris, who had decided to go 
back with him, speedily paddled their way down the 
stream to his cabin. 


There were now four occupants of this lonely, 
dreary hut, which was surrounded by forests and 
fallen trees and briers and brambles. They all went 
to work vigorously in clearing some land for a corn- 
field, that they might lay in a store for the coming 
winter. The spring was far advanced, and the sea- 
son for planting nearly gone. They had brought 
some seed with them on their pack-horse, and they 
soon had the pleasure of seeing the tender sprouts 
pushing up vigorously through the luxuriant virgin 
soil. It was not necessary to fence their field. 
Crockett writes: 

"There was no stock nor anything else to disturb 
our corn except the wild varmints ; and the old ser- 
pent himself, with a fence to help him, couldn't keep 
them out." 

Here Crockett and his three companions remain- 
ed through the summer and into the autumn, until 
they could gather in their harvest of corn. During 
that time they lived, as they deemed, sumptuously, 
upon game. To kill a grizzly bear was ever consid- 
ered an achievement of which any hunter might 
boast. During the summer, Crockett killed ten of 
these ferocious monsters. Their flesh was regard- 
ed as a great delicacy. And their shaggy skins 
were invaluable in the cabin for beds and bedding. 
He also shot deer in great abundance. The smaller 


game he took, of fat turkeys, partridges, pigeons, etc., 
he did not deem worth enumerating. 

It was a very lazy, lounging, indolent life. 
Crockett could any morning go into the woods and 
shoot a deer. He would bring all the desirable parts 
of it home upon his shoulders, or he would take his 
pack-horse out with him for that purpose. At their 
glowing fire, outside of the cabin if the weather 
were pleasant, inside if it rained, they would cook 
the tender steaks. They had meal for corn bread ; 
and it will also be remembered that they had sugar, 
and ten gallons of whiskey. 

The deerskins were easily tanned into soft and 
pliant leather. They all knew how to cut these 
skins, and with tough sinews to sew them into hunt- 
ing-shirts, moccasins, and other needed garments. 
Sitting Indian-fashion on mattresses or cushions of 
bearskin, with just enough to do gently to interest 
the mind, with no anxiety or thought even about 
the future, they would loiter listlessly through the 
long hours of the summer days. 

Occasionally two or three Indians, on a hunting 
excursion, would visit the cabin. These Indians 
were invariably friendly. Crockett had no more 
apprehension that they would trouble him than he 
had that the elk or the deer would make a midnight 
attack upon his cabin. Not unfrequently they 


would have a visit from Mr. Owen's household ; or 
they would all go up to his hut for a carouse. Two 
or three times, during the summer, small parties 
exploring the country came along, and would rest 
a day or two under Crockett's hospitable roof. 
Thus with these men, with their peculiar habits and 
tastes, the summer probably passed away as pleas- 
antly as with most people in this world of care and 

Early in the autumn, Crockett returned to Cen- 
tral Tennessee to fetch his family to the new home. 
Upon reaching his cabin in Giles County, he was 
met by a summons to attend a special session of the 
Legislature. He attended, and served out his time, 
though he took but little interest in legislative 
affairs. His thoughts were elsewhere,' and he was 
impatient for removal, before cold weather should 
set in, to his far-distant home. 

Late in October he set out with his little family 
on foot, for their long journey of one hundred and 
fifty miles through almost a pathless forest. His 
poverty was extreme. But the peculiar character 
of the man was such that he did net seem to regard 
that at all. Two pack-horses conveyed all their 
household goods. Crockett led the party, with a 
child on one arm and his rifle on the other. He 
walked gayly along, singing as merrily as the birds. 


Half a dozen dogs followed him. Then came the 
horses in single file. His wife and older children, 
following one after the other in single file along 
the narrow trail, closed up the rear. It was a very 
singular procession, thus winding its way, thrdligh 
forest and moor, over hills and prairies, to the silent 
shores of the Mississippi. The eventful journey was 
safely accomplished, and he found all things as he 
had left them. A rich harvest of golden ears was 
waving in his corn-field ; and his comfortable cabin, 
in all respects as comfortable as the one he had 
left, was ready to receive its inmates. 

He soon gathered in his harvest, and was thus 
amply supplied with bread for the winter. Fuel, 
directly at his hand, was abundant, and thus, as we 
may say, his coal-bin was full. Game of every kind, 
excepting buffaloes, was ranging the woods, which 
required no shelter or food at his expense, and 
from which he could, at pleasure, select any variety 
of the most delicious animal food he might desire. 
Thus his larder was full to repletion. The skins of 
animals furnished them with warm and comfortable 
clothing, easily decorated with fringes and some 
bright coloring, whose beauty was tasteful to every 
eye. Thus the family wardrobe was amply stored. 
Many might have deemed- Crockett a poor man. 
He regarded himself as one of the lords of creation. 


Christmas was drawing nigh. It may be doubt- 
. ed whether Crockett had the slightest appreciation 
of the sacred character of that day which commemo- 
rates the advent of the Son of God to suffer and die 
for the sins of the world. With Crockett it had 
ever been a day of jollification. He fired salutes 
with his rifle. He sung his merriest songs. He 
told his funniest stories. He indulged himself in 
the highest exhilaration which whiskey could in- 

As this holiday approached, Crockett was much 
troubled in finding that his powder was nearly 
expended, and that he had none " to fire Christmas 
guns." This seemed really to annoy him more 
than that he had none to hunt with. 

In the mean time, a brother-in-law had moved 
to tli at region, and had reared his cabin at a distance 
of six miles from the hut of David Crockett, on the 
western bank of Rutherford's Fork, one of the tribu- 
taries of Obion River. He had brought with him a 
keg of powder for Crockett, which had not yet been 

The region all around was low and swampy. 
The fall rains had so swollen the streams that vast 
extents of territory were inundated. All the river- 
bottoms were covered 'with water. The meadows 
which lined the Obion, where Crocket*- would have 


t6 pass, were so flooded, that it was all of a mile 
from shore to shore. 

The energy which Crockett displayed on the 
difficult and perilous journey, illustrates those re- 
markable traits of character which have given him 
such wide renown. There must be something very 
extraordinary about a man which can make his 
name known throughout a continent. And of the 
forty millions of people in the United States, there 
is scarcely one, of mature years, who has not heard 
the name of David Crockett. 

When Crockett told his wife that he had decided 
to go to his brother's for the powder, she earnestly 
remonstrated, saying that it was at the imminent 
hazard of his life. The ground was covered with 
snow. He would have to walk at least a mile 
through icy water, up to his waist, and would proba- 
bly have to swim the channel. He then, with drip- 
ping clothes, and through the cold wintry blast, 
would have to walk several miles before he could 
reach his brother's home. Crockett persisted in his 
determination, saying, " I have no powder for 
Christmas, and we are out of meat." 

He put on some woollen wrappers and a pair of 
deerskin moccasins. He then tied up a small bun- 
dle of clothes, with shoes and stockings, which he 
might exchange for his dripping garments when he 


should reach his brother's cabin. I quote from his 
own account of the adventure. 

" I didn't before know how much a person could 
suffer and not die. The snow was about four inches 
deep when I started. And when I got to the water, 
which was only about a quarter of a mile off, it looked 
like an ocean. I put in, and waded on till I came to 
the channel, where I crossed that on a high log. 
I then took water again, having my gun and all my 
hunting tools along, and waded till I came to a deep 
slough, that was wider than the river itself. I had 
often crossed it on a log ; but behold, when I got 
there no log was to be seen. 

" I know'd of an island in the slough, and a sap- 
ling stood on it close to the side of that log, which 
was now entirely under water. I know'd further, 
that the water was about eight or ten feet deep 
under the log, and I judged it to be three feet deep 
over it. After studying a little what I should do, I 
determined to cut a forked sapling, which stood near 
me, so as to lodge it against the one that stood on 
the island. In this I succeeded very well. I then 
cut me a pole, and then crawled along on my sap- 
ling till I got to the one it was lodged against, which 
was about six feet above the water. 

" I then felt about with the pole till I found the 
log, which was just about as deep under the water 


as I had judged. I then crawled back and got my 
gun, which I had left at the stump of the sapling I 
had cut, and again made my way to the place of 
lodgment, and then climbed down the other sapling 
so as to get on the log. I felt my way along with 
my feet in the water about waist-deep, but it was a 
mighty ticklish business. However, I got over, and 
by this time I had very little feeling in my feet and 
legs, as I had been all the time in the water, except 
what time I was crossing the high log over the river 
and climbing my lodged sapling. 

" I went but a short distance when I came to 
another slough, over which there was a log, but it was 
floating on the water. I thought I could walk it, so I 
mounted on it. But when I had got about the mid- 
dle of the deep water, somehow or somehow else, it 
turned over, and in I went up to my head. I waded 
out of this deep water, and went ahead till I came 
to the highland, where I stopped to pull of my wet 
clothes, and put on the others which I held up with 
my gun above water when I fell in." 

This exchanging of his dripping garments for 
dry clothes, standing in the snow four inches deep, 
and exposed to the wintry blast, must have been a 
pretty severe operation. Hardy as Crockett was, 
he was so chilled and numbed by the excessive cold 
that his flesh had scarcely any feeling. He tied his 


wet clothes together and hung them up on the limb 
of a tree, to drip and dry. He thought he would 
then set out on the full run. and endeavor thus to 
warm himself by promoting the more rapid circula- 
tion of his blood. But to his surprise he could 
scarcely move. With his utmost exertions he could 
not take a step more than six inches in length. 
He had still five miles to walk, through a rough, 
pathless forest, encumbered with snow. 

By great and painful effort he gradually recov- 
ered the use of his limbs, and toiling along for two or 
three hours, late in the evening was cheered by seeing 
the light of a bright fire shining through the chinks 
between the logs of his brother's lonely cabin. He 
was received with the utmost cordiality. Even his 
hardy pioneer brother listened with astonishment to 
the narrative of the perils he had surmounted and 
the sufferings he had endured. After the refresh- 
ment of a warm supper, Crockett wrapped himself 
in a bearskin, and lying down upon the floor, with 
his feet to the fire, slept the sweet, untroubled sleep 
of a babe. In the morning he awoke as well as ever, 
feeling no bad consequences from the hardships of 
the preceding day. 

The next morning a freezing gale from the north 
wailed through the snow-whitened forest, and the 
cold was almost unendurable. The earnest per- 


suasions of his brother and his wife induced him to 
remain with them for the day. But, with his accus- 
tomed energy, instead of enjoying the cosey comfort 
of the fireside, he took his rifle, and went out into 
the woods, wading the snow and breasting the gale. 
After the absence of an hour or two, he returned 
tottering beneath the load of two deer, which he 
had shot, and which he brought to the cabin on his 
shoulders. Thus he made a very liberal contribu- 
tion to the food of the family, so that his visit was 
a source of profit to them, not of loss. 

All the day, and during the long wintry night, 
the freezing blasts blew fiercely, and the weather 
grew more severely cold. The next morning his 
friends urged him to remain another day. They all 
knew that the water would be frozen over, but not 
sufficiently hard to bear his weight, and this would 
add greatly to the difficulty and the danger of his 
return. It seemed impossible that any man could 
endure, on such a day, fording a swollen stream, a 
mile in breadth, the water most of the way up to his 
waist, in some places above his head, and breaking 
the ice at every step. The prospect appalled even 
Crockett himself. He therefore decided to remain 
till the next morning, though he knew that his 
family would be left in a state of great anxiety. He 
hoped that an additional day and night might so add 


to the thickness of the ice that it would bear his 

He therefore shouldered his musket and again 
went into the woods on a hunt. Though he saw an 
immense bear, and followed him for some distance, 
he was unable to shoot him. After several hours' 
absence, he returned empty-handed. 

Another morning dawned, lurid and chill, over 
the gloomy forest. Again his friends entreated him 
not to run the risk of an attempt to return in such 
fearful weather. " It was bitter cold," he writes, 
" but I know'd my family was without meat, and I 
determined to get home to them, or die a-trying." 

We will let Crockett tell his own story of his 
adventures in going back : 

" I took my keg of powder and all my hunting 
tools and cut out. When I got to the water, it was 
a sheet of ice as far as I could see. I put on to it, 
but hadn't got far before it broke through with me ; 
and so I took out my tomahawk, and broke my way 
along before me for a considerable distance. 

" At last I got to where the ice would bear me 
for a short distance, and I mounted on it and went 
ahead. But it soon broke in again, and I had to 
wade on till I came to my floating log. I found it 
so tight this time, that I know'd it couldn't give me 
another fall, as it was frozen in with the ice. I 


crossed over it without much difficulty, and worked 
along till I came to my lodged sapling and my log 
under the water. 

" The swiftness of the current prevented the 
water from freezing over it ; and so I had to wade, 
just as I did when I crossed it before. When I got 
to my sapling, I left my gun, and climbed out with 
my powder-keg first, and then went back and got 
my gun. By this time, I was nearly frozen to death ; 
but I saw all along before me where the ice had 
been fresh broke, and I thought it must be a bear 
struggling about in the water. I therefore fresh- 
primed my gun, and, cold as I was, I was determined 
to make war on him if we met. But I followed the 
trail till it led me home. Then I found that it had 
been made by my young man that lived with me, 
who had been sent by my distressed wife to see, if 
he could, what had become of me, for they all be-r 
lieved that I was dead. When I got home, I wasn't 
quite dead, but mighty nigh it ; but had my pow- 
der, and that was what I went for." 

The night after Crockett's return a heavy rain 
fell, which, toward morning, turned to sleet. But 
there was no meat in the cabin. There were at that 
time three men who were inmates of that lowly hut 
Crockett, a young man, Flavius Harris, who had 
taken up his abode with the pioneer, and a brother- 


in-law, who had recently emigrated to that wild 
country, and had reared his cabin not far distant 
from Crockett's. They all turned out hunting. 
Crockett, hoping to get a bear, went up the river into 
the dense and almost impenetrable thickets, where 
the gigantic forest had been swept low by the hurri- 
cane. The other two followed down the stream in 
search of turkeys, grouse, and such small game. 

Crockett took with him three dogs, one of which 
was an old hound, faithful, sagacious, but whose 
most vigorous days were gone. The dogs were 
essential in hunting bears. By their keen scent they 
would find the animal, which fact they would an- 
nounce to the hunter by their loud barking. Imme- 
diately a fierce running fight would ensue. By this 
attack the bear would be greatly retarded in his 
flight, so that the hunter could overtake him, and 
he would often be driven into a tree, where the un- 
erring rifle-bullet would soon bring him down. 

The storm of sleet still raged, and nothing could 
be more gloomy than the aspect of dreariness and 
desolation which the wrecked forest presented with 
its dense growth of briers and thorns. Crockett 
toiled through the storm and the brush about six 
miles up the river, and saw nothing. He then 
crossed over, about four miles, to another stream. 
Still no garne appeared. The storm was growing 


more violent, the sleet growing worse and worse. 
Even the bears sought shelter from the pitiless 
wintry gale. The bushes were all bent down with 
the ice which clung to their branches, and were so 
bound together that it was almost impossible for 
any one to force his way through them. 

The ice upon the stream would bear Crockett's 
weight. He followed it down a mile or two, when 
his dogs started up a large flock of turkeys. He 
shot two of them. They were immensely large, fat, 
and heavy. Tying their legs together, he slung 
them over his shoulder, and with this additional 
burden pressed on his toilsome way. Ere long he 
became so fatigued that he was compelled to sit 
down upon a log to rest. 

Just then his dogs began to bark furiously. He 
was quite sure that they had found a bear. Eagerly 
he followed the direction they indicated, as fast as 
he could force his way along. To his surprise he 
found that the three dogs had stopped near a large 
tree, and were barking furiously at nothing. But as 
soon as they saw him approaching they started 
off again, making the woods resound with their 
baying. Having run about a quarter of a mile, 
he could perceive that again they had stopped. 
When Crockett reached them there was no game 
in sight. The dogs, barking furiously again, as 


soon as they saw him approaching plunged into the 

For a third time, and a fourth time, this was 
repeated. Crockett could not understand what it 
meant. Crockett became angry at being thus de- 
ceived, and resolved that he would shoot the old 
hound, whom he considered the ringleader in the 
mischief, as soon as he got near enough to do so. 

" With this intention," he says, " I pushed on 
the harder, till I came to the edge of' an open 
prairie ; and looking on before my dogs, I saw about 
the biggest bear that ever was seen in America. 
He looked, at the distance he was from me, like a 
large black bull. My dogs were afraid to attack 
him, and that was the reason they had stopped so 
often that I might overtake them." 

This is certainly a remarkable instance of animal 
sagacity. The three dogs, by some inexplicable 
conference among themselves, decided that the 
enemy was too formidable for them to attack alone. 
They therefore summoned their master to their aid. 
As soon as they saw that he was near enough to 
lend his cooperation, then they fearlessly assailed 
the monster. 

The sight inspired Crockett with new life. 
Through thickets, briers, and brambles they all 
rushed bear, dogs, and hunter. At length, the 


shaggy monster, so fiercely assailed, climbed for 
refuge a large black-oak tree, and sitting among the 
branches, looked composedly down upon the dogs 
barking fiercely at its foot. Crockett crept up within 
about eighty yards, and taking deliberate aim at his 
breast, fired. The bullet struck and pierced the 
monster directly upon the spot at which it was 
aimed. The bear uttered a sharp cry, made a convul- 
sive movement with one paw, and remained as before 

Speedily Crockett reloaded his rifle, and sent 
another bullet to follow the first. The shaggy brute 
shuddered in every, limb, and then tumbled head- 
long to the icy ground. Still he was not killed. 
The dogs plunged upon him, and there was a tre- 
mendous fight. The howling of the bear, and the 
frenzied barking of the dogs, with their sharp cries 
of pain as the claws of the monster tore their flesh, 
and the deathly struggle witnessed as they rolled 
over and over each other in the fierce fight, pre- 
sented a terrific spectacle. 

Crockett hastened to the aid of his dogs. As 
soon as the bear saw him approach, he forsook the 
inferior, and turned with all fury upon the superior 
foe. Crockett was hurrying forward with his toma- 
hawk in one hand and his big butcher-knife in the 
other, when the bear, with eyes flashing fire, rushed 
upon him. Crockett ran back, seized his rifle, and 


with a third bullet penetrated the monster's brain, 
and he fell dead. The dogs and their master seem- 
ed to rejoice alike in their great achievement. 

By the route which Crockett had pursued, he 
was about twelve miles from home. Leaving the 
huge carcass where the animal had fallen, he en- 
deavored to make a straight line through the forest 
to his cabin. That he might find his way back 
again, he would, at every little distance, blaze, as it 
was called, a sapling, that is, chip off some of the 
bark with his hatchet. When he got within a mile 
of home this was no longer necessary. 

