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I leave this rule for others when I'm dead, 
Be always sure you're right— then go ahead ! 

The Author. 


1 > ) ) J ' ) ) t ■, 






Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1834, 

By David Crockett, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia, 

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• IrcpkosTsTjEr'.^v.fc.lioHNsoN, 
• • • • •^ « ^» » » . . • 


Fashion is a thing I care mighty little 
about, except when it happens to run just 
exactly according to my own notion ; and 
I was mighty nigh sending out my book 
without any preface at all, until a notion 
struck me, that perhaps it was necessary to 
explain a little the reason why and where- 
fore I had written it. 

Most of authors seek fame, but I seek for 
justice, — a holier impulse than ever entered 
into the ambitious struggles of the votaries 
oi \hdii fickle^ ftirting goddess. 

A publication has been made to the 
world, which has done me much injus- 
tice 5 and the catchpenny errors which it 


contains, have been already too long sanc- 
tioned by my silence. I don't know the 
author of the book — ^and indeed I don't 
want to know him ; for after he has taken 
such a liberty with my name, and made 
such an effort to hold me up to public 
ridicule, he cannot calculate on any thing 
but my displeasure. If he had been con- 
tent to have written his opinions about me, 
however contemptuous they might have 
been, I should have had less reason to com- 
plain. But when he professes to give my 
narrative (as he often does) in my own 
language, and then puts into my mouth 
such language as would disgrace even an 
outlandish African, he must himself be 
sensible of the injustice he has done me, 
and the trick he has played off on the pub- 
lick. I have met with hundreds, if not with 
thousands of people, who have formed their 
opinions of my appearance, habits, Ian- 


guage, and every thing else from that de- 
ceptive work. 

They have ahnost in every instance ex- 
pressed the most profound astonishment at 
finding me in human shape, and w^ith the 
countenance^ appearance^ and common feel- 
ings of a human being. It is to correct all 
these false notions, and to do justice to my- 
self, that I have written. 

It is certain that the writer of the book 
alluded to has gathered up many imperfect 
scraps of information concerning me, as in 
parts of his work there is some little sem- - 
blance of truth. But I ask him, if this 
notice should ever reach his eye, how 
would he have liked it, if I had treated him 
so ? — if I had put together such a bundle of 
ridiculous stuff, and headed it with Ms 
name, and sent it out upon the world with- 
out ever even condescending to ask his per- 
mission ? To these questions, all upright 



men must give the same answer. It was 
wrong; and the desire to make money 
by it, is no apology for such injustice to a 
fellow man. 

But I let him pass ; as my wish is great- 
ly more to vindicate myself, than to con- 
demn him. 

In the following pages I have endeavour- 
ed to give the reader a plain, honest, home- 
spun account of my state in life, and some 
few of the difficulties which have attended 
me along its journey, dovni to this time. 
I am perfectly aware, that I have related 
many small and, as I fear, uninteresting 
circumstances; but if so, my apology is, 
that it was rendered necessary by a desire 
to link the different periods of my life to- 
gether, as they have passed, from my child- 
hood onward, and thereby to enable the 
reader to select such parts of it as he may 
relish most, if, indeed, there is any thing in 
it which may suit his palate. 


I have also been operated on by another 
consideration. It is this: — I know, that 
obscure as I am, my name is making a con- 
siderable deal of fuss in the world. I can't 
tell why it is, nor in what it is to end. Go 
where I will, everybody seems anxious to 
get a peep at me ; and it would be hard to 
tell which would have the advantage, if 
I, and the " Government," and " Black 
Hawk," and a great eternal big caravan of 
wild varments were all to be showed at the 
same time in four different parts of any of 
the big cities in the nation. I am not so 
sure that I shouldn't get the most custom 
of any of the crew. There must therefore 
be something in me, or about me, that at- 
tracts attention, which is even mysterious 
to myself. I can't understand it, and I 
therefore put all the facts down, leav- 
ing the reader free to take his choice of 


On the subject of my style, it is bad 
enough, in all conscience, to please critics, 
if that is what they are after. They are a 
sort of vermin, though, that I sha'n't even 
so much as stop to brush off. If they w^ant 
to v^rork on my book, just let them go 
ahead ; and after they are done, they had 
better blot out all their criticisms, than to 
know what opinion I would express of 
theni^ and by what sort of a curious name 
I would call them^ if I was standing near 
them, and looking over their shoulders. 
They will, at most, have only their trouble 
for their pay. But I rather expect I shall 
have them on my side. 

But I don't know of any thing in my 
book to be criticised on by honourable men. 
Is it on my spelling ? — that's not my trade. 
Is it on my grammar ? — I hadn't time to 
learn it, and make no pretensions to it. Is 
it on the order and arrangement of my 


book ? — I never wrote one before, and never 
read very many; and, of course, know 
mighty little about that. Will it be on 
the authorship of the book ? — this I claim, 
and 1 11 hang on to it, like a wax plaster. 
The whole book is my own, and every 
sentiment and sentence in it. I would not 
be such a fool, or knave either, as to deny 
that I have had it hastily run over by a 
friend or so, and that some little alterations 
have been made in the spelling and gram- 
mar; and I am not so sure that it is not 
the worse of even that, for I despise this 
way of spelling contrary to nature. And as 
for grammar, it's pretty much a thing of 
nothing at last, after all the fuss that's 
made about it. In some places, I wouldn't 
suffer either the spelling, or grammar, or 
any thing else to be touch'd; and there- 
fore it will be found in my own way. 
But if any body complains that I have 

20 ^ PREFACE. 

had it looked over, I can only say to him, 
her, or them~as the case may he— that while 
critics were learning grammar, and learn- 
ing to spell, I5 and "Doctor Jackson, 
L.L.D." ^^ere fighting in the wars 5 and 
if our hooks, and messages, and proclama- 
tions, and cahinet writings, and- so forth, 
and so on, should need a little looking 
over, and a little correcting of the spell- 
ing and the grammar to make them fit for 
use, its just nohody's business. Big men 
have more important matters to attend 
to than crossing their fs — , and dotting 
their i's — , and such like small things. 
But the "Government's" name is to the 
proclamation, and my name's to the hook ; 
and if I didn't write the book, the " Go- 
vernment" didn't write the proclamation, 
which no man dares to deny ! 

But just read for yourself, and my ears 
for a heel tap, if before you get through 


you don't say, with many a good-natured 
smile and hearty laugh, "This is truly 
the very thing itself — the exact image of 
its Author, 


Washington City, '> 
February 1st, 1834. S 





As the public seem to feel some interest in the 
history of an individual so humble as I am, and 
as that history can be so well known to no person 
living as to myself, I have, after so long a time, 
and under many pressing solicitations from my 
friends and acquaintances, at last determined to 
put my own hand to it, and lay before the world 
a narrative on which they may at least rely as 
being true. And seeking no ornament or colour- 
ing for a plain, simple tale of truth, I throw aside 
all hypocritical and fawning apologies, and, ac- 
cording to my o"wn maxim, just ''go ahead.^^ 
Where I am not known, I might, perhaps, gain 
some little credit by having thrown around this 

volume some of the flowers of learning ; but 

B 13 


where I am known, the vile cheatery would soon 
be detected, and like the foolish jackdaw, that 
with a horrowed tail attempted to play the pea- 
cock, I should be justly robbed of my pilfered 
ornaments, and sent forth to strut without a tail 
for the balance of my time. I shall commence 
my book with what little I have learned of the 
history of my father, as all great men rest many, 
if not most, of their hopes on their noble ancestry. 
Mine was poor, but I hope honest, and even that 
is as much as many a man can say. But to my 
subject. ' 

My father's name was John Crockett, and he 
was of Irish descent. He was either born in 
Ireland or on a passage from that country to Ame- 
rica across the Atlantic. He was by profession a 
farmer, and spent the early part of his life in the 
state of Pennsylvania. The name of my mother 
was Rebecca Hawkins. She was an American 
woman, born in the state of Maryland, between 
York and Baltimore. It is likely I may have 
heard where they were married, but if so, I have 
forgotten. It is, however, certain that they were, 
or else the public would never have been troubled 
with the history of David Crockett, their son. 

I have an imperfect recollection of the part 
which \ have understood my father took in the 


revolutionary war. I personally know nothing 
about it, for it happened to be a little before my 
day ; but from himself, and many others who 
were well acquainted with its troubles and afflic- 
tions, I have learned that he was a soldier in the 
revolutionary war, and took part in that bloody 
struggle. He fought, according to my information, 
in the battle at Kings Mountain against the Bri- 
tish and tories, and in some other engagements of 
which my remembrance is too imperfect to enable 
me to speak with any certainty. At some time, 
though I cannot say certainly when, my father, as 
I have understood, lived in Lincoln county, in the 
state of North Carolina. How long, I don't know. 
But when he removed from there, he settled in 
that district of country which is now embraced in 
the east division of Tennessee, though it was not 
then erected into a state. 

He settled there under dangerous circumstances, ' 
both to himself and his family, as the country 
was full of Indians, who were at that time very 
troublesome. By the Creeks, my grandfather and 
grandmother Crockett were both murdered, in 
their own house, and on the very spot of ground 
where Rogersville, in Hawkins county, now stands. 
At the same time, the Indians wounded Joseph 
Crockett, a brother to my father, by a ball, which 


broke his arm ; and took James a pj^isoner, who 
was still a younger brother than Joseph, and who, 
from natural defects, was less able to make his es- 
cape, as he was both deaf and dumb. He remained 
with them for seventeen years and nine months, 
when he was discovered and recollected by my 
father and his eldest brother, William Crockett ; 
and was purchased by them from an Indian 
trader, at a price which I do not now remember ; 
but so it was, that he was delivered up to them, 
and they returned him to his relatives. He now 
lives in Cumberland county, in the state of Ken- 
tucky, though I have not seen him for many 

My father and mother had six sons and thiee 
daughters. I was the fifth son. What a pity I 
hadn't been the seventh ! For then I might have 
been, by common consent, called doctor, as a 
heap of people get to be great men. But, like 
many of them, I stood no chance to become great 
in any other way than by accident. As my father 
was very poor, and living as he did far hack in 
the back woods, he had neither the means nor the 
opportunity to give me, or any of the rest of his 
children, any learning. 

But before I get on the subject of my own trou- 
bles, and a great many very funny things that 


have happened to me, like all other historians and 
bioagraphers, I should not only inform the public 
that I was born, myself, as well as other folks, but 
that this important event took place, according to 
the best information I have received on the sub- 
ject, on the 17th of August, in the year 1786; 
whether by day or night, I believe I never heard, 
but if I did I, have forgotten. I suppose, however, 
it is not very material to my present purpose, nor 
to the world, as the more important fact is well 
attested, that I was born ; and, indeed, it might be 
inferred, from my present size and appearance, that 
I was pretty well born, though I have never yet 
attached myself to that numerous and worthy 

At that time my father lived at the mouth of 
Lime Stone, on the Nola-chucky river ; and for 
the purpose not only of showing what sort of a 
man I now am, but also to show how soon I began 
to be a sort of a little man, I have endeavoured 
to take the back track of life, in order to fix on 
the first thing that I can remember. But even 
then, as now, so many things were happening, 
that as Major Jack Downing would say, they are all 
in "a pretty considerable of a snarl," and I find it 
" kinder hard" to fix on that thing, among them 

all, which really happened first. But I think it 

B 2 


likely, I have hit on the outside line of my recol- 
lection ; as one thing happened at which I was so 
badly scared, that it ^eems to me I could not have 
forgotten it, if it had happened a little time only 
after I was born. Therefore it furnishes me with 
no certain evidence of my age at the time ; but I 
know one thing very well, and that is, that when 
it happened, I had no knowledge of the use of 
breeches, for I had never had any nor worn any. 

But the circumstance was this : My four elder 
brothers, and a well-grown boy of about fifteen 
years old, by the name of Campbell, and myself, 
were all playing on the river's side ; when all the 
rest of them got into my father's canoe, and put 
out to amuse themselves on the water, leaving me 
on the shore alone. 

Just a little distance below them, there was a 
fall in the river, which went slap-right straight 
down. My brothers, though they were little fel- 
lows, had been used to paddling the canoe, and 
could have carried it safely anywhere about there; 
but this fellow Campbell wouldn't let them 
have the paddle, but, fool like, undertook to ma- 
nage it himself. I reckon he had never seen a 
water craft before ; and it went just any way but 
the way he wanted it. There he paddled, and 
paddled, and paddled — all the while going wrong, 


— until, in a short time, here they were all going, 
straight forward, stern foremost, right plump to 
the falls ; and if they had only had a fair shake, 
they would have gone over as slick as a whistle. 
It was'ent this, though, that scared me ; for I was 
so infernal mad that they had left me on the shore, 
that I had as soon have seen them all go over the 
falls a bit, as any other way. But their danger 
was seen by a man by the name of Kendall, but I'll 
be shot if- it was Amos ; for I believe I would 
know him yet if I was to see him. This man 
Kendall was working in a field on the bank, and 
knowing there was no time to lose, he started full 
tilt, and here he come like a cane brake afire ; 
and as he ran, he threw off his coat, and then his 
jacket, and then his shirt, for I know when he got 
to the water he had nothing on but his breeches. 
But seeing him in such a hurry, and tearing off 
his clothes as he went, I had no doubt but that the 
devil or something else was after him — and close 
on him, too — as he was running within an inch of 
' his life. This alarmed me, and I screamed out 
like a young painter. But Kendall didn't stop 
for this. He went ahead with all might, and as 
full bent on saving the boys, as Amos was on 
moving the deposites. When he came to the wa- 
ter he plunged in, and where it was too deep to 


wade he would swim, and where it was shallow 
enough he went bolting on ; and by such exertion 
as I never saw at any other time in my life, 
he reached the canoe, when it was within twenty 
or thirty feet of the falls ; and so great was the 
suck, and so swift the current, that poor Ken- 
dall had a hard time of it to stop them at last, 
as Amos will to stop the mouths of the people 
about his stockjobbing. But he hung on to the 
canoe, till he got it stop'd, and then draw'd it 
out of danger. When they got out, I found the 
boys were more scared than I had been, and the 
only thing that comforted me was, the belief 
that it was a punishment on them for leaving 
me on shore. 

Shortly after this, my father removed, and 
settled in the same county, about ten miles above 

There another circumstance happened, which 
made a lasting impression on my memory, 
though I was but a small child. Joseph Haw- 
kins, who was a brother to my mother, was 
in the woods hunting for deer. He was passing 
near a thicket of brush, in which one of our 
neighbours was gathering some grapes, as it was 
in the fall of the year, and the grape season. 
The body of the man was hid by the brush, 


and it was only as he would raise his hand to 
pull the bunches, that any part of him could be 
seen. It was a likely place for deer ; and my 
uncle, having no suspicion that it was any human 
being, but supposing the raising of the hand to 
be the occasional twitch of a deer's ear, fired at 
the lump, and as the devil would have it, un- 
fortunately shot the man through the body. I 
saw my father draw a silk handkerchief through 
the bullet hole, and entirely through his body ; 
yet after a while he got well, as little as any one 
would have thought it. What become of him, 
or whether he is dead or alive, I don't know ; 
but I reckon he did'ent fancy the business of ga- 
thering grapes in an out-of-the-way thicket soon 

The next move my father made was to the 
mouth of Cove creek, where he and a man by the 
name of Thomas Galbreath undertook to build a 
mill in partnership. They went on very well 
with their work until it was ni^h done, when 
there came the second epistle to Noah's fresh, and 
away went their mill, shot, lock, and barrel. I 
remember the water rose so high, that it got up 
into the house we lived in, and my father moved 
us out of it, to keep us from being drowned. I 
was now about seven or eight years old, and have 


a pretty distinct recollection of every thing that 
was goinof on. From his bad luck in that bu- 
siness, and being ready to wash out from mill 
building, my father again removed, and this time 
settled in Jefferson county, now in the state of 
Tennessee ; where he opened a tavern on the road 
from Abbingdon to Knoxville. 

His tavern was on a small scale, as he was poor ; 
and the principal accommodations which he kept, 
were for the Avaggoners who travelled the road. 
Here I remained with him until I was twelve 
years old ; and about that time, you may guess, if 
you oelong to Yankee land, or reckon, if like me 
you belong to the back-woods, that I began to 
make up my acquaintance with hard times, and a 
plenty of them. 

An old Dutchman, by the name of Jacob Siler, 
who was moving from Knox county to Rock- 
bridge, in the state of Virginia, in passing, made a 
stop at my father's house. He had a large stock 
of cattle, that he was carrying on with him ; and I 
suppose made some proposition to my father to 
hire some one to assist him. 

Being hard run every way, and having no 
thought, as I believe, that I was cut out for a 
Congressman or the like, young as I was, and as 
little as I knew about travelling, or being from 


home, he hired me to the old Dutchman, to go 
four hundred miles on foot, with a perfect stranger 
that I never had seen until the evening before. I 
set out with a heavy heart, it is true, but I went 
ahead, until we arrived at the place, which was 
three miles from what is called the Natural Bridge, 
and made a stop at the house of a Mr. Hartley, 
who was father-in-law to Mr. Siler, who had 
hired me. My Dutch master was very kind to 
me, and gave me five or six dollars, being pleased, 
as he said, with my services. 

This, however, I think was a bait for me, as he 
persuaded me to stay with him, and not return 
any more to my father. I had been taught so 
many lessons of obedience by my father, that I 
at first supposed I was bound to obey this man, 
or at least I was afraid openly to disobey him ; and 
I therefore staid with him, and tried to put on a 
look of perfect contentment until I got the family 
all to believe I was fully satisfied. I had been 
there about four or five weeks, when one day my- 
self and two other boys were playing on the road- 
side, some distance from the house. There came 
along three waggons. One belonged to an old 
man by the name of Dunn, and the others to two 
of his sons. They had each of them a good team, 
and were all bound for Knoxville. They had been 


in the habit of stopping at my father's as they 
passed the road, and I knew them. I made my- 
self known to the old gentleman, and informed 
him of my situation ; I expressed a wish to get 
back to my father and mother, if they could fix 
any plan for me to do so. They told me that 
they would stay that night at a tavern seven 
miles from there, and that if I could get to them 
before day the next morning, they would take me 
home ; and if I was pursued, they would protect 
me. This was a Sunday evening ; I went back 
to the good old Dutchman's house, and as good 
fortune would have it, he and the family were out 
on a visit. I gathered my clothes, and what little 
money I had, and put them all together under the 
head of my bed. 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 ; and between my childish love of home, 
on the one hand, and the fears of which I have 
spoken, on the other, I felt mighty queer. 

But so it was, about three hours before day in 


the morning I got up to make my start. When I 

got out, I found it was snowing fast, and that the 

snow was then on the ground about eight inches 

deep. I had not even the advantage of moonlight, 

and the whole sky was hid by the falling snow, 

so that I had to guess at my way to the big road, 

which was about a half mile from the house. 

I however pushed ahead and soon got to it, and 

then pursued it, in the direction to the waggons. 

I could not have pursued the road if I had not 

guided myself by the opening it made between 

the timber, as the snow was too deep to leave any 

part of it to be known by either seeing or feeling. 

Before I overtook the waggons, the earth was 

covered about as deep as my knees ; and my 

tracks filled so briskly after me, that by daylight, 

my Dutch master could have seen no trace which 

I left. 

I got to the place about an hour before day. I 

found the waggoners already stirring, and engaged 

in feeding and preparing their horses for a start. 

Mr. Dunn took me in and treated me with great 

kindness. My heart was more deeply impressed 

hy meeting with such a friend, and " at such a 

time," than by wading the snow-storm by night, 

or all the other sufierings which my mind had 

endured. I warmed myself by the fire, for I was 



very cold, and after an early breakfast, we set out 
on our journey. The thoughts of home now be- 
gan to take the entire possession of my mind, and 
I almost numbered the sluggish turns of the 
wheels, and much more certainly the miles of our 
travel, which appeared to me to count mighty 
slow. I continued with my kind protectors, 
until we got to the house of a Mr. John Cole, on 
Roanoke, when my impatience became so great, 
that I determined to set out on foot and go ahead 
by myself, as I could travel twice as fast in that 
way as the waggons could. 

Mr. Dunn seemed very sorry to part with me, 
and used many arguments to prevent me from 
leaving him. But home, poor as it was, again 
rushed on my memory, and it seemed ten times 
as dear to me as it ever had before. The reason 
was, that my parents were there, and all that I 
had been accustomed to in the hours of childhood 
and infancy was there ; and there my anxious 
little heart panted also to be. We remained at 
Mr. Coles that night, and early in the morning I 
felt that I couldn't stay ; so, taking leave of my 
friends the waggoners, I went forward on foot, until 
I was fortunately overtaken by a gentleman, who 
was returning from market, to which he had been 
with a drove of horses. He had a led horse, with 


a bridle and saddle on him, and he kindly offered 
to let me get on his horse and ride him. I did so, 
and was glad of the chance, for I was tired, and 
was, moreover, near the first crossing of Roanoke, 
which I would have been compelled to wade, 
cold as the water was, if I had not fortunately met 
this good man. I travelled with him in this way, 
without any thing turning up worth recording, 
until we got within fifteen miles of my father's 
house. There we parted, and he went on to 
Kentucky and I trudged on homeward, which place 
I reached that evening. The name of this kind 
gentleman I have entirely forgotten, and I am 
sorry for it ; for it deserves a high place in my 
little book. A remembrance of his kindness to a 
little straggling boy, and a stranger to him, has 
however a resting place in my heart, and there it 
will remain as long as I live. 

( 29 ) 


Having gotten home, as I have just related, I 
remained with my father until the next fall, at 
which time he took it into his head to send me 
to a little country school, which was kept in the 
neighbourhood by a man whose name was Ben- 
jamin Kitchen ; though I believe he was no way 
connected w^ith the cabinet. I went four days, 
.and had just began to learn my letters a little, 
when I had an unfortunate falling out with one 
of the scholars, — a boy much larger and older 
than myself. I knew well enough that though 
the school-house might do for a still hunt, it 
wouldn't do for a drive, and so I concluded to 
wait until I could get him out, and then I was 
determined to give him salt and vinegar. I waited 
till in the evening, and when the larger scholars 
were spelling, I slip'd out, and going some distance 
along his road, I lay by the way-side in the 
bushes, waiting for him to come along. After a 

while he and his company came on sure enough, 



and 1 pitched out from the bushes and set on 
him like a wild cat. I scratched his face all to 
a flitter jig, and soon made him cry out for quar- 
ters in good earnest. The fight being over. I 
went on home, and the next morning was start- 
ed again to school ; but do you think I went ? 
No, indeed. I was very clear of it ; for I ex- 
pected the master would lick me up, as bad as I 
had the boy. So, instead of going to the school- 
house, I laid out in the woods all day until in 
the evening the scholars were dismissed, and my 
brothers, who were also going to school, came 
along, returning home. I wanted to conceal this 
whole business from my father, and I therefore 
persuaded them not to tell on me, which they 
agreed to. 

Things went on in this way for several days ; I 
starting with them to school in the morning, and 
returning with them in the evening, but lying out 
in the woods all day. At last, however, the mas- 
ter wrote a note to my father, inquiring why I 
was not sent to school. When he read this note, 
he called me up, and I knew very well that I was 
in a devil of a hobble, for my father had been 
taking a few horns, and was in a good condition to 
make the fur fly. He called on me to know why 
I had not been at school ? I told him I was 


afraid to go, and that the master would whip me ; 
for I knew quite well if I was turned over to this 
old Kitchen, I should be cooked up to a cracklin, 
in little or no time. But I soon found that I was 
not to expect a much better fate at home j for 
my father told me, in a very angry manner, 
that he would whip me an eternal sight worse 
than the master, if I didn't start immediately to 
the school. I tried again to beg off ; but nothing 
would do, but to go to the school. Finding me 
rather too slow about starting, he gathered about a 
two year old hickory, and broke after me. I put 
out with all my might, and soon we were both up 
to the top of our speed. We had a tolerable tough 
race for about a mile ; but mind me, not on the 
school-house road, for I was trying to get as far 
the t'other way as possible. And I yet believe, if 
my father and the schoolmaster could both have 
levied on me about that time, I should never have 
been called on to sit in the councils of the na- 
tion, for I think they would have used me up. 
But fortunately for me, about this time, I saw just 
before me a hill, over which I made headway, 
like a young steamboat. As soon as I had passed 
over it, I turned to one side, and hid myself in the 
bushes. Here I waited until the old gentleman 
passed by, puffing and blowing, as tho' his steam 


was high enough to burst his boilers. I waited 
until he gave up the hunt, and passed back again : 
I then cut out, and went to the house of an ac- 
quaintance a few miles oflf, who was just about to 
start with a drove. His name was Jesse Cheek, 
and I hired myself to go with him, determining 
not to return home, as home and the school-house 
had both become too hot for me. I had an elder 
brother, who also hired to go with the same drove. 
We set out and went on through Abbingdon, and 
the county seat of Withe county, in the state of 
Virginia ; and then through Lynchburgh, by 
Orange court-house, and Charlottesville, passing 
through what was called Chester Gap, on to a 
town called Front Royal, where my employer sold 
out his drove to a man by the name of Vanmetre ; 
and I was started homeward again, in company 
with a brother of the first owner of the drove, 
with one horse between us ; having left my bro- 
ther to come on with the balance of the com- 

I traveled on with my new comrade about three 
days' journey ; but much to his discredit, as I then 
thought, and still think, he took care all the time 
to ride, but never to tie ; at last I told him to go 
ahead, and I would come when I got ready. He 
gave me four dollars to bear my expenses up- 


wards of four hundred miles, and then cut out and 
left me. 

I purchased some provisions, and went on 
slowly, until at length I fell in with a waggoner, 
with whom I was disposed to scrape up a hasty 
acquaintance. I inquired where he lived, and 
where he was going, and all about his affairs. He 
informed me that he lived in Greenville, Tennessee, 
and was on his way to a place called Gerardstown, 
fifteen miles below Winchester. He also said, 
that after he should make his journey to that 
place, he would immediately return to Tennessee. 
His name was Adam Myers, and a jolly good fel- 
low he seemed to be. On a little reflection, I de- 
termined to turn back and go with him, which I 
did ; and we journeyed on slowly as waggons com- 
monly do, but merrily enough. I often thought 
of home, and, indeed, wished bad enough to be 
there ; but, when I thought of the school-house, 
and Kitchen, my master, and the race with my 
father, and the big hickory he carried, and of the 
fierceness of the storm of wrath that I had left 
him in, I was afraid to venture back ; for I knew 
my father's nature so well, that I was certain his 
anger would hang on to him like a turkle does to a 
fisherman's toe, and that, if I went back in a hurry, 
he would give me the devil in three or four ways 


But I and the waggoner had traveled two days, 
when we met my brother, who, I before stated, I 
had left behind when the drove was sold out. 
He persuaded me to go home, but I refused. He 
pressed me hard, and brought up a great many 
mighty strong arguments to induce me to turn 
back again. He pictured the pleasure of meeting 
my mother, and my sisters, who all loved me 
dearly, and told me what uneasiness they had al- 
ready suffered about me. I could not help shedding 
tears, which I did not often do, and my affections 
all pointed back to those dearest friends, and as I 
thought, nearly the only ones I had in the world ; 
but then the promised whipping — that was the 
thing. It came right slap down on every thought 
of home ; and I finally determined that make or 
break, hit or miss, I v/ould just hang on to my 
journey, and go ahead with the waggoner. My 
brother was much grieved at our parting, but he 
went his way, and so did I. We went on until 
at last we got to Gerardstown, where the waggoner 
tried to get a back load, but he could not without 
going to Alexandria. He engaged to go there, 
and I concluded that I would wait until he re- 
turned. I set in to work for a man by the name 
of John Gray, at twenty-five cents per day. My 
Ipibour, however, was light, such as ploughing in 


some small grain, in which I succeeded in pleasing 
the old man very well. I continued working 
for him until the waggoner got back, and for a 
good long time afterwards, as he continued to run 
his team back and forward, hauling to and from 
Baltimore. In the next spring, from the proceeds 
of my daily labour, small as it was, I was able to 
get me some decent clothes, and concluded I 
would make a trip with the waggoner to Balti- 
more, and see what sort of a place that was, and 
what sort of folks lived there. I gave him the 
balance of what money I had for safe keeping, 
which, as well as I recollect, was about seven dol- 
lars. We got on well enough until we came near 
Ellicott's Mills. Our load consisted of flour, in 
barrels. Here I got into the waggon for the pur- 
pose of changing my clothing, not thinking that I 
was in any danger ; but while I was in there we 
were met by some wheel-barrow men, who were 
working on the road, and the horses took a scare 
and away they went, like they had seen a ghost. 
They made a sudden wheel around, and broke the 
waggon tongue slap, short off, as a pipe-stem ; and 
snap went both of the axletrees at the same time, 
and of all devlish flouncing about of flour barrels 
that ever was seen, I reckon this took the beat. 
Even a rat would have stood a bad chance in a 


straight race among them, and not much better 
in a crooked one ; for he would have been in a 
good way to be ground up as fine as ginger by 
their rolling over him. But this proved to me, 
that 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. All these dangers I escaped unhurt, 
though, like most of the office-holders of these 
times, for a while I was afraid to say my soul was 
my own ; for I didn't know how soon I should 
be knocked into a cocked hat, and get my v/alking 
papers for another country. 

We put our load into another waggon, and hauled 
ours to a workman's shop in Baltimore, having 
delivered the flour, and there we intended to re- 
main two or three days, which time was necessary 
to repair the runaway waggon. While I was 
there, I went, one day, down to the wharf, and 
was much delighted to see the big ships, and their 
sails all flying; for I had never seen any such 
things before, and, indeed, I didn't believe there 
were any such things in all nature. After a short 
time my curiosity induced me to step aboard of 
one, where I was met by the captain, who asked 
me if I didn't wish to take a voyage to London ? I 
told him I did, for by this time I had become 


pretty well weaned from home^ and I cared but 
little where I was, or where I went, or what be- 
come of me. He said he wanted just such a boy 
as I was, which I was glad to hear. I told him 1 
would go and get my clothes, and go with him. 
He enquired about my parents, where they lived, 
and all about them. I let him know that they 
lived in Tennessee, many hundred miles off. We 
soon agreed about my intended voyage, and I went 
back to my friend, the waggoner, and informed 
him that I was going to London, and wanted my 
money and my clothes. He refused to let me 
have either, and swore that he would confine me, 
and take me back to Tennessee. I took it to heart 
very much, but he kept so close and constant a 
watch over me, that I found it impossible to es- 
cape from him, until he had started homeward, 
and made several days' journey on the road. He 
was, during this time, very ill to me, and threatened 
me with his waggon whip on several occasions. 
At length I resolved to leave him at all hazards ; 
and so, before day, one morning, I got my clothes 
out of his waggon, and cut out, on foot, without a 
farthing of money to bear my expenses. For all 
other friends having failed, I determined then to 
throw myself on Providence, and see how that 

would use me. I had gone, however, only a few 



miles when 1 came up with another waggoner, and 
such was my situation, that I felt more than ever 
the necessity of endeavouring to find a friend. I 
therefore concluded I would seek for one in him. 
He was going westwardly, and very kindly en- 
quired of me where I was travelling ? My youth- 
ful resolution, which had brooked almost every 
thing else, rather gave way at this enquiry ; for it 
brought the loneliness of my situation, and every 
thing else that was calculated to oppress me, di- 
rectly to view. My first answer to his question 
was in a sprinkle of tears, for if the world had 
been given to me, I could not, at that moment, 
have helped crying. As soon as the storm of 
feeling was over, I told him how I had been treated 
by the waggoner but a little before, who kept what 
little money I had, and left me without a copper 
to buy even a morsel of food. 

He became exceedingly angry, and swore that 
he would make the other waggoner give up my 
money, pronouncing him a scoundrel, and many 
other hard names. I told him I was afraid to see 
him, for he had threatened me with his waggon 
whip, and I believed he would injure me. But 
my new friend was a very large, stout-looking 
man, and as resolute as a tiger. He bid me 
not to be afraid, still swearing he would have 


my money, or whip it out of the wretch who 
had it. 

We turned and went back about two miles, 
when we reached the place where he was. I went 
reluctantly ; but I depended on my friend for pro- 
tection. When we got there, I had but little to 
say ; but approaching the waggoner, my friend 
said to him, " You damn'd rascal, you have treated 
this boy badly." To which he replied, it was my 
fault. He w^as then asked, if he did not get 
seven dollars of my money, which he confessed. 
It was then demanded of him ; but he declared 
most solemnly, that he had not that amount in 
the world ; that he had spent my money, and in- 
tended paying it back to me when we got to Ten- 
nessee. I then felt reconciled, and persuaded my 
friend to let him alone, and we returned to his 
waggon, geared up, and started. His name I shall 
never forget while my memory lasts ; it was 
Henry Myers. He lived in Pennsylvania, and 
I found him what he professed to be, a faithful 
friend and a clever fellow. 

We traveled together for several days, but at 
length I concluded to endeavour to make my way 
homeward ; and for that purpose set out again on 
foot, and alone. But one thing I must not omit. 
The last night I staid with Mr. Myers, was at a 


place where several other vv^aggoners also staid. 
He told them, before we parted, that I was a poor 
IHtle straggling boy, and how I had been treated ; 
•■nd that I was without money, though I had a 
long journey before me, through a land of stran 
gers, where it was not even a wilderness. 

They were good enough to contribute a sort of 
money-purse, and presented me with three dol- 
lars. On this amount I travelled as far as Mont- 
gomery court-house, in the state of Virginia, 
w^here it gave out. I set in to work for a man by 
the name of James Caldwell, a month, for five 
dollars, which was about a shilling a day. When 
this time was out, I bound myself to a man by the 
name of Elijah Griffith, by trade a hatter, agree- 
ing to work for him four years. I remained with 
him about eighteen months, when he found him- 
self so involved in debt, that he broke up, and 
left the country. For this time I had received 
nothing, and was, of course, left without money, 
and with but very few clothes, and them very 
indifferent ones. I, however, set in again, and 
worked about as I could catch employment, until 
I got a little money, and some clothing ; and once 
more cut out for home. When I reached New 
River, at the mouth of a small stream, called Little 
River, the white caps were flying so, that I couldn't 


get any body to attempt to put me across. 

I argued the case as well as I could, but they 

told me there was great danger of being capsized^ 

and drowned, if I attempted to cross. I told them,- 

if I could get a canoe I would venture, caps or- 

no caps. They tried to persuade me out of it ; 

but finding they could not, they agreed I might 

take a canoe, and so I did, and put ofl'. I tied 

my clothes to the rope of the canoe, to have them 

safe, whatever might happen. But I found it a 

mighty ticklish business, I tell you. When I got 

out fairly on the river, I would have given the 

world, if it had belonged to me, to have been 

back on shore. But there was no time to lose 

now, so I just determined to do the best I could, 

and the devil take the hindmost. I turned the 

canoe across the v/aves, to do which, I had to turn 

it nearly up the river, as the wind came from that 

way ; and I went about two miles before I could 

land. When I struck land, my canoe was about 

half full of water, and I was as wet as a drowned 

rat. But I was so much rejoiced, that I scarcely 

felt the cold, though my clothes were frozen on 

me ; and in this situation, I had to go above three 

miles, before I could find any house, or fire to 

warm at. I, however, made out to get to one at 

last, and then I thought I would warm the inside 



a little, as well as the outside, that there might be 
no grumbling. 

So I took "a leetle of the creator/'- — that warmer 
of the cold, and cooler of the hot, — and it made me 
feel so good that I concluded it was like the negro's 
rabbit, " good any way." I passed on until I ar- 
rived in Sullivan county, in the state of Tennessee, 
and there I met with my brother, who had gone 
with me when I started from home with the cat- 
tle drove. 

I staid with him a few weeks, and then went on 
to my father's, which place I reached late in the 
evening. Several waggons were there for the 
night, and considerable company about the house. 
I enquired if I could stay all night, for I did not 
intend to make myself known, until I saw whether 
any of the family would find me out I was told 
that I could stay, and went in, but had mighty 
little to say to any body. I had been gone so 
long, and had grown so much, that the family did 
not at first know me. And another, and perhaps a 
stronger reason was, they had no thought or ex- 
pectation of me, for they all had long given me up 
for finally lost. 

After a while, we were all called to supper. I 
went with the rest. We had sat down to the table 
^nd begun to eat, when my eldest sister recollected 


me : she sprung up, ran and seized me around the 
neck, and exclaimed, " Here is my lost brother." 
My feelings at this time it would be vain and 
foolish for me to attempt to describe. I had often 
thought I felt before, and I suppose I had, but sure 
I am, I never had felt as I then did. The joy of 
my sisters and my mother, and, indeed, of all the 
family, was such that it humbled me, and made 
me sorry that I hadn't submitted to a hundred 
whippings, sooner than cause so much affliction as 
they had suffered on my account. I found the 
family had never heard a word of me from the 
time my brother left me. I was now almost fif- 
teen years old ; and my increased age and size, 
together with the joy of my father, occasioned by 
my unexpected return, I was sure would secure me 
against my long dreaded whipping ; and so they 
did. But it 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 book. 

( 45 ) 


I HAD remained for some short time at home 
with my father, when he informed me that he 
owed a man, whose name was Abraham Wilson, 
the sum of thirty-six dolkrs, and that if I would 
set in and work out the note, so as to lift it for 
him, he would discharge me from his service, and 
I might go free. I agreed to do this, and went 
immediately to the man who held my father's 
note, and contracted with him to work six months 
for it. I set in, and worked with all my might, 
not losing a single day in the six months. When 
my time was out, I got my father's note, and then 
declined working with the man any longer, though 
he wanted to hire me mighty bad. 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. I therefore 
returned to my father, and gave him up his paper, 


which seemed to please him mightily, for though 
he was poor, he was an honest man, and always 
tried mighty hard to pay off his debts. 

I next went to the house of an honest old Qua- 
ker, by the name of John Kennedy, who had re- 
moved from North Carolina, and proposed to 
hire myself to him, at two shillings a day. He 
agreed to take me a week on trial ; at the end of 
which he appeared pleased with my work, and in- 
formed me that he held a note on my father for 
forty dollars, and that he would give me that note 
if I would work for him six months. I was cer- 
tain enough that I should never get any part of the 
note; but then I remembered it was my father 
that owed it, and I concluded it was my duty as 
a child to help him along, and ease his lot as much 
as I could. I told the Quaker I would take him 
up at his offer, and immediately went to work. 
I never visited my father's house during the 
whole time of this engagement, though he lived 
only fifteen miles off. But when it was finished, 
and I had got the note, I borrowed one of my em- 
ployer's horses, and, on a Sunday evening, went to 
pay my parents a visit. Some time after I got 
there, I pulled out the note and handed it to my 
father, who supposed Mr. Kennedy had sent it for 
collection. The old man looked mighty sorry, 


and said to me he had not the money to pay it, 
and didn't know what he should do. I then told 
him I had paid it for him, and it was then his own ; 
that it was not presented for collection, but as a 
present from me. At this, he shed a heap of 
tears ; and as soon as he got a little over it, he said 
he was sorry he couldn't give me any thing, but 
he was not able, he was too poor. 

The next day, I went back to my old friend, 
the Quaker, and set in to work for him for some 
clothes; for I had now worked a year without 
getting any money at all, and my clothes were 
nearly all worn out, and what few I had left 
were mighty indifferent I worked in this way 
for about two months ; and in that time a young 
woman from North Carolina, who was the Qua- 
ker's niece, came on a visit to his house. And 
now I am just getting on a part of my history that 
I know I never can forget. For though I have 
heard people talk about hard loving, yet I reckon 
no poor devil in this world was ever cursed with 
such hard love as mine has always been, when it 
came on me. I soon found myself head over 
heels in love with this girl, whose name the public 
could make no use of ; and I thought that if all 
the hills about there were pure chink, and all be- 


longed 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 any thing 
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 choak 
me like a cold potatoe. It bore on my mind in 
this way, till at last I concluded I must die if I didn't 
broach the subject; and 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 well I loved 
her ; that she was the darling object of my soul 
and body ; and I must have her, or else I should 
pine down to nothing, and just die away with the 

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 knowed 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 any thing. 

I began now to think^ that all my misfortunes 
growed out of my want of learning. I had never 
been to school but four days, as the reader has 
already seen, and did not yet know a letter. 

I thought I would try to go to school some ; and 
as the Quaker had a married son, who was living 
about a mile and a half from him, and keeping a 
school, I proposed to him that I would go to 
school four days in the week, and work for him 
the other two, to pay my board and schooling. 
He agreed I might come on those terms ; and so at 
it I went, learning and working back and forwards, 
until I had been with him nigh on to six months. 
In this time I learned to read a little in my primer, 
to write my own name, and to cypher some in 
the three first rules in figures. And this was all 
the schooling I ever had in my life, up to this 
day. I should have continued longer, if it hadn't 
been that I concluded I couldn't do any longer 
without a wife ; and so I cut out to hunt me one. 

I found a family of very pretty little girls that 

I had known when very young. They had lived 

in the same neighborhood with me, and I had 

thought very well of them. I made an offer to 



one of them, whose name is nobody's business, 
no more than the Quaker girl's was, and I found 
she took it very well. I still continued paying 
my respects to her, until I got to love her as bad 
as I had the Quaker's niece ; and I would have 
agreed to fight a whole regiment of wild cats if 
she would only have said she would have me. 
Several months passed in this way, during all of 
which time she continued very kind and friendly. 
At last, the son of the old Quaker and my first 
girl had concluded to bring their matter to a 
close, and my little queen and myself were called 
on to wait on them. We went on the day, and 
performed our duty as attendants. This made me 
worse than ever ; and after it was over, I pressed 
my claim very hard on her, but she would still 
give me a sort of an evasive answer. However, I 
gave her mighty little peace, till she told me at 
last she would have me. I thought this was glo- 
rification enough, even without spectacles. I was 
then about eighteen years old. We fixed the time 
to be married ; and I thought if that day come, I 
should be the happiest man in the created world, 
or in the moon, or any where else. 

I had by this time got to be mighty fond of 
the rifle, and had bought a capital one. I most 
generally carried her with me whereever I went, 


and though I had got back to the old Quaker's to 
live;, who was a very particular man, I would 
sometimes slip out and attend the shooting 
matches, where they shot for beef; I always 
tried, though, to keep it a secret from him. He 
had at the same time a bound boy living with 
him, who I had gotten into almost as great a 
notion of the girls as myself. He was about my 
own age, and was deeply smitten with the sister 
to my intended wife. I know'd it was in vain to 
try to get the leave of the old man for my young 
associate to go with me on any of my courting 
frolics ; but I thought I could fix a plan to have 
him along, which would not injure the Quaker, as 
we had no notion that he should ever know it. 
We commonly slept up-stairs, and at the gable 
end of the house there was a window. So one 
Sunday, when the old man and his family were 
all gone to meeting, we went out and cut a long 
pole, and, taking it to the house, we set it up on 
end in the corner, reaching up the chimney as 
high as the window. After this we would go up- 
stairs to bed, and then putting on our Sunday 
clothes, would go out at the window, and climb 
down the pole, take a horse apiece, and ride about 
ten miles to where his sweetheart lived, and the 
girl I claimed as my wife. I was always mighty 


careful to be back before day, so as to escape 
being found out ; and in this way I continued my 
attentions very closely until a few days before I 
was to be married, or at least thought I was, 
for I had no fear that any thing was about to go 

Just now I heard of a shooting-match in the 
neighbourhood, right between where I lived and 
my girPs house; and I determined to kill two birds 
with one stone, — to go to the shooting match first, 
and then to see her. I therefore made the Quaker 
believe I was going to hunt for deer, as they were 
pretty plent}?- about in those parts ; but, instead of 
hunting them, I went straight on to the shooting- 
match, where I joined in with a partner, and we 
put in several shots for the beef. I was mighty 
lucky, and when the match was over I had won 
the whole beef. This was on a Saturday, and my 
success had put me in the finest humour in the 
world. So I sold my part of the beef for five 
dollars in the real grit, for I believe that was 
before bank-notes was invented ; at least, I had 
never heard of any. I now started on to ask for 
my wife ; for, though the next Thursday was our 
wedding day, I had never said a word to her pa- 
rents about it. I had always dreaded the under- 
taking so bad, that I had put the evil hour ofi* as 


long as possible ; and, indeed, I calculated they 
knovved me so well, they wouldn't raise any ob- 
jection to having me for their son-in-law. I had 
a great deal better opinion of myself, I found, 
than other people had of me ; but I moved on 
with a light heart, and my five dollars jingling 
in my pocket, thinking all the time there was 
but few greater men in the world than myself. 

In this flow of good humour I went ahead, till 
I got within about two miles of the place, when I 
concluded I would stop awhile at the house of the 
girPs uncle ; where I might enquire about the 
family, and so forth, and so on. I was indeed 
just about ready to consider her uncle^ my uncle ; 
and her affairs, my affairs. When I went in, tho', 
I found her sister there. I asked how all was at 
home ? In a minute I found from her countenance 
something was wrong. She looked mortified, and 
didn't answer as quick as I thought she ought, 
being it was her brother-in-law talking to her. 
However, I asked her again. She then burst into 
tears, and told me her sister was going to deceive 
me ; and that she was to be married to another 
man the next day. This was as sudden to me as 
a clap of thunder of a bright sunshiny day. It 
was the cap-stone of all the afflictions I had ever 

E 2 



met with ; and it seemed to me, that it was more 
than any human creature could endure. It struck 
me perfectly speechless for some time, and made 
me feel so weak, that I thought I should sink 
down. I however recovered from my shock after 
a little, and rose and started without any cere- 
mony, or even bidding any body 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 had asked for her ; but she assured 
me her father and mother both preferred me to 
him ; and that she had no doubt but that, if I 
would go on, I could break off the match. But I 
found I could go no further. My heart was 
bruised, and my spirits were broken down ; so I 
bid her farewell, and turned my lonesome and 
miserable steps back again homeward, concluding 
that I was only born for hardships, misery, and 
disappointment. I now began to think, that in 
making me, it was entirely forgotten to make my 
mate ; that I was 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 sick- 
ness, — a sickness of the heart, and all the tender 
parts, produced by disappointed love. 

( 57 ) 


I CONTINUED in this down-spirited situation 
for a good long time, until one day T took my 
rifle and started a hunting. While out, I made a 
call at the house of a Dutch widow, who had a 
daughter that was well enough as to smartness, but 
she was as ugly as a stone fence. She was, how- 
ever, quite talkative, and soon begun to laugh at 
me about my disappointment. 

She seemed disposed, though, to comfort me as 
much as she could ; and, for that purpose, told 
me to keep in good heart, that " there was as good 
fish in the sea as had ever been caught out of it." 
I doubted this very much ; but whether or not, I 
was certain that she was not one of them, for she 
was so homely that it almost give me a pai-n in 
the eyes to look at her. 

But I couldn't help thinking, that she had in- 
tended what she had said as a banter for me to 
court her ! ! ! — the last thing in creation I could 


have thought of doing. I felt little inclined to 
talk on the subject, it is true ; but, to pass off the 
time, I told her I thought I was born odd, and 
that no fellow to me could be found. She . pro- 
tested against this, and said if I would come to 
their reaping, which was not far off, she would 
show me one of the prettiest little girls there I 
had ever seen. She added that the one who had 
deceived me was nothing to be compared with 
her. I didn't believe a word of all this, for I 
had thought that such a piece of flesh and blood 
as she was had never been manufactured, and never 
would again. I agreed with her, though, that the 
little varment had treated me so bad, that I ought 
to forget her, and yet I couldn't do it I con- 
cluded 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 I 
would be at the reaping, and would bring as many 
as I could with me. 

I employed my time pretty generally in giving 
information of it, as far as I could, until the day 
came ; and I then offered to work for my old 
friend, the Quaker, two days, if he would let his 
bound boy go with me one to the reaping. He 
refused, and reproved me pretty considerable 
roughly for my proposition ; and said, if he was 


in my place he wouldn't go ; that there would 
be a great deal of bad company there ; and that I 
had been so good a boy, he would be sorry for me 
to get a bad name. But I knowed my promise to 
the Dutch gu-], and I was resolved to fulfil it ; so 
I shouldered my rifle, and started by myself. 
When I got to the place, I found a large company 
of men and women, and among them an old Irish 
woman, who had a great deal to say. I soon found 
out from my Dutch girl, that this old lady was the 
mother of the little girl she had promised me, 
though I had not yet seen her. She was in an out- 
house with some other youngsters, and had not 
yet made her appearance. « Her mamma, however, 
was no way bashful. She came up to me, and 
.|{egan j to praise my red cheeks, and said she had 
a sweetheart for me. I had no doubt she had 
been told what I come for, and all about it. In 
the evening I was introduced to her daughter, and 
I must confess, I was plaguy well pleased with 
her from the word go. She had a good coun- 
tenance, and was very pretty, and I was full bent 
on making up an acquaintance with her. 

It was not long before the dancing commenced, 
and I asked her to join me in a reel. She very 
readily consented to do so ; and after we had 
finished our dance, I took a seat alongside of 


her, and entered into a talk. I found her very 
interesting ; while I was setting by her, making 
as good a use of my time as I could, her mothes 
came to us, and very jocularly called me her son- 
in-law. This rather confused me, but I looked on 
it as a joke of the old lady, and tried to turn it off 
as well as I could ; but I took care to pay as 
much attention to her through the evening as I 
could. I went on the old saying, of salting the 
cow to catch the calf. I soon become so much 
pleased with this little girl, that I began to think 
the Dutch girl had told me the truth, when she 
said there was still good fish in the sea. 

We continued our frolic till near day, when 
we joined in some plays, calculated to amuse 
youngsters. I had not often spent a more agreeable 
night. In the morning, however, we all had to 
part ; and I found my mind had become much bet- 
ter reconciled than it had been for a long time. 
I went home to the Quaker's, and made a bargain 
to work with his son for a low-priced horse. He 
was the first one I had ever owned, and I was to 
work six months for him. I had been engaged 
very closely five or six weeks, when this little 
girl run in my mind so, that I concluded I must 
go and see her, and find out what sort of people 
they were at home. I mounted my horse and 


away I went to where she lived, and when I got 
there 1 found her father a very clever old man, 
and the old woman as talkative as ever. She 
wanted badly to find out all about me, and as I 
thought to see how I would do for her girl. 1 had 
not yet seen her about, and I began to feel some 
anxiety to know where she was. 

