Gateway to the Classics: Davy Crockett by Frank Lee beals
Davy Crockett by  Frank Lee beals

Indian Village Destroyed

T EN ISLANDS were located in the Coosa River. In reality they formed one big island since they were all connected. It was an ideal place for a fort since it could be easily defended. General Jackson stationed his troops there. First he had them build a bridge. Then he put them to work erecting a fort. It was called Fort Strother.

"This will be our center of operations," said the general. "It will serve as a depot for food and supplies. We can move out from here in any direction."

When the fort had been completed and all was in order, General Jackson said to an orderly, "Find Crockett and send him to me."

The orderly returned in a short time to report, "Crockett left camp about an hour ago. He goes hunting every day and brings back game for the soldiers. He is hunting now."

Several hours later Davy returned to camp. His horse was loaded with squirrels, wild turkeys, a deer, and a wild hog. As soon as he reached the fort he was told that General Jackson wanted to see him.

Davy's buckskin jacket was stained and his trousers were covered with mud. But with his coonskin cap set on the back of his head he started for the general's headquarters.

One of the men watching him said, "Davy Crockett gives away everything. Everybody swears by him. Even the general waits for him." When Davy entered General Jackson's tent, he found him studying a map.

"Davy Crockett, at your service, Sir," he said.

"I sent for you, Crockett, because I want to talk over some plans with you," said the general.

"You have been serving under Major Gibson, have you not?"

"Yes, Sir," answered Davy.

"From now on you are to be the leading scout for my forces. You will report directly to me."

General Jackson was a hasty, forceful, and brilliant leader of men. He found in Davy Crockett a cool, trustworthy, and able scout.

"We will make a good team," said the general. "Do you know where the nearest Creek village is located?"

"Yes, General. There is one about eight miles from here," said Davy.

"I want you to pick some men to go with you to serve as scouts. Locate the village and let me know how strong it is and the best and shortest way for us to march to it. I have decided to clean out all of the Creek Indians in this part of the country. I shall begin by attacking the nearest village. When can you leave?"

"Just as soon as I can find the men I want to take with me," said Davy. "I will pick the six men whom I believe to be our best scouts."

"Take any men you want, Crockett," said the general. "Use your own good judgment as to how the scouting is to be done. Report to me as soon as you can."

"Yes, General," answered Davy. "I will report to you when I return."

Davy picked six men to serve with him as scouts. While they were making ready to leave the fort, Davy said, "We will leave our horses here and go on foot. We shall go through the dense forest. There are no trails. We must be on the alert every step of the way. We may be spied upon by Indians from the time we leave the fort."

Davy led his men and they made their way as carefully as they could through the forest. They found no trails and they saw no signs of Indians on the way. In about two hours after they had left the fort they sighted the village of Tallushatches. Davy and his scouts made a thorough study of the village so that they could take back a full report to the general. When they had finished Davy and his scouts returned to the fort. At once Davy reported to General Jackson. The general questioned him closely. Davy answered each question promptly.

"Crockett," said General Jackson. "Your report is clear. I have decided on my plan for an attack. We will leave in the morning."

"Yes, Sir," answered Davy. "I will be ready." Davy started to leave.

"Just a minute, Crockett," said the general. "I want you to know my plan. This is what I intend to do. I will send an officer in command of two companies. I want you to lead them around to the east side of the village. I will give the officer in command the necessary instructions for making his attack. I will move the main body of our troops forward myself. That is all, Crockett, except to tell you again how much your report has helped me. Send Colonel Coffee to me at once!"

At dawn the troops were formed and ready to march. A party of Creek warriors in full war paint approached. They signaled their peaceful intentions. Their leader came to General Jackson and said, "White War Chief, we are friendly Creek Indians. We want to go with you."

"Very well," said General Jackson. "You may accompany the Indian detachment. I have some Cherokees and you may join them."

The troops marched out of the fort. The Cherokee and Creek Indians in war paint and feathers followed the soldiers. Friendly Indians wore white deer tails and white feathers. Black was the color worn by Indians who were unfriendly and on the warpath.

Most of the volunteers in General Jackson's forces were dressed like Davy Crockett. They wore fringed deerskin hunting jackets, doeskin trousers, moccasins, and coonskin caps.

Davy and his scouts led the soldiers to the east side of the Indian village. Colonel Coffee was in command. He ordered a small group of soldiers to approach the village through a clearing.

"The Indians may come out and attack a small party," said the colonel. "If not, we will rush the village."

The moment the Indians sighted this small group of soldiers the war drums sounded. Savage war cries rang out, but the Indians did not come out to fight. The warriors remained in their village.

Suddenly, Colonel Coffee and his men charged the Indian village from the east. Now the Indian warriors rushed to meet the attack.

In the meantime General Jackson had moved the main forces up so that the village was practically surrounded. The fighting was hand to hand, but the soldiers steadily advanced. The Indians were put to flight. The squaws and children were made prisoners.

When the fighting was over General Jackson rode about the village. He saw an Indian baby lying outside of one of the lodges, crying. The baby's dead mother lay nearby. The general called to some squaws.

"Take this baby," he commanded.

"The mother is dead," said one of the squaws. "It is better to let the baby die, too."

General Jackson dismounted. He picked up the baby. He mounted his horse holding the little Indian baby in his arms. He gave orders to burn the village. After the village was destroyed, he gave orders that the troops were to return to Fort Strother.

The general carried the Indian baby all the way back to the fort. He fed the baby sugar and water. At last he found a friendly Cherokee squaw and asked her to take care of the baby for him.

"When I return to my own home," he said, "I shall take this baby with me."

* * * * * *

True to his word, when General Andrew Jackson returned to his home, the Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee, he took the little Indian baby with him. The Indian boy was raised as though he were the general's own son. He was given the name of Lincoyer. Today this boy's grave is marked on the Hermitage grounds near the grave of General Jackson.

1. What is meant by an unwritten law?

2. Tell how Davy proved his honesty.

3. Do you think it is brave to admit a mistake?

4. Why did General Jackson build a fort on Ten Islands?

5. How could the soldiers tell the friendly from the unfriendly Indians?

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