The other two men had already returned to the 
cabin. As the wolves might devour the valuable 
meat before morning, they all three set out imme- 
diately, notwithstanding their fatigue and the still 
raging storm, and taking with them four pack- 
horses, hastened back to bring in their treasure. 
Crockett writes : 

" We got there just before dark, and struck a 
fire, and commenced butchering my bear. It was 
some time in the night before we finished it. And 
I can assert, on my honor, that I believe he would 
have weighed six hundred pounds. It was the sec- 
ond largest I ever saw. I killed one, a few years 
after, that weighed six hundred and seventeen 
pounds. I now felt fully compensated for my suf- 


ferings in going hack after my powder ; and well sat- 
isfied that a dog might sometimes be doing a good 
business, even when he seemed to be barking up the 
wrong tree. 

" We got our meat home, and I had the pleasure 
to know that we now had a plenty, and that of the 
best ; and I continued through the winter to supply 
my family abundantly with bear-meat, and venison 
from the woods." 

In the early spring, Crockett found that he had a 
large number of valuable skins on hand, which he 
had taken during the winter. About forty miles 
southeast from Crockett's cabin, in the heart of 
Madison County, was the thriving little settlement 
of Jackson. Crockett packed his skins on a horse, 
shouldered his rifle, and taking his hardy little son 
for a companion, set off there to barter his peltries 
for such articles of household use as he could con- 
vey back upon his horse. The journey was accom- 
plished with no more than the ordinary difficulties. 
A successful trade was effected, and with a rich 
store of coffee, sugar, powder, lead, and salt, the 
father and son prepared for their return. 

Crockett found there some of his old fellow-sol- 
diers of the Creek War. When all things were ready 
for a start, he went to bid adieu to his friends and to 
take a parting dram with them. There were three 


men present who were candidates for the State Le- 
gislature. While they were having a very merry time, 
one, as though uttering a thought which had that 
moment occurred to him, exclaimed, " Why, Crockett, 
you ought to offer yourself for the Legislature for 
your district." Crockett replied, " I live at least 
forty miles from any white settlement." Here the 
matter dropped. 

About ten days after Crockett's return home, a 
stranger, passing along, stopped at Crockett's cabin 
and told him that he was a candidate for Legislature, 
and took from his pocket a paper, and read to him 
the announcement of the fact. There was some- 
thing in the style of the article which satisfied 
Crockett that there was a little disposition to make 
fun of him ; and that his nomination was intended as 
a' burlesque. This roused him, and he resolved to 
put in his claim with all his zeal. He consequently 
hired a man to work upon his farm, and set out on 
an electioneering tour. 

Though very few people had seen Crockett, he 
had obtained very considerable renown in that com- 
munity of backwoodsmen as a great bear-hunter. 
Dr. Butler, a man of considerable pretensions, and, 
by marriage, a nephew of General Jackson, w r as the 
rival candidate, and a formidable one. Indeed, he 
and his friends quite amused themselves with the 


idea that " the gentleman from the cane," as they 
contemptuously designated Crockett, could be so 
infatuated as to think that there was the least chance 
for him. The population of that wilderness region 
was so scarce that the district for which a repre- 
sentative was to be chosen consisted of eleven 

A great political gathering was called, which was 
to be held in Madison County, which was the strong- 
est of them all. Here speeches were to be made by 
the rival candidates and their friends, and election- 
eering was to be practised by all the arts customary 
in that rude community. The narrative of the events 
which ensued introduces us to a very singular state 
of society. At the day appointed there was a large 
assembly, in every variety of backwoods costume, 
among the stumps and the lowly cabins of Jackson. 
Crockett mingled with the crowd, watching events, 
listening to everything which was said, and keeping 
himself as far as possible unknown. 

Dr. Butler, seeing a group of men, entered among 
them, and called for whiskey to treat them all. The 
Doctor had once met Crockett when a few weeks be- 
fore he had been in Jackson selling his furs. He 
however did not recognize his rival among the crowd. 
As the whiskey was passing freely around, Crockett 
thought it a favorable moment to make himself 


known, and to try his skill at an electioneering speech. 
He was a good-looking man, with a face beaming 
with fun and smiles, and a clear, ringing voice. He 
jumped upon a stump and shouted out, in tones 
which sounded far and wide, and which speedily 
gathered all around him. 

"Hallo! Doctor Butler; you don't know me, 
do you ? But I'll make you know me mighty well 
before August. I see they have weighed you out 
against me. But I'll beat you mighty badly." 

Butler pleasantly replied, " Ah, Colonel Crockett, 
is that you ? Where did you come from ? " 

Crockett rejoined, " Oh, I have just crept out 
from the cane, to see what discoveries I could make 
among the white folks. You think you have greatly 
the advantage of me, Butler. 'Tis true I live forty 
miles from any settlement. I am poor, and you are 
rich. You see it takes two coonskins here to buy 
a quart. But I've good dogs, and my little boys at 
home will go to their death to support my election. 
They are mighty industrious. They hunt every 
night till twelve o'clock. It keeps the little fellows 
mighty busy to keep me in whiskey. When they 
gets tired, I takes my rifle and goes out and kills a 
wolf, for which the State pays me three dollars. So 
one way or other I keeps knocking along." 

Crockett perhaps judged correctly that the can- 


didate who could furnish the most whiskey would 
get the most votes. He thus adroitly informed these 
thirsty men of his readiness and his ability to furnish 
them with all the liquor they might need. Strange 
as his speech seems to us, it was adapted to the oc- 
casion, and was received with roars of laughter and 
obstreperous applause. . 

" Well, Colonel," said Dr. Butler, endeavoring to 
clothe his own countenance with smiles, " I see you 
can beat me electioneering." 

"My dear fellow," shouted out Crockett, "you 
don't call this electioneering, do you ? When you 
see me electioneering, I goes fixed for the purpose. 
I've got a suit of deer-leather clothes, with two big 
pockets. So I puts a bottle of whiskey in one, and a 
twist of tobacco in t'other, and starts out. Then, if 
I meets a friend, why, I pulls out my bottle and 
gives him a drink. He'll be mighty apt, before^he 
drinks, to throw away his tobacco. So when he's 
done, I pulls my twist out of t'other pocket and 
gives him a chaw. I never likes to leave a man worse 
off than when I found him. If I had given him a 
drink and he had lost his tobacco, he would not 
have made much. But give him tobacco, and a drink 
too, and you are mighty apt to get his vote." 

With such speeches as these, interlarded with 
*un and anecdote, and a liberal supply of whiskey. 


Crockett soon made himself known through all the 
grounds, and he became immensely popular. The 
backwoodsmen regarded him as their man, belong- 
ing to their class and representing their interests. 

Dr. Butler was a man of some culture, and a lit- 
tle proud and overbearing in his manners. He had 
acquired what those poor men deemed considerable 
property. He lived in a framed house, and in his best 
room he had a rug or carpet spread over the middle 
of the floor. This carpet was a luxury which many 
of the pioneers had never seen or conceived of. 
The Doctor, standing one day at his window, saw 
several persons, whose votes he desired, passing 
along, and he called them in to take a drink. 

There was a table in the centre of the room, with 
choice liquors upon it. The carpet beneath the 
table covered only a small portion of the floor, leav- 
ing on each side a vacant space around the room. 
The men cautiously walked around this space, ^with- 
out daring to put their feet upon the carpet. After 
many solicitations from Dr. Butler, and seeing him 
upon the carpet, they ventured up to the table and 
drank. They, however, were under great restraint, 
and soon left, manifestly not pleased with their 

Calling in at the next log house to which they 
came, they found there one of Crockett's warm 


friends. They inquired of him what kind of a man 
the great bear-hunter was, and received in reply that 
he was a first-rate man, one of the best hunters in 
the world ; that he was not a bit proud ; that he 
lived in a log cabin, without any glass for his win- 
dows, and with the earth alone for his floor. 

"Ah!" they exclaimed with one voice, "he's 
the fellow for us. We'll never give our votes for 
such a proud man as Butler. He called us into his 
house to take a drink, and spread down one of his 
best bed-quilts for us to walk on. It was nothing 
but a piece of pride." 

The day of election came, and Crockett was 
victorious by a majority of two hundred and forty- 
seven votes. Thus he found himself a second time 
a member of the Legislature of the State of Ten- 
nessee, and with a celebrity which caused all eyes to 
be turned toward " the gentleman from the cane." 


Adventures in the Forest, on the River, and 
in the City. 

The Bear Hunter's Story. Service in the Legislature. Candidate 
for Congress. Electioneering. The New Speculation. Disas- 
trous Voyage. Narrow Escape. New Electioneering Exploits. 
Odd Speeches. The Visit to Crockett's Cabin. His Politi- 
cal Views. His Honesty. Opposition to Jackson. Scene at 
Raleigh. Dines with the President. Gross Caricature. His 

CROCKETT was very fond of hunting-adventures, 
and told stories of these enterprises in a racy way, 
peculiarly characteristic of the man. The following 
narrative from his own lips, the reader will certainly 
peruse with much interest. 

" I was sitting by a good fire in my little cabin, 
on a cool November evening, roasting potatoes I 
believe, and playing with my children, when some 
one halloed at the fen.ce. I went out, and there 
were three strangers, who said they come to take an 
elk-hunt. I was glad to see 'em, invited 'em in, 
and after supper we cleaned our guns. I took down 
old Betsey, rubbed her up, greased her, and laid 


her away to rest. She is a mighty rough old piece, 
but I love her, for she and I have seen hard times. 
She mighty seldom tells me a lie. If I hold her 
right, she always sends the ball where I tell her. 
After we were all fixed, I told 'em hunting-stories 
till bedtime. 

" Next morning was clear and cold, and by times 
I sounded my horn, and my dogs came howling 
'bout me, ready for a chase. Old Rattler was a 
little lame a bear bit him in the shoulder; but 
Soundwell, Tiger, and the rest of 'em were all 
mighty anxious. We got a bite, and saddled our 
horses. I went by to git a neighbor to drive for us, 
and off we started for the Harricane. My dogs 
looked mighty wolfish ; they kept jumping on one 
another and growling. I knew they were run mad 
for a fight, for they hadn't had one for two or three 
days. We were in fine spirits, and going 'long 
through very open woods, when one of the strangers 
said, ' I would give my horse now to see a bear.' 

"Said I, ' Well, give me your horse,' and I point- 
ed to an old bear, about three or four hundred yards 
ahead of us, feeding on acorns. 

" I had been looking at him some time, but he was 
so far off, I wasn't certain what it was. However, 
I hardly spoke before we all strained off, and the 
woods fairly echoed as we harked the dogs on. The 


old bear didn't want to run, and he never broke till 
we got most upon him ; but then he buckled for 
it, I tell you. When they overhauled him he just 
rared up on his hind legs, and he boxed the dogs 
'bout at a mighty rate. He hugged old Tiger and 
another, till he dropped 'em nearly lifeless ; but the 
others worried him, and after a while they all come 
to, and they give him trouble. They are mighty 
apt, I tell you, to give a bear trouble before they 
leave him. 

" 'Twas a mighty pretty fight 'twould have done 
any one's soul good to see it, just to see how they 
all rolled about. It was as much as I could do 
to keep the strangers from shooting him ; but I 
wouldn't let 'em, for fear they would kill some of 
my dogs. After we got tired seeing 'em fight, I 
went in among 'em, and the first time they got him 
down I socked my knife in the old bear. We then 
hung him up, and went on to take our elk-hunt. 
You never seed fellows so delighted as them stran- 
gers was. Blow me, if they didn't cut more capers, 
jumping about, than the old bear. 'Twas a mighty 
pretty fight, but I believe I seed more fun looking 
at them than at the bear. 

" By the time we got to the Harricane, we were 
all rested, and ripe for a drive. My dogs were in a 
better humor, for the fight had just taken off the 


wiry edge. So I placed the strangers at the stands 
through which I thought the elk would pass, sent 
the driver way up ahead, and I went down below. 

" Everything was quiet, and I leaned old Betsey 
'gin a tree, and laid down. I s'pose I had been 
lying there nearly an hour, when I heard old Tiger 
open. He opened once or twice, and old Rattler 
gave a long howl ; the balance joined in, and I 
knew the elk were up. I jumped up and seized my 
rifle. I could hear nothing but one continued roar 
of all my dogs, coming right towards me. Though 
I was an old hunter, the music made my hair stand 
on end. Soon after they first started, I heard one 
gun go off, and my dogs stopped, but not long, for 
they took a little tack towards where I had placed 
the strangers. One of them fired, and they dashed 
back, and circled round way to my left. I run down 
'bout a quarter of a mile, and I heard my dogs make 
a bend like they were coming to me. While I was 
listening, I heard the bushes breaking still lower 
down, and started to run there. 

" As I was going 'long, I seed two elks burst out 
of the Harricane 'bout one hundred and thirty or 
forty yards below me. There was an old buck and 
a doe. I stopped, waited till they got into a clear 
place, and as the old fellow made a leap, I raised 
old Bet, pulled trigger, and she spoke out. The 


smoke blinded me so, that I couldn't see what I 
did ; but as it cleared away, I caught a glimpse of 
only one of them going through the bushes ; so I 
thought I had the other. I went up, and there lay 
the old buck kicking. I cut his throat, and by 
that time, Tiger and two of my dogs came up. I 
thought it singular that all my dogs wasn't there, 
and I began to think they had killed another. 
After the dogs had bit him, and found out he was 
dead, old Tiger began to growl, and. curled himself 
up between his legs. Everything had to stand off 
then, for he wouldn't let the devil himself touch 

" I started off to look for the strangers. My 
two dogs followed me. After gitting away a piece, 
I looked back, and once in a while I could see old 
Tiger git up and shake the elk, to see if he was 
really dead, and then curl up between his legs agin. 
I found the strangers round a doe elk the driver had 
killed ; and one of 'em said he was sure he had killed 
one lower down. I asked him if he had horns. He 
said he didn't see any. I put the dogs on where he 
said he had shot, and they didn't go fur before they 
came to a halt. I went up, and there lay a fine 
buck elk ; and though his horns were four or five 
feet long, the fellow who shot him was so scared 
that he never saw them. We had three elk, and a 


bear ; and we managed to git it home, then butch- 
ered our game, talked over our hunt, and had a glori- 
ous frolic." 

Crockett served in the Legislature for two years, 
during which time nothing occurred of special inter- 
est. These were the years of 1823 and 1824. Colo- 
nel Alexander was then the representative, in the Na- 
tional Legislature, of the district in which Crockett 
lived. He had offended his constituents by voting 
for the Tariff. It was proposed to run Crockett for 
Congress in opposition to him. Crockett says : 

" I told the people that I could not stand that. 
It was a step above my knowledge ; and I know'd 
nothing about Congress matters." 

They persisted ; but he lost the election ; for 
cotton was very high, and Alexander urged that it 
was in consequence of the Tariff. Two years passed 
away, which Crockett spent in the wildest adven- 
tures of hunting. He was a true man of the woods, 
with no ambition for any better home than the log 
cabin he occupied. There was no excitement so 
dear to him as the pursuit and capture of a grizzly 
bear. There is nothing on record, in the way of 
hunting, which surpasses the exploits of this renown- 
ed bear-hunter. But there is a certain degree of 
sameness in these narratives of skill and endurance 
which would weary the reader. 


In the fall of 1825, Crockett built two large flat- 
boats, to load with staves for the making of casks, 
which he intended to take down the river to market. 
He employed a number of hands in building the 
boat and splitting out the staves, and engaged him- 
self in these labors "till the bears got fat." He 
then plunged into the woods, and in two weeks 
killed fifteen. The whole winter was spent in hunt- 
ing with his son and his dogs. His workmen con- 
tinued busy getting the staves, and when the rivers 
rose with the spring floods, he had thirty thousand 
ready for the market. 

With this load he embarked for New Orleans. 
His boats without difficulty floated down the Obion 
into the majestic Mississippi. It was the first time 
he had seen the rush of these mighty waters. 
There was before him a boat voyage of nearly fifteen 
hundred miles, through regions to him entirely un- 
known. In his own account of this adventure he 
writes : 

" When I got into the Mississippi I found all 
my hands were bad scared. In fact, I believe I was 
scared a little the worst of any ; for I had never been 
down the river, and I soon discovered that my pilot 
was as ignorant of the business as myself. I hadn't 
gone far before I determined to lash the two boats 
together. We did so ; but it made them so heavy 


and obstinate that it was next akin to impossible to 
do any thing at all with them, or to guide them 
right in the river. 

" That evening we. fell in company with some 
Ohio boats, and about night we tried to land, but 
we could not. The Ohio men hollered to us to go 
on and run all night. We took their advice, though 
we had a good deal rather not. But we couldn't 
do any other way. In a short distance we got into 
what is called the Devil's Elbow. And if any place 
in the wide creation has its own proper name I 
thought it was this. Here we had about the hard- 
est work that I was ever engaged in in my life, to 
keep out of danger. And even then we were in it 
all the while. We twice attempted to land at 
Wood Yards, which we could see, but couldn't 

" The people would run out with lights, and try 
to instruct us how to get to shore ; but all in vain. 
Our boats were so heavy that we could not take 
them .much any way except the way they wanted to 
go, and just the way the current would carry them. 
At last we quit trying to land, and concluded just 
to go ahead as well as we could, for we found v 
couldn't do any better. 

" Some time in the night I was down in the cabi. 
of one of the boats, sitting by the fire, thinking o 


what a hobble we had got into ; and how much 
better bear-hunting was on hard land, than floating 
along on the water, when a fellow had to go ahead 
whether he was exactly willing or not. The hatch- 
way of the cabin came slap down, right through the 
top of the boat ; and it was the only way out, except 
a small hole in the side which we had used for put- 
ting our arms through to dip up water before we 
lashed the boats together. 

" We were now floating sideways, and the boat I 
was in was the hindmost as we went. All at once I 
heard the hands begin to run over the top of the 
boat in great confusion, and pull with all their might. 
And the first thing I know'd after this we went 
broadside full tilt against the head of an island, 
where a large raft of drift timber had lodged. The 
nature of such a place would be, as everybody knows, 
to suck the boats down and turn them right under 
this raft ; and the uppermost boat would, of course, 
be suck'd down and go under first. As soon as we 
struck, I bulged for my hatchway, as the boat was 
turning under sure enough. But when I got to it, 
the water was pouring through in a current as large 
as the hole would let it, and as strong as the weight 
of the river would force it. I found I couldn't get 
out here, for the boat was now turned down in such 
a way that it was steeper than a house-top. I now 


thought of the hole in the side, and made my wa^ 
in a hurry for that. 

" With difficulty I got to it, and when I got there, 
I found it was too small for me to get out by my 
own power, and I began to think that I was in a 
worse box than ever. But I put my arms through, 
and hollered as loud as I could roar, as the boat I 
was in hadn't yet quite filled with water up to my 
head ; and the hands who were next to the raft, see- 
ing my arms out, and hearing me holler, seized 
them, and began to pull. I told them I was sink- 
ing, and to pull my arms off, or force me through, for 
now I know'd well enough it was neck or nothing, 
come out or sink. 

