Exploits and Adventures in Texas

Author: Davy Crockett  | Date: 1836

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Colonel Crockett 1836

Remember the Alamo!

[1836]

I write this on the nineteenth of February, 1836, at San Antonio. We are all in high spirits, though we are rather short of provisions for men who have appetites that could digest anything but oppression; but no matter, we have a prospect of soon getting our bellies full of fighting, and that is victuals and drink to a true patriot any day. We had a little sort of convivial party last evening; just about a dozen of us set to work most patriotically to see whether we could not get rid of that Curse of the land, whisky, and we made considerable progress.

February 22: The Mexicans, about sixteen hundred strong, with their president, Santa Anna, at their head, aided by Generals Almonte, Cos, Sesma, and Castrillon, are within two leagues of Bexar. Some of the Scouts came in and bring reports that Santa Anna has been endeavoring to excite the Indians to hostilities against the Texans, but so far without effect. The Comanches in particular entertain such hatred for the Mexicans and at the same time hold them in such contempt that they would rather turn their tomahawks against them and drive them from the land than lend a helping hand. We are up and doing and as lively as Dutch cheese in the dog days. Two hunters left the town this afternoon for the purpose of reconnoitering.

February 23: Early this morning the enemy came in sight, marching in regular order and displaying their strength to the greatest advantage in order to strike us with terror. But that was no go; they’ll find that they have to do with men who will never lay down their arms as long as they can stand on their legs. We held a short council of war, and, finding that we should be completely surrounded and overwhelmed by numbers if we remained in the town, we concluded to withdraw to the fortress of Alamo and defend it to the last extremity. We accordingly filed off in good order, having some days before placed all the surplus provisions, arms, and ammunition in the fortress.

We have had a large national flag made; it is composed of thirteen stripes, red and white alternately, on a blue ground with a large white star of five points in the center, and between the points the letters Texas. As soon as our little band, about one hundred and fifty in number, had entered and secured the fortress in the best possible manner, we set about raising our flag on the battlements.

The enemy marched into Bexar and took possession of the town, a blood-red flag flying at their head, to indicate that we need not expect quarter if we should fall into their clutches. In the afternoon a messenger was sent from the enemy to Colonel Travis, demanding an unconditional and absolute surrender of the garrison, threatening to put every man to the sword in case of refusal. The only answer he received was a cannon shot; so the messenger left us with a flea in his ear, and the Mexicans commenced firing grenades at us, but without doing any mischief. At night Colonel Travis sent an express to Colonel Fanning at Goliad, about three or four days’ march from this place, to let him know that we are besieged. The old pirate volunteered to go on this expedition and accordingly left the fort after nightfall.

February 24: Very early this morning the enemy commenced a new battery on the banks of the river about three hundred and fifty yards from the fort, and by afternoon they amused themselves by firing at us from that quarter. Our Indian scout came in this evening, and with him a reinforcement of thirty men from Gonzales, who are just in the nick of time to reap a harvest of glory; but there is some prospect of sweating blood before we gather it in.

February 25: The firing commenced early this morning, but the Mexicans are poor engineers, for we haven’t lost a single man, and our outworks have sustained no injury. Our sharpshooters have brought down a considerable number of stragglers at a long shot. I got up before the peep of day, heating an occasional discharge of a rifle just over the place where I was sleeping, and I was somewhat amazed to see Thimblerig mounted alone on the battlement, no one being on duty at the time but sentries.

"What are you doing them?" says I.

"Paying my debts," says he, "interest and all."

"And how do you make out?" says I.

"I’ve nearly got through," says he. "Stop a moment, Colonel, and I’ll close the account."

He clapped his rifle to his shoulder arid blazed away, then jumped down from his perch and said:

"That account’s settled; them chaps will let me play out my game in quiet next time."

I looked over the wall and saw four Mexicans lying dead on the plain. I asked him to explain what he meant by paying his debts, and he told me that he bad run the grapeshot into four rifle balls and that he had taken an early stand to have a chance of picking off stragglers.

"Now, Colonel, let’s go take our bitters," said he; and so we did.

The enemy have been busy during the night and have thrown up two batteries on the opposite side of the river. The battalion of Matamoras is posed there, and cavalry occupy the hills to the east and on the road to Gonzales. They are determined to surround us and cut us off from reinforcement or the possibility of escape by a sortie. Well, there’s one thing they cannot prevent: we’ll still go ahead, and sell our lives at a high price.

February 27: The cannonading began early this morning, and ten bombs were thrown into the fort, but fortunately exploded without doing any mischief. So far it has been a sort of tempest in a teapot, not unlike a pitched battle in the Hall of Congress, where the parties array their forces, make fearful demonstrations on both sides, then fire away with loud-sounding speeches, which contain about as much meaning as the report of a howitzer charged with a blank cartridge. Provisions are becoming scarce, and the enemy are endeavoring to cut off our water. If they attempt to stop our grog in that manner, let them look out, for we shall become too wrathy for our shirts to hold us.

February 28: Last night our hunters brought in some corn and hogs and had a brush with a scout from the enemy beyond gunshot of the fort. They bring accounts that the settlers are flying in all quarters, in dismay, leaving their possessions to the mercy of the ruthless invader, who is literally engaged in a war of extermination more brutal than the untutored savage of the desert could be guilty of. Slaughter is indiscriminate, sparing neither sex, age, nor condition. Buildings have been burnt down, farms laid waste, and Santa Anna appears determined to verify his threat and convert the blooming paradise into a howling wilderness. For just one crack at that rascal oven at a hundred yards distance I would bargain to break my Betsey and never pull trigger again. My name’s not Crockett if I wouldn’t get glory enough to appease my stomach for the remainder of my life.

February 29: Before daybreak we saw General Sesma leave his camp with a large body of cavalry and infantry and move off in the direction of Goliad. We think that he must have received news of Colonel Fanning’s coming to our relief. We are all in high spirits at the prospect of being able to give the rascals a fair shake on the plain. This business of being shut up makes a man wolfish.

I had a little sport this morning before breakfast. The enemy had planted a piece of ordnance within gunshot of the fort during the night, and the first thing in the morning they commenced a brisk cannonade point-blank against the spot where I was snoring. I turned out pretty smart and mounted the rampart. The gun was charged again, a fellow stepped forth to touch her off, but before he could apply the match I let him have it, and he keeled over. A second stepped up, snatched the match from the hand of the dying man, but Thimblerig, who had followed me, handed me his rifle, and the next instant the Mexican was stretched on the earth beside the first. A third came up to the cannon, my companion handed me another gun, and I fixed him off in like manner. A fourth, then a fifth, seized the match, who both met with the same fate, and then the whole party gave it up as a bad job and hurried off to the camp, leaving the cannon ready charged where they had planted it. I came down, took my bitters, and went to breakfast. Thimblerig told me that the place from which I had been firing was one of the snuggest stands in the whole fort, for he never failed picking off two or three stragglers before breakfast when perched up there. And I recollect now having seen him there, ever since he was wounded, the first thing in the morning and the last at night—and at times thoughtlessly playing at his eternal game.

March 1: The enemy’s forces have been increasing in numbers daily, notwithstanