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By JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
Each one volume, i2mo, illustrated, $1.50.
FERDINAND DE SOTO,
Other Volumes in preparation.
AMERICAN PIONEERS AND PATRIOTS.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES.
JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
DODD & MEAD, No. 762 BROADWAY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
DODD & MEAD,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
LANGE, LITTLE & Co.,
STEAEOTTPB Co. 1C8 T0 u 4 WOOSTKR STREET, N. Y
P R E FAC E.
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
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.
JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
FAIR HAVEN, CONN.
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
' CHAPTER II.
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
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
8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 9
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
IO DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. II
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.
12 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 13
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
14 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
He had no instruction whatever in religion,
morals, manners, or mental culture. It cannot be
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 15
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
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
A man chanced to be working in a field not far
1 6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. I/
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,
I 8 DAVID CROCKETT.
in all their ignorance, to the society only of bears
and wolves. He now established himself upon a
considerable stream, unknown to geography, called
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 19
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
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
20 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 21
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
22 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 23
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
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
24 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
David had naturally a very affectionate heart.
He never had been from home before. His lone-
ly situation roused all the slumbering' emotions
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 2$
of his childhood. In describing this event, he
" 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
26 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 2/
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,
28 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 29
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
3O DAVID CROCKETT.
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 31
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-
32 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
PARENTAGE AND CHILDHOOD. 33
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
34 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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
36 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 37
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
38 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 39
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
4O DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 41
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
42 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 43
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.
44 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 45
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
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
46 DAVID CROCKETT.
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."
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 47
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
48 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 49
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
5O DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
The next morning he borrowed a horse of his
employer and set out for a visit home. He was
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 51
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
52 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 53
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
54 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 55
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
56 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 57
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
58 DAVID CROCKETT.
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 ;
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 59
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
60 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 6l
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
62 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES. 63
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.
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 6$
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
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.
66 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 67
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
68 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 69
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
70 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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,
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 7 1
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
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.
72 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 73
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.
74 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 75
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
76 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 77
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
78 DAVID CROCKETT.
"Black Betty " received many a cordial kiss. The
bridegroom's heart was full of exultant joy. David
" Having gotten my wife, I thought I was com-
pletely made up, and needed nothing more in the
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 79
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
80 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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,
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 8 1
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
82 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 83
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
84 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE. AND SETTLEMENT. 85
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
86 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 87
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
88 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 89
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
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
90 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
MARRIAGE AND SETTLEMENT. 9!
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
92 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
94 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 95
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
90 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 97
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
98 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 99
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
IOO DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. IOI
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.
IO2 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
THE SOLDIER LIFE. IO3
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
104 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
Crockett and his men joined these barbarians,
THE SOLDIER LIFE. IO5
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
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
106 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. IO7
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
IO8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 109
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,
110 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
The hungry army found a good supply of dried
THE SOLDIER LIFE. Ill
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
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
112 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 113
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
114 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. -1 1 5
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
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,
Il6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 1 1/
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
Il8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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-
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 119
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
120 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 121
and to entreat him to come to their aid. Hence the
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,
122 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
THE SOLDIER LIFE. 123
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."
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 125
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
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
126 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 1 27
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,
128 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 1 29
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-
130 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 131
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
132 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 133
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
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
134 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
INDIAN WARFARE. 135
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
136 DAVID CROCKETT.
illustrative anecdote he found no difficulty in man-
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 137
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
138 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 139
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
The scene presented that night was wild and
picturesque in the extreme. The horses of the army
140 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
INDIAN WARFARE. 14!
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
142 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 143
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-
144 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 145
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
146 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
INDIAN WARFARE. 147
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
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.
148 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
INDIAN WARFARE. 149
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
ISO DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
INDIAN WARFARE. !$!
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
152 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
INDIAN WARFARE. 153
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
154 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
156 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 1 57
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.
158 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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.
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 159
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
l6o . DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. l6l
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
1 62 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 163
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
1 64 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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.
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 165
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
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
1 66 DAVID CROCKETT.
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:
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 1 67
"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
1 68 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 169
" 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
I/O DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. I/I
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
1/2 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 1/3
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
1/4 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 175
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
1^6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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.
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 1 77
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
i;8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. 179
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
180 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
THE CAMP AND THE CABIN. l8l
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
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
1 82 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
1 84 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
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 JUSTICE OF PEACE. 185
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<"
1 86 DAVID CROCKETT.