" By a violent effort they jerked me through ; but 
I was in a pretty pickle when I got through. I had 
been sitting without any clothing over my shirt ; 
this was torn off, and ! was literally skinn'd like a 
rabbit. I was, however, well pleased to get out in 
any way, even without shirt or hide ; as before I 
could straighten myself on the boat next to the raft, 
the one they pull'd me out of went entirely under, 
and I have never seen it any more to this day. We 
all escaped on to the raft, where we were compelled 
to sit all night, about a mile from land on either side. 
Four of my company were bareheaded, and three 
barefooted ; and of that number I was one. I reckon 


I looked like a pretty cracklin ever to get to Con- 
gress ! 

" We had now lost all our loading, and every par- 
ticle of our clothing, except what little we had on : 
but over all this, while I was sitting there, in the 
night, floating about on the drift, I felt happier and 
better off than I ever had in my life before, for I had 
just made such a marvellous escape, that I had for- 
got almost everything else in that ; and so I felt 

" In the morning about sunrise, we saw a boat 
coming down, and we hailed her. They sent a large 
skiff, and took us all on board, and carried us down 
as far as Memphis. Here I met with a friend, that 
I never can forget as long as I am able to go ahead 
at anything ; it was a Major Winchester, a merchant 
of that place ; he let us all have hats, and shoes, and 
some little money to go upon, and so we all parted. 

" A young man and myself concluded to go on 
down to Natchez, to see if we could hear anything 
of our boats ; for we supposed they woVild float out 
from the raft, and keep on down the river. We got 
on a boat at Memphis, that was going down, and so 
cut out. Our largest boat, we were informed, had 
been seen about fifty miles below where we stove, 
and an attempt had been made to land her, but 
without success, as she was as hard-headed as ever. 


" This was the last of my boats, and of my boat- 
ing ; for it went so badly with me along at the first, 
that I had not much mind to try" it any more. I 
now returned home again, and, as the next August 
was the Congressional election, I began to turn my 
attention a little to that matter, as it was beginning 
to be talked of a good deal among the people." 

Cotton was down very low. Crockett could now 
say to the people : " You see the effects of the 
Tariff." There were two rival candidates for the 
office, Colonel Alexander and General Arnold. 
Money was needed to carry the election, and Crock- 
ett had no money. He resolved, however, to try 
his chances. A friend loaned him a little money to 
start with ; which sum Crockett, of course, expended 
in whiskey, as the most potent influence, then and 
there, to secure an election. 

" So I was able," writes Crockett, " to buy a 
little of the ' creature,' to put. my friends in a good 
humor, as well as the other gentlemen, for they all 
treat in that country ; not to get elected, of course, 
for that would be against the law, but just to make 
themselves and their friends feel their keeping a 

The contest was, as usual, made up of drinking, 
feasting, and speeches. Colonel Alexander was an 
intelligent and worthy man, who had been public 


surveyor. General Arnold was a lawyer of very 
respectable attainments'. Neither of these men 
considered Crockett a candidate in the slightest 
degree to be feared. They only feared each other, 
and tried to circumvent each other. 

On one occasion there was a large gathering, 
where all three of the candidates were present, and 
each one was expected to make a speech. It came 
Crockett's lot to speak first. He knew nothing of 
Congressional affairs, arid had sense enough to be 
aware that it was not best for him to attempt to 
speak upon subjects of which he was entirely igno- 
rant. He made one of his funny speeches, very 
short and entirely non-committal. Colonel Alex- 
ander followed, endeavoring to grapple with the 
great questions of tariffs, finance, and internal im- 
provements, which were then agitating the nation. - 

General Arnold then, in his turn, took the 
stump, opposing the measures which Colonel Alex- 
ander had left. He seemed entirely to ignore the 
fact that Crockett was a candidate. Not the slight- 
est allusion was made to him in his speech. The 
nervous temperament predominated in the man, 
and he was easily annoyed. While speaking, a 
large flock of guinea-hens came along, whose pecu- 
liar and noisy cry all will remember who have ever 
heard it. Arnold was greatly disturbed, and at 


last requested some one to drive the fowls away. 
As soon as he had finished his speech, Crockett 
again mounted the stump, and ostensibly address- 
ing Arnold, but really addressing the crowd, said, 
in a loud voice, but very jocosely : 

" Well, General, you are the first man I ever saw 
that understood the language of fowls. You had 
not the politeness even to allude to me in your 
speech. But when my little friends the guinea- 
hens came up, and began to holler ' Crockett, 
Crockett, Crockett,' you were ungenerous enough 
to drive them all away." 

This raised such a universal laugh that even 
Crockett's opponents feared that he was getting 
the best of them in winning the favor of the people. 
When the day of election came, the popular bear- 
hunter beat both of his competitors by twenty- 
seven hundred and forty-seven votes. Thus David 
Crockett, unable to read and barely able to sign his 
name, became a member of Congress, to assist in 
framing laws for the grandest republic earth has 
ever known. He represented a constituency of 
about one hundred thousand souls. 

An intelligent gentleman, travelling in West 
Tennessee, finding himself within eight miles of 
Colonel Crockett's cabin, decided to call upon the 
man whose name had now become quite renowned. 


This was just after Crockett's election to Congress, 
but before he had set out for Washington. There 
was no road leading to the lonely hut. He fol- 
lowed a rough and obstructed path or trail, which 
was indicated only by blazed trees, and which bore 
no marks of being often travelled. 

At length he came to a small opening in the 
forest, very rude and uninviting in its appearance. 
It embraced eight or ten acres. One of the hum- 
blest and least tasteful of log huts stood in the 
centre. It was truly a cabin, a mere shelter from 
the weather. There was no yard ; there were no 
fences. Not the slightest effort had been made 
toward ornamentation. It would be difficult to 
imagine a more lonely and cheerless abode. 

Two men were seated on stools at the door, both 
in their shirt-sleeves, engaged in cleaning their 
rifles. As the stranger rode up, one of the men 
rose and came forward to meet him. He was 
dressed in very plain homespun attire, with a black 
fur cap upon his head. He was a finely propoi'- 
tioned man, about six feet high, apparently forty- 
five years of age, and of very frank, pleasing, open 
countenance. He held his rifle in his hand, and 
from his right shoulder hung a bag made of raccoon- 
skin, to which there was a sheath attached contain- 
ine a lame butcher-knife. 


"This is Colonel Crockett's residence, I pre- 
sume," said the stranger. 

" Yes," was the reply, with a smile as of wel- 

" Have I the pleasure of seeing that gentleman 
before me ? " the stranger added. 

" If it be a pleasure," was the courtly reply, 
" you have, sir." 

"Well, Colonel," responded the stranger, " I have 
ridden much 'out of my way to spend a day or two 
with you, and take a hunt." 

" Get down, sir," said the Colonel, cordially. " I 
am delighted to see you. I like to see strangers. 
And the only care I have is that I cannot accom- 
modate them as well as I could wish. I have no 
corn, but my little boy will take your horse over to 
my son-in-law's. He is a good fellow, and will take 
care of him." 

Leading the stranger into his cabin, Crockett 
very courteously introduced him to his brother, his 
wife, and his daughters. He then added : 

" You see we are mighty rough here. I am 
afraid you will think it hard times. But we have 
to do the best we can. I started mighty poor, and 
have been rooting 'long ever since. But I hate apol- 
ogies. What I live upon always, I think a friend 
can for a day or two. I have but little ; but that 


little is as free as the water that runs. So make 
yourself at home." 

Mrs. Crockett was an intelligent and capable 
woman for one in her station in life. The cabin 
was clean and orderly, and presented a general 
aspect of comfort. Many trophies of the chase were 
in the house, and spread around the yard. Several 
dogs, looking like war-worn veterans, were sunning 
themselves in various parts of the premises. 

All the family were neatly dressed in home- 
made garments. Mrs. Crockett was a grave, digni- 
fied woman, very courteous to her guests. The 
daughters were remarkably pretty, but very diffi- 
dent. Though entirely uneducated, they could con- 
verse very easily, seeming to inherit their father's 
fluency of utterance. They were active and efficient 
in aiding their mother in her household work 
Colonel Crockett, with much apparent pleasure, 
conducted his guest over the small patch of ground 
he had grubbed and was cultivating. He exhibited 
his growing peas and pumpkins, and his little field 
of corn, with as much apparent pleasure as an Illinois 
farmer would now point out his hundreds of acres 
of waving grain. The hunter seemed surprisingly 
well informed. As we have mentioned, nature had 
endowed him with unusual strength of mind, and 
with a memory which was almost miraculous. He 


never forgot anything he had heard. His election- 
eering tours had been to him very valuable schools 
of education. Carefully he listened to all the 
speeches and the conversation of the intelligent 
men he met with. 

John Quincy Adams was then in the Presidential 
chair. It was the year 1827. Nearly all Crockett's 
constituents were strong Jackson-men. Crockett, 
who afterward opposed Jackson, subsequently said, 
speaking of his views at that time : 

" I can say on my conscience, that I was, with- 
out disguise, the friend and supporter of General 
Jackson upon "his principles, as he had laid them 
down, and as I understood them, before his elec- 
tion as President." 

Alluding to Crockett's political views at that 
time, his guest writes, " I held in high estimation 
the present Administration of our country. To this 
he was opposed. His views', however, delighted me. 
And were they more generally adopted we should 
be none the loser. He was opposed to the Admin- 
istration, and yet conceded that many of its acts 
were wise and efficient, and would have received 
his cordial support. He admired Mr. Clay, but had 
objections to him. He was opposed to the Tariff, 
yet, I think, a supporter of the United States Bank. 
He seemed to have the most horrible objection 


to binding himself to any man or set of men. He 
said, ' I would aslieve be an old 'coon-dog as obliged 
to do what any man or set of men would tell me 
to do. I will support the present Administration 
as far as I would any other ; that is, as far as I 
believe its views to be right. I will pledge myself to 
support no Administration. I had rather be polit- 
ically damned than hypocritically immortalized.' " 

In the winter of '1827, Crockett emerged from 
his cabin in the wilderness for a seat in Congress. 
He was so poor that he had not money enough to 
pay his expenses to Washington. His election had 
cost him one hundred and fifty dollars, which a 
friend had loaned him. The same 'friend advanced 
one hundred " dollars more to help him on his 

" When I left home," he says, " I was happy, 
devilish, and fulj of fun. I bade adieu to my 
friends, dogs, and rifle, -and took the stage, where 
I met with much variety of character, and amused 
myself when my humor prompted. Being fresh 
from the backwoods, my stories amused my com- 
panions, and I passed my time pleasantly. 

" When I arrived at Raleigh the weather was 
cold and rainy, and we were all dull and tired. 
Upon going into the tavern, where I was an entire 
stranger, the room was crowded, and the crowd 


did not give way that I might come to the fire. I 
was rooting my way to the fire, not in a good 
humor, when some fellow staggered up towards me, 
and cried out, ' Hurrah for Adams.' 

" Said I, ' Stranger, you had better hurrah for 
hell, and praise your own country.' 

" ' And who are you ? said he. I replied : 

" ' I am that same David Crockett, fresh from 
the backwoods, half horse, half alligator, a little 
touched with the snapping-turtle. * I can wade the 
Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of 
lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey- 
locust. I can whip my weight in wildcats, and, 
if any gentleman pleases, for a ten-dollar bill he 
can throw in a panther. I can hug a bear too close 
for comfort, and eat any man opposed to General 
Jackson.' " 

All eyes were immediately turned toward this 
strange man, for all had heard of him. A place was 
promptly made for him at the fire. He was after- 
ward asked if this wondrous outburst of slang was 
entirely unpremeditated. He said that it was ; 
that it had all popped into his head at once ; and 
that he should never have thought of it again, 
had not the story gone the round of the news- 

" I came on to Washington," he says, " and 


drawed two hundred and fifty dollars, and pur- 
chased with it a chec"k on the bank in Nashville, 
and enclosed it to my friend. And I may say, in 
truth, I sent this money with a mighty good will; 
for I reckon nobody in this world loves a friend 
better than me, or remembers a kindness longer." 

Soon after his arrival at Washington he was 
invited to dine with President Adams, a man of 
the highest culture, whose manners had been 
formed in the courts of Europe. Crockett, totally 
unacquainted with the usages of society, did not 
know what the note of invitation meant, and 
inquired of a friend, the Hon. Mr. Verplanck. 
He says : 

" I was wild from the backwoods, and didn't 
know nothing about eating dinner with the big 
folks of our country. And how should I, having 
been a hunter all my life? I had eat most of my 
dinners on a log in the woods, and sometimes no 
dinner at all. I knew, whether I ate dinner with 
the President or not was a matter of no importance, 
for my constituents were not to be benefited by it. 
I did not go to court the President, for I was 
opposed to him in principle, and had no favors to 
ask at his hands. I was afraid, however, I should 
be awkward, as I was so entirely a stranger to 
fashion ; and in going along, I resolved to observe 


the conduct of my friend Mr. Verplanck, and to do 
as he did. And I know that I did behave myself 
right well." 

Some cruel wag wrote the following ludicrous 
account of this dinner-party, which went the round 
of all the papers as veritable history. The writer pre- 
tended to quote'Crockett's own account of the dinner. 

" The first thing I did," said Davy, " after I got 
to -Washington, was to go to the President's. I 
stepped into the President's house. Thinks I, who's 
afeard. If I didn't, I wish I may be shot. Says I, 
' Mr. Adams, I am Mr. Crockett, from Tennessee.' 
So, says he, ' How d'ye do, Mr. Crockett ? ' And 
he shook me by the hand, although he know'd I 
went the whole hog for Jackson. If he didn't, I 
wish I may be shot. 

" Not only that, but he sent me a printed ticket 
to dine with him. I've got it in my pocket yet. I 
went to dinner, and I walked all around the long 
table, looking for something that I liked. At last 
I took my seat beside a fat goose, and I helped 
myself to as much of it as I wanted. But I hadn't 
took three bites, when I looked away up the table 
at a man they called Task (attache). He was talk- 
ing French to a woman on t'other side of the table. 
He dodged his head and she dodged hers, and then 
they got to drinking wine across the table. 


" But when I looked back again my plate .was 
gone, goose and all. So I jist cast my eyes down to 
t'other end of the table, and sure enough I seed 
a white man walking off with my plate. I says, 
' Hello, mister, bring back my plate.' He fetched 
it back in a hurry, as you may think. And when he 
set it down before me, how do you think it was ? 
Licked as clean as my hand. If it wasn't, I wish I 
may be shot ! 

" Says he, ' What will you have, sir ? ' And says 
I, ' You may well say that, after stealing my goose.' 
And he began to laugh. Then says I, ' Mister, 
laugh if you please ; but I don't half-like sich tricks 
upon travellers.' I then filled my plate with bacon 
and greens. And whenever I looked up or down 
the table, I held on to my plate with my left 

" When we were all done eating, they cleared 
everything off the table, and took away the table- 
cloth. And what do you think ? There was another 
cloth under it. If there wasn't, I wish I may be shot ! 
Then I saw a man coming along carrying a great 
glass thing, with a glass handle below, something 
like a candlestick. It was stuck full of little glass 
cups, with something in them that looked good to 
eat. Says I, ' Mister, bring that thing here.' 
Thinks I, let's taste them first. They were mighty 


sweet and good, so I took six of them. If I didn't, 
I wish I may be shot ! " 

This humorous fabrication was copied into 
almost every paper in the Union. The more re- 
spectable portion of Crockett's constituents 'were so 
annoyed that their representative should be thus 
held up to the contempt of the nation, that Crockett 
foit constrained to present a reliable refutation of 
the story. He therefore obtained and published 
certificates from three gentlemen, testifying to his 
good behavior at the table. Hon. Mr. Verplanck, 
of New York, testified as follows : 

" I dined at the President's, at the time alluded 
to, in company with you, and I had, I recollect, a 
good deal of conversation with you. Your behavior 
there was, I thought, perfectly becoming and proper. 
And I do not recollect, or believe, that you said or 
did anything resembling the newspaper account." 

Two other members of Congress were equally 
explicit in their testimony. 

During Crockett's first two sessions in Congress 
he got along very smoothly, cooperating generally 
with what was called the Jackson party. In 1829 
he was again reflected by an overwhelming major- 
ity. On the 4th of March of this year, Andrew Jack- 
son was inaugurated President of the United States. 
It may be doubted whether there ever was a more 


honest, conscientious man in Congress than David 
Crockett. His celebrated motto, " Be sure that you 
are right, and then go ahead," seemed ever to ani- 
mate him. He could neither be menaced or bribed 
to support any measure which he thought to be 
wrong. Ere long he found it necessary to oppose 
some of Jackson's measures. We will let him tell 
the story in his own truthful words : 

" Soon after the commencement of this second 
term, I saw, or thought I did, that it was expected 
of me that I would bow to the name of Andrew 
Jackson, and follow him in all his motions, and wind- 
ings, and turnings, even at the expense of my con- 
science and judgment. Such a thing was new to me, 
and a total stranger to my principles. I know'd 
well enough, though, that if I didn't ' hurrah ' for 
his name, the hue and cry was to be raised against 
me, and I was to' be sacrificed, if possible. His 
famous, or rather I should say his infamous Indian 
bill was brought forward, and I opposed it from the 
purest motives in the world. Several of my col- 
leagues got around me, and told me how well they 
loved me, and that I was ruining myself. They said 
this was a favorite measure of the President, and I 
ought to go for it. I told them I believed it was a 
wicked, unjust measure, and that I should go against 
it, let the cost to myself be what it might ; that I 


was willing to go with General Jackson in everything 
that I believed was honest and right ; but, further 
than this, I wouldn't go for him, or any other man in 
the whole creation. 

" I had been elected by a majority of three thou- 
sand five hundred and eighty-five votes, and I be- 
lieved they were honest men, and wouldn't want 
me to vote for any unjust notion, to please Jackson 
or any one else ; at any rate, I was of age, and 
determined to trust them. I voted against this 
Indian bill, and my conscience yet tells me that I 
gave a good, honest vote, and one that I believe will 
not make me ashamed in the day of judgment. I 
served out my term, and though many amusing, 
things happened, I am not disposed to swell my 
narrative by inserting them. 

"When it closed, and 'I returned home, I found 
the storm had raised against me sure enough ; and it 
was echoed from side to side, and from end to end of 
my district, that I had turned against Jackson. This 
was considered the unpardonable sin. I was hunted 
down like a wild varment, and in this hunt every 
little newspaper in the district, and every little pin- 
hook lawyer was engaged. Indeed, they were ready 
to print anything and everything that the ingenu 
ity of man could invent against me." 

In consequence of this opposition, Crockett lost 

- _ 


his next election, and yet by a majority of but sev- 
enty votes. For two years he remained at home 
hunting bears. But having once tasted the pleas- 
ures of political life, and the excitements of Wash- 
ington, his silent rambles in the woods had lost 
much of their ancient charms. He was again a can- 
didate at the ensuing election, and, after a very 
warm contest, gained the day by a majority of two 
hundred and two votes. 


