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

Davy Scouts for Travis

D AVY and his companions rode through the winding streets of San Antonio. The men were silent as they watched the people. There was an air of gaiety about them. Pretty Mexican girls wearing bright colored shawls were talking gaily to soldiers and Mexican men.

Davy said to himself, "These people do not seem to be alarmed. They seem to be enjoying themselves." Almost with impatience he gave his mustang the spurs, and galloped on down the street.

Davy came to a corner and stopped. Down one street was laughter and singing. The other street was silent. In the distance was the Alamo, with its flag waving in the breeze.

Davy pulled the coonskin cap from his head and waved to his companions.

"The Alamo!" he called. "The Alamo!"

They spurred their horses and raced along the silent street to the gates of the Alamo.

"Who are you?" called the guard as the men approached.

"Colonel Davy Crockett and volunteers," Davy called back.

The guard turned and called, "Open the gates for Colonel Davy Crockett and volunteers."

Slowly the gates swung open. The men dashed into the plaza. Soldiers crowded about them.

Davy went at once to report to Colonel Travis. He found the young commander of the Alamo studying maps of the surrounding country. Colonel James Bowie was with him.

"I am glad that you are here, Crockett," said Colonel Travis. "We are badly in need of strong, fearless men."

"I, too, am glad that you are here," broke in Colonel Bowie. "Some Tennessee volunteers arrived recently and they told us that you were on your way."

"At your service," said Davy as he saluted the two gallant officers.

"We have been looking over these maps," said Travis. "I would like to go over them with you. As a trained army scout you will be able to help us."

"Now, here is San Antonio," said Travis as he pointed to the map. "And here is Goliad where Colonel Fannin is garrisoned."

"Three or four days' march from here," said Davy as he ran his finger along the route.

"Yes," said Travis. "And here is Gonzales. Now, here is Laredo where the Mexicans will probably cross the Rio Grande and march toward us."

"What about your soldiers?" asked Davy as he straightened up. "I saw more soldiers in town than there are here in the Alamo."

"I know," said Travis. "They do not believe that Santa Anna will march against us. I have the Alamo stored with our extra provisions, arms, and ammunition. We do not have any too much. There are guards on duty here. I have guards posted at the San Fernando church, too. They are to ring the bells in case of danger."

"Most of our soldiers are volunteers," said Bowie. "They simply refuse to believe that we are in danger."

"Are we in danger?" asked Davy.

"In danger!" exclaimed Travis. "Here, not long ago, Santa Anna's soldiers were defeated. Santa Anna will come back with as large a force of men as he can gather. Our soldiers do not understand that Santa Anna's pride has been hurt and that he has sworn revenge. But when he comes, and he surely will come, Crockett, our soldiers will fight. They are brave and fearless."

"Not only are they brave and fearless," said Bowie, "but they are sure that they can defeat the Mexicans if they return. 'Let them come,' our soldiers say."

Davy looked at the two officers and said, "I agree with the soldiers. Let them come! I, too, am at your service and will obey your orders."

"I wish you to take command of one section of the defense of the Alamo," said Travis. Bowie nodded his approval.

"I am proud that you have this confidence in me," said Davy. "But I have been an army scout and I feel that I can be of more service to you in that line of duty. I would like to take my companions and some of the Tennessee volunteers with me."

"You have my permission to conduct your scouting as you think best. Keep me informed about everything connected with the enemy. Good-night, Crockett," and Travis held out his hand. Their handclasp was warm and firm.

Davy turned to shake hands with Colonel Bowie. "Good-night," said Bowie. "All will be well."

Early the next morning Davy called his men together. When they were assembled he said, "Colonel Travis is entrusting to us the scouting for his command. Be ready to follow me within an hour. Have all the ammunition that you can carry and see that your rifles are in good condition."

Exactly one hour later Davy led his men out through the gates of the Alamo. The party struck out across the prairie. When they had ridden a few miles Davy called a halt.

"We will split up here," said Davy. "We must cover several miles of the front at one time. Pirate, you take Red Fox and six men and go to the left. Spread your men out. You will have to cover about five miles. When you have advanced ten miles close in to the center. I will try to meet you there. However, if you see any Mexican troops note the kind, whether infantry, cavalry, or artillery. Observe the direction in which they are going. Especially note the number of men. Get this information back to Colonel Travis as fast as you can. Bee Hunter, you take the other six men and go to the right. Follow the same directions. If you get no information, we will meet later."

"But you will be all alone," said Bee Hunter.

