David Crockett - Marriage and Settlement
David took possession of his horse, and began to work very diligently
to pay for it. He felt that now he was a man of property. After the lapse
of a few weeks he mounted his horse and rode over to the Irishman's cabin
to see his girl, and to find out how she lived, and what sort of people
composed the family. Arriving at the log hut, he found the father to be a
silent, staid old man, and the mother as voluble and nervous a little
woman as ever lived. Much to his disappointment, the girl was away. After
an hour or two she returned, having been absent at some meeting or
merry-making, and, much to his chagrin, she brought back with her a stout
young fellow who was evidently her lover.
The new-comer was not at all disposed to relinquish his claims in favor of
David Crockett. He stuck close to the maiden, and kept up such an
incessant chatter that David could scarcely edge in a word. In
characteristic figure of speech he says, "I began to think I was barking
up the wrong tree again. But I determined to stand up to my rack, fodder
or no fodder." He thought he was sure of the favor of her parents, and he
was not certain that the girl herself had not given him sundry glances
indicative of her preference. Dark night was now coming on, and David had
a rough road of fifteen miles to traverse through the forest before he
could reach home. He thought that if the Irishman's daughter cherished any
tender feelings toward him, she would be reluctant to have him set out at
that late hour on such a journey. He therefore rose to take leave.
His stratagem proved successful. The girl immediately came, leaving her
other companion, and in earnest tones entreated him not to go that
evening. The lover was easily persuaded. His heart grew lighter and his
spirit bolder. She soon made it so manifest in what direction her choice
lay, that David was left entire master of the field. His discomfited rival
soon took his hat and withdrew, David thus was freed from all his
It was Saturday night. He remained at the cabin until Monday morning,
making very diligent improvement of his time in the practice of all those
arts of rural courtship which instinct teaches. He then returned home, not
absolutely engaged, but with very sanguine hopes.
At that time, in that region, wolves were abundant and very destructive.
The neighbors, for quite a distance, combined for a great wolf-hunt, which
should explore the forest for many miles. By the hunters thus scattering
on the same day, the wolves would have no place of retreat. If they fled
before one hunter they would encounter another. Young Crockett, naturally
confident, plunged recklessly into the forest, and wandered to and fro
until, to his alarm, he found himself bewildered and utterly lost. There
were no signs of human habitations near, and night was fast darkening
Just as he was beginning to feel that he must look out for a night's
encampment, he saw in the distance, through the gigantic trees, a young
girl running at her utmost speed, or, as he expressed it in the Crockett
vernacular, "streaking it along through the woods like all wrath." David
gave chase, and soon overtook the terrified girl, whom he found, to his
surprise and delight, to be his own sweetheart, who had also by some
strange accident got lost.
Here was indeed a romantic and somewhat an embarrassing adventure. The
situation was, however, by no means so embarrassing as it would have been
to persons in a higher state of civilization. The cabin of the emigrant
often consisted of but one room, where parents and children and the chance
guest passed the night together. They could easily throw up a camp. David
with his gun could kindle a fire and get some game. The girl could cook
it. All their physical wants would thus be supplied. They had no material
inconveniences to dread in camping out for a night. The delicacy of the
situation would not be very keenly felt by persons who were at but one
remove above the native Indian.
The girl had gone out in the morning into the woods, to hunt up one of her
father's horses. She missed her way, became lost, and had been wandering
all day long farther and farther from home. Soon after the two met they
came across a path which they knew must lead to some house. Following
this, just after dark they came within sight of the dim light of a cabin
fire. They were kindly received by the inmates, and, tired as they were,
they both sat up all night. Upon inquiry they found that David had
wandered ten miles from his home, and the young girl seven from hers.
Their paths lay in different directions, but the road was plain, and in
the morning they separated, and without difficulty reached their
David was now anxious to get married immediately. It will be remembered
that he had bought a horse; but he had not paid for it. The only property
he had, except the coarse clothes upon his back, was a rifle. All the land
in that neighborhood was taken up. He did not even own an axe with which
to build him a log cabin. It would be necessary for him to hire some
deserted shanty, and borrow such articles as were indispensable. Nothing
could be done to any advantage without a horse. To diminish the months
which he had promised to work in payment for the animal, he threw in his
After a few weeks of toil the horse was his. He mounted his steed, deeming
himself one of the richest men in the far West, and rode to see his girl
and fix upon his wedding-day. He confesses that as he rode along,
considering that he had been twice disappointed, he experienced no
inconsiderable trepidation as to the result of this third matrimonial
enterprise. He reached the cabin, and his worst fears were realized.