Crockett's Tour to the North and the East. 

His Reelection to Congress. The Northern Tour. First Sight of a 
Railroad. Reception in Philadelphia. His First Speech. Ar- 
rival in New York. The Ovation there. Visit to Boston. Cam- 
bridge and Lowell. Specimens of his Speeches. Expansion of 
his Ideas. Rapid Improvement. 

COLONEL CROCKETT, having been reflected, 
again repaired to Washington. During the session, 
to complete his education, and the better to prepare 
himself as a legislator for the whole nation, he decided 
to take a short trip to the North and the East. 
His health had also begun to fail, and his physicians 
advised him to go. He was thoroughly acquainted 
with the Great West. With his rifle upon his shoul- 
der, in the Creek War, he had made wide explora- 
tions through the South. But the North and the 
East were regions as yet unknown to him. 

On the 25th of April, 1834, he left Washington 
for this Northern tour. He reached Baltimore that 
evening, where he was invited to a supper by some 
of the leading gentlemen. He writes: 

" Early next morning, I started for Philadelphia, 


a place where I had never been. I sort of felt lone- 
some as I went down to the steamboat. The idea 
of going among a new people, where there are tens 
of thousands who would pass me by without know- 
ing or caring who I was, who are all taken up with 
their own pleasures or their own business, made me 
feel small ; and, indeed, if any one who reads this 
book has a grand idea of his own importance, let 
him go to a big city, and he will find that he is not 
higher valued than a coonskin. 

" The steamboat was .the Carroll of Carrollton, a 
fine craft, with the rum old Commodore Chaytor for 
head man. A good fellow he is all sorts of a man 
bowing and scraping to the ladies, nodding to 
the gentlemen, cursing the crew, and his right eye 
broad-cast upon the ' opposition line/ all at the 
same time. ' Let go ! ' said the old one, and off we 
walked in prime style. 

" Our passage down Chesapeake Bay was very 
pleasant. In a very short run we came to a place 
where we were to get on board the rail-cars. This 
was a clean new sight to me. About a dozen big 
stages hung on to one machine. After a good 
deal of fuss we all got seated and moved slowly 
off, the engine wheezing as though she had the 
tizzic. By-and-by, she began to take short breaths, 
and away we went, with a blue streak after us. The 


whole distance is seventeen miles. It was run in 
fifty-five minutes. 

" At Delaware City, I again embarked on board 
of a splendid steamboat. When dinner was ready, 
I set down with the rest of the passengers. Among 
them was Rev. O. B. Brown, of the Post-Office De- 
partment, who sat near me. During dinner he 
ordered a bottle of wine, and called upon me for a 
toast. Not knowing whether he intended to com- 
pliment me, or abash me among so many strangers, 
or have some fun at my expense, I concluded to go 
ahead, and give him and his like a blizzard. So our 
glasses being filled, the word went round, ' A toast 
from Colonel Crockett.' I give it as follows: 
' Here's wishing the bones of tyrant kings may 
answer in hell ; in place of gridirons, to roast the 
souls of Tories on.' At this the parson appeared 
as if he was stumpt. I said, ' Never heed ; it was 
meant for where it belonged.' He did not repeat 
his invitation, and I eat my dinner quietly. 

" After dinner I went up on the deck, and saw 
the captain hoisting three flags. Says I, 'What 
does that mean ? ' He replied, that he was under 
promise to the citizens of Philadelphia, if I was on 
board, to hoist his flags, as a friend of mine had said 
he expected I would be along soon. 

"We went on till we came in sight of the city 


and as we advanced towards the wharf, I saw the 
whole face of the earth covered with people, all anx- 
iously looking on towards the boat. The captain 
and myself were standing on the bow-deck ; he 
pointed his finger at me, arid people slung their hats, 
and huzzaed for Colonel Crockett. It struck me 
with astonishment to hear a strange people huzza- 
ing for me, and made me feel sort of queer. It took 
me so uncommon unexpected, as I had no idea of 
attracting attention. But I had to meet it, and so 
I stepped on to the wharf, where the folks came 
crowding around me, saying, ' Give me the hand of 
an honest man.' I did not know what all this 
meant : but some gentleman took hold of me, and 
pressing through the crowd, put me into an elegant 
barouche, drawn by four fine horses ; they then told 
me to bow to the people : I did so, and with much 
difficulty we moved off. The streets were crowded 
to a great distance, and the windows full of peo'ple, 
looking out, I suppose, to see the wild man. I 
thought I had rather be in the wilderness with my 
gun and dogs, than to be attracting all that fuss. I 
had never seen the like before, and did not know 
exactly what to say or do. After some time we 
reached the United States Hotel, in Chesnut 

" The crowd had followed m& filling up the 


street, and pressing into the house to shake hands. 
I was conducted up stairs, and walked out on a 
platform, drew off my hat, and bowed round to the 
people. They cried out from all quarters, ' A speech, 
a speech, Colonel Crockett.' 

" After the noise had quit, so I could be heard, I 
said to them the following words: 


" ' My visit to your city is rather accidental. I 
had no expectation of attracting any uncommon 
attention. I am travelling for my health, without 
the least wish of exciting the people in such times 
of high political feeling. I do not wish to encourage 
it. I am unable at this time to find language suit- 
able to return my gratitude to the citizens of Phila- 
delphia. However, I am almost induced to believe 
it flattery perhaps a burlesque. This is new to me, 
yet I see nothing but friendship in your faces ; and 
if your curiosity is to hear the backwoodsman, I will 
assure you I am illy prepared to address this most 
enlightened people. However, gentlemen, if this is 
a curiosity to you, if you will meet me to-morrow, 
at one o'clock, I will endeavor to address you, in my 
plain manner.' 

" So I made my obeisance to them, and retired 
into the house." 


It is true that there was much of mere curios- 
ity in the desire to see Colonel Crockett. He was a 
strange and an incomprehensible man. His manly, 
honest course in Congress had secured much respect. 
But such developments of character as were shown in 
his rude and vulgar toast, before a party of gentle- 
men and ladies, excited astonishment. His noto- 
riety .preceded him, wherever he went ; and all were 
alike curious to see so strange a specimen of a man. 

The next morning, several gentlemen called 
upon him, and took him in a carriage to see the 
various objects of interest in the city. The gentle- 
men made him a present of a rich seal, represent- 
ing two horses at full speed, with the words, " Go 
Ahead." The young men also made him a present 
of a truly magnificent rifle. From Philadelphia he 
went to New York. The shipping astonished him. 
" They beat me all hollow," he says, " and looked 
for all the world like a big clearing in the West, 
with the dead trees all standing." 

There was a great crowd upon the wharf to 
greet him. And when the captain of the boat led 
him conspicuously forward, and pointed him out to 
the multitude, the cheering was tremendous. A 
committee conducted him to the American Hotel, 
and treated him with the greatest distinction. 
Again he was feted, and loaded with the greatest 


attentions. He was invited to a very splendid sup- 
per, got up in his honor, at which there were a 
hundred guests. The Hon. Judge Clayton, of 
Georgia, was present, and make a speech which, as 
Crockett says, fairly made the tumblers hop. 

Crockett was then called up, as the " undeviat- 
ing supporter of the Constitution and the laws." 
In response to this toast, he says, 

" I made a short speech, and concluded w r ith the 
story of the red cow, which was, that as long as 
General Jackson went straight, I followed him ; but 
when he began to go this way, and that way, and 
every way, I wouldn't go after him ; like the boy 
whose master ordered him to plough across the 
field to the red cow. Well, he began to plough, and 
she began to walk; and he ploughed all forenoon 
after her. So when the master came, he swore at 
him for going so crooked. ' Why, sir,' said the boy, 
' you told me to plough to the red cow, and I kept 
after her, but she always kept moving.' " 

His trip to New York was concluded by his vis- 
iting Jersey City to witness a shooting-match with 
rifles. He was invited to try his hand. Standing, 
at the distance of one hundred and twenty feet, he 
fired twice, striking very near the centre of the mark. 
Some one then put up a quarter of a dollar in the 
midst of a black spot, and requested him to shoot at 


it. The bullet struck the coin, and, as Crockett says, 
" made slight-of-hand work with it." 

From New York he went to Boston. There, as 
the opponent of some of President Jackson's meas- 
ures which were most offensive to the New England 
people, he was feted with extraordinary enthusiasm. 
He dined and supped, made speeches, which gen- 
erally consisted of but one short anecdote, and vis- 
ited nearly all the public institutions. 

Just before this, Andrew Jackson had received 
from Harvard University the honorary title of LL.D. 
Jackson was no longer a favorite of Crockett. The 
new distinguished guest, the renowned bear-hunter, 
was in his turn invited to visit Harvard. He 
writes : 

"There were some gentlemen that invited me to 
go to Cambridge, where the big college or univer- 
sity is, where they keep ready-made titles or nick- 
names to give people. I would not go, for I did 
not know but they might stick an LL.D. on me 
before they let me go ; and I had no idea of chang- 
ing f Member of the House of Representatives of 
the United States/ for what stands for ' lazy, loung- 
ing dunce/ which I am sure my constituents would 
have translated my new title to be. Knowing that 
I had never taken any degree, and did not own to 
any except a small degree of good sense not to pass 


for what I was not I would not go it. There had 
been one doctor made from Tennessee already, and 
I had no wish to put on the cap and bells. 

" I told them that I did not go to this branding 
school ; I did not want to be tarred with the same 
stick ; one dignitary was enough from Tennessee ; 
that as far as my learning went, I would stand over 
it, and spell a strive or two with any of them, from 
a-b-ab to crucifix, which was where I left off at 

A gentleman, at a dinner-party, very earnestly 
invited Crockett to visit him. He returned the 
compliment by saying : 

" If you ever come to my part of the country, I 
hope you will call and see me." 

"And how shall I find where you live?" the 
gentleman inquired. 

" Why, sir," Crockett answered, " run down the 
Mississippi till you come to the Obion River. Run 
a small streak up that ; jump 'ashore anywhere, and 
inquire for me." 

From Boston, he went to Lowell. The hospi- 
tality he had enjoyed in Boston won his warmest 
commendation. At Lowell, he was quite charmed 
by the aspect of wealth, industry, and comfort' 
which met his eye. Upon his return to Boston, he 
spent the evening, with several gentlemen and ladies, 


at the pleasant residence of Lieutenant-Governor 
Armstrong. In reference to this visit, he writes : 

" This was my last night in Boston, and I am 
sure, if I never see the place again, I never can for- 
get the kind and friendly manner in which I was 
treated by them. It appeared to me that everybody 
was anxious to serve me, and make my time agree- 
able. And as a proof that comes home when I 
called for my bill next morning, I was told there was 
no charge to be paid by me, and that he was very 
much delighted that I had made his house my home. 
I forgot to mention that they treated me so in 
Lowell but it is true. This was, to me, at all 
events, proof enough of Yankee liberality ; and 
more than they generally get credit for. In fact, 
from the time I entered New England, I was treated 
with the greatest friendship ; and, I hope, never shall 
forget it ; and I wish all who read this book, and 
who never were there, would take a trip among 
them. If they don't learn how to make money, 
they will know how to use it ; and if they don't 
learn industry, they will see how comfortable every- 
body can be that turns his hands to some employ- 

Crockett was not a mere joker. He was an 
honest man, and an earnest man ; and under the 
tuition of Congress had formed some very decided 


political principles, which he vigorously enforced 
with his rude eloquence. 

When he first went to Congress he was merely 
a big boy, of very strong mind, but totally unin- 
formed, and uncultivated. He very rapidly im- 
proved under the tuition of Congress ; and in 
some degree awoke to the consciousness of his great 
intellectual imperfections. Still he was never diffi- 
dent. He closed one of his off-hand after-dinner 
speeches in Boston, by saying: 

" Gentlemen of Boston, I come here as a private 
citizen, to see you, and not to show myself. I had 
no idea of attracting attention. But I feel it my 
duty to thank you, with my gratitude to you, and 
with a gratitude to all who have given a plain man, 
like me, so kind a reception. I come from a great 
way off. But I shall never repent of having been 
persuaded to come here, and get a knowledge of 
your ways, which I can carry home with me. We 
only want to do away prejudice and give the 
people information. 

" I hope, gentlemen, you will excuse my plain, 
unvarnished ways, which may seem strange to" you 
here. I never had but six months' schooling in 
all my life. And I confess, I consider myself a 
poor tyke to be here addressing the most intelligent 
people in the world. But I think it the duty of 


every representative of the people, when he is 
called upon, to give his opinions. And I have 
tried to give you a little touch of mine." 

Every reader will be interested in the perusal 
of the following serious speech, which he made in 
Boston. It is a fair specimen of his best efforts, 
and will give one a very correct idea of his trains 
of thought, and modes of expression. It also 
clearly shows the great questions which agitated 
the country at that time. It can easily be per- 
ceived that, as a stump orator in the far West, 
Crockett might have exercised very considerable 
power. This phase of his peculiar character is as 
worthy of consideration as any other. 


" By the entire friendship of the citizens of Bos- 
ton, as well as the particular friendship with which 
you have received me this evening, I have been 
brought to reflect on times that have gone by, and 
review a prejudice that has grown up with me, as 
well as thousands of my Western and Southern 
friends. We have always been taught to look upon 
the people of New England as a selfish, cunning 
set of fellows, that was fed on fox-ears and thistle- 
tops ; that cut their wisdom-teeth as soon as they 
were born ; that made money by their wits, and 


held on to it by natur ; that called cheatery mother- 
wit ; that hung on to political power because they 
had numbers ; that raised up manufactures to keep 
down the South and West ; and, in fact, had so 
much of the devil in all their machinery, that they 
would neither lead nor drive, unless the load was 
going into their own cribs. But I assure you, gen- 
tlemen, I begin to think different of you, and I 
think I see a good many good reasons for so doing. 

" I don't mean that because I eat your bread 
and drink your liquor, that I feel so. No ; that 
don't make me see clearer than I did. It i$ your 
habits, and manners, and customs ; your industry ; 
your proud, independent spirits ; your hanging on 
to the eternal principles of right and wrong ; your 
liberality in prosperity, and your patience when you 
are ground down by legislation, which, instead of 
crushing you, whets your invention to strike a path 
without a blaze on a tree to guide you ; and 1 above 
all, your never-dying, deathless grip to our glorious 
Constitution. These are the things that make me 
think that you are a mighty good people." 

Here the speaker was interrupted by great 

" Gentlemen, I believe I have spoke the truth, 
and not flattery ; I ain't used to oily words ; I am 
used to speak what I think, of men, and to men ; 


I am, perhaps, more of a come-by-chance than any 
of you ever saw ; I have made my way to the place 
I now fill, without wealth, and against education ; I 
was raised from obscurity, and placed in the high 
councils of the nation, by the kindness and liberality 
of the good people of my district a people whom I 
will never be unfaithful to, here or elsewhere ; I 
love them, and they have honored me; and accord- 
ing as God has given me judgment, I'll use it for 
them, come of me what may. 

" These people once passed sentence upon me 
of a two years' stay-at-home, for exercising that 
which I contend belongs to every freeman in this 
nation : that was, for differing in opinion with the 
chief magistrate of this nation. I was well acquaint- 
ed with him. He was but a man ; and, if I was not 
before, my constituents had made a man of me. I 
had marched and counter-marched with him : I had 
stood by him in the wars, and fought under his flag 
at the polls : I helped to heap the measure of glory 
that has crushed and smashed everything that has 
come in contact with it : I helped to give him the 
name of ' Hero/ which, like the lightning from 
heaven, has scorched and blasted everything that 
stood in its way a name which, like the prairie fire, 
you have to burn against, or you are gone a name 
which ought to be the first in war, and the last in 


peace a name which, like ' Jack-o'-the lantern,' 
blinds your eyes while you follow it through mud 
and mire. 

" Gentlemen, I never opposed Andrew Jackson 
for the sake of popularity. I knew it was a hard 
row to hoe ; but I stood up to the rack, considering 
it a duty I owed to the country that governed me. 
I had reviewed the course of other Presidents, and 
came to the conclusion that he did not of right pos- 
sess any more power than those that had gone 
before him. When he transcended that power, I 
put down my foot. I knew his popularity ; that he 
had come into place with the largest majority of any 
one that had gone before him, who had opposition : 
but still, I did not consider this as giving him the 
right to do as he pleased, and construe our Constitu- 
tion to meet his own views. 

" We had lived the happiest people under the 
sun for fifty years, governed by the Constitution and 
laws, on well-established constructions : and when I 
saw the Government administered on new prin- 
ciples, I objected, and was politically sacrificed : I 
persisted in my sins, having a clear conscience, 
that, before God and my country, I had done my 

" My constituents began to look at both sides ; 
and finally, at the end of two years, approving of 


my course, they sent me back to Congress a cir- 
cumstance which was truly gratifying to me. 

" Gentlemen, I opposed Andrew Jackson in his 
famous Indian bill, where five hundred thousand 
dollars were voted for expenses, no part of which 
has yet been accounted for, as I have seen. I 
thought it extravagant as well as impolitic. I 
thought the rights reserved to the Indians were 
about to be frittered away ; and events prove that I 
thought correct. 

" I had considered a treaty as the sovereign law of 
the land ; but now saw it considered as a matter of 
expedience, or not, as it pleased the powers that be. 
Georgia bid defiance to the treaty-making power, 
and set at nought the Intercourse Act of 1802; 
she trampled it under foot ; she nullified it : and for 
this, she received the smiles and approbation of 
Andrew Jackson. And this induced South Carolina 
to nullify the Tariff. She had a right to expect that 
the President was favorable to the principle : but he 
took up the rod of correction, and shook it over 
South Carolina, and said at the same time to Geor- 
gia, ' You may nullify, but South Carolina shall 

" This was like his consistency in many other 
matters. When he was a Senator in Congress, he 
was a friend to. internal improvements, and voted 


for them. Everything then that could cement the 
States together, by giving them 'access the one to 
the other, was right. When he got into power, 
some of his friends had hard work to dodge, and 
follow, and shout. I called off my dogs, and quit 
the hunt. Yes, gentlemen, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, 
and Tennessee, and other States, voted for him, as a 
supporter of internal improvements. 

" Was he not a Tariff man ? Who dare deny it ! 
When did we first hear of his opposition ? Certainly 
not in his expression that he was in favor of a judi- 
cious tariff. That was- supposed to be a clincher, 
even in New England, until after power lifted him 
above the opposition of the supporters of a tariff. 

" He was for putting down the monster ' party,' 
and being the President of the people. Well, in 
one sense, this he tried to do : he put down every 
one he could who was opposed to him, either by 
reward or punishment ; and could all have come 
into his notions, and bowed the knee to his image, 
I suppose it might have done very well, so far as he 
was concerned. Whether it would have been a 
fair reading of his 'famous letter to Mr. Monroe, is 
rather questionable. 