In a short time, however, my impatience was 
relieved, as she arrived at home from a meeting to 
which she had been. There was a young man 
with her, who I soon found was disposed to set up 
claim to her, as he was so attentive to her that I 
could hardly get to slip in a word edgeways. I 
began to think I was barking up the wrong tree 
again ; but I was determined to stand up to my 
rack, fodder or no fodder. And so, to know her 
mind a little on the subject, I began to talk about 
starting, as I knowed she would then show some 
sign, from which I could understand which way 
the wind blowed. It was then near night, and 
my distance was fifteen miles home. At this my 
little girl soon began to indicate to the other gen- 
tleman that his room would be the better part of 
his company. At length she left him, and came 
to me, and insisted mighty hard that I should not 
go that evening ; and, indeed, from all her actions 

and the attempts she made to get rid of him, I saw 



that she preferred me all holler. But it wasn't 
long before I found trouble enough in another 
quarter. Her mother was deeply enlisted for my 
rival, and I had to fight against her influence as 
well as his. But the girl herself was the prize I 
was fighting for ; and as she welcomed me, I was 
determined to lay siege to her, let what would 
happen. I commenced a close courtship, having 
cornered her from her old beau ; while he set off*, 
looking on, like a poor man at a country frolic, 
and all the time almost gritting his teeth with 
pure disappointment. But he didn't dare to at- 
tempt any thing more, for now I had gotten a 
start, and I looked at him every once in a while as 
fierce as a wild-cat. I staid with her until Mon- 
day morning, and then I put out for home. 

It was about two weeks after this that I was 
sent for to engage in a wolf hunt, where a great 
number of men were to meet, with their dogs and 
guns, and where the best sort of sport was expected. 
I went as large as life, but I had to hunt in strange 
woods, and in a part of the country which was very 
thinly inhabited. While I was out it clouded up, 
and I began to get scared ; and in a little while I 
was so much so, that I didn't know which way 
home was, nor any thing about it. I set out the 
way I thought it was, but it turned out with me, 


as it always does with a lost man, I was wrong, 
and took exactly the contrary direction from the 
right one. And for the information of young 
hunters, I will just say, in this place, that when- 
ever a fellow gets bad lost, the way home is just 
the way he don't think it is. This rule will hit 
nine times out of ten. I went ahead, though, about 
six or seven miles, when I found night was coming 
on fast ; but at this distressing time I saw a little 
woman streaking it along through the woods like all 
wrath, and so I cut on too, for I was determined 
I wouldn't lose sight of her that night any more. 
I run on till she saw me, and she stopped ; for she 
was as glad to see me as I was to see her, as she 
was lost as well as me. When I came up to her, 
who should she be but my little girl, that I had 
been paying my respects to. She had been out 
hunting her father's horses, and had missed her 
way, and had no knowledge where she was, or 
how far it was to any house, or what way would 
take us there. She had been travelling all day, 
and was mighty tired ; and I would have taken 
her up, and toated her, if it hadn't been that I 
wanted her just where I could see her all the 
time, for I thought she looked sweeter than sugar; 
and by this time I loved her almost well enough 
to eat her. 


At last I came to a path, that I know'd must go 
somewhere, and so we followed it, till we came to 
a house, at about dark. Here we staid all night. I 
set up all night courting ; and in the morning 
we parted. She went to her hopie, from which 
we were distant about seven miles, and I to mine, 
which was ten miles off. 

I now turned in to work again ; and it was 
about four weeks before I went back to see her. I 
continued to go occasionally, until I had worked 
long enough to pay for my horse, by putting in 
my gun with my work, to the man I had pur- 
chased from ; and then I began to count whether 
I was to be deceived again or not. At our next 
meeting we set the day for our wedding ; and 1 
went to my father's, and made arrangements for an 
infair, and returned to ask her parents for her. 
When I got there, the old lady appeared to be 
mighty wrathy ; and when I broached the subject, 
she looked at me as savage as a meat axe. The 
old man appeared quite willing, and treated me 
very clever. But I hadn't been there long, be- 
fore the old woman as good as ordered me out of 
her house. I thought I would put her in mind of 
old times, and see how that would go with her. I 
told her she had called me her son-in-law before I 
had attempted to call her my mother-in-law 


and I thought she ought to cool off. But her 
Irish was up too high to do any thing with her, 
and so I quit trying. All I cared for was, to have 
her daughter on my side, which I knowed was 
the case then ; but how soon some other fellow 
might knock my nose out of joint again, I couldn't 
tell. I however felt rather insulted at the old 
lady, and I thought I wouldn't get married in her 
house. And so I told her girl, that I would come 
the next Thursday, and bring a horse, bridle, and 
saddle for her, and she must be ready to go. Her 
mother declared I shouldn't have her ; but I 
know'd I should, if somebody else didn't get her 
before Thursday. I then started, bidding them 
good day, and went by the house of a justice of the 
peace, who lived on the way to my father's, and 
made a bargain with him to marry me. 

When Thursday came, all necessary arrange- 
ments were made at my father's to receive my 
wife ; and so I took my eldest brother and his 
wife, and another brother, and a single sister 
that I had, and two other young men with me, 
and cut out to her father's house to get her. We 
went on, until we got within two miles of the 
place, where we met a large company that had 
heard of the wedding, and were waiting. Some 

of that company went on with my brother and sis- 



ter, and the young man I had picked out to wait 
on me. When they got there, they found the old 
lady as wrathy as ever. However the old man 
filled their bottle, and the young men returned in 
a hurry. I then went on with my company, and 
when I arrived I never pretended to dismount from 
my horse, but rode up to the door, and asked the 
girl if she was ready ; and she said she was. I 
then told her to light on the horse I was leading ; 
and she did so. Her father, though, had gone out 
to the gate, and when I started he commenced 
persuading me to stay and marry there ; that he 
was entirely willing to the match, and that his 
wife, like most women, had entirely too much 
tongue ; but that I oughtn't to mind her. I told 
him if she would ask me to stay and marry at her 
house, I would do so. With that he sent for her, 
and after they had talked for some time out by 
themselves, she came to me and looked at me 
mighty good, and asked my pardon for what she 
had said, and invited me stay. She said it was the 
first child she had ever had to marry ; and she 
couldn't bear to see her go ofi* in that way ; that 
if I would light, she would do the best she could 
for us. 1 couldn't stand every thing, and so I 
agreed, and we got down, and went in. I sent off 
then for my parson, and got married in a short 


time ; for I was afraid to wait long, for fear of 
another defeat. We had as good treatment as 
could be expected ; and that night all went on 
well. The next day we cut out for my father's, 
where we met a large company of people, that had 
been waiting a day and a night for our arrival. We 
passed the time quite merrily, until the company 
broke up ; and having gotten my wife, I thought I 
was completely made up, and needed nothing 
more in the whole world. But I soon found this 
was all a mistake — for now having a wife, 1 
wanted every thing else ; and, worse than all, I had 
nothing to give for it. 

I remained a few days at my father's, and then 
went back to my new father-in-law's ; where, to 
my surprise, I found my old Irish mother in the 
finest humour in the world. 

She gave us two likely cows and calves, which, 
though it was a small marriage-portion, was still 
better than I had expected, and, indeed, it was 
about all I ever got. I rented a small farm and 
cabin, and went to work ; but I had much trouble 
to find out a plan to get any thing to put in my 
house. At this time, my good old friend the 
Quaker came forward to my assistance, and gave 
me an order to a store for fifteen dollars' worth of 
such things as my little wife might choose. With 


this, we fixed up pretty grand, as we thought, and 
allowed to get on very well. My wife had a good 
wheel, and knowed exactly how to use it. She 
was also a good weaver, as most of the Irish are, 
whether men or women ; and being very indus- 
trious with her wheel, she had, in little or no time, 
a fine web of cloth, ready to make up ; and she 
was good at that too, and at almost any thing else 
that a woman could do. 

We worked on for some years, renting ground, 
and paying high rent, until I found it wan't 
the thing it was cracked up to be ; and that 
I couldn't make a fortune at it just at all. So I 
concluded to quit it, and cut out for some new 
country. In this time we had two sons, and I 
found I was better at increasing my family than 
my fortune. It was therefore the more necessary 
that I should hunt some better place to get along ; 
and as I knowed I would have to move at some 
time, I thought it was better to do it before my 
family got too large, that I might have less to 

The Duck and Elk river counl;ry was just be- 
ginning to settle, and I determined to try that. 
I had now one old horse, and a couple of two 
year old colts. They were both broke to the 
halter, and my father-in-law proposed, that, if I 


went, he would go with me, and take one horse to 
help me move. So we all fixed up, and I packed my 
two colts with as many of my things as they could 
bear ; and away we went across the mountains. 
We got on well enough, and arrived safely in 
Lincoln county, on the head of the Mulberry fork 
of Elk river. I found this a very rich country, 
and so new, that game, of different sorts, was very 
plenty. It was here that I began to distinguish 
myself as a hunter, and to lay the foundation for 
all my future greatness ; but mighty little did I 
know of what sort it was going to be. Of deer 
and smaller game I killed abundance ; but the bear 
had been much hunted in those parts before, and 
were not so plenty as I could have wished. I 
lived here in the years 1809 and ^10, to the best 
of my recollection, and then I moved to Franklin 
county, and settled on Beans creek, where I re- 
mained till after the close of the last war. 

( 71 ) 


I WAS living ten miles below Winchester when 
the Creek war commenced ; and as military men 
are making so much fuss in the world at this time, 
I must give an account of the part I took in the 
defence of the country. If it should make me 
president, why I can't help it ; such things will 
sometimes happen ; and my pluck i$, never " to 
seek, nor decline office." 

It is true, I had a little rather not ; but yet, if 
the government can't get on without taking another 
president from Tennessee, to finish the work of 
" retrenchment and reform," why, then, Ireckon 
I must go in for it. But I must begin about the 
war, and leave the other matter for the people to 
begin on. 

The Creek Indians had commenced their open 
hostilities by a most bloody butchery at Fort 
Mimms. There had been no war among us for 
so long, that but few, who were not too old to 
bear arms, knew any thing about the business. I, 

72 '^HE LIFE OF 

for one, had often thought about war, and had 

often heard it described ; and I did verily be- 
lieve in my own mind, that I couldn't fight in 
that way at all ; but my after experience con- 
vinced me that this was all a notion. For when I 
heard of the mischief which was done at the fort, 
I instantly felt like going, and I had none of the 
dread of dying that I expected to feel. In a few 
days a general meeting of the militia was called 
for the purpose of raising volunteers ; and when 
the day arrived for that meeting, my wife, who 
had heard me say I meant to go to the war, be- 
gan to beg me not to turn out. She. said she was 
a stranger in the parts where we lived, had no 
connexions living near her, and that she and our 
little children would be left in a lonesome and 
unhappy situation if I went away. It was mighty 
hard to go against such arguments as these ; but 
my countrymen 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 rea- 
soned 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 fighting done, until we would all be killed 
in our own houses ; that 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 
was to cry a little, and turn about to her work. 
The truth is, my dander was up, and nothing but 
war could bring it right again. 

I went to Winchester, where the muster was to 
be, and a great many people had collected, for 
there was as much fuss among the people about 
the war as there is now about moving the de- 
posites. When the men were paraded, a lawyer 
by the name of Jones addressed us, and closed 
by turning out himself, and enquiring, at the same 
time, who among "us felt like we could fight In- 
dians ? This was the same Mr. Jones who after- 
wards served in Congress, from the state of Ten- 
nessee. He informed us he wished to raise a 
company, and that then the men should meet and 
elect their own officers. I believe I was about the 
second or third man that step'd out ; but on 
marching up and down the regiment a few times, 
we found we had a large company. We volun- 
teered for sixty days, as it was supposed our 
services would not be longer wanted. A day or 
two after this we met and elected Mr. Jones our 

captain, and also elected our other officers. We 



then received orders to start on the next Monday 
week ; before which time, I had fixed as well as I 
could to go, and my wife had equip'd me as well 
as she was able for the camp. The time arrived ; I 
I took a parting farewell of my wife and my lit- 
tle boys, mounted my horse, and set sail, to join 
my company. Expecting to be gone only a short 
time, I took no more clothing with me than I 
supposed would be necessary, so that if I got into 
an Indian battle, I might not be pestered with any 
unnecessary plunder, to prevent my having a fair 
shake with them. We all met and went ahead, 
till we passed Huntsville, and camped at a large 
spring called Beaty's spring. Here we staid for 
several days, in which time the troops began to 
collect from all quarters. At last we mustered 
about thirteen hundred strong, all mounted volun- 
teers, and all determined to fight, judging from 
myself, for I felt wolfish all over. I verily be- 
lieve the whole army was of the real grit. Our 
captain didn't want any other sort ; and to try 
them he several times told his men, that if any of 
them wanted to go back home, they might do so 
at any time, before they were regularly mustered 
into the service. But he had the honour to com- 
mand all his men from first to last, as not one of 
them left him. 


Gen'l. Jackson had not yet left Nashville with 
his old foot volunteers, that had gone with him to 
Natchez in 1S12, the year before. While we re- 
mained at the spring, a Major Gibson came, and 
wanted some volunteers to go with him across the 
Tennessee river and into the Creek nation, to find 
out the movements of the Indians. He came to 
my captain, and asked for two of his best woods- 
men, and such as were best with a rifle. The cap- 
tain pointed me out to him, and said he would be 
security that I would go as far as the major would 
himself, or any other man. I willingly engaged 
to go with him, and asked him to let me choose 
my own mate to go with me, which he said I might 
do. I chose a young man by the name of George 
Russell, a son of old Major Russell, of Tennessee. 
I called him up, but Major Gibson said he thought 
he hadn't beard enough to please him, — he want- 
ed men, and not boys. I must confess I was a lit- 
tle nettled at this ; for I know'd George Russell, 
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 prefer- 
ence over a man. 1 told the major he was on the 
wrong scent ; that Russell could go as far as he 
could, and I must have him along. He saw I was 
a little wrathy, and said I had the best chance of 


knowing, and agreed that it should be as I wanted 
it. He told us to be ready early in the morning 
for a start ; and so we were. We took our camp 
equipage, mounted our horses, and, thirteen in 
number, including the major, we cut out. We 
went on, and crossed the Tennessee river at a 
place called Ditto's Landing ; and then traveled 
about seven miles further, and took up camp for 
the night. Here a man by the name of John 
Haynes overtook us. He had been an Indian 
trader in that part of the nation, and was well ac- 
quainted with it. He went with us as a pilot. The 
next morning, however, Major Gibson and myself 
concluded we should separate and take different 
directions to see what discoveries we could make ; 
so he took seven of the men, and I five, making 
thirteen in all, including myself. He was to go by 
the house of a Cherokee Indian, named Dick 
Brown, and I was to go by Dick's father's ; and 
getting all the information we could, we were to 
meet that evening where the roads came together, 
fifteen miles the other side of Brown's. At old 
Mr. Brown's I got a half blood Cherokee to agree 
to go with me, whose name was Jack Thomp- 
son. He was not then ready to start, but was to 
fix that evening, and overtake us at the fork road 
where I was to meet Major Gibson. I know'd it 


wouldn't he safe to camp right at the road ; 
and so I told Jack, that when he got to the 
fork he must holler like an owl, and I would 
answer him in the same way ; for I know'd 
it would be night before he got there. I and 
my men then started, and went on to the 
place of meeting, but Major Gibson was not there. 
We waited till almost dark, but still he didn't 
come. We then left the Indian trace a little dis- 
tance, and turning into the head of a hollow, we 
struck up camp. It was about ten o'clock at night, 
when I heard my owl, and I answered him. Jack 
soon found us, and we determined to rest there 
during the night. We staid also next morning till 
after breakfast : but in vain, for the major didn't 
still come. 

I told the men we had set out to hunt a fight, 
and I wouldn't go back in that way ; that we 
must go ahead, and see what the red men were at. 
We started, and went to a Cherokee town about 
twenty miles off; and after a short stay there, we 
pushed on to the house of a man by the name of 
Radcliff. He was a white man, but had married 
a Creek woman, and lived just in the edge of the 
Creek nation. He had two sons, large likely fel- 
lows, and a great deal of potatoes and corn, and, 

indeed-, almost every thing else to go on ; so we 



fed our horses and got dinner with him, and 
seemed to be doing mighty well. But he was 
bad scared all the time. He told us there had 
been ten painted warriors at his house only an 
hour before, and if we were discovered there, they 
would kill us, and his family with us. I replied 
to him, that my business was to hunt for just 
such fellows as he had described, and I was de- 
termined not to go back until I had done it. Our 
dinner being over, we saddled up our horses, and 
made ready to start. But some of my small 
company I found were disposed to return. I told 
them, if we were to go back then, we should 
never hear the last of it ; and I was determined 
to go ahead. I knowed some of them would go 
with me, and that the rest were afraid to go back 
by themselves ; and so we pushed on to the camp 
of some of the friendly Creeks, which was dis- 
tant about eight miles. The moon was about the 
full, and the night was clear ; we therefore had 
the benefit of her light from night to morning, 
and I knew if we were placed in such danger as 
to make a retreat necessary, we could travel by 
night as well as in the day time. 

We had not gone very far, when we met two 
negroes, well mounted on Indian ponies, and each 
with a good rifle. They had been taken from 


their owners by the Indians, and were running 
away from them, and trying to get back to their 
masters again. They were brothers, both very 
large and likely, and could talk Indian as well as 
English. One of them I sent on to Ditto's Land- 
ing, the other I took back with me. It was after 
dark when we got to the camp, where we found 
about forty men, women, and children. 

They had bows and arrows, and I turned in to 
shooting with their boys by a pine light. In this 
way we amused ourselves very w^ell for a while ; 
but at last the negro, who had been talking to the 
Indians, came to me and told me they were very 
m.uch alarmed, for the "red sticks," as they called 
the war party of the Creeks, would come and find 
us there ; and, if so, we should all be killed. I 
directed him to tell them that I would watch, and 
if one would come that night, I would carry the 
skin of his head home to make me a mockasin. 
When he made this communication, the Indians 
laughed aloud. At about ten o'clock at night we 
all concluded to try to sleep a little ; but that our 
horses might be ready for use, as the treasurer said 
of the drafts on the United States' bank, on cer- 
tain " contingences," we tied them up with our 
saddles on them, and every thing to our hand, if 
in the night our quarters should get uncomfort- 


able. We lay down with our guns in our arms, 
and I had just gotten into a dose of sleep, when I 
heard the sharpest scream that ever escaped the 
throat of a human creature. It was more like a 
wrathy painter than any thing else. The negro 
understood it, and he sprang to me ; for tho' I 
heard the noise well enough, yet I wasn't wide 
awake enough to get up. So the negro caught 
me, and said the red sticks was coming. I rose 
quicker then, and asked what was the matter ? 
Our negro had gone and talked with the Indian 
who had just fetched the scream, as he come into 
camp, and learned from him, that the war party 
had been crossing the Coosa river all day at the 
Ten islands ; and were going on to meet Jack- 
son, and this Indian had come as a runner. This 
news very much alarmed the friendly Indians in 
camp, and they were all off in a few minutes. I 
felt bound to make this intelligence known as 
soon as possible to the army we had left at the 
landing ; and so we all mounted our horses, and 
put out in a long lope to make our way back to 
that place. We were about sixty-five miles off. 
We went on to the same Cherokee town we had 
visited on our way out, having first called at Rad- 
cliff^s, who was off with his family ; and at the 
the town we found large fires burning, but not a 


single Indian was to be seen. They were all gone. 
These circumstances were calculated to lay our 
dander a little, as it appeared we must be in great 
danger ; though we could easily have licked any 
force of not more than five to one. But we ex- 
pected the whole nation would be on us, and 
against such fearful odds we were not so rampant 
for a fight. 

We therefore staid only a short time in the light 
of the fires about the town, preferring the light of 
the moon and the shade of the woods. We pushed 
on till we got again to old Mr. Brown's, which 
was still about thirty miles from where we had 
left the main army. When we got there, the 
chickens were just at the first crowing for day. 
We fed our horses, got a morsel to eat ourselves, 
and again cut out. About ten o'clock in the 
morning we reached the camp, and I reported to 
Col. Coffee the news. He didn't seem to mind 
my report a bit, and this raised my dander higher 
than ever ; but I knowed I had to be on my best 
behaviour, 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 hadn't been 
pouring out of me at all points. 

Major Gibson hadn't yet returned, and we all 
began to think he was killed ; and that night they 

, 82 THE LIFE OF ' 

put out a dobble guard. The next day the major 
got in, and brought a worse tale than I had, though 
he stated the same facts, so far as I went. This 
seemed to put our colonel all in a fidget; and it 
convinced me, clearly, of one of the hateful ways 
of the world. When I made my report, it wasn't 
believed, because I was no officer ; I was no great 
man, but just a poor soldier. But when the same 
thing was reported by Major Gibson ! ! why, then, 
it was all as true as preaching, and the colonel be- 
lieved it every word. 

He, therefore, ordered breastworks to be thrown 
up, near a quarter of a mile long, and sent an ex- 
press to Fayetteville, where General Jackson and 
his troops was, requesting them to push on like the 
very mischief, for fear we should all be cooked up 
to a cracklin before they could get there. Old 
Hickory-face made a forced march on getting the 
news ; and on the next day, he and his men got 
into camp, with their feet all blistered from the 
effects of their swift journey. The volunteers, 
therefore, stood guard altogether, to let them rest. 



About eight hundred of the volunteers, and of 
that number I was one, were now sent back, crossing 
the Tennessee river, and on through Huntsville, 
so as to cross the river again at another place, 
and to get on the Indians in another direction. 
After we passed Huntsville, we struck on the 
river at the Muscle Shoals, and at a place on them 
called Melton's Bluff. This river is here about 
two miles wide, and a rough bottom ; so much 
so, indeed, in many places, as to be dangerous; 
and in fording it this time, we left several of the 
horses belonging to our men, with their feet fast in 
the crevices of the rocks. The men, whose horses 
were thus left, went ahead on foot. We pushed 
on till we got to what was called the Black War- 
rior's town, which stood near the very spot where 
Tuscaloosa now stands, which is the seat of go- 
vernment for the state of Alabama. 

This Indian town was a large one ; but when 
we arrived we found the Indians had all left it. 


There was a large field of corn standing out, and 
a pretty good supply in some cribs. There was 
also a fine quantity of dried beans, which were 
very acceptable to us ; and without delay we se- 
cured them as well as the corn, and then burned 
the town to ashes ; after which we left the place. 

In the field where we gathered the corn we 
saw plenty of fresh Indian tracks, and we had no 
doubt they had been scared off by our arrival. 

We then went on to meet the main army at the 
fork road, where I was first to have met Major 
Gibson. We got that evening as far back as the 
encampment we had made the night before we 
reached the Black Warrior's town, which we had 
just destroyed. The next day we were entirely 
out of meat. I went to Col. Coffee, who was then 
in command of us, and asked his leave to hunt as 
we marched. He gave me leave, but told me 
to take mighty good care of myself. I turned 
aside to hunt, and had not gone far when I found 
a deer that had just been killed and skinned, and 
his flesh was still warm and smoking. From this 
I was sure that the Indian who had killed it had 
been gone only a very few minutes ; and though I" 
was never much in favour of one hunter stealing 
from another, yet meat was so scarce in camp, that 
I thought I must go in for it. So I just took up 


the deer on my horse before me, and carried it 
on till night. 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 
any thing, and saw a fellow being suffering, I was 
more anxious to relieve him than to benefit my- 
self. And this is one of the true secrets of my 
being a poor man to this day. But it is my way ; 
and while it has often left me with an empty jDurse, 
which is as near the devil as any thing else I have 
seen, yet it has never left my heart empty of con- 
solations which money couldn't buy, — the conso- 
lations of having sometimes fed the hungry and 
covered the naked. 

I gave all my deer away, except a small part I 
kept for myself, and just sufficient to make a good 
supper for my mess ; for meat was getting to be 
a rarity to us all. We had to live mostly on 
parched corn. The next day we marched on, and 
at night took up camp near a large cane brake. 
While here, I told my mess I would again try for 
some meat ; so I took my rifle and cut out, 
but hadn't gone far, when I discovered a large 
gang of hogs. I shot one of them down in his 
tracks, and the rest broke directly towards the 
camp. In a few minutes, the guns began to roar, 

as bad as if the whole army had been in an In- 


gg THE LIFE or* 

diaii battle ; and the hogs to squeal as bad as the 
pig did, when the devil turned barber. I shoul- 
dered my hog, and went on to the camp ; and 
when I got there I found they had killed a good 
many of the hogs, and a fine fat cow into the 
bargain, that had broke out of the cane brake. 
We did very well that night, and the next morn- 
ing marched on to a Cherokee town, where our 
officers stop'd, and gave the inhabitants an order 
on Uncle Sam for their cow, and the hogs we had 
killed. The next day we met the main army, 
having had, as we thought, hard times, and a 
plenty of them, though we had yet seen hardly 
the beginning of trouble. 

After our meeting we went on to Radcliff's, 
where I had been before while out as a spy ; and 
when we got there, we found he had hid all his 
provisions. We also got into the secret, that he 
was the very rascal who had sent the runner to 
the Indian camp, with the news that the "red 
sticks" were crossing at the Ten Islands ; and 
that his object was to scare me and my men away, 
and send us back with a false alarm. 

To make some atonement for this, we took the 
old scroundrell's two big sons with us, and made 
them serve in the war. 

We then marched to a place, which we called 


Camp Wills ; and here it was that Captain Cannon 
I was promoted to a colonel, and Colonel Coffee to 
, a general. We then marched to the Ten Islands, 
on the Coosa river, where we established a fort ; 
and our spy conipaflies were sent out. They soon 
made prisoners of Bob Catala and his warriors, 
and, in a few days afterwards, we heard of some 
Indians in a town about eight miles off. So we 
mounted our horses, and put out for that town, 
under the direction of two friendly Creeks we had 
taken for pilots. We had also a Cherokee colonel, 
Dick Brown, and some of his men with us. When 
we got near the town we divided ; one of our 
pilots going with each division. And so we 
passed on each side of the town, keeping near 
to it, until our lines met -on the far side. We 
then closed up at both ends, so as to surround 
it completely ; and then we sent Captain Ham- 
mond's company of rangers to bring on the af- 
fray. He had advanced near the town, when the 
Indians saw him, and they raised the yell, and 
eame running at him like so many red devils. 
The main army was now formed in a hollow 
square around the town, and they pursued Ham- 
mond till they came in reach of us. We then 
gave them a fire, and they returned it, and then 
ran back into their town. We began to close on 


the town by making our files closer and closer, 
and the Indians soon saw they were our pro- 
perty. So most of them wanted us to take them 
prisoners ; and their squav/s and all would run 
and take hold of any of us they could, and give 
themselves up. T saw seven squaws have hold 
of one man, which made me think of the Scrip- 
tures. So I hollered out the Scriptures was ful- 
filling ; that there was seven women holding to 
one man's coat tail. But I believe it was a hunt- 
ing-shirt all the time. We took them all prison- 
ers that came out to us in this way ; but I saw some 
warriors run into a house, until I counted forty- 
six of them. We pursued them until we got near 
the house, w^hen we saw a squaw sitting in the door, 
and she placed her feet against the bow she had in 
her hand, and then took an arrow, and, raising her 
feet, she drew with all her might, and let fly at us, and 
she killed a man, whose name, I believe, was Moore. 
He was a lieutenant, and his death so enraged 
us all, that she was fired on, and had at least 
twenty balls blown through her. This was the 
first man I ever saw killed with a bow and ar- 
row. We now shot them like dogs ; and then 
set the house on fire, and burned it up with the 
forty-six warriors in it. I recollect seeing a 
boy who was shot down near the house. His 


arm and thigh was hrokcn, and he was so near 
the burning house that the grease was stewing 
out of him. In this situation he was still trying 
to crawl along ; but not a murmur escaped him, 
though he was only about twelve years old. So 
sullen is the Indian, when his dander is up, that 
he had sooner die than make a noisej or ask for 

The number that we took prisoners, being 
added to the number we killed, amounted to one 
hundred and eighty-six ; though I don't remem-; 
ber the exact number of either. We had five 
of our men killed. We then returned to our 
camp, at which our fort was erected, and known 
by the name of Fort Strother. No provisions 
had yet reached us, and we had now been for 
several days on half rations. However we went 
back to our Indian town on the next day, when 
many of the carcasses of the Indians were still to 
be seen. They looked very awful, for the burn- 
ing had not entirely consumed them, but given 
them a very terrible appearance, at least what re- 
mained of them. It was, somehow or other, 
found out that the house had a potatoe cellar under 
it, and an immediate examination was made, for 
we were all as hungry as wolves. We found a 

fine chance of potatoes in it, and hunger compel- 




led us to eat them, though I had a little rather not, 
if I could have helped it, for the oil of the Indians 
we had burned up on the day before had run 
down on them, and they looked like they had 
been stewed with fat meat. We then again re- 
turned to the army, and remained there for seve- 
ral days almost starving, as all our beef was gone. 
We commenced eating the beef-hides, and con- 
tinued to eat every scrap we could lay our hands 
on. At length an Indian came to our guard one 
night, and hollered, and said he wanted to see 
" Captain Jackson." He was conducted to the 
general's markee, into which he entered, and in 
a few minutes we received orders to prepare for 

In an hour we were all ready, and took up the 
line of march. We crossed the Coosa river, and 
went on in the direction to Fort Taladega. When 
we arrived near the place, we met eleven hundred 
painted warriors, the very choice of the Creek na- 
tion. They had encamped near the fort, and had 
informed the friendly Indians who were in it, that 
if they didn't come out, and fight with them 
against the whites, they would take their fort and 
all their ammunition and provision. The friendly 
party asked three days to consider of it, and agreed 
that if on the third day they didn't come out 


ready to fight with them, they miglit take their 
fort. Thus they put them off. They then imme- 
diately started their runner to General Jackson, 
and he and the army pushed over, as I have just 
before stated. 

The camp of warriors had their spies out, and 
discovered us coming, some time before we got to 
the fort. They then went to the friendly Indians, 
and told them Captain Jackson was coming, and 
had a great many fine horses, and blankets, and 
guns, and every thing else ; and if they would 
come out and help to whip him, and to take his 
plunder, it should all be divided with those in the 
fort. They promised that when Jackson came, 
they would then come out and help to whip him. 
It was about an hour by sun in the morning, when 
we got near the fort. We were piloted by friend- 
ly Indians, and divided as w^e had done on a former 
occasion, so as to go to the right and left of the 
fort, and, consequently, of the warriors w^ho were 
camped near it. Our lines marched on, as before, 
till they met in front, and then closed in the rear, 
forming again into a hollow square. We then 
sent on old Major Russell, with his spy company, 
to bring on the battle ; Capt. Evans' company 
went also. When they got near the fort, the top 
of it was lined with the friendly Indians, crying 


out as loud as they could roar, "How-dy-do, 
brother, how-dy-do ?" They kept this up till Ma- 
jor Russel had passed by the fort, and was moving 
on towards the- warriors. They were all painted 
as red as scarlet, and were just as naked as they 
were born. They had concealed themselves under 
the bank of a branch, that ran partly around the 
fort, in the m.anner of a half moon. Russel was 
going right into their circle, for he couldn't see 
them, while the Indians on the top of the fort were 
trying every plan to show him his danger. But 
he couldn't understand them. At last, two of 
them jumped from it, and ran, and took his horse 
by the bridle, and pointing to where they were, 
told him there were thousands of them lying under 
the bank. This brought them to a halt, and about 
this moment the Indians fired on 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. Russel's company quit their horses, and 
took into the fort, and their horses ran up to our 
line, which was then in full 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 
then broke like a gang of steers, and ran across to 


our other line, where they were again fired on ; and 
so we kcDt them runnina; from one line to the 
other, constantly under a heavy fire, until we had 
killed upwards of four hundred of them. They 
fought with guns, and also with their bows and 
arrows ; but at length they made their escape 
through a part of our line, which was made up of 
drafted militia, 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 seven- 
teen good fellows in that battle. 

We now remained at the fort a few days, but 
no provision came yet, and we were all likely to 
perish. The weather also began to get very cold ; 
and our clothes were nearly worn out, and horses 
getting very feeble and poor. Our officers pro- 
posed to Gen'l. Jackson to let us return home and 
get fresh horses, and fresh clothing, so as to be 
better prepared for another campaign ; for our 
sixty days had long been out, and that was the 
lime we entered for. 

But the general took " the responsibility" on 
himself, and refused. We were, however, deter- 
mined to go, as I am to put back the deposites, if 

94 THE LIFE 0. 

I can. ^Vith this, the general issued his orders 
against it, as he has against the bank. But we 
began to fix for a start, as provisions were too 
scarce ; just as Clay, and Webster, and myself are 
preparing to fix bank matters, on account of the 
scarcity of money. The general went and placed 
his cannon on a bridge we had to cross, and or- 
dered out his regulars and drafted men to keep 
us from crossing ; just as he has planted his Globe 
and K. C. to alarm the bank men, while his regu- 
lars and militia in Congress are to act as artillery 
men. But when the militia started to guard the 
bridge, they would holler back to us to bring 
their knapsacks along when we come, for they 
wanted to go as bad as we did ; just as many a 
good fellow now wants his political knapsack 
brought along, that if, when we come to vote, he 
sees he has a fair shake to go, he may join in 
and help us to take back the deposites. 

We got ready and moved on till we came neai 
the bridge, where the general's men were all 
strung along on both sides, just like the office- 
holders are now, to keep us from getting along 
to the help of the country and the people. 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; just 


as we are now determined to save the coun- 
try from ready ruin, or to sink down with it. 
When we came still nearer the bridge we heard 
the guards cocking their guns, and we did the 
salne ; just as we have had it in Congress, while 
the " government" regulars and the people's vo- 
lunteers have all been setting their political trig- 
gers. But, after all, we marched boldly on, and 
not a gun was fired, nor a life lost ; just as I hope 
it will be again, that we shall not be afraid of 
the general's Globe, nor his K. C, nor his regu- 
lars, nor their trigger snapping ; but just march 
boldly over the executive bridge, and take the 
deposites back where the law placed them, and 
where they ought to be. When we had passed, 
no further attempt was made to stop us ; but the 
general said, we were '^ the damned'st volunteers 
he had ever seen in his life ; that we would vo- 
lunteer and go out and fight, and then at our 
pleasure would volunteer and go home again, in 
spite of the devil." But we went on ; and near 
Huntsville we met a reinforcement who were 
going on to join the army. It consisted of a re- 
I giment of volunteers, and was under the com- 
mand of some one whose name I can't remember. 
They were 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 season ; and then we 
returned to Fort Deposite, where our officers held 
a sort of a " national convention''^ on the subject 
of a message they had received from General 
Jackson, — demanding that on our return we 
should serve out six months. We had already 
served three months instead of two, which was 
the time \ve had volunteered for. On the next 
morning the officers reported to us the conclusions 
they had come to ; and told us, if any of us felt 
bound to go on and serve out the six months, we 
could do so ; but that they intended to go back 
home. I knowed if I went back home I couldn't 
rest, for I felt it my duty to be out ; and when out 
was, somehow or other, always delighted to be in 
the very thickest of the danger. A few of us, 
therefore, determined to push on and join the 
army. The number I do not recollect, but it was 
very small. 

When we got out there, I joined Major Russel's 
company of spies. Before we reached the place. 
General Jackson had started. We went on like- 
wise, and overtook him at a place where we esta- 
blished a fort, called Fort Williams, and leaving 
men to guard it, we went ahead ; intending to go 
to a place called the Horse-shoe bend of the Tala- 


poosa river. When we came near that place, we 
began to find Indian sign plenty, and we struck 
up camp for the night. About two hours before 
day, we heard our guard firing, and we were all 
up in little or no time. We mended up our camp 
fires, and then fell back in the dark, expecting to 
see the Indians pouring in ; and intending, when 
they should do so, to shoot them by the light of 
our own fires. But it happened that they did not 
rush in as we had expected, but commenced a fire on 
us as we were. We were encamped in a hollow 
square, and we not only returned the fire, but 
continued to shoot as well as we could in the 
dark, till day broke, when the Indians disap- 
peared. The only guide we had in shooting was 
to notice the flash of their guns, and then shoot as 
directly at the place as we could guess. 

In this scrape we had four men killed, and se- 
veral wounded ; but whether we killed any of 
the Indians or not we never could tell, for it is 
their custom always to carry off their dead, if 
they can possibly do so. We buried ours, and 
then made a large log heap over them, and set it 
on fire, so that the place of their deposite might 
not be known to the savages, who, we knew, 
would seek for them, that they might scalp them. 

, We made some horse litters for our wounded, and 



took up a retreat. We moved on till we came to 
a large creek which we had to cross ; and about 
half of our men had crossed, when the Indians 
commenced firing on our left wing, and they 
kept it up very warmly. We had left Major 
Russel and his brother at the camp we had moved 
from that morning, to see what discovery they 
could make as to the movements of the Indians ; 
and about this time, while a warm fire was kept 
up on our left, as I have just stated, the major 
came up in our rear, and was closely pursued by 
a large number of Indians, who immediately 
commenced a fire on our artillery men. They 
hid themselves behind a large log, and could kill 
one of our men almost every shot, they being in 
open ground and exposed. The worst of all was, 
two of our colonels just at this trying moment 
left their men, and by a forced march, crossed 
the creek out of the reach of the fire. Their 
names, at this late day, would do the world no 
good, and my object is history alone, and not the 
slightest interference with character. An oppor- 
tunity was now afforded for Governor Carroll to 
distinguish himself, and on this occasion he did 
so, by greater bravery than I ever saw any other 
man display. In truth, I believe, as firmly as I 
do that General Jackson is president, that if it 


hadn't been for Carroll, we should all have been 
genteely licked that time, for we were in a devil 
of a fix ; part of our men on one side of the 
creek, and part on the other, and the Indians all 
the time pouring it on us, as hot as fresh mustard 
to a sore shin. I will not say exactly that the old 
general was whip'd ; but I will say, that if we es- 
caped it at all, it was like old Henry Snider going to 
heaven, " mit a tam tite squeeze.' ' I think he would 
confess himself, that he was nearer whip'd this 
time than he was at any other, for I know that 
all the world couldn't make him acknowledge that 
he was pointedly whip'd. I know I was mighty 
glad when it was over, and the savages quit us, 
for I had begun to think there was one behind 
every tree in the woods. 

We buried our dead, the number of whom I 
have also forgotten ; and again made horse litters 
to carry our wounded, and so we put out, and re- 
turned to Fort Williams, from which place we had 
started. In the mean time, my horse had got crip- 
pled, and was unfit for service, and as another rein- 
forcement had arrived, I thought they could get 
along without me for a short time; so I got a furlough 
and went home, for we had had hard times again 
on this hunt, and I began to feel as though I had 


done Indian fighting enougli for one time. I re- 
mained at home until after the army had returned 
to the Horse-shoe bend, and fought the battle 
there. But not being with them at that time, ot 
course no history of that fight can be expected 
of me. 




Soon after this, an army was to be raised to go 
to Pensacola, and I determined to go again with 
them, for I wanted a small taste of British fight- 
ing, and I supposed they would be there. 

Here again 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. One of my neigh- 
bours, hearing I had determined to go, came to 
me, and offered me a hundred dollars to go in 
his place as a substitute, as he had been drafted. 
I told him I was better raised than to hire myself 
out to be shot at ; but that I would go, and he 
should go too, and in that way the government 
would have the services of us both. But we 
didn't call GeneralJackson "the government" in 
those days, though we used to go and fight un- 
der him in the war. 

I fixed up, and joined old Major Russel again ; 

but we couldn't start with the main army, but 



followed on, in a little time, after them. In a 
day or two, w^e had a hundred and thirty men 
in our company; and we went over and crossed 
the Muscle Shoals at the same place where I had 
crossed when first out, and when we burned the 
Black Warriors' town. We passed through the 
Choctaw and Chickesaw nations, on to Fort Ste- 
phens, and from thence to w^hat is called the 
Cut-off, at the junction of the Tom-Bigby with 
the Alabama river. This place is near the old 
Fort Mimms, where the Indians committed the 
great butchery at the commencement of the war. 
We were here about two days behind the main 
army, who had left their horses at the Cut-off, 
and taken it on foot ; and they did this because 
there was no chance for forage between there 
and Pensacola. We did the same, leaving men 
enough to take care of our horses, and cut out 
on foot for that place. It was about eighty miles 
off ; but in good heart we shouldered our guns, 
blankets, and provisions, and trudged merrily on. 
About twelve o'clock the second day, we reached 
the encampment of the main army, which was 
situated on a hill, overlooking the city of Pen- 
sacola. My commander, Major Russel, was a 
great favourite with Gen'l. Jackson, and our arri- 
val was hailed with great applause, though we 


were a little after the feast ; for they had taken 
the town and fort before we got there. That even- 
ing we went down^nto the towm, and could see 
the British fleet lying in sight of the place. We 
got some liquor, and took a " horn" or so, and 
went back to the camp. We remained there that 
night, and in the morning we marched back to- 
wards the Cut-off. We pursued this direction till we 
reached old Fort Mimms, where we remained two 
or three days. It was here that Major Russel was 
promoted from his command, which was only that 
of a captain of spies, to the command of a major 
in the line. He had been known long before at 
home as old Major Russel, and so we all con- 
tinued to call him in the army. A Major Childs, 
from East Tennessee, also commanded a battalion, 
and his and the one Russel was now appointed to 
command, composed a regiment, which, by agree- 
ment with General Jackson, was to quit his army 
and go to the south, to kill up the Indians on the 
Scamby river. 

General Jackson and the main army set out 
the next morning for New Orleans, and a Colonel 
Blue took command of the regiment which I 
have before described. We remained, however, 
a few days after the general's departure, and then 
started also on our route. 


As it gave rise to so much war and blood- 
shed, it may not be improper here to give a little 
description of Fort Mimms, and the manner in 
which the Indian war commenced. The fort was 
built right in the middle of a large old field, and 
in it the people had been forted so long and so 
quietly, that they didn't apprehend any danger at 
all, and had, therefore, become quite careless. A 
small negro boy, whose business it was to bring 
up the calves at milking time, had been out for 
that purpose, and on coming back, he said he saw 
a great many Indians. At this the inhabitants 
took the alarm, and closed their gates and placed 
out their guards, which they continued for a few 
days. But finding that no attack was made, they 
concluded the little n^gro had lied ; and again 
threw their gates open, and set all their hands out 
to work their fields. The same boy was out again 
on the same errand, when, returning in great 
haste and alarm, he informed them that he had 
seen the Indians as thick as trees in the woods. 
He was not believed, but was tucked up to receive 
a flogging for the supposed lie ; and was actually 
getting badly licked at the very moment when 
the Indians came in a troop, loaded with rails, 
with which they stop'd all the port-holes of the 
fort on one side except the bastion ; and then they 


fell in to cutting down the picketing. Those in- 
side the fort had only the bastion to shoot from, 
as all the other holes were spiked up ; and they 
shot several of the Indians, while engaged in cut- 
ting. But as fast as one would fall, another would 
seize up the axe and chop away, until they suc- 
ceeded in cutting down enough of the picketing 
to admit them to enter. They then began to rush 
through, and continued until they were all in. 
They immediately commenced scalping, without 
regard to age or sex ; having forced the inhabit- 
ants up to one side of the fort, where they carried 
on the work of death as a butcher would in a 
slaughter pen. 

The scene was particularly described to me by 
a 3^oung man who was in the fort when it hap- 
pened, and subsequently went on with us to Pensa- 
cola. He said that he saw his father, and mother, 
his four sisters, and the same number of brothers, 
all butchered in the most shocking manner, and 
that he made his escape by running over the heads 
of the crowd, who were against the fort wall, to 
the top of the fort, and then jumping off, and 
taking to the woods. He was closely pursued by 
several Indians, until he came to a small byo, 
across which there was a log. He knew the log 
was hollow on the under side, so he slip'd under 


the log and hid himself. He said he heard the 
Indians walk over him several times back and 
forward. He remained, nevertheless, still till 
night, when he came out, and finished his escape. 
The name of this young man has entirely escaped 
my recollection, though his tale greatly excited 
my feelings. But to return to my subject. The 
regiment marched from where Gen'l. Jackson had 
left us to Fort Montgomery, which was distant 
from Fort Mimms about a mile and a half, and 
there we remained for some days. 

Here we supplied ourselves pretty well with 
beef, by killing wild cattle which had formerly 
belonged to the people who perished in the fort, 
but had gone wild after their massacre. 

When we marched from Fort Montgomery, we 
went some distance back towards Pensacola j then 
we turned to the left, and passed through a poor 
piny country, till we reached the Scamby river, 
near which we encamped. We had about one 
thousand men, and as a part of that number, one 
hundred and eighty-six Chickesaw and Choctaw 
Indians with us. That evening a boat landed 
jfrom Pensacola, bringing many articles that were 
both good and necessary ; such as sugar and coffee, 
and liquors of all kinds. The same evening, the 
Indians we had along proposed to cross the river, 


and the officers thinking it might be well for them 
to do so, consented ; and Major Russell went 
with them, taking sixteen white men, of which 
number I was one. We camped on the opposite 
bank that night, and early in the morning we set 
out. We had not gone far before we came to a 
place where the whole country was covered with 
water, and looked like a sea. We didn't stop for 
this, tho', but just put in like so many spaniels, 
and waded on, sometimes up to our armpits, until 
we reached the pine hills, which made our dis- 
tance through the water about a mile and a half. 
Here we struck up a fire to warm ourselves, for it 
was cold, and we were chilled through by being 
so long in the water. We again moved on, keep- 
ing our spies out ; two to our left near the bank of 
the river, two straight before us, and two others on 
our right. We had gone in this way about six miles 
up the river, wiien our spies on the left came to 
us leaping the brush like so many old bucks, and 
informed us that they had discovered a camp of 
Creek Indians, and that we must kill them. Here 
we paused for a few minutes, and the prophets 
pow-w^owed over their men awhile, and then got 
out their paint, and painted them, all according to 
their custom when going into battle. They then 
brought their paint to old Major Russell, and said 


to him, that as he was an officer, he must be paint- 
ed too. He agreed, and they painted him just as 
they had done themselves. We let the Indians 
understand that we white men would first fire on 
the camp, and then fall back, so as to give the In- 
dians a chance to rush in and scalp them. The 
Chickasavvs marched on our left hand, and the 
Choctaws on our right, and we moved on till w^e 
got in hearing of the camp, where the Indians 
were employed in beating up what they called 
chainy briar root. ' On this they mostly sub- 
sisted. On a nearer approach we found they were 
on an island, and that we could not get to them. 
While we w^ere chatting about this matter, we 
heard some guns fired, and in a very short time 
after a keen whoop, which satisfied us, that where- 
ever it was, there was war on a small scale. With 
that we all broke, like quarter horses, for the 
firing ; and w^hen we got there w^e found it was 
our two front spies, who related to us the following 
story : — As they were moving on, they had met 
with two Creeks who were out hunting their 
horses ; as they approached each other, there was a 
large cluster of green bay bushes exactly between 
them, so that they were within a few feet of meet- 
ing before either was discovered. Our spies 
walked up to them, and speaking in the Shawnee 


tongue, informed them that General Jackson was 
at Pensacoia, and they were making their escape, 
and wanted to know where they could get some- 
thing to eat. The Creeks told them that nine 
miles up the Conaker, the river they were then 
on, there was a large camp of Creeks, and they 
had cattle and plenty to eat ; and further, that 
their own camp was on an island about a mile off, 
and just below the mouth of the Conaker. They 
held their conversation and struck up a fire, and 
smoked together, and shook hands, and parted. 
One of the Creeks had a gun, the other had none ; 
and as soon as they had parted, our Choctaws turned 
round and shot down the one that had the gun, 
and the other attempted to run oiT. They snapped 
several times at him, but the gun still missing fire, 
they took after him, and overtaking him, one of 
them struck him over the head with his gun, and 
followed up his blows till he killed him. 

The gun was broken in the combat, and they 
then fired off the gun of the Creek they had killed, 
and raised the war-whoop. When we reached 
them, they had cut ofi' the heads of both the In- 
dians ; and each of those Indians with us would 
walk up to one of the heads, and taking his war 
club would strike on it. This was done by every 
one of them ; and when they had got done, I took 



one of their clubs, and walked up as they had 
done, and struck it on the head also. At this they 
all gathered round me, and patting me on the 
shoulder, would call me " Warrior — warrior." 

They scalped the heads, and then we moved on 
a short distance to where we found a trace leading 
in towards the river. We took this trace and 
pursued it, till we came to where a Spaniard had 
been killed and scalped, together with a woman, 
who we supposed to be his wife, and also four 
children. I began to feel mighty ticklish along 
about this time, for I knowed if there was no dan- 
ger then, there had been ; and I felt exactly like 
there still was. We, however, went on till we 
struck the river, and then continued down it till 
we came opposite to the Indian camp, where we 
found they were still beating their roots. 

It was now late in the evening, and they were 
in a thick cane brake. We had some few friendly 
Creeks with us, who said they could decoy them. 
So we all hid behind trees and logs, while the at- 
tempt was made. The Indians would not agree 
that we should fire, but pick'd out some of their 
best gunners, and placed them near the river. 
Our Creeks went down to the river's side, and 
hailed the camp in the Creek language. We heard 
an answer, and an Indian man started down to- 


wards the river, but didn't come in sight. He 
went back and again commenced beating his roots, 
and sent a squaw. She came down, and talked 
with our Creeks until dark came on. They told 
her they wanted her to bring them a canoe. To 
v/hich she replied, that their canoe was on our 
side ; that two of their men had gone out to hunt 
their horses and hadn't yet returned. They were 
the same two we had killed. The canoe was 
found, and forty of our picked Indian warriors 
were crossed over to take the camp. There was 
at last only one man in it, and he escaped ; and 
they took two squaws, and ten children, but 
killed none of them, of course. 