"I work better alone," said Davy.

"He's a whole regiment by himself," said Pirate.

The parties separated. Davy remained where he was until the men were out of sight. Then he hobbled his horse and went forward on foot. In an hour he stopped and scanned the horizon.

"A little dust spot ahead. I'll take to the grass. No use letting anyone know that I am here," said Davy as he lay down in the grass. The dust spot grew larger. It came rapidly toward him. He put one ear to the ground. "Horsemen," he said. "It may be Mexican cavalry."

Within a short time the horsemen were near enough to be seen. Davy watched them. They would advance for a distance and then stop. "They are quarreling about something," Davy said. "I believe they have a prisoner. They have stopped again. Ten Mexican cavalrymen with one prisoner can't be very important. If they are a part of Santa Anna's army they have gone far astray. But if I can rescue that man I can learn something from him. Old Betsy can help me."

Without moving a blade of grass Davy brought Old Betsy, to his shoulder. He took careful aim at the Mexican who appeared to be in command. As Davy squeezed the trigger he said, "I'm a long way off but I think I can get him." Old Betsy barked. The Mexican officer leaned slowly forward on his horse and rolled off to the ground. Instantly the horse broke and ran. The cavalrymen talked excitedly as they looked for their enemy. A moment later another sharp "crack" and another Mexican cavalryman fell from his horse to the ground. There was great confusion among the Mexicans. They looked about. No one was in sight. Another sharp sound like a "smack" was followed by the folding over of another cavalryman. One cavalryman swung his horse around and streaked across the prairie. He was followed by a second and a third. Soon only one Mexican was left with the prisoner. Suddenly the cavalryman tightened the reins of his bridle, clamped spurs to his horse's flanks, and took after his companions. When all the Mexicans were gone, Davy stood up and walked toward the man who had been their prisoner.

"Your friends have deserted you," said Davy.

"Friends!" exclaimed the man, "you are the first man I've seen today that looks like a friend. Where are the others?"

"What others?" asked Davy.

"The other men who are with you, the ones who helped you to shoot the three Mexicans," explained the man.

"Oh, that. To tell the truth, I had to do that little job myself," laughed Davy. "Now tell me, who are you and where are you going?"

"I am from Gonzales. Thirty-two of us started out for the Alamo. We heard that Colonel Travis wanted more men, so we were going to join him."

"Where are the others?" asked Davy.

"They are coming. I was impatient to get there so I took a short cut. I ran into this band of Mexican cavalrymen and they took me prisoner."

"Did you see any other Mexican soldiers?" Davy wanted to know.

"Yes, a big army off in that direction." And the man pointed to the south.

"How far back did you see the soldiers?" asked Davy.

"At least ten miles."

"Give me your horse," said Davy. "I must see for myself. On your way to the Alamo you will find my horse." The man dismounted and handed the reins to Davy.

As Davy rode away he called back, "When you find my horse, wait for my men. They are planning to meet me there. Tell them to return to the Alamo at once. They can take you with them." In a few minutes Davy was out of sight. He rode for several miles at headlong speed. His keen eyes searched the horizon.

"There!" he called. "There they are!"

He pulled his horse to a stop. Quickly he jumped off and hobbled the horse. In a second he was running along a narrow path that led to a hill. "I can watch them from here," he said, as he reached the top. "That's the Mexican army all right. The columns stretch back for miles. There are infantry, cavalry, artillery, and wagon trains, and they are moving in the direction of San Antonio. There are thousands of soldiers."

He ran back and mounted his horse. As he raced along Davy said, "Travis is right. Santa Anna is marching all the forces he could gather." He urged his horse to greater speed. "To the Alamo! To the Alamo!" he called.

As soon as Davy reached the Alamo he reported to Colonel Travis.

"We are in for it," said Travis after he had heard Davy's report. "Orderly!" he called. "Notify the guard at San Fernando to ring the bells."

The bells of San Fernando rang out. For an instant the people and the soldiers in the streets of the little town stood still. "The Mexicans!" shouted the soldiers. "To the Alamo!"

Davy and Colonel Travis stood at the gates and watched the soldiers as they ran toward the Alamo.

"They have heard the bells," said Travis.

"And they are coming — every single man!" shouted Davy.

They stepped aside as the soldiers rushed past them. Suddenly the sound of galloping horses could be heard.

"My scouts," cried Davy as the scouts rode into the plaza. "And the men from Gonzales, too."

"Close the gates!" ordered Colonel Travis.

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