" He was to reform the Government. Now, if 
reformation consists in turning out and putting in, 
he did it with a vengeance. 


" fie was, last of all, to retrench the expenditures. 
Well, in time, I have no doubt, this must be done ; 
but it will not consist in the abolishing useless ex- 
penditures of former Administrations. No, gentle- 
men ; the spoils belonged to the victor ; and it 
would never do to lessen the teats when the litter 
was doubled. The treasury trough had to be ex- 
tended, and the pap thickened ; kin were to be 
provided for ; and i-f all things keep on as they are, 
his own extravagances will have to be retrenched, 
or you will get your tariff up again as high as you 

" I recollect a boy once, who was told to turn the 
pigs out of the corn-field. Well, he made a great 
noise, hallooing and calling the dogs and came 
back. By-and-by his master said, ' Jim, you rascal ! 
you didn't turn out the pigs.' ' Sir,' said he, ' I called 
the dogs, and set them a-barking.' 

"So it was with that big Retrenchment Report, 
in 1828. Major Hamilton got Chilton's place as 
chairman and called the dogs. Ingham' worked 
honestly, like a beaver ; Wickliff was as keen as a 
cutworm : all of them worked hard ; and they did 
really, I suppose, convince themselves that they had 
found out a great deal of iniquity ; or, what was 
more desirable, convinced the people that Andrew 
Jackson and his boys were the only fellows to mend 


shoes for nothing, and find their own candles. Eve- 
rett and Sargeant, who made the minority report, 
were scouted at. What has come of all this? No- 
thing worse than nothing. Jackson used these 
very men like dogs : they knew too much, and must 
be got rid off, or they would stop his profligacy too. 
They were greased and swallowed : and he gave 
them up to the torments of an anti-Jackson con- 

"Yes, gentlemen, as long as you think with him, 
very well ; but if not clear out ; make way for 
some fellow who has saved his wind ; and because 
he has just begun to huzza, has more wind to spare. 
General Jackson has turned out more men for opin- 
ion's sake, than all other Presidents put together, 
five times over : and the broom sweeps so low that 
it reaches the humblest officer who happens to have 
a mean neighbor to retail any little story which he 
may pick up. 

" I voted for Andrew Jackson because I believed 
he possessed certain principles, and not because his 
name was Andrew Jackson, or the Hero, or Old 
Hickory. And when he left those principles which 
induced me to support him, I considered myself jus- 
tified in opposing him. This thing of man-worship 
I am a stranger to ; I don't like it ; it taints every 
action of life ; it is like a skunk getting into a house 


long after he has cleared out, you smell him in 
every room and closet, from the cellar to the garret. 

" I know nothing, by experience, of party disci- 
pline. I would rather be a raccoon-dog, and belong 
to a negro in the forest, than to* belong to any party, 
further than to do justice to all, and to promote the 
interests of my country. The time will and must 
come, when honesty will receive its reward, and 
when the people of this nation will be brought to a 
sense of their duty, and will pause and reflect how 
much it cost us to redeem ourselves from the govern- 
ment of one man. It cost the lives and fortunes of 
thousands of the best patriots that ever lived. Yes, 
gentlemen, hundreds of them fell in sight of your 
own city. 

" I this day walked over the great battle-ground 
of Bunker's Hill, and thought whether it was possi- 
ble that it was moistened with the sacred blood of 
our heroes in vain, and that we should forget what 
they fought for. 

" I hope to see our once happy country restored 
to its former peace and happiness, and once more 
redeemed from tyranny and despotism, which, I fear, 
we are on the very brink of. We see the whole 
country in commotion: and for what? Because, 
gentlemen, the true friends of liberty see the laws 
and Constitution blotted out from the heads and 


hearts of the people's leaders : and their requests 
for relief are treated with scorn and contempt. 
They meet the same fate that they did before King 
George and his parliament. It has been decided by a 
majority of Congress, that Andrew Jackson shall be 
the Government, and that his will shall be the law 
of the land. He takes the responsibility, and vetoes 
any bill that does not meet his approbation. He 
takes the responsibility, and seizes the treasury, and 
removes it from where the laws had placed it ; and 
now, holding purse and sword, has bid defiance to 
Congress and to the nation. 

" Gentlemen, if it is for opposing those high- 
handed measures that you compliment me, I say I 
have done so, and will do so, now and forever. I 
will be no man's man, and no party's man, other 
than to be the people's faithful representative : and 
I am delighted to see the noble spirit of liberty 
retained so boldly here, where the first spark was 
kindled ; and I hope to see it shine and spread over 
our whole country. 

" Gentlemen, I have detained you much longer 
than I intended : allow me to conclude by thanking 
you for your attention and kindness to the stranger 
from the far West." 

The following extract also shows the candor of 


his mind, his anxiety to learn, and the progress his 
mind was making in the science of political economy : 

" I come to your country to get a knowledge of 
things, which I could get in no other way but by 
seeing with my own eyes, and hearing with my own 
ears information I can't get, and nobody else, from 
book knowledge. I come, fellow-citizens, to get 3. 
knowledge of the manufacturing interest of New 
England. I was over-persuaded to come by a 
gentleman who had been to Lowell and seen the 
manufactories of your State by General Thomas, 
of Louisiana. He persuaded me to come and see. 

" When I was first chose to Congress, I was op- 
posed to the protecting system. They told me it 
would help the rich, and hurt the poor ; and that 
we in the West was to be taxed by it for the benefit 
of New England. . I supposed it was so ; but when 
I come to hear it argued in the Congress of the na- 
tion, I begun to have a different opinion of it. I 
saw I was opposing the best interest of the country; 
especially for the industrious poor man. I told my 
people who sent me to Congress, that I should op- 
pose it no longer: that without it, we should be 
obliged to pay a tax to the British Government, and 
support them, instead of our own labor. And I am 
satisfied of it the more since I have visited New 
England. Only let the Southern gentlemen come 


here and examine the manufactories, and see how 
it is, and it would make more peace than all the legis- 
ation in Congress can do. It would give different 
ideas to them who have been deluded, and spoke in 
strong terms of dissolving the Union." 

Crockett returned to Washington just in time to 
be present at the closing scenes, and then set out 
for home. So much had been said of him in the public 
journals, of his speeches and his peculiarities, that his 
renown now filled the land. 

The Disappointed Politician. Off for Texas. 

Triumphal Return. Home Charms Vanish. Loses His Election. 
Bitter Disappointment. Crockett's Poetry. Sets out for 
Texas. Incidents of the Journey. Reception at Little Rock. 
The Shooting Match. Meeting a Clergyman. The Juggler. 
Crockett a Reformer. The Bee Hunter. The Rough Strangers. 
Scene on the Prairie. 

CROCKETT'S return to his home was a signal 
triumph all the way. At Baltimore, Philadelphia, 
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, crowds gathered 
to greet him. He was feasted, received presents, 
was complimented, and was incessantly called upon 
for a speech. He was an earnest student as he 
journeyed along. A new world of wonders were 
opening before him. Thoughts which he never 
before had dreamed of were rushing into his mind. 
His eyes were ever watchful to see all that was 
worthy of note. His ear was ever listening for 
every new idea. He scarcely ever looked at the 
printed page, but perused with the utmost diligence 
the book of nature. His comments upon what he 
saw indicate much sagacity. 


At Cincinatti and Louisville, immense crowds 
assembled to hear him. In both places he spoke 
quite at length. And all who heard him were 
surprised at the power he displayed. Though his 
speech was rude and unpolished, the clearness of his 
views, and the intelligence he manifested, caused 
the journals generally to speak of him in quite a 
different strain from that which they had been 
accustomed to use. Probably never did a man 
make so much intellectual progress, in the course 
of a few months, as David Crockett had made in 
that time. His wonderful memory of names, dates, 
facts, all the intricacies of statistics, was such, that 
almost any statesman might be instructed by his 
addresses, and not many men could safely encounter 
him in argument. The views he presented upon 
the subject of the Constitution, finance, internal im- 
provements, etc., were very surprising, when one con- 
siders the limited education he had enjoyed. At the 
close of these agitating scenes he touchingly writes : 

" In a short time I set out for my own home ; 
yes, my own home, my own soil, my humble 
dwelling, my own family, my own hearts, my ocean 
of love and affection, which neither circumstances 
nor time can dry up. Here, like the wearied bird, 
let me settle down for a while, and shut out the 


But hunting bears had lost its charms for 
Crockett. He had been so flattered that it is 
probable that he fully expected to be chosen Pres- 
ident of the United States. There were two great 
parties then dividing the country, the Democrats 
and the Whigs. The great object of each was to 
find an available candidate, no matter how unfit for 
the office. The leaders wished to elect a President 
who would be, like the Queen of England, merely 
the ornamental figure-head of the ship of state, 
while their energies should propel and guide the 
majestic fabric. For a time some few thought it 
possible that in the popularity of the great bear- 
hunter such a candidate might be found. 

Crockett, upon his return home, resumed his 
deerskin leggins, his fringed hunting-shirt, his fox- 
skin cap, and shouldering his rifle, plunged, as he 
thought, with his 'original zest, into the cheerless, 
tangled, marshy forest which surrounded him. But 
the excitements of Washington, the splendid enter- 
tainments of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, 
the flattery, the speech-making, which to him, with 
his marvellous memory and his wonderful fluency 
of speech, was as easy as breathing, the applause 
showered upon him, and the gorgeous vision of the 
Presidency looming up before him, engrossed his 
mind. He sauntered listlessly through the forest, 


his bear-hunting energies all paralyzed. He soon 
grew very weary of home and of all its employ- 
ments, and was eager to return to the infinitely 
higher excitements of political life. 

General Jackson was then almost idolized by his 
party. All through the South and West his name 
was a tower of strength. Crockett had originally 
been elected as a Jackson-man. He had abandoned 
the Administration, and was now one of the most 
inveterate opponents of Jackson. The majority in 
Crockett's district were in favor of Jackson. The 
time came for a new election of a representative. 
Crockett made every effort, in his old style, to secure 
the vote. He appeared at the gatherings in his 
garb as a bear-hunter, with his rifle on his shoulder. 
He brought 'coonskins to buy whiskey to treat 
his friends. A 'coonskin in the currency of that 
country was considered the equivalent for twenty- 
five cents. He made funny speeches. But it was 
all in vain. 

Greatly to his surprise, and still more to his cha- 
grin, he lost his election. He was beaten by two 
hundred and thirty votes. The whole powerful influ- 
ence of the Government was exerted against Crockett 
and in favor of his competitor. It is said that large 
bribes were paid for votes. Crockett wrote, in a strain 
which reveals the bitterness of his disappointment : 


" I am gratified that I have spoken the truth to 
the people of my district, regardless of the conse- 
quences. I would not be compelled to btfw down 
to the idol for a seat in Congress during life. I have 
never known what it was to sacrifice my own judg- 
ment to gratify any party ; and I have no doubt 
of the time being close at hand when I shall be 
rewarded for letting my tongue speak what my heart 
thinks. I have suffered myself to be politically sac- 
rificed to save my country from ruin and disgrace ; 
and if I am never again elected, I will have the grat- 
ification to know that I have done my duty. I may 
add, in the words of the man in the play, ' Crockett's 
occupation's gone.'" 

Two weeks after this he writes, " I* confess the 
thorn still rankles, not so much on my own account 
as the nation's. As my country no longer requires 
my services, I have made up my mind to go to Texas. 
My life has been one of danger, toil, and privation. 
But these difficulties I had to encounter at a time 
when I considered it nothing more than right good 
sport to surmount them. But now I start upon my 
own hook, and God only grant that it may be strong 
enough to support the weight that may be hung 
upon it. I have a new row to hoe, a long and 
rough one ; but come what will, T will go ahead." 

Just before leaving for Texas, he attended a 


political meeting of his constituents. The following 
extract from his autobiograply will give the reader a 
very vivid idea of his feelings at the time, and of 
the very peculiar character which circumstances had 
developed in him : 

" A few days ago I went to a meeting of my con- 
stituents. My appetite for politics was at one time 
just about as sharp set as a saw-mill, but late events 
have given me something of a surfeit, more than I 
could well digest ; still, habit, they say, is second 
natur, and so I went, and gave them a piece of my 
mind touching 'the Government ' and the succession, 
by way of a codicil to what I have often said before. 

" I told them, moreover, of my services, pretty 
straight up and down, for a man may be allowed to 
speak on such subjects when others are about to for- 
get them ; and I also told them of the manner in 
which I had been knocked down and dragged out, 
and that I did not consider it a fair fight anyhow 
they could fix it. I put the ingredients in the cup 
pretty strong I tell you, and I concluded my speech 
by telling them that I was done with politics for the 
present, and that they might all go to hell, and I 
would go to Texas. 

" When I returned home I felt a sort of cast 
down at the change that had taken place in my 
fortunes; and sorrow, it is said, will make even an 


oyster feel poetical. I never tried my hand at that 
sort of writing, but on this particular occasion such 
was my state of feeling, that I began to fancy 
myself inspired ; so I took pen in hand, and as usual 
I went ahead. When I had got fairly through, my 
poetry looked as zigzag as a worm-fence ; the lines 
wouldn't tally no how ; so I showed them to Peleg 
Longfellow, who -has a first-rate reputation with us 
for that sort of writing, having some years ago made 
a carrier's address for the Nashville Banner; and 
Peleg lopped of some lines, and stretched out 
others ; but I wish I may be shot if I don't rather 
think he has made it worse than it was when I 
placed it in his hands. It being my first, and, no 
doubt, last piece of poetry, I will print it in this 
place, as it will serve to express my feelings on leav- 
ing my home, my neighbors, and friends and coun- 
try, for a strange land, as fully as I could in plain 

"Farewell to the mountains whose mazes to me 
Were more beautiful far than Eden could be ; 
No fruit was forbidden, but Nature had spread 
Her bountiful board, and her children were fed. 
The hills were our garners our herds wildly grew, 
And Nature was shepherd and husbandman too. 
I felt like a monarch, yet thought like a man, 
As I thanked the Great Giver, and worshipped his plan. 

" The home I forsake where my offspring arose ; 
The graves I forsake where my children repose. 


The home I redeemed from the savage and wild ; 
The home I have loved as a father his child ; 
The corn that I planted, the fields that I cleared, 
The flocks that I raised, and the cabin I reared ; 
The wife of my bosom Farewell to ye all ! 
In the -land of the stranger I rise or I fall. 

" Farewell to my country ! I fought for thee well, 
When the savage rushed forth like the demons from hell. 
In peace or in war I have stood by thy side 
My country, for thee I have lived, would have died ! 
But I am cast off, my career now is run, 
And I wander abroad like the prodigal son 
Where the wild savage roves, and the broad prairies spread, 
The fallen despised will again go ahead." 

A party of American adventurers, then called 
filibusters, had gone into Texas, in the endeavor to 
wrest that immense and beautiful territory, larger 
than the whole Empire of France, from feeble, dis- 
tracted, miserable Mexico, to which it belonged. 
These filibusters were generally the most worthless 
and desperate vagabonds to be found in all the 
Southern States. Many Southern gentlemen of 
wealth and ability, but strong advocates of slavery, 
were in cordial sympathy with this movement, and 
aided it with their purses, and in many other ways. 
It was thought that if Texas could be wrested from 
Mexico and annexed to the United States, it might 
be divided into several slaveholding States, and 
thus check the rapidly increasing preponderance of 
the free States of the North. 


To join in this enterprise, Crockett now left his 
home, his wife, his children. There could be no 
doubt of the eventual success of the undertaking. 
And in that success Crockett saw visions of political 
glory opening before him. I determined, he said, " to 
quit the States until such time as honest and inde- 
pendent men should again work their way to the 
head of the heap. And as I should probably have 
some idle time on hand before that state of affairs 
would be brought about, I promised to give the 
Texans a helping hand on the high road to freedom." 

He dressed himself in a new deerskin hunting- 
shirt, put on a foxskin cap with the tail hanging 
behind, shouldered his farrjous rifle, and cruelly leav- 
ing in the dreary cabin his wife and children whom he 
cherished with an " ocean of love and affection," set 
out on foot upon his perilous adventure. A days' 
journey through the forest brought him to the Mis- 
sissippi River. Here he took a steamer down that 
majestic stream to the mouth of the Arkansas River, 
which rolls its vast flood from regions then quite 
unexplored in the far West. The stream was navi- 
gable fourteen hundred miles from its mouth. 

Arkansas was then but a Territory, two hundred 
and forty miles long and two hundred and twenty- 
eight broad. The sparsely scattered population of 
the Territory amounted to but about thirty thousand. 


Following up the windings of the river three hun- 
dred miles, one came to a cluster of a few straggling 
huts, called Little Rock, which constitutes now the 
capital of the State. 

Crockett ascend jj the river in the steamer, and, 
unencumbered with baggage, save his rifle, hastened 
to a tavern which he saw at a little distance from 
the shore, around which there was assembled quite 
a crowd of men. He had been so accustomed to 
public triumphs that he supposed that they had 
assembled in honor of his arrival. " Strange as it may 
seem," he says, " they took no more notice of me 
than if I had been Dick Johnson, the wool-grower. 
This took me somewhat aback ; " and he inquired 
what was the meaning of the gathering. 

He found that the people had been called to- 
gether to witness the feats of a celebrated juggler 
and gambler. The name of Colonel Crockett had 
gone through the nation ; and gradually it became 
noised abroad that Colonel Crockett was in the 
crowd. " I wish I may be shot," Crockett says, 
" if I wasn't looked upon as almost as great a sight 
as Punch and Judy." 

He was invited to a public dinner that very day. 
As it took some time to cook the dinner, the whole 
company went to a little distance to shoot at a mark. 
All had heard of Crockett's skill. After several of 


the best sharpshooters had fired, with remarkable 
accuracy, it came to Crockett's turn. Assuming an 
air of great carelessness, he raised his beautiful rifle, 
which he called Betsey, to his shoulder, fired, and it 
so happened that the bullet struck exactly in the 
centre of the bull's-eye. All were astonished, and 
so was Crockett himself. But with an air of much in- 
difference he turned upon his heel, saying, " There's 
no mistake in Betsey." 

One of the best marksmen in those parts, cha- 
grined at being so beaten, said, " Colonel, that must 
have been a chance shot," 

" I can do it," Crockett replied, ' five times out 
of six, any day in the week." 

" I knew," he adds, in his autobiography, "it was 
not altogether as correct as it might be ; but when 
a man sets about going the big figure, halfway 
measures won't answer no how." 

It was now proposed that there should be a sec 
ond trial. Crockett was very reluctant to consent 
to this, for he had nothing to gain, and everything 
to lose. But they insisted so vehemently that he 
had to yield. As what ensued does not redound 
much to his credit, we will let him tell the story in 
his own language.' 