We had run nearly out of provisions, and Ma- 
jor Russell had determined to go up the Conaker 
to the camp we had heard of from the Indians we 
had killed. I was one that he selected to go down 
the river that night for provisions, with the canoe, 
to where we had left our regiment. I took with 
me a man by the name of John Guess, and one 
of the friendly Creeks, and cut out. It was very 
dark, and the river was so full that it overflowed 
the banks and the adjacent low bottoms. This 
rendered it very difficult to keep the channel, and 
particularly as the river was very crooked. At 
about ten o'clock at night we reached the camp, 


and were to return by morning to Major Russell, 
with provisions for his trip up the river ; but on 
informing Colonel Blue of this arrangement, he 
vetoed it as quick as General Jackson did the 
bank bill ; and said, if Major Russell didn't come 
back the next day, it would be bad times for him, 
I found we were not to go up the Conaker to the 
Indian camp, and a man of my company offered to 
go up in my place to inform Major Russell. I let 
him go ; and they reached the major, as I was told, 
about sunrise in the morning, who immediately 
returned with those who were with him to the 
regiment, and joined us where we crossed the 
r«ver, as hereafter stated. 

The next morning we all fixed up, and marched 
down the Scamby to a place called Miller's Land- 
ing, where we swam our horses across, and sent 
on two companies down on the side of the bay 
opposite to Pensacola, where the Indians had fled 
when the main army first marched to that place. 
One was the company of Captain William Russell, 
a son of the old major, and the other was com- 
manded by a Captain Trimble. They went on, and 
had a little skirmish with the Indians. They killed 
some, and took all the balance prisoners, though 
I don't remember the numbers. We again met 
those companies in a day or two, and sent the pri- 


soners they had taken on to Fort Montgomery, 
in charge of some of our Indians. 

I did hear, that after they left us, the Indians 
killed and scalped all the prisoners, and I never 
heard the report contradicted. I cannot positively 
say it was true, but I think it entirely probable, 
for it is very much like the Indian character. 




When we made a move from the point where 
we met the companies, we set out for Chatahachy, 
the place for which we had started when we left 
Fort Montgomery. At the start we had taken 
only twenty days' rations of flour, and eight days' 
rations of beef ; and it was now thirty-four days 
before we reached that place. We were, therefore, 
in extreme suffering for want of something to eat, 
and exhausted with our exposure and the fatigues 
of our journey. I remember well, that I had not 
myself tasted bread but twice in nineteen days. 
I had bought a pretty good supply of coffee from 
the boat that had reached us from Pensacola, on 
the Scamby, and on that we chiefly subsisted. 
At length, one night our spies came in, and in- 
formed us they had found Holm's village on the 
Chatahachy river ; and we made an immediate 
push for that place. We traveled all night, ex- 
pecting to get something to eat when we got 
there. We arrived about sunrise, and near the 


place prepared for battle. We were all so furious, 
that even the certainty of a pretty hard fight 
could not have restrained us. We made a furious 
charge on the town, but to our great mortification 
and surprise, there wasn't a human being in it. 
The Indians had all run ofi" and left it. We 
burned the town, however ; but, melancholy to 
tell, we found no provision whatever. We then 
turned about, and went back to the camp we had 
left the night before, as nearly starved as any set 
of poor fellows ever were in the world. 

We staid there only a little while, when we 
divided our regiment j and Major Childs, with 
his men, went back the way we had come for a 
considerable distance, and then turned to Baton- 
Rouge, where they joined General Jackson and 
the main army on their return from Orleans. 
Major Russell and his men struck for Fort Decatur, 
on the Talapoosa river. Some of our friendly 
Indians, who knew the country, went on ahead of 
us, as we had no trail except the one they made 
to follow. With them we sent some of our ablest 
horses and men, to get us some provisions, to pre- 
vent us from absolutely starving to death. As 
the army marched, I hunted every day, and would 
kill every hawk, bird, and squirrel that I could 
find. Others did the same; and it was a rule 


with us, that when we stop'd at night, the hunters 
would throw all they killed .in a pile, and then 
we w^ould make a general division among all the 
men. One evening I came in, having killed no- 
thing that day. I had a very sick man in my 
mess, and I w^anted something for him to eat, even 
if I starved myself. So I went to the fire of a 
Captain Cowen, who commanded my company 
after the promotion of Major Russell, and informed 
him that I was on the hunt of something for a 
sick man to eat. I knowed the captain was as 
bad off as the rest of us, but I found him broiling 
a turkey's gizzard. He said he had divided the 
turkey out among the sick, that Major Smiley had 
killed it, and that nothing else had been killed 
that day. I immediately went to Smiley's fire, 
where I found him broiling another gizzard. I 
told him, that it w^as the first turkey I had ever 
seen have two gizzards. But so it was, I got 
nothing for my sick man. And now seeing that 
every fellow must shift for himself, I determined 
that in the morning, I would come up missing ; 
so I took my mess and cut out to go ahead of the 
army. We know'd that nothing more could 
happen to us if we went than if we staid, for 
it looked like it was to be starvation any way ; 
we therefore determined to go on the old saying, 


root hog or die. We passed two camps, at which 
our men, that had gone on before us, had killed 
Indians. At one they had killed nine, and at 
the other three. About daylight we came to a 
small river, which I thought was the Scamby ; but 
we continued on for three days, killing little or 
nothing to eat ; till, 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 knew we couldn't go much further without it. 

We came to a large prairie, that was about six 
miles across it, and in this I saw a trail which I 
knowed was made by bear, deer, and turkeys. 
We went on through it till we came to a large 
creek, and the low grounds were all set over with 
wild rye, looking as green as a wheat field. We 
here made a halt, unsaddled our horses, and turn- 
ed them loose to graze. 

One of my companions, a Mr. Vanzant, and my- 
self, then went up the low grounds to hunt. We 
had gone some distance, finding nothing ; when 
at last, I found a squirrel ; which I shot, but he 
got into a hole in the tree. The game, was small, 
but necessity is not very particular ; so I thought 
I must have him, and I climbed that tree thirty 
feet high, without a limb, and pulled him out of 
his hole. I shouldn't relate such small matters, 


only to show what lengths a hungry man will go 
to, to get something to eat. I soon killed two 
other squirrels, and fired at a large hawk. At 
this a large gang of turkeys rose from the cane 
brake, and flew across the creek to where my 
friend was, who had just before crossed it. He 
soon fired on a large gobler, and I heard it fall. 
By this time my gun was loaded again, and I saw 
one sitting on my side of the creek, which had 
flew over when he fired ; so I blazed away, and 
down I brought him. I gathered him up, and a 
fine turkey he was. I now began to think we had 
struck a breeze of luck, and almost forgot our past 
sufferings, in the prospect of once more having 
something to eat. I raised the shout, and my 
comrade came to me, and we went on to our 
camp with the game we had killed. While we 
were gone, two of our mess had been out, and 
each of them had found a bee tree. We turned 
into cooking some of our game, but we had nei- 
ther salt nor bread. Just at this moment, on 
looking down the creek, we saw our men, who 
had gone on before us for provisions, coming to 
us. They came up, and measured out to each 
man a cupfull of flower. With this, we thickened 
our soup, when our turkey was cooked, and our 
friends took dinner with us, and then went on. 


We now took our tomahawks, and went and cut 
our bee-trees, out of which we got a fine chance 
of honej'' ; though we had been starving so long 
that we feared to eat much at a time, till, like the 
Irish by hanging, we got used to it again. We 
rested that night without moving our camp ; and 
the next morning myself and Vanzant again 
turned out to hunt. We had not gone far, before 
I wounded a fine buck very badly ; and while pur- 
suing him, I was walking on a large tree that had 
fallen down, when from the top of it, a large bear 
broke out and ran off. I had no dogs, and I was 
sorry enough for it ; for of all the hunting I ever 
did, I have always delighted most in bear hunting. 
Soon after this, I killed a large buck ; and we had 
just gotten him to camp, when our poor starved 
army came up. They told us, that to lessen their 
sufferings as much as possible. Captain William 
Russell had had his horse led up to be shot for 
them to eat, just at the moment that they saw our 
men returning, who had carried on the flour. 

We were now about fourteen miles from Fort 
Decatur, and we gave away all our meat, and 
honey, and went on with the rest of the army. 
When we got there, they could give us only one 
ration of meat, but not a mouthful of bread. I im- 
mediately got a canoe, and taking my gun, crossed 


over the river, and went to the Big Warrior^s 
town. I had a large hat, and I offered an Indian 
a silver dollar for my hat full of corn. He told 
me that his corn was all " shuestea^^ which in 
English means, it was all gone. But he showed 
me where an Indian lived, who, he said, had corn. 
I went to him, and made the same offer. He could 
talk a little broken English, and said to me, " You 
got any powder ? You got bullet ?'^ I told him I 
had. He then said, " Me swap my corn, for 
powder and bullet." I took out about ten bullets, 
and showed him ; and he proposed to give me a 
hat full of corn for them. I took him up, mighty 
quick. I then offered to give him ten charges of 
powder for another hat full of corn. To this he 
agreed very willingly. So I took off my hunting- 
shirt, and tied up my corn ; and though it had 
cost me very little of my powder and lead, yet I 
wouldn't have taken fifty silver dollars for it. I re- 
turned to the camp, and the next morning we start- 
ed for the Hickory Ground, which was thirty miles 
off. It was here that General Jackson met the In- 
dians, and made peace with the body of the nation. 
We got nothing to eat at this place, and we had 
yet to go forty-nine miles, over a rough and wil- 
derness country, to Fort Williams. Parched corn, 

and but little even of that, was our daily subsist- 



ence. When we reached Fort Williams, we got 
pne ration of pork and one of flour, which was 
our only hope until we could reach Fort Strother. 

The horses were now giving out, and I remem- 
ber to have seen thirteen good horses left in one 
day, the saddles and bridles being thrown away. 
It was thirty-nine miles to Fort Strother, and we 
had to pass directly by Fort Talladego, where we 
first had the big Indian battle with the eleven 
hundred painted warriors. We went through the 
oj.d battle ground, and it looked like a great gourd 
patch ; the sculls of the Indians who were killed 
still lay scattered all about, and many of their 
frames were still perfect, as the bones had not 
separated. But about five miles before we got to 
this battle ground, I struck a trail, which I followed 
until it led me to one of their towns. Here I swap'd 
some more of my powder and bullets fora little corn. 

I pursued on, by myself, till some time after 
night, when I came up with the rest of the army. 
That night my company and myself did pretty 
well, as I divided out my corn among them. The 
next morning we met the East Tennessee troops, 
who were on their road to Mobile, and my young- 
est brother was with them. They had plenty of 
corn and provisions, and they gave me what I 
wanted for myself and my horSe. I remained 


with them that night, tliough my company went 
across the Coosa river to the fort, where they also 
had the good fortune to find plenty of provisions. 
Next morning, I took leave of my brother and all 
my old neighbours, for there were a good many of 
them with him, and crossed over to my men at 
the fort. Here I had enough to go on, and after 
remaining a few days, cut out for home. Nothing 
more, worthy of the reader's attention, transpired 
till I was safely landed at home once more with 
my wife and children. I found them all well and 
doing well ; and though I was only a rough 
sort of a backwoodsman, 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 

But I had been home only a few days, when we 
received orders to start again, and go on to the, 
Black Warrior and Cahawba rivers, to s6e if there 
was 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 any thing to go on; and so I agreed to give 
a young man, who wanted to go, the balance of m}'- 
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 bet- 
ter 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 I am glad I am alive, for there is a confound- 
ed heap of things I an't glad of at all. I an't glad, 
for example, that the " government" moved the 
deposites, and if my military glory should take 
such a turn as to make me president after the ge- 
neral's time, 1 '11 move them back ; yes, I, the 
" government," will " take the responsibility," 
and move them back again. If I don't, I wish I 
may be shot. 

But I am glad that I am now through war mat- 
ters, and I reckon the reader is too, for they have no 
fun in them at all ; and less if he had had to pass 
through them first,and then to write them afterwards. 
But for the dullness of their narrative, I must try- 
to make amends by relating some of the curious 
things that happened to me in private life, and 
when forced to become a public man, as I shall 
have to be again, if ever I consent to take the 
presidential chair. 



I CONTINUED at home now, working my farm 
for two years, as the war finally closed soon 
after I quit the service. The battle at New 
Orleans had already been fought, and treaties 
were made with the Indians which put a stop to 
their hostilities. 

But 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 of even help- 
less infancy, are addressed in vain, — entered my 
humble cottage, and tore from my children an af- 
fectionate 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 on it, it seems as but 

the work of yesterday. 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 is even yet the remembrance of her 
sufferings, and the loss sustained by my little chil- 
dren and myself, yet I have no wish to lift up the 
voice of complaint. I was left with three chil- 
dren ; the two oldest were sons, the youngest a 
daughter, and, at that time, a mere infant. It ap- 
peared to me, at that moment, that my situation 
was the worst in the world. I couldn't bear the 
thought of scattering my children, and so I got 
my youngest brother, who was also married, and 
his family to live with me. They took as good 
care of my children as they well could, but yet it 
wasn't all like the care of a mother. And though 
their company was to me in every respect like 
that of a brother and sister, yet it fell far short of 
being like that of a wife. So I came to the con- 
clusion it wouldn't do, but that I must have an- 
other wife. 

There lived in the neighbourhood, a widow lady 
whose husband had been killed in the war. She 
had two children, a son and daughter, and both 
quite small, like my own. I began to think, that 
as we were both in the same situation, it might be 
that we could do something for each other ; and I 
therefore began to hint a little around the matter, 
as we were once and a while together. She was a 
good industrious woman, and ^wned a snug little 


farm, and lived quite comfortable. I soon began 
to pay my respects to her in real good earnest ; 
but I was as sly about it as a fox when he is going 
to rob a hen-roost. I found that my company 
wasn't at all disagreeable to her ; and I thought I 
could treat her children with so much friendship 
as to make her a good stepmother to mine, and in 
this I wan't mistaken, as we soon bargained, and 
got married, and then went ahead. In a great 
deal of peace we raised our first crop of chil- 
dren, and they are all married and doing well. But 
we had a second crop together ; and I shall notice 
them as I go along, as my wife and myself both 
had a hand in them, and they therefore belong to 
the history of my second marriage. 

The next fall after this marriage, three of my 
neighbours and myself determined to explore a 
new country. Their names were Robinson, Fra- 
zier, and Rich. We set out for the Creek country, 
crossing the Tennessee river ; and after having 
made a day's travel, we stop'd at the house of one 
of my old acquaintances, who had settled there 
after the war. Resting here a day, Frazier turned 
out to hunt, being a great hunter ; but he got 
badly bit by a very poisonous snake, and so we 
left him and went on. We passed thr'^ugh a large 
rich valley, called Jones's valley, where several 


other families had settled, and continued our 
course till we came near to the place where Tus- 
caloosa now stands. Here we camped, as there 
were no inhabitants, and hobbled out our horses 
for the night. About two hours before day, we 
heard the bells on our horses going back the way 
we had come, as they had started to leave us. 
As soon as it was daylight, I started in pursuit of 
them on foot, and carrying my rifle, which was a 
very heavy one. I went ahead the whole day, 
wading creeks and swamps, and climbing moun- 
tains ; but I couldn't overtake our horses, though 
I could hear of them at every house they passed. 
I at last found I couldn't catch up with them, and 
so I gave up the hunt, and turned back to the last 
house I had passed, and staid there till morning. 
From the best calculation we could make, I had 
walked over fifty miles that day ; and the next 
morning I was so sore, and fatigued, that I felt 
like I couldn't walk any more. But I was anxious 
to get back to where I had left my company, and 
so I started and went on, but mighty slowly, till 
after the middle of the day. I now began to 
feel mighty sick, and had a dreadful head-ache. 
My rifle was so heavy, and I felt so weak, that I 
lay down by the side of the trace, in a perfect 
wilderness too, to see if I wouldn't get better 


In a short time some Indians came along. They 
had some ripe melons, and wanted me to eat 
some, but I was so sick I couldn't. They then 
signed to me, that I would die, and be buried ; 
a thing I was confoundedly afraid of myself. 
But I asked them how near it was to any house ? 
By their signs, again, they made me understand it 
was a mile and a half. I got up to go ; but when 
I rose, I reeled about like a cow with the blind 
staggers, or a fellow who had taken too many 
" horns." One of the Indians proposed to go 
with me, and carry my gun. I gave him half a 
dollar, and accepted his offer. We got to the 
house, by which time I was pretty far gone, but 
was kindly received, and got on to a bed. The 
woman did all she could for me with her warm 
teas, but I still continued bad enough, with a high 
fever, and generally out of my senses. The next 
day two of my neighbours were passing the road, 
and heard of my situation, and came to where I 
was. They were going nearly the route I had 
intended to go, to look at the country ; and so 
they took me first on one of their horses, and 
then on the other, till they got me back to where 
I had left my company. I expected I would get 
better, and be able to go on with them, but, instead 
of this, I got worse and worse ; and when we got 


there, I wan't able to sit up at all. I thought 
now the jig was mighty nigh up with me, but I 
determined to keep a stiff upper lip. They car- 
ried me to a house, and each of my comrades 
bought him a horse, and they all set out together, 
leaving me behind. I knew but little that was 
going on for about two weeks ; but the family 
treated me with every possible kindness in their 
power, and I shall always feel thankful to them. 
The man's name was Jesse Jones. At the end of . 
two weeks I began to mend without the help of a 
doctor, or of any doctor's means. In this time, 
however, as they told me, I was speechless for 
five days, and they had no thought that I would 
ever speak again, — in Congress or any where else. 
And so the woman, who had a bottle of Bates- 
man's draps, thought if they killed me, I would 
only die any how, and so she would try it with 
me. She gave me the whole bottle, which 
throwed me into a sweat that continued on me 
all night ; when at last I seemed to make up, and] 
spoke, and asked her for a drink of water. This 
almost alarmed her, for she was looking every] 
minute for me to die. She gave me the water,] 
and, from that time, I began slowly to mend, andi 
so kept on till I was able at last to walk about a1 
little. I might easily have been mistaken for] 


one of the Kitchen Cabinet, I looked so much 
like a ghost. I have been particular in giving a 
history of this sickness, not because I believe it 
will interest any body much now, nor, indeed, 
do I certainly know that it ever will. But if I 
should be forced to take the " white house," then 
it will be good history ; and every one will look 
on it as important. And 1 can't, for my life, help 
laughing now, to think, that when all my folks 
get around me, wanting good fat offices, how so 
many of them will say, "What a good thing it 
was that that kind woman had the bottle of draps, 
that saved President Crockett's life,— the se- 
cond greatest and best"! ! ! ! ! Good, says I, 
my noble fellow ! You take the post office ; or 
the navy ; or the war office ; or may-be the 
treasury. But if I give him the treasury, there's 
no devil if I don't make him agree first to fetch 
back them deposites. And if it's even the post- 
office, I'll make him promise to keep his money 
'counts without any figuring, as that throws the 
whole concern heels over head in debt, in little 
or no time. 

But when I got so I could travel a little, I got 

a waggoner who was passing along to hawl me 

to where he lived, which was about twenty miles 

' from my house. I still mended as we went along, 

[32 "^HE L^^^ ^^ 

and when we got to his stopping place, I hired 
one of his horses, and went on home. I was so 
pale, and so much reduced, that my face looked 
like it had been half soled with brown paper. 

When I got there, it was to the utter astonish- 
ment of my wife ; for she supposed I w^as dead. 
My neighbours who had started with me had re- 
turned and took my horse home, which they 
had found with their's ; and they reported that 
they had seen men who had helped to bury me ; 
and who saw me draw my last breath. I know'd 
this was a whapper of a lie, as soon as I heard it. 
My wife had hired a man, and sent him out to see 
what had become of my money and other things ; 
but I had missed the man as I went in, and he 
didn't return until some time after I got home, 
as he went all the way to where I lay sick, before 
he heard that I was still in the land of the living 
and a-kicking. 

The place on which I lived was sickly, and I 
was determined to leave it. I therefore set out 
the next fall to look at the country which had 
been purchased of the Chickasaw tribe of Indians. 
I went on to a place called Shoal Creek, about 
eighty miles from where I lived, and here again 
I got sick. I took the ague and fever, which I 
supposed was brought on me by camping out. I 


remained here for some time, as I was unable to 
go farther ; and in that time, I became so well 
pleased with the country about there, that T re- 
solved to settle in it. It was just only a little dis- 
tance in the purchase, and no order had been es- 
tablished there ; but I thought I could get along 
without order as well as any body else. And so I 
moved and settled myself down on the head of 
Shoal Creek. We remained here some two or 
three years, without any law at all ; and so many 
bad characters began to flock in upon us, that we 
found it necessary to set up a sort of temporary 
government of our own. I don't mean that we 
H^ made any president, and called him the " govern- 
ment," but we met and made what we called a 
corporation ; and I reckon we called it wrong, 
for it wa'n't a bank, and hadn't any deposites ; 
and now they call the bank a corporation. But 
be this as it may, we lived in the back-woods, and 
didn't profess to know much, and no doubt used 
many wrong words. But we met, and appointed 
magistrates and constables to keep order. We 
didn't fix any laws for them, tho' ; for we sup- 
posed they would know law enough, whoever 
they might be ; and so we left it to themselves to 
fix the laws. 

I was appointed one of the magistrates ; and 


134 THE LIFE OF ^ 

when a man owed a debt, and wouldn't pay- 
it, I and my constable ordered our warrant, and 
then he would take the man, and bring him be- 
fore me for trial. I would give judgment against 
him, and then an order of an execution would 
easily scare the debt out of him. If any one was 
charged with marking his neighbour's hogs, or 
with stealing any thing, which happened pretty 
often in those days, — I would have him taken, and 
if there was tolerable grounds for the charge, I 
would have him well whip'd and cleared. We 
kept this up till our Legislature added us to 
the white settlements in Giles county ; and ap- 
pointed magistrates by law, to organize matters in 
the parts where I lived. They appointed nearly 
every man a magistrate who had belonged to our 
corporation. T was then, of course, made a squire 
according to law ; though now the honour rested 
more heavily on 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 writings. But after I was appointed 
by the assembly, they told me, my warrants must 
be in real writing, and signed ; and that I must 
keep a book, and v/rite my proceedings in it. 


This was a hard business on me, for I could iust 
barely write my own name ; but to do this, and 
write the warrants too, was at least a huckle- 
berry over my persimmon. I had a pretty 
well informed constable, however ; and he aided 
me very much in this business. Indeed I had so 
much confidence in him, that I told him, when we 
should happen to be out anywhere, and see that 
a warrant was necessary, and would have a good 
eflfect, he need'nt 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 committed any error. In 
this way I got on pretty well, till by care and at- 
tention I improved my handwriting in such man- 
ner as to be able to prepare my warrants, and keep 
my record book, without much difficulty. My 
judgments were never appealed from, and if they 
had been they would have stuck like wax, as I 
gave my decisions on the principles of common 
justice and honesty between man and man, and 
relied on natural born sense, and not on law, 
learning to guide me ; for I had never read a 
page in a law book in all my life. 



About the time we were getting under good 
headway in our new government, a Capt. Mat- 
thews came to me and told me he was a candidate 
for the office of colonel of a regiment, and that I 
must run for first major in the same regiment. I 
objected to this, telling him that I thought I had 
done my share of fighting, and that I wanted no- 
thing to do with military appointments. 

He still insisted, until at last I agreed, and of 
course had every reason to calculate on his support 
in my election. He was an early settler in that 
country, and made rather more corn than the rest 
of us ; and knowing it would afford him a good 
opportunity to electioneer a little, he made a great 
corn husking, and a great frolic, and gave a gene- 
ral treat, asking every body over the whole coun- 
try. Myself and my family were, of course, in- 
vited. When I got there, I found a very large col- 
lection of people, and some friend of mine soon 

informed me that the captain's- son was going to 



offer against me for the office of major, which he 
had seemed so anxious for me to get. I cared 
nothing about the office, but it put my dander up 
high enough to see, that after he had pressed me 
so hard to offer, he was countenancing, if not en- 
couraging, a secret plan to beat me. I took the 
old gentleman out, and asked him about it. He 
told me it was true his son was going to run 
as a candidate, and that he hated worse to run 
against me than any man in the county. I told 
him his son need give himself no uneasiness about 
that ; that I shouldn't run against him for major, 
but against his daddy for colonel. He took me 
by the hand, and we went into the company. He 
then made a speech, and informed the people that 
I was his opponent. I mounted up for a speech 
too. I told the people the cause of my opposing 
him, remarking that as I had the whole family to 
run against any way, I was determined to levy on 
the head of the mess. When the time for the elec- 
tion came, his son was opposed by another man for 
major ; and he and his daddy were both badly 
beaten. I just now began to take a rise, as in a 
little time I was asked to offer for the Legislature 
in the counties of Lawrence and Heckman. 

I offered my name in the month of February, 
and started about the first of March with a drove 


of horses to the lower part of the state of North 
Carolina. This was in the year 1821, and I was 
gone upwards of three months. I returned, and 
set out electioneering, which was a bran-fire new 
business to me. It now became necessary that I 
should tell the people something about the govern- 
ment, and an eternal sight of other things that I 
knowed nothing more about than I did about Latin, 
and law, and such things as that. I have said be- 
fore that in those days none of us called Gen'l. 
Jackson the government, nor did he seem in as 
fair a way to become so as I do now ; but I knowed 
so little about it, that if any one had told me he 
was " the government," I should have believed it, 
for I had never read even a newspaper in my life, 
or any thing else, on the subject. But over all my 
difficulties, it seems to me I was born for luck, 
-though it would be hard for any one to guess what 
sort. I will, however, explain that hereafter. 

I went first into Heckman county, to see what I 
could do among the people as a candidate. Here 
they told me that they wanted to move their town 
nearer to the centre of the county, and I must 
come out in favour of it. There's no devil if I 
knowed what this meant, or how the town was to 
be moved ; and so I kept dark, going on the iden- 
tical 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 io 
meet and count the scalps, and have a big barbe- 
cue, and what might be called a tip-top country 
frolic. The dinner, and a general treat, was all to 
be paid for by the party having taken the fewest 
scalps. I joined one side, taking the place of one 
of the hunters, 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 every thing to eat and drink 
that could be furnished in so new a country, and 
much fun and good humour prevailed. But be- 
fore the regular frolic commenced, I mean the 
dancing, I was called on to make a speech as a can- 
didate ; which was a business I was as ignorant of 
as an outlandish negro. 

A public document I had never seen, nor did I 
know there were such things ; and 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 
wa'n't able to shuffle and cut with him. He was 
there, and knowing my ignorance as well as I did 
myself, he also urged me to make a speech. The 
truth is, he thought my being a candidate was a 



mere matter of sport; and dicln't think, for a mo- 
ment, that he was in any danger from an ignorant 
back-woods bear hunter. But I found I couldn't 
get off, and so I determined just to go ahead, and 
leave it to chance what I should say. I got up 
and told the people, I reckoned they know'd what 
I come for, but if not, I could tell them. I had 
come for their votes, and if they didn't watch 
mighty close, I'd get them too. But the worst 
of all was, that I couldn't tell them any thing about 
government. I tried to speak about something, 
and I cared very little what, until I choaked up as 
bad as if my mouth had been jam'd and cram'd 
chock full of dry mush. There the people stood, 
listening all the while, with their eyes, mouths 
and years all open, to catch every word I would 

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 near the road-side, when 
a traveler, 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 be- 
fore, 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. 

J 42 '^^E LIFE OF 

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 atten- 
tion. But I took care to remark that I was as dry 
as a powder horn, and that I thought it was time 
for us all to wet our whistles a little ; and so I put 
off to the liquor stand, and was followed by the 
greater part of the crowd. 

I felt certain this was necessary, for I knowed 
my competitor could open 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 humoured 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 Ver- 
non, which w^as the same they wanted me to move. 
Here they pressed me again on the subject, and 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 way. 

Their court commenced on the next Monday, as 
the barbacue was on a Saturday, and the candi- 
dates for governor and for Congress, as well as my ■ 
competitor and myself, all attended. 



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 for 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 didn't go back again till after the 
election was over. But to cut this matter short, 
1 was elected, doubling my competitor, and nine 
votes over. 

A short time after this, I was in Pulaski, where 
I met with Colonel Polk, now a member of Con- 
gress from Tennessee, He was at that time a 
member elected to the Legislature, as well as my- 
self ; and in a large company he said to me, 
" Well, colonel, I suppose 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 knowed 
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. 

When the time for meeting of the Legislature 
arrived, I went on, and before I had been there 
long, I could have told what the judiciary was, 
and what the government was too ; and many 
other things that I had known nothing about be- 

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 extensive grist mill, and powder mill, all 
connected together, and also a large distillery. 
They had cost me upwards 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 — not blown 
up sky high, as you would guess, by my powder 
establishment, — but swept away all to smash by a 
large fresh, that came soon after I left home. I 
had, of course, to stop my distillery, as my grind- 
ing was broken up ; and, indeed, I may say, that 
the misfortune just made a complete mash of me., 
T had some likely negroes, and a good stock of | 


almost every thing about me, and, best of all, I 
had an honest wife. She didn't advise me, as is 
too fashionable, to smuggle up this, and that, and 
t'other, to go on at home ; but she told me, 
says she, "Just pay up, as long as you have a bit's 
worth in the world ; and then every body 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 devlish uneasy, if she 
begins to scold, and fret, and perplex him, at a 
time when he has a full load for a rail-road car 
on his mind already. 

And so, you see, I determined not to break full 
handed, but thought it better to keep a good con- 
science 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. 





Having returned from the Legislature, I de- 
termined to make another move, and so I took my 
eldest son with me, and a young man by the name 
of Abram Henry, and cut out for the Obion. I se- 
lected a spot when I got there, where I de- 
^; termined to settle ; and the nearest house to it 
was seven miles, the next nearest was fifteen, 
and so on to tv/enty. It was a complete wilder- 
ness, and full of Indians w^ho were hunting. Game 
was plenty of almost every kind, which suited 
me exactly, as I was always fond of hunting. 
The house which was nearest me, and which, as I 
have already stated, was seven miles off, and on 
the different side of the Obion river, belonged to 
a man by the name of Owens ; and I started to 
go there. I had taken one horse along, to pack 
our provision, and when I got to the water I hob- 
bled him out to graze, until I got back ; as there 
was no boat to cross the river in, and it was so 


high that it had overflowed all the bottoms and 
low country near it. 

We now took water like so many beavers, not- 
withstanding it was mighty cold, and waded on. 
The water would sometimes be up to our necks, 
and at others not so deep ; but I went, of course, 
before, and carried a pole, with which I would feel 
along before me, to see how deep it was, and to 
guard against falling into a slough, as there was 
many in our way. When I would come to one, 
I would take out my tomahawk and cut a small 
tree across it, and then go ahead again. Fre- 
quently my little son would have to swim, even 
where myself and the young man could wade ; 
but we worked on till at last we got to the channel 
of the river, which made it about half a mile 
we had waded from where we took water. I 
saw a large tree that had fallen into the river 
from the other side, but it didn't reach across. 
One stood on the same bank where we were, that 
I thought I could fall, so as to reach the other ; 
and so at it we went with my tomahawk, cutting 
away till we got it down ; and, as good luck 
would have it, it fell right, and made us a way 
that we could pass. 

When we got over this, it was still a sea of 
water as far as our eyes could reach. We took 



into It again, and went ahead, for about a mile, 
hardly ever seeing a single spot of land, and 
sometimes very deep. At last we come in sight 
of land, which was a very pleasing thing ; and 
when we got out, we went but a little way, be- 
fore we came in sight of the house, which was 
more pleasing than ever ; for we were wet all 
over, and mighty cold. I felt mighty sorry when 
I would look at my little boy, and see him shak- 
ing like he had the worst sort of an ague, for 
r. there was no time for fever then. As we got 
near to the house, we saw Mr. Owens and seve- 
ral men that were with him, just starting away. 
They saw us, and stop'd, but looked much asto- 
nished until we got up to them, and I made my- 
self known. The men who were with him 
were the owners of a boat which was the first 
that ever went that far up the Obion river ; 
and some hands he had hired to carry it about 
a hundred miles still further up, by water, tho' 
it was only about thirty by land, as the river is 
very crooked. 

They all turned back to the house with me, 
where I found Mrs. Owens, a fine, friendly old 
woman ; and her kindness to my little boy did 
me ten times as much good as any thing she 

could have done for me, if she had tried her 



best. The old gentleman set out his bottle to 
us, and I concluded that if a horn wasn't good 
then, there was no use for its invention. So I 
swig'd off about a half pint, and the young man 
was by no means bashful in such a case ; he took 
a strong pull at it too. I then gave my boy some, 
and in a little time we felt pretty well. We dried 
ourselves by the fire, and were asked to go on 
board of the boat that evening. I agreed to do 
so, but left my son with the old lady, and my- 
self and my young man went to the boat with 
Mr. Owens and the others. The boat was load- 
ed with whiskey, flour, sugar, coffee, salt, cast- 
ings, and other articles suitable for the country ; 
and they were to receive five hundred dollars to 
land the load at M^Lemore's Bluff, beside the 
profit they could make on their load. This was 
merely to show that boats could get up to that 
point. We staid all night with them, and had 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 more. In the morning we con- 
cluded to go on with the boat to where a great 
harricane had crossed the river, and blowed all 
the timber down into it. When we got there, 
we found the river was falling fast, and con- 
cluded we couldn't get through the timber with- 


out more rise ; so we drop'd down opposite Mr. 
Owens' again, where they determined to wait for 
more water. 

The next day it rained rip-roriously, and the 
river rose pretty considerable, but not enough yet. 
And so I got the boatsmen all to go out with me to 
where I was going to settle, and we slap'd up a 
cabin in little or no time. I got from the boat 
four barrels of meal, and one of salt, and about ten 
gallons of whiskey. 

To pay for these, I agreed to go with the boat 
up the river to their landing place. I got also a 
large middling of bacon, and killed a fine deer, 
and left them for my young man and m.y little 
boy, who were to stay at my cabin till I got back; 
which I expected would be in six or seven days. 
We cut out, and moved up to the harricane, where 
we stop'd for the night. In the morning I started 
about daylight, intending to kill a deer, as I had 
no thought they would get the boat through the 
timber that day. I had gone but a little way be- 
fore I killed a fine buck, and started to go back to 
the boat ; but on the way I came on the tracks of a 
large gang of elks, and so I took after them. I had 
followed them only a little distance when I saw 
them, and directly after I saw two large bucks. I 
shot one down, and the other wouldn't leave him ; 


so I loaded my gun, and shot him down too. 1 
hung them up, and went ahead again after my elks. 
I pursued on till after the middle of the day be- 
fore I saw them again ; but they took the hint be- 
fore I got in shooting distance, and run off. I still 
pushed on till late in the evening, when I found I 
was about four miles from where I had left the boat, 
and as hungry as a wolf, for I hadn't eaten a bite 
that day. 

I started down the edge of the river low grounds, 
giving out the pursuit of my elks, and hadn't gone 
hardly any distance at all, before 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 stop'd ; and stood there 
till I loaded again, and fired at him. I knock'd 
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 now killed six that day. 
I then pushed on till I got to the harri cane, 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 expectation, they had got through 


jthe 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 
all through it, and so thick, that a good fat coon 
couldn't much more than get along. I got 
through at last, and went on near to where I 
had killed my last deer, and once more fired off 
my gun, which was again answered from the boat, 
which was still 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 difficulty ; but the briers had 
worked on me at such a rate, that 1 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 hardly work my jaws 
to eat. 

In the morning, myself and a young man started 
and brought in the first buck I had killed ; and 
after breakfast we went and brought in the last 
one. The boat then started, but we again went 
and got the two I had killed just as I turned 
down the river in the evening ; and we then 
pushed on and o'ertook the boat, leaving the other 


two hanging in the woods, as we had now as much 
as we wanted. 

We got up the river very well, but quite 
slowly ; and we landed, on the eleventh day, at 
the place the load was to be delivered at. They 
here gave me their skiff, and myself and a young 
man by the name of Flavius Harris, who had de- 
termined to go and live with me, cut out down 
the river for my cabin, which we reached safely 

We turned in and cleared a field, and planted 
our corn ; but it was so late in the spring, we had 
no time to make rails, and therefore we put no 
fence around our field. There was no stock, how- 
ever, nor any thing else to disturb our corn, ex- 
cept the wild varments, and the old serpent him- 
self, with a fence to help him, couldn't keep them 
out. I made corn enough to do me, and during 
that spring I killed ten bears, and a great abun- 
dance of deer. But in all this time, we saw the 
face of no white person in that country, except 
Mr. Owens' family, and a very few passengers, 
who went out there, looking at the country. In- 
dians, though, were still plenty enough. Having 
laid by my crap, I went home, which was a dis- 
tance of about a hundred and fifty miles ; and 
when I got there, I was met by an order to attend 


a call-session of our Legislature. I attended it, 
and served out my time, and then returned, and 
took my family and what little plunder I had, 
and moved to where I had built my cabin, and 
made my crap. 

I gathered my corn, and then set out for my 
Fall's hunt. This was in the last of October, 1822. 
I found bear very plenty, and, indeed, all sorts of 
game and wild varments, except buffalo. There 
was none of them. I hunted on till Christmass, 
having supplied my family very well all along 
with wild meat, at which time my powder gave 
out; and I had none either to fire Christmass guns, 
which is very common in that country, or to hunt 
with. I had a brother-in-law who had nov/ moved 
out and settled about six miles west of me, on the 
opposite side of Rutherford's fork of the Obion 
river, and he had brought me a keg of powder, 
but I had never gotten it home. There had just 
been another of Noah's freshes, and the low 
grounds were flooded all over with water. I 
know'd the stream was at least a mile wide which 
I would have to cross, as the water was from hill 
to hill, and yet I determined to go on over in some 
way or other, so as to get my powder. I told this 
to my wife, and she immediately opposed it with 
all her might. I still insisted, telling her we had 


no powder for Christmassy andj worse than all, we 
were out of meat. She said, we had as well starve 
as for me to freeze to death or to get drowned, and 
one or the other was certain if I attempted to go. 

But I didn't believe the half of this ; and so I 
took my woolen wrappers, and a pair of mockasins, 
and put them on, and tied up some dry clothes and 
a pair of shoes and stockings, and started. But I 
didn't before know how much any body could 
suffer and not die. This, and some of my other 
experiments in water, learned me something about 
it, and I therefore relate them. 

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 look'd like an 
ocean. I put in, and waded on till I come 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 crossed it often on a log ; but, behold, when I 
got there, no log was to be seen. I knowed of an 
island in the slough, and a sapling stood on it 
close to the side of that log, which was now en- 
tirely under water. I knowed further, that the 
water was about eight or ten feet deep under the 
log, and I judged it to be about 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 which I succeeded very 
well. I then cut me a pole, and crawled along on 
my sapling till I got to the one it was lodged 
against, which was about six feet above the water. 
I then felt about with my pole till I found the log, 
which was just about as deep under the water as I 
had judged. I then crawled back and got my 
gun, which I had left at the stump of the sapling I 
had cut, and again made my way to the place of 
lodgement, and then climb'd down the other sap- 
ling so as to get on the log. I then 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 feel- 
ing 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 

I went but a short distance before I came to 
another slough, over which there was a log, but 
it was floating on the water. I thought I could 
walk it, and so I mounted on it ; but when I had 
got about the middle of the deep water, some- 
how 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 high-land, 
where I stop'd to pull of my wet clothes, and put 
on the others, which I had held up with my gun, 
above the water, when I fell in. I got them on, 
but my flesh had no feeling in it, I was so cold. 
I tied up the wet ones, and hung them up in a bush. 
I now thought I would run, so as to warm myself 
a little, but I couldn't raise a trot for some time ; 
indeed, I couldn't step more than half the length 
of my foot. After a while I got better, and went 
on five miles to the house of my brother-in-law, 
having not even smelt fire from the time I started. 
I got there late in the evening, and he was much 
astonished at seeing me at such a time. I staid 
all night, and the next morning was most pierc- 
ing cold, and so they persuaded me not to go 
home that day. I agreed, and turned out and 
killed him two deer ; but the weather still got 
worse and colder, instead of better. I staid that 
night, and in the morning they still insisted I 
couldn't get home. I knowed the water v/ould 
be frozen over, but not hard enough to bear me,j 
and so I agreed to stay that day. I went out hunt- 
ing again, and pursued a big he-hear all day, bull 
didn't kill him. The next morning was bitter 
cold, but I knowed my family was without meat,^ 


and I determined to get home to them, or die 

I took my keg of powder, and all my hunting 
tools, and cut out. When I got to the water, it 
was a sheet of ice as far as I could see. I put on 
to it, but hadn't got far before it broke through 
with me ; and so I took out my tomahawk, and 
broke my way along before me for a considerable 
distance. At last I got to where the ice would 
bear me for a short distance, and I mounted on it, 
and went ahead ; but it soon broke in again, and 
I had to wade on till I came to my floating log. 
I found it so tight this time, that I know'd it 
couldn't give me another fall, as it was frozen in 
with the ice. I crossed over it without much 
difficulty, and worked along till I got 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 w^hen 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 straggling about in the water. I, there- 
fore, fresh primed my gun, and, cold as I was, I 

150 • 'THE LIFE OF 

was determined to make war on him, if we met. 
But I followed the trail till it led me home, and 
I then found 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 believed that I was dead. 
When I got home I was'nt quite dead, but mighty 
nigh it ; but I had my powder, and that was what 
I went for. 



That night there fell a heavy rain, and it 
turned to a sleet. In the mornino; all hands 
turned out hunting. My young man, and a 
brother-in-law who had lately settled close by 
me, went down the river to hunt for turkeys ; 
but I was for larger game. I told them, I had 
dreamed the night before of having a hard fight 
with a big black nigger, and I knowed it was a 
sign that I was to have a battle with a bear ; for 
in a bear country, I never know'd such a dream 
to fail. So 1 started to go up above the harricane, 
determined to have a bear. I had two pretty 
good dogs, and an old hound, all of which I took 
along. I had gone about six miles up the river, 
and it was then about four miles across to the 
main Obion ; so I determined to strike across to 
that, as I had found nothing yet to kill. I got on 
to the river, and turned down it ; but the sleet 
was still getting worse and worse. The bushes 

were all bent down, and locked together with ice, 

o 2 

Xg2 '''HE LIFE OF 

so that it was almost impossible to get along. In 
a little time my dogs started a large gang of old 
turkey goblers, and I killed two of them, of the 
biggest sort. I shouldered them up, and moved 
on, until I got through the harricane, when I was 
so tired that I laid my goblers down to rest, as they 
were confounded heavy, and I was mighty tired. 
While I was resting, my old hound went to a log, 
and smelt it awhile, and then raised his eyes to- 
ward the sky, and cried out. Away he went, 
and my other dogs with him, and I shouldered up 
my turkeys again, and followed on as hard as I 
could drive. They were soon out of sight, and 
in a very little time I heard them begin to bark. 
When I got to them, they were barking up a tree, 
but there was no game there. I concluded it had 
been a turkey, and that it had flew away. 

When they saw me coming, away they went 
again ; and, after a little time, began to bark as 
before. When I got near them, I found they 
were barking up the wrong tree again, as there 
was no game there. They served me in this way 
three or four times, until I was so infernal mad, 
that I determined, if I could get near enough, to 
shoot the old hound at least. With this intention 
I pushed on the harder, till I came to the edge of 
an open parara, and looking on before my dogs, I 


saw in and 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 stop'd so often, that I might overtake 
them. They were now almost up with him, and 
I took my goblers from my back and hung them 
up in a sapling, and broke like a quarter horse 
after my bear, for the sight of him had put new 
springs in me. I soon got near to them, but they 
were just getting into a roaring thicket, and so I 
couldn't run through it, but had to pick my way 
along, and had close work even at that. 

In a little time I saw the bear climbing up a 
large black oak-tree, and I crawled on till I got 
within about eighty yards of him. He was setting 
with his breast to me ; and so I put fresh priming 
in my gun, and fired at him. At this he raised 
one of his paws and snorted loudly. I loaded 
again as quick as I could, and fired as near the 
same place in his breast as possible. At the 
crack of my gun here he came tumbling down ; 
and the moment he touched the ground, I heard 
one of my best dogs cry out. I took my toma- 
hawk in one hand, and my big butcher-knife in 
the other, and run up within four or five paces of 
him, at which he let my dog go, and fixed his 


eyes on me. I got back in all sorts of a hurry, 
for I know'd if he got hold of me, he would hug 
me altogether too close for comfort. I went to 
my gun and hastily loaded her again, and shot 
him the third time, which killed him good. 

I now began to think about getting him home, 
but I didn't know how far it was. So I left him 
and started ; and in order to find him again, I 
would blaze a sapling every little distance, which 
would show me the way back. I continued this 
till I got within about a mile of home, for there I 
know'd very well where I was, and that I could 
easily find the way back to my blazes. When I got 
home, I took my brother-in-law, and my young 
man, and four horses, and went back. We got 
there just before dark, and struck up a fire, and 
commenced butchering my bear. It was some 
time in the night before we finished it ; and I 
can assert, on my honour, that I believe he would 
have weighed six hundred pounds. It was the 
second largest I ever saw. I killed one, a few 
years after, that weighed six hundred and seven- 
teen pounds. I now felt fully compensated for 
my sufferings in going after my powder ; and well 
satisfied that a dog might sometimes be doing a 
good business, even when he seemed to be hark- 
ing up the ivrong tree. We got our meat home. 


and I had the pleasure to know that we now had 
plenty, and that of the best ; and I continued 
through the winter to supply my family abun- 
dantly with bear-meat and venison from the 



I HAD on hand a great many skins, and so, in the 
month of February, I packed a horse with them, 
and taking my eldest son along with me, cut out 
for a little town called Jackson, situated about 
forty miles off. We got there well enough, and 
I sold my skins, and bought me some coffee, and 
sugar, powder, lead, and salt. I packed them all 
up in readiness for a start, which I intended to 
make early the next morning. Morning came, 
but I concluded, before I started, I would go and 
take a horn with some of my old fellow-soldiers 
that I had met with at Jackson. 

I did so ; and while we were engaged in this, 
I met with three candidates for the Legislature ; 
a Doctor Butler, who was, by marriage, a ne- 
phew to General Jackson, a Major Lynn, and a 
Mr. McEver, all first-rate men. We all took a 
horn together, and some person present said to me, 
" Crockett, you must offer for the Legislature." I 
told him I lived at least forty miles from any 


white settlement, and had no thought of becom- 
ing a candidate at that time. So we all parted, 
and I and my little boy went on home. 

It was about a week or two after this, that a 
man came to my house, and told me I was a can- 
didate. I told him not so. But he took out a 
newspaper from his pocket, and showM me 
where I was announced. I said to my wife that 
this was all a burlesque on me, but I was de- 
termined to make it cost the man who had put 
it there at least the value of the printing, and of 
the fun he wanted at my expense. So I hired 
a young man to work in my place on my farm, 
and turned out myself electioneering. I hadn't 
been out long, before I found the people be- 
gan to talk very much about the bear hunter, the 
man from the cane ; and the three gentlemen, 
who I have already named, soon found it ne- 
cessary to enter into an agreement to have a 
sort of caucus at their March court, to deter- 
mine which of them was the strongest, and 
the other two was to withdraw and support 
him. As the court came on, each one of them 
spread himself, to secure the nomination ; but 
it fell on Dr. Butler, and the rest backed out. 
The doctor was a clever fellow, and I have 
often said he was the most talented man I ever 


run against for any office. His being related to 
Gen'l. Jackson also helped him on very muchj but 
I was in for it, and I was determined to push 
ahead and go through, or stick. Their meeting 
was held in Madison county, which was the 
strongest in the representative district, which was 
composed of eleven counties, and they seemed 
bent on having the member from there. 

At this time Col. Alexander was a candidate for 
Congress, and attending one of his public meetings 
one day, I walked to where he was treating the 
people, and he gave me an introduction to several 
of his acquaintances, and informed them that I was 
out electioneering. In a little time my competi- 
tor, Doctor Butler, came along ; he passed by 
without noticing me, and I suppose, indeed, he did 
not recognise me. But I hailed him, as I was for 
all sorts of fun ; and when he turned to me, I said 
to him, " Well, doctor, I suppose they have weigh- 
ed you out to me ; but I should like to know why 
they fixed your election for March instead oiJlu- 
gust ? This is,'^ said I, " a branfire new way of do- 
ing business, if a caucus is to make a representative 
for the people!" He now discovered who I was, 
and cried out, " D — n it, Crockett, is that you ?" — 
" Be sure it is," said I, " but I don^t want it under- 
stood that I have come electioneering. I have just 


crept out of the cane, to see what discoveries I could 
make among the white folks." I told him that 
when I set out electioneering, I would go prepared 
to put every man on as good footing when I left 
him as I found him on. I would therefore have 
me a large buckskin hunting-shirt made, with a 
couple of pockets holding about a peck each ; 
and that in one I would carry a great big 
twist of tobacco, and in the other my bottle of li- 
quor ; for I knowed when 1 met a man and offered 
him a dram, he would throw out his quid of to- 
bacco to take one, and after he had taken his horn, 
I would out with my twist and give him another 
chaw. And in this way he would not be worse 
off than when I found him ; and I would be sure 
to leave him in a first-rate good humour. He said 
I could beat him electioneering all hollow. I told 
him I would give him better evidence of that be- 
fore August, notwithstanding he had many advan- 
tages over me, and particularly in the way of mo- 
ney ; but I told him that I would go on the pro- 
ducts of the country; that I had industrious chil- 
dren, and the best of coon dogs, and they would 
hunt every night till midnight to support my elec- 
tion ; and when the coon fur wa'n't good, I would 
myself go a wolfing, and shoot down a wolf, and 

skin his head, and his scalp would be good to nie 



for three dollars, in our state treasury money ; and 
in this way I would get along on the big string. 
He stood like he was both amused and astonished, 
and the whole crowd was in a roar of laughter. 
From this place I returned home, leaving the peo- 
ple in a first-rate way ; and I was sure I would 
do a good business among them. At any rate, I 
was determined to stand up to my lick-log, salt or 
no salt. 