The nervous, voluble, irritable little woman, who with all of a
termagant's energy governed both husband and family, had either become
dissatisfied with young Crockett's poverty, or had formed the plan of some
other more ambitious alliance for her daughter. She fell upon David in a
perfect tornado of vituperation, and ordered him out of the house. She was
"mighty wrathy," writes David, "and looked at me as savage as a meat-axe."
David was naturally amiable, and in the depressing circumstances had no
heart to return railing for railing. He meekly reminded the infuriate
woman that she had called him "son-in-law" before he had attempted to call
her "mother-in-law," and that he certainly had been guilty of no conduct
which should expose him to such treatment. He soon saw, to his great
satisfaction, that the daughter remained faithful to him, and that the
meek father was as decidedly on his side as his timid nature would permit
him to be. Though David felt much insulted, he restrained his temper, and,
turning from the angry mother, told her daughter that he would come the
next Thursday on horseback, leading another horse for her; and that then
he would take her to a justice of the peace who lived at the distance of
but a few miles from them, where they would be married. David writes of
"Her Irish was too high to do anything with her; so I quit trying. All I
cared for was to have her daughter on my side, which I know'd was the case
then. But how soon some other fellow might knock my nose out of joint
again, I couldn't tell. Her mother declared I shouldn't have her. But I
knowed I should, if somebody else didn't get her before Thursday."
The all-important wedding-day soon came David was resolved to crush out
all opposition and consummate the momentous affair with very considerable
splendor. He therefore rode to the cabin with a very imposing retinue.
Mounted proudly upon his own horse, and leading a borrowed steed, with a
blanket saddle, for his bride, and accompanied by his elder brother and
wife and a younger brother and sister, each on horseback, he "cut out to
her father's house to get her."
When this cavalcade of six horses had arrived within about two miles of
the Irishman's cabin, quite a large party was found assembled from the log
huts scattered several miles around. David, kind-hearted, generous,
obliging, was very popular with his neighbors. They had heard of the
approaching nuptials of the brave boy of but eighteen years, and of the
wrath of the brawling, ill-tempered mother. They anticipated a scene, and
wished to render David the support of their presence and sympathy. This
large party, some on foot and some on horseback, proceeded together to the
Irishman's cabin. The old man met them with smiles, whiskey bottle in
hand, ready to offer them all a drink. The wife, however, was obdurate as
ever. She stood at the cabin door, her eyes flashing fire, and quite
bewildered to decide in what way to attempt to repel and drive off her
She expected that the boy would come alone, and that, with her all-potent
tongue, she would so fiercely assail him and so frighten her young girl as
still to prevent the marriage. But here was quite an army of the
neighbors, from miles around, assembled. They were all evidently the
friends of David. Every eye was fixed upon her. Every ear was listening to
hear what she would say. Every tongue was itching to cry out shame to her
opposition, and to overwhelm her with reproaches. For once the termagant
found herself baffled, and at her wits' end.
The etiquette of courts and cabins are quite different. David paid no
attention to the mother, but riding up to the door of the log house,
leading the horse for his bride, he shouted to her to come out. The girl
had enjoyed no opportunity to pay any attention to her bridal trousseau.
But undoubtedly she had contrived to put on her best attire. We do not
know her age, but she was ever spoken of as a remarkably pretty little
girl, and was probably about seventeen years old.
David did not deem it necessary to dismount, but called upon his "girl" to
jump upon the horse he was leading. She did so. The mother was powerless.
It was a waterloo defeat. In another moment they would disappear, riding
away along the road, which wound through the gigantic trees of the forest.
In another hour they would be married. And then they would forever be
beyond the reach of the clamor of her voluble tongue. She began to relent.
The old man, accustomed to her wayward humors, instinctively perceived it.
Stepping up to David, and placing his hand upon the neck of his horse, he
"I wish you would stay and be married here. My woman has too much tongue.
You oughtn't mind her."