" So to it again we went. They were now put 
upon their mettle, and they fired much better than 


the first time ; and it was what might be called 
pretty sharp shooting. When it came to my turn, I 
squared myself, and turning to the prime shot, I 
gave him a knowing nod, by way of showing my 
confidence ; and says I, ' Look out for the bulFs- 
eye, stranger.' I blazed away, and I wish I may 
be shot if I didn't miss the target. They exam- 
ined it all over, and could find neither hair nor 
hide of my bullet, and pronounced it a dead 
miss ; when says I, ' Stand aside and let me look, 
and I warrant you I get on the right trail of the 
critter.' They stood aside, and I examined the 
bull's-eye pretty particular, and at length cried out, 
' Here it is ; there is no snakes if it ha'n't followed 
the very track of the other.' They said it was 
utterly impossible, but I insisted on their searching 
the hole, and I agreed to be stuck up as a mark 
myself, if they did not find two bullets there. They 
searched for my satisfaction, and sure enough it all 
come out just as I had told them ; for I had picked 
up a bullet that had been fired, and stuck it deep 
into the hole, without any one perceiving it. They 
were all perfectly 'satisfied that fame had not made 
too great a flourish of trumpets when speaking of 
me as a marksman ; and they all said they had 
enough of shooting for that day, and they moved 
that we adjourn to the tavern and liquor." 


The dinner consisted of bear's meat, venison, and 
wild turkey. They had an " uproarious " time over 
their whiskey. Crockett made* a coarse and vulgar 
speech, which was neither creditable to his head nor 
his heart. But it was received with great applause. 

The next morning Crockett decided to set out 
to cross the country in a southwest direction, to 
Fulton, on the upper waters of the Red River. The 
gentlemen furnished Crockett with a fine horse, and 
five of them decided to accompany him, as a mark 
of respect, to the River Washita, fifty miles from 
Little Rock. Crockett endeavored to raise some 
recruits for Texas, but was unsuccessful. When 
they reached the Washita, they found a clergyman, 
one of those bold, hardy pioneers of the wilderness, 
who through the wildest adventures were distribut- 
ing tracts and preaching the gospel in the remotest 

He was in a condition of great peril. He had 
attempted to ford the river in the wrong place, and 
had reached a spot where he could not advance any 
farther, and yet could not turn his horse round. 
With much difficulty they succeeded in extricating 
him, and in bringing him safe to the shore. Having 
bid adieu to his kind friends, who had escorted him 
thus far, Crockett crossed the river, and in company 
with the clergyman continued his journey, about 


twenty miles farther west toward a little settlement 
called Greenville. He found his new friend to be 
a very charming companion. In describing the ride, 
Crockett writes : 

" We talked about politics, religion, and nature, 
farming, and bear-hunting, and the many blessings 
that an all-bountiful Providence has bestowed upon 
our happy country. He continued to talk upon 
this subject, travelling over the whole ground as it 
were, until his imagination glowed, and his soul 
became full to overflowing ; and he checked his 
horse, and I stopped mine also, and a stream of elo- 
quence burst forth from his aged lips, such as I have 
seldom listened to: it came from the overflowing 
fountain of a pure and grateful heart. We were 
alone in the wilderness, but as he proceeded, it 
seemed to me as if the tall trees bent their tops 
to listen ; that the mountain stream laughed out 
joyfully as it bounded on like some living thing; 
that the fading flowers of autumn smiled, and sent 
forth fresher fragrance, as if conscious that they 
would revive in spring ; and even the sterile rocks 
seemed to be endued with some mysterious influ- 
ence. We were alone in the wilderness, but all 
things told me that God was there. The thought 
renewed my strength and courage. I had left my 
country, felt somewhat like an outcast, believed that 


I had been neglected and lost sight of. But I was 
now conscious that there was still one watchful Eye 
over me ; no matter whether I dwelt in the popu- 
lous cities, or threaded the pathless forest alone ; no 
matter whether I stood in the high places among 
men, or made my solitary lair in the untrodden 
wild, that Eye was still upon me. My very soul 
leaped joyfully at the thought. I never felt so 
grateful in all my life. I never loved my God so sin- 
cerely in all my life. I felt that I still had a friend. 

" When the old man finished, I found that my 
eyes were wet with tears. I approached and pressed 
his hand, and thanked him, and says I, ' Now let us 
take a drink.'* I set him the example, and he fol- 
lowed it, and in a style too that satisfied me, that if 
he had ever belonged to the temperance society, 
he had either renounced membership, or obtained 
a dispensation. Having liquored, we proceeded on 
our journey, keeping a sharp lookout for mill-seats 
and plantations as we rode along. 

" I left the worthy old man at Greenville, and 
sorry enough I was to part with him, for he talked 
a great deal, and he seemed to know a little about 
everything. He knew all about the history of the 
country ; was well acquainted with all the leading 
men ; knew where all the good lands lay in most of 
Western States. 


" He was very cheerful and happy, though to 
all appearances very poor. I thought that he would 
make a first-rate agent for taking up lands, and men- 
tioned it to him. He smiled, and pointing above, 
said, ' My wealth lies not in this world.' " 

From Greenville, Crockett pressed on about fifty 
or sixty miles through a country interspersed with 
forests and treeless prairies, until he reached Fulton. 
He had a letter of introduction to one of the promi- 
nent gentlemen here, and was received with marked 
distinction. After a short visit he disposed of his 
horse ; he took a steamer to descend the river sev- 
eral hundred miles to Natchitoches, pronounced Nak- 
itosh, a small straggling village of eight hundred 
inhabitants, on the right bank of the Red River, 
about two hundred miles from its entrance into the 

In descending the river there was a juggler on 
board, who performed many skilful juggling tricks, 
and by various feats of gambling won much -money 
from his dupes. Crockett was opposed to gambling 
in all its forms. Becoming acquainted with the 
juggler and, finding him at heart a well-meaning, 
good-natured fellow, he endeavored to remonstrate 
with him upon his evil practices. 

" I told him," says Crockett, " that it was a bur- 
lesque on human nature, that an able-bodied man, 


possessed of his full share of good sense, should 
voluntarily debase himself, and be indebted for sub- 
sistence to such a pitiful artifice. 

" ' But what's to be done, Colonel ? ' says he. 
' I'm in the slough of despond, up to the very chin. 
A miry and slippery path to travel/ 

" ' Then hold your head up/ says I, ' before the 
slough reaches your lips.' 

"' But what's the use?' says he: 'it's utterly 
impossible for me to wade through; and even if, I 
could, I should be in such a dirty plight, that it would 
defy all the waters in the Mississippi to wash me 
clean again. No,' he added in a desponding tone, 
' I should be like a live eel in a frying-pan, Colonel, 
sort of out of my element, if I attempted to live like 
an honest man at this time o' day.' 

" 'That I deny. It is never too late to become 
honest,' said I. ' But even admit what you say to 
be true that you cannot live like an honest man 
you have at least the next best thing in your power, 
and no one can say nay to it.' 

" ' And what is that ? ' 

" ' Die like a brave one. And I know not whether, 
in the eyes of the world, a brilliant death is not pre- 
ferred to an obscure life of rectitude. Most men 
are remembered as they died, and not as they lived. 
We gaze with admiration upon the glories of the 


setting sun, yet scarcely bestow a passing glance 
upon its noonday splendor.' 

" ' You are right ; but how is this to be done ? ' 

" ' Accompany me to Texas. Cut aloof from your 
degrading habits and associates here, and, in fighting 
for the freedom of the Texans, regain your own.' 

" The man seemed much moved. He caught up 
his gambling instruments, thrust them into his 
pocket, with hasty strides traversed the floor two 
or three times, and then exclaimed : 

" ' By heaven, I will try to be a man again. I will 
live honestly, or die bravely. I will go with you to 
Texas.' " 

To confirm him in his good resolution, Crockett 
" asked him to liquor." At Natchitoches, Crockett 
encountered another very singular character. He 
was a remarkably handsome young man, of poetic 
imagination, a sweet singer, and with innumerable 
scraps of poetry and of song ever at his tongue's end. 
Honey-trees, as they were called, were very abund- 
ant in Texas. The prairies were almost boundless 
parterres of the richest flowers, from which the bees 
made large quantities of the most delicious honey. 
This they deposited in the hollows of trees. Not only 
was the honey valuable, but the wax constituted a 
very important article of commerce in Mexico, and 
brought a high price, being used for the immense 


candles which they burned in their churches. The 
bee-hunter, by practice, acquired much skill in 
coursing the bees to their hives. 

This man decided to join Crockett and the jug- 
gler in their journey over the vast prairies of Texas. 
Small, but very strong and tough Mexican ponies, 
called mustangs, were very cheap. They were found 
wild, in droves of thousands, grazing on the prairies. 
The three adventurers mounted their ponies, and 
set out on their journey due west, a distance of one 
hundred and twenty miles, to Nacogdoches. Their 
route was along a mere trail, which was called the 
old Spanish road. It led over vast prairies, where 
there was no path, and where the bee-hunter was 
their guide, and through forests where their course 
was marked only by blazed trees. 

The bee-hunter, speaking of the state of society 
in Texas, said that at San Felipe he had sat down 
with a small party at the breakfast-table, where 
eleven of the company had fled from the States 
charged with the crime of murder. So accustomed 
were the inhabitants to the appearance of fugitives 
from justice, that whenever a stranger came among 
them, they took it for granted that he had com- 
mitted some crime which rendered it necessary for 
him to take refuge beyond the grasp of his country's 


They reached Nacogdoches without any special 
adventure. It was a flourishing little Mexican town 
of about one thousand inhabitants, situated in a 
romantic dell, about sixty miles west of the River 
Sabine. The Mexicans and the Indians were very 
nearly on an intellectual and social equality. Groups 
of Indians, harmless and friendly, were ever saun- 
tering through the streets of the little town. 

Colonel Crockett's horse had become lame on the 
journey. He obtained another, and, with his feet 
nearly touching the ground as he bestrode the little 
animal, the party resumed its long and weary jour- 
ney, directing their course two or three hundred 
miles farther southwest through the very heart of 
Texas to San Antonio. They frequently encoun- 
tered vast expanses of canebrakes; such canes as 
Northern boys use for fishing-poles. There is one 
on the banks of Caney Creek, seventy miles in length, 
with scarcely a tree to be seen for the whole distance. 
There was generally a trail cut through these, bare- 
ly wide enough for a single mustang to pass. The 
reeds were twenty or thirty feet high, and so slender 
that, having no support over the path, they drooped 
a little inward and intermingled their tops. Thus a 
very singular and beautiful canopy was formed, be- 
neath which the travellers moved along sheltered 
from the rays of a Texan sun. - 


As they were emerging from one of these arched 
avenues, they saw three black wolves jogging along 
very leisurely in front of them, but at too great a 
distance to be reached by a rifle-bullet. Wild tur- 
keys were very abundant, and vast droves of wild 
horses were cropping the herbage of the most 
beautiful and richest pastures to be found on earth. 
Immense herds of buffaloes were also seen. 

" These sights," says Crockett, " awakened the 
ruling passion strong within me, and I longed to have 
a hunt on a large scale. For though I had killed 
many bears and deer in my time, I had never 
brought down a buffalo, and so I told my friends. 
But they tried to dissuade me from it, telling me 
that I would certainly lose my way, and perhaps 
perish ; for though it appeared a garden to the eye, 
it was still a wilderness. I said little more upon the 
subject until we crossed the Trinidad River. But 
every mile we travelled, I found the temptation 
grew stronger and stronger." 

The night after crossing the Trinidad River they 
were so fortunate as to come across the hut of a 
poor woman, where they took shelter until the next 
morning. They were here joined by two other 
chance travellers, who must indeed have been rough 
specimens of humanity. Crockett says that though 
he had often seen men who had not advanced far 


over the line of civilization, these were the coarsest 
samples he had ever met. 

One proved to be an old pirate, about fifty years 
of age. He was tall, bony, and in aspect seemed 
scarcely human. The shaggy hair of his whiskers 
and beard covered nearly his whole face. He had 
on a sailor's round jacket and tarpaulin hat. The 
deep scar, apparently of a sword cut, deformed his 
forehead, and another similar scar was on the back 
of one of his hands. His companion was a young 
Indian, wild as the wolves, bareheaded, and with 
scanty deerskin dress. 

Early the next morning they all resumed their 
journey, the two strangers following on foot. Their 
path led over the smooth and treeless prairie, as 
beautiful in its verdure and its flowers as the most 
cultivated park could possibly be. About noon 
they stopped to refresh their horses and dine 
beneath a cluster of trees in the open prairie. They 
had built their- fire, were cooking their game, and 
were all seated upon the grass, chatting very 
sociably, when the bee-hunter saw a bee, which in- 
dicated that a hive of honey might be found not far 
distant. He leaped upon his mustang, and without 
saying a word, " started off like mad," and scoured 
along the prairie. " We watched him," says 
Crockett, " until he seemed no larger than a rat, 
and finally disappeared in the distance." 


Adventures on the Prairie. 

Disappearance of the Bee Hunter. The Herd of Buffaloes. Crockett 
lost. The Fight with the Cougar. Approach of Savages. 
Their Friendliness. Picnic on the Prairie. Picturesque Scene. 
The Lost Mustang recovered. Unexpected Reunion. Depart- 
ure of the Savages. Skirmish with the Mexicans. Arrival at 
the Alamo. 

SOON after the bee-hunter had disappeared, all 
were startled by a strange sound, as of distant 
thunder. It was one of the most beautiful of sum- 
mer days. There was not a cloud to be seen. The 
undulating prairie, waving with flowers, lay spread 
out before them, more beautiful under nature's 
bountiful adornings than the most artistic parterre, 
park or lawn which the hand of man ever reared. 
A gentle, cool breeze swept through the grove, fra- 
grant and refreshing as if from Araby the blest. It 
was just one of those scenes and one of those hours 
in which all vestiges of the Fall seemed to have 
been obliterated, and Eden itself again appeared 
blooming in its pristine beauty. 

Still those sounds, growing more and more dis- 


tinct, were not sounds of peace, were not seolian 
warblings; they were mutterings as of a rising 
tempest, and inspired awe and a sense of peril. 
Straining their eyes toward the far-distant west, 
whence the sounds came, they soon saw an immense 
black cloud just emerging from the horizon and ap- 
parently very low down, sweeping the very surface 
of the prairie. This strange, menacing cloud was 
approaching with manifestly great rapidity. It was 
coming directly toward the grove where the trav- 
ellers were sheltered. A cloud of dust accompanied 
the phenomenon, ever growing thicker and rising 
higher in the air. 

" What can that all mean ? " exclaimed Crockett, 
in evident alarm. 

The juggler sprang to his feet, saying, " Burn my 
old shoes if I know." 

Even the mustangs, which were grazing near by, 
were frightened. They stopped eating, pricked up 
their ears, and gazed in terror upon the approaching 
danger. It was then supposed that the black cloud, 
with its muttered thunderings, must be one of those 
terrible tornadoes which occasionally swept the re- 
gion, bearing down everything before it. The men 
all rushed for the protection of the mustangs. In 
the greatest haste they struck off their hobbles and 
led them into the grove for shelter. 


The noise grew louder and louder, and they had 
scarcely brought the horses beneath the protection 
of the trees, when they perceived that it was an 
immense herd of buffaloes, of countless hundreds, 
dashing along with the speed of the wind, and bel- 
lowing and roaring in tones as appalling as if a band 
of demons were flying and shrieking in terror before 
some avenging arm. 

The herd seemed to fill the horizon. Their num- 
bers could not be counted. They were all driven 
by some common impulse of terror. In their head- 
long plunge, those in front pressed on by the innu- 
merable throng behind, it was manifest that no 
ordinary obstacle would in the slighest degree 
retard their rush. The spectacle was sublime arid 
terrible. Had the travellers been upon the open 
plain, it seemed inevitable that they must have been 
trampled down and crushed out .of every semblance 
of humanity by these thousands of hard hoofs. 

But it so chanced that they were upon what is 
called a rolling prairie, with its graceful undulations 
and gentle eminences. It was one of these beauti- 
ful swells which the grove crowned with its luxu- 

As the enormous herd came along with its rush 
and roar, like the bursting forth of a pent-up flood, 
the terrified mustangs were too much frightened to 


attempt to escape. They shivered in every nerve as 
if stricken by an ague. 

An immense black bull led the band. He was a 
few feet in advance of all the rest. He came roaring 
along, his tail erect in the air as a javelin, his head 
near the ground, and his stout, bony horns projected 
as if he were just ready to plunge upon his foe. 
Crockett writes : 

" I never felt such a desire to have a crack at any- 
thing in all my life. He drew nigh the place where 
I was standing. I raised my beautiful Betsey to my 
shoulder and blazed away. He roared, and suddenly 
stopped. Those that were near him did so likewise. 
The commotion occasioned by the impetus of those 
in the rear was such that it was a miracle that some 
of-them did not break their heads or necks. The 
black bull stood for a few moments pawing the 
ground after he was shot, then darted off around the 
cluster of trees, and made for the uplands of the 
prairies. The whole herd followed, sweeping by 
like a tornado. And I do say I never witnessed a 
sight more beautiful to the eye of a hunter in all my 

The temptation to pursue them was too strong 
for Crockett to resist. For a moment he was him- 
self bewildered, and stood gazing with astonishment 
upon the wondrous spectacle. Speedily he reloaded 


his rifle, sprung upon his horse, and set out in pur- 
suit over the green and boundless prairie. There 
was something now quite ludicrous in the scene. 
There was spread out an ocean expanse of verdure. 
A herd of countless hundreds of majestic buffaloes, 
every animal very ferocious in aspect, was clattering 
along, and a few rods behind them in eager pursuit 
was one man, mounted on a little, insignificant 
Mexican pony, not much larger than a donkey. It 
would seem that but a score of this innumerable 
army need but turn round and face their foe, and 
they could toss horse and rider into the air, and 
then contemptuously trample them into the dust. 

Crockett was almost beside himself with excite- 
ment. Looking neither to the right nor the left, 
unconscious in what direction he was going, he 
urged forward, with whip* and spur, the little mus- 
tang, to the utmost speed of the animal, and yet 
scarcely in the least diminished the distance be- 
tween him and the swift-footed buffaloes. Ere long, 
it was evident that he was losing in the chase. But 
the hunter, thinking that the buffaloes could not 
long continue their flight at such a- speed, and that 
they would soon, in weariness, loiter and stop to 
graze, vigorously pressed on, though his jaded beast 
was rapidly being distanced by the herd. 

At length the enormous moving mass appeared 


but as a cloud in the distant horizon. Still, Crockett, 
his mind entirely absorbed in the excitement of the 
chase, urged his weary steed on, until the buffa- 
loes entirely disappeared from view in the distance. 
Crockett writes : 

" I now paused to allow my mustang to breathe, 
who did not altogether fancy the rapidity of my 
movements ; and to consider which course I would 
have to take to. regain the path I had abandoned. 
I might have retraced my steps by following the 
trail of the buffaloes, but it had always been my 
principle to go ahead, and so I turned to the west 
and pushed forward. 