In a short time there came out two other candi- 
dates, a Mr. Shaw and a Mr. Brown. We all ran 
the race through; and when the election was over, 
it turned out that I beat them all by a majority of 
two hundred and forty-seven votes, and was again 
returned as a member of the Legislature from a 
new region of the country, without losing a ses- 
sion. This reminded me of the old saying — " A 
fool for luck, and a poor man for children." 

I now served two years in that body from my 
new district, which was the years 1823 and '24. 
At the session of 1823, I had a small trial of my 
independence, and whether I would forsake prin- 
ciple for party, or for the purpose of following 
after big men. 

The term of Col. John Williams had expired, who 
was a senator in Congress from the state of Ten- 
nessee. He was a candidate for another election, 


and was opposed by Pleasant M, Miller, Esq., 
who, it was believed, would not be able to beat 
the colonel. Some two or three others were 
spoken of, but it was at last concluded that the only- 
man who could beat him was the present " go- 
vernment," General Jackson, So, a few days be- 
fore the election was to come on, he was sent for 
to come and run for the senate. He was then in 
nomination for the presidency ; but sure enough 
he came, and did run as the opponent of Colonel 
Williams, and beat him too, but not by my vote. 
The vote was, for Jackson, thirty-jive ; for Wil 
liams, twenty-Jive. I thought the colonel had 
honestly discharged his duty, and even the mighty 
name of Jackson couldn't make me vote against 

But voting against the old chief was found a 
mighty up-hill business to all of them except my- 
self. I never would, nor never did, acknowledge 
I had voted wrong ; and I am more certain now 
that I was right than ever. 

I told the people it was the best vote I ever 
' gave ; that I had supported the public interest, and 
cleared my conscience in giving it, instead of 
gratifying the private ambition of a man. 

I let the people know as early as then, that I 



wouldn't take a collar around my neck with the 
letters engraved on it, 


Andrew Jackson. 

During these two sessions of the Legislature, no- 
thing else turned up which I think it worth while 
to mention j and, indeed, I am fearful that I am 
too particular about many small matters; but if so, 
my apology is, that I want the world to under- 
stand my true history, and how I worked along 
to rise from a cane-brake to my present station 
in life. 

Col. Alexander was the representative in Con- 
gress of the district I lived in, and his vote on the 
tariff law of 1824 gave a mighty heap of dissatis- 
faction to his people. They therefore began to 
talk pretty strong of running me for Congress 
against him. At last I was called on by a good 
many to be a candidate. I told the people that I 
couldn't stand that; it was a step above my know- 
ledge, and I know'd nothing about Congress 

However, I was obliged to agree to run, and my- 
self and two other gentlemen came out. But Pro 


vidence was a little against two of us this hunt, for it 
was the year that cotton brought twenty-five dollars 
a hundred ; and so Colonel Alexander would get 
up and tell the people, it was all the good effect of 
this tariff law ; that it had raised the price of their 
cotton, and that it would raise the price of every 
thing else they made to sell. I might as well have 
sung salms over a dead horse, as to try to make 
the people believe otherwise ; for they knowed 
their cotton had raised, sure enough, and if the 
colonel hadnH done it, they didn't know what 
had. So he rather made a mash of me this time, 
as he beat me exactly two votes, as they counted 
the polls, though I have always believed that many 
other things had been as fairly done as that same 

He went on, and served out his term, and at 
the end of it cotton was down to six or eight 
dollars a hundred again ; and I concluded I would 
try him once more, and see how it would go 
with cotton at the common price, and so T t-'-- 
a candidate. 



But the reader, I expect, would have no objec- 
tion to know a little about my employment during 
the two years while my competitor was in Con- 
gress. In this space I had some pretty tuff times, 
and will relate some few things that happened to 
me. So here goes, as the boy said when he run 
by himself. 

In the fall of 1825, I concluded I would build 
two large boats, and load them with pipe staves 
for market. So I went down to the lake, which 
was about twenty-five miles from where I lived, 
and hired some hands to assist me, and went to 
work 5 some at boat building, and others to get- 
ting staves. I worked on with my hands till the 
bears got fat, and then I turned out to hunting, to 
lay in a supply of meat. I soon killed and salted 
down as many as were necessary for my family ; 
but about this time one of my old neighbours, who 
had settled down on the lake about twenty-five 
miles from me, came to my house and told me 


he wanted me to go clown and kill some bears 
about in his parts. He said they were extremely 
fat, and very plenty. I know'd that when they 
were fat, they were easily taken, for a fat bear 
can't run fast or long. But I asked a bear no fa- 
vours, no way, further than civility, for I now 
had eight large dogs, and as fierce as painters ; 
so that a bear stood no chance at all to get away 
from them. So I went home with him, and then 
went on down towards the Mississippi, and com- 
menced hunting. 

We were out two weeks, and in that time killed 
fifteen bears. Having now supplied my friend 
with plenty of meat, I engaged occasionally again 
with my hands in our boat building, and getting 
staves. But I at length couldn't stand it any 
longer without another hunt. So I concluded to 
take my little son, and cross over the lake, and 
take a hunt there. We got over, and that evening 
turned out and killed three bears, in little or no 
time. The next morning we drove up four forks, 
and made a sort of scaffold, on which we salted 
up our meat, so as to have it out of the reach of 
the wolves, for as soon as we would leave our 
camp, they would take possession. We had just 
eat our breakfast, when a company of hunters 
came to our camp, who had fourteen dogs, but all 

176 ' THE LIFE OF 

SO poor, that when they would bark they would 
almost have to lean up against a tree and take 
a rest. I told them their dogs couldn't run in 
smell of a bear, and they had better stay at my 
camp, and feed them on the bones I had cut out 
of my meat. I left them there, and cut out ; but 
I hadn't gone far, when my dogs took a first-rate 
start after a very large fat old he-bear, which run 
right plump towards my camp. I pursued on, 
but my other hunters had heard my dogs coming, 
and met them, and killed the bear before I got up 
with him. I gave him to them, and cut out again 
for a creek called Big Clover, which wa'n't very 
far off. Just as I got there, and was entering a 
cane brake, my dogs all broke and vv^ent ahead, 
and, in a little time, they raised a fuss in the cane, 
and seemed to be going every way. I listened a 
while, and found my dogs was in two companies, 
and that both was in a snorting fight. I sent my 
little son to one, and I broke for t'-other. I got to 
mine first, and found xn.y dogs had a two-year-old 
bear dov/n, a-wooling away on him ; so I just 
took out my big butcher, and went up and slap'd 
it into him, and killed him without shooting. 
There was five of the dogs in my company. Ii 
a short time, I heard my little son fire at his bear „ 
when I went to him he had killed it too. H( 


had two dogs in his team. Just at this moment 
we heard my other dog barking a short distance 
off, and all the rest immediately broke to him. 
We pushed on too, and when we got there, we 
found he had still a larger bear than either of them 
we had killed, treed by himself We killed that 
one also, which made three we had killed in less 
than half an hour. We turned in and butchered 
them, and then started to hunt for water, and a 
good place to camp. But we had no sooner 
started, than our dogs took a start after another 
one, and away they went like a thunder-gust, and 
was out of hearing in a minute. We followed the 
way they had gone for some time, but at length, 
we gave up the hope of finding them, and turned 
back. As we were going back, I came to where 
a poor fellow was grubbing, and he looked like 
the very picture of hard times. I asked him 
what he was doing away there in the woods by 
himself? He said he was grubbing for a man who 
intended to settle there ; and the reason why he 
did it was, that he had no meat for his family, 
and he was working for a little. 

I w^as mighty sorry for the poor fellow, for 
it was not only a hard, but a very slow way to 
get meat for a hungry family ; so I told him if he 
would go with me, I would give him more meat 


than he could get by grubbing in a month. I in- 
tended to supply him with meat, and also to get 
him to assist my little boy in packing in and salt- 
ing up my bears. He had never seen a bear kill 
ed in his life. T told him I had six killed then, 
and my dogs were hard after another. He went 
off to his little cabin, which was a short distance 
in the brush, and his wife was very anxious he 
should go with me. So we started and went to 
where I had left my three bears, and made a camp. 
We then gathered my meat and salted, and scaf- 
fled it, as I had done the other. Night now came 
on, but no word from my dogs yet. I afterwards 
found they had treed the bear about five miles 
off, near to a man's house, and had barked at it 
the whole enduring night. Poor fellows ! many 
a time they looked for me, and wondered why I 
didn't come, for they knowed there Was no mis- 
take in me, and I know'd they were as good as 
ever fluttered. In the morning, as soon as it was 
light enough to see, the man took his gun and 
went to them, and shot the bear, and killed it. My 
dogs, however, wouldn't have any thing to say to 
this stranger ; so they left him, and came early in 
the morning back to me. 

We got our breakfast, and cut out again ; and 
we killed four large and very fat bears that day. 


We hunted out the week, and in that time we 
killed seventeen, all of them first-rate. When 
we closed our hunt, I gave the man over a 
thousand weight of fine fat bear-meat, which 
pleased him mightily, and made him feel as 
rich as a Jew. I saw him the next fall, and he 
told me he had plenty of meat to do him the 
whole year from his week's hunt. My son and 
me now went home. This was the week between 
Christmass and New-year that we made this hunt. 
When I got home, one of my neighbours was 
out of meat, and wanted me to go back, and 
let him go with me, to take another hunt. I 
couldn't refuse ; but I told him I 5vas afraid the 
bear had taken to house by that time, for after 
they get very fat in the fall and early part of the 
winter, they go into their holes, in large hollow 
trees, or into hollow logs, or their cane-houses, 
or the harricanes ; and lie there till spring, like 
frozen snakes. And one thing about this will 
seem mighty strange to many people. Fronr 
about the first of January to about the last of 
April, these varments lie in their holes altogether. 
In all that time they have no food to eat j and yet 
when they come out, they are not an ounce lighter 
-than when they went to house. I don't know the 
cause of this, and still 1 know it is a fact ; and I 


leave it for others who have more learning than 
myself to account for it. They have not a particle 
of food with them, but they just lie and suck the 
bottom of their paw all the time. I have killed 
many of them in their trees, which enables me to 
speak positively on this subject. However, my 
neighbour, whose name was McDaniel, and my 
little son and me, went on down to the lake to 
my second camp, where I had killed my seventeen 
bears the week before, and turned out to hunting. 
But we hunted hard all day without getting a sin- 
gle start. We had carried but little provisions with 
us, and the next morning was entirely out of meat. 
I sent my son about three miles oflf, to the house 
of an old friend, to get some. The old gentleman 
was much pleased to hear I was hunting in those 
parts, for the year before the bears had killed a 
great many of his hogs. He was that day killing 
his bacon hogs, and so he gave my son some meat, 
and sent word to me that I must come in to his 
house that evening, that he would have plenty of 
feed for my dogs, and some accommodations for 
ourselves ; but before my son got back, we had 
gone out hunting, and in a large cane brake my 
dogs found a big bear in a cane-house, which he 
had fixed for his winter-quarters, as they some- 
times do. 


When my lead dog found him, and raised 
the yell, all the rest broke to him, but none of 
them entered his house until we got up. I en- 
couraged my dogs, and they knowed me so well, 
that I could have made them seize the old serpent 
himself, with all his horns and heads, and cloven 
foot and ugliness into the bargain, if he would 
only have come to light, so that they could have 
seen him. They bulged in, and in an instant the 
bear followed them out, and I told my friend to 
shoot him, as he was mighty wrathy to kill a bear. 
He did so, and killed him prime. We carried him 
to our camp, by which time my son had returned ; 
and after we got our dinners we packed up, and 
cut for the house of my old friend, whose name 
was Davidson. 

We got there, and staid with him that night ; 
and the next morning, having salted up our meat, 
we left it with him, and started to take a hunt be- 
tween the Obion lake and the Red-foot lake ; as 
there had been a dreadful harricane, which passed 
between them, and I was sure there must be a 
heap of bears in the fallen timber. We had gone 
about five miles without seeing any sign at all ; 
but at length we got on some high cany ridges, 
and, as we rode along, I saw a hole in a large 
black oak, and on examining more closely, I dis- 



covered that a bear had clomb the tree. I could 
see his tracks going up, but none coming down, 
and so I was sure he was in there. A person who is 
acquainted with bear-hunting, can tell easy enough 
when the varment is in the hollow ; for as they 
go up they don't slip a bit, but as they come down 
they make long scratches wath their nails. 

My friend was a little ahead of me, but I called 
him back, and told him there v/as a bear in that 
tree, and I must have him out. So w^e lit from 
our horses, and I found a small tree which I 
thought I could fall so as to lodge against my bear 
tree, and we fell to work chopping it with our 
tomahawks. I intended, when we lodged the tree 
against the other, to let my little son go up, and 
look into the hole, for he could climb like a squir- 
rel. We had chop'd on a little time and stop'd to 
rest, when I heard my dogs barking mighty se- 


vere at some distance from us, and I told my friend 
I knowed they had a bear ; for it is the nature 
of a dog, when he finds you are hunting bears, 
to hunt for nothing else ; he becomes fond of the 
meat, and considers other game as " not w^orth a 
notice," as old Johnson said of the devil. 

We concluded to leave our tree a bit, and w^ent 
to my dogs, and when we got there, sure enough 
they had an eternal great big fat bear up a tree, 


just ready for shooting. My friend again peti- 
tioned me for liberty to shoot this one also. I had 
a little rather not, as the bear was so big, but I 
couldn't refuse ; and so he blazed away, and down 
came the old fellow like some great log had fell. 
I now missed one of my dogs, the same that I be- 
fore spoke of as having treed the bear by himself 
sometime before, when I had started the three in 
the cane break. I told my friend that my missing 
dog had a bear somewhere, just as sure as fate ; so 
I left them to butcher the one we had just killed, 
and I went up on a piece of high ground to listen 
for my dog. I heard him barking with all his 
might some distance off, and I pushed ahead for 
him. My other dogs hearing him broke to him, 
and when I got there, sure enough again he had 
another bear ready treed ; if he hadn't, I wish 
I may be shot. I fired on him, and brought 
him down ; and then went back, and help'd 
finish butchering the one at which I had left 
my friend. We then packed both to our tree 
where we had left my boy. By this time, the lit- 
tle fellow had cut the tree down that we intended 
to lodge, but it fell the wrong w^ay ; he had then 
feather'd in on the big tree, to cut that, and had 
found that it was nothing but a shell on the out- 
side, and all doted in the middle, as too many of 


our big men are in these days, having only an out- 
side appearance. My friend and my son cut away 
on it, and I went off about a hundred yards with 
my dogs to keep them from running under the 
tree when it should fall. On looking back at the 
hole, I saw the bear's head out of it, looking down 
at them as they were cutting. I hollered to them 
to look up, and they did so ; and McDaniel catch- 
ed up his gun, but by this time the bear was out, 
and coming down the tree. He fired at it, and as 
soon as it touch'd ground the dogs were all round 
it, and they had a roll-and-tumble fight to the foot 
of the hill, where they stop'd him. I ran up, and j 
putting my gun against the bear, fired and killed 
him. We now had three, and so we made our 
scaffold and salted them up. 



In the morning I left my son at the camp, and 
we started on towards the harricane j and when 
we had went about a mile, we started a very large 
bear, but we got along mighty slow on account of 
the cracks in the earth occasioned by the earth- 
quakes. We, however, made out to keep in hear- 
ing of the dogs for about three miles, and then 
we come to the harricane. Here we had to quit 
our horses, as old Nick himself couldn't have got 
through it without sneaking it along in the form 
that he put on, to make a fool of our old grand- 
mother Eve. By this time several of my dogs 
had got tired and come back ; but we went ahead 
on foot for some little time in the harricane, when 
we met a bear coming straight to us, and not 
more than twenty or thirty yards off. I started 
my tired dogs after him, and McDaniel pursued 
them, and I went on to where my other dogs 
were. I had seen the track of the bear they were 
after, and I knowed he was a screamer. I fol- 


186 '^HE LIFE OF 

lowed on to about the middle of the harricane ; 
but my dogs pursued him so close, that they made 
him climb an old stump about twenty feet high. 
I got in shooting distance of him and fired, but 
I was all over in such a flutter from fatigue and 
running, that I couldn't hold steady ; but, how- 
ever, I broke his shoulder, and he fell. I run up 
and loaded my gun as quick as possible, and shot 
him again and killed him. When I went to take 
out my knife to butcher him, I found I had lost 
it in coming through the harricane. The vines 
and briers was so thick that I would sometimes 
have to get down and crawl like a varment to get 
tJirough at all ; and a vine had, as I supposed, 
caught in the handle and pulled it out. While I 
was standing and studying what to do, my friend 
came to me. He had followed my trail through 
the harricane, and had found my knife, which was 
mighty good news to me ; as a hunter hates the 
worst in the world to lose a good dog, or any 
part of his hunting-tools. I now left McDaniel 
to butcher the bear, and I v\^ent after our horses, 
and brought them as near as the nature of case 
would allow. I then took our bags, and went back 
to where he was ; and when we had skin'd the 
bear, we fleeced ofi* the fat and carried it to our 
horses at several loads. We then packed it up 


on our horses, and had a heavy pack of it on 
each one. We now started and went on till about 
sunset, when I concluded we must be near our 
camp ; so I hollered and my son answered me, 
and we moved on in the direction to the camp. 
We had gone but a little way when I heard my 
dogs make a warm start again ; and I jumped 
down from my horse and gave him up to my 
friend, and told him I would follow them. He 
went on to the camp, and I went ahead after my 
dogs with all my might for a considerable dis- 
tance, till at last night came on. The woods were 
very rough and hilly, and all covered over with 

I now was compePd to move on more slowly ; 
and was frequently falling over logs, and into the 
cracks made by the earthquakes, so that I was 
very much afraid I would break my gun. How- 
ever I went on about three miles, when I came to 
a good big creek, which I waded. It was very 
cold, and the creek was about knee-deep ; but I 
felt no great inconvenience from it just then, as I 
was all over wxt with sweat from running, and T 
felt hot enough. After I got over this creek and 
out of the cane, which was very thick on all our 
creeks, I listened for my dogs. I found they had 
either treed or brought the bear to a stop, as they 


continued barking in the same place. I pushed on 
as near in the direction to the noise as I could, till 
I found the hill was too steep for me to climb, 
and so I backed and went down the creek some 
distance till I came to a hollow, and then took up 
that, till I come to a place where I could climb up 
the hill. It was mighty dark, and was difficult to 
see my way or any thing else. When I got up 
the hill, I found I had passed the dogs ; and so I 
turned and went to them. I found, when I got 
there, they had treed the bear in a large forked 
poplar, and it was setting in the fork. 

I could see the lump, but not plain enough to 
shoot with any certainty, as there was no moon- 
light ; and so I set in to hunting for some dry 
brush to make me a light ; but I could find none, 
though I could find that the ground was torn 
mightily to pieces by the cracks. 

At last I thought I could shoot by guess, and kill 
him ; so I pointed as near the lump as I could, and 
fired away. But the bear didn't come he only 
clomb up higher, and got out on a limb, which 
helped me to see him better. I now loaded up 
again and fired, but this time he didn't move at 
all. I commenced loading for a third fire, but the 
first thing I knowed, the bear was down among 
my dogs, and they were fighting all around me. 


I had my big butcher in my belt, and I had a pair 
of dressed buckskin breeches on. So I took out 
my knife, and stood, determined, if he should get 
hold of me, to defend myself in the best way I 
could. I stood there for some time, and could 
now and then see a white dog I had, but the rest 
of them, and the bear, which were dark coloured, 
I couldn't see at all, it was so miserable dark. 
They still fought around me, and sometimes 
within three feet of me ; but, at last, the bear got 
down into one of the cracks, that the earthquakes 
had made in the ground, about four feet deep, and 
I could tell the biting end of him by the hollering 
of my dogs. So I took my gun and pushed the 
muzzle of it about, till I thought I had it against 
the main part of his body, and fired ; but it hap- 
pened to be only the fleshy part of his foreleg. 
With this, he jumped out of the crack, and he 
and the dogs had another hard fight around me, 
as before. At last, however, they forced him 
back into the crack again, as he was when I had 

' I had laid down my gun in the dark, and I now 
began to hunt for it ; and, while hunting, I got 
hold of a pole, and I concluded I would punch 
him awhile with that. I did so, and when I 
would punch him, the dogs would jump in on 

190 '^HE LIFE OF 

him, when he would bite them badly, and they 
would jump out again. I concluded, as he would 
take punching so patiently, it might be that he 
would lie still enough for me to get down in the 
crack, and feel slowly along till I could find the 
right place to give him a dig with my butcher. 
So I got down, and my dogs got in before him 
and kept his head towards them, till I got along 
easily up to him ; and placing my hand on his 
rump, felt for his shoulder, just behind which 
I intended to stick him. I made a lounge with 
my long knife, and fortunately stuck him right 
through the heart ; at which he just sank down, 
and I crawled out in a hurry. In a little time 
my dogs all come out too, and seemed satisfied, 
which was the way they always had of telling 
me that they had finished him. 

I suffered very much that night with cold, as 
my leather breeches, and every thing else I had 
on, was wet and frozen. But I managed to get 
my bear out of this crack after several hard trials, 
and so I butchered him, and laid down to try to 
sleep. But my fire was very bad, and I couldn't 
find any thing that would burn well to make it 
any better ; and I concluded I should freeze, if I 
didn't warm myself in some way by exercise. 
So I got up, and hollered a while, and then I 


would just jump up and down with all my might, 
and throw myself into all sorts of motions. But 
all this wouldn't do ; for my blood was now 
getting cold, and the chills coming all over me. 
I was so tired, too, that I could hardly walk ; but I 
thought I would do the best I could to save my 
life, and then, if I died, nobody would be to 
blame. So 1 went to a tree about two feet through, 
and not a limb on it for thirty feet, and I would 
climb up it to the lianhs, and then lock my arms 
together around it, and slide down to the bottom 
again. This would make the insides of my legs 
and arms feel mighty warm and good. I continued 
this till daylight in the morning, and how often I 
clomb up my tree and slid down I don't know, 
but I reckon at least a hundred times. 

In the morning I got my bear hung up so as to 
be safe, and then set out to hunt for my camp. I 
found it after a while, and McDaniel and my son 
were very much rejoiced to see me get back, for 
they were about to give me up for lost. We got 
our breakfasts, and then secured our meat by 
building a high scaffold, and covering it over. 
We had no fear of its spoiling, for the weather was 
so cold that it couldn't. 

We now started after my other bear, which had 
caused me so much trouble and suffering ; and be- 


fore we got him, we got a start after another, and 
took him also. We went on to the creek I had 
crossed the night before and camped, and then 
went to where my bear was, that I had killed in 
the crack. When we examined the place, McDa- 
niel said he wouldn't have gone into it, as I did, 
for all the bears in the woods. 

We took the meat down to our camp and salted 
it, and also the last one we had killed ; intending, 
in the morning, to make a hunt in the harricane 

• We prepared for resting that night, and I can 
assure the reader I was in need of it. We had 
laid down by our fire, and about ten o'clock there 
came a most terrible earthquake, which shook the 
earth so, that we were rocked about like we had 
been in a cradle. We were very much alarmed ; 
for though we were accustomed to feel earth- 
quakes, we were now right in the region which 
had been torn to pieces by them in 1812, and we 
thought it might take a notion and swallow us up, 
like the big fish did Jonah. 

In the morning we packed up and moved to the 
harricane, where we made another camp, and 
turned out that evening and killed a very large 
bear, which made eight we had now killed in 
this hunt. 


The next morning we entered the harricane 
again, and in little or no time my dogs were in 
full cry. We pursued them, and soon came to. a 
thick cane-brake, in which they had stop'd their 
bear. We got up close to him, as the cane was 
so thick that we couldn't see more than a few 
feet. Here I made my friend hold the cane a 
little open with his gun till 1 shot the bear, 
which was a mighty large one. I killed him 
dead in his tracks. We got him out and butch- 
ered him, and in a little time started another 
and killed him, which now made ten we had 
killed ; and we know'd we couldn't pack any 
more home, as we had only five horses along ; 
therefore we returned to the camp and salted up 
all our meat, to be ready for a start homeward 
next morning. 

The morning came, and we packed our horses 
with the meat, and had as much as they could pos- 
sibly carry, and sure enough cut out for home. It 
was about thirty miles, and we reached home the 
second day. I had now accommodated my neigh- 
bour with meat enough to do him, and had killed 
in all, up to that time, fifty-eight bears, during the 
fall and winter. 

As soon as the time come for them to quit 

their houses and come out again in the spring, 




I took a notion to hunt a little more, and in 
about one month I killed forty-seven more, which 
made one hundred and five bears I had killed in 
less than one year from that time. 






Having now closed my hunting for that winter, 
I returned to my hands, who were engaged about 
my boats and staves, and made ready for a trip 
down the river. I had two boats and about 
thirty thousand staves, and so I loaded with them, 
and set out for New Orleans. I got out of the 
Obion river, in which I had loaded my boats, 
very well ; but when I got into the Mississippi, I 
found all my hands were bad scared, and in fact I be- 
lieve I was scared a little the worst of any ; for 
I had never been down the river, and I soon dis- 
covered that my pilot was as ignorant of the business 
as myself. I hadn't gone far before I determined to 
lash the two boats together ; we did so, but it made 
them so heavy and obstinate, that it was next akin 
to impossible to do any thing at all with them, or 
to guide them right in the river. 

That evening we fell in company with some 
Ohio boats ; and about night we tried to land, but 
we could not. The Ohio men hollered to us to 


go on and run all night. Yfe 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 '' DeviVs Elhow f^ and 
if any place in the wide creation has its own proper 
name, I thought it was this. Here we had about 
the hardest work that I ever was 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 reach. 

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 couldn't 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 con- 
cluded just to go ahead as well as we could, for 
we found we couldn't do any better. Some time 
in the night I was down in the cabin of one of 
the boats, sitting by the fire, thinking on 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 hatchway into 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 putting our arms through 
to dip up water before we lashed the boats to- 

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 every 
body 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 un- 
der 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 pour- 
ing thro' in a current as large as the hole would 
let it, and as strong as the weight of the river 
could force it. I found I couldn't get out here, 
for the boat was now turned down in such a way, 
that it was steeper than a house-top. I now 
thought of the hole in the side, and made my 
way 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 dower, 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, seeing my arms 
out, and hearing me holler, seized them, and be- 
gan to pull. I told them I was sinking, and to 
pull my arms oj0f, 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 I was literally 
skin'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 bare- 
footed ; and of that number I was one. I reckon 
1 looked like a pretty cracklin ever to get to 
Congress ! ! ! 

We had now lost all our loading ; and every 


particle of our clotliing, except what little we had 
on ; but over all this, while I was setting there, 
in the night, floating about on the drift, I felt hap- 
pier and better off than I ever had in my life be- 
fore, for I had just made such a marvellous escape, 
that I had forgot almost every thing else in that ; 
and so I felt prime. 

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 any thing ; it was a Major Win- 
chester, 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 any thing 
of our boats ; for we supposed they would float 
out from the raft, and keep on down the river. 
We got on a boat at Memphis, that was going 
down, and so cut out. Our largest boat, we were 
informed, had been seen about fifty miles below 
where we stove, and an attempt had been made 
to land her, but without success, as she was as hard- 
headed as ever. 

This was the kst of my boats, and of my boat- 

200 '^HE LIFE OF 

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



I HAVE, heretofore, informed the reader that I 
had determined to run this race to see what effect 
the price of cotton could have again on it. I now 
had Col. Alexander to run against once more, and 
also General William Arnold. 

I had difficulties enough to fight against this 
time, as every one will suppose ; for I had no 
money, and a very bad prospect, so far as I know'd, 
of getting any to help me along. I had, however, 
a good friend, who sent for me to come and see 
him. I went, and he was good enough to offer 
me some money to help me out. I borrowed 
as much as I thought I needed at the start, and 
went ahead. My friend also had a good deal of 
business about over the district at the different 
courts ; and if he now and then slip'd in a 
good word for me, it is nobody's business. 
We frequently met at different places, and, 
as he thought I needed, he would occasionally 
hand me a little more cash ; so I was able to buy 


a little of " the creature,'^ to put my friends in a 
good humour, 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, as I before said, to make themselves and their 
friends feel their keeping a little. 

Nobody ever did know how I got money to 
get along on, till after the election was over, and 
I had beat my competitors twenty-seven hun- 
dred and forty-eight votes. Even the price of 
cotton couldn't save my friend Aleck this time. 
My rich friend, who had been so good to me in 
the way of money, now sent for me, and loaned 
me a hundred dollars, and told me to go ahead ; 
that that amount would bear my expenses to Con- 
gress, and I must then shift for myself. I came 
on to Washington, and draw'd two hundred and 
fifty dollars, and purchased with it a check on the 
bank at Nashville, and enclosed it to mv 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. 

I have now given the close of the election, but 
I have skip'd entirely over the canvass, of which 
I will say a very few things in this place ; as I 
know very well how to tell the truth, but not much 


about placing them in book order, so as to please 

Col. Alexander was a very clever fellow, and 
principal surveyor at that time ; so much for one of 
the men I had to run against. My other competi- 
tor was a major-general in the militia, and an at- 
torney-general at the law, and quite a smart, clever 
man also ; and so it will be seen I had war work 
as well as law trick, to stand up under. Taking 
both together, they make a pretty considerable 
of a load for any one man to carry. But for 
war claims, I consider myself behind no man 
except " the government," and mighty little, if 
any, behind him ; but this the people will have 
to determine hereafter, as I reckon it won't do 
to quit the work of " reform and retrenchment" 
yet for a spell. 

But my two competitors seemed some little 
afraid of the influence of each other, but not to 
think me in their way at all. They, therefore, 
were generally working against each other, while 
I was going ahead for myself, and mixing among 
the people in the best way I could. I was as cun- 
ning as a little red fox, and wouldn't risk my tail 
in a " committal" trap. 

I found the sign was good, almost everywhere 
I went. On one occasion, while we were in the 


eastern coundcs of the district, it happened that 
we all liad to make a speech, and it fell on nie to 
make the first one. I did so after mv manner, 
and it turned pretty much on the old saying, " A 
short horse is soon curried/' as I spoke not very 
long. Colonel Alexander followed me, and then 
General Arnold come on. 

The general took much pains to reply to Alex- 
ander, but didn't so much as let on that there was 
any such candidate as myself at all. He had 
been speaking for a considerable time, when a 
large flock of guinea-fowls came very near to 
where he was, and set up the most unmerciful 
chattering that ever was heard, for they are a noisy 
little brute any way. They so confused the ge- 
neral, that he made a stop, and requested that they 
might be driven away. I let him finish his speech, 
and then walking up to him, said aloud, '^AVell, 
colonel, you are the first man I ever saw that un- 
derstood the lamiuao-e of fowls." I told him that 
he had not had the politeness to name me in his 
speech, and that wlien my little friends, the guinea- 
fowls, had come up and began to holler ''Crockett, 
Crockett, Crockett,"- he had been ungenerous 
enough to stop, and drive theyn all away. This 
raised a universal shout among the people for me, 
and the general seemed mighty bad plagued. But 


he got more plagued than this at the polls in Au- 
gust, as I have stated before. 

This election was in 1827, and I can say, on 
my conscience, that I was, without disguise, the 
friend and supporter of General Jackson, upon 
his principles as he laid them down, and as "/ 
understood them,^^ before his election as presi- 
dent. During my two first sessions in Congress, 
Mr. Adams was president, and I worked along 
with what was called the Jackson party pretty 
well. I was re-tilectcd to Congress, in 1829, by 
an overwhelming majority ; and soon after the 
commencement of this second term, I saw, or 
thought I did, that it was expected of me that I 
was to bow to the name of Andrew Jackson, and 
follow him in all his motions, and mindings, and 
turnings, even at the expense of my conscience 
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 ^^ hurra'' 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 m-famoiis^ In- 
dian bill was brought forward, and I opposed it 
from the purest motives in the world. Several 
of my colleagues got around me, and told me how 

well they loved me, and that I was ruining my- 



self. They said this was a favourite 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 my- 
self be what it might ; that I was willing to go 
with General Jackson in every thing that I be- 
lieved was honest and right; but, further than 
this, I wouldn^t go for him, or any other man in 
the whole creation ; that I would sooner be ho- 
nestly and politically d — nd, than hypocritically 
immortalized. I had been elected by a majority 
of three thousand five hundred and eighty-five 
votes, and I believed 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 was 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 any and every 
thing that the ingenuity of man could invent 
against me. Each editor was furnished with the 
journals of Congress from head-quarters; and 
hunted out every vote I had rk^issed in four ses- 
sions, whether from sickness or not, no matter , 
and each one was charged against me at eight 
dollars. In all I had missed about seventy votes, 
which they made amount to five hundred and 
sixty dollars ; and they contended I had swindled 
the government out of this sum, as I had received 
my pay, as other members do. I was now again 
a candidate in 1S30, while all the attempts were 
making against me ; and every one of these little 
papers kept up a constant war on me, fighting 
with every scurrilous report they could catch. 

Over all I should have been elected, if it hadn't 
been, that but a few weeks before the election, the 
little four-pence-ha'penny limbs of the law fell on 
a plan to defeat me, which had the desired effect. 
They agreed to spread out over the district, and 
make appointments for me to speak, almost every- 
\vhere, to clear up the Jackson question. They 
would give me no notice of these appointments, 

208 '^^^ i^^^E OF 

and the people would meet in great crowds to 
hear what excuse Crockett had to make for quit- 
ting Jackson. 

But instead of Crockett's being there, this 
sniall-fry of lawyers would be there, with their 
saddle-bags full of the little newspapers and their 
journals of Congress ; and would get up and 
speak, and read their scurrilous attacks on me, 
and would then tell the people that I was afraid 
to attend ; and in this way would turn many 
against me. All this intrigue was kept a profound 
secret from me, till it was too late to counteract 
it ; and when the election came, I had a majority 
in seventeen counties, putting all their votes to- 
gether, but the eighteenth beat me ; and so I was 
left out of Congress during those two years. The 
people of my distinct were induced, by these tricks, 
to take a stay on me for that time ; but they have 
since found out that they were imposed on, and 
on re-considering my case, have reversed that de- 
cision ; which, as the Dutchman said, " is as fair a 
ding as eber was." 

When I last declared myself a candidate, I 
knew that the district would be divided by the 
Legislature before the election would come on ; 
and I moreover knew, that from the geographical 
situation of the country, the county of Madison, 


which was very strong, and which was the 
county that had given the majority that had beat 
me in the former race, should be left off from my 

But when the Legislature met, as I have been 
informed, and I have no doubt of the fact, Mr. 
Fitzgerald, my competitor, went up, and informed 
his friends in that body, that if Madison county 
was left off, he wouldn't run ; for " that Crockett 
could beat Jackson himself in those parts, in any 
way they could fix it." 

The liberal Legislature you know, of course, 
gave him that county ; and it is too clear to admit 
of dispute, that it was done to make a mash of me. 
In order to make my district in this way, they had 
to form the southern district of a string of counties 
around three sides of mine, or very nearly so. 
Had my old district been properly divided, it 
would have made two nice ones, in convenient nice ^ 
form. But as it is, they are certainly the most 
unreasonably laid off of any in the state, or perhaps 
in the nation, or even in the te-total creation. 

However, when the election came on, the peo- 
ple of the district, and of Madison county among 
the rest, seemed disposed to prove to Mr. Fitzge- 
rald and the Jackson Legislature, that they were not 

to be transferred like hogs, and horses, and cattle 



in the market; and they determined that I shouldn't 
be broke down, though I had to carry Jackson, and 
the enemies of the bank, and the legislative works 
all at once. I had Mr. Fitzgerald, it is true, for 
my open competitor, but he was helped along by 
all his little lawyers again, headed by old Black 
Hawk, as he is sometimes called, (alias) Adam 
Huntsman, with all his talents for writing " Chro- 
nicles^^ and such like foolish stuff. 

But one good thing was, and I must record it, 
the papers in the district were now beginning to 
say "fair play a little," and they w^ould publish 
on both sides of the question. The contest was a 
warm one, and the battle well-fought ; but I gained 
the day, and the Jackson horse was left a little 
behind. When the polls were compared, it turned 
out I had beat Fitz just two hundred and two 
votes, having made a mash of all their intrigues. 
After all this, the reader will perceive that I am 
now here in Congress, this 2Sth day of January, 
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hun- 
dred and thirty-four ; and that, what is more 
agreeable to my feelings as a freeman, I am at 
liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment 
dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party 
on me, or the driver at my heels, with his whip in 
hand, commanding me to ge-wo-haw, just at his 


pleasure. Look at my arms, you will find no 
party hand-cuff on them ! Look at my neck, you 
will not find there any collar, with the engraving 


Andrew Jackson. 

But you will find me standing up to my rack, 
as the people's faithful representative, and the pub- 
lic's most obedient, very humble servant, 



V. V^-i»-^/vc. vU'^i.-k^-n. 

A , >. , 














Say, what can politicians do, 

When things nin riot, plague, and vex us ? 
But shoulder Jlook, and start anew, 

Cut stick, and go ahead in Texas ! ! ! 

The Author. 







18 37. 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S36, by 

T. K. & P, G. Collins, 

La the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of 



Printed hy 

T. K. & P. G, COLLINS, 

No. 1 Lodge Alley, Philadelphia. 


Colonel Crockett, at the time of leaving 
Tennessee for Texas, made a promise to his 
friends that he would keep notes of what- 
ever might occur to him of moment, with 
the ulterior view of laying his adventures 
before the public. He was encouraged in 
this undertaking by the favourable manner 
in which his previous publications had 
been received : and if he had been spared 
throughout the Texian struggle, it cannot 
be doubted that he w^ould have produced a 
work replete with interest, and such as 
would have been universally read. His 
plain and unpolished style may occasion- 
ally offend the taste of those who are stick- 
lers for classic refinement; while others 

• « • 



will value it for that frankness and sincerity 
which is the best voucher for the truth of 
the facts he relates. The manuscript has 
not been altered since it came into the pos- 
session of the editor ; though it is but pro- 
per to state that it had previously un- 
dergone a slight verbal revision ; and 
the occasional interlineations were recog- 
nised to be in the handwriting of the Bee 
hunter, so frequently mentioned in the 
progress of the narrative. These correc- 
tions were doubtless made at the author's 
own request, and received his approba- 

. This worthy and talented young man 
was well known in New Orleans. His 
parents were wealthy, he had received a 
liberal education, was the pride and soul 
of the circle in which he moved, but his 
destiny was suddenly overshadowed by an 
act in which he had no agency, but his 
proud father in a moment of anger turned 
his face upon him, and the romantic youth, 
with a wounded spirit, commenced the 


roving life which he had pursued with suc- 
cess for four or five years. His father re- 
cently found out the great injustice that 
had been done his proud spirited son, re- 
called him, and a reconciliation took place ; 
but the young man had become enamoured 
of Texas, and a young woman at Nacog- 
doches, and had already selected a planta- 
tion in Austin's colony, on which he in- 
tended to have settled in the course of the 
coming year. The following letter will 
explain the manner in which the manu- 
script was preserved, and how it came into 
my possession : — 

San Jacinto, May 3, 1836. 

My dear friend, — 

I write this from the town of Lynchburg, 
on the San Jacinto, to inform you~ that I 
am laid up in ordinary at this place, having 
been wounded in the right knee by a mus- 
ket ball, in the glorious battle of the 20th 
ultimo. Having some friends residing here, 
I was anxious to get among them, for an 
invalid has not much chance of receiving 


proper attention from the army surgeons in 
the present state of affairs. I send you a 
literary curiosity, which I doubt not you 
will agree with me should be laid before 
the public. It is the journal of Colonel 
Crockett, from the time of his leaving Ten- 
nessee up to the day preceding his untimely 
death at the Alamo. The manner of its 
preservation was somewhat singular. The 
Colonel was among the six who were found 
alive in the fort after the general massacre 
had ceased. General Castrillon, as you have 
already learned, was favourably impressed 
with his manly and courageous deportment, 
and interceded for his life, but in vain. 
After the fort had been ransacked, these 
papers were found in the Colonel's bag- 
gage, by the servant of Castrillon, who 
immediately carried them to his master. 
After the battle of San Jacinto, they were 
found in the baggage of Castrillon, and as 
I was by at the time, and recognised the 
manuscript, I secured it, and saved it from 
being cast away as worthlessj or torn up a^ 


cartridge paper. By way of beguiling the 
tedious hours of my illness, I have added a 
chapter, and brought down a history of the 
events to the present time. Most of the 
facts I have recorded, I gathered from 
Castrillon's servant, and other Mexican 
prisoners. The manuscript is at your 
service to do with as you please, but I 
should advise its publication, and should 
it be deemed necessary, you are at liberty 
to publish this letter also, by way of expla- 

With sincere esteem, your friend, 

Charles T. Beale. 

To Alex. J. Dumas Esq., New Orleans. 

The deep interest that has been taken? 
for several years past, in the sayings and 
doino^s of Colonel Crockett, has induced me 
to lay this last of his literary labours before 
the public, not doubting that it will be read 
with as much avidity as his former publi- 
cations, though in consequence of the death 
of the author before he had revised the 


sheets for the press, it will necessarily be 
ushered into the world with many imper- 
fections on its head, for which indulgence 
is craved by the public's obedient servant, 

Alex. J. Dumas. 

New Orleans, June, 1836 





It is a true saying that no one knows the luck 
of a lousy calf, for though in a country where, 
according to the Declaration of Independence, the 
people are all horn free and equal, those who have 
a propensity to go ahead may aim at the highest 
honours, and they may ultimately reach them too, 
though they start at the lowest row^el of the ladder, 
— still it is a huckelberry above my persimmon to 
cipher out how it is with six months' schooling 
only, I, David Crockett, find myself the most popu- 
lar bookmaker of the day; and such is the demand 
for my works that I cannot write them half fast 
enough, no how I can fix it. This problem would 
bother even my friend Major Jack Downing's rule 

of three, to bring out square after all his practice 

2 13 

14 COLONEL Crockett's 

on the Post OiFice accounts and the public lands to 

I have been told that there was one Shakspeare 
more than two hundred years ago, who was brought 
up a hostler, but finding it a dull business, took to 
WTiting plays, and made as great a stir in his time 
as I do at present; which will go to show, that one 
ounce of the genuine horse sense is worth a pound 
of your book learning any day, and if a man is 
only determined to go ahead, the more kicks he 
receives in his breech the faster he will get on his 

Finding it necessary to write another book, that 
the whole world may be made acquainted with my 
movements, and to save myself the trouble of an- 
swering all the questions that are poked at me, as 
if my owm private business was the business of the 
nation, I set about the work, and offer the people 
another proof of my capacity to write my own 
messages and state papers, should I be pitched 
upon to run against the Little Flying Dutchman, 
a thing not unlikely from present appearances ; 
but somehow I feel rather dubious that my learning 
may not make against me, as " the greatest and the 
best" has set the example of writing his long rig- 
maroles by proxy, which I rather reckon is the 
easiest plan. 


I begin this book on the 8th day of July, 1835, 
at Home, Weakley county, Tennessee. I have 
just returned from a two weeks' electioneering 
canvass, and I have spoken every day to large 
concourses of people with my competitor. I have 
him badly plagued, for he does not know as much 
about "the Government," the deposites, and the 
Little Flying Dutchman, whose life I wrote, as I 
can tell the people; and at times he is as much 
bothered as a fly in a tar pot to get out of the mess. 
A candidate is often stumped in making stump- 
speeches. His name is Adam Huntsman ; he lost 
a leg in an Indian fight, they say, during the last 
war, and the Government run him on the score of 
his military services. I tell him in my speech 
that I have great hopes of writing one more book, 
and that shall be the second fall of Adam, for he is 
on the Eve of an almighty thrashing. He relishes 
the joke about as much as a doctor does his own 
physic. I handle the administration without gloves, 
and I do believe I will double my competitor, if I 
have a fair shake, and he does not work like a 
mole in the dark. Jacksonism is dying here faster 
than it ever sprung up, and I predict that "the 
Government" will be the most unpopular man, in 
one year more, that ever had any pretensions to the 
high place he now fills. Four weeks from to- 

16 COLONEL Crockett's 

morrow will end the dispute in our elections, and 
if old Adam is not beaten out of his hunting shirt 
my name isn't Crockett. 

While on the subject of election matters, I will 
just relate a little anecdote, about myself, which 
will show the people to the east, how we manage 
these things on the frontiers. It was when I first 
run for Congress; I was then in favour of the Hero, 
for he had chalked out his course so sleek in his 
letter to the Tennessee legislature, that, like Sam 
Patch, says I, " there can be no mistake in him,'^ 
and so I went ahead. No one dreamt about the 
monster and the deposites at that time, and so, as 
I afterward found, many, like myself, were taken 
in by these fair promises, which were worth about 
"as much as a flash in the pan when you have a fair 
shot at a fat bear. 

But I am losing sight of my story. — ^Well, I 
started off to the Cross Roads, dressed in my hunt- 
ing shirt, and my rifle on my shoulder. Many of 
our constituents had assembled there to get a taste 
of the quality of the candidates at orating. Job 
Snelling, a gander-shanked Yankee, who had been 
caught somewhere about Plymouth Bay, and been 
shipped to the west with a cargo of cod fish and 
rum, erected a large shantee, and set up shop for 
the occasion. A large posse of the voters had 


assembled before I arrived, and my opponent had 
already made considerable headway with his 
speechif3^ing and his treating, when they spied me 
about a rifle shot from the camp, sauntering along 
as if I was not a party in the business. " There 
comes Crockett," cried one. " Let us hear the 
colonel," cried another, and so I mounted the 
stump that had been cut down for the occasion, 
and began to bushwhack in the most approved- 

I had not been up long before there was such an 
uproar in the crowd that I could not hear my own 
voice, and some of my constituents let me know^, 
that they could not listen to me on such a dry sub- 
ject as the welfare of the nation, until they had 
something to drink, and that I must treat 'em. 
Accordingly I jumped down from the rostrum, 
and led the way to the shantee, followed by my 
constituents, shouting, "Huzza for Crockett," and 
^* Crockett for ever !" 

When we entered the shantee. Job was busy 
dealing out his rum in a style that show^ed he was 
making a good day's work of it, and I called for a 
quart of the best, but the crooked critur returned 
no other answer than by pointing at a board over 
the bar, on which he had chalked in large letters, 
''Fay to-day and trust to-morrow,''^ Now that 


18 COLONEL Crockett's 

idea brought me all up standing ; it was a sort of 
cornering in which there was no back out, for 
ready money in the west, in those times, was the 
shyest thing in all natur, and it was most particu- 
larly shy with me on that occasion. 

The voters, seeing my predicament, fell oflf to 
the other side, and I was left deserted and alone, 
as the Government will be, when he no longer has 
any offices to bestow. I saw, plain as day, that 
the tide of popular opinion was against me, and 
that, unless I got some rum speedily, I should Iosq 
my election as sure as there are snakes in Virginny, 
— and it must be done soon, or even burnt brandy 
wouldn't save me. So I walked away from the 
shantee, but in another guess sort from the way I 
entered it, for on this occasion I had no train after 
me, and not a voice shouted "Huzza for Crockett." 
Popularity sometimes depends on a very small 
matter indeed ; in this particular it was worth a 
quart of New England rum, and no more. 

Well, knowing that a crisis was at hand, I struck 
into the woods with my rifle on my shoulder, my 
best friend in time of need, and as good fortune 
would have it, I had not been out more than a 
quarter of an hour before I treed a fat coon, and in 
the pulling of a trigger he lay dead at the root of 
the tree. I soon whipped his hairy jacket oflf his 


back, and again bent my way towards the shantee, 
and walked up to the bar, but not alone, for this 
time I had half a dozen of my constituents at my 
heels. I threw down the coon skin upon the 
counter, and called for a quart, and Job, though 
busy in dealing out rum, forgot to point at his 
chalked rules and regulations, for he knew that a 
coon was as good a legal tender for a quart, in the 
west, as a New York shilling, any day in the year. 
My constituents now flocked about me, and cried 
" Huzza for Crockett," " Crockett for ever," and 
finding that the tide had taken a turn, I told them 
several yarns, to get them in a good humour, and 
having soon despatched the value of the coon, I 
went out and mounted the stump, without opposi- 
tion, and a clear majority of the voters followed me 
to hear what I had to offer for the good of the na- 
tion. Before I was half through, one of my con- 
stituents moved that they would hear the balance 
of my speech, after they had washed down the first 
part with some more of Job Snelling's extract of 
cornstalk and molasses, and the question being put, 
it was carried unanimously. It wasn't considered 
necessary to call the yeas and nays, so we adjourned 
to the shantee, and on the way I began to reckon 
that the fate of the nation pretty much depended 
upon my shooting another coon. 


While standing at the bar, feeling sort of bashful 
while Job's rules and regulations stared me in the 
face, I cast down my eyes, and discovered one end 
of the coon skin stickino; between the logs that 
supported the bar. Job had slung it there in the 
hurry of business. I gave it a sort of quick jerk, 
and it followed my hand as natural as if I had been 
the rightful owner. I slapped it on the counter, 
and Job, little dreaming that he was barking up the 
wrong tree, shoved along another bottle, which my 
constituents quickly disposed of with great good 
humour, for some of them saw the trick, and then 
we withdrew to the rostrum to discuss the afifairs 
of the nation. 

I don't know how it was, but the voters soon 
became dry again, and nothing would do, but we 
must adjourn to the shantee, and as luck would 
have it, the coon skin was still sticking between 
the logs, as if Job had flung it there on purpose to 
tempt me. I was not slow in raising it to the 
counter, the rum followed of course, and I wish I 
may be shot, if I didn't, before the day was over, 
get ten quarts for the same identical skin, and from 
a fellow too, who in those parts was considered as 
sharp as a steel trap, and as bright as a pewter 

This joke secured me my election, for it soon 


circulated like smoke among my constituents, and 
they allowed, with one accord, that the man who 
could get the whip hand of Job Snelling in fair 
trade, could outwit Old Nick himself, and was the 
real grit for them in Congress. Job was by no 
means popular; he boasted of always being wide 
awake, and that any one who could take him in 
was free to do so, for he came from a stock that 
sleeping or waking had always one eye open, and 
the other not more than half closed. The whole 
family were geniuses. His father was the inventor 
of wooden nutmegs, by which Job said he might 
have made a fortune, if he had only taken out a 
patent and kept the business in his own hands; his 
mother Patience manufactured the first v/hite oak 
pumpkin seeds of the mammoth kind, and turned 
a pretty penny the first season; and his aunt Pru- 
dence was the first to discover that corn husks, 
steeped in tobacco water, would make as handsome 
Spanish wrappers as ever came from Havanna, and 
that oak leaves would answer all the purposes of 
Uing, for no one would discover the difference 
except the man who smoked them, and then it 
would be too late to make a stir about it. Job 
himself bragged of having made some useful dis- 
coveries; the most profitable of which was the art 
of convQiling mahogany sawdust into cayenne 

22 COLONEL Crockett's 

pepper, which he said was a profitable and safe 
business ; for the people have been so long ac- 
customed to having dust thrown in their eyes, 
that there wasn't much danger of being found out. 