Having thus, for a moment, arrested their departure, he stepped back to
the door, where his discomfited wife stood, and entreated her to consent
to their being married there. After much persuasion, common sense
triumphed over uncommon stubbornness. She consented. David and his
expectant bride were both on horseback, all ready to go. The woman rather
sullenly came forward and said:
"I am sorry for the words I have spoken. This girl is the only child I
have ever had to marry. I cannot bear to see her go off in this way. If
you'll come into the house and be married here, I will do the best I can
The good-natured David consented. They alighted from their horses, and the
bridal party entered the log hut. The room was not large, and the
uninvited guests thronged it and crowded around the door. The justice of
peace was sent for, and the nuptial knot was tied.
||The wedding ceremonies on such
occasions were sufficiently curious to be worthy of record. They
certainly were in very wide contrast with the pomp and splendor of
nuptials in the palatial mansions of the present day. A large party
usually met at some appointed place, some mounted and others on
foot, to escort the bridegroom to the house of the bride. The horses
were decorated with all sorts of caparisons, with ropes for bridles,
with blankets or furs for saddles. The men were dressed in deerskin
moccasins, leather breeches, leggins, coarse hunting-shirts of all
conceivable styles of material, and all homemade.
The women wore
gowns of very coarse homespun and home-woven cloth, composed of
linen and wool, and called linsey-woolsey, very coarse shoes, and
sometimes with buckskin gloves of their own manufacture. If any one
chanced to have a ring or pretty buckle, it was a relic of former
There were no carriages, for there were no roads. The narrow trail they
traversed in single file was generally a mere horse-path, often so
contracted in width that two horses could not pass along abreast. As they
marched along in straggling line, with shouts and jokes, and with the
interchange of many gallant acts of rustic love-making between the
coquettish maidens and the awkward swains, they encountered frequent
obstacles on the way. It was a part of the frolic for the young men to
throw obstructions in their path, and thus to create surprises. There were
brooks to be forded. Sometimes large trees were mischievously felled
across the trail. Grape-vines were tied across from tree to tree, to trip
up the passers-by or to sweep off their caps. It was a great joke for half
a dozen young men to play Indian. They would lie in ambuscade, and
suddenly, as the procession was passing, would raise the war-whoop,
discharge their guns, and raise shouts of laughter in view of the real or
feigned consternation thus excited.
The maidens would of course shriek. The frightened horses would spring
aside. The swains would gallantly rush to the rescue of their sweethearts.
When the party had arrived within about a mile of the house where the
marriage ceremony was to take place, two of the most daring riders among
the young men who had been previously selected for the purpose, set out on
horseback on a race for "the bottle." The master of the house was expected
to be standing at his door, with a jug of whiskey in his hand. This was
the prize which the victor in the race was to seize and take back in
triumph to his companions.
The start was announced by a general Indian yell. The more rough the
road--the more full of logs, stumps, rocks, precipitous hills, and steep
glens, the better. This afforded a better opportunity for the display of
intrepidity and horsemanship. It was a veritable steeple-chase. The victor
announced his success by one of those shrill, savage yells, which would
almost split the ears of the listener. Grasping the bottle, he returned in
triumph. On approaching the party, he again gave forth the Indian
The bottle or jug was first presented to the bridegroom. He applied the
mouth of the bottle to his lips, and took a dram of raw whiskey. He then
handed it to his next of kin, and so the bottle passed through the whole
company. It is to be supposed that the young women did not burn their
throats with very copious drafts of the poisonous fire-water.
When they arrived at the house, the brief ceremony of marriage immediately
took place, and then came the marriage feast. It was a very substantial
repast of pork, poultry, wild turkeys, venison, and bear's meat. There was
usually the accompaniment of corn-bread, potatoes, and other vegetables.
Great hilarity prevailed on these occasions, with wonderful freedom of
manners, coarse jokes, and shouts of laughter.
The table was often a large slab of timber, hewn out with a broad-axe, and
supported by four stakes driven into auger-holes. The table furniture
consisted of a few pewter dishes, with wooden plates and bowls. There were
generally a few pewter spoons, much battered about the edges, but most of
the spoons were of horn, homemade. Crockery, so easily broken, was almost
unknown. Table knives were seldom seen. The deficiency was made up by the
hunting-knives which all the men carried in sheaths attached to their
After dinner the dancing began. There was invariably some musical genius
present who could play the fiddle. The dances were what were called three
or four handed reels, or square sets and jigs. With all sorts of grotesque
attitudes, pantomime and athletic displays, the revelry continued until
late into the night, and often until the dawn of the morning. As there
could be no sleeping accommodations for so large a company in the cabin of
but one room, the guests made up for sleep in merriment.