" I had not rode more than an hour before 
I found, I was completely bewildered. I looked 
around, and there was, as far as the eye could reach, 
spread before me a country apparently in the high- 
est state of cultivation extended fields, beautiful 
and productive, groves of trees cleared from the 
underwood, and whose margins were as regular as 
if the art and taste of man had been employed upon 
them. But there was no other evidence that the 
sound of the axe, or the voice of man, had ever 
here disturbed the solitude of nature. My eyes 
would have cheated my senses into the belief that I 
was in an earthly paradise, but my fears told me 
that I was in a wilderness. 


" I pushed along, following the sun, for I had no 
compass to guide me, and there was no other path 
than that which my mustang made. Indeed, if I 
had found a beaten tract, I should have been almost 
afraid to have followed it ; for my friend the bee- 
hunter had told me, that once, when he had been 
lost in the prairies, he had accidentally struck into 
his own path, and had travelled around and around 
for a whole day before he discovered his error. This 
I thought was a poor way of going ahead ; so I 
determined to make for the first large stream, and 
follow its course." 

For several hours Crockett rode through these 
vast and lonely solitudes, the Eden of nature, with- 
out meeting with the slightest trace of a human 
being. Evening was approaching, still, calm, and 
bright. The most singular and even oppressive 
silence prevailed, for neither voice of bird nor insect 
was to be heard. Crockett began to feel very uneasy. 
The fact that he was lost himself did not trouble him 
much, but he felt anxious for his simple-minded, 
good-natured friend, the juggler, who was left entire- 
ly alone and quite unable to take care of himself 
under such circumstances. 

As he rode along, much disturbed by these un- 
pleasant reflections, another novelty, characteristic 
of the Great West, arrested his attention and elicited 


his admiration. He was just emerging from a very 
lovely grove, carpeted with grass, which grew thidc 
and green beneath the leafy canopy which overarched 
it. There was not a particle of underbrush to ob- 
struct one's movement through this natural park. 
Just beyond the grove there was another expanse of 
treeless prairie, so rich, so beautiful, so brilliant with 
flowers, that even Colonel Crockett, all unaccustomed 
as he was to the devotional mood, reined in his 
horse, and gazing entranced upon the landscape, 
evclaimed : 

" O God, what a world of beauty hast thou made 
for man ! And yet how poorly does he requite thee 
for it ! He does not even repay thee with grati- 

The attractiveness of the scene was enhanced by 
a drove of more than a hundred wild horses, really 
beautiful animals, quietly pasturing. It seemed 
impossible but that the hand of man must have 
been employed in embellishing this fair creation. 
It was all God's work. " When I looked around 
and fully realized it all," writes Crockett, " I 
thought of the clergyman who had preached to me 
in the wilds of Arkansas." 

Colonel Crockett rode out upon the prairie. 
The horses no sooner espied him than, excited, but 
not alarmed, the whole drove, with neighings, and 


tails uplifted like banners, commenced coursing 
around him in an extended circle, which gradually 
became smaller and smaller, until they came in close 
contact ; and the Colonel, not a little alarmed, found 
himself completely surrounded, and apparently the 
prisoner of these powerful steeds. 

The little mustang upon which the Colonel was 
mounted seemed very happy in its new companion- 
ship. It turned its head to one side, and then to 
the 6ther, s and pranced and neighed, playfully biting 
at the mane of one horse, rubbing his nose against 
that of another, and in joyous gambols kicking up 
its heels. The Colonel was anxious to get out of 
the mess. But his little mustang was not at all dis- 
posed to move in that direction ; neither did the 
other horses seem disposed to acquiesce in such a 

Crockett's heels were armed with very formidable 
Spanish spurs, with prongs sharp and long. The 
hunter writes : 

" To escape from the annoyance, I beat the 
devil's tattoo on his ribs, that he might have some 
music to dance to, and we went ahead right merrily, 
the whole drove following in our wake, head up, and 
tail and mane streaming. My little critter, who was 
both blood and bottom, seemed delighted at being 
at the head of the heap ; and having once fairly got 


started, I wish I may be shot if I did not find it 
impossible to stop him. He kept along, tossing his 
head proudly, and occasionally neighing, as much as 
to say, " Come on, my hearties, you see I ha'n't for- 
got our old amusement yet." And they did come 
on with a vengeance, clatter, clatter, clatter, as 
if so many fiends had broke loose. The prairie lay 
extended before me as far as the eye could reach, 
and I began to think that there would be no end to 
the race. 

" My little animal was full of fire and mettle, and 
as it was the first bit of genuine sport that he had 
had for some time, he appeared determined to make 
the most of it. He kept the' lead for full half an 
hour, frequently neighing as if in triumph and deri- 
sion. I thought of John Gilpin's celebrated ride, but 
that was child's play to this. The proverb says, 
' The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle 
to the strong,' and so it proved in the present in- 
stance. My mustang was obliged to carry weight, 
while his competitors were as free as nature had 
made them. A beautiful bay, who had trod close 
upon my heels the whole way, now came side by 
side with my mustang, and we had it hip and thigh 
for about ten minutes, in such style as would have 
delighted the heart of a true lover of the turf. I 
now felt an interest in the race myself, and, for the 



credit of my bit of blood, determined to win it if it 
was at all in the nature of things. I plied the lash 
and spur, and the little critter took it quite kind- 
ly, and tossed his head, and neighed, as much as 
to say, ' Colonel, I know what you're after go 
ahead ! ' and he cut dirt in beautiful style, I tell 

This could hot last long. The wild steed of the 
prairie soon, outstripped the heavily burdened mus- 
tang, and shooting ahead, kicked up his heels as in 
derision. The rest of the herd followed, in the same 
disrespectful manner. Crockett jogged quietly on 
in the rear, glad to be rid of such troublesome and 
dangerous companions. The horses soon reached 
a stream, which Crockett afterward learned was 
called the Navasola River. ' The whole herd, follow- 
ing an adventurous leader, rushed pell-mell into the 
stream and swam to the other side. It was a beau- 
tiful sight to behold these splendid animals, in such 
a dense throng, crossing the stream, and then, 
refreshed by their bath, sweeping like a whirlwind 
over the plain beyond. 

Crockett's exhausted pony could go no further. 
He fairly threw himself upon the ground as if in de- 
spair. Crockett took from the exhausted animal the 
saddle, and left the poor creature to roll upon the 
grass and graze at pleasure. He thought it not 


possible that the mustang could wander to any con- 
siderable distance. Indeed, he fully expected to find 
the utterly exhausted beast, who could no longer 
stand upon his legs, dead before morning. 

Night was fast closing around him. He began 
to look around for shelter. There was a large tree 
blown down by the side of the stream, its top branch- 
ing out very thick and bushy. Crockett thought 
that with his knife, in the midst of that dense foliage 
with its interlacing branches, he could make himself 
a snug arbor, where, wrapped in his blanket, he could 
enjoy refreshing sleep. He approached the tree, 
and began to work among the almost impervious 
branches, when he heard a low growl, which he says 
he interpreted to mean, " Stranger, these apartments 
are already taken." 

Looking about to see what kind of an animal he 
had disturbed, and whose displeasure he had mani- 
festly encountered, he saw the brilliant eyes glaring 
through the leaves of a large Mexican cougar, some- 
times called the panther or American lion. This 
animal, endowed with marvellous agility and strength, 
will pounce from his lair on a deer, and even a buffalo, 
and easily with tooth and claw tear him to pieces. 

He was not more than five or six paces from me," 
writes Crockett, " and was eying, me as an epicure 
surveys the table before he selects his dish. I have 


no doubt the cougar looked upon me as the subject 
of a future supper. Rays of light darted from his 
large eyes, he showed his teeth like a negro in hys- 
terics, and he was crouching on his haunches ready 
for a spring; all of which convinced me that unless 
I was pretty quick upon the trigger, posterity would 
know little of the termination of my eventful career, 
and it would be far less glorious and useful than I 
intend to make it." 

The conflict which ensued cannot be more graph- 
ically described than in Crocket's own words : 

" One glance satisfied me that there was no time 
to be lost. There was no retreat either for me or 
the cougar. So I levelled my Betsey and blazed 
away. The report was followed by a furious growl, 
and the next moment, when I expected to find the 
tarnal critter struggling with death, I beheld him 
shaking his head, as if nothing more than a bee had 
stung him. The ball had struck him on the fore- 
head and glanced off, doing no other injury than 
stunning him for an instant, and tearing off the 
skin, which tended to infuriate him the more. 
The cougar wasn't long in making up his mind 
what to do, nor was I neither ; but he would have 
it all his own way, and vetoed my motion to back 
out. I had not retreated three steps before he 
sprang at me like a steamboat ; I stepped aside, 


and as he lit upon the ground, I struck him vio- 
lently with the barrel of my rifle, but he didn't 
mind that, but wheeled around and made at me 
again. The gun was now of no use, so I threw it 
away, and drew my hunting-knife, for I knew we 
should come to close quarters before the fight 
would be over. This time he succeeded in fasten- 
ing on my left arm, and was ust beginning to 
amuse himself by. tearing the flesh off with his 
fangs, when I ripped my knife into his side, and he 
let go his hold, much to my satisfaction. 

" He wheeled about and came at me with in- 
creased fury, occasioned by the smarting of his 
wounds. I now tried to blind him, knowing that if 
I succeeded he would become an easy prey ; so as he 
approached me I watched my opportunity, and aimed 
a blow at his eyes with my knife ; but unfortunately 
it struck him on the nose, and he paid no other 
attention to it than by a shake of the head and a 
low growl. He pressed me close, and as I was 
stepping backward my foot tripped in a vine, and I 
fell to the ground. He was down upon me like a 
night-hawk upon a June-bug. He seized hold of 
the outer part of my right thigh, which afforded 
him considerable amusement ; the hinder part of 
his body was towards my face ; I grasped his tail 
with my left hand, and tickled his ribs with my 


hunting-knife, which I held in my right. Still the 
critter wouldn't let go his hold ; and as I found 
that he would lacerate my leg dreadfully unless he 
was speedily shaken off, I tried to hurl him down 
the bank into the river, for our scuffle had already 
brought us to the edge of the bank. I stuck, my 
knife into his side, and summoned all my strength 
to throw him over. He resisted, was desperate 
heavy ; but at last I got him so far down the 
declivity that he lost his balance, and he rolled 
over and over till he landed on the margin of the 
river ; but in his fall he dragged me along with 
him. Fortunately, I fell uppermost, and his neck 
presented a fair mark for my hunting-knife. With- 
out allowing myself time even to draw breath, I 
aimed one desperate blow at his neck, and the 
knife entered his gullet up to the handle, and 
reached his heart. He struggled for a few 'moments 
and died. I have had many fights with bears, but 
that was mere child's play. This was the first fight 
ever I had with a cougar, and I hope it may be the 

Crockett, breathless and bleeding, but signally a 
victor, took quiet possession of the treetop, the 
conquest of which he had' so valiantly achieved. He 
parted some of the branches, cut away others, and 
intertwining the softer twigs, something like a bird's 


nest, made for himself a very comfortable bed. 
There was an abundance of moss, dry, pliant, and 
crispy, hanging in festoons from the trees. This, 
spread in thick folds over his litter, made as luxu- 
riant a mattress as one could desire. His horse- 
blanket being laid down upon this, the weary trav- 
eller, with serene skies above him and a gentle 
breeze breathing through his bower, had no cause 
to envy the occupant of the most luxurious chamber 
wealth can furnish. 

He speedily prepared for himself a frugal sup- 
per, carried his saddle into the treetop, and, though 
oppressed with anxiety in view of the prospect 
before him, fell asleep, and in blissful unconscious- 
ness the hours passed away until the sun was rising 
in the morning. Upon awaking, he felt very stiff 
and sore from the wounds he had received in his 
conflict with the cougar. Looking over the bank, 
he saw the dead body of the cougar lying there, and 
felt that he had much cause of gratitude that he 
had escaped so great a danger. 

He then began to look around for his horse. 
But the animal was nowhere to be seen. He as- 
cended one of the gentle swells of land, whence he 
could look far and wide over the unobstructed 
prairie. To his surprise, and not a little to his con- 
sternation, the animal had disappeared, *' without 


leaving trace of hair or hide." At first he thought 
the mustang must have been devoured by wolves 
or some other beasts of prey. But then it was mani- 
fest they could not have eaten his bones, and some- 
thing would have remained to indicate the fate of 
the poor creature. While thus perplexed, Crockett 
reflected sadly that he was lost, alone and on foot, 
on the boundless prairie. .He was, however, too 
much accustomed to scenes of the wildest adventure 
to allow himself to be much cast down. His appe- 
tite was not disturbed, and he began to feel the 
cravings of hunger. 

He took his rifle and stepped out in search of 
his breakfast. He had gone but a short distance 
ere he saw a large flock of wild geese, on the bank 
of the river. Selecting a large fat gander, he shot 
him, soon stripped him of his feathers, built a fire, 
ran a stick through the goose for a spit, and then, 
supporting it on two sticks with prongs, roasted his 
savory viand in the most approved style. He had 
a little tin cup with him, and a paper of ground 
coffee, with which he made a cup of that most 
refreshing beverage. Thus he breakfasted sumptu- 

He was just preparing to depart, with his saddle 
upon his shoulder, much perplexed as to .the course 
he should pursue, when he was again alarmed by 


one of those wild scenes ever occurring in the West. 
First faintly, then louder and louder came the sound 
as of the trampling of many horses on the full 
gallop. His first thought was that another enor- 
mous herd of buffaloes was sweeping down upon 
him. But soon he saw, in the distance, a band of 
about fifty Comanche Indians, well mounted, painted, 
plumed, and bannered, the horse and rider apparent- 
ly one animal, coming down upon him, their horses 
being urged to the utmost speed. It was a sublime 
and yet an appalling spectacle, as this band of half- 
naked savages, their spears glittering in the morning 
sun, and their long hair streaming behind, came 
rushing on. 

Crockett was standing in full view upon the 
banks of the stream. The column swept on, and, 
with military precision, as it approached, divided 
into two semicircles, and in an instant the two ends 
of the circle reached the river, and Crockett was 
surrounded. Three of the savages performed the 
part of trumpeters, and with wonderful resem- 
blance, from their lips, emitted the pealing notes of 
the bugle. Almost by instinct he grasped his rifle, 
but a flash of thought taught him that, under the 
circumstances, any attempt at resistance would be 
worse than unavailing. 

The chief sprang from his horse, and advancing 


with proud strides toward Crockett, was struck 
with admiration at sight of his magnificent rifle. 
Such a weapon, with such rich ornamentation, had 
never before been seen on the prairies. The eager- 
ness with which the savage regarded the gun led 
Crockett to apprehend that he intended to appro- 
priate it to himself. 

The Comanches, though a very warlike tribe, 
had held much intercourse with the Americans, and 
friendly relations then existed between them and 
our Government. Crockett, addressing the chief, 

" Is your nation at war with the Americans ? " 

" No," was the reply ; " they are our friends." 

" And where," Crockett added, " do your get 
your spear-heads, your rifles, your blankets, and 
your knives ?" 

" We get them from our friends the Americans," 
the chief replied. 

" Well," said Crockett, " do you think that if 
you were passing through their country, as I am 
passing through yours, they would attempt to rob 
you of your property? " 

" No," answered the savage ; " they would feed 
me and protect me. And the Comanche will do 
the same by his white brother." 

Crockett then inquired of the chief what had 


guided him and his party to the spot where they 
had found him? The chief said that they were at 
a great distance, but had seen the smoke from his 
fire, and had come to ascertain the cause of it. 

" He inquired," writes Crockett, " what had 
brought me there alone. I told him I had come to 
hunt, and that my mustang had become exhausted, 
and, though I thought he was about to die, that he 
had escaped from me. At this the chief gave a 
low chuckling laugh, and said that it was all a trick 
of the mustang, which is the most wily and cun- 
ning of all animals. But he said that as I was a brave 
hunter, he would furnish me with another. He 
gave orders, and a fine young horse was immediately 
brought forward. 

The "savages 'speedily discovered the dead body 
of the cougar, and commenced skinning him. They 
were greatly surprised on seeing the number of the 
stabs, and inquired into the cause. When Crockett 
explained to them the conflict, the proof of which 
was manifest in his own lacerated skin, and in the 
wounds inflicted upon the cougar, they were greatly 
impressed with the valor he had displayed. The 
chief exclaimed several times, in tones of commin- 
gled admiration and astonishment, " Brave hunter ! 
brave man ! " . He also expressed the earnest wish 
that Crockett would -'Consent to be adopted as a son 


of the tribe. But this offer was respectfully de- 

This friendly chief kindly consented to escort 
Crockett as far as the Colorado River. Crockett put 
his saddle on a fresh horse, and having mounted, 
the chief, with Crockett at his side, took the lead, 
and off the whole band went, scouring over the 
pathless prairie at a rapid speed. Several of the 
band were squaws. They were the trumpeters. 
They made the prairie echo with their bugle-blasts, 
or, as Crockett irreverently, but perhaps more cor- 
rectly says, " The old squaws, at the head of the 
troop, were braying like young jackasses the whole 

After thus riding over the green and treeless 
expanse for about three hours, they came upon a 
drove of wild horses, quietly pasturing on the rich 
herbage. One of the Indians immediately prepared 
his lasso, and darted out toward the herd to make a 
capture. The horses did not seem to be alarmed by 
his approach, but when he got pretty nigh them 
they began to circle around him, keeping at a cau- 
tious distance, with their heads elevated and with 
loud neighings. They then, following the leader- 
ship of a splendid stallion, set off on a brisk canter, 
and soon disappeared beyond the undulations of the 


One of the mustangs remained quietly grazing. 
The Indian rode to within a few yards of him, and 
very skilfully threw his lasso. The mustang seemed 
to be upon the watch, for he adroitly dodged his 
head between his forefeet and thus escaped the 
fatal noose. The Indian rode up to him, and the 
horse patiently submitted to be bridled and thus 

" When I approached," writes Crockett, " I imme- 
diately recognized, in the captive, the pestilent little 
animal that had shammed sickness and escaped from 
me the day before. And when he caught my eye 
he cast down his head and looked rather sheepish, 
as if he were sensible and ashamed of the dirty trick 
he had played me. I expressed my astonishment, to 
the Indian chief, at the mustang's allowing himself 
to be captured without any effort to escape. He 
told me that they were generally hurled to the 
ground with such violence, when first taken with 
the lasso, that they remembered it ever after; and 
that the sight of the lasso will subdue them to sub- 
mission, though they may have run wild for years." 

