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

Creek Indians on Warpath

D AVY CROCKETT, rifle in hand, paused outside the door of his cabin. He took a deep breath. He pushed open the cabin door and stepped inside.

"Polly," he said to his wife, "the Indians are on the warpath. They have killed four hundred men, women, and children. General Jackson has sent out a call for volunteers. I am going."

David Crockett, called "Davy" by all who knew him, was over six feet tall in his moccasins. He was lean and rangy. His muscles were like bowstrings, strong and flexible. They were quick to respond to his will.

His movements were quiet and graceful, like those of a cat. Sun and wind had browned his skin. His kindly face was topped by long, coal-black hair. His eyes were keen and alert. Yet there was a smile in his eyes most of the time.

Davy was dressed in a fringed deerskin jacket and trousers of the same material. Fringes hung from the outside seams of his trousers. On his feet he wore moccasins and on his head a coonskin cap. At his belt hung a hatchet and a long hunting knife.

"The Indians!" exclaimed Polly as she jumped to her feet. She stood beside her spinning wheel. A ball of yarn which she held in her hands fell to the floor. "Oh, Davy!" she said as she looked at their two little boys who were playing in front of the fireplace. She turned to Davy and asked, "Who told you?"

Polly Crockett was a frontier woman. She was slim, young, and pretty. She was as tiny as Davy was tall and rangy. But like Davy she was strong and self-reliant. She faced the dangers and hardships of the frontier life bravely and confidently.

It was well that she did because the life that the Crocketts led was a hard one. They lived in a wilderness.

"One of the neighbors rode by and told me about the massacre at Fort Mims. The Creek Indians murdered four hundred settlers who had come to the stockade for protection. Ever since Tecumseh tried to unite all the Indian tribes to fight the white settlers, I knew that something like this would happen."

"When did it happen?" asked Polly.

"About two weeks ago," answered Davy.

In 1813 news traveled slowly. There were neither telephone nor telegraph lines. There were few roads. Travel over the trails was slow and difficult. Mail could be sent only by messenger.

"But must you leave at once?" asked Polly.

"I don't want to go, Polly, but I must go. If the Indians are allowed to go unpunished for what they have done they will murder all of us. I am going to volunteer for sixty days."

"But you can't leave us, Davy!" said Polly. "We need you here."

"You and the two children are the three reasons why I am going. If we don't whip the Indians now we will never be 'safe here. I want to help make this wilderness safe. I do not want a Fort Mims massacre here," said Davy.

"Where is Fort Mims?" asked Polly.

"It is in the southern part of Alabama," said Davy. "It was built there to help protect the settlers. It was a strong fort with several cabins inside the stockade. Many people could live inside the fort. Those who lived near the fort could go there for protection in case of danger."

"If the fort was strong, Davy," asked Polly, "how could the Indians capture it?"

"Because the Indians had been friendly for a long time. The settlers were careless. They did not believe that the Indians would attack them. Therefore, they were not prepared. Without warning a strong and powerful band of Creek warriors led by Weathersford attacked the settlers. They captured the fort and murdered all who were in the fort. Then they killed all who lived nearby and burned their cabins to the ground. The Indians may do the same thing here if their power is not broken."

Davy Crockett took his best rifle. He packed his saddlebags with food and ammunition. He kissed his wife and two young sons good-by. Davy was off to the war.

One thousand three hundred volunteers met at Beatty's Springs. They were not regular soldiers, but they were brave, determined frontiersmen. They were ready to fight to protect their homes and families.

Davy was one of the first volunteers to arrive. The men gathered about in groups waiting for orders.

General Andrew Jackson, famous soldier and frontiersman, was in command of the military forces being organized to put down the uprising of the Creek Indians. Under him Colonel Coffee was to command the volunteers. Major Gibson was to command the scouts.

In the early days the scouts formed a very important part of any military command. They went ahead of the troops and secured information. This information was sent back to the commander who used it in placing his troops and planning his attacks.

Scouting was dangerous work. It called for men who were brave but not reckless. A scout besides being brave, had to be trustworthy, alert and cautious. A scout had to be able to follow a trail without leaving a trail for his enemy to follow. A bent twig, the faintest footprint, the tall grass that moved on a still, quiet day, bird or animal calls during the day or night, all told him a story. The forest, swamps, and rivers held no secrets from a scout. The lives of many soldiers depended upon the keen ears and eyes of the scouts who went ahead.

"Crockett! Davy Crockett!" called a soldier.

"Here I am," said Davy as he left a group of men to whom he had been talking.

"Major Gibson wants to see you," said the soldier. "Come with me."

As the two men walked away, Davy said, "I hope this means that we will soon be on the march."

"This is Major Gibson's tent," said the soldier as they stopped in front of a large canvas tent. "Go in, he is expecting you."

"Are you Davy Crockett?" asked Major Gibson as Davy stepped inside his tent.

"At your service," answered Davy.

"Crockett, you are to have charge of an advance party of scouts. That means that the scouts assigned to you are under your command. You will lead them well in advance of the volunteers under Colonel Coffee's command. Report anything of importance to Colonel Coffee. You are sent out not to fight Indians but to get information for your superior officers. Report to me at four o'clock in the morning. Carry plenty of food. It may be a long time until we can get food from the main command. Better get all the sleep you can. Goodnight."

"Good-night," said Davy as he turned and left the tent.

* * * * * *

1. Why did Davy leave his family to become a volunteer?

2. Give a description of Davy.

3. Who was in command of the militia and volunteers in the Creek war?

4. What orders were given to Davy?

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