The way I got to the blind side of the Yankee 
merchant was pretty generally known before the 
election day, and the result was, that my opponent 
might as well have whistled jigs to a milestone as 
attempt to beat up for votes in that district. I 
beat him out and out, quite back into the old year, 
and there was scarce enough left of him, after the 
canvass was over, to make a small grease spot. He 
disappeared without even leaving as much as a 
mark behind ; and such will be the fate of Adam 
Huntsman, if there is a fair fight and no gouging. 

After the election was over, I sent Snelling the 
price of the rum, but took good care to keep the 
fact from the knowledge of my constituents. Job 
refused the money, and sent me word, that it did 
him good to be taken in occasionally, as it served 
to brighten his ideas; but I afterwards learnt that 
when he found out the trick that had been played 
upon him, he put all the rum I had ordered in his 
bill against my opponent, who, being elated with 
the speeches he had made on the affairs of the na- 
tion, could not descend to examine into the particu- 
lars of the bill of a vender of rum in the small way. 



August 11,1835. I AM now at home in Weakley 
county. My canvass is over, and the result is 
known. Contrary to all expectation, I am beaten 
two hundred and thirty votes, from the best infor- 
mation I can get; and in this instance, I may say, 
bad is the best. My mantle has fallen upon the 
shoulders of Adam, and I hope he may wear it 
with becoming dignity, and never lose sight of the 
welfare of the nation, for the purpose of elevating 
a few designing politicians to the head of the heap. 
The rotten policy pursued by " the Government" 
cannot last long; it will either work its own down- 
fall, or the downfall of the republic, soon, unless 
the people tear the seal from their eyes, and behold 
their danger time enough to avert the ruin. 

I wish to inform the people of these United 
States what I had to contend against, trusting that 
the expose I shall make will be a caution to the 
people not to repose too much power in the hands 
of a single man, though he should be " the greatest 
and the best." — I had, as I have already said, Mr. 

24 COLONEL Crockett's 

Adam Huntsman for my competitor, aided by the 
popularity of both Andrew Jackson and governor 
Carroll and the whole strength of the Union Bank 
at Jackson. I have been told by good men, that 
some of the managers of the bank on the days of 
the election were heard say, that they would give 
twenty-five dollars a vote for votes enough to elect 
Mr. Huntsman. This is a pretty good price for a 
vote, and in ordinary times a round dozen might 
be got for the money. 

I have always believed, since Jackson removed 
the deposites, that his whole object was to place 
the treasury where he could use it to influence 
elections; and I do believe he is determined to 
sacrifice every dollar of the treasury to make the 
Little Flying Dutchman his successor. If this is 
not my creed I wish I may be shot. For fourteen 
years since I have been a candidate I never saw 
such means used to defeat any candidate, as were 
put in practice against me on this occasion. There 
was a disciplined band of judges and officers to 
hold the elections at almost every poll. Of late 
years they begin to find out that there's an advan- 
tage in this, even in the west. Some officers held 
the election, and at the same time had nearly all 
they were worth bet on the election. Such judges 
I should take it are like the handle of a jug, all on 


I one side; and I am told it doesn't require much 

I schooling to make the tally list correspond to a 

I notch with the ballot box, provided they who make 

up the returns have enough loose tickets in their 

breeches pockets. I have no doubt that I was 

completely rascalled out of my election, and I do 

regret that duty to myself and to my country 

compels me to expose such villany. 

Well might Governor Poindexter exclaim — 

" Ah ! my country, what degradation thou hast 

fallen into !" Andrew Jackson was, during my 

election canvass, franking the extra Globe with a 

prospectus in it to every post office in this district, 

and upon one occasion he had my mileage and pay 

as a member drawn up and sent to this district, to 

one of his minions, to have it published just a few 

days before the election. This is what I call small 

potatoes and few of a hill. He stnted that I had 

charged mileage for one thousand miles and that 

it was but seven hundred and fifty miles, and held 

out ihe idea that I had taken pay for the same 

mileage that Mr. Fitzgerald had taken, when it 

w^as well known that he charged thirteen hundred 

miles from here to Washington, and he and myself 

both live in the same county. It is somewhat 

remarkable how this fact should have escaped the 

keen eye of " the Goverament." 



The General's pet, Mr. Grundy, charged for one 
thousand miles from Nashville to Washington, and 
it was sanctioned by the legislature, I suppose be- 
cause he would huzza! for Jackson; and because I 
think proper to refrain from huzzaing until he goes 
out of office, when I shall give a screamer, that will 
be heard from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, or 
my name's not Crockett — for this reason he came 
out openly to electioneer against me. I now say, 
that the oldest man living never heard of the Pre- 
sident of a great nation to come down to open elec- 
tioneering for his successor. It is treating the 
nation as if it was the property of a single indivi- 
dual, and he had the right to bequeath it to whom 
he pleased — the same as a patch of land for which 
he had the patent. It is plain to be seen that the 
poor superannuated old man is surrounded by a set 
of horse leeches, who will stick to him while there 
is a drop of blood to be got, and their maws are so 
capacious that they will never get full enough to 
drop off. The Land office, the Post office, and the 
Treasury itself, may all be drained, and we shall 
still find them craving for more. They use him to 
promote their own private interest, and for all his 
sharp sight, he remains as blind as a dead lion to 
the jackals who are tearing him to pieces. In fact, 
I do believe he is a perfect tool in their hands, 


ready to be used to answer any purpose to promote 
either their interest or gratify their ambition. 

I come within two hundred and thirty votes of 
being elected, notwithstanding I had to contend 
against "the greatest and the best," with the whole 
power of the Treasury against me. The Little 
Flying Dutchman will no doubt calculate upon 
having a true game cock in Mr. Huntsman, but if 
he doesn't show them the White feather before the 
.first session is over, I agree never to be set down 
for a prophet, that's all. I am gratified that I 
have spoken the truth to the people of my district 
regardless of consequences. I would not be 
compelled to bow down to the idol for a seat in 
Congress during life. I have never known what 
it was to sacrifice my own judgment to gratify 
any party, and I have no doubt of the time being 
close at hand when I will be rewarded for letting 
my tongue speak what my heart thinks. I have 
sufiered myself to be politically sacrificed to save 
my country from ruin and disgrace, and if I am 
never again elected, I will have the gratification to 
know that I have done my duty. — Thus much I 
say in relation to the manner in which my down- 
fall was efiected, and in laying it before the public, 
" I take the responsibility." I may add in the 
words of the man in the play, " Crockett's occupa- 
tion's gone." 


Two weeks and more have elapsed since I wrote 
the foregoing account of my defeat, and I confess 
the thorn still rankles, not so much on my own 
account as the nation's, for I had set my heart on 
following up the travelling deposites until they 
should be fairly gathered to their proper nest, 
like young chickens, for I am aware of the vermin 
that are on the constant look-out to pounce upon 
them, like a cock at a blackberry, which they would 
have done long since, if it had not been for a few 
such men as Webster, Clay, and myself. It is my 
parting advice, that this matter be attended to with- 
out delay, for before long the little chickens, will 
take wing, and even the powerful wand of the 
magician of Kinderhook will be unable to point 
out the course they have flown. 

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 anew upon ray 
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 a rough one, but come what will I'll go ahead. 

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 
has 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 succes- 
sion, by way of a codicil to what I have often said 

I told them to keep a sharp look-out for the de- 
posites, for it requires an eye as insinuating as a 
dissecting knife to see what safety there is in 
placing one million of the public funds in some 
little country shaving shop with no more than one 
hundred thousand dollars capital. This bank, we 
will just suppose, without being too particular, is 
in the neighbourhood of some of the public lands, 
where speculators, who have every thing to gain 
and nothing to lose, swarm like crows about car- 
rion. They buy the United States' land upon a 
large scale, get discounts from the aforesaid shaving 
shop, which are made upon a large scale also, upon 
the United States' funds ; they pay the whole pur- 
chase money with these discounts, and get a clear 
title to the land, so that when the shaving shop 
comes to make a Flemish account of her transac- 
tions, " the Government" will discover that he has 

not only lost the original deposite, but a large body 


30 COLONEL Crockett's 

of the public lands to boot. So much for taking 
the responsibility. 

I told them that they were hurrying along a 
broad M^Adamized road to make the Little Flying 
Dutchman the successor, but they would no sooner 
accomplish that end, than they would be obliged to 
buckle to, and drag the Juggernaut through many 
narrow and winding and out-of-the-way paths, and 
hub deep in the mire. That they reminded me 
of the Hibernian, who bet a glass of grog with a 
hod carrier, that he could not carry him in his hod 
up a ladder to the third story of a new building. 
He seated himself in the hod, and the other mount- 
ed the ladder with his load upon his shoulder. 
He ascended to the second story pretty steadily, 
but as he approached the third his strength failed 
him, he began to totter, and Pat was so delighted 
at the prospect of winning his bet, that he clapped 
his hands and shouted, " By the powers the grog's 
mine," and he made such a stir in the hod, that I 
wish I may be shot if he didn't win it, but he 
broke his neck in the fall. And so I told my con- 
stituents that they might possibly gain the victory, 
but in doing so, they would ruin their country. 

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 


forget 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 any 
how 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 1 was done with 
politics for the present, and that they might all go 
to hell, and I would go to Texas. 

When I returned home I felt a sort of cast 
down at the change that had taken place in my 
fortunes, and sorrow, it is said, will make even an 
oyster feel poetical. I never tried my hand at that 
sort of writing, but on this particular occasion such 
was my state of feeling, that I began to fancy my- 
self 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 off 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 

32 COLONEL Crockett's 

leaving my home, my neighbours, and friends and ^| 
country, for a strange land, as fully as I could in 
plain prose. 

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 thank'd the Great Giver, and worshipp'd his plan. 

The home I forsake where my offspring arose : 

The graves I forsake where my children repose. 

The home I redeem'd from the savage and wild ; 

The home I have loved as a father his child ; ^ 

The corn that I planted, the fields that I clear'd, 

The flocks that I raised, and the cabin I rear'd ; 

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 rush'd 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 ofl^ — my career now is run. 

And I wander abroad like the prodigal son — 

Where the wild savage roves, and the broad prairies 

The fallen — despised — will again go ahead ! 



In my last chapter I made mention of my deter- 
mination to cut and quit the States until such time 
as honest and independent 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 shall be brought about, I promised 
to give the Texians a helping hand, on the high 
road to freedom. — Well, I was always fond of hav- 
ing my spoon in a mess of that kind, for if there is 
any thing in this w^orld particularly worth living 
for, it is freedom ; any thing that would render 
death to a brave man particularly pleasant, it is 

I am now on my journey, and have already 
tortled along as far as Little Rock on the Arkansas, 
about one hundred and twenty-five miles from the 
mouth. I had promised to write another book, 
expecting, when I made that promise, to write about 
politics, and use up " the Government,'^ his suc- 
cessor, the removal of the deposites, and so on, 
matters and things that come as natural to me as 

34 COLONEL Crockett's 

bear hunting ; but being rascalled out of my elec- 
tion, I am taken all aback, and I must now strike 
into a new path altogether. Still I will redeem my 
promise, and make a book, and it shall be about 
my adventures in Texas, hoping that my friends, 
Messrs. Webster and Clay and Biddle, will keep a 
sharp look-out upon ^'' the Government'^ during 
my absence. — I am told that every author of 
distinction writes a book of travels now-a-days. 

My thermometer stood somewhat below the 
freezing point as I left my wife and children ; still 
there was some thawing about the eyelids, a thing 
that had not taken place since I first ran away from 
my father's house when a thoughtless vagabond 
boy. I dressed myself in a clean hunting shirt, 
put on a new fox skin cap with the tail hanging 
behind, took hold of my rifle Betsey, which all the 
world knows was presented to me by the patriotic 
citizens of Philadelphia, as a compliment for my 
unflinching opposition to the tyrannic measures of 
" the Government," and thus equipped I started off, 
with a heavy heart, for Mill's Point, to take steam- 
boat down the Mississippi, and go ahead in a new 

While w^alking along, and thinking whether it 
was altogether the right grit to leave my poor 
country at a time she most needed my services, 1 


came to a clearing, and I was slowly rising a slope, 
when I was startled by loud, profane, and boiste- 
rous voices, (as loud and profane as have been heard 
in the White House of late years,) which seemed 
to proceed from a thick covert of undergrowth, 
about two hundred yards in advance of me, and 
about one hundred to the right of my road. 

" You kin, kin you ?" 

" Yes, I kin, and am able to do it ! Boo-oo-oo! — 
0! wake snakes, and walk your chalks! Brim- 
stone and -fire! Don't hold me, Nick Stoval! 

The fight's made up, and let's go at it. my 

soul if I don't jump down his throat and gallop 
every chitterling out of him, before you can say 

" Now, Nick, don't hold him ! Jist let the wild 
cat come, and I'll tame him. Ned '11 see me a 
fair fight — won't you, Ned ?" 

'" ! yes, I'll see you a fair fight; blast my old 
shoes if I don't." 

" That's sufficient, as Tom Haynes said, when 
he saw the elephant. Now let him come." 

Thus they went on, with countless oaths inter- 
spersed, which I dare not even hint at, and with 
much that I could not distinctly hear. 

In mercy's name ! thought I, what a band of 
ruffians is at work here. I quickened my gait, and 


had come nearly opposite to the thick grove 
whence the noise proceeded, when my eye caught 
indistinctly, through the foliage of the dwarf oaks 
and hickories that intervened, glimpses of a man 
or men, who seemed to be in a violent struggle ; 
and I could occasionally catch those deep drawn 
emphatic oaths, which men in conflict utter, when 
they deal blows. I hurried to the spot, but before 
I reached it, I saw the combatants come to the 
ground, and after a short struggle, I saw the upper- 
most one (for I could not see the other) make 
a heavy plunge with both his thumbs, and at the 
same instant I heard a cry in the accent of keenest 
torture, "Enough ! my eye is out V 

I stood completely horror-struck for a moment. 
The accomplices in the brutal deed had all fled at 
my approach, at least I supposed so, for they were 
not to be seen. 

*' Now blast your corn-shucking soul," said the 
victor, a lad about eighteen, as he rose from the 
ground, " come cutt'n your shines ^bout me agin, 
next time I come to the Court House, will you! — 
Get your owl-eye in agin if you can." 

At this moment he saw me for the first time. 
He looked as though he couldn't help it, and was 
for making himself particularly scarce, when I 
called to him, " Come back, you brute, and assist me 


in relieving the poor oritur you have ruined for 

Upon this rough salutation, he sort of collected 
himself, and with a taunting curl of the nose he 
replied, " You needn't kick before you're spurr'd. 
There an't nobody there, nor han't been nother. 
I was jist seein' how I could a' fout." So saying 
he bounded to his plough, which stood in the cor- 
ner of the fence about fifty yards from the battle 

Now would any man in his senses believe that 
'a rational being could make such a darned fool of 
himself? but I wish I may be shot, if his report 
was not as true as the last Post office report, every 
word, and a little more satisfactory. All that I 
; had heard and seen was nothing more nor less than 
what is called a rehearsal of a knock-down and 
drag-out fight, in which the young man had 
played all the parts for his own amusement, and 
by way of keeping his hand in. I went to the 
ground from which he had risen, and there was the 
prints of his two thumbs, plunged up to the balls 
in the mellow earth, about the distance of a man's 
eyes apart, and the ground around was broken up, 
as if two stags had been engaged upon it. 

As I resumed my journey I laughed outright at 

this adventure, for it reminded me of Andrew 


38 COLONEL Crockett's 

Jackson's attack upon the United States Bank. 
He had magnified it into a monster, and then be- 
gun to rip and tear and swear and gouge, until he 
thought he had the monster on its back; and when 
the fight was over, and he got up to look about for 
his enemy, he could find none for the soul of him, 
for his enemy was altogether in his heated imagi- 
nation. These fighting characters are never at 
peace, unless they have something to quarrel with, 
and rather than have no fight at all they will 
trample on their own shadows. 

The day I arrived at Little Rock, I no sooner 
quit the steamer than I streaked it straight ahead 
for the principal tavern, which is nothing to boast 
of, nohow, unless a man happens to be like the 
member of Congress from the south, who was con- 
verted to Jacksonism, and then made a speech as 
long as the longitude about his political honesty. 
Some, men it seems, take a pride in saying a great 
deal about nothing — like windmills, their tongues 
must be going whether they have any grist to grind 
or not. This is all very well in Congress, where 
every member is expected to make a speech to let 
his constituents know that some things can be done 
as well as others ; but I set it down as being rather 
an imposition upon good nature to be compelled to 
listen, without receivins: the consideration of ei.sht 


dollars per day, besides mileage, as we do in Con- 
gress. Many members will do nothing else for 
their pay but listen, day in and day out, and I wish 
I may be shot, if they do not earn every penny of 
it, provided they don't sleep, and Benton or little 
Isaac Hill will spin their yarns but once in a week. 
No man who has not tried it can imagine what 
dreadful hard work it is to listen. Splitting gum 
logs in the dog days is child's play to it. I've 
tried both, and give the preference to the gum 

Well, as I said, I made straight for the tavern, 
and as I drew nigh, I saw a considerable crowd 
assembled before the door. So, thought I, they 
have heard that Colonel Crockett intended to pay 
a visit to their settlement, and they have already 
got together to receive him in due form. I confess 
I felt a little elated at the idea, and commenced ran- 
sacking the lumber room of my brain, to find some 
one of my speeches that I might furbish up for the 
occasion; and then I shouldered my Betsey, straight- 
ened myself, and walked up to the door, charged 
to the muzzle, and ready to let fly. 

But strange as it may seem, no one took any 
more notice of me, than if I had been Martin Van 
Buren,orDick Johnson, the celebrated wool grower. 
This took me somewhat aback, and I inquired what 

40 COLONEL Crockett's 

was the meaning of the gathering; and I learnt that 
a travelling showman had just arrived, and was 
about to exhibit for the first time the wonderful 
feats of Harlequin, and Punch and Judy, to the 
impatient natives. It was drawing towards night- 
fall, and expectation was on tiptoe ; the children 
were clinging to their mother's aprons, with their 
chubby faces dimpled with delight, and asking 
'^ What is it like ? when will it begin ?" and similar 
questions, while the women, as all good wives are 
in duty bound to do, appealed to their husbands 
for information; but the call for information was 
not responded to in this instance, as is sometimes 
the case in Congress ; — their husbands understood 
the matter about as well as " the Government" did 
the Post office accounts. 

The showman at length made his appearance, 
with a countenance as wo-begone as that of " the 
Government" when he found his batch of dirty 
nominations rejected by the Senate, and mentioned 
the impossibility that any performance should take 
place that evening, as the lame fiddler had over- 
charged his head, and having but one leg at best, it 
did not require much to destroy his equilibrium. 
And as all the world knows, a puppet show with- 
out a fiddle is like roast pork and no apple sauce. 
This piece of intelligence was received with a gene- 


ral murmur of dissatisfaction; and such was the indi^ 
nation of his majesty, the sovereign people, at being 
thwarted in his rational amusements, that, accord- 
ing to the established custom in such cases made 
and provided, there were some symptoms of a dis- 
position to kick up a row, break the show, and 
finish the amusements of the day by putting Lynch's 
law in practice upon the poor showman. There is 
nothing like upholding the dignity of the people, 
and so Lieut. Randolph thought, when with his 
cowardly and sacrilegious hand he dared to profane 
the anointed nose of " the Government," and 
bring the whole nation into contempt. If I had 
been present, may disgrace follow my career in 
Texas, if I wouldn't have become a whole hog 
Jackson man upon the spot, for the time being, for 
the nose of " the Government" should be held 
^ more sacred than any other member, that it may 
be kept in good order to smell out all the corrup- 
tion that is going forward — not a very pleasant 
office, and by no means a sinecure. ~ 

The indignant people, as I have already said, 
were about to exercise their reserved rights upon 
the unlucky showman, and Punch and Judy too, 
when, as good fortune would have it, an old gen- 
tleman drove up to the tavern door in a sulky, 

with a box of books and pamphlets of his 


42 COLONEL Crockett's 

composition — (for he was an author like myself)-— 
thus being able to vouch for the moral tendency of 
every page he disposed of. Very few booksellers 
can do the same, I take it. His linen and flannels, 
which he had washed in the brooks by the way- 
side, were hanging over the back of the crazy 
vehicle to dry, while his own snuffy countenance 
had long bid defiance to sun, wind, and water to 
bleach it. 

His jaded beast stopped instinctively upon seeing 
a crowd, while the old man remained seated for 
some moments before he could recall his thoughts 
from the world of imagination, where they w^ere 
gleaning for the benefit of mankind. He looked, 
it must be confessed, more like a lunatic than a 
moral lecturer; but being conscious of his own rec- 
titude, he could not conceive how his outward 
Adam could make him ridiculous in the eyes 
of another ; but a fair outside is every thing to the 
world. The tulip flower is highly prized, although 
indebted for its beauty to the corruption engendered 
at the root : and so it is with man. 

We occasionally meet with one possessing suffi- 
cient philosophy to look upon life as a pilgrimage, 
and not as a mere round of pleasure : who, treating 
this world as a place of probation, is ready to en- 
counter sufiering, and not expecting the sunshine 


of prosperity, escapes being overclouded by dis- 
appointment. Such is the character of the old 
preacher, whose ridiculous appearance in the eyes 
of the thoughtless and ignorant is only exceeded 
by the respect and veneration of those who are 
capable of estimating his real worth. I learnt that 
he Ws^s educated for the church, but not being able 
to obtain a living, he looked upon the whole earth 
as his altar, and all mankind as his flock. He was 
penniless, and therefore had no predilection for 
this or that section of the globe, for wherever he 
might be, his journey of probation still continued, 
and in every spot he found that human nature was 
the same. His life was literally that of apilgrim. He 
was an isolated being, though his heart overflowed 
with the milk of human kindness ; for being indis- 
criminate in his aflection, very few valued it. He 
who commences the world with a general love for 
mankind, and suffers his feelings to dictate to his 
reason, runs a great hazard of reaping a plentiful 
harvest of ingi'atitude, and of closing a tedious ex- 
istence in misanthropy. But it was not so with 
the aged preacher. 

Being unable to earn his bread as an itinerant 
lecturer, — for in those cases it is mostly poor preach 
and worse pay — he turned author, and wrote histo- 
ries which contained but little information, and 

44 COLONEL Crockett's 

sermons which, like many others, had nothing to 
boast of, beyond being strictly orthodox. He suc- 
ceeded in obtaining a sulky, and a horse to drag it, 
by a plea of mercy, which deprived the hounds of 
their food, and with these he travelled over the 
western states, to dispose of the product of his 
brain ; and when poverty was deprived of the 
benefit of his labour, in the benevolence of his 
heart he would deliver a moral lecture, which had 
the usual weight of homilies on this subject. A 
lecture is the cheapest thing that a man can bestow 
in charity, and many of our universal philanthro- 
pists have made the discovery. 

The landlord now made his appearance, and gave 
a hearty welcome to the reverend traveller, and 
shaking him by the hand, added, that he never 
came more opportunely in all his life. 

*^ Opportunely !" exclaimed the philosopher. 

" Yes," rejoined the other ; " you have a heart 
and head that labour for the benefit of us poor 

" ! true, an excellent market for my pam- 
phlets," replied the other, at the same time begin- 
ning to open the trunk that lay before him. 

" You misunderstand me," added the landlord. 
"A poor showman, with a sick wife and five 
children, has arrived from New Orleans— 




"I will sell my pamphlets to relieve their wants, 
and endeavour to teach them resignation." 

" He exhibits to-night in my large room : you 
know the room, sir — I let him have it gratis." 

'' You are an honest fellow. I will witness his 
show, and add my mite to his assistance." 

" But," replied the innkeeper, " the lame fiddler 
is fond of the bottle, and is now snoring in the 

" Degrading vice !" exclaimed the old man, and 
taking " God's Revenge against Drunkenness" 
from the trunk, and standing erect in the sulky, 
commenced reading to his astonished audience. 
The innkeeper interrupted him by observing that 
the homily would not fill the empty purse of the 
poor showman, and unless a fiddler could be ob- 
tained, he must depend on charity, or go supperless 
to bed. And moreover, the people, irritated at 
their disappointment, had threatened to tear the 
show to pieces. 

" But what's to be done ?" demanded the parson. 

" Your reverence shakes an excellent bow," 
added the innkeeper, in an insinuating tone. 

" I ! " exclaimed the parson ; " I fiddle for a 
puppet show !" 

" Not for the puppet show, but for the sick wife 
and five hungry children." 

46 COLONEL Crockett's 

A tear started into the eyes of the old man, as 
he added in an undertone, " If I could be concealed 
from the audience ~" 

" Nothing easier," cried the other ; " we will 
place you behind the scenes, and no one will ever 
dream that you fiddled at a puppet show." 

The matter being thus settled, they entered the 
house, and shortly afterward the sound of a fiddle 
squeaking like a giggling girl, tickled into ecstacies, 
restored mirth and good humour to the disappoint- 
ed assemblage, who rushed in, helter-skelter, to 
enjoy the exhibition. 

All being seated, and silence restored, they 
waited in breathless expectation for the rising of 
^he curtain. At length Harlequin made his ap- 
pearance, and performed astonishing feats of activity 
on the slack rope ; turning somersets backward 
and forward, first on this side, and then on that, 
wdth as much ease as if he had been a politician all 
his life, — the parson sawing vigorously on his 
fiddle all the time. Punch followed, and set the 
audience in a roar with his antic tricks and jests ; 
but when Judy entered with her broomstick, the 
burst of applause was as great as ever I heard be- 
stowed upon one of Benton's slang-whang speeches 
in Congress, .and I rather think quite as w^U 


As the plot thickened, the music of the parson 
became more animated ; but unluckily in the warmth 
of his zeal to do justice to his station, his elbow 
touched the side scene, which fell to the floor, and 
exposed him, working away in all the ecstacies of 
little Isaac Hill, while reading one of his long ora- 
tions about things in general to empty benches. 
No ways disconcerted by the accident, the parson 
seized upon it as a fine opportunity of conveying 
a lesson to those around him, at the same time that 
he might benefit a fellow mortal. He immediately 
mounted the chair upon which he was seated, and 
addressed the audience to the following effect : — 

^' Many of you have come here for amusement, 
and others no doubt to assist the poor man, who is 
thus struggling to obtain a subsistence for his sick 
wife and children. — Lo ! the moral of a puppet 
show ! — But is this all ; has he not rendered unto 
you your money's worth ? This is not charity. 
If you are charitably inclined, here is an object 
fully deserving of it." He preached upon this text 
for full half an hour, and concluded with taking 
his hat to collect assistance from his hearers for 
the friendless showman and his family. 

The next morning, when his sulky was brought 
to the door, the showman and his wife came out 


to thank their benefactor. The old man placed 
his trunk of pamphlets before him; and proceed- 
ed on his pilgrimage, the little children follow- 
ing him through the village with bursts of grati- 



The public mind having been quieted by the 
exhibition of the puppet show, and allowed to re- 
turn to its usual channel, it was not long before the 
good people- of Little Rock began to inquire what 
distinguished stranger had come among them ; and 
learning that it was neither more nor less than the 
I identical Colonel Crockett, the champion of the 
fugitive deposites, than straight they went ahead 
at getting up another tempest in a teapot j and I 
wish I may be shot, if I wasn't looked upon as 
almost as great a sight as Punch and Judy. 

Nothing would answer but I must accept of an 
invitation to a public dinner. Now as public din- 
ners have become so common, that it is enough to 
take away the appetite of any man, who has a pro- 
per sense of his own importance, to sit down and 
play his part in the humbug business, I had made 
up my mind to write a letter declining the honour, 
expressing my regret, and winding up with a 
flourish of trumpets about the patriotism of the 
citizens of Little Rock, and all that sort of thing, 

50 COLONEL Crockett's 

when the landlord came in, and says he, " Colonel, 
just oblige me by stepping into the back yard a 

I followed the landlord in silence, twisting and 
turning over in my brain, all the while, what I 
should say in my letter to the patriotic citizens of 
Little Rock, who were bent on eating a dinner for 
the good of their country ; when he conducted me 
to a shed in the yard, where I beheld, hanghig up, 
a fine fat cub bear, several haunches of venison, a 
wild turkey as big as a young ostrich, and small 
game too tedious to mention. " Well, Colonel, 
what do you think of my larder?" says he. "Fine!" 
says I ; "let us liquor." We walked back to the 
bar, I took a horn, and without loss of time I wrote 
to the committee, that I accepted of the invitation 
to a public dinner with pleasure, — that I would 
ahvays be found ready to serve my country either 
by eating or fasting ; and that the honour the pa- 
triotic citizens of Little Rock had conferred upon 
me rendered it the proudest moment of my event- 
ful life. The chairman of the committee was 
standing by while I wrote the letter, which 1 
handed to him ; and so this important business 
was soon settled. 

As there was considerable time to be killed, or 
got rid of in some way, bafore the dinner could 


be cooked, it was proposed that we should go be- 
yond the village, and shoot at a mark, for they had 
heard that I was a first-rate shot, and they wanted 
to see for themselves whether fame had not blown 
her trumpet a little too strong in my favour ; for 
since she had represented " the Government" as 
being a first-rate statesman, and Colonel Benton as 
a first-rate orator, they could not receive such re- 
ports without proper allowance, as Congress thought 
of the Post office report. 

Well, I shouldered my Betsey, and she is just 
about as beautiful a piece as ever came out of Phila- 
delphia, and I went out to the shooting ground, 
followed by all the leading men in Little Rock, 
and that was a clear majority of the town, for it is 
remarkable that there are always more leading 
men in small villages than there are followers. 

I was in prime order. My eye was as keen as 
a lizard, and my nerves were as steady and un- 
shaken as the political course of Henry Clay; so at 
it we went, the distance one hundred yards. The 
principal marksmen, and such as had never been^ 
beat, led the way, and there w^as some pretty fair 
shooting, I tell you. At length it came to my turn. 
I squared myself, raised my beautiful Betsey to my 
shoulder, took deliberate aim, and smack I sent the 
bullet right into the centre of the bull's eye. 

52 COLONEL Crockett's 

" There's no mistake in Betsey/^ said I, in a sor 
of careless way, as they were all looking at the 
target, sort of amazed, and not at all over pleased. 
--"That's a chance shot. Colonel,'^ said one who 
had the reputation of being the best marksman in 
those parts. 

"Not as much chance as there was,'^ said I, 
" when Dick Johnson took his darkie for better 
for worse. I can do it five times out of six any 
day in the week." This I said in as confident a 
tone as " the Government" did when he protested 
that he forgave Colonel Benton for shooting him, 
and he was now the best friend he had in the 
world. I knew 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; 
and " the greatest and the best" had set me the 
example, that swaggering will answer a good pur- 
pose at times. 

They now proposed that we should have a second 
trial ; but knowing that I had nothing to gain, and 
every thing to lose, I was for backing out and 
fighting shy; but there was no let-off, for the cock 
of the village, though whipped, determined not to 
stay whipped ; so to it again we went. They were 
now put upon their mettle, and they fired much 
better than the first time ; and it was what might 


be called pretty sharp shooting. When it came to 
my turn, I squared myself, and turning to the 
prime shot, I gave him a knowing nod, by v^^ay of 
showing my confidence ; and says I, " Look-out for 
the bull's eye, stranger." I blazed away, and I 
wish I may be shot if I didn't miss the target. 
They examined it all over, and could fmd neither 
hair nor hide of my bullet, and pronounced it a 
dead miss ; when says I, " Stand aside and let me 
look, and I war'nt 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 came 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 per- 
ceiving 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 



54 COLONEL Crockett's 

We had scarcely taken drinks round before the 
landlord announced that dinner was ready, and I 
was escorted into the dining room by the com- 
mitteoj to the tune of " See the conquering hero 
comes/' played upon a drum, which had been 
beaten until it got a fit of the sullens, and refused to 
send forth any sound ; and it was accompanied by 
the weasing of a fife that was sadly troubled with 
a spell of the asthma. I was escorted into the 
dining room, I say, somewhat after the same fashion 
that "the Government" was escorted into the dif- 
ferent cities when he made his northern tour ; the 
only difference was, that I had no sycophants about 
me, but true hearted hospitable friends, for it was 
pretty well known that I had, for the present, aban- 
doned all intention of running for the Presidency 
against the Little Flying Dutchman. 

The dinner was first-rate. The bear meat, the 
venison, and wild turkey would have tempted a 
man who had given over the business of eating 
altogether ; and every thing was cooked to the 
notch precisely. The enterprising landlord did 
himself immortal honour on this momentous occa- 
sion ; and the committee, thinking that he merited 
public thanks for his patriotic services, handed his 
name to posterity to look at in the lasting columns 
of the Little Rock Gazette ; and when our child- 


ren's children behold it, they will think of the 
pure patriots who sat down in good fellowship to 
feast on the bear meat and venison ; and the enthu- 
siasm the occasion is calculated to awaken will 
induce them to bless the patriot who, in a cause so 
glorious, spared no pains in cooking the dinner, 
and serving it in a becoming manner. — And this 
is fame ! 

The fragments of the meats being cleared off, 
we went through the customary evolution of drink- 
ing thirteen regular toasts, after every one of which 
our drum with the loose skin grumbled like an old 
horse with an empty stomach ; and our asthmatic 
fife squeaked like a stuck pig, a spirit-stirring tune, 
which we put off christening until we should come 
to prepare our proceedings for posterity. The fife 
appeared to have but one tune in it ; possibly it 
mought have had more, but the poor fifer, with all 
his puffiing and blowing, his too-too-tooing, and 
shaking his head and elbow, could not, for the body 
and soul of him, get more than one out of it. If 
the fife had had an extra tune to its name, sartin it 
wouldn't have been quite so hide bound on such 
an occasion, but have let us have it, good, bad^ or 
indifferent. We warn't particular by no means. 

Having gone through with the regular toasts, 
the president of the day drank, " Our distinguished 

56 COLONEL Crockett's 

guest, Col. Crockett/' which called forth a prodi- 
gious clattering all around the table, and I soon 
saw that nothing would do, but I must get up and 
make them a speech. I had no sooner elongated 
my outward Adam, than they at it again, with re- 
newed vigour, which made me sort of feel that I 
was still somebody, though no longer a member 
of Congress. 

In my speech I went over the whole history of 
the present administration ; took a long shot at the 
flying deposites, and gave an outline, a sort of 
charcoal sketch, of the political life of "the Govern- 
ment's" heir presumptive. I also let them know 
how I had been rascalled out of my election, be- 
cause I refused to bow down to the idol ; and as I 
saw a number of young politicians around the table, 
I told them, that I would lay down a few rules for 
their guidance, which, if properly attended to, could 
not fail to lead them on the highway to distinction 
and public honour. I told them, that I was an old 
hand at the business, and as I was about to retire 
for a time, I would give them a little instruction 
gratis, for I was up to all the tricks of the trade, 
though I had practised but few. 

"Attend all public meetings," says I, "and get 
some friend to move that you take the chair ; if 
you fail in this attempt, make a push to be appoint- 


cd secretary ; the proceedings of course will be 
published, and your name is introduced to the 
public. But should you fail in both undertakings, 
get two or three acquaintances, over a bottle of 
whisky, to pass some resolutions, no matter on 
what subject ; publish them even if you pay the 
printer — it will answer the purpose of breaking 
I the ice, which is the main point in these matters. 
I Intrigue until you are elected an officer of the 
^ militia; this is the second step toward promotion, 
and can be accomplished with ease, as I know an 
instance of an election being advertised, and no one 
attending, the innkeeper at whose house it was to 
be held, having a military turn, elected himself 
colonel of his regiment." Says I, "You may not 
accomplish your ends with as little difficulty, but 
do not be discouraged — Rome wasn't built in a 

" If your ambition or circumstances compel you 
to serve your country, and earn three dollars a day, 
by becoming a member of the legislature, you must 
first publicly avow that the constitution of the 
state is a shackle upon free and liberal legislation ; 
and is, therefore, of as little use in the present en- 
lightened age, as an old almanac of the year in 
which the instrument was framed. There is policy 
in this measure, for by making the constitution a 

58 COLONEL Crockett's 

mere dead letter, your headlong proceedings will 
be attributed to a bold and unshackled mind ; 
whereas, it might otherwise be thought they arose 
from sheer mulish ignorance. ' The Government' 
has set the example in his attack upon the consti- 
tution of the United States, and who should fear to 
follow where ' the Government' leads ? 

"When the day of election approaches, visit your 
constituents far and wide. Treat liberally, and 
drink freely, in order to rise in their estimation, 
though you fall in your own. True, you may be 
called a drunken dog by some of the clean shirt and 
silk stocking gentry, but the real rough necks will 
style you a jovial fellow, — their votes are certain, 
and frequently count double. Do all you can to 
appear to advantage in the e3^es of the women. 
That's easily done — you have but to kiss and slab- 
ber their children, wipe their noses, and pat them 
on the head; this cannot fail to please their mothers, 
and you may rely on your business being done in 
that quarter. 

"Promise all that is asked," said I, "and more if 
you can think of any thing. Offer to build a bridge 
or a church, to divide a country, create a batch of 
new offices, make a turnpike, or any thing they 
like. Promises cost nothing, therefore deny nobody 
who has a vote or sufficient influence to obtain one. 


" Get up on all occasions, and sometimes on no 
occasion at all, and make long-winded speeches, 
though composed of nothing else than wind — talk 
of your devotion to your country, your modesty 
and disinterestedness, or on any such fanciful sub- 
ject. Rail against taxes of all kinds, office holders., 
and bad harvest weather ; and wind up with a 
flourish about the heroes who fought and bled for 
our liberties in the times that tried men's souls. 
To be sure you run the risk of being considered a 
bladder of wind, or an empty barrel ; but never 
mind that, you will find enough of the same 
fraternity to keep you in countenance. 

" If any charity be going forward, be at the top 
of it, provided it is to be advertised publicly ; if 
not, it isn't worth your while. None but a fool 
would place his candle under a bushel on such an 

" These few directions," said I, " if properly 
attended to, will do your business ; and when once 
elected, why a fig for the dirty children, the pro- 
mises, the bridges, the churches, the taxes, the 
offices, and the subscriptions, for it is absolutely 
necessary to forget all these before you can become 
a thorough-going politician, and a patriot of the 
first water." 

My speech was received with three times three, 

60 COLONEL Crockett's 

and all that; and we continued speechifying and 
drinking until nightfall, when it was put to vote, 
that we would have the puppet show over again, 
which was carried nem. con. The showman set his 
wires to work, just as "the Government" does the 
machinery in his big puppet show ; and we spent 
a delightful and rational evening. We raised a 
subscription for the poor showman; and I went to 
bed, pleased and gratified with the hospitality and 
kindness of the citizens of Little Rock. There 
are some first-rate men there, of the real half horse 
half alligator breed, with a sprinkling of the steam- 
boat, and such as grow nowhere on the face of the 
universal earth, but just about the back bone of 
North America. 




The (lay after our public dinner I determined to 
leave my hospitable friends at Little Rock, and 
cross Arkansas to Fulton on the Red River, a 
distance of about one hundred and twenty miles. 
They wanted me to stay longer ; and the gentleman 
who had the reputation of being the best marksman 
in those parts was most particularly anxious that 
we should have another trial of skill ; but says I to 
myself, " Crockett, you've had just about glory 
enough for one day, so take my advice, and leave 
well enough alone." I declined shooting, for there 
was nothing at all to be gained by it, and I might 
possibly lose some little of the reputation I had 
acquired. I have always found that it is a very im- 
portant thing for a man who is fairly going ahead, 
to know exactly how far to go, and when to stop. 
Had "the Government" stopped before he meddled 
with the constitution, the deposites, and " taking 
the responsibility," he would have retired from 
office with almost as much credit as he entered 

upon it, which is as much as any public man can 


62 COLONEL Crockett's 

reasonably expect. But the General is a whole 
team, and when fairly started, will be going ahead ; 
and one might as well attempt to twist a streak of 
lightning into a true lover's knot as to stop him. 

Finding that I was bent on going, for I became 
impatient to get into Texas, my kind friends at 
Little Rock procured me a good horse to carry me 
across to Red River. There are no bounds to the 
good feeling of the pioneers of the west ; they con- 
sider nothing a trouble that will confer a favour 
upon a stranger that they chance to take a fancy 
to : true, we are something like chestnut burs on 
the outside, rather prickly if touched roughly, but 
there's good fruit within. 

My horse was brought to the door of the tavern, 
around which many of the villagers were assembled. 
The drum and fife were playing what was intended 
for a lively tune, but .the skin of the drum stilL 
hung as loose as the hide of a fat man far gone in a^ 
consumption ; and the fife had not yet recovered 
from the asthma. The music sounded something 
like a fellow singing, "Away with melancholy,'^ on 
the way to the gallows. I took my leave of the 
landlord, shook hands with the showman, who had 
done more than an average business, kissed his 
wife, who had recovered, and bidding farewell to 
all my kind-hearted friends, I mounted my horse, 


and left the village, accompanied by four or five 
F gentlemen. The drum and fife now appeared to 
exert themselves^ and made more noise than usual, 
p while the crowd sent forth three cheers to encou- 
rage me on my way. 

I tried to raise some recruits for Texas among 
my companions, but they said they had their own 
[ affairs to attend to, which would keep them at 
home for the present, but no doubt they would 
come over and see us as soon as the disturbances 
should be settled. They looked upon Texas as 
being part of the United States, though the Mexi- 
cans did claim it ; and they had no doubt the time 
was not very distant when it would be received 
into the glorious Union. 

My companions did not intend seeing me farther 
on my way than the Washita river, near fifty 
miles. Conversation was pretty brisk, for we 
talked about the ajQfairs of the nation and Texas ; 
subjects that are by no means to be exhausted, if 
one may judge by the long speeches made in Con- 
gress, where they talk year in and year out ; and 
it would seem that as much still remains to be said 
as ever. As we drew nigh to the Washita, the 
silence was broken alone by our own talk and the 
clattering of our horses' hoofs ; and we imagined 
ourselves pretty much the only travellers, when 

64 COLONEL Crockett's 

we were suddenly somewhat startled by the sound 
of music. We checked our horses, and listened, 
and the m^usic continued. " What can all that 
mean }'' says I. " Blast my old shoes if I know, 
Colonel," says one of the party. We listened 
again, and we now heard, " Hail, Columbia, happy 
land !" played in first-rate style. " That's fine," 
says I. "Fine as silk. Colonel, and leetle finer," 
says the other ; " but hark, the tune's changed." 
We took another spell of listening, and now the 
musician struck up, in a brisk and lively manner, 
" Over the water to Charley." " That's mighty 
mysterious," says one ; " Can't cipher it out no- 
how," says another ; " A notch beyant my mea- 
sure," says a third. " Then let us go ahead," says 
I, and ofi" we dashed at a pretty rapid gait, I tell 
you — by no means slow. 

As we approached the river we saw to the right 
of the road a new clearing on a hill, where sev^eral 
men were at work, and they running down the 
hill like wild Indians, or rather like the office 
holders in pursuit of the deposites. There appear- 
ed to be no time to be lost, so they ran, and we 
cut ahead for the crossing. The music continued 
all this time stronger and stronger, and the very 
notes appeared to speak distinctly, " Over the 
water to Charley." 


When we reached the crossing we were struck 
all of a heap, at beholding a man seated in a sulky 
in the middle of the river, and playing for life on 
a fiddle. The horse was up to his middle in the 
water ; ^nd it seemed as if the flimsy vehicle was 
ready to be swept away by the current. Still the 
fiddler fiddled on composedly, as if his life had 
been insured, and he was nothing more than a 
passenger. We thought he was mad, and shouted 
to him. He heard us, and stopped his music. 
^^ You have missed the crossing,^^ shouted one of 
the men from the clearing. "I know I have," 
returned the fiddler. " If you go ten feet farth'er 
you will be drowned." "I know I shall," re- 
turned the fiddler. " Turn back," said the man. 
"I can't," said the other. "Then how the devil 
will you get out .?" « Pm sure I don't know : 
come you and help me." 

The men from the clearing, who understood the 
river, took our horses and rode up to the sulky, 
and after some difficulty, succeeded in bringing the 
traveller safe to shore, when we recognised the 
worthy parson who had fiddled for us at the puppet 
show at Little Rock. They told him that he had 
had a narrow escape, and he replied, that he had 
found that out an hour ago. He said he had been 
fiddling to the fishes for a full hour, and had 


66 COLONEL Crockett's 

exhausted all the tunes that he could play without 
notes. We then asked him what could have in- 
duced him to think of fiddling at a time of such 
peril ; and he replied, that he had remarked in his 
progress through life, that there was nothing in 
univarsal natur so well calculated to draw people 
together as the sound of a fiddle ; and he knew, 
that he might bawl until he was hoarse for assist- 
ance, and no one would stir a peg ; but they would 
no sooner hear the scraping of his catgut, than 
they w^ould quit all other business, and come to the 
spot in flocks. We laughed heartily at the know- 
ledge the parson showed of human natur. — And he 
was right. 

Having fixed up the old gentleman's sulky right 
and tight, and after rubbing down his poor jaded 
animal, the company insisted on having a dance 
before we separated. We all had our flasks of 
whisky ; we took a drink all round, and though 
the parson said he had had about enough fiddling 
for one day, he struck up with great good humourj 
at it we went, and danced straight fours for an 
hour and better. We all enjoyed ourselves very 
much, but came to the conclusion, that dancing 
wasn't altogether the thing without a few petticoats 
to give it variety. 

The dance being over, our new friends pointed 


out the right fording, and assistftd^.tlia.parson across 
the river. We took another drink all round, and 
after shaking each other cordially by the hand, we 
separated, wishing each other all the good fortune 
that the rugged lot that has been assigned us will 
afford. My friends retraced the road to Little 
Rock, and I pursued my journey; and as I thought 
of their disinterested kindness to an entire stranger, 
I felt that the world is not quite as heartless and 
selfish as some grumblers would have us think. 

The Arkansas is a pretty fine territory, being 
about five hundred and Mty miles in length from 
east to west, with a mean width of near two hundred, 
extending over an area of about one hundred thou- 
sand square miles. The face of the country from its 
great extent is very much diversified. It is pretty 
well watered, being intersected by the Arkansas 
river and branches of the Red, Washita, and White 
rivers. The Maserne mountains, which rise in 
Missouri, traverse Arkansas and extend into Texas. 
That part of the territory to the south-east of the 
Masernes is for the most part low, and in many 
places liable to be overflooded annually. To the 
north-west of the mountains the country presents 
generally an open expanse of prairie without wood, 
except near the borders of the streams. The sea- 
sons of the year partake of those extremes of heat 

68 COLONEL Crockett's 

and cold; which might be expected in so great an 
extent, and in a country which affords so much 
difference of level. The summers are as remark- 
able as is the winters for extremes of temperature. 
The soil exhibits every variety, from the most 
productive to the most sterile. The forest trees 
are numerous and large; such as oak, hickory, syca- 
more, cotton-wood, locust, and pine. The culti- 
vated fruit trees are the apple, pear, peach, plum, 
nectarine, cherry, and quhice ; and the various 
kinds of grain, such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, and 
Indian corn, succeed amazing well. Cotton, In- 
dian corn, flour, peltry, salted provisions, and lum- 
ber, are the staples of this territory. Arkansas 
was among the most ancient settlements of the 1 
French in Louisiana. That nation had a hunting 
and trading post on the Arkansas river as early as 
the beginning of the eighteenth century. Arkan- 
sas, I rather reckon, will be admitted as a state into 
the Union during the next session of Congress ; 
and if the citizens of Little Rock are a fair sample 
of her children, she cannot fail to go ahead. 

I kept in company with the parson until we ar- 
rived at Greenville, and I do say, he was just about 
as pleasant an old gentleman to travel with, as any 
man who wasn't too darned particular could ask 
for We talked about politics, religion, and natur, 


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 
eloquence burst forth from his aged lips, such as I 
have seldom listened to : it came from the over- 
flowing fountain of a pure and grateful heart. We 
were alone in the wilderness, but ks 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. That thought 
renewed my strength and courage. I had left my 
country, felt somewhat like an outcast, believed 
that I had been neglected and lost sight of : but I 
was now conscious that there was still one watch- 
ful Eye over me ; no matter whether I dwelt in 
the populous cities, or threaded the pathless forest 
alone; no matter whether I stood in the high 

70 COLONEL Crockett's 

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 sincerely 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. 1 approached and press- 
ed his hand, and thanked him, and says I, "Now let 
us take a drink." I set him the example, and he 
followed 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 pro- 
ceeded on our journey, keeping a sharp look-out 
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 
every thing. He knew all about the history of 
the country; was well acquainted with all the lead- 
ing men ; knew where all the good lands lay in 
most of the western states, as well as the cutest 
clerk in the Land office ; and had traced most of 
the rivers to their sources. 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 mentioned it to him ; he 
smiledj and pointing above, said, "My wealth lies 
not in this world/^ 

I mounted my horse, and pushed forward on my 
road to Fulton. When I reached Washington, a 
village a few miles from the Red river, I rode up 
to the Black Bear tavern, when the following con- 
versation took place between me and the landlord, 
which is a pretty fair sample of the curiosity of 
some folks : — 

" Good morning, mister — I don't exactly re- 
collect your name now,'^ said the landlord as I 

" It's of no consequence," said I. 

" I'm pretty sure I've seen ye somewhere." 