All the day long, Crockett, with his convoy of 
friendly savages, travelled over the beautiful prairie. 
Toward evening they came across a drove of fat 
buffaloes grazing in the richest of earthly pastures. 
It was a beautiful sight to witness the skill with 


which the Indians pursued and hunted down the 
noble game. Crockett was quite charmed with the 
spectacle. It is said that the Comanche Indians are 
the finest horsemen in the world. Always wander- 
ing about over the boundless prairies, where wild 
horses are found in countless numbers, they are 
ever on horseback, men, women, and children. Even 
infants, almost in their earliest years, are taught to 
cling to the mane of the horse. Thus the Comanche 
obtains the absolute control of the animal ; and when 
scouring over the plain, bareheaded and with scanty 
dress, the horse and rider seem veritably like one 

The Comanches were armed only with bows- and 
arrows. The herd early took fright, and fled with 
such speed that the somewhat exhausted horses of 
the Comanches could not get within arrow-shot of 
them. Crockett, however, being well mounted and 
unsurpassed by any Indian in the arts of hunting, 
selected a fat young heifer, which he knew would fur- 
nish tender steaks, and with his deadly bullet struck 
it down. This was the only beef that was killed. 
All the rest of the herd escaped. 

The Indians gathered around the slain animal for 
their feast. With their sharp knives the heifer was 
soon skinned and cut up into savory steaks and roast- 
ing-pieces. Two or three fires were built. The horses 


were hobbled and turned loose to graze. Every 
one of the Indians selected his own portion, and all 
were soon merrily and even affectionately engaged 
in this picnic feast, beneath skies which Italy never 
rivalled, and surrounded with the loveliness of a park 
surpassing the highest creations of art in London, 
Paris, or New York. 

The Indians were quite delighted with their 
guest. He told them stories of his wild hunting 
excursions, and of his encounters with panthers and 
bears. They were charmed by his narratives, and 
they sat eager listeners until late into the night, 
beneath the stars and around the glowing camp-fires. 
Then, wrapped in their blankets, they threw them- 
selves down on the thick green grass and slept. Such 
are the joys of peace and friendship. 

They resumed their jour.ney in the morning, and 
pressed along, with nothing of special interest occur- 
ring until they reached the Colorada River. As 
they were following down this stream, to strike the 
road which leads to Bexar, they saw in the distance 
a single. column of smoke ascending the clear sky. 
Hastening toward it, they found that it rose from the 
centre of a small grove near the river. When with- 
in a few hundred yards the warriors extended their 
line, so as nearly to encircle the grove, while the 
chief and Crockett advanced cautiously to recon- 


noitre. To their surprise they saw a solitary man 
seated upon the ground near the fire, so entirely 
absorbed in some occupation that he did not observe 
their approach. 

In a moment, Crockett, much to his joy, perceived 
that it was his lost friend the juggler. He was all 
engaged in practising his game of thimbles on the 
crown of his hat. Crockett was now restored to his 
companion, and was near the plain road to Bexar. 
In describing this scene and the departure of his' 
kind Indian friends, the hunter writes : 

" The chief shouted the war-whoop, and suddenly 
the warriors came rushing in from all quarters, pre- 
ceded by the old squaw trumpeters squalling like 
mad. The conjurer sprang to his feet, and was 
ready to sink into the earth when he beheld the 
ferocious-looking fellows that surrounded him. I 
stepped up, took him by the hand, and quieted his 
fears. I told the chief that he was a friend of mine, 
and I was very glad to have found him, for I was afraid 
that he had perished. I now thanked him for his 
kindness in guiding me over the prairies, and gave 
him a large bowie-knife, which he said he would 
keep for the sake of the brave hunter. The whole 
squadron then wheeled off, and I saw them no more. 
I have met with many polite men in my time, but 
no one who possessed in a greater degree what 


may be called trjje spontaneous politeness than this 
Comanche chief, always excepting Philip Hone, Esq., 
of New York, whom I look upon as the politest 
man I ever did see ; for when he asked me to take 
a drink at his own sideboard, he turned his back upon 
me, that I mightn't be ashamed to fill as much as I 
wanted. That was what I call doing the fair thing." 
The poor juggler was quite overjoyed in meeting 
his friend again, whom he evidently regarded with 
much reverence. He said that he was very much 
alarmed when he found himself alone on the path- 
less prairie. After waiting two hours in much anxiety, 
he mounted his mustang, and was slowly retracing his 
steps, when he spied the bee-hunter returning. He 
was laden with honey. They had then journeyed 
Dn together to the present spot. The hunter had 
just gone out in search of game. He soon returned 
with a plump turkey upon his shoulders. They 
built their fire, and were joyously cooking their sup- 
per, when the neighing of a horse near by startled 
them. Looking up, they saw two men approaching 
on horseback. They proved to be the old pirate and 
the young Indian with whom they had lodged a few 
nights before. Upon being hailed they alighted, and 
politely requested permission to join their party. 
This was gladly assented to, as they were now enter- 
ing a region desolated by the war between the 


Texans and the Mexicans, and where many small 
bands of robbers were wandering, ready to plunder 
any weaker party they might encounter. 

The next morning they crossed the river and 
pushed on for the fortress of Alamo. When with- 
in about twenty miles of San Antonio, they beheld 
about fifteen mounted men, well armed, approach- 
ing them at full speed. Crockett's party numbered 
five. They immediately dismounted, made a ram- 
part of their horses, and with the muzzles of their 
rifles pointed toward the approaching foe, were pre- 
pared for battle. 

' It was a party of Mexicans. When within a few 
hundred yards they reined in their horses, and the 
leader, advancing a little, called out to them in 
Spanish to surrender. 

" We must have a brush with those blackguards," 
said the pirate. " Let each one single out his man 
for the first fire. They are greater fools than I take 
them for if they give us a chance for a second shot. 
Colonel, just settle the business with that talking 
fellow with the red feather. He's worth any three 
of the party." 

" Surrender, or we fire ! " shouted the fellow with 
the red feather. The pirate replied, with a piratic 
oath, " Fire away." 

" And sure enough," writes Crockett, " they 


took his advice, for the next minute we were sa- 
luted with a discharge of musketry, the report of 
which was so loud that we were convinced they all 
had fired. Before the smoke had cleared away we 
had each selected our man, fired, and I never did 
see such a scattering among their ranks as followed. 
We beheld several mustangs running wild without 
their riders over the prairie, and the balance of the 
company were already retreating at a more rapid 
gait than they approached. We hastily mounted, 
and commenced pursuit, which we kept up until we 
beheld the independent flag flying from the battle- 
ments of the fortress of Alamo, our place of desti- 
nation. The fugitives succeeded in evading our 
pursuit, and we rode up to the gates of the fortress, 
announced to the sentinel who we were, and the 
gates were thrown open ; and we entered amid 
shouts of welcome bestowed upon us by the pa- 



The Fortress of Alamo. Colonel Bowie. Bombardment of the 
Fort. Crockett's Journal. Sharpshooting. Fight outside of the 
Fort. Death of the Bee Hunter. Kate of Nacogdoches. 
Assault on the Citadel. Crockett a Prisoner. His Death. 

THE fortress of Alamo is just outside of the 
town of Bexar, on the San Antonio River. The 
town is about one hundred and forty miles from the 
coast, and contained, at that time, about twelve 
hundred inhabitants. Nearly all were Mexicans, 
though there were a few American families. In the 
year 1718, the Spanish Government had established 
a military outpost here ; and in the year 1721, a 
few emigrants from Spain commenced a flourishing 
settlement at this spot. Its site is beautiful, the 
air salubrious, the soil highly fertile,-and the water 
of crystal purity. 

The town of Bexar subsequently received the 
name, of San Antonio. On the tenth of December, 
1835, the Texans captured the town and citadel 
from the Mexicans. These Texan Rangers v/ere 
rude men, who had but little regard for the refine- 
ments or humanities of civilization. When Crockett 


with his companions arrived, Colonel Bowie, of 
Louisiana, one of the most desperate of Western 
adventurers, was in the fortress. The celebrated 
bowie-knife was named, after this man. There was 
but a feeble garrison, and it was threatened with an 
attack by an overwhelming force of Mexicans under 
Santa Anna. Colonel Travis was in command. He 
was very glad to receive even so small a reinforce- 
ment. The fame of Colonel Crockett, as one of the 
bravest of men, had already reached his ears. 

" While we were conversing," writes Crockett, 
" Colonel Bowie had occasion to draw his famous 
knife, and I wish I may be shot if the bare sight of 
it wasn't enough to give a man of a squeamish stom- 
ach the colic. He saw I was admiring it, and said 
he, ' Colonel, you might tickle a fellow's ribs a long 
time with this little instrument before you'd make 
make him laugh.' " 

According to Crockett's account, many shameful 
orgies took place in the little garrison. They were 
evidently in considerable trepidation, for a large 
force was gathering against them, and they could 
not look for any considerable reinforcements from 
any quarter. Rumors were continually reaching 
them of the formidable preparations Santa Anna 
was making to attack the place. Scouts ere long 
brought in' the tidings that Santa Anna, President of 


the Mexican Republic, at the head of sixteen hun- 
dred soldiers, and accompanied by several of his ablest 
generals, was within six miles of Bexar. It was said 
that he was doing everything in his power to enlist 
the warlike Comanches in his favor, but that they 
remained faithful in their friendship to the United 

Early in the month of February, 1836, the army 
of Santa Anna appeared before the town, with 
infantry, artillery, and cavalry. With military pre- 
cision they approached, their banners waving, and 
their bugle-notes bearing defiance to the feeble little 
garrison. The Texan invaders, seeing that they 
would soon be surrounded, abandoned the town to 
the enemy, and fled to the protection of the citadel. 
They were but one hundred and fifty in number. 
Almost without exception they were hardy adven- 
turers, and the most fearless and desperate of men. 
They had previously stored away in the fortress all 
the provisions, arms, and ammunition, of which 
they could avail themselves. Over the battlements 
they unfurled an immense flag of thirteen stripes, 
and with a large white star of five points, surrounded 
by the letters " Texas." As they raised their flag, 
they gave three cheers, while with drums and trum- 
pets they hurled back their challenge to the foe. 

The Mexicans raised over the town a blood-red 


banner. It was their significant intimation to the 
garrison that no quarter was be expected. Santa 
Anna, having advantageously posted his troops, in 
the afternoon sent a summons to Colonel Travis, 
demanding an unconditional surrender, threatening, 
in case of refusal, to put every man to the sword. 
The only reply Colonel Travis made was to throw a 
cannon-shot into the town. The Mexicans then 
opened fire from their batteries, but without doing 
much harm. 

In the night, Colonel Travis sent the old pirate 
on an express to Colonel Fanning, who, with a small 
military force, was at Goliad, to entreat him to come 
to his aid. Goliad was about four days' march from 
Bexar. The next morning the Mexicans renewed 
their fire from a battery about three hundred and 
fifty yards from the fort. A three-ounce ball struck 
the juggler on the breast, inflicting a painful but not 
a dangerous wound. 

Day after day this storm of war continued. The 
walls of the citadel were strong, and the bombard- 
ment inflicted but little injury. The sharpshoot- 
ers within the fortress struck down many of the 
assailants at great distances. 

" The bee-hunter," writes Crockett, " is about the 
quickest on the trigger, and the best rifle-shot we 
have in the fort. I have already seen him bring 


down eleven of the ene/ny, and at such a distance 
that we all thought that it would be a waste of 
ammunition to attempt it." Provisions were begin- 
ning to become scarce, and the citadel was so sur- 
rounded that it was impossible for the garrison to 
cut its way through the lines and escape. 

Under date of February 28th, Crockett writes in 
his Journal: 

" Last night our hunters brought in some corn, 
and had a brush with a scout from the enemy 
beyond gunshot of the fort. They put the scout 
to flight, and got in without injury. They bring 
accounts that the settlers are flying in all quar- 
ters, in dismay, leaving their possessions to the 
mercy of the ruthless invader, who is literally 
engaged in a war of extermination more brutal than 
the untutored savage of the desert could be guilty 
of. Slaughter is indiscriminate, sparing neither sex, 
age, nor condition. Buildings have been burnt 
down, farms laid waste, and Santa Anna appears 
determined to verify his threat, and convert the 
blooming paradise into a howling wilderness. For 
just one fair crack at that rascal, even at a hundred 
yards' distance, I would bargain to break my Bet- 
sey, and never pull trigger again. My name's not 
Crockett if I wouldn't get glory enough to appease 
my stomach for the remainder of my life. 


" The scouts report that a settler by the name 
of Johnson, flying with his wife and three little 
children, when they reached the Colorado, left his 
family on the shore, and waded into the river to see 
whether it would be safe to ford with his wagon. 
When about the middle of the river he was seized 
by an alligator, and after a struggle was dragged 
under the water, and perished. The helpless woman 
and her babes were discovered, gazing in agony on 
the spot, by other fugitives, who -happily passed that 
way, and relieved them. Those who fight the bat- 
tles experience but a small part of the privation, 
suffering, and anguish that follow in the train of 
ruthless war. The cannonading continued at inter- 
vals throughout the day, and all hands were kept up 
to their work." 

The next day he writes : " I had a little sport 
this morning before breakfast. The enemy had 
planted a piece of ordnance within gunshot of the 
fort during the night, and the first thing in the 
morning they commenced a brisk cannonade, point 
blank against the spot where I was snoring. I turned 
out pretty smart and mounted the rampart. The 
gun was charged again ; a fellow stepped forth to 
touch her off, but before he could apply the match, 
I let him have it, and he keeled over. A second 
stepped up, snatched the match from the hand 


of the dying man, but the juggler, who had followed 
me, handed me- his rifle, and the next instant the 
Mexican was stretched on the earth beside the first. 
A third came up to the cannon. My companion 
handed me another gun, and I fixed him off in like 
manner. A fourth, then a fifth seized the match, 
who both met with the same fate. Then the whole 
party gave it up as a bad job, and hurried off to the 
camp, leaving the cannon ready charged where they 
had planted it. I came down, took my bitters, and 
went to breakfast." 

In the course of a week the Mexicans lost three 
hundred men. But still reinforcements were con- 
tinually arriving, so that their numbers were on the 
rapid increase. The garrison no longer cherished any 
hope of receiving aid from abroad. 

Under date of March 4th and 5th, 1836, we have 
the last lines which Crockett ever penned. 

" March 4^/2. Shells have been falling into the fort 
like hail during the day, but without effect. About 
dusk, in the evening, we observed a man running 
toward the fort, pursued by about half a dozen of the 
Mexican cavalry. The bee-hunter immediately knew 
him to be the old pirate, who had gone to Goliad, 
and, calling to the two hunters, he sallied out of the 
fort to the relief of the old man, who was hard 
pressed. I followed close after. Before we reached 


the spot the Mexicans were close on the heels of the 
old man, who stopped suddenly, turned short upon 
his pursuers, discharged his rifle, and one of the 
enemy fell from his horse. The chase was renewed, 
but finding that he would be overtaken and cut to 
pieces, he now turned again, and, to the amazement 
of the enemy, became the assailant in his turn. He 
clubbed his gun, and dashed among them like a 
wounded tiger, and they fled like sparrows. By this 
time we reached the spot, and, in the ardor of the 
moment, followed some distance before we saw that 
our retreat to the fort was cut off by another detach- 
ment of cavalry. Nothing was to be done but fight 
to our way through. We were all of the same mind. 
' Go ahead ! ' cried I : and they shouted, ' Go 
ahead, Colonel ! ' We dashed among them, and a 
bloody conflict ensued. They were about twenty 
in number, and they stood their ground. After the 
fight had continued about five minutes, a detach- 
ment was seen issuing from the fort to our relief, and 
the Mexicans scampered off, leaving eight of their 
comrades dead upon the field. But we did not 
escape unscathed, for both the pirate and the bee- 
hunter were mortally wounded, and I received a 
sabre-cut across the forehead. The old man died 
without speaking, as soon as we entered the fort. 
We bore my young friend to his bed, dressed his 


wounds, and I watched beside him. He lay, with- 
out complaint or manifesting pain, until about 
midnight, when he spoke, and I asked him if 
wanted anything. ' Nothing,' he replied, but drew 
a sigh that seemed to rend his heart, as he added, 
' Poor Kate of Nacogdoches.' His eyes were rilled 
with tears, as he continued, ' Her words were pro- 
phetic, Colonel ; ' and then he sang in a low voice, 
that resembled the sweet notes of his own devoted 

' But toom cam' the saddle, all bluidy to see, 
And hame came the steed, but hame never came he.' 

He spoke no more, and a few minutes after died. 
Poor Kate, who will tell this to thee ? " 

The romantic bee-hunter had a sweetheart by 
the name of Kate in Nacogdoches. She seems to 
have been a very affectionate and religious girl. In 
parting, she had presented her lover with a Bible, 
and in anguish of spirit had expressed her fears 
that he would never return from his perilous enter- 

The next day, Crockett simply writes, " March 
%th. Pop, pop, pop ! Bom, bom, bom ! through- 
out the day. No time for memorandums now. Go 
ahead ! Liberty and Independence forever." 

Before daybreak on the 6th of Mareh, the cita- 
del of the Alamo was assaulted by the whole Mex- 


ican army, then numbering about three thousand 
men. Santa Anna in person commanded. The 
assailants swarmed "over the works and into the 
fortress. The battle was fought .with the utmost 
desperation until daylight. Six only of the garrison 
then remained alive. They were surrounded, and 
they surrendered. Colonel Crockett was one. He 
at the time stood alone in an angle of the fort, like 
a lion at bay. His eyes flashed fire, his shattered 
rifle in his right hand, and in his left a gleaming 
bowie-knife, streaming with blood. His face was 
covered with blood flowing from a deep gash across 
his forehead. About twenty Mexicans, dead and 
dying, were lying at his feet. The juggler was also 
there dead. With one hand -he was clenching the 
hair of a dead Mexican, while with the other he 
had driven his knife to the haft in the bosom of 
his foe. 

The Mexican General Castrillon, to whom the 
prisoners had surrendered, wished to spare their 
lives. He led them to that part of the fort where 
Santa Anna stood surrounded by his staff. As 
Castrillon marched his prisoners into the presence 
of the President, he said : 

" Sir, here are six prisoners I have taken alive. 
How shall I dispose of them ? " 

Santa Anna seemed much annoyed, and said, 


" Have I not told you before how to dispose of 
them ? Why do you bring them to me ? " 

Immediately several Mexicans commenced plung- 
ing their swords into the bosoms of the captives. 
Crockett, entirely unarmed, sprang, like a tiger, at 
the throat of Santa Anna. But before he could 
reach him, a dozen swords were sheathed in his heart, 
and he fell without a word or a groan. But there 
still remained upon his brow the frown of indigna- 
tion, and his lip was curled with a smile of defiance 
and scorn. 

And thus was terminated the earthly life of this 
extraordinary man. In this narrative it has been 
the object of the writer faithfully to record the in- 
fluences under which Colonel Crockett was reared, 
and the incidents of his wild and wondrous life, 
leaving it with the reader to form his own esti- 
mate of the character which these exploits indicate. 
David Crockett has gone to the tribunal of his God, 
there to be judged for all the deeds done in "the 
body. Beautifully and consolingly the Psalmist has 
written : 

" Like as a father pitieth his children, so the 
Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth 
our frame ; he remembereth that we are dust." 


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Los Angeles 




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