"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
THE JUSTICE OF PEACE. l8/
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
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
I 88 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
THE JUSTICE OF PEACE. 189
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
"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
igO DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. IQl
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
IQ2 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
" 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
THE LEGISLATOR. 193
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
194 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. 19$
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
196 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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.
THE LEGISLATOR. 1 97
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
198 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
THE LEGISLATOR. 199
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."
200 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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
" 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
THE LEGISLATOR. 2OI
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.
2O2 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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 ?"
THE LEGISLATOR. 2O3
" 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
2O4 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. 20$
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
2O6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. 2O?
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
208 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. 209
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
210 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
THE LEGISLATOR. 211
dropped down again to its moorings opposite Mr.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 213
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,
214 DAVID CROCKETT.
both of which he shot. The intellectual culture
of the man may be inferred from the following
characteristic description which he gives of these
" 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,
LIFE ON THE OBION. 215
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.
21 6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
"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
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
LIFE OX THE OBIOX. 21/
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
21 8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
LIFE ON THE OBION. 219
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.
220 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 221
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
222 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 22$
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
224 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
LIFE ON THE OBION. 225
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
226 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 227
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-
228 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 229
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
230 DAVID CROCKETT.
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 sight inspired Crockett with new life.
Through thickets, briers, and brambles they all
rushed bear, dogs, and hunter. At length, the
LIFE ON THE OBION. 23!
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
232 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
LIFE ON THE OBION. 233
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
" 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
234 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 235
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
236 DAVID CROCKETT.
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-
LIFE ON THE OBION. 237
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.
238 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
LIFE ON THE OBION. 239
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 241
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
" 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
242 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" '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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 243
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
244 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 24 $
bear ; and we managed to git it home, then butch-
ered our game, talked over our hunt, and had a glori-
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.
243 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 247
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
248 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOJREST, RIvER, CITY. 24<
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
250 DAVID CROCKETT.
I looked like a pretty cracklin ever to get to Con-
" 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.
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 251
" 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
252 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 253
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.
254 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 255
"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
256 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 257
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
258 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 259
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
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
260 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 261
the conduct of my friend Mr. Verplanck, and to do
as he did. And I know that I did behave myself
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.
262 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 263
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
264 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES FOREST, RIVER, CITY. 265
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
266 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
268 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 269
whole distance is seventeen miles. It was run in
" 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
2/O DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 2/1
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:
"'GENTLEMEN OF PHILADELPHIA:
" ' 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
" So I made my obeisance to them, and retired
into the house."
2/2 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 273
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
2/4 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
"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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 2/5
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
" 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,
2/6 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 2/7
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
" 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
2/8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
" GENTLEMEN :
" 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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 2/9
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 ;
28O DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 28 1
peace a name which, like ' Jack-o'-the lantern,'
blinds your eyes while you follow it through mud
" 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
282 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 283
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
" He was to reform the Government. Now, if
reformation consists in turning out and putting in,
he did it with a vengeance.
284 i)AVID CROCKETT.
" 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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 28$
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
286 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. 28/
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
288 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
TOUR NORTH AND EAST. , 289
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.
THE DISAPPOINTED POLITICIAN. 29!
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
2Q2 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
THE DISAPPOINTED POLITICIAN. 293
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 :
294 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 295
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
296 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
OFF FOR TEXAS. 297
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.
298 DAVID CROCKETT.
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.
OFF FOR TEXAS. 299
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
3OO DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 30 1
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."
302 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 303
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
304 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 305
" 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,
306 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 3O/
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
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
308 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 309
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. -
3IO DAVID CROCKETT.
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
OFF FOR TEXAS. 311
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
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-
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 313
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.
3 14 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 315
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
316 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 317
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.
318 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 319
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,
" 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
320 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 321
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
" 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
322 . DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 323
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
324 DAVID CROCKETT.
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,
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 325
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
326 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES- ON THE PRAIRIE. 327
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
328 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 329
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
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
330 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 331
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
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
332 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 333
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
334 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 335
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-
33^ DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 337
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
338 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
ADVENTURES ON THE PRAIRIE. 339
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
342 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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
344 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
" 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
346 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
34 8 DAVID CROCKETT.
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
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,
350 DAVID CROCKETT.
" 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 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
" 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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