" Very likely you may, I've been there fre- 

" I was sure 'twas so; but strange I should forget 
your name," says he. 

" It is indeed somewhat strange that you should 
forget what you never knew," says I. 

" It is unaccountable strange. It's what I'm not 
often in the habit of, I assure you. I have, for the 
most part, a remarkably detentive memory. In 
the power of people that pass along this way, I've 
scarce ever made, as the doctors say, a slapsus 
slinkiim of this kind afore," 

72 COLONEL Crockett's 

"Eh hell!'' I shouted, while the critter con- 

" Travelling to the western country, I presume, 

mister ?" 

" Presume any thing you please, sir," says I, 
" but don't trouble me with your presumptions." 

"0 Lord, no, sir — I won't do that — I've no ideer 
of that — not the least ideer in the world," says he; 
" I suppose you've been to the westward afore 

now ?" 

" Well, suppose I have ?" 

" Why, on that supposition, I was going to say 
you must be pretty well — that is to say, you must 
know something about the place." 

"Eh heh!" I ejaculated, looking sort of mazed 
full in his face. The tarnel critter still went ahead. 

" I take it you're a married man, mister ?" 

" Take it as you will, that is no affair of mine," 
says I. 

"Well, after all, a married life is the most hap- 
piest way of living ; don't you think so, mister ?" 

" Very possible," says I. 

" I conclude you have a family of children, sir?" 

" I don't know what reason you have to con- 
clude so." 

"0, no reason in the world, mister, not the least," 
says he ; " but I thought I might just take the 


liberty to make the presumption, you know, that's all, 
sir. I take it, mister, you're a man about my age ?" 


" How old do you call yourself, if I may be so 
bold V 

"You're bold enough, the devil knows," says I; 
and as I spoke rather sharp, the varment seemed 
rather staggered, but he soon recovered himself, 
and came up to the chalk again. 

"No offence, I hope — I — I — I — wouldn't be 
thought uncivil by any means ; I always calculate 
to treat everybody with civility.'' 

" You have a very strange way of showing it." 

" True, as you say, I ginnerally take my own 
way in these ere matters.— Do you practise law, 
mister, or farming, or mechanicals ?" 

" Perhaps so," says I. 

" Ah, I judge so ; I was pretty certain it must 
be the case. Well, it's as good business as any 
there is followed now-a-days." 

"Eh heh!" I shouted, and my lower jaw fell in 
amazement at his perseverance. 

" I take it you've money at interest, mister ?" 
continued the varment, without allowing himself 
time to take breath. 

" Would it be of any particular Interest to you 

to find out ?" says I. 


74 COLONEL Crockett's 

" Oj not at all, not the least in the world, sir. 
I'm not at all inquisitive about other people's mat 
ters ; I mind's my own business — that's my way." 

'^ And a very odd way you have of doing it too." 

" I've been thinking what persuasion you're of — 
whether you're a Unitarian or Baptist, or whether 
you belong to the Methodisses." 

" Well, what's the conclusion ?" 

" Why, I have concluded that I'm pretty near 
right in my conjectures. Well, after all, Pm in- 
clined to think they're the nearest right of any 
persuasion — though some folks think diiferently." 

"Eh heh!" I shouted again. 

" As to pollyticks, I take it, you — that is to say, 
I suppose you " 

" Very likely." 

"Ah! I could have sworn it was so from the 
moment I saw you. I have a nack at finding out 
a man's sentiments. I dare say, mister, you're a 
justice in your own country ?" 

"And if I may return the compliment, I should 
say you're a just ass everywhere." By this time 
I began to get weary of his impertinence, and led 
my horse to the trough to water, but the darned 
critter followed me up. 

" Why, yes," said he, " I'm in the commission 
of the peace, to be sure — and an officer in the 


militia — though between you and I, I wouldn't 
wish to boast of it." 

My horse having finished drinking, I put one 
foot in the stirrup, and was preparing to mount — 
'^ Any more inquiries to make ?'' said I. 

"Why, no, nothing to speak on/' said he. 
"When do you return, mister ?" 

" About the time I come back," said I ; and 
leaping into the saddle galloped off. The pesti- 
^ferous varment bawled after me, at the top of his 
voice, — 

" Well, I shall look for ye then. I hope you 
won't fail to call." 

Now, who in all natur do you reckon the crittur 
was, who afforded so fine a sample of the imperti- 
nent curiosity that some people have to pry into 
other people's affairs ? I knew him well enough 
at first sight, though he seemed to have forgotten 
me. It was no other than Job Snelling, the manu- 
facturer of cayenne pepper out of mahogany saw- 
dust, and upon whom I played the trick with the 
coon skin. I pursued my journey to Fulton, and 
laughed heartily to think what a swither I had left 
poor Job in, at not gratifying his curiosity ; for I 
knew he was one of those fellows who would peep 
I down your throat just to ascertain what you had 
eaten for dinner. 

76 COLONEL Crockett's 

When I arrived at Fulton, I inquired for a gen- 
tleman to whom my friends at Little Rock had 
given me a letter of introduction. I was received 
in the most hospitable manner ; and as the steam- 
boat did not start for Natchitoches until the next 
day, I spent the afternoon in seeing all that was to 
be seen. I left my horse with the gentleman, who 
promised to have him safely returned to the owner; 
and I took the steamboat, and started on my way 
down the Red river, right well pleased with my 
reception at Fulton. 



There was a considerable number of passengers 
^on board the boat, and our assortment was some- 
what like the Yankee merchant's cargo of notions, 
)retty particularly miscellaneous, I tell you. I 
noved through the crowd from stem to stern, to 
see if I could discover any face that was not alto- 
gether strange to me ; but after a general survey, 
concluded that I had never seen one of them 
)efore. There were merchants and emigrants and 
gamblers, but none who seemed to have embarked 
in the particular business that for the time being 
)ccupied my mind — I could find none who were 
joing to Texas. All seemed to have their hands 
"full enough of their own affairs, without meddling 
with the cause of freedom. The greater share of 
glory will be mine, thought I, so go ahead, Crockett. 
I saw a small cluster of passengers at one end of 
the boat, and hearing an occasional burst of laughter, 
thinks I, there's some sport started in that quarter, 
and having nothing better to do, I'll go in for my 
share of it. Accordingly I drew nigh to the 


cluster, and seated on a chest was a tall lank sea 
sarpent looking blackleg, who had crawled over 
from Natchez under the hill, and was amusing the 
passengers with his skill at thimblerig ; at the 
same time he was picking up their shillings just 
about as expeditiously as a hungry gobbler would 
a pint of corn. He was doing what might be called 
an average business in a small way, and lost no 
time in gathering up the fragments. 

I watched the whole process for some time, and 
found that he had adopted the example set by the old 
tempter himself, to get the weathergage of us poor 
weak mortals. He made it a point to let his vic- 
tims win always the first stake, that they might be 
tempted to go ahead ; and then, when they least 
suspected it, he would come down upon them like 
a hurricane in a cornfield, sweeping all before it. 

I stood looking on, seeing him pick up the 
chicken feed from the green horns, and thought if 
men are such darned fools as to be cheated out of 
their hard earnings by a fellow who had just brains 
enough to pass a pea from one thimble to another, 
with such slight of hand, that you could not tell 
under v/hich he had deposited it; it is not astonishing 
that the magician of Kinderhook should play thim- 
blerig upon the big figure, and attempt to cheat the 
whole nation. I thought that " the Government" 


was playing the same game with the deposites, and 
with such address too, that before long it will be 
a hard matter to find them under any of Ihe thim- 
bles where it is supposed they have been originally 

The thimble conjurer saw me looking on, and 
eyeing me as if he thought I would be a good sub- 
ject, said carelessly, " Come, stranger, won't you 
take a chance V^ the whole time passing the pea 
from one thimble to the other, by way of throwing 
out a bait for the gudgeons to bite at. " I never 
gamble, stranger,'' says I, " principled against it ; 
think it a slippery way of getting through the 
world at best." "• Them are my sentiments to a 
notch," says he ; " but this is not gambling by no 
means. A little innocent pastime, nothing more. 
Better take a hack by way of trying your luck at 
guessing." All this time he continued working 
with his thimbles ; first putting the pea under one, 
which was plain to be seen, and then uncovering 
it, would show that the pea was there ; he would 
then put it under the second thimble, and do the 
same, and then under the third ; all of which he 
did to show how easy it would be to guess where 
the pea was deposited, if one would only keep a 
sharp look-out. 

"Come, stranger," says he to me again, "you 

80 COLONEL Crockett's 

had better take a chance. Stake a trifle, I don't 
care how small, just for the fun of the thing.'* 

" I am principled against betting money/' says I, 
"but I don't mind going in for drinks for the 
present company, for I'm as dry as one of little 
Isaac Hill's regular set speeches." 

"I admire your principles," says he, "and to show 
that I play with these here thimbles just for the sake 
of pastime, I will take that bet, though I'm a whole 
hog temperance man. Just say when, stranger." 

He continued all the time slipping the pea from 
one thimble to another ; my eye was as keen as a 
lizard's, and when he stopped, I cried out, "Now; 
the pea is under the middle thimble." He was 
going to raise it to show that it wasn't there, when 
I interfered, and said, " Stop, if you please," and 
raised it myself, and sure enough the pea was 
there ; but it mought have been otherwise if he had 
had the uncovering of it. 

" Sure enough you've won the bet," says he. 
" You've a sharp eye, but I don't care if I give 
you another chance. Let us go fifty cents this 
bout ; I'm sure you'll win.'^ 

" Then you're a darned fool to bet, stranger," 
says I ; " and since that is the case, it would be 
little better than picking your pocket to bet with 
you ; so I'll let it alone." 



*' I don't mind running the risk/' said he. 

" But I do," says I ; " and since I alwa3^s let well 
enough alone, and I have had just about glory- 
enough for one day, let us all go to the bar and 

This called forth a loud laugh at the thimble 
conjurer's expense ; and he tried hard to induce me 
to take just one chance more, but he mought just 
as well have sung psalms to a dead horse, for my 
mind was made up ; and I told him, that I looked 
upon gambling as about the dirtiest way that a 
man could adopt to get through this dirty world ; 
and that I would never bet any thing beyond a 
quart of whisky upon a rifle shot, which I con- 
sidered a legal bet, and gentlemanly and rational 
amusement. "But all this cackling," says I, 
" makes me very thirsty, so let us adjourn to the 
bar and liquor." 

He gathered up his thimbles, and the whole 
company followed us to the bar, laughing heartily 
at the conjurer ; for, as he had won some of their 
money, they were sort of delighted to see him 
beaten with his own cudgel. He tried to laugh 
too, but his laugh wasn't at all pleasant, and rather 
forced. The barkeeper placed a big-bellied bottle 
before us -, and after mixing our liquor, I was called 
on for a toast, by one of the company, a chap just 


about as rough hewn as if he had been cut out of a 
gum log with a broad axe, and sent into the market 
without even being smoothed off with a jack plane, 
— one of them chaps who, in their journey through 
life, are always ready for a fight or a frolic, and 
don't care the toss of a copper which. 

" Well, gentlemen,'' says I, " being called upon 
for a toast, and being in a slave-holding state, in 
order to avoid^giving offence, and running the risk 
of being Lynched, it may be necessary to premise 
that I am neither an abolitionist nor a coloniza- 
tionist, but simply Colonel Crockett, of Tennessee, 
now bound for Texas." When they heard my 
name they gave three cheers for Colonel Crockett ; 
and silence being restored, I continued, "Now, 
gentlemen, I will offer you a toast, hoping, after 
what I have stated, that it will give offence to no 
one present; but should I be mistaken, I must 
imitate the * old Roman,' and take the responsi- 
bility. I offer, gentlemen. The abolition of slavery: 
Let the work first begin in the two houses of Con- 
gress. There are no slaves in the country more 
servile than the party slaves in Congress. The 
wink or the nod of their masters is all sufiicient for 
the accomplishment of the most dirty work." 

They drank the toast in a style that satisfied me, 
that the Little Magician might as well go to a pig- 


sty for wool, as to beat round in that part for 
voters ; they were all either for Judge White or 
Old Tippecanoe. The thimble * conjurer having 
asked the barkeeper how much was to pay, was 
told there were sixteen smallers, which amounted 
to one dollar. He was about to lay down the blunt, 
but not in Benton's metallic currency, which I find 
has already become as shy as honesty with an office 
holder, but he planked down one of Biddle's notes, 
when I interfered, and told him that the barkeeper 
had made a mistake. 

"How so ?" demanded the barkeeper. 

" How much do you charge," says I, " when 
you retail your liquor ?'^ 

" A fip a glass." 

" Well, then," says I, " as Thimblerig here, who 
belongs to the temperance society, took it in 
wholesale, I reckon you can afford to let him have 
it at half price ?" 

Now, as they had all noticed that the conjurer 
went what is called the heavy wet, they laughed 
outright, and we heard no more about temperance 
from that quarter. When we returned to the deck 
the blackleg set to work with his thimbles again, 
and bantered me to bet ; but I told him that it was 
against my principle, and as I had already reaped 
glory enough for one day, T would just let well 


enough alone for the }3resent. If the " old Roman^' 
had done the same in relation to the deposites and 
" the monster/' we should have escaped more dif- 
ficulties than all the cunning of the Little Flying 
Dutchman^ and Dick Johnson to boot, will be able 
to repair. I shouldn't be astonished if the new 
Vice President's head should get wool gathering, 
before they have half unravelled the knotted and 
twisted thread of perplexities that the old General 
has spun, — in which case his charming spouse will 
no doubt be delighted, for then they will be all in 
the family way. What a handsome display they 
will make in the White House. No doubt the 
first act of CongTess will be to repeal the duties 
on Cologne and Lavender waters, for they will 
be in great demand about the Palace, particularly 
in the dog days. 

One of the passengers, hearing that I was on 
board of the boat, came up to me, and began to talk 
about the affairs of the nation, and said a good deal 
in favour of '^ the Magician," and wished to hear 
what I had to say against him. He talked loud, 
which is the way with all politicians educated in 
the Jackson school ; and by his slang-whanging, 
drew a considerable crowd around us. Now, this 
was the very thing I wanted, as I knew I should 
not soon have another opportunity of making a 


political speech ; he no sooner asked to hear what 
I had to say against his candidate, than I let him 
have it, strong and hot as he could take, I tell 

" What have I to say against Martin Van Buren ? 
He is an artful, cunning, intriguing, selfish, specu- 
lating lawyer, who, by holding lucrative offices for 
more than half his life, has contrived to amass a 
princely fortune, and is now seeking the presidency, 
principally for sordid gain, and to gratify the most 
selfish ambition. His fame is unknown to the his- 
tory of our country, except as a most adroit political 
manager and successful office hunter. He never 
took up arms in defence of his country, in her days 
of darkness and peril. He never contributed a 
'dollar of his surplus wealth to assist her in her 
hours of greatest v/ant and weakness. Office and 
MONEY have been the gods of his idolatry ; and at 
their shrines has the ardent worship of his heart 
been devoted, from the. earliest days of his manhood 
to the present moment. He can lay no claim to 
pre-eminent services as a statesman; nor has he 
ever given any evidences of superior talent, except 
as a political electioneerer and intriguer. As a 
politician he is ' all things to all men.' He is for 
internal improvement, and against it ; for the tariff, 

and against it ; for the bank monopoly, and against 



it J for abolition of slavery, and against it ; and for 
any thing else, and against any thing else ; just as 
he can best promote his popularity and subserve 
his own private interest. He is so totally destitute 
of moral courage, that he never dares to give an 
opinion upon any important question until he first 
finds out whether it will be popular, or not. He is 
celebrated as the ^ Little Non Committal Magician,' 
because he enlists on no side of any question until 
he discovers which is the strongest party ; and then 
always moves in so cautious, sly, and secret a man- 
ner, that he can change sides at any time, as easily 
as a juggler or a magician can play off* his arts of 

" Who is Martin Van Buren } He is the can- 
didate of the office holders and office expectants, 
who nominated him for the presidency, at a con- 
vention assembled in the city of Baltimore, in May 
last. The first account we have of his political life 
is while he was a member of the Senate of New 
York, at the time when Mr. Clinton was nominated 
as the federal candidate for the presidency, in op- 
position to Mr. Madison. The support he then 
gave Mr. Clinton affi)rded abundant evidence of 
that spirit of opposition to the institutions of his 
countr}?-, which was prominently developed in the 
conduct of those with whom he was united. Shortly 


after the success of Mr. Madison, and during the 
prosecution of the war, Rufus King, of New York, 
(for whom Mr. Van Buren voted,) was elected to 
the Senate of the United States, avowedly opposed 
to the administration. Upon his entrance into that 
body, instead of devoting his energies to maintain 
the war, he commenced a tirade of abuse against 
the administration for having attempted relief to 

I the oppressed seamen of our gallant navy, who had 
been compelled by British violence to arm them- 

I selves against their country, their firesides, and 
their friends. Thus Martin Van Buren counte- 
nanced, by his vote in the Senate of New York, an 
opposition to that war, which, a second time, con- 
vinced Great Britain that Americans could not be 
awed into bondage and subjection. 

" Subsequent to this time Mr. Van Buren became 
himself a member of the United States Senate, and, 

^ while there, opposed every proposition to improve 
the west or to add to her numerical strength. 

" He voted against the continuance of the na- 
tional road through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and 
against appropriations for its preservation. 

" He voted against the graduation of the price 
of the public lands. 

" He voted against ceding the refuse lands to 
the states in which they lie. 

88 COLONEL Crockett's 

" He voted against making donations of the 
lands to actual settlers. 

"He again voted against ceding the refuse lands, 
not worth twenty-five cents per acre, to the new 
states for purposes of education and internal im- 

" He voted against the bill providing ^ settle- 
ment and pre-emption rights' to those who had 
assisted in opening and improving the western 
country, and thus deprived many an honest poor 
man of a home. 

" He voted against donations of land to Ohio, 
to prosecute the Miami Canal ; and, although a 
member of the Senate, he was not present when 
the vote was taken upon the engrossment of the 
bill giving land to Indiana for her Wabash and 
Erie Canal, and was known to have opposed it in 
all its stages. 

" He voted in favour of erecting toll gates on 
the national road ; thus demanding a tribute from 
the west for the right to pass upon her own high- 
ways, constructed out of her own money — a thing 
never heard of before. 

" After his term of service had expired in the 
Senate, he was elected Governor of New York, by 
a plurality of votes. He was afterward sent to 
England as minister plenipotentiary, and upon his 


return was elected Vice President of the United 
States, which office he now holds, and from which 
the office holders are seeking to transfer him to the 

My speech was received with great applause, 
and the politician, finding that I was better ac- 
quainted with his candidate than he was himself, 
for I wrote his life^ shut his fly trap, and turned 
on his heel without saying a word. He found that 
he had barked up the wrong tree. I afterward 
learnt that he was a mail contractor in those parts, 
and that he also had large dealings in the Land 
office, and tlierefore thought it necessary to chime 
in with his penny whistle, in the universal chorus. 
There's a large band of the same description, but 
I'm thinking Uncle Sam will some day find out 
that he has paid too much for the piper. 


90 COLONEL Crockett's 


After my speech, and setting my face against 
gambling, poor Thimblerig was obliged to break 
off conjuring for want of customers, and call it half 
a day. He came and entered into conversation 
with me, and I found him a good-natured intelli- 
gent fellow, with a keen eye for the main chance. 
He belonged to that numerous class, that it is per- 
fectly safe to trust as far as a tailor can sling a bull 
by the tail — but no farther. He told me that he 
had been brought up a gentleman ; that is to say, 
he was not instructed in any useful pursuit by 
which he could obtain a livelihood, so that when 
he found he had to depend upon himself for the 
necessaries of life, he began to suspect, that dame 
nature would have conferred a particular favour 
if she had consigned him to the care of any one 
else. She had made a very injudicious choice 
when she selected him to sustain the dignity of a 

The first bright idea that occurred to him as a 
speedy means of bettering his fortune, would be to 


marry an heiress. Accordingly he looked about 
himself pretty sharp, and after glancing from one 
fair object to another, finally his hawk's eye rested 
upon the young and pretty daughter of a wealthy 
planter. Thimblerig run his brazen face with his 
tailor for a new suit, for he abounded more in that 
metallic currency than he did in either Benton's 
mint drops or in Biddle's notes ; and having the 
gentility of his outward Adam thus endorsed by 
his tailor — an important endorsement, by-the-way, 
as times go — he managed to obtain an introduction 
to the planter's daughter. 

Our worthy had the principle of going ahead 
strongly developed. He was possessed of consider- 
able address, and had brass enough in his face to 
make a wash-kettle; and having once got access to 
the planter's house, it was no easy matter to dis- 
lodge him. In this he resembled those politicians 
who commence life as office holders; they will 
ihang on tooth and nail, and even when death 
I shakes them off, you'll find a commission of some 
kind crumpled up in their clenched fingers. Little 
[-Van appears to belong to this class — there's no 
beating his snout from the public crib. He'll feed 
there while there's a grain of corn left, and even 
^then, from long habit, he'll set to work and gnaw 
at the manger. 


Thimblerig got the blind side of the planter, 
and every thing to outward appearances went on 
swimmingly. Our worthy boasted to his cronies 
that the business was settled, and that in a few weeks 
he should occupy the elevated station in society 
that nature had designed him to adorn. He swelled 
like the frog in the fable, or rather like Johnson's 
wife, of Kentucky, when the idea occurred to her 
of figuring away at Washington. But there's many 
a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, says the proverb, 
and suddenly Thimblerig discontinued his visits at 
the planter's house. His friends inquired of him the 
meaning of this abrupt termination of his devotions. 

" I have been treated with disrespect," replied 
the worthy, indignantly. 

" Disrespect ! in what way ?" 

" My visits, it seems, are not altogether agree- 

"But how have you ascertained that ?" 

" I received a hint to that efiect ; and I can take 
a hint as soon as another." 

" A hint! — and have you allowed a hint to drive 
you from the pursuit? For shame. Go back again." 

"No, no, never! a hint is sufficient for a man 
of my gentlemanly feelings. I asked the old man 
for his daughter." *• 

" Well, what followed ? what did he say ?" 


" Didn't say a word.'' 

" Silence gives consent all the world over." 

" So I thought. I then told nim to fix the day." 

" Well, what then ?" 

" Why, then he kicked me down stairs, and 
ordered his slaves to pump upon me. That's hint 
enough for me, that my visits are not properly 
appreciated j and blast my old shoes if I condescend 
to renew the acquaintance, or notice them in any 
way until they send for me." 

As Thimblerig's new coat became rather too 
seedy to play the part of a gentleman much longer 
in real life, he determined to sustain that character 
upon the stage, and accordingly joined a company 
of players. He began, according to custom, at the 
top of the ladder, and was regularly hissed and 
pelted through every gradation until he found 
himself at the lowest rowel. " This," said he, " was 
a dreadful check to proud ambition;" but he con- 
soled himself with the idea of peace and quiet in 
his present obscure walk ; and though he had no 
prospect of being elated by the applause of admiring 
multitudes, he no longer trod the scene of mimic 
glory in constant dread of becoming a target for 
rotten eggs and oranges. — "And there was much 
in that," said Thimblerig. But this calm could 
not continue for ever. 

94 COLONEL Crockett's 

The manager, who, like all managers who pay sala- 
ries regularly, was as absolute behind the scenes as 
the "old Roman" is%i the White House, had fixed 
upon getting up an eastern spectacle, called the 
Cataract of the Ganges. He intended to introduce 
a fine procession, in which an elephant was to be 
the principal feature. Here a difficulty occurred. 
What was to be done for an elephant ? Alligators 
were plenty in those parts, but an elephant was 
not to be had for love or money. But an alligator 
would not answer the purpose, so he determined 
to make a pasteboard elephant as large as life, and 
twice as natural. The next difficulty was to find 
members of the company of suitable dimensions to 
perform the several members of the pasteboard 
star. The manager cast his eye upon the long 
gaunt figure of the unfortunate Thimblerig, and 
cast him for the hinder legs, the rump, and part of 
the back of the elephant. The poor player ex- 
postulated, and the manager replied, that he would 
appear as a star on the occasion, and would no 
doubt receive more applause than he had during 
his whole career. " But I shall not be seen," said 
the player. " All the better," replied the manager, 
^'^ as in that case you will have nothing to apprehend 
from eggs and oranges." 

Thimblerig, finding that mild expostulation avail- 


ed nothing, swore that he would not study the part, 
and accordingly threw it up in dignified disgust. 
He said that it was an outrage upon the feelings of 
the proud representative of Shakspeare's heroes, to 
be compelled to play pantomime in the hinder parts 
of the noblest animal that ever trod the stage. If it 
had been the fore quarters of the elephant, it might 
possibly have been made a speaking part ; at any 
rate he might have snorted through the trunk, if 
nothing more ; but from the position he was to 
occupy, damned the word could he utter, or even 
roar with propriety. He therefore positively re- 
fused to act, as he considered it an insult to his 
reputation to tread the stage in such a character ; 
and he looked upon the whole affair as a profana- 
tion of the legitimate drama. The result was, our 
worthy was discharged from the company, and 
compelled to commence hoeing another row. 

He drifted to New Orleans, and hired himself 
as marker to a gambling table. Here he remained 
but a few months, for his ideas of arithmetic differ- 
ed widely from those of his employer, and accord- 
ingly they had some difficulty in balancing the 
caBh account ; for when his employer, in adding up 
the receipts, made it nought and carry two, Thim- 
blerig insisted that it should be nought and carry 
one ; and in order to prove that he was correct, 

96 COLONEL Crockett's 

he carried himself off, and left nothing behind 

He now commenced professional blackleg on his 
own hook, and took up his quarters in Natchez 
under the hill. Here he remained, doing business 
in a small way, until Judge Lynch commenced his 
practice in that quarter, and made the place toojiot 
for his comfort. He shifted his habitation, but not 
having sufficient capital to go the big figure, he 
practised the game of thimblerig until he acquired 
considerable skill, and then commenced passing up 
and down the river in the steamboats; and managed, 
by close attention to business, to pick up a decent 
livelihood in the small way, from such as had more 
pence in their pockets than sense in their noddles. 

I found Thimblerig to be a pleasant talkative ^ 
fellow. He communicated the foregoing facts with 
as much indifference as if there had been nothing 
disgraceful in his career ; and at times he would 
chuckle with an air of triumph at the adroitness he 
had displayed in some of the knavish tricks he had 
practised. He looked upon this world as one vast 
stage, crowded with empirics and jugglers ; and 
that he who could practise his deceptions with the 
greatest skill was entitled to the greatest applause. 

I asked him to give me an account of Natchez 
and his adventures there, and I would put it in the 



book I intended to write, when he gave me the 
following, which betrays that his feelings were 
still somewhat irritated at being obliged to give 
them leg bail when Judge Lynch made his appear- 
ance. I give it in his own words. 

" Natchez is a land of fevers, alligators, niggers, 
and cotton bales : where the sun shines with force 
sufficient to melt the diamond, and the word ice 
is expunged from the dictionary, for its definition 
cannot be comprehended by the natives : where 
to refuse grog before breakfast would degrade you 
below the brute creation ; and where a good dinner 
is looked upon as an angel's visit, and voted a 
miracle : where the evergreen and majestic mag- 
nolia tree, with its superb flower, unknown to the 
northern climes, and its fragrance unsurpassed, calls 
forth the admiration of every beholder ; and the 
dark moss hangs in festoons from the forest trees 
like the drapery of a funeral pall : where bears, 
the size of young jackasses, are fondled in l^eu of 
pet dogs; and knives, the length of a barber's pole, 
usurp the place of toothpicks : where the filth 
of the town is carried off by buzzards, and the in- 
habitants are carried off by fevers : where nigger 
women are knocked down by the auctioneer, and 
knocked up by the purchaser : where the poorest 

slave has plenty of yellow boys, but not of Benton's 


98 COLONEL Crockett's 

mintage ; and indeed the shades of colour are so 
varied and mixed, that a nigger is frequently seen 
black and blue at the same time. And such is 

" The town is divided into two parts, as distinct 
in character as they are in appearance. Natchez 
on the hill, situated upon a high bluff overlooking 
the Mississippi, is a pretty little town with streets 
regularly laid out, and ornamented with divers 
handsome public buildings. Natchez under the 
hill, — where, 0! where, shall I find words suitable 
to describe the peculiarities of that unholy spot ? 
'Tis, in fact, the jumping off place. Satan looks on 
it with glee, and chuckles as he beholds the orgies 
of his votaries. The buildings are for the most 
jDart brothels, taverns, or gambling houses, and fre- 
quently the whole three may be found under the 
same roof. Obscene songs are sung at the top of 
the voice in all quarters. I have repeatedly seen 
the strumpets tear a man's clothes from his back, 
and leave his body beautified with all the colours 
of the rainbow. 

"One of the most popular tricks is called the 
* Spanish burial.' When a greenhorn makes his 
appearance among them, one who is in the plot 
announces the death of a resident, and that all 
strangers must subscribe to the custom of the place 


I upon such an occasion. They forthwith arrange a 
procession; each person, as he passes the departed, 
kneels down and pretends to kiss the treacherous 
corpse. When the unsophisticated attempts this 
ceremony the dead man clinches him, and the 
„ mourners beat the fellow so entrapped until he 
consents to treat all hands ; but should he be pen- 
niless, his life will be endangered by the severity 
of the castigation. And such is Natchez under 
the hill. 

" An odd affair occurred while I was last there," 
continued Thimblerig. " A steamboat stopped at 

f the landing, and one of the hands went ashore under 
the hill to purchase provisions, and the adroit citi- 

I zens of that delectable retreat contrived to rob him 
^of all his money. The captain of the boat, a deter- 
mined fellow, went ashore in the hope of persuad - 

^ ing them to refund, — but that cock wouldn't fight. 
iWithout farther ceremony, assisted by his crevi/ 
rand passengers, some three or four hundred iia 
j number, he made fast an immense cable to the frame 
[tenement where the theft had been perpetrated, and 
fallowed fifteen minutes for the money to be forthi- 
[coming ; vowing, if it was not produced withi?ii 
that time, to put steam to his boat, and drag thja 
ihouse into the river. The money was instantl;jr 



100 COLONEL Crockett's 

"I witnessed a sight during my stay there/' 
continued the thimble conjurer, " that almost froze 
my blood with horror, and will serve as a speci- 
men of the customs of the far south. A planter, of 
the name of Foster, connected with the best fami- 
lies of the state, unprovoked, in cold blood, mur- 
dered his young and beautiful wife, a few months 
after marriage. He beat her deliberately to death 
in a walk adjoining his dwelling, carried the body 
to the hut of one of his slaves, washed the dirt from 
her person, and, assisted by his negroes, buried her 
upon his plantation. Suspicion was awakened, the 
body disinterred, and the villain's guilt established. 
He fled, was overtaken, and secured in prison. His 
trial was, by some device of the law, delayed until 
the third term of the court. At length it came on, 
^nd so clear and indisputable was the evidence, that 
I'lot a doubt was entertained of the result ; when, 
hy an oversight on the part of the sheriff, who 
iieglected swearing into office his deputy who sum- 
inoned the jurors, the trial was abruptly discon- 
tinued, and all proceedings against Foster were 
^)Uspended, or rather ended. 

i "There exists, throughout the extreme south, 
bodies of men who style themselves Lynchers. 
"*vVhen an individual escapes punishment by some 
technicality of the law, or perpetrates an offence 


not recognised in courts of justice, they seize him, 
and inflict such chastisement as they conceive ade- 
quate to the offence. They usually act at night, 
and disguise their persons. This society at Nat- 
chez embraces all the lawyers, physicians, and 
principal merchants of the place. Foster, whom 
all good men loathed as a monster unfit to live, 
was called into court, and formally dismissed. 
But the Lynchers were at hand. The moment 
he stept from the court-house he was knocked 
down, his arms bound behind him, his eyes ban- 
daged, and in this condition was marched to the 
rear of the town, where a deep ravine afforded a 
lit place for his punishment. His clothes were 
torn from his back, his head partially scalped, they 
next bound him to a tree ; each Lyncher was sup- 
plied with a cowskin, and they took turns at the 
flogging until the flesh hung in ribands from his 
body. A quantity of heated tar was then poured 
over his head, and made to cover every part of his 
person ; they finally showered a sack of feathers 
on him, and in this horrid guise, with no other 
apparel than a miserable pair of breeches, with a 
drummer at his heels, he was paraded through the 
principal streets at midday. No disguise was 
assumed by the Lynchers ; the very lawyers em- 
ployed upon his trial took part in his punishment. 


103 COLONEL Crockett's 

" Owing to long confinement his gait had be- 
come cramped, and his movements were very fal- 
tering. By the time the procession reached the 
most public part of the town, Foster fell down 
from exhaustion, and was allowed to lie there for 
a time, without exciting the sympathies of any 
one, — an object of universal detestation. The 
blood oozing from his stripes had become mixed 
with the feathers and tar, and rendered his aspect 
still more horrible and loathsome. Finding him 
unable to proceed further, a common dray was 
brought, and with his back to the horse's tail, the 
drummer standing over him playing the rogue's 
march, he was reconducted to prison, the only 
place at which he would be received. 

" A guard was placed outside of the jail to give 
notice to the body of Lynchers when Foster might 
attempt to escape, for they had determined on 
branding him on the forehead and cutting his ears 
off. At two o'clock in the morning of the second 
subsequent day, two horsemen with a led horse 
stopped at the prison, and Foster was with diffi- 
culty placed astride. The Lynchers wished to 
secure him ; he put spurs to his beast, and passed 
them. As he rode by they fired at him ; a ball 
struck his hat, which was thrown to the ground, 
and he escaped ; but if ever found within the limits 


of the state, will be shot down as if a price was set 
on his head. 

" Sights of this kind," continued Thimblerig, 
" are by no means unfrequent. I once saw a 
gambler, a sort of friend of mine, by-the-way, 
detected cheating at faro, at a time when the bets 
were running pretty high. They flogged him al- 
most to death, added the tar and feathers, and placed 
him aboard a dug-out, a sort of canoe, at twelve at 
night ; and with no other instruments of navigation 
than a bottle of whisky and a paddle, set him adrift 
in the Mississippi. He has never been heard of 
since, and the presumption is, that he either died 
of his wounds or was run down in the night by a 
steamer. And this is what we call Lynching in 

Thimblerig had also been at Vicksburg in his 
time, and entertained as little liking for that place 
as he did for Natchez. He had luckily made his 
escape a short time before the recent clearing-out 
of the slight-of-hand gentry; and he reckoned some 
time would elapse before he would pay them an- 
other visit. He said they must become more 
civilized first. All the time he was talking to me 
he was seated on a chest, and playing mechanically 
with his pea and thimbles, as if he was afraid that 
he would lose the slight unless he kept his hand 


in constant practice. Nothing of any consequence 
occurred in our passage down the river, and I 
arrived at Natchitoches in perfect health, and in 
good spirits. 




Natchitoches is a post town and seat of justice 
for the parish of Natchitoches, Louisiana, and is 
situated on the right bank of the Red river. The 
houses are chiefly contained in one street, running 
parallel to the river ; and the population I should 
I reckon at about eight hundred. The soil in this 
I parish is generally sterile, and covered with pine 
timber, except near the margin of Red river, where 
I the greatest part of the inhabitants are settled on 
the alluvial banks. Some other, though compara- 
tively small, tracts of productive soil skirt the 
streams. An extensive body of low ground, sub- 
ject to annual submersion, extends along the Red 
river, which, it is said, will produce forty bushels 
of frogs to the acre, and alligators enough to fence it. 
I stayed two days at Natchitoches, during which 
time I procured a horse to carry me across Texas 
[ to the seat of war. Thimblerig remained with me, 
and I found his conversation very amusing ; for he 
is possessed of humour and observation, and has 
seen something of the world. Between whiles he 

106 COLONEL Crockett's 

would amuse himself with his thimbles, to which 
he appeared greatly attached, and occasionally he 
would pick up a few shillings from the tavern 
loungers. He no longer asked me to play with 
him, for he felt somewhat ashamed to do so, and 
he knew it would be no go. 

I took him to task in a friendly manner, and 
tried to shame him out of his evil practices. I told 
him that it was a burlesque on human natur, that 
an able bodied man, possessed of his full share of 
good sense, should voluntarily debase himself, and 
be indebted for subsistence to such 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 
preferred to an obscure life-of rectitude. Most 
men are remembered as they died, and not as they 
lived. We gaze with admiration upon the glories 
of the setting sun, yet scarcely bestow a passing 
glance upon its noonday splendour." 

" You are right ; but how is this to be done V 

" Accompany me to Texas. Cut aloof from 
your degrading habits and associates here, and in 
fighting for their freedom, regain your own.'^ 

He started from the table, and hastily gathering 
up the thimbles with which he had been playing 
all the time I was talking to him, he thrust them 
into his pocket, and after striding two or three 
times across the room, suddenly stopped, his leaden 
eye kindled, and grasping me by the hand violently, 

he exclaimed with an oath, "By I'll be a man 

again. Live honestly, or die bravely. I go with 
you to Texas." 

I said what I could to confirm him in his resolu- 
tion, and finding that the idea had taken fast hold 
of his mind, I asked him to liquor, which he did 

10^ COLONEL Crockett's 

not decline, notwithstanding the temperance habits 
that he boasted of j we then took a walk on the 
banks of the river. 

The evening preceding my departure from Nat- 
chitoches, a gentleman, with a good horse and a 
light wagon, drove up to the tavern where I lodged. 
He was accompanied by a lady who carried an 
infant in her arms. As they alighted I recognised 
the gentleman to be the politician at whom I had 
discharged my last political speech, on board the 
boat coming down the Red river. We had let him 
out in our passage down, as he said he had some 
business to transact some distance above Natchi- 
toches. He entered the tavern, and seemed to be 
rather shy of me, so I let him go, as I had no idea 
of firing two shots at such small game. 

The gentleman had a private room, and called 
for supper ; but the lady, who used every precau- 
tion to keep the child concealed from the view of 
any one, refused to eat supper, saying she was un- 
well. However, the gentleman made a hearty 
meal, and excused the woman, saying " My wife 
is subject to a pain in the stomach, which has de- 
prived her of her food.'' Soon after supper the 
gentleman desired a bed to be prepared, which 
being done, they immediately retired to rest. 

About an hour before daybreak, next morning, 


the repose of the whole inn was disturbed by tlie 
screams of the child. This continued for some 
time, and at length the landlady got up to see what 
it was ailed the noisy bantling. She entered the 
chamber without a light, and discovered the gentle- 
man seated in the bed alone, rocking the infant in 
his arms, and endeavouring to quiet it by saying, 
"Hush, my dear — mamma will soon return again." 
However the child still squalled on, and the long 
absence of the mother rendered it necessary that 
something should be done to quiet it. 

The landlady proposed taking up the child, to 
see what was the reason of its incessant cries. She 
approached the bed, and requested the man to give 
her the infant, and tell her whether it was a son or 
a daughter ; but this question redoubled his con- 
sternation, for he was entirely ignorant which sex 
the child belonged to ; however, with some diffi- 
culty, he made the discovery, and informed the 
landlady it was a son. 

She immediately called for a light, which was 
no sooner brought than the landlady began to un- 
fold the wrapper from the child, and exclaim, " 0, 
what a fine big son you have got!" But on a more 
minute examination they found, to their great 
astonishment, and to the mortification and vexation 
of the supposed father, that the child was a mulatto, 


110 COLONEL Crockett's 

The wretched man, having no excuse to offer, 
immediately divulged the whole matter without 
reserve. He stated, that he had fell in with her on 
the road to Natchitoches the day before, and had 
offered her a seat in his v-ehicle. Soon perceiving 
that she possessed an uncommon degree of assu- 
rance, induced him to propose that they should 
pass as man and wife, to which she readily assented. 
No doubt she had left her own home in order to 
rid herself of the stigma which she had brought on 
herself by her lewd conduct j and at midnight she 
had eloped from the bed, leaving the infant to the 
paternal care of her pretended husband. 

Immediate search was made for the mother of 
the child, but in vain. And, as the song says, 
"Single misfortunes ne'er come alone," to his great 
consternation and grief, she had taken his horse, 
and left the poor politician destitute of every thing 
except a fine yellow hoy, but of a widely different 
description from those which Benton put in cir- 

By this time all the lodgers in the tavern had 
got up and dressed themselves, from curiosity to 
know the occasion of the disturbance. I descended 
to the street in front of the inn. The stars were 
faintly glimmering in the heavens, and the first 
beams of the morning sun were struggling through 


the dim clouds that skirted the eastern horizon. I 
thought myself alone in the street, when the hush 
of morning was suddenly broken by a clear, joyful, 
and musical voice, which sang, as near as I could 
catch it, the following scrap of a song : • 

" O, what is the time of the merry round year 
That is fittest and sweetest for love 1 
Ere sucks the bee, ere buds the tree; 
And primroses by two, by three. 
Faintly shine in the path of the lonely deer, 
Like the few stars of twilight above." 

I turned towards the spot whence the sounds 
proceeded, and discovered a tall figure leaning 
against the sign post. His eyes were fixed on the 
streaks of light in the east ; his mind was absorbed, 
and he was clearly unconscious of any one being 
near him. He continued his song in so full and 
I clear a tone, that the street re-echoed — 

" When the blackbird and thrush, at early dawn, 
Prelude from leafy spray — 
Amid dewy scents and blandishments. 
Like a choir attuning their instruments, 
Ere the curtain of nature aside be drawn 
For the concert the livelong day." 

I now drew nigh enough to see him distinctly. 

[He was a young man, not more than twenty-two. 

[His figure was light and graceful, at the same time 

[that it indicated strength and activity. He was 

dressed in a hunting shirt, which was made with 



uncommon neatness^ and ornamented tastily with 
fringe. He held a highly finished rifle in his right 
hand, and a hunting pouch, covered with Indian 
ornaments, was slung across his shoulders. His 
clean shirt collar was open, secured only by a black 
riband around his neck. His boots were polished, 
without a soil upon them ; and on his head was 
a neat fur cap, tossed on in a m.anner which said, 

*^'I don't care a d ~n," just as plainly as any cap 

could speak it. I thought it must be some popin- 
jay of a lark, until I took a look at his countenance. 
It was handsome, bright, and manly. There was 
no mistake in that face. From the eyes down to 
his breast he was sunburnt as dark as mahogany, 
while the upper part of his high forehead was as 
white and polished as marble. Thick clusters of 
black hair curled from under his cap. I passed 
on, unperceived, and he continued his song :— - 

" In the green spring-tide, all tender and bright, 
When the sun sheds a kindlier gleam 
O'er velvet bank, that sweet flowers prank, 
That have fresh dews and sunbeams drank — 
Softest, and most chaste, as enchanted light 
In the visions of maiden's dream." 

The poor politician, whose misfortunes had roused 
up the inmates of the tavern at such an unusual 
hour, now returned from the stable, where he had 
been in search of his horse and his woman ; but 


they were both among the missing. He held a 
whip in his hand, and about a dozen men followed 
him, some from curiosity to see the result of the 
adventure, and others from better feelings. As he 
drew nigh to the front of the tavern, chaiing with 
mortification at both his shame and his loss, his 
rage increasing to a flame as his windy exclama- 
tions became louder and louder, he chanced to espy 
the fantastic personage I have just described, still 
leaning against the sign post, carelessly humming 
his song, but in a lower tone, as he perceived he 
was not alone. 

The irritated politician no sooner saw the stran- 
ger against the sign post, whose self satisfied air 
was in striking contrast with the excited feelings 
of the other, than he paused for a moment, appeared 
to recognise him ; then coming up in a blustering 
manner, and assuming a threatening attitude, he 
exclaimed fiercely — 

" You're an infernal scoundrel — do you hear ? an 
infernal scoundrel, sir!" 

" I do, but it's news to me," replied the other, 

" News, you scoundrel ! do you call it news ?" 

" Entirely so." 

" You needn't think to carry it ofi" so quietly. I 
say, you're an infernal scoundrel, and I'll prove it." 





" I beg you will not ; I shouldn't like to be 
proved a scoundrel/' replied the other, smiling 
with most provoking indifference. 

" No, I dare say you wouldn't. But answer me 
directly — did you, or did you not say, in pre- 
sence of certain ladies of my acquaintance, that I 
was a mere " 

" Calf ? — 0, no, sir ; the truth is not to be spoken 
at all times." 

" The truth ! Do you presume to call me a 
calf, sir ?" 

"0, no, sir; I call you nothing," replied 

the stranger, just as cool and as pleasant as a morn- 
ing in spring. 

" It's well you do ; for if you had presumed to 
call me " 

" A man, I should have been grossly mistaken." 

" Do you mean to say, I am not a man, sir ?" 

" That depends on circumstances." 

^'What circumstances?" demanded the other, 

" If I should be called as an evidence in a court 
of justice, I should be bound to speak the truth." 

" And you would say, I was not a man, hey ? — 
Do you see this cowskin ?" 

" Yes ; and I have seen it with surprise ever 
since you came up," replied the stranger, calmly, 


at the same time handing me his rifle, to take 
care of. 

^^ With surprise!'' exclaimed the politician who 
saw that his antagonist had voluntarily disarmed 
himself; — "Why, did you suppose I was such a 
coward, that I dare not use the article when I 
thought it was demanded ?" 

" Shall I tell you what I thought ?" 

^' Do — if you dare." 

" I thought to myself, what use has a calf for a 
cowskin ?" He turned to me, and said, " I had 
forgot, Colonel- — ^^shall I trouble you to take care 
of this also?" Saying which he drew a long 
hunting knife from his belt, and placed it in my 
hand. He then resumed his careless attitude against 
the sign post. 

^' You distinctly call me a calf, then ?" 

^' If you insist upon it, you may." 

" You hear, gentlemen," said he, speaking to the 
bystanders — "Do you hear the insult? — What 
shall I do with the scoundrel ?" 

"Dress him, dress him!" exclaimed twenty- 
voices, with shouts and laughter. 

"That ril do at once !" Then turning to the 
stranger, he cried out fiercely, "Come one step 
this way, you rascal, and PU flog you within an 
inch of your life." 

116 COLONEL Crockett's 

"I've no occasion." 

" You're a coward." 

" Not on your word." 

" I'll prove it by flogging you out of your 

" I doubt it." 

" I am a liar then — am I ?" 

" Just as you please." 

" Do you hear that, gentlemen ?" 

" Ay, we hear," was the unanimous response. 
" You can't avoid dressing him now." 

" 0, heavens ! grant me patience ! I shall fly 
out of my skin." 

" It will be so much the better for your pocket ; 
calf skins are in good demand." 

" I shall burst." 

" Not here in the street, I beg of you. It would 
be disgusting." 

" Gentlemen, can I any longer avoid flogging 
him ?" 

" Not if you are able," was the reply. " Go 
at him." 

Thus provoked, thus stirred up, and enraged, the 
fierce politician went like lightning at his provok- 
ing antagonist. But before he could strike a blow 
he found himself disarmed of his cowskin, and 
lying on his back under the spout of a neighbour- 


ing pump, whither the young man had carried him 
to cool his rage ; and before he could recover from 
his astonishment at such unexpected handling, he 
was as wet as a thrice drowned rat, from the cata- 
racts of water which his laughing antagonist had 
liberally pumped upon him. His courage, by this 
time, had fairly oozed out; and he declared, as he 
arose and w^ent dripping away from the pump, that 
he would never again trust to quiet appearances ; 
and that the devil himself might, the next timej 
undertake to cow^skin such a cucumber blooded 
scoundrel for him. The bystanders laughed hear- 
tily. The politician now went in pursuit of his 
horse and his woman, taking his yellow boy with 
him ; and the landlady declared that he richly de- 
served what he had got, even if he had been guilty 
of no other offence than the dirty imposition he 
had practised on her. 

The stranger now came to me, and calling me 
by name, asked for his rifle and knife, which I re- 
turned to him. I expressed some astonishment at 
being known to him, and he said that he had heard 
of my being in the village, and had sought me out 
for the purpose of accompanying me to Texas. He 
told, me that he was a bee hunter ; that he had 
travelled pretty much over that country in the 
way of his business, and that I would find him of 

118 COLONEL Crockett's 

considerable use in navigating through the ocean 
of prairies. 

He told me that honey trees are abundant in 
Texas, and that honey of an excellent quality, and 
in any quantity, may be obtained from them. 
There are persons who have a peculiar tact in 
coursing the bee, and thus discovering their de- 
posites of the luscious food. This employment is 
not a mere pastime, but is profitable. The wax 
alone, thus obtained, is a valuable article of com- 
merce in Mexico, and commands a high price. It 
is much used in churches, where some of the can- 
dles made use of are as long as a man's arm. It 
often happens that the hunters throw away the 
honey, and save only the wax. 

" It is a curious fact," said the bee hunter, " in 
the natural history of the bee, that it is never found 
in a wild country, but always precedes civilization, 
forming a kin4 of advance guard between the white 
man and the savage. The Indians, at least, are 
perfectly convinced of this fact, for it is a common 
remark among them, when they observe these 
insects — ^ there come the white men.' " 

Thimblerig came up, and the bee hunter spoke 
to him, calling him by name, for he had met with 
him in New Orleans. I told him that the conjurer 
had determined to accompany me also, at which 


he seemed well pleased, and encouraged the poor 
fellow to adhere to that resolution ; for he would 
be a man among men in Texas, and no one would 
be very particular in inquiring about his fortunes 
in the states. If once there, he might boldly stand 
up and feed out of the same rack with the best. 

I asked him what was his cause of quarrel with 
the politician, and he told me that he had met him 
a few weeks before down at Baton Rouge, where 
the fellow was going the big figure ; and that he 
had exposed him to some ladies, which completely 
cut his comb, and he took wing ; that this was the 
first time they had met since, and being determined 
to have his revenge, he had attacked him without 
first calculating consequences. 

With the assistance of our new friend, who was 
a generous, pleasant fellow, we procured a horse 
and rifle for Thimblerig ; and we started for Nacog- 
doches, which is about one hundred and twenty 
miles west of Natchitoches, under the guidance of 
the bee hunter. 

