Power of Indians Broken
G ENERAL JACKSON has decided to march tomorrow, Crockett," said Major Russell when he called Davy away from the campfire. "We are going to cross farther down stream."
"The Indians may attack our troops in the rear. General Jackson's orders are that the scouts remain in the rear tomorrow."
"We will be there," said Davy.
Early in the morning the army was on the march. This time the scouts did not go on ahead. They made up the rear guard. The army came to the river. Two sections of the army crossed successfully. The third section started to cross the river.
Suddenly an Indian war cry surprised the troops. The Indians rushed out and attacked the section that was crossing the river.
The men, completely surprised, fell back in confusion. Their cannon were not loaded because they had just been moved across the river. The gunners ran to the cannon and tried to load them. One by one the gunners were shot down by the Indians.
All was confusion. General Jackson began to rally his soldiers. He saw some gunners trying to load a cannon. He gave his horse the spurs and dashed over to them. "Take a bayonet!" he called. "Use it for a picker!" He jumped from his horse and grabbed a rifle and used it as a ramrod. The cannon was finally loaded and fired. Many Indians were killed.
For a short time the soldiers held their ground. But the Indians did not give way. General Jackson was about to order a retreat. A soldier called, "The scouts! The scouts!"
Down to the river Davy led the scouts. Headlong they plunged their horses into the river. Recklessly, but without confusion, they dashed toward the enemy. Davy fired his rifle and down went an Indian. He reloaded and downed another Indian. Sweeping out of the river the scouts rode on toward the enemy. They succeeded in cutting a path through the ranks of the Indian braves.
General Jackson rallied his troops. The men pushed through the breach that had been opened by the scouts. They opened fire and the Indians broke and ran. In a short time the battle was over.
General Jackson called Davy to him and said, "Your scouts are brave men. They know no fear. They deserve the greatest praise. You and your scouts saved the day."
After a brief rest General Jackson pushed on. Again Davy Crockett and his scouts were on the alert to see that the troops were not ambushed. The troops marched on through the Creek country, wiping out small bands of Creek warriors as they encountered them. They burned every Creek village in the line of march. At last the hostile Creeks were in full flight. Their power was broken and they begged for peace.
General Jackson sent word to the chiefs to meet for a powwow. Treaties of peace were made and signed.
Then the army started on the long march back to Fort Strother. Now they were faced by a new enemy—hunger. There was no food in the Indian country through which the soldiers had fought their way.
Davy Crockett and the scouts spent most of their time hunting for game with which to feed the weary, hungry soldiers. Always the game was divided and distributed as equally as possible. The horses were in a pitiful plight. There was no food, no grain for them. About all they had to eat was grass that they could nibble on the way.
Many of the horses died of hunger and exhaustion. Many of the soldiers were making the march on foot.
Friendly Indian guides were picked up as the troops marched back over the ground on which they had so recently fought. General Jackson divided his forces into small groups and the Indians led them through forests by short cuts.
One night Davy came upon a group of officers. They were tired and hungry. They had no food. Davy gave them some of the game that he and his men had killed during the day.
When he had gone one of the officers said, "Davy Crockett stands for democracy. The writers of our Constitution must have had him in mind."
"What do you mean?" asked one of the other officers.
"I mean," said the first officer, "that to Davy Crockett no one is his superior, but more important, he does not look down upon anyone. In his eyes all men are equal. I call that real democracy."
"You are right about that," spoke up another officer. "Davy Crockett is generous without thought, and he is brave without being reckless or arrogant. He is a great pioneer scout and he carries democracy with him. Best of all, however, he does not even know that he has this quality."
Around Davy's own campfire some men were gathered, cooking their share of the game that they had killed that day. A piece of venison was passed to Davy. He rose from where he sat and started to walk away.
"Where are you going, Davy?" asked one of his men.
"I am taking this meat to a sick soldier over here," he said.
"But you haven't had anything to eat yourself," protested the man.
"This man is sick and he needs food more than I do."
Davy told the sick man a story. The soldier listened with interest. When Davy had finished his story the soldier looked at him with tears in his eyes and said, "God bless you, Crockett." Then in a low voice, "I know that I am dying. You know it, too. You are trying to make it easier for me."
Davy nodded his head but did not speak.
"My name is Bill Patton," said the sick man. "I wish that you would take word to my wife. She is Elizabeth Patton. We have two children. Tell Elizabeth and the children that my last thoughts were of them."
"I will take the message," said Davy. He sat nearby all during the night.
The following morning the young soldier died. Davy and his scouts buried him. They placed a simple cross of wood at the head of the grave.
When General Jackson's command at last gathered on Tennessee soil, the men were discharged to go to their homes. Their last night together was a merry one. They sat about the campfires until late in the night, singing songs and telling stories of adventure. Davy Crockett was everywhere, first at one campfire, then at another, singing, laughing, and telling stories.
From the men assembled about one campfire there was a loud cry for Davy.
"Crockett! Davy Crockett!" they called. "Come over here."
Davy went to the group that had called him.
"Davy," said one of the men as he stood up, "your scouts and some of the soldiers have asked me to make a speech."
"Tell him what we told you to say," someone called out.
"This is our last night together," said the man. "We may never be together again. Before we part, we want you to know that we admire and respect you. To us you are a great scout and a fine man."
Davy was embarrassed. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He looked about at the tired but smiling faces. The marks of their recent hard campaign could be seen. Davy straightened up and raised his hand for silence. He tried to speak, but could not. His voice was choked with emotion. He stood silent for a moment. Then in a low quiet voice, he said, "Men, for the first time in my life I do not know what to say. I am proud of what you have said to me. We have been together for some time. We have been through many dangers. We have fought together, and we have stood together, shoulder to shoulder as men should stand. We are going back home victorious. We have broken the power of the Indians. We are now certain that our families can lead peaceful lives. Let us all go back home and work for this wonderful country of ours."
"Tell us one more story, Davy," called out one man.
"We have had our last story on this campaign," said Davy quietly and with a smile.
The following morning each man went his own way toward his own home.
Late the next afternoon Davy was nearing his log cabin. His horse was limping along the rocky trail.
"We are almost there," said Davy patting his faithful horse.
When he came in sight of his cabin Polly was out in the yard chopping wood. She was dressed in a long blue dress. A bright colored shawl was on her head. John and William were playing near her.
"Polly!" called Davy. "Polly!"
Polly turned and stared for a moment. She let the heavy ax fall to the ground. She ran toward him calling, "Davy! Davy Crockett, you have come home!"
The two boys waving their coonskin caps ran toward him, too.
Davy Crockett, the soldier, the scout, was home.