The bridal party stole away in the midst of the uproar, one after another,
up a ladder into the loft or garret above, which was floored with loose
boards made often of split timber. This furnished a very rude sleeping
apartment. As the revelry below continued, seats being scarce, every young
man offered his lap as a seat for the girls; and the offer was always
promptly accepted; Always, toward morning, some one was sent up into the
loft with a bottle of whiskey, to offer the bridegroom and his bride a
drink. The familiar name of the bottle was "Black Betty." One of the
witticisms ever prominent on the occasion was, "Where is Black Betty? I
want to kiss her sweet lips." At some splendid weddings, where the larder
was abundantly stored with game, this feasting and dancing was continued
for several days.
Such, in the main, was the wedding of David Crockett with the Irishman's
daughter. In the morning the company dispersed. David also and his young
bride left, during the day, for his father's cabin. As the families of the
nuptial party both belonged to the aristocracy of the region, quite a
splendid marriage reception was held at John Crockett's. There were
feasting and dancing; and "Black Betty received many a cordial kiss. The
bridegroom's heart was full of exultant joy. David writes:
"Having gotten my wife, I thought I was completely made up, and needed
nothing more in the whole world."
He soon found his mistake, and awoke to the consciousness that he needed
everything, and had nothing. He had no furniture, no cabin, no land, no
money. And he had a wife to support. His only property consisted of a
cheap horse. He did not even own a rifle, an article at that time so
indispensable to the backwoodsman.
After spending a few days at David's father's, the bridegroom and bride
returned to the cabin of her father, the Irishman. Here they found that a
wonderful change had taken place in the mother's feelings and conduct. She
had concluded to submit good-naturedly to the inevitable. Her
"conversational powers" were wonderful. With the most marvelous volubility
of honeyed words she greeted them. She even consented to have two cows
given them, each with a calf. This was the dowry of the bride--her only
dowry. David, who had not expected anything, felt exceedingly rich with
Near by there was a vacated log cabin with a few acres of land attached to
it. Our boy bridegroom and bride hired the cabin at a very small rent. But
then they had nothing whatever to put into it. They had not a bed, or a
table or a chair; no cooking utensils; not even a knife or a fork. He had
no farming tools; not a spade or a hoe. The whole capital with which they
commenced life consisted of the clothes they had on, a farm-horse, two
cows, and two calves.
In this emergence the good old Quaker, for whom David had worked, came
forward, and loaned him fifteen dollars. In that wilderness, food, that is
game and corn, was cheap. But as nearly everything else had to be brought
from beyond the mountains, all tools and furniture commanded high prices.
With the fifteen dollars, David and his little wife repaired to a country
store a few miles distant, to furnish their house and farm. Under these
circumstances, the china-closet of the bride must have been a curiosity.
David says, "With this fifteen dollars we fixed up pretty grand, as we
After a while, in some unexplained way, they succeeded in getting a
spinning-wheel. The little wife, says David, "knowed exactly how to use
it. She was also a good weaver. Being very industrious, she had, in little
or no time, a fine web of cloth ready to make up. She was good at that
too, and at almost anything else a woman could do."
Here this humble family remained for two years. They were both as
contented with their lot as other people are. They were about as well off
as most of their neighbors. Neither of them ever cherished a doubt that
they belonged to the aristocracy of the region. They did not want for food
or clothing, or shelter, or a warm fireside. They had their merry-makings,
their dances, and their shooting-matches. Let it be remembered that this
was three quarters of a century ago, far away in the wilds of an almost
Two children were born in this log cabin. David began to feel the
responsibilities of a father who had children to provide for. Both of the
children were sons. Though David's family was increasing, there was
scarcely any increase of his fortune. He therefore decided that the
interests of his little household demanded that he should move still
farther back into the almost pathless wilderness, where the land was not
yet taken up, and where he could get a settler's title to four hundred
acres, simply by rearing a cabin and planting some corn.
