East Tennessee History… Davy Crockett Part 3
BY DANNY BLEVINS
Davy Crockett had seen almost everything. He had grown up in the East Tennessee mountains and had become a famous Indian fighter, fighting beside Andrew Jackson against the Creek Indians.
He helped Jackson raid into Spanish Florida during the War of 1812, and though he saw little action, he would return home a hero.
When he came back to Tennessee, Crockett tried his hand at different businesses but found some of his best success hunting black bear.
Crockett would hunt the Tennessee bears for their hide, meat, and oil, and he became known as one of the best bear hunters around. If you did not believe it, just ask him, and he would captivate you with stories of attacking bears and bravery against these beasts who weighed 1000 pounds, or was it 500?
He became a U.S. Congressman from Tennessee where he fought political battles against his old commander, President Andrew Jackson.
Eventually, Crockett would lose his Congressional seat and he blamed President Andrew Jackson for turning the people of Tennessee against him.
He would later say, “the people of Tennessee could go to _______. As for me, I am going to Texas.”
What Crockett did not know was this decision would change his life, the territory of Texas, and the course of the nation.
Crockett and a 30-man armed brigade arrived in Texas in January 1836 during the Texas War for Independence. Crockett swore allegiance to the Provisional Government of Texas in exchange for land and arrived in San Antonio at the Alamo Mission in February 1836.
On February 23, 1836, Mexican President General Santa Anna had tolerated the insurrection from Texas for as long as he could and a few days later, 1800 of his troops laid siege to the Alamo against 186 Texas volunteer soldiers, including Crockett and his men.
The siege lasted 13 days and finally ended in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, when Santa Anna ordered an assault on the fort. It was soon overrun by the Mexican soldiers and all but a handful of defenders were killed.
But what happened to Crockett?
According to legend and two popular movies, one starring John Wayne and the other starring Fess Parker, Crockett went down in a hail of bullets. According to Hollywood’s account, Crockett fights off his defenders with knife and gun until the Mexicans storm his defensive position. He then dies, giving his life for the cause of Texas.
This account is probably not correct.
There is a lot of evidence, including diary accounts from Santa Anna’s men that tell us the Mexicans took several prisoners, including Crockett.
Santa Anna had ordered his men to take no prisoners, but through fate or mercy, six to eight of the defenders survived, if for only a short time.
According to the diary of one of the Mexican soldiers, these prisoners were lined up against one of the walls of the Alamo and shot. The diary tells us that one of the prisoners that survived the initial attack was a “famous American Congressman.”
If this is true, Crockett did not die in a hail of bullets but was executed by the Mexicans.
This seems like a fitting end to a man who went from the backwoods of East Tennessee to the national spotlight.
He was a man of the wilderness, a man of people, and a man of adventure. There were times in his life that we are not sure where the man starts and when the legend ends, but one thing is extremely clear – Crockett left his name and reputation on everything he touched.
Davy Crockett, the King of the Wild Frontier, lived a life of adventure and legends, and he was one of ours.
We are proud to call him a Tennessean.
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