Davey Crockett

CROCKETT, DAVID. David (Davy) Crockett, frontiersman, congressman, and defender of the son of John and Rebecca (Hawkins) Crockett, was born in Greene County, East Tennessee, on August 17, 1786.

Disenchanted with the political process and his former constituents, Crockett decided to do what he had threatened to do-to explore Texas and to move his family there if the prospects were pleasing. On November 1, 1835, with William Patton, Abner Burgin, and Lindsey K. Tinkle, he set out to the West, as he wrote on the eve of his departure, “to explore the Texes well before I return.” At this point he had no intention of joining the fight for Texas independence.

The foursome reached Memphis the first evening and, in company with some friends congregated in the bar of the Union Hotel for a farewell drinking party, Crockett offered his now famous remark: “Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” They set off the next day. Their route was down the Mississippi River to the Arkansas and then up that river to Little Rock; overland to Fulton, Arkansas, and up the Red River along the northern boundary of Texas; across the Red River, through Clarksville, to Nacogdoches and San Augustine; and on to San Antonio.

That Texas had changed his plans was indisputable. His last extant letter, written on January 9, 1836, was quite clear:

I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country here to settle. . . . I have taken the oath of government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer and will set out for the Rio Grand in a few days with the volunteers from the United States. But all volunteers is entitled to vote for a member of the convention or to be voted for, and I have but little doubt of being elected a member to form a constitution for this province. I am rejoiced at my fate. I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in Congress for life. I am in hopes of making a fortune yet for myself and family, bad as my prospect has been.

Government service in Texas would rejuvenate his political career and, as he stated elsewhere, provide the source of the affluence he had unsuccessfully sought all his life. He intended to become land agent for the new territory.

In early February Crockett arrived at San Antonio de Béxar; arrived on February 20. On the one hand Crockett was still fighting Jackson. The Americans in Texas were split into two political factions that divided roughly into those supporting a conservative Whig philosophy and those supporting the administration. Crockett chose to join Col. Sam Houston’s orders to withdraw from the Alamo, rather than support Houston, a Jackson sympathizer. What was more, he saw the future of an independent Texas as his future, and he loved a good fight.

Crockett died in on March 6, 1836. The manner of his death was uncertain, however, until the publication in 1975 of the diary of Lt. José Enrique de la Peña. wife of an officer at the Alamo, said Crockett died on the outside, one of the earliest to fall. , Travis’s slave and the only male Texan to survive the battle, reported seeing Crockett lying dead with slain Mexicans around him and stated that only one man, named Warner, surrendered to the Mexicans (Warner was taken to Santa Anna and promptly shot). When Peña’s eyewitness account was placed together with other corroborating documents, Crockett’s central part in the defense became clear. Travis had previously written that during the first bombardment Crockett was everywhere in the Alamo “animating the men to do their duty.” Other reports told of the deadly fire of his rifle that killed five Mexican gunners in succession, as they each attempted to fire a cannon bearing on the fort, and that he may have just missed Santa Anna, who thought himself out of range of all the defenders’ rifles. Crockett and five or six others were captured when the Mexican troops took the Alamo at about six o’clock that morning, even though Santa Anna had ordered that no prisoners be taken. The general, infuriated when some of his officers brought the Americans before him to try to intercede for their lives, ordered them executed immediately. They were bayoneted and then shot. Crockett’s reputation and that of the other survivors was not, as some have suggested, sullied by their capture. Their dignity and bravery was, in fact, further underscored by Peña’s recounting that “these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves before their torturers.”