He had one old horse, and a couple of colts, each two years old. The colts
were broken, as it was called, to the halter; that is, they could be led,
with light burdens upon their backs, but could not be ridden. Mrs.
Crockett mounted the old horse, with her babe in her arms, and the little
boy, two years old, sitting in front of her, astride the horse's neck, and
occasionally carried on his father's shoulders. Their few articles of
household goods were fastened upon the backs of the two colts. David led
one, and his kind-hearted father-in-law, who had very generously offered
to help him move, led the other. Thus this party set out for a journey of
two hundred and fifty miles, over unbridged rivers, across rugged
mountains, and through dense forests, whose Indian trails had seldom if
ever been trodden by the feet of white men.
This was about the year 1806. The whole population of the State then
amounted to but about one hundred thousand. They were generally widely
dispersed through the extensive regions of East Tennessee. But very few
emigrants had ventured across the broad and rugged cliffs of the
Cumberland Mountains into the rich and sunny plains of Western Tennessee.
But a few years before, terrible Indian wars desolated the State. The
powerful tribes of the Creeks and Cherokees had combined all their
energies for the utter extermination of the white men, seeking to destroy
all their hamlets and scattered cabins.
At a slow foot-pace the pioneers followed down the wild valley of the
Holston River, often with towering mountains rising upon each side of
them. If they chanced, at nightfall, to approach the lonely hut of a
settler, it was especial good fortune, as they thus found shelter
provided, and a fire built, and hospitable entertainment ready for them.
If, however, they were overtaken in the wilderness by darkness, and even a
menacing storm, it was a matter of but little moment, and caused no
anxiety. A shelter, of logs and bark, was soon thrown up, with a crackling
fire, illuminating the wilderness, blazing before it. A couch, as soft as
they had ever been accustomed to, could speedily be spread from the pliant
boughs of trees. Upon the pack-colts there were warm blankets. And during
the journey of the day they had enjoyed ample opportunity to take such
game as they might need for their supper and their morning breakfast.
|At length they reached the majestic flood of the
Tennessee River, and crossed it, we know not how. Then, directing
their steps toward the setting sun. they pressed on, league after
league, and day after day, in toilsome journey, over prairies and
through forests and across mountain-ridges, for a distance of
nearly four hundred miles from their starting-place, until they
reached a small stream, called Mulberry Creek which flows into the
Elk River, in what is now Lincoln County.
At the mouth of
Mulberry Creek the adventurous emigrant found his promised land.
It was indeed a beautiful region.
The sun shines upon none more so. The scenery, which, however,
probably had but few attractions for David Crockett's uncultivated eye,
was charming. The soil was fertile. The streams abounded with fish and
waterfowl; and prairie and forest were stocked with game. No family need
suffer from hunger here, if the husband had a rifle and knew how to use
it. A few hours' labor would rear a cabin which would shut out wind and
rain as effectually as the gorgeous walls of Windsor or Versailles.
No jets of gas or gleam of wax candles ever illumined an apartment more
brilliantly than the flashing blaze of the wood fire. And though the
refectories of the Palais Royal may furnish more scientific cookery than
the emigrant's hut, they cannot furnish fatter turkeys, or more tender
venison, or more delicious cuts from the buffalo and the bear than are
often found browning before the coals of the log cabin. And when we take
into consideration the voracious appetites engendered in those wilds, we
shall see that the emigrant needed not to look with envy upon the
luxuriantly spread tables of Paris or New York.
Upon the crystal banks of the Mulberry River, David, aided by his
father-in-law, reared his log cabin. It is a remote and uncultivated
region even now. Then it was an almost unbroken wilderness, the axe of
the settler having rarely disturbed its solitude.
A suitable spot for the cabin was selected, and a space of about fifteen
feet by twenty feet was marked out and smoothed down for the floor.
There was no cellar. Trees near by, of straight trunks, were felled and
trimmed, and cut into logs of suitable length. These were piled one
above another, in such a way as to enclose the space, and were held in
their place by being notched at the corners. Rough boards were made for
the roof by splitting straight-grained logs about four feet long.
