First Big Indian Fight
L ATE one night the guards on duty at the main gate saw an Indian approaching Fort Strother. He was approaching the fort with caution. The guard called to him and commanded him to halt.
"General Jackson," the Indian called back, "General Jackson! Must see General Jackson!"
The two guards advanced toward the Indian. They held their guns ready to fire in case the Indian tried to pass them.
"Search him. I'll keep him covered," instructed one of the guards.
The Indian offered no resistance. He kept repeating, "General Jackson! Must see General Jackson!"
"He has nothing on him," said the guard who had searched the Indian.
"Corporal of the guard!" called out the sentry.
The corporal came running.
"What is the trouble?" he asked.
"An Indian runner," explained the guard. "He keeps asking to see General Jackson."
"All right," said the corporal as he led the Indian inside the gate. "I'll take him to the officer of the day."
The officer of the day was at the post of the guard. The corporal turned the Indian over to him. The officer of the day led the Indian at once to General Jackson's tent.
"Who is it?" came the general's voice from inside the tent.
"Officer of the day, General. I have an Indian runner here who keeps asking to see you."
"Bring him inside," said the general. "Go back to the guard."
General Jackson and the Indian talked together in low tones. Suddenly the general's voice rang through the night, "Officer of the day!"
The officer of the day came running.
"Send Major Russell to me at once," ordered the general. "Then have the drummer play the assembly."
"Yes, Sir," and the officer of the day left on the run to carry out his orders.
Within a short time Major Russell, half-dressed and breathless, reached the general's tent.
"Major," said the general, "this friendly Creek runner has just brought word that a thousand Creek warriors are on the warpath. They have surrounded two hundred Creek Indians who are in the old fort at Talladega."
"The Indians at Fort Talladega are friendly to the whites," said Major Russell.
"Yes, they are friendly," said General Jackson. "The warring Creeks who have surrounded the fort have given the friendly Indians three days in which to surrender. They demand that the friendly Indians join them in fighting us. We must save those friendly Indians."
"Yes, Sir," replied Major Russell.
The roll of the drums calling the assembly was already filling the night air.
"When the formation is completed, Major, you take command of a company and move in the direction of Fort Talladega. Order Crockett to lead his party of scouts on ahead. I will follow with the main body. We will drive those warring Indians out of this part of the country."
"Yes, Sir," said Major Russell as he saluted the general and left the tent.
The camp was alive with action. Officers were calling orders to the sleepy men. In a short time the formations were completed. Companies were standing awaiting their orders.
Davy and his scouts had already left the fort. Major Russell and his company were following close behind the advance scouts.
As Davy and his scouts left the fort, one of the sentries said to the other, "Did you see Crockett?"
"Yes, I saw him. It is the first time I ever saw him when he was not smiling and good-natured. He looked very stern as he went out the gate."
Davy was serious. He said to his scouts as they moved forward, "We must move as fast as we can. We will spread out, but keep in touch with each other. The minute we gain contact with the Creeks we must get word back to the general. We must act quickly or the friendly Indians will be massacred."
The night was dark. Davy and his scouts did not make as rapid progress as they could have made in the daytime, but they kept moving forward. Davy went on ahead. It was still dark when he neared Fort Talladega. He waited for his scouts. When they joined him, Davy said, "We must take time to get all possible information. We will wait here until it becomes a little lighter."
While Davy and his scouts waited, they heard men approaching from the rear. Within a very short time they were joined by Major Russell and the company which he was leading.
"Crockett," said Russell, "you take your scouts and go around to the right. I will move off to the left. Meet me here as soon as you have scouted the country around the fort."
Davy and his scouts moved cautiously toward the right. Russell and his men moved toward the left.
Later when Russell and Davy met, the sun was coming up. Not a sign of the warring Creeks had been found. "They must be hiding in ambush," said Davy.
"We will wait for General Jackson and the army," said Major Russell.
Soon the scouts heard the galloping of many horses in the distance.
"The army has arrived," said Davy. "Jackson is never late."
General Jackson heard the reports of Russell and Crockett. Then he ordered Russell, with a small company, to move forward and attack. Davy and his scouts went with Russell. Jackson ordered his forces to surround the fort.
The friendly Indians saw Russell and his men riding toward the fort. Shouts of "How do, brother! How do!" rang out.
"To the south is an embankment," shouted Russell. "Make for it! When we meet the Creeks, we can then fight from this protected spot."
On past the fort the soldiers rode. They started for the embankment. Shouts of warning came from the friendly Indians in the fort. They waved to the soldiers to stop but Major Russell did not understand. He and his men rode on. Two Indians jumped from the wall of the fort. They ran toward Major Russell. They seized his horse by the bridle. Then the major understood that something was wrong.
There was trouble ahead. Just then a thousand hostile Indians jumped from the other side of the embankment. Shouting their war whoops, they rushed toward the soldiers. As they ran forward they fired their rifles. Arrows and tomahawks flew through the air.
Russell and his soldiers returned the fire. Then slowly they retreated toward the fort.
The soldiers on the right of the fort now took up the fight. Then the Indians began to retreat toward the left. But more soldiers waited for them there. As they neared the left of the line, the soldiers there took up the fight. The battle was short but it was bitterly fought. Nearly five hundred Creek warriors had been killed. The others made their escape.
As soon as the fighting was over, the friendly Indians rushed out of the fort to greet the victorious soldiers.
One Indian called to Jackson, "White War Chief," he said, "we thank you."
"You are our friends," replied the general. "We had to protect you the same as we protect our white brothers."
Davy talked to an old Indian brave.
The old brave said "The warring Creeks had runners out. They saw the army long before it reached the fort. Their chief sent word that the soldiers were coming. 'Come out and help us fight. We will kill off the white soldiers and divide all of their provisions with you.' "
"And why didn't you join them?", asked Davy.
"Because we are friendly to the white people," said the old brave. "We do not fight our friends."
"We have no provisions," said Davy. "The white soldiers are almost without food. Is there any good hunting in this part of the country?"
"No," answered the old brave. "It is late in the year. Game is scarce."
"Government food supplies have been ordered," said Davy, "but as yet they have not arrived. In the meantime we must find some good hunting because our rations are almost gone."
Friends Help Each Other
1. Why did General Jackson want to save the Indians at Fort Talladega?
2. Why did some of the Indians fight with the soldiers instead of fighting against them?
3. What danger were the friendly Indians trying to warn the soldiers against?
4. Why was Davy anxious to go hunting?
5. Give as many reasons as you can why General Jackson depended upon Davy.
Explain what is meant by:
fording a river
an Indian runner
an Indian lodge
officer of the day
to call the assembly