129 COLONEL Crockett"® 



Our route, which lay along what is called the 
old Spanish road, I found to be much better defined 
©n the map, than upon the face of the country. 
We had, in many instances, no other guide to the 
path than the blazes on the trees. The bee hunter 
was a cheerful communicative companion, and by 
his pleasant conversation rendered our journey any 
thing but fatiguing. He knew all about the coun- 
try ; had undergone a variety of adventure, and 
described what he had witnessed with such fresh- 
ness, and so graphically, that if I could only re- 
member one-half he told me about the droves of 
wild horses, buffalo, various birds, beautiful scenery 
of the wide spreading and fertile prairies, and his 
adventures with the roving tribes of Indians, I 
should fill my book, I am sure, much more agree- 
ably than I shall be able to do on my own hook. 
When he^d get tired of talking, he'd commence 
singing, and his list of songs seemed to be as long 
as a rainy Sunday. He had a fine clear voice, and 
though I have heard the Woods sing at the Park 


Theatre, In New York, I must give the Bee hunter 
the preference over all I have ever heard, except 
my friend Jim Crow, who, it must be allowed, is a 
real steamboat at the business, and goes a leetle 
ahead of any thing that will come after him. 

He gave me, among other matters, the following 
account of a rencounter between one of the early 
settlers and the Indians : — 

"Andrew Tumlinson," said he, "belonged to a 
family which the colonists of De Witt will long 
remember as one of their chief stays in the dangers 
of settling those wilds, trod only by the children 
of the forest. This indefatigable champion of re- 
venge for his father's death, who had fallen some 
years before by Indian treachery, had vowed never 
to rest until he had received satisfaction. In order 
the better to accomplish his end, he was one of the 
foremost, if possible, in every skirmish with the 
Indians; and that he might be enabled to do so with- 
out restraint, he placed his wife under the care of 
his brother-in-law, shouldered his rifle, and headed 
a ranging party, who were resolved to secure peace 
to those who followed them, though purchased by 
their own death. 

" He had been frequently victorious, In the most 

desperate fights, where the odds were greatly 

against him, and at last fell a victim to his own 


122 COLONEL Crockett's 

imprudence. A Caddo had been seized as a spy, 
and threatened with death, in order to compel him 
to deliver up his knife. The fellow never moved 
a muscle, or even winked, as he beheld the rifles 
pointed at him. He had been found lurking in the 
yard attached to the house of a solitary and unpro- 
tected family, and he knew that the whites were 
exasperated at his tribe for injuries that they had 
committed. When discovered he was accompanied 
by his little son. 

" Tumlinson spoke to him in Spanish, to learn 
what had brought him there at such a time, but 
instead of giving any satisfaction, he sprung to his 
feet, from the log where he was seated, at the same 
time seizing his rifle which was lying beside him. 
The owner of the house, with whom the Indian 
had been on a friendly footing, expostulated with 
him, and got him to surrender the gun, telling him 
that the whites only wished to be satisfied of his 
friendly intentions, and had no desire to injure 
one who might be useful in conciliating his red 

" He appeared to acquiesce, and wrapping his 
blanket more closely around his body, moved on 
in silence ahead of the whites. Tumlinson ap- 
proached him, and though the rest of the party 
privately cautioned him not to go too nigh, as they 


believed the Indian had a knife under his blanket, 
he disregarded the warning, tiTisting for safety to 
his rifle and dexterity. 

" He continued to interrogate the captive until 
he awakened his suspicions that his life was not 
safe. The Indian returned no answer but a short 
caustic laugh at the end of every question. Tum- 
linson at length beheld his countenance become 
more savage, which was followed by a sudden 
movement of the right hand beneath his blanket. 
He fired, and the next instant the Caddo's knife 
was in his heart, for the savage sprung with the 
quickness of the wild cat upon his prey. The 
rifle ball had passed through the Indian's body, yet 
his victim appeared to be no more in his grasp 
than a sparrow in the talons of an eagle, for he was 
a man of gigantic frame, and he knew that not only 
his own life, but that of his little son, would be 
taken on the spot. He called to the boy to fly, 
while he continued to plunge his knife into the 
bosom of his prostrate victim. The rest of the 
party levelled their rifles, and the victor shouted, 
with an air of triumph, — ' Do your worst. I have 
sacrificed another pale face to the spirits of my 
fathers.' They fired, and he fell dead across the body 
of the unfortunate Tumlinson. The poor boy fell 
also. He had sprung forward some distance, when 

124 COLONEL Crockett's 

his father was shot^ and was running in a zig-zag 
manner, taught them in their youth, to avoid the 
balls of their enemies, by rendering it difficult for 
the best marksman to draw a sight upon them." 

In order to afford me some idea of the state of 
society in the more thickly settled parts of Texas, 
the Bee hunter told me that he had set down to 
the breakfast table, one morning at an inn, at San 
Felipe, and among the small party around the 
board were eleven who had fled from the states 
charged with having committed murder. So ac- 
customed are the inhabitants to the appearance of 
fugitives from justice that they are particularly 
careful to make inquiries of the characters of new- 
comers, and generally obtain early and circumstan- 
tial information concerning strangers. "Indeed,'* 
said he, " it is very common to hear the inquiry 
made, * What did he do that made him leave home ?* 
or, 'What have you come to Texas for?' intimating 
almost an assurance of one's being a criminal. Not- 
withstanding this state of things, however, the good 
of the public, and of each individual, is so evidently 
dependent on the public morals, that all appear 
ready to discountenance and punish crime. Even 
men who have been expatriated by fear of justice, 
are here among the last who would be disposed to 
shield a culprit guilty of a crime against life o? 


property." Thimblerig was delighted at this fa- 
vourable account of the state of society, and said 
that it would be the very place for him to flourish 
in ; he liked their liberal way of thinking, for it 
did not at all tally with his ideas of natural law, 
that a man who happened to give offence to the 
straight laced rules of action established by a set 
of people contracted in their notions, should be 
hunted out of all society, even though w^illing to 
conform to their regulations. He was lawyer 
enough, he said, to know that every offence should 
be tried on the spot where it was committed ; and 
if he had stolen the pennies from his grandmother's 
eyes in Louisiana, the people in Texas would have 
nothing to do with that affair, nohow they could 
fix it. The dejected conjurer pricked up his ears, 
and from that moment was as gay and cheerful as 
a blue bird in spring. 

As we approached Nacogdoches, the first object 
that struck our vievr was a flag flying at the top of 
a high liberty pole. Drums were beating, and fifes 
playing, giving an indication, not to be misunder- 
stood, of the spirit that had been awakened in a 
comparative desert. The people of the town no 
sooner saw us than many came out to meet us. 
The Bee hunter, who was known to them, intro- 
duced me ; and it seems that they had already re- 


126 COLONEL Crockett's 

ceived the news of my intended visit, and its object, 
and I met with a cordial and friendly reception. 

Nacogdoches is the capitol of the department of 
that name, and is situated about sixty miles west 
of the river Sabine, in a romantic dell, surrounded 
by woody bluffs of considerable eminence, within 
whose inner borders, in a semicircle embracing the 
town, flow the two forks of the Nana, a branch of 
the Naches. It is a flourishing town, containing 
about one thousand actual citizens, although it 
generally presents twice that number on account 
of its extensive inland trade, one-half of which is 
supported by the friendly Indians. The healthiness 
of this town yields to none in the province, except 
Bexar, and to none whatsoever south of the same 
latitude, between the Sabine and the Mississippi. 
There was a fort established here, by the French, 
as far back as the year 1717, in order to overawe 
the wandering tribes of red men, between their 
borders and the colonists of Great Britain. The 
soil around it is of an easy nature and well adapted 
to cultivation. 

I passed the day at Nacogdoches in getting in- 
formation from the principal patriots as to the 
grievances imposed upon them by the Mexican 
government ; and I passed the time very pleasantly, 
but I rather reckon not quite as much so as my 


friend the Bee hunter. In the evening, as I had 
missed him for several hours while I was attending 
to the affairs of the patriots, I inquired for my 
companion, and was directed, by the landlord, to 
an apartment appropriated to his family, and ac- 
cordingly I pushed ahead. Before I reached the 
door, I heard the joyous and musical voice of the 
young rover singing as usual. 

" I'd like to have a little farm, 

And leave such scenes as these, 
Where I could live, without a care, 

Completely at my ease. 
I'd like to have a pleasant house 

Upon my little farm, 
Airy and cool in summer time 

In winter close and warm." 

" And is there nothing else you'd like to have 
to make you happy, Edward?" demanded a gentle 
voice, w^hich sounded even more musical in my 
ear than that of the Bee hunter. 

" Yes, in good faith there is, my gentle Kate ; 
and I'll tell you what it is," he exclaimed, and 
resumed his song : — 

" I'd like to have a little wife — 

I reckon I know who, ; 
I'd like to have a little son — 

A little daughter too ; 
And when they'd climb upon my knee, 

I'd like a little toy 
To give my pretty little girl, 

Another for my boy." 

128 COLONEL Crockett's 

" 0, fie, for shame of you to talk so, Edward!'' 
exclaimed the same gentle voice. 

" Well, my pretty Kate, if you'll only listen, 
now, I'll tell you what I wouldn't like." 

^^ Let me hear that, by all means." 

" 1 should not like my wife to shake 

A broomstick at my head — 
For then I migrht beo^in to think 

She did not love her Ned ; 
But I should always like to see 

Her gentle as a dove ; 
I should not like to have her scold — 

But be all joy and love." 

" And there is not much danger, Edward, of her 
ever being otherwise." 

" Bless your sweet lips, that I am certain of," 
exclaimed the Bee hunter, and I heard something 
that sounded marvellously like a kiss. But he 
resumed his song : — 

" If I had these I would not ask 

For any thing beside ; 
I'd be content thus smoothly through 

The tedious world to glide. 
My little wife and I would then 

No earthly troubles see — 
Surrounded iby our little ones, 

How happy we would be." 

I have always endeavoured to act up to the 
golden rule of doing as I would be done by, and as 
I never liked to be interrupted on such occasions, 


I returned to the bar-room, where I found Thim- 
blerig seated on a table practising with his thimbles, 
his large white Vicksburg hat stuck in a most in- 
dependent and impudent manner on the side of his 
head. About half a dozen men were lookins: on 
with amazement at his skill, but he got no bets. 
When he caught my eye his countenance became 
sort of confused, and he hastily thrust the thimbles 

^ into his pocket, saying, as he jumped from the table, 
"Just amusing myself a little, Colonel, to kill time, 
and show the natives that some things can be done 
as well as others. — Let us take an ideer." So we 
walked up to the bar, took a nip, and let the matter 

p My horse had become lame, and I found I would 
not be able to proceed with him, so I concluded to 
sell him and get another. A gentleman offered to 
give me a mustang in exchange, and I gladly 
accepted of his kindness. The mustangs are the 
wild horses, that are to be seen in droves of 
thousands pasturing on the prairies. They are 
taken by means of a lazo, a long rope with a noose, 
which is thrown around their neck, and they are 
dragged to the ground with violence, and then 
secured. These horses, which are considerably 
smaller than those in the states, are very cheap, 
and are in such numbers, that in times of scarcity 

130 COLONEL Crockett's 

of game the settlers and the Indians have made use 
of them as food. Thousands have been destroyed 
for this purpose. 

I saw nothing of the Bee hunter until bed-time, 
and then I said nothing to him about what I had 
overheard. The next morning, as we were pre- 
paring for an early start, I went into the private 
apartment where my companion was, but he did 
not appear quite as cheerful as usual. Shortly 
afterward a young woman, about eighteen, entered 
the room. She was as healthy and blooming as 
the wild flowers of the prairie. My companion 
introduced me, she courtesied modestly, and turning 
to the Bee hunter, said, "Edward, I have made 
you a new deer skin sack since you were last here. 
Will you take it with you ? Your old one is so 

" No, no, dear Kate, I shall not have leisure to 
gather wax this time." 

" I have not yet shown you the fine large gourd 
that I have slung for you. It will hold near a 
gallon of water." She went to a closet, and pro- 
ducing it, suspended it around his shoulders. 

"My own kind Kate!" he exclaimed, and 
looked as if he would devour her with his 

" Have I forgotten any thing ? — Ah ! yes, your 


books." She ran to the closet, and brought out 
two small volumes. 

"One is sufficient this time, Kate — my Bible. 
I will leave the poet with you." She placed it in 
his hunting bag, saying, 

" You will find here some biscuit and deer 
sinews, in case you should get bewildered in the 
prairies. You know you lost your way the last 
time, and were nearly famished." 

"Kind and considerate Kate." 
y. I began to find out that I was a sort of fifth 
wheel to a w^agon, so I went to the front of the 
tavern to see about starting. There was a con- 
siderable crowd there, and I made them a short 
address on the occasion. I told them, among other 
things, that " I will die with my Betsey in my 
arms. No, I will not die — 1^11 grin down the 
walls of the Alamo, and the Americans will lick 
up the Mexicans like fine salt." 

I mounted my little mustang, and my legs nearly 
cached the ground. The thimble conjurer was 
"also ready ; at length the Bee hunter made his ap- 
pearance, followed by his sweetheart, whose eyes 
looked as though she had been weeping. He took a 
cordial leave of all his friends, for he appeared to 
be a general favourite ; he then approached Kate, 

132 COLONEL Crockett's 

kissed her, and leaped upon his horse. He tried 
to conceal his emotion by singing, carelessly, 

" Saddled and bridled, and booted rode he, 
A plume in his helmet, a sword at his knee." 

The tremulous and plaintive voice of Kate took 
up the next two lines of the song, which sounded 
like a prophecy : 

" But toom cam' the saddle, all bluidy to see. 
And hame cam' the steed, but hame never cam' he." 

We started off rapidly, and left Nacogdoches 
amid the cheering of true patriots and kind friends. 



An hour or two elapsed before the Bee hunter 
recovered his usual spirits, after parting from his 
kind little Kate of Nacogdoches. The conjurer 
rallied him good humouredly, and had become 
quite a different man from what he was on the 
west side of the Sabine. He sat erect in his saddle, 
. stuck his large white Vicksburger conceitedly on 
his bushy head, carried his rifle with as much ease 
and grace as if he had been used to the weapon, 
and altogether he assumed an air of impudence and 
independence which showed that he had now a soul 
above thimbles. The Bee hunter at length recover- 
ed his spirits, and commenced talking very plea- 
santly, for the matters he related were for the most 
part new to me. 

My companions, by way of beguiling the tedious- 

ness of our journey, repeatedly played tricks upon 

each other, which were taken in good part. One 

of them I will relate. We had observed that the 

Bee hunter always disappeared on stopping at a 

house, running in to talk with the inhabitants and 


1S4 COLONEL Crockett's 

ingratiate himself with the women, leaving us to 
take care of the horses. On reaching our stopping 
place at night he left us as usual, and while we 
were rubbing down our mustangs, and hobbling 
them, a negro boy came out of the house with or- 
ders from our companion within to see to his horse, 
Thimblerig, who possessed a good share of roguish 
ingenuity, after some inquiries about the gentleman 
in the house, how he looked and what he was doing, 
told the boy, in rather a low voice, that he had 
better not come nearer to him than was necessary, 
for it was possible he might hurt him, though still 
he didn't think he would. The boy asked why 
he need be afraid of him. He replied, he did not 
certainly know that there was any reason — he 
hoped there was none — but the man had been 
bitten by a mad dog, and it was rather uncertain 
whether he was not growing mad himself. Still, 
he would not alarm the boy, but cautioned him not 
to be afraid, for there might be no danger, though 
there was something rather strange in the conduct 
of his poor friend. This was enough for the boy ; 
he was almost afraid to touch the horse of such a 
man ; and when, a moment afterward, our com- 
panion came out of the house, he slunk away 
behind the horse, and though he was in a great 
hurry to get him unsaddled, kept his eyes fixed 


steadily on the owner, closely watching his mo- 

" Take off that bridle/' exclaimed the impatient 
Bee hunter, in a stern voice : and the black boy 
sprung off, and darted away as fast as his feet could 
carry him, much to the vexation and surprise of 
our companion, who ran after him a little distance, 
but could in no way account for his singular and 
provoking conduct. When we entered the house 
things appeared a great deal more strange ; for the 
negro had rushed hastily into the midst of the 
family, and in his terrified state communicated the 
alarming tale, that the gentleman had been bitten 
by a mad dog. He, unconscious all the time of the 
trick that was playing off, endeavoured, as usual, to 
render himself as agreeable as possible, especially 
to the females with whom he had already formed 
a partial acquaintance. We could see that they 
looked on him with apprehension, and retreated 
whenever he approached them. One of them took 
an opportunity to inquire of Thimblerig the truth 
of the charge ; and his answer confirmed their 
fears, and redoubled their caution ; though, after 
confessing with apparent candour, that his friend 
had been bitten, he stated that there was no certainty 
of evil consequences, and it was a thing which 
of course could not be mentioned to the sufferer. . 

136 COLONEL Crockett's 


As bed time approached the mistress of the 

house expressed her fears, lest trouble should arise 
in the night ; for the house, according to custom, 
contained but two rooms, and was not built for 
security. She therefore urged us to sleep between 
him and the door, and by no means to let him pass 
us. It so happened, however, that he chose to 
sleep next the door, and it was with great difficulty 
that we could keep their fears within bounds. The 
ill-disguised alarm of the whole family was not less 
a source of merriment to him who had been the 
cause, than of surprise and wonder to the subject 
of it. Whatever member of the household he ap- 
proached promptly withdrew, and as for the negro, 
whenever he was spoken to by him, he would 
jump and roll his eyes. In the morning, when 
we were about to depart, we commissioned our 
belied companion to pay our bill ; but as he ap- 
proached the hostess she fled from him, and shut 
the door in his face. " I want to pay our bill," 
said he. " ! if you will only leave the house," 
cried she, in terror, ^^you are welcome to your 

The jest, however, did not end here. The Bee 
hunter found out the trick that had been played 
upon him, and determined to retaliate. As we were 
about mounting, the conjurer's big white Vicks- 


burger was unaccountably missing, and nowhere 
to be found. He was not altogether pleased with 
* the liberty that had been taken with him, and after 
searching some time in vain, he tied a handkerchief 
around his head, sprung upon his horse, and rode 
off with more gravity than usual. We had rode 
about two miles, the Bee hunter bantering the 
other with a story of his hat lying in pawn at the 
house we had left, and urged upon him to return 
and redeem it ; but finding Thimblerig out of hu- 
mour, and resolved not to return, he began to 
repent of his jest, and offered to go back and bring 
it, on condition that the past should be forgotten, 
and there should be no more retaliation. The 
other consented to the terms, so lighting a cigar 
with his sun glass, he set off at a rapid rate on his 
return. He had not been gone long before I pre- 
sented Thimblerig with his hat, for I had seen the 
Bee hunter conceal it, and had secretly brought it 
along with me. It was some time before our ab ■ 
sent friend overtook us, having frightened all the 
family away by his sudden return, and searched the 
whole house without success. When he perceived 
the object of his ride upon the head of the conjurer, 
rand recollected the promise by which he had bound 
himself not to have any more jesting, he could 

only exclaim, "Well, it's hard, but it's fair." We 


138 COLONEL Crockett's 

all laughed heartily, and good humour was once 
again restored. 

Cane brakes are common in some parts of Texas* 
Our way led us through one of considerable extent. 
The frequent passage of men and horses had kept 
open a narrow path not wide enough for two mus- 
tangs to pass with convenience. The reeds, the 
same as are used in the northern states as fishing 
rods, had grown to the height of about twenty feet, 
and were so slender, that having no support directly 
over the path, they drooped a little inward, and in- 
termingled their tops, forming a complete covering 
overhead. We rode about a quarter of a mile along 
this singular arched avenue with the view of the 
sky completely shut out. The Bee hunter told 
me that the largest brake is that which lines the 
banks of Caney Creek, and is seventy miles in 
length, with scarcely a tree to be seen the whole 
distance. The reeds are eaten by cattle and horses 
in the winter when the prairies yield little or no 
other food. 

When we came out of the brake we saw three 
black wolves jogging like dogs ahead of us, but at 
too great a distance to reach them with a rifle. 
Wild turkeys and deer repeatedly crossed our path, 
and we saw several droves of wild horses pasturing 
in the prairies. These sights awakened the ruling 


passion strong within me, and I longed to have a 
hunt upon a large scale ; for though I had killed 
many bears and deers in my time, I had never 
brought down a buffalo in all my life, and so I told 
my friends ; but they tried to dissuade me from it, 
by telling me that I would certainly lose my way, 
and perhaps perish ; for though it appeared as a 
cultivated garden to the eye, it was still a wilder- 
ness. I said little more on the subject until we 
crossed the Trinidad river, but every mile we 
travelled I found the temptation grow stronger and 

The night after we crossed the river we fortu- 
nately found shelter in the house of a poor woman, 
who had little but the barest necessaries to offer us. 
While we were securing our horses for the night 
we beheld two men approaching the house on foot. 
They were both armed with rifles and hunting 
knives, and though I have been accustomed to the 
sight of men who have not stepped far over the 
line of civilization, I must say these were just about 
the roughest samples I had seen anywhere. One 
was a man of about fifty years old, tall and raw- 
boned. He was dressed in a sailor's round jacket, 
with a tarpaulin on his head. His whiskers nearly 
covered his face ; his hair was coal black and long, 
and there was a deep scar across his forehead, and 

140 COLONEL Crockett's 

another on the back of his right hand. His com- 
panion, who was considerably younger, was bare- 
headed, and clad in a deer skin dress made after 
our fashion. Though he was not much darker 
than the old man, I perceived that he was an Indian. 
They spoke friendly to the Bee hunter, for they 
both knew him, and said they were on their way 
to join the Texian forces, at that time near the San 
Antonio river. Though they had started without 
horses, they reckoned they would come across a 
couple before they went much farther. The right 
of ownership to horse flesh is not much regarded 
in Texas, for those that have been taken from the 
wild droves are soon after turned out to graze on 
the prairies, the owner having first branded them 
wdth his mark, and hobbled them by tying their 
fore feet together, which will enable another to 
capture them just as readily as himself. 

The old woman set about preparing our supper, 
and apologized for the homely fare, which consisted 
of bacon and fried onions, when the Indian went 
to a bag and produced a number of eggs of wild 
fowls, and a brace of fat rabbits, which were 
speedily dressed, and we made as good a meal as a 
hungry man need wish to set down to. The old 
man spoke very little ; but the Indian, who had 
lived much among the whites, was talkative, and 


manifested much impatience to arrive at the army. 
The first opportunity that occurred I inquired of 
the Bee hunter who our new friends were, and he 
told me that the old man had been for many years 
a pirate with the famous Lafitte, and that the 
Indian was a hunter belonging to a settler near 
Galveston Bay. I had seen enough of land rats 
at Washington, but this v/as the first time that I 
was ever in company with a water rat to my 
knowledge ; however, baiting that black spot on 
his escutcheon, he was a well behaved and inoffen- 
sive man. Vice does not appear so shocking when 
we are familiar with the perpetrator of it. 

Thimblerig was for taking airs upon himself 
after learning who our companions were, and pro- 
tested to me, that he would not sit down at the 
same table with a man who had outraged the laws 
in such a manner ; for it was due to society that 
honest men should discountenance such unprinci- 
pled characters, and much more to the same effect; 
when the old man speedily dissipated the gambler's 
indignant feelings by calmly saying, " Stranger, 
you had better take a seat at the table, I think," 
at the same time drawing a long hunting knife 
from his belt, and laying it on the table. " I think 
you had better take some supper with us,'' he 
added, in a mild tone, but fixing his eye sternly 

142 COLONEL Crockett's 

upon Thimblerig. The conjurer first eyed the knife, 
and then the fierce whiskers of the pirate, and, 
unlike some politicians, he wasn't long in making 
up his mind what course to pursue, but he deter- 
mined to vote as the pirate voted, and said, "I 
second that motion, stranger," at the same time 
seating himself on the bench beside me. The old 
man then commenced cutting up the meat, for 
which purpose he had drawn his hunting knife, 
though the gambler had thought it was for a difier- 
ent purpose ; and being relieved from his fears, 
every thing passed ofi" quite sociable. 

Early the following morning we compensated 
the old woman for the trouble she had been at, 
and we mounted our horses and pursued our jour- 
ney, our new friends following on foot, but pro- 
mising to arrive at the Alamo as soon as we should. 
About noon we stopped to refresh our horses be- 
neath a cluster of trees that stood in the open prai- 
rie, and I again spoke of my longing for a bufTalo 
hunt. We were all seated on the grass, and they 
strived hard to dissuade me from the folly of allow- 
ing a ruling passion to lead me into such imminent 
danger and difficulty as I must necessarily encoun- 
ter. All this time, while they were running down 
my weakness, as they called it, Thimblerig was 
amusing himself with his eternal thimbles and pea 


upon the crown of his big white hat. I could not 
refrain from laughing outright to see with what 
gravity and apparent interest he slipped the pea 
from one thimble to another while in the midst of 
a desert. Man is a queer animal, and Colonel Dick 
Johnson is disposed to make him even queerer 
than Dame Nature originally intended. 

The Bee hunter told me, that if I was determined 
to leave them, he had in his bag a paper of ground 
coffee, and biscuit, which little Kate of Nacog- 
doches had desired him to carry for my use, which 
he handed to me, and proposed drinking her health, 
saying that she was one of the kindest and purest 
of God's creatures. We drank her health, and 
wished him all happiness when she should be his 
own, which time he looked forward to with impa- 
tience. He still continued to dissuade me from 
leaving them, and all the time he was talking his 
eyes were wandering above, when suddenly he 
stopped, sprang to his feet, looked around for a 
moment, then leaped on his mustang, and without 
saying a word, started off like mad, and scoured 
along the prairie. We watched him, gradually 
diminishing in size, until he seemed no larger than 
a rat, and finally disappeared in the distance. I 
was amazed, and thought to be sure the man was 
crazy ; and Thimblerig, w^ho continued his game, 

144 COLONEL Crockett's 

responded that he was unquestionably out of his 

Shortly after the Bee hunter had disappeared we 
heard a noise something like the rumbling of dis- 
tant thunder. The sky was clear, there were no 
signs of a storm, and we concluded it could not 
proceed from that cause. On turning to the west 
we saw an immense cloud of dust in the distance, 
but could perceive no object distinctly, and still 
the roaring continued. " What can all this mean ?" 
said I. " Burn my old shoes if I know," said the 
conjurer, gathering up his thimbles, and at the 
same time cocking his large Vicksburger fiercely 
on his head. We continued looking in the direc- 
tion whence the sound proceeded, the cloud of dust 
became thicker and thicker, and the roaring more 
distinct — much louder than was ever heard in the 
White House at Washington. 

We at first imagined that it was a tornado, but 
whatever it was, it was coming directly toward 
the spot where we stood. Our mustangs had ceased 
to graze, and cocked up their ears in evident alarm. 
We ran and caught them, took ofi^ the hobbles, and 
rode into the grove of trees ; still the noise grev/ 
louder and louder. We had scarcely got under 
the shelter of the grove before the object ap- 
proached near enough for us to ascertain what it 


was. It was a herd of buffalo, at least four or five 
hundred in number, dashing along as swift as the 
wind, and roaring as if so many devils had broke 
loose. They passed near the grove, and, if we had 
not taken shelter there, we should have been in 
great danger of being trampled to death. My poor 
little mustang shook worse than a politician about 
to be turned out of office, as the drove came sweep- 
ing by. At their head, apart from the rest, was a 
black bull, who appeared to be their leader ; he 
came roaring along, his tail straight an end, and 
at times tossing up the earth with his horns. 
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, took deliberate aim, blazed away, 
and he roared, and suddenly stopped. Those that 
w^ere near him did so likewise, and the concussion 
occasioned by the impetus of those in the rear was 
such, that it was a miracle that some of them did 
not break their legs 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 tor- 
nado, and I do say, I never witnessed a more beau- 
tiful sight to the eye of a hunter in all my life. 


146 COLONEL Crockett's 

Bear hunting is no more to be compared to it than 
Colonel Benton is to Henry Clay. I watched them 
for a few moments, then clapped spurs to my mus- 
tang and followed in their wake, leaving Thimble- 
rig behind me. 

I followed on the trail of the herd for at least 
two hours, by which time the moving mass ap- 
peared like a small cloud in the distant horizon. 
Still, I followed, my whole mind absorbed by the 
excitement of the chase, until the object was en- 
tirely lost in the distance. I now paused to allow 
my m^ustang to breathe, who did not altogether 
fancy the rapidity of my movements, and to con- 
sider w^hich 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 buffalos, but 
it has 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 
that I was as completely bewildered as " the Go- 
vernment" was when he entered upon an examina- 
tion of the Post office accounts. I looked around, 
and there was, as far as the eye could reach, spread 
before me a country apparently in the highest state 
of cultivation. Extended fields, beautiful and pro- 
ductive, groves of trees cleared from the under- 
wood, 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 dis- 
turbed the solitude of nature. My eyes would 
have cheated my senses into the belief that I was 
in an earthly paradise, but my fears told me that I 
was in a wilderness. 

I pushed along, following the sun, for I had no 
compass to guide me, and there was no other path 
than that which my mustang made. Indeed, if I 
had found a beaten track, I should have been almost 
afraid to have followed it ; for my friend the Bee 

P hunter had told me, that once, when he had been 
lost in the prairies, he had accidentally struck into 

H 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. 

I had travelled several hours without seeing the 
trace of a human being, and even game was almost 
as scarce as Benton's mint drops, except just about 
election time, and I began to wish that I had fol- 
lowed the advice of my companions. I was a good 
deal bothered to account for the abrupt manner in 
which the Bee hunter had absconded ; and I felt 
concerned for the poor thimble conjurer^ who was 

148 COLONEL Crockett's 

left alone, and altogether unaccustomed to the diffi- 
culties that he would have to encounter. While 
my mind was occupied with these unpleasant re- 
flections,! was suddenly startled by another novelty 
quite as great as that I have just described. 

I had just emerged from a beautiful grove of 
trees, and was entering upon an extended prairie, 
which looked like the luxuriant meadows of a 
thrifty farmer ; and as if nothing should be wanting 
to complete the delusion, but a short distance be- 
fore me, there was a drove of about one hundred 
beautiful horses quietly pasturing. It required some 
eflfort to convince my mind that man had no agency 
in this. But when I looked around, and fully rea- 
lized it all, I thought of him who had preached to 
me in the wilds of the Arkansas, and involuntarily 
exclaimed, "God, what hast thou not done for man, 
and yet how little he does for thee ! Not even 
repays thee with gratitude !" 

I entered upon the prairie. The mustangs no 
sooner espied me than they raised their heads, 
whinnied, and began coursing around me in an 
extended circle, which gradually became smaller 
and smaller, until they closely surrounded me. 
My little rascally mustang enjoyed the sport, and 
felt disposed to renew his acquaintance with his 
wild companions; first turning his head to one, 


then to another, playfully biting the neck of this 
one, rubbing noses Vv^ith that one, and kicking up 
his heels at a third. I began to feel rather uncom- 
fortable, and plied the spur pretty briskly to get 
out of the mess, but he was as obstinate as the 
" old Roman" himself, who will be neither led nor 
driven. I kicked, and he kicked, but fortunately 
he became tired first, and he made one start, intend- 
ing to escape from the annoyance if possible. As 
I had an annoyance to escape from likew^ise, 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 got fairly 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 occa- 
sionally neighing, as much as to say, " Come on, 
my hearties, you see I ha'n't forgot our old amuse- 
ment yef And they did come on with a venge- 
ance, clatter, clatter, clatter, as if so many fiends 
had broke loose. The prairie lay extended before 
me as far as the eye could reach, and I began to 
think that there would be no end to the race. 

My little animal was full of fire and mettle, and 



best. The old gentleman set out his bottle to 
us, and I concluded that if a horn wasn't good 
then, there was no use for its invention. So I 
swig'd off about a half pint, and the young man 
was by no means bashful in such a case ; he took 
a strong pull at it too. I then gave my boy some, 
and in a little time we felt pretty well. We dried 
ourselves by the fire, and were asked to go on 
board of the boat that evening. I agreed to do 
so, but left my son with the old lady, and my- 
self and my young man went to the boat with 
Mr. Owens and the others. The boat was load- 
ed with whiskey, flour, sugar, coffee, salt, cast- 
ings, and other articles suitable for the country ; 
and they were to receive five hundred dollars to 
land the load at M^Lemore's Bluff, beside the 
profit they could make on their load. This was 
merely to show that boats could get up to that 
point We staid all night with them, and had 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 more. In the morning we con- 
cluded to go on with the boat to where a great 
harricane had crossed the river, and blowed all 
the timber down into it. When we got there, 
we found the river was falling fast, and con- 
cluded we couldn't get through the timber with- 


out more rise ; so we drop'd clown opposite Mr. 
Owens' again, where they determined to wait for 
more water. 

The next day it rained rip-roriously, and the 
river rose pretty considerable, but not enough yet. 
And so I got the boatsmen all to go out with me to 
where I was going to settle, and we slap'd up a 
cabin in little or no time. I got from the boat 
four barrels of meal, and one of salt, and about ten 
gallons of whiskey. 

To pay for these, I agreed to go with the boat 
up the river to their landing place. I got also a 
large middling of bacon, and killed a fine deer, 
and left them for my young man and my little 
boy, who were to stay at my cabin till I got back; 
which I expected would be in six or seven days. 
We cut out, and moved up to the harricane, where 
we stop'd for the night. In the morning I started 
about daylight, intending to kill a deer, as I had 
no thought they would get the boat through the 
timber that day. I had gone but a little way be- 
fore I killed a fine buck, and started to go back to 
the boat ; but on the way I came on the tracks of a 
large gang of elks, and so I took after them. I had 
followed them only a little distance when I saw 
them, and directly after I saw two large bucks. I 
shot one down, and the other wouldn't leave him ; 

152 COLONEL Crockett's 


After toiling for more than an hour to get my 
mustang upon his feet again, I gave it up as a 
bad job, as little Van did when he attempted to 
raise himself to the moon by the waistband of his 
breeches. Night was fast closing in, and as I 
began to think that I had had just about sport 
enough for one day, I might as well look around 
for a place of shelter for the night, and take a fresh 
start in the morning, by which time I was in 
hopes my horse would be recruited. Near the 
margin of the river a large tree had been blown 
down, and I thought of making my lair in its top, 
and approached it for that purpose. While beating 
among the branches I heard a low growl, as much 
as to say, " Stranger, the apartments are already 
taken." Looking about to see what sort of a bed- 
fellow I was likely to have, I discovered, not more 
than five or six paces from me, an enormous^Mexi- 
can cougar eyeing me as an epicure surveys the 
table before he selects his dish, for I have no doubt 
the cougar looked upon me as the subject of a 


future supper. Rays of light darted from his large 
eyes, he showed his teeth like a negro in hysterics, 
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. 

One glance satisfied me that there was no time 
to be lost, as Pat thought when falling from a 
church steeple, and exclaimed, " This would be 
mighty pleasant, now, if it would only last," — but 
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, (which is 
sometimes the case in Congress,) 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 forehead, 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 

154 COLONEL Crockett's 

me like a steamboat ; I stepped aside, and as he lit 
upon the ground I struck him violently with the 
barrel of my rifle, but he didn't mind that, but 
wheeled round 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 fastening on my left 
arm, and was just 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 increased 
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 atten- 
tion 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 toward my face ; I grasped his tail with 


my left hand, and tickled his ribs with my hunting 
knife, which I held in my right. Still, the critter 
wouldn't let go his hold ; and as I found that he 
would lacerate my leg dreadfully unless he was 
speedily shaken off, I tried to hurl him down the 
bank into the river, for our scuffle had already 
brought us to the edge of the bank. I stuck my 
knife into his side, and summoned all my strength 
to throw him over. He resisted, was desperate 
heavy ; but at last I got him so far down the 
declivity that he lost his balance, and he rolled 
^ over and over until 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 mo- 
, ments, 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 last. 

I now returned to the tree top to see if any one 
else would dispute my lodging; but now I could 
take peaceable and quiet possession. I parted 
some of the branches, and cut away others to 



make a bed in the opening; I then gathered a 
quantity of moss, which hung in festoons from 
the trees, which I spread on the litter, and over 
this I spread my horse blanket ; and I had as 
comfortable a bed as a weary man need ask for. 
I now took another look at my mustang, and from 
all appearances he would not live until morning. 
I ate some of the cakes that little Eate of Nacog- 
doches had made for me, and then carried my 
saddle into my tree top, and threw myself down 
upon my bed, with no very pleasant rejections at 
the prospect before me. 

I was weary, and soon fell asleep, and did not 
awake until daybreak the next day. I felt some- 
what stiff and sore from the wounds I had received 
in the conflict with the cougar ; but I considered 
myself as having made a lucky escape. I leaked 
over the bank, and as I saw the carcass of the 
cougar lying there, I thought that it was an even 
chance that we had not exchanged conditions ; and 
I felt grateful that the fight had ended as it did. 
I now went to look after my mustang, fully expect- 
ing to find him as dead as the cougar ; but what 
was my astonishment to find that he had disap- 
peared without leaving trace of hair or hide of 
him. I first supposed that some beasts of prey 
had consumed the poor critter ; but then they 


wouldn't have eaten his hones ; and he had vanish- 
ed as effectually as the deposites, without leaving 
any mark of the course they had taken. This 
bothered me amazing; I couldn't figure it out by 
any rule that I had ever heard of, so I concluded 
to think no more about it. 

I felt a craving for something to eat, and looking 
around for some game, I saw a flock of geese on 
the shore of the river. I shot a fine fat gander, 
and soon stripped him of his feathers; and gather- 
ing some light wood, I kindled a fire, run a long 
stick through my goose, for a spit, and put it down 
to roast, supported by two sticks with prongs. I 
had a desire for some coffee; and having a tin cup 
with me, I poured the paper of ground coffee that 
I had received from the Bee hunter into it, and 
made a strong cup, which was very refreshing. 
Off of my goose and biscuit I made a hearty meal, 
and was preparing to depart, without clearing up 
the breakfast things, or knowing which direction 
to pursue, when I was somewhat taken aback by 
another of the wild scenes of the west. I heard a 
sound like the trampling of many horses, and I 
thought to be sure the mustangs or buffalos were 
coming upon me again ; but on raising my head I 
beheld in the distance about fifty mounted Cuman- 

ches, with their spears glittering in the morning 


158 COLONEL Crockett's 

sun, dashing toward the spot where I stood at full 
speed. As the column advanced it divided, accord- 
ing to their usual practice, into two semicircles, 
and in an instant I was surrounded. Quicker than 
thought I sprang to my rifle, but as my hand grasped 
it, I felt that resistance against so many would be 
of as little use as pumping for thunder in dry 

The chief was for making love to my beautiful 
Betsey, but I clung fast to her, and assuming an 
air of composure, I demanded whether their nation 
was at war with the Americans. " No,'^ was the 
reply. " Do you like the Americans ?" " Yes, 
they are our friends." " Where do you get your 
spear heads, your rifles, your blankets, and your 
knives from ?" " Get them from our friends, the 
Americans." "Well, do you think if you were 
passing through their nation, as I am passing 
through yours, they would attempt to rob you of 
your property ?" " No, they would feed me, and 
protect me; and the Cumanche will do the same 
by his white brother." 

I now asked him what it was had directed him 
to the spot where I was, and he told me, that 
they had seen the smoke from a great distance, 
and had come to see the cause of it. He inquired 
what had brought me there alone ; and I told him 


tTiat T 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 
which the chief gave a low chuckHng laugh, and 
said it was all a trick of the mustang, which is the 
most wily and cunning of all animals. But h-e 
said that as I was a brave hunter he would furnish 
ime with another; he gave orders, and a fine young 
horse was immediately brought forward. 

When the party approached there were three 
old squaws at their head, who made a noise with 
their mouths, and served as trumpeters. I now 
told the chief that, as I now had a horse, I would 
go for my saddle, which was in the place where 
I had slept. As I approached the spot I discovered 
one of the squaws devouring the remains of my 
roasted goose, but my saddle and bridle were no- 
where to be found. Almost in despair of seeing 
them again, I observed, in a thicket at a little dis- 
tance, one of the trumpeters kicking and belabour- 
ing her horse to make him move off, while the 
sagacious beast would not move a step from the 
troop. I followed her, and, thanks to her restive 
mustang, secured my property, which the chief 
made her restore to me. Some of the warriors 
had by this time discovered the body of the cougar, 
and had already commenced skinning it; and see- 

160 COLONEL Crockett's 

ing how many stabs were about it, I related to the 
chief the desperate struggle I had had ; he said, 
" Brave hunter, brave man," and wished me to be 
adopted into his tribe, but I respectfully declined 
the honour. He then offered to see me on my 
way ; and I asked him to accompany me to the 
Colorado river, if he was going in that direction, 
which he agreed to do. I put my saddle on my 
fresh horse, mounted, and we darted off, at a rate 
not much slower than I had rode the day previous 
with the wild herd, the old squaws at the head of 
the troop braying like young jackasses the whole 

About three hours after starting we saw a drove 
of mustangs quietly pasturing in the prairie at a 
distance. One of the Indians immediately got his 
lasso ready, which was a long rope made of hide 
plaited like whip cord, with an iron ring at 
one end, through which the rope was passed so as 
to form a noose ; and thus prepared, he darted 
ahead of the troop to make a capture. They 
allowed him to approach pretty nigh, he all the 
time flourishing his lasso ; but before he got within 
reaching distance, they started off at a brisk canter, 
made two or three wide circuits around him, as 
if they would spy-out what he was after, then 
abruptly changed their course, and disappeared. 


One mustang out of all the drove remained stand- 
ing quietly ; the Indian made up to him, tl^evv 
the lasso, but the mustang dodged his head between 
his fore legs, and escaped the noose, but did not 
attempt to escape. The Indian then rode up to 
him, and the horse very patiently submitted while 
he put a bridle on him, and secured him. When 
I approached, I immediately recognised 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 an effort to escape ; and he told me, that 
they are generally hurled to the ground with such 
violence when first taken with the lasso, that they 
remember it ever after, and that the sight of it will 
subdue them to submission, though they may have 
run wild for years. Just so wdth an office holder, 
who, being kicked out, turns patriot — shake a 
commission at him, and the fire of his patriotism 
usually escapes in smoke. 

We travelled all day, and toward evening we 
came across a small drove of buffalos; and it was a 

beautiful sight to behold with what skill the Indians 


162 COLONEL Crockett's 

hunted down this noble game. There are no 
horsemen who ride more gracefully than the 
Cumanches ; and they sit so closely, and hold 
such absolute control over the horse, that he 
seems to be part of their own person. I had the 
good fortune to bring down a young heifer, and as 
it was the only beef that we killed, the chief again 
complimented me as being a brave hunter ; and 
while they were preparing the heifer for our supper 
I related to him many of my hunting exploits, at 
which he manifested pleasure and much astonish- 
ment for an Indian. He again urged upon me to 
become one of the tribe. 

We made a hearty supper, hobbled our mus- 
tangs, which we turned into the prairie to graze, 
and then encamped for the night. I awoke about 
two hours before daybreak, and looking over the 
tract of country through which we had travelled, 
the sky was as bright and clear as if the sun had 
already risen. I w^atched it for some time without 
being able to account for it, and asked my friend, 
the chief, to explain, who told me that the prairie 
was on fire, and that it must have caught when we 
cooked our dinner. I have seen hundreds of acres 
of mountain timber on fire in my time, but this is 
the first time that I ever saw a prairie burning. 

Nothing of interest occurred until we reached 


the Colorado, and were following the j-iver to the 
place where it crosses the road to Bexar, which 
place the Indians promised to conduct me to. We 
saw a light column of smoke ascending in the clear 
sky, and hastened toward it. It proceeded from a 
small cluster of trees near the river. When we 
came within five hundred yards of it, the warriors 
extended their line around the object, and the chief 
and myself cautiously approached it. When we 
came within eyeshot, what was my astonishment 
to discover a solitary man seated on the ground 
near the fire, so intent upon some pursuit that he 
did not perceive our approach. We drew nigh to 
him, and still he was unconscious of our approach. 
It was poor Thimblerig practising his game of 
thimbles upon the crown of his white Vicksburger. 
This is what I call the ruling passion most amazing 
strong. The chief shouted the war whoop, and 
suddenly the warriors came rushing in from all 
quarters, preceded 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 surround- 
ed 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 
liim, for I was afraid that he had perished. I now 

164 COLONEL Crockett's 

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 pos- 
sessed in a greater degree what may be called true 
spontaneous politeness than this Cumanche 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 side-board 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. 

Thimblerig was delighted at meeting me again, 
but it was some time before he recovered suffi- 
ciently from the cold sweat into which the sudden 
appearance of the Indians had thrown him to 
recount his adventures to me. He said that he felt 
rather down-hearted when he found himself aban- 
doned both by the Bee hunter and myself, and he 
knew not which course to pursue ; but after think- 
ing about the matter for two hours, he had made 
up his mind to retrace the road we had travelled 
over, and had mounted his mustang for that pur- 
pose, when he spied the Bee hunter laden with 
honey. The mystery of his abrupt departure was 


now fully accounted for; he had spied a solitary 
bee shaping its course to its hive, and at the mo- 
ment he couldn't control the ruling passion, but 
followed the bee without reflecting for a moment 
upon the difficulties and dangers that his thought- 
lessness might occasion his friends. 

I now asked him what had become of the Bee 
hunter, and he said that he had gone out in pursuit 
of game for their supper, and he expected that he 
would return shortly, as he had been absent at 
least an hour. While we w^ere still speaking our 
friend appeared, bending under the weight of a 
wild turkey. He manifested great joy at meeting 
with me so unexpectedly ; and desiring the con-^ 
jurer to pluck the feathers off the bird, vrhich he 
cheerfully undertook, for he said he had been 
accustomed to plucking pigeons, we set about 
preparing our supper. 

The position we occupied was directly on the 
route leading to Bexar, and at the crossings of the 
Colorado. We were about to commence our sup- 
per, for the turkey was done in beautiful style, 
when the sound of a horse neighing startled us. 
We looked over the prairie, and beheld two men 
approaching on horseback, and both armed with 
rifles and knives. The Bee hunter said that it 
was time for us to be on our guard, for we should 

166 COLONEL Crockett's 

meet, perhaps, more enemies than friends as soon 
as we crossed the river, and the new-comers were 
making directly for the spot we occupied ; but, as 
they were only two, it occasioned no uneasiness. 

As they drew nigh we recognised the strangers ; 
they turned out to be the old pirate and the Indian 
hunter who had lodged with us a few nights before. 
We hailed them, and on seeing us they alighted 
and asked permission to join our party, which we 
gladly agreed to, as our journey was becoming 
rather more perilous every mile w^e advanced. 
They partook of our turkey, and as they had some 
small cakes of bread, which they threw into the 
general stock, we made a hearty supper ; and, after 
a battle song from the Bee hunter, we prepared to 
rest for the night. 

Early next morning we crossed the river, and 
pushed forward for the fortress of Alamo. The 
old pirate was still as taciturn as ever, but his 
companion was talkative and in good spirits. I 
asked him where he had procured their mustangs, 
and he said that he had found them hobbled in 
Burnet's Grant just at a time that he felt very tired ; 
and as he believed that no one would lay claim to 
them at Bexar, he couldn't resist mounting one, 
and persuading his friend to mount the other. 

Nothing of interest occurred until we came 


within about twenty miles of San Antonio. We 
were in the open prairie, and beheld a band of 
about fifteen or twenty armed men approaehing us 
at full speed. " Look out for squalls/' said the 
old pirate, who had not spoken for an hour; "they 
are a scouting party of Mexicans.'' "And are 
three or four times our number," said Thimblerig. 
" No matter," replied the old man ; " they are 
convicts, jail birds, and cowardly ruffians, no doubt, 
who would tremble at a loud word as much as a 
mustang at the sight of the lasso. — Let us spread 
ourselves, dismount, and trust to our arms." 

We followed his orders, and stood beside our 
horses, which served to protect our persons, and 
we awaited the approach of the enemy. When 
they perceived this movement of ours, they check- 
ed their speed, appeared to consult together for a 
few minutes, then spread their line, and came 
within rifle shot of us. The leader called out to 
us in Spanish, but as I did not understand him, I 
asked the old man what it was, who said he called 
upon us to surrender. 

"There will be a brush with those blackguards," 
continued the pirate. " Now each of you single 
out your man for the first fire, and they are greater 
fools than I take them for if they give us a chance 
at a second. — Colonel; as you are a good shot, just 

168 COLONEL Crockett's 

settle the business for 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 in Spanish. 

" Fire, and be d d," returned the pirate, at 

the top of his voice, in plain English. 

And sure enough they took his advice, for the 
next minute we were saluted 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 in- 
dependent flag flying from the battlements of the 
fortress of Alamo, our place of destination. The 
fugitives succeeded in evading our pursuit, and we 
rode up to the gates of the fortress, announced to 
the sentinel w^ho we w^ere, and the gates were 
thrown open ; and we entered amid shouts of 
welcome bestowed upon us by the patriots. 



The fortress of Alamo is at the town of Bexar, 
on the San Antonio river, which flows through the 
town. Bexar is about one hundred and forty miles 
from the coast, and contains upward of twelve 
hundred citizens, all native Mexicans, with the 
exception of a few American families who have 
settled there. Besides these there is a garrison 
of soldiers, and trading pedlars of every descrip- 
tion, who resort to it from the borders of the Rio 
Grande, as their nearest depot of American goods. 
A military outpost was established at this spot by 
the Spanish government in 1718. In 1731 the 
town w^as settled by emigrants sent out from the 
Canary Islands by the King of Spain. It became 
a flourishing settlement, and so continued until the 
revolution in 1812, since which period the Cuman- 
che and other Indians have greatly harassed the 
inhabitants, producing much individual suffering, 
ll and totally destroying, for a season at least, the 
prospects of the town. Its site is one of the most 

beautiful in the western world. The air is salu- 


170 COLONEL Crockett's 

brioiis, the water delightful, especially when mixed 
with a little of the ardent, and the health of the 
citizens is proverbial. The soil around it is highly 
fertile, and well calculated for cotton and grain. 