The door was made by cutting or sawing the logs on one side of the hut,
about three feet in width. This opening was secured by upright pieces of
timber pinned to the end of the logs. A similar opening was left in the
end for the chimney, which was built of logs outside of the hut. The
back and jambs of the fireplace was of stone. A hole about two feet
square constituted the window. Frequently the floor was the smooth,
solid earth. A split slab supported by sticks driven into auger-holes,
formed a table. A few three-legged stools supplied the place of chairs.
Some wooden pins, driven into holes bored in the logs, supported
shelves. A bedstead was framed by a network of poles in one corner.
Such was the home which David and his kind father reared in a few days.
It will be perceived that it was but little in advance of the wigwam of
the Indian. Still it afforded a comfortable shelter for men, women, and
children who had no aspirations above a mere animal life; who thought
only of warmth, food, and clothing; who had no conception of
intellectual, moral, or religious cravings.
The kind-hearted father-in-law, who had accompanied his children on foot
upon this long journey, that he might see them settled in their own
home, now bade them adieu, and retraced the forest trails back to his
own far-distant cabin. A man who could develop, unostentatiously, such
generosity and such self-sacrifice, must have possessed some rare
virtues. We regret our inability to record the name of one who thus
commands our esteem and affection.
In this humble home, David Crockett and his family resided two years. He
appears to have taken very little interest in the improvement of his
homestead. It must be admitted that Crockett belonged to the class of
what is called loafers. He was a sort of Rip Van Winkle. The forest and
the mountain stream had great charms for him. He loved to wander in busy
idleness all the day, with fishing-rod and rifle; and he would often
return at night with a very ample supply of game. He would then lounge
about his hut, tanning deerskins for moccasins and breeches, performing
other little jobs, and entirely neglecting all endeavors to improve his
farm, or to add to the appearance or comfort of the miserable shanty
which he called his home.
He had an active mind, and a very singular command of the language of
low, illiterate life, and especially of backwoodman's slang. Though not
exactly a vain man, his self-confidence was imperturdable, and there was
perhaps not an individual in the world to whom he looked up as in any
sense his superior. In hunting, his skill became very remarkable, and
few, even of the best marksmen, could throw the bullet with more
At the close of two years of this listless, solitary life, Crockett,
without any assigned reason, probably influenced only by that vagrancy
of spirit which had taken entire possession of the man, made another
move. Abandoning his crumbling shanty and untilled fields, he directed
his steps eastwardly through the forest, a distance of about forty
miles, to what is now Franklin County. Here he reared another hut, on
the banks of a little stream called Bear's Creek. This location was
about ten miles below the present hamlet of Winchester.
An event now took place which changed the whole current of David
Crockett's life, leading him from his lonely cabin and the peaceful
scenes of a hunter's life to the field of battle, and to all the cruel
and demoralizing influences of horrid war.
For many years there had been peace with the Indians in all that region.
But unprincipled and vagabond white men, whom no law in the wilderness
could restrain, were ever plundering them, insulting them, and wantonly
shooting them down on the slightest provocation. The constituted
authorities deplored this state of things, but could no more prevent it
than the restraints of justice can prevent robberies and assassinations
in London or New York.
The Indians were disposed to be friendly. There can be no question that,
but for these unendurable outrages, inflicted upon them by vile and
fiend-like men, many of whom had fled from the avenging arm of law,
peace between the white man and the red man would have remained
undisturbed. In the extreme southern region of Alabama, near the
junction of the Alabama River with the almost equally majestic
Tombeckbee River, there had been erected, several years before, for the
protection of the emigrants, a fort called Mimms. It consisted of
several strong log huts, surrounded by palisades which enclosed several
acres. A strongly barred gate afforded entrance to the area within.
Loop-holes were cut through the palisades, just sufficiently large to
allow the barrel of a musket to be thrust through, and aim to be taken
at any approaching foe.
The space within was sufficient to accommodate several families, who
were thus united for mutual protection. Their horses and other cattle
could be driven within the enclosure at night. In case of a general
alarm, the pioneers, occupying huts scattered through the region for
miles around, could assemble in the fort. Their corn-fields were
outside, to cultivate which, even in times of war, they could resort in
armed bands, setting a watch to give warning of any signs of danger.
The fort was in the middle of a small and fertile prairie. The
forest-trees were cut down around, and every obstacle removed which
could conceal the approach of a foe or protect him from the fire of the
garrison. The long-continued peace had caused vigilance to slumber. A
number of families resided in the fort, unapprehensive of danger.
One evening, a negro boy, who had been out into the forest at some
distance from the fort in search of cattle, came back saying that he saw
far in the distance quite a number of Indians, apparently armed
warriors. As it was known that the Creek Indians had been greatly
exasperated by recent outrages inflicted upon them, this intelligence
created some anxiety. The gate was carefully closed. A guard was set
through the night, and some slight preparations were made to repel an
assault, should one be made.
Thus several days were passed, and there was no attack, and no signs of
Indians being near. The general impression was that the timid negro boy
was the victim of his own fears. Many jokes were perpetrated at his
expense. With wonted carelessness, all precautions were forgotten, and
the men sallied thoughtlessly forth to disperse through the fields in
But after several days, the boy was again sent out into the woods upon
the same errand as before. He was a timid little fellow, and had a great
dread of the Indian. Tremblingly and cautiously he threaded the paths of
the forest for several miles, keeping a vigilant lookout for any signs
of the savage foe, when his eye fell upon a sight which appalled him. At
but a short distance, as he stood concealed by the thickets through
which he was moving, he saw several hundred Indian warriors, plumed and
painted, and armed to the teeth. They had probably just broken up from a
council, and were moving about among the trees. His fears magnified
their numbers to thousands.
Terror-stricken, he turned for the fort, and with almost the fleetness
of a deer entered the gate with his tidings. Even his black face was
pallid with fright, as he breathlessly told his story. "The Indians,"
said he, "were as many, and as close together as the trees. There were
thousands." The alarm was sounded in the garrison. All the outsiders
were called in. The sun shone serenely, the gentle breeze swept over the
fertile prairie; not a sight was to be seen but what was peaceful, not a
sound came from the forest but the songs of birds.
It was generally believed that the silly, cowardly boy had given a false
alarm. They cross-examined him. He was so frightened that he could not
tell a straight story. The men, indignant at being thus a second time
duped, as they supposed, actually tied the poor boy to the whipping-post
and commenced whipping him. But a few lashes had left their bloody marks
upon his back when the uplifted arm of the executioner was arrested.
The awful Indian war-whoop, the precursor of blood and flame and
torture, which even the boldest heart could seldom hear without terror,
burst as it were simultaneously from a hundred warrior lips. The wary
savages had provided themselves with sharpened sticks. Rending the skies
with their yells, they rushed forward from the gloom of the woods upon
the totally unprovided garrison, and very speedily plugged up the
loop-holes, so that not a musket could be discharged through them.
Then with their hatchets they commenced cutting down the palisades. The
bewilderment and consternation within was indescribable. A few of the
assailants hewing at the barricades were shot down, but others instantly
took their places. Soon a breach was cut through, and the howling
warriors like maddened demons rushed in. There was no mercy shown. The
gleaming tomahawk, wielded by hundreds of brawny arms, expeditiously did
its work. Men, women, and children were indiscriminately cut down and
scalped. It was an awful scene of butchery. Scarcely an individual
One athletic boy, after having seen his father, mother, four sisters,
and four brothers tomahawked and scalped, pursued by the savages, with
frantic energy succeeded in leaping the palisades. Several Indians gave
chase. He rushed for the woods. They hotly pursued. He reached a
sluggish stream, upon the shore of which, half-imbedded in sand and
water, there was a mouldering log, which he chanced to know was hollow
beneath. He had but just time to slip into this retreat, when the
baffled Indians came up. They actually walked over the log in their
unavailing search for him. Here he remained until night, when he stole
from his hiding-place, and in safety reached Fort Montgomery, which was
distant about two miles from Fort Mimms.
Back to: Biography of David
Source: David Crockett: His Life and
Adventures by John S. C. Abbott
One of the largest websites online providing free genealogy. A must see for Native American research!
Find Your Ancestors at SurnameWeb
The oldest, most complete listings of surnames and related websites online.
Free Family Tree
Family Tree Guide is a quick, simple and free way for you to share your family
history. Within minutes, you can have a dynamically driven website that
creatively portrays your family tree.
These free genealogy charts will enable you to begin development of a notebook
in which you can track your ancestry as you research it.
Copyright, 2005-2010 by
Webified Development all rights reserved.