The gallant young Colonel Travis, who com- 
mands the Texitin forces in the fortress of Alamo, 
received me like a man ; and though he can barely 
muster one hundred and fifty efficient men, should 
Santa Anna make an attack upon us, with the whole 
host of ruffians that the Mexican prisons can dis- 
gorge, he will have snakes to eat before he gets 
over the wall, I tell you. But one spirit appears 
to animate the little band of patriots — and that is 
liberty, or death. To worship God according to 
the dictates of their own conscience, and govern 
themselves as freemen should be governed. 

All the world knows, by this time, that the town 
of Bexar, or, as some call it, San Antonio, was 
captured from the Mexicans by General Burlison, 
on the 10th day of December, 1835, after a severe 
struggle of five days and five nights, during which 
he sustained a loss of four men only, but the brave 
old Colonel Milam was among them. There were 
seventeen hundred men in the town, and the 
Texian force consisted of but two hundred and 
sixteen. The Mexicans had walled up the streets 
leading from the public square, intending to make 


a desperate resistance: the Texians however made 
an entrance, and valiantly drove them from house 
to house, until General Cos retreated to the castle 
of Alamo, without the city, and there hoisted the 
white flag, and sent out the terms of capitulation, 
w^hich were as follows : 

**General Cos is to retire within six days, with 
his officers, arms, and private property, on parole 
of honour. He is not to oppose the re-establish- 
ment of the constitution of 1824. 

The infantry, and the cavalry, the remnant of 
Morale's battalion, and the convicts, to return, 
taking with them ten rounds of cartridge for safety 
against the Indians. 

^ All public property, money, arms, and ammu- 
nition, to be delivered to General Burlison, of the 
Texian army,^-with some other stipulations in 
relation to the sick and wounded, private property, 
and prisoners of war. The Texians would not 
have acceded to them, preferring to storm him in 
his stronghold, but at this critical juncture they 
hadn't a single round of ammunition left, having 
fought from the 5th to the 9th of the month. 
General Ugartechea had arrived but the day before 
with three hundred troops, and the four hundred 
convicts mentioned above, making a reinforcement 
of seven hundred men; but such rubbish was no 

172 COLONEL Crockett's 

great obstacle to the march of freedom. The 
Mexicans lost about three hundred men during 
the siege, and the Texians had only four killed, 
and twenty wounded. The articles of capitulation 
being signed, we marched into the town, took 
possession of the fortress, hoisted the independent 
flag, and told the late proprietors to pack up thfeir 
moveables and clear out in the snapping of a 
trigger, as we did not think our pockets quite safe 
with so many jail birds around us. And this is 
the way the Alamo came into our possession ; but 
the way we shall maintain our possession of it will 
be a subject for the future historian to record, or 
my name's not Crockett. — I wish I may be shot 
if I don't go ahead to the last. 

I found Colonel Bowie, of Louisiana, in the 
fortress, a man celebrated for having been in more 
desperate personal conflicts than any other in the 
country, and whose name has been given to a 
knife of a peculiar construction, which is now in 
general use in the south-west. I was introduced 
to him by Colonel Travis, and he gave me a 
friendly welcome, and appeared to be mightily 
pleased that I had arrived safe. While we were 
conversing he had occasion to draw his famous 
knife to cut a strap, and I wish I may be shot if 
the bare sight of it wasn't enough to give a man 


of a squeamish stomach the cholic, specially before 
breakfast. 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 
him laugh ; and many a time have I seen a man 
puke at the idea of the point touching the pit of 
his stomach.'^ 

My companions, the Bee hunter and the conju- 
rer, joined us, and the colonel appeared to know 
them both very well. He had a high opinion of 
the Bee hunter, for turning to me, he said, " Colo- 
nel, you could not have had a braver, better, or 
more pleasant fellow for a companion than honest 
Ned here. With fifteen hundred such men 1 
would undertake to march to the city of Mexico, 
and occupy the seat of Santa Anna myself before 
three months should elapse." 

The colonel's life has been marked by constant 
peril and deeds of daring. A few years ago he 
went on a hunting excursion into the prairies of 
Texas, with nine companions. They were attacked 
by a roving party of Cumanches, about two hun- 
dred strong, and such was the science of the colo- 
nel in this sort of wild warfare, that after killing 
a considerable number of the enemy, he fairly 
frightened the remainder from the field of action, 

and they fled in utter dismay. The fight took 


174 COLONEL Crockett's 

place among the high grass in the open prairie. 
He ordered his men to dismount from their horses 
and scatter; to take deliberate aim before they 
fired, but as soon as they had discharged their 
rifles, to fall flat on the ground and crawl away 
from the spot, and reload their pieces. By this 
scheme they not only escaped the fire of the In- 
dians, but by suddenly discharging their guns 
from another quarter, they created the impression 
that their party was a numerous one ; and the 
Indians, finding that they were fighting against an 
invisible enemy, after losing about thirty of their 
men, took to flight, believing themselves lucky in 
having escaped with no greater loss. But one of 
the colonel's party was slightly wounded, and that 
was owing to his remaining to reload his rifle 
without having first shifted his position. 

Santa Anna, it is said, roars like an angry lion 
at the disgraceful defeat that his brother-in-law, 
General Cos, lately met with at this place. It is 
rumoured that he has recruited a large force, and 
commenced his march to San Louis de Potosi, and 
he is determined to carry on a war of extermina- 
tion. He is liberal in applying his epithets to our 
countrymen in Texas, and denounces them as a 
set of perfidious wretches, whom the compassion 
of the generous Mexicans has permitted to take 


refuge in their country; and who, like the serpent in 
the fable, no sooner warmed themselves than they 
stung their benefactors. This is a good joke. — 
By what title does Mexico lay claim to all the 
territory which belonged to Spain in North Ame- 
rica ? Each province or state of New Spain con- 
tended separately or jointly, just as it happened, 
for their independence, as we did, and were not 
united under a general government representing 
the whole of the Spanish possessions, which was 
only done afterward by mutual agreement or fede- 
ration. Let it be remembered that the Spanish 
authorities were first expelled from Texas by the 
American settlers, who, from the treachery of their 
Mexican associates, were unable to retain it ; but 
the second time they were more successful. They 
certainly had as good a right to the soil thus con- 
quered by them, as the inhabitants of other pro- 
vinces who succeeded against Spain. The Mexi- 
cans talk of the ingratitude of the Americans ; the 
truth is, that the ingratitude has been on the other 
side. What was the war of Texas, in 1813, when 
the revolutionary spark was almost extinguished in 
Mexico ? What was the expedition of Mina, and 
his three hundred American Spartans, who perished 
heroically in the very heart of Mexico, in the vain 
attempt to resuscitate and keep alive the spark of 

176 COLONEL Crockett's 

independence which has at this time kindled such 
an ungrateful blaze ? If a just estimate could be 
made of the lives and the treasures contributed by- 
American enterprise in that cause, it would appear 
incredible. How did the Mexicans obtain their 
independence at last ? Was it by their own virtue 
and courage ? No, it was by the treachery of one 
of the king's generals, who established himself by 
successful treason, and they have been in constant 
commotion ever since, which proves they are unfit 
to govern themselves, much less a free and en- 
lightened people at a distance of twelve hundred 
miles from them. 

The Mexican government, by its colonization 
laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American 
population of Texas to colonize its wilderness, 
under the pledged faith of a written constitution, 
that they should continue to enjoy that constitu- 
tional liberty and republican government to which 
they had been habituated in the land of their birth, 
the United States of America. In this expectation 
they have been cruelly disappointed, as the Mexi- 
can nation has acquiesced in the late changes made 
in the government by Santa Anna ; who, having 
overturned the constitution of this country, now 
ofiers the settlers the cruel alternative, either to 
abandon their homes, acquired by so many priva- 


tlons, or submit to the most intolerable of all 
tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword 
and the priesthood. 

But Santa Anna charges the Americans with 
ingratitude! This is something like Satan reviling 
sin. I have gathered some particulars of the life 
of this moral personage from a gentleman at present 
in the Alamo, and who is intimately acquainted 
with him, which I w^ill copy into my book exactly 
as he wrote it. 

Santa Anna is about forty-two years of age, and 
was born in the city of Vera Cruz. His father 
was a Spaniard, of old Spain, of respectable stand- 
ing, though poor ; his mother was a Mexican. He 
received a common education, and at the age of 
thirteen or fourteen was taken into the military 
family of the then Intendant of Vera Cruz, Gene- 
ral Davila, who took a great fancy to him, and 
brought him up. He remained with General Da- 
vila until about the year 1820. While with Davila 
he was made a major, and when installed he took 
the honours very coolly, and on some of his friends 
congratulating him, he said, " If you were to make 
me a god, I should desire to be something greater.'^ 
This trait, developed at so early a period of his life, 
indicated the existence of that vaulting ambij:ion 
which has ever since characterized his life. 

178 COLONEL Crockett's 

After serving the Spanish royal cause until 1821, 
he left Vera Cruz, turned against his old master 
and benefactor, and placed himself at the head of 
some irregular troops which he raised on the sea- 
coast near Vera Cruz, and which are called Jaro- 
chos in their language, and which were denominated 
by him his Cossacks, as they are all mounted and 
armed with spears. With this rude cavalry he 
besieged Vera Cruz, drove Davila into the castle 
of San Juan d'Ulloa, and after having been repulsed 
again entered at a subsequent period, and got entire 
possession of the city, expelling therefrom the old 
Spanish troops, and reducing the power of the 
mother country in Mexico to the walls of the 

Subsequent to this, Davila is said to have ob- 
tained an interview with Santa Anna, and told him 
he was destined to act a prominent part in the 
history of his country. '^And now," says he, "I 
will give you some advice : always go with the 
strongest party." He always acted up to this 
motto until he raised the grito, (or cry,) in other 
words, took up the cudgels for the friars and 
church. He then overturned the federal govern- 
ment, and established a central despotism, of which 
the priests and the military were the two privi- 
leged orders. His life has been, from the first, of 


the most romantic kind ; constantly in revolutions, 
constantly victorious. 

His manners are extremely affable ; he is full of 
anecdote and humour, and makes himself exceed- 
ingly fascinating and agreeable to all who come 
into his company ; he is about five feet ten, rather 
spare, has a moderately high forehead, with black 
hair, short black whiskers, without mustachios, and 
an eye large, black, and expressive of a lurking 
devil in his look ; he is a man of genteel and dig- 
nified deportment, but of a disposition perfectly 
heartless. He married a Spanish lady of property, 
a native of Alvarado, and through that marriage 
obtained the first part of his estate, called Manga 
de Clavo, six leagues from Vera Cruz. He has 
three fine children, yet quite young. 

The following striking anecdote of Santa Anna 
illustrates his peculiar quickness and management: 
During the revolution of 1829, while he was shut 
up in Oxaca, and surrounded by the government 
troops, and reduced to the utmost straits for the 
want of money and provisions, having a very small 
force, there had been, in consequence of the siege 
and firing every day through the streets, no mass 
for several weeks. He had no money, and hit 
upon the following expedient to get it: he took 
possession of one of the convents, got hold of the 


wardrobe of the friars, dressed his officers and 
some of his soldiers in it, and early in the morning 
had the bells rung for the mass. The people, de- 
lighted at having again an opportunity of adoring 
the Supreme Being, flocked to the church where he 
was ; and after the house was pretty well filled, his 
friars showed their side-arms and bayonets from 
beneath their cowls, and closed the doors upon the 
assembled multitude. At this unexpected denoue- 
ment there was a tremendous shrieking, when one 
of his officers ascended the pulpit, and told the peo- 
ple that he wanted ten thousand dollars, and must 
have it. He finally succeeded in getting about 
thirty-six hundred dollars, when he dismissed the 

As a sample of Santa Anna's pious whims we 
relate the folio wins; : 

In the same campaign of Oxaca, Santa Anna and 
his officers were there besieged by Rincon, who 
commanded the government troops. Santa Anna 
was in a convent surrounded by a small breast- 
work. Some of the officers one night, to amuse 
themselves, took the wooden saints out of the 
church and placed them as sentries, dressed in uni- 
forms, on the breastwork. Rincon, alarmed on 
the morning at this apparent boldness, began to 
fire away at the wooden images, supposing them 



to be flesh and blood ; and it was not until some 
of the officers who were not in the secret had 
implored Santa Anna to prevent this desecralioa 
that the firing ceased. 

Many similar facts are related of him. He is, 
in fact, all things to all men ; and yet, after his 
treachery to Davila, he has the impudence to talk 
about ingratitude. He never was out of Mexico. 
If I only live to tree him, and take him prisoner, 
I shall ask for no more glory in this life. 


132 COLONEL Crockett's 


I WRITE this on the nineteenth of February, 
1836, at San Antonio. We are all in high spirits, 
though we are rather short of provisions, for men 
who have appetites that could digest any thing but 
oppression ; but no matter, we have a prospect of 
soon getting our bellies full of fighting, and that is 
victuals and drink to a true patriot any day. We 
had a little sort of convivial party last evening : 
just about a dozen of us set to work, most pa- 
triotically, to see whether v/e could not get rid of 
that curse of the land, whisky, and we made con- 
siderable progress ; but my poor friend. Thimble- 
rig, got sewed up just about as tight as the eyelet- 
hole in a lady's corset, and a little tighter too, I 
reckon ; for when we went to bed he called for a 
boot-jack, which was brought to him, and he bent 
down on his hands and knees, and very gravely 
pulled off his hat with it, for the darned critter 
was so thoroughly swiped that he didn't know his 
head from his heels. But this wasn't all the folly 
he committed : he pulled off his coat and laid it 


on the bed, and then hung himself over the back 
of a chair ; and I wish I may be shot if he didn't 
go to sleep in that position, thinking every thing 
had been done according to Gunter's late scale. 
Seeing the poor fellow completely used up, I car- 
ried him to bed, though he did belong to the Tem- 
perance society; and he knew nothing about what 
had occurred until I told him next morning. The 
Bee hunter didnH join us in this blow-out. In- 
deed, he will seldom drink more than just enough 
to prevent his being called a total abstinence man. 
But then he is the most jovial fellow for a water 
drinker I ever did see. 

This morning I saw a caravan of about fifty 
mules passing by Bexar, and bound for Santa Fe. 
They were loaded with different articles to such a 
degree that it was astonishing how they could tra- 
vel at all, and they were nearly worn out by their 
labours. They were without bridle or halter, and 
yet proceeded with perfect regularity in a single 
line; and the owners of the caravan rode their 
mustangs with their enormous spurs, weighing at 
least a pound a piece, with rowels an inch and a 
half in length, and lever bits of the harshest de- 
scription, able to break the jaws of their animals 
under a very gentle pressure. The men were 
(Iressed in the costume of Me>:icans. Colonel 

184 COLONEL Crockett's 

Travis sent out a guard to see that they were not 
laden with munitions of war for the enemy. I 
went out with the party. The poor mules were 
bending under a burden of more than three hun- 
dred pounds, without including the panniers, vvhich 
were bound so tight as almost to stop the breath 
of the poor animal. Each of the sorrowful line 
came up, spontaneousl}^, in turn to have his girth 
unbound and his load removed. They seemed 
scarcely able to keep upon their feet, and as they 
successively obtained relief, one after another 
heaved a long and deep sigh, which it was painful 
to hear, because it proved that the poor brutes had 
been worked beyond their strength. What a 
world of misery man inflicts upon the rest of 
creation in his brief passage through life ! 

Finding that the caravan contained nothing in- 
tended for the enemy, we assisted the owners to 
replace the heavy burdens on the backs of the 
patient but dejected mules, and allowed them to 
pursue their weary and lonely way. For full two 
hours we could see them slowly winding along 
the narrow path, a faint line that ran like a thread 
through the extended prairie ; and finally they 
were whittled down to the little end of nothing 
in the distance, and were blotted out from the 


The caravan had no sooner disappeared than one 
of the hunters, who had been absent several days, 
came in. He was one of those gentlemen who 
don't pride themselves much upon their costume, 
and reminded me of a covey who came into a 
tavern in New York when I was last in that city. 
He was dressed in five jackets, all of which failed 
to conceal his raggedness, and as he bolted in, he 

" Worse than I look, by . But no matter, 

I've let myself for fourteen dollars a month, and 
find my own prog and lodging." 

" To do what ?" demanded the barkeeper. 

" To stand at the corner for a paper-mill sign — 
* cash for rags' — that's all. I'm about to enter 
upon the stationery business, )^ou see." He tossed 
ofi'his grog, and bustled out to begin his day's work. 

But to return to the hunter. He stated that he 
had met some Indians on the banks of the Rio Frio, 
who informed him that Santa Anna, with a large 
force, had already crossed the Neuces, and might 
be expected to arrive before San Antonio in a few 
days. We immediately set about preparing to 
give him a warm reception, for we are all well 
aware, if our little band is overwhelmed by num- 
bers, there is little mercy to be expected from the 

cowardly Mexicans — it is war to the knife. 


186 COLONEL Crockett's 

I jocosely asked the ragged hunter, who was a 
smart, active young fellow, of the steamboat and 
alligator breed, whether he was a rhinoceros or a 
hyena, as he was so eager for a fight with the in- 
vaders. " Neither the one, nor t'other, Colonel," 
says he, " but a whole menagerie in myself. I'm 
shaggy as a bear, wolfish about the head, active as 
a cougar, and can grin like a hyena, until the bark 
wdll curl off a gum log. There's a sprinkling of 
all sorts in me, from the lion down to the skunk ; 
and before the war is over 3'ou'll pronounce me 
an entire zoological institute, or I miss a figure in 
my calculation. I promise to swallow Santa Anna 
without gagging, if you will only skewer back his 
ears, and grease his head a little." 

He told me that he was one in the fatal expedi- 
tion fitted out from New Orleans, in November 
last, to join the contemplated attack upon Tampico 
by Mehia and Peraza. They w^ere, in all, about 
one hundred and thirty men, who embarked as 
emigrants to Texas; and the terms agreed upon 
were, that it was optional whether the party took 
up arms in defence of Texas, or not, on landing. 
They were at full liberty to act as they pleased. 
But the truth was, Tampico was their destination, 
and an attack on that city the covet design, which 
was not made known before land was in sight. 


The emigrants were landed, some fifty, who doubt- 
less had a previous understanding, joined the stan- 
dard of General Mehia, and the following day a 
formidable fort surrendered without an attack. 

The whole party were now tendered arms and 
ammunition, which even those who had been 
decoyed accepted ; and, the line being formed, 
they commenced the attack upon the city. The 
hunter continued: ^' On the 15th of November 
our little army, consisting of one hundred and 
fifty men, marched into Tampioo, garrisoned by 
tw^o thousand Mexicans, who were drawn up in 
battle array in the public square of the city. We 
charged them at the point of the bayonet, and 
although they so greatly outnumbered us, in two 
minutes we completely routed them ; and they 
fled, taking refuge on the house tops, from which 
they poured a destructive fire upon our gallant 
little band. We fought them until daylight, when 
we found our number decreased to fifty or sixty 
broken down and disheartened men. Without 
ammunition, and deserted by the officers, twenty- 
eight immediately surrendered. But a few of us 
cut our way through, and fortunately escaped to 
the mouth of the river, where we got on board a 
vessel and sailed for Texas. 

" The twenty-eight prisoners wished to be con- 

188 COLONEL Crockett's 

sidered as prisoners of war ; they made known the 
manner in which they had been deceived, but they 
were tried by a court-martial of Mexican soldiers, 
and condemned to be shot on the 14th day of De- 
cember, 1835, which sentence was carried into 

After receiving this account from my new friend, 
the old pirate and the Indian hunter came up, and 
they went oflf to liquor together, and I went to see 
a wild Mexican hog, which one of the hunters had 
brought in. These animals have become scarce, 
which circumstance is not to be deplored, for their 
flesh is of little value ; and there will still be hogs 
enough left in Mexico, from all I can learn, even 
though these should be extirpated. 

February 22. The Mexicans, about sixteen 
hundred strong, with their President Santa Anna 
at their head, aided by Generals Almonte, Cos, 
Sesma, and Castrillon, are within two leagues of 
Bexar. General Cos, it seems, has already forgot 
his parole of honour, and has come back to retrieve 
the credit he lost in this place in December last. 
If he is captured a second time, I don't think he 
can have the impudence to ask to go at large again 
without giving better bail than on the former occa- 
sion. Some of the scouts came in, and bring re- 
ports that Santa Anna has been endeavouring to 


excite the Indians to hostilities against the Texians, 
but so far without effect. The Cumanches, in 
particular, entertain such hatred for the Mexicans, 
and at the same time hold them in such contempt, 
that they would rather turn their tomahawks 
iigainst them, and drive tliem from the land, than 
lend a helping hand. We are up and doing, and 
as lively as Dutch cheese in the dog-days. The 
two hunters that I have already introduced to the 
reader left the town, this afternoon, for the purpose 
of reconnoitring. 

February 23. Early this morning tlie enemy 
came in sight, marching in regular order, and dis- 
playing their strength to the greatest advantage- 
in order to strike us with terror. But that was 
no go ; they'll find that they have to do with men 
who will never lay down their arms as long as they 
can stand on their legs. We held a short council 
of war, and, finding that we should be completely 
surrounded, and overwhelmed by numbers, if we 
remained in the town, we concluded to withdraw 
to the fortress of Alamo, and defend it to the last 
extremity. We accordingly filed ofi", in good or- 
der, having some days before placed all the surplus 
provisions, arms, and ammunition in the fortress 
We have had a large national flag made ; it is 
composed of thirteen stripes, red and white, alter- 

190 COLONEL Crockett's 

nately, on a blue ground with a large white star, 
of five points, in the centre, and between the 
points the letters Texas. As soon as all our little 
band, about one hundred and fifty in number, had 
entered and secured the fortress in the best possible 
manner, we set about raising our flag on the battle- 
ments ; on which occasion there was no one more 
active than my young friend, the Bee hunter. He 
. had been all along sprightly, cheerful, and spirited, 
but now, notwithstanding the control that he 
usually maintained over himself, it was with diffi- 
culty that he kept his enthusiasm within bounds* 
As soon as we commenced raising the flag he burst 
forth, in a clear, full tone of voice, that made the 
blood tingle in the veins of all who heard him :— 


Up with your banner, Freedom, 
Thy champions cling to thee ; 

They'll follow where'er yon lead 'em. 
To death, or victory ; — 

Up with your banner. Freedom. 

Tyrants and slaves are rushing 

To tread thee in the dust ; 
Their blood will soon be gushing, 

And stain our knives with rust ;— 
But not thy banner. Freedom. 

While stars and stripes are flying. 
Our blood we'll freely shed ; 

No groan will 'scape the dying, 
Seeing thee o'er his head ;^ 

Up with your banner, Freedom." 


This song was followed by three cheers from 
all within the fortress, and the drums and trumpets 
commenced playing. The enemy marc'\ed into 
Bexar, and took possession of the town, a blood- 
red flag flying at their head, to indicate that we 
need not expect quarters if we should fall into 
their clutches. In the afternoon a messenger was 
sent from the enemy to Colonel Travis, demanding 
an unconditional and absolute surrender of the 
garrison, threatening to put every man to the 
sword in case of refusal. The only answer he 
received was a cannon shot, so the messenger left 
us with a flea in his ear, and the Mexicans com- 
menced firing grenades at us, but without doing 
any mischief. At night Colonel Travis sent an 
express to Colonel Fanning, at Goliad, about three 
or four days' march from this place, to let him 
know that v>^e are besieged. The old pirate volun- 
teered to go on this expedition, and accordingly 
left the fort after night fail. 

February 24. Very early this morning the ene- 
my commenced a new battery on the banks of the 
river, about three hundred and fifty yards from the 
fort, and by afternoon they amused themselves by 
firing at us from that quarter. Our Indian scout 
came in this evening, and with him a reinforcement 
of thirty men from Gonzales, who are just in the nick 

192 COLONEL Crockett's 

of time to reap a harvest of glory; but there is some 
prospect of sweating blood before we gather it in. 
An accic'ent happened to my friend Thimblerig this 
afternoon. He was intent on his eternal game of 
thimbles, in a somewhat exposed position, while 
the enemy were bombarding us from the new 
redoubt. A three ounce ball glanced from the 
parapet and struck him on the breast, inflicting a 
painful but not dangerous wound. I extracted the 
bail, which was of lead, and recommended to him 
to drill a hole through it, and carry it for a watch 
seal. ^'' No," he replied, with energy, " may I be 
shot six times if I do ; that would be making a 
bauble for an idle boast. No, Colonel, lead is 
getting scarce, and I'll lend it out at compound 
interest. — Curse the thimbles !" he muttered, and 
went his way, and I saw no more of him that 

Fehruary 25. The firing commenced early 
this morning, but the Mexicans are poor engineers, 
for we haven't lost a single man, and our outworks 
have sustained no injury. Our sharp shooters have 
brought down a considerable number of stragglers 
at a long shot. I got up before the peep of day, 
hearing an occasional discharge of a rifle just over 
the place where I was sleeping, and I was some- 
what amazed to see Thimblerig mounted alone on 


the battlement, no one being on duty at the time 
but the sentries. "What are you doing there ?" 
says I. " Paying my debts," says he, " interest 
and all." "And how do you make out ?" says I. 
" I've nearly got through," says he ; " stop a 
moment, Colonel, and I'll close the account." He 
clapped his rifle to his shoulder, and blazed away, 
then jumped down from his perch, and said, "That 
account's settled ; them chaps will let me play out 
my game in quiet next time." I looked over the 
wall, and saw four Mexicans lying dead on the 
plain. I asked him to explain what he meant by 
paying his debts, and he told me that he had run 
the grape shot into four rifle balls, and that he had 
taken an early stand to have a chance of picking 
off stragglers. "Now, Colonel, let's go take our 
bitters," said he; and so we did. The enemy 
have been busy during the night, and have thrown 
up two batteries on the opposite side of the river,. 
The battalion of Matamoros is posted there, and 
cavalry occupy the hills to the east and on the 
road to Gonzales. They are determined to sur- 
round us, and cut us off from reinforcement, or the 
possibility of escape by a sortie. — ^Well, there's 
one thing they cannot prevent : we'll still go 
ahead, and sell our lives at a high price. 

February 26. Colonel Bowie has been taken 


194 COLONEL Crockett's 

sick from over exertion and exposure. He did 
not leave his bed to-day until twelve o'clock. He 
is worth a dozen common men in a situation like 
ours. The Bee hunter keeps the whole garrison 
in good heart with his songs and his jests, and his 
daring and determined spirit. He is about the 
quickest on the trigger, and the best rifle shot we 
have in the fort. I have already seen him bring 
down eleven of the enemy, and at such a distance 
that we all thought it would be waste of ammuni- 
tion to attempt it. His gun is first-rate, quite equal 
to my Betsey, though she has not quite as many 
trinkets about her. This day a small party sallied 
out of the fort for wood and water, and had a slight 
skirmish with three times their number from the 
division under General Sesma. The Bee hunter 
headed them, and beat the enemy off, after killing 
three. On opening his Bible at night, of which he 
always reads a portion before going to rest, he 
found a musket ball in the middle of it. *' See 
here. Colonel,^' said he, " how they have treated 
the valued present of my dear little Kate of Na- 
cogdoches." "It has saved your life," said I. 
"True," replied he, more seriously than usual, 
'^ and I am not the first sinner whose life has been 
saved by this book." He prepared for bed, and 
before retiring he prayed, and returned thanks for 


his providential escape ; and I heard the name of 
Catherine mingled in his prayer. 

February 27. The cannonading began early 
this morning, and ten bombs were thrown into 
the fort, but fortunately exploded without doing 
any mischief. So far it has been a sort of tempest 
in a teapot ; not unlike a pitched battle in the Hall 
of Congress, where the parties array their forces, 
make fearful demonstrations on both sides, then fire 
away with loud sounding speeches, which contain 
about as much meaning as the report of a howitzer 
charged with a blank cartridge. Provisions are 
becoming scarce, and the enemy are endeavouring 
to cut oif our water. If they attempt to stop our 
grog in that manner, let them look out, for we shall 
become too wrathy for our shirts to hold us. We 
are not prepared to submit to an excise of that 
nature, and they'll find it out. This discovery has 
created considerable excitement in the fort. 

February 28. Last night our hunters brought 
in some corn and. hogs, and had a brush with a 
scout from the enemy beyond gun-shot of the fort. 
They put the scout to flight, and got in without 
injury. They bring accounts that the settlers are 
flying in all quarters, in dismay, leaving their pos- 
sessions to the mercy of the ruthless invader, who 
is literally engaged in a war of extermination, 

196 COLONEL Crockett's 

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 wil- 
derness. For just one fair crack at that rascal, 
even at a hundred yards distance, I would bargain 
to break my Betsey, 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 Colo- 
rado, 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 perish- 
ed. The helpless woman and her babes were dis- 
covered, gazing in agony on the spot, by other 
fugitives who happily passed that way, and relieved 
them. Those who fight the battles experience but 
a small part of the privation, suffering, and anguish 
that follow in the train of ruthless war. The can- 
nonading continued, at intervals, throughout the 
day, and all hands were kept up to their work^ 


The enemy, somewhat imboldened, draws nigher 
to the fort. So much the better. — There was a 
move in General Sesma's division toward evening. 
February 29. Before daybreak we saw Gene- 
ral Sesma leave his camp with a large body of 
cavalry and infantry, and move off in the direction 
of Goliad. We think that he must have received 
news of Colonel Fanning's coming to our relief. 
We are all in high spirits at the prospect of being 
able to give the rascals a fair shake on the plain. 
This business of being shut up makes a 
wolfish. — I had a little sport this morning before 
breakfast. The enemy had planted a piece of ordi- 
nance within gun-shot 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,.^ fellow stepped forth to touch her off, but 
before he could apply the match I let him have it, 
and he keeled over. A second stepped up, snatched 
the match from the hand of the dying man, but 
Thimblerig, 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, and 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 break- 
fast. Thimblerig told me that the place from 
which I had been firing was one of the snuggest 
stands in the whole fort, for he never failed picking 
ofi" two or three stragglers before breakfast, when 
perched up there. And I recollect, now, having 
seen him there, ever since he was wounded, the 
first thing in the morning, and the last at night, — 
and at times thoughtlessly playing at his eternal 

March 1. The enemy's forces have been in- 
creasing in numbers daily, notwithstanding they 
have already lost about three hundred men in the 
several assaults they have made upon us. I neg- 
lected to mention in the proper place, that when 
the enemy came in sight we had but three t)ushels 
of corn in the garrison, but have since found 
eighty bushels in a deserted house. Colonel 
Bowie's illness still continues, but he manages to 
crawl from his bed every day, that his comrades 
may see him. His presence alone is a tower of 
strength. — The enemy becomes more daring as his 
numbers increase. 


March 2. This day the delegates meet in 
general convention, at the town of Washington, to 
frame our Declaration of Independence. That the 
sacred instrument may never be trampled on by 
the children of those who have freely shed their 
blood to establish it, is the sincere wish of David 
Crockett. Universal independence is an almighty 
idea, far too extensive for some brains to compre- 
hend. It is a beautiful seed that germinates rapid- 
ly, and brings forth a large and vigorous tree, but 
like the deadly Upas, we sometimes find the 
smaller plants wither and die in its shades. Its 
blooming branches spread far and wide, ofifering a 
perch of safety to all alike, but even among its 
protecting branches we find the eagle, the kite, 
and the owl preying upon the helpless dove and 
sparrow. Beneath its shade myriads congregate 
in goodly fellowship, but the lamb and the fawn 
find but frail security from the lion and the jackal, 
though the tree of independence waves over them. 
Some imagine independence to be a natural charter, 
to exercise without restraint, and to their fullest 
extent, all the energies, both physical and mental, 
with which they have been endowed ; and for 
their individual aggrandizement alone, without 
regard to the rights of others, provided they 
extend to all the same privilege and freedom 

200 COLONEL Crockett's 

of action. Such independence is the worst of 

March 3. We have given over all hopes of 
receiving assistance from Goliad or Refugio. Co- 
lonel Travis harangued the garrison, and concluded 
by exhorting them, in case the enemy should carry 
the fort, to fight to the last gasp, and render their 
victory even more serious to them than to us. 
This was followed by three cheers. 

March 4. Shells have been falling into the fort 
like hail during the day, but without eflfect. About 
dusk, in the evening, we observed a man run- 
ning toward the fort, pursued by about a dozen 
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 heel 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 ardour of the moment, followed 
some distance before we saw that our retreat to the 
fort was cut off by another detachment of cavalry. 
Nothing was to be done but to fight 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 num- 
ber, and they stood their ground. After the fight 
had continued about five minutes, a detachment 
was seen issuing from the fort to our relief, and 
the Mexicans scampered oflf, leaving eight of their 
comrades dead upon the field. But we did not 
escape unscathed, for both the pirate and the Bee 
hunter were mortally wounded, and I received 
a sabre cut across the forehead. The old man 
died, without speaking, as soon as we entered the 
fort. We bore my young friend to his bed, dressed 
his wounds, and I watched beside him. He lay, 
without complaint or manifesting pain, until about 
midnight, when he spoke, and I asked him if he 
wanted any thing. "Nothing," he replied, but 
drew a sigh that seemed to rend his heart, as he 
added, "Poor Kate of Nacogdoches!" His eyes 
were filled with tears, as he continued, "Her words 
were prophetic, Colonel ;" and then he sang, in a 


low voice that resembled the sweet notes of his 
own devoted Kate, 

" But toom cam' the saddle, all bluidy to see, 
And hame cam' the steed, but hame never cam' he." 

He spoke no more, and, a few minutes after, died. 
Poor Kate, who will tell this to thee ! 

March 5. Pop, pop, pop ! Bom, bom, bom ! 
throughout the day. — No time for memorandums 
now. — Go ahead! — Liberty and independence for 

\Here ends Col. Crockett^ s Tnanuscript .1 






The hand is cold that wrote the foregoing pages, 
and it devolves upon another to record the subse- 
quent events. Before daybreak, on the 6th of 
March, the Alamo was assaulted by the whole 
force of the Mexican army, commanded by Santa 
Anna in person. The battle was desperate until 
daylight, when only six men belonging to the 
Texian garrison were found alive. They were 
instantly surrounded, and ordered, by General 
Castrillon, to surrender, which they did, under a 
promise of his protection, finding that resistance 
any longer would be madness. Colonel Crockett 
was of the number. He stood alone in an angle 
of the fort, the barrel of his shattered rifle in his 
right hand, in his left his hugeBowie knife dripping 
blood. There was a frightful gash across his fore- 
head, while around him there was a complete bar- 
rier of about twenty Mexicans, lying pell-mell, 
dead, and dying. At his feet lay the dead body 
of that well known character, designated in the 
Colonel's narrative by the assumed name of Thim- 

204 COLONEL Crockett's 

jj^jlerig, his knife driven to the haft in the throat of 
Mexican, and his left hand clenched in his hair, 
jr^oor fellow, I knew him well, at a time when he 
was possessed of many virtues, but of late years the 
weeds had choked up the flowers ; however. Colo- 
nel Crockett had succeeded in awakening in his 
bosom a sense of better things, and the poor fellow 
was grateful to the last, and stood beside his friend 
throughout the desperate havoc. 

General Castrillon was brave and not cruel, and 
disposed to save the prisoners. He marched them 
up to that part of the fort where stood Santa Anna 
and his murderous crew. The steady, fearless 
step, and undaunted tread of Colonel Crockett on 
this occasion, together with the bold demeanour 
of the hardy veteran, had a powerful effect on all 
present. Nothing daunted, he marched up boldly 
in front of Santa Anna, and looked him sternly in 
the face, while Castrillon addressed " his excel- 
lency," — " Sir, here are six prisoners I have taken 
alive ; how shall I dispose of them ?" Santa Anna 
looked at Castrillon fiercely, flew into a violent 
rage, and replied, " Have I not told you before 
how to dispose of them ? Why do you bring them 
to me ?" At the same time his brave officers 
plunged their swords into the bosoms of their de- 
fenceless prisoners. Colonel Crockett, seeing the 


act of treachery, instantly sprang like a tiger at 
the ruffian chief, but before he could reach him a 
dozen swords were sheathed in his indomitable 
heart; and he fell, and died without a groan, a 
frown on his brow, and a smile of scorn and defi- 
ance on his lips. Castrillon rushed from the scene, 
apparently horror-struck, sought his quarters, and 
did not leave them for several days, and hardly 
spoke to Santa Anna after. 

The conduct of Colonel Bowie was characteristic 
to the last. When the fort was carried he was sick 
in bed. He had also one of the murderous butcher 
knives which bears his name. Lying in bed he 
discharged his pistols and gun, and with each dis- 
charge brought down an enemy. So intimidated 
were the Mexicans by this act of desperate and 
cool bravery, that they dared not approach him, 
but shot him from the door ; and as the cowards 
approached his bed, over the dead bodies of their 
companions, the dying Bowie, nerving himself for 
a last blow, plunged his knife into the heart of his 
nearest foe at the same instant that he expired. 

The gallant Colonel Travis fought as if deter- 
mined to verify his prediction, that he would make 
a victory more serious than a defeat to the enemy. 
He fell from the rampart, mortally wounded, into 

the fort ; and his musket fell forward among the 


206 COLONEL Crockett's 

foe, who were scaling the wall. After a few 
minutes he recovered sufficiently to sit up, when 
the Mexican officer who led that party attempted 
to cut his head off with his sabre. The dying hero, 
with a death grasp, drew his sword and plunged it 
into the body of his antagonist, and both together 
sank into the arms of death. General Cos, who 
had commanded this fortress while in the posses- 
sion of the Mexicans, and from whom it was cap- 
tured, on entering the fort after the battle, ordered 
the servant of Colonel Travis to point out the body 
of his master; he did so, when Cos drew his sword, 
waved it triumphantly over the corpse, and then 
mangled the face and limbs with the malignant 
feelings of a Cumanche savage. One woman, Mrs. 
Dickinson, and a negro of Col. Travis, were the 
only persons whose lives were spared. The bodies 
of the slain were then thrown into a mass in the 
centre of the Alamo, and burned. The loss of the 
Mexicans in storming the place was not less than 
eight hundred killed and mortally wounded, making 
their losses since the first assault more than fifteen 
hundred. This immense slaughter, by so small a 
number, can only be accounted for by the fact of 
the Texians having five or six guns to each man 
in the fort. Immediately after the capture Santa 
Anna sent Mrs. Dickinson and the servant to 


General Houston, accompanied by a Mexican with 
a flag, offering the Texians peace and general 
amnesty, if they would lay down their arms, and 
submit to his government. General Houston's 
reply was, " True, sir, you have succeeded in kill- 
ing some of our brave men, but the Texians are 
not yet conquered." He sent him a copy of the 
Declaration of Independence recently agreed on at 
New Washington. 

After the capture of San Antonio, Santa Anna 
had made a feint on Gonzales, where General 
Houston was with a very inferior force, which in- 
duced the latter to fall back on the Colorado, under 
the belief that the whole Mexican army was march- 
ing to attack him. A similar feint was also made 
by the Mexican General on Bastrop, a town on the 
Colorado, north-east of San Antonio. Gonzales 
lies east of that place. Having, in both instances, 
effected his object, Santa Anna concentrated his 
forces, and marched directly for La Bahia, or Go- 
liad, which is situated about ninety miles south-east 
of San Antonio, on the Colorado. The fort at 
Goliad is of great strength, and was defended by 
Colonel Fanning with a small force of volunteers. 
About the middle of March, orders were received 
from General Houston directing the blowing up 
and evacuation of the fort, and that Colonel Fanning 

208 COLONEL Crockett's 

should concentrate with him on the Colorado. On 
the 18th of March the Mexicans were discovered, 
in considerable force, in the neighbourhood of Go- 
liad, and through the day there was some skirmish- 
ing with the advance parties. On the 19th the 
fort was set on fire, and its wooden defences de- 
stroyed ; but the wall was left entire, and Colonel 
Fanning took up his line of march. His force, 
at that time, was reduced to two hundred and 
sixty, rank and file. With this force and several 
field pieces he set out to cross an open country, 
and endeavour to effect a junction with General 
Houston. On the evening of the first day of their 
march, the enemy made their appearance in the 
rear, about three miles distant. Colonel Fanning 
halted, and opened his artillery on them, instead 
of hastening forward to avail himself of the shelter 
of a wood, some distance ahead. The enemy ma- 
nifesting a disposition to cut him off* from the 
woods, he again put his forces in motion, but it 
was now too late. He not only lost the shelter of 
the timber, which would have ensured his safety 
against the enemy's horse, but the assistance of his 
advanced guard, which was cut off* from him by 
this manoeuvre of the enemy. The absence of the 
advanced guard reduced his forces to two hundred* 
and thirty-three, rank and file, to which the enemy 


Opposed five hundred cavalry and two hundred 
infantry. The action commenced about five 
o'clock, and continued until nearly dark. The 
enemy was repulsed with great loss in every 
charge, and never was able to penetrate nearer to 
Fanning's force than sixty-five or one hundred 
yards ; and finally, about dark, drew ofi* his forces 
to a secure distance, leaving only a few to succour 
the wounded, who were not molested. Fanning's 
loss was five killed and twelve wounded, two 
mortally. The enemy acknowledged the loss of 
one hundred and ninety-two killed, and a large 
number wounded. So soon as the Mexicans with- 
drew. Fanning commenced throwing up intrench- 
ments, at which his men w^ere employed during 
the whole night. 

About sunrise on the 20th, the enemy again 
advanced on Fanning, and fired their cannon four 
times over him ; a large reinforcement of Mexi- 
cans was plainly to be seen, three miles distant. 
At this moment a white flag, attended by a small 
party, was seen advancing from the enemy, which 
was met by a similar one from Fanning, under 
Major Wallace. The enemy demanded the sur- 
render of Fanning and his forces, and promised, in 
the most sacred manner, that they should retain all 

their private property ; that they might return, by 

' 18^ 

210 COLONEL Crockett's 

the first opportunity, as prisoners of war, to the 
United States, or remain until they were regularly 
exchanged ; and that they should be treated in the 
most humane manner while retained in confine- 
ment. With these specious promises he was in- 
duced to trust to the honour of the butchers of the 
Alamo, and accept of the terms of capitulation. 

As soon as the necessary arrangements could be 
made the prisoners were marched, under a strong 
guard, to Goliad, and huddled together, officers and 
men, into a church within the fort at Goliad. The 
enemy having succeeded in capturing other small 
parties, the number of prisoners amounted to four 
hundred, and were all crowded together in the 
church, and compelled to sit or lie constantly. 
The only accommodation afforded was a few 
benches for the officers. They were retained in 
this situation for three days, and during this 
period received only a small ration of raw beef, 
not exceeding half a pound each. On the fourth 
day they were marched out into the open air, and 
limits prescribed them, over which they were not 
to pass. For four days longer they were kept in 
this situation, during which they were allowed 
only two rations similar to the first ; and, but for 
the pecan nuts purchased from the Mexican sol- 
diers, and a small quantity of jerked beef procured 


in the same manner, they must have suffered im- 
mensely. On the eighth day representations were 
made to the prisoners, that it would be necessary 
to remove them out of the fort, as they were about 
to drive in beeves to slaughter, in order to prepare 
rations for their removal to Matagorda, where they 
were to take shipping for New Orleans. They 
were accordingly marched out, in parties of one 
hundred each, and, in single file, were led along a 
high brush fence; when, at the distance of two 
hundred yards, they were ordered to face about, 
and the cocking of the guns gave the first intirr.ti- 
tion of the fate thai awaited them. At the first 
fire nearly all fell mortally wounded. A few 
escaped by falling at the flash, and as soon as the 
firing ceased, they leaped up, and sprung over the 
fence, and succeeded in reaching the woods, where 
they eluded their pursuers. The Mexicans pro- 
ceeded to despatch with their bayonets any who 
showed signs of life after the firing, and they 
then stripped- and burnt the bodies. The authori- 
ties of Texas bestowed solemn obsequies upon 
their mutilated and blackened limbs, on the 4th 
of June, after their murderers had sank unto death 
on the plains of San Jacinto, under the appalling 
words, "Remember La Bahia!" 

But this succession of barbarities, so far from 

212 COLONEL Crockett's 

intimidating, served to rouse the energies of the 
oppressed. The vainglorious Spaniard, elated with 
his success, without adverting to the fact that he 
had never been victorious without having at least 
from five to ten of his mercenaries opposed to one 
of his foes, now ventured to cross the Colorado, 
believing that victory was perched upon his stand- 
ard, and would not leave it until Texas should be 

His track was marked by death and desolation. 
Fire, famine, and the sword were in his train, and 
r'^ither sex nor age was received as a plea for 
mercy. The hoary head of the grandsire, the 
flaxen curls of the babe, and the dishevelled tresses 
of the affrighted mother, were alike stained with 
gore. Farm houses were consumed by fire, the 
crops destroyed in the ground ; and the settlers 
fled in dismay, feeling that the worst of scourges 
had been let loose upon them. The plains were 
strewed with thousands of the unburied slaugh- 
tered ; and the air was fetid with corruption and 
decay. The merciless tyrant saw all this, and his 
heart expanded with joy, as he moved on, like 
Attila, and beheld the terror and wretchedness of 
those he came to annihilate, rather than to scourge 
into subjection. But his was a temporary triumph. 
He crossed the Colorado full of hope of carrying 


his demoniac intentions into execution, but shame, 
confusion, and defeat awaited his coming. 

About the 18th of April the tyrant, with one 
division of his troops, marched in the direction of 
Lynch's ferry, on the San Jacinto, burning Harris- 
burgh as he passed down. The Texian forces 
under General Houston were ordered to be in 
readiness, and on the morning of the 19th they 
took up their line of march in pursuit of him, and 
found him encamped on the banks of the San 
Jacinto. About nine o'clock on the morning of 
the 21st the Mexicans were reinforced by five hun- 
dred choice troops, under command of General Cos, 
increasing their efiective force to upward of fifteen 
hundred men, while the aggregate force of the 
Texians, for the field, numbered seven hundred 
and eighty-three. General Houston ordered the 
bridge on the only road communicating with the 
Brazos, distant from the encampment, to be de- 
stroyed, thus cutting ofi* all possibility of escape. 
The Texian army was ordered to parade their 
respective commands, which they did with alacrity 
and spirit, and were anxious for the conflict ; the 
disparity in numbers only seemed to increase their 
enthusiasm and confidence. Houston, having the 
enemy thus snugly hemmed in, and his little army 
drawn up in order of battle, addressed them, in 

214 COLONEL Crockett's 

person, briefly, and concluded by saying, ^' Fellow 
soldiers, there is the enemy before you ; do you 
wish to fight?" "We do!" was the universal 
response. " Well, then," he continued, " remem- 
ber it is for liberty, or death! — Remember the 
Alamo! Remember Goliad!" The soldiers shout- 
ed, "We shall remember!"— " Then go ahead!" 
From General Houston's official account it appears 
that the war-cry was, "Remember the Alamo." 
The attack was furious, and lasted about eighteen 
minutes from the time of close action until the 
Texians were in possession of the enemy's camp. 
Our riflemen, not having the advantage of bayonets, 
used their pieces as clubs, breaking many of them at 
the breach. The rout commenced at half-past four 
o'clock, and continued until twilight. In the battle 
our loss was two killed and twenty-three wounded, 
six of whom mortally. The enemy's loss was six 
hundred and thirty killed, and seven hundred and 
thirty were taken prisoners, among whom were 
Generals Santa Anna and Cos, who were captured 
a day or two after the battle. About six hundred 
muskets and three hundred sabres were collected ; 
several hundred mules and horses were taken, and 
near twelve hundred dollars in specie. 

We learn, from other sources, that General Cos, 
when taken, was pale and greatly agitated ; but 


Almonte displayed, as he had during the fight, 
great coolness and courage. Santa Anna fled 
among the earliest who retreated. His horse 
bogged down in the prairie, near the Brassos 
timber; he then made for the timber on foot. 
His pursuers, in the eagerness of the chase, dashed 
into the same bog, and continued the pursuit on 
foot, following the trail of the fugitive, which was 
very plain on account of the recent rains, tmtil 
they reached the timber, where it was lost. The 
pursuers then spread themselves, and searched the 
woods for a long time in vain, when it occurred to 
Arnold Hunter that the chase might, like a hard 
pressed bear, have taken a tree. The tree tops 
were then examined, when, lo! the game was dis- 
covered snugly ensconced in the forks of a large 
live oak. The captors did not know who the 
prisoner was until they reached the camp, when 
the Mexican soldiers exclaimed, " El General, El 
General Santa Anna!" When conducted to Ge- 
neral Houston he offered to evacuate Texas, and 
acknowledge its independence, on condition that 
his life and liberty should be granted to him, and 
a safe escort to Mexico. 

The enemy passed LaBahia and Bexar, blowing 
up the Alamo; spiking, and throwing the cannon in 
the river, in his retreat. The Cumanche Indians 


commenced depredating in the rear of the Mexican 
army, as they advanced from Bexar upon the 
settlements. All their horses and mules, of which 
they had many, as well as much baggage, were 
taken by the Tndians. At every step they met 
with trouble, and are hurrying with all possible 
despatch toward the interior. 

The fate of poor Fanning, who was not killed 
in the indiscriminate massacre of his troops, has 
since been ascertained. He was condemned to be 
shot. When he found that was determined on, 
and was ordered out for execution, he handed his 
watch to an officer, as compensation to have him 
buried, deliberately tied a handkerchief over his 
eyes, begged them not to shoot him in the head, 
bared his breast, and requested to be shot there. 
He was shot in the head, and never buried! 

Such are the monsters that freemen have had to 
contend with, to maintain their freedom "5, the 
struggle is not yet over, but nothing can i- .pede 
iLa onward march, and Texas must take her stand 
SduOi ^jibj^iendent nations. 


Original JLetter of David Croelcett* 

At a late meeting of the Tennessee Historical 
Society, Mr. F. N. M. Bruton presented thia 
original of a letter from David Crockett to Wm. 
Rodgers, of Caledonia, Henry County, Tennessee. 
It is wrillen on unruled foolscap paper, and-is a 
very characteristic and interesting letter of the 
veteran pioneer and patriot. It is Trell worthy of 
being given in full. It runs as follows : 

Washington City, 8th January, 1834. 

Dear Sir : — Your favour, relative to the arraign- 
ment of your mail, was rec'd on yesterday and I 
took it immediately to the P. M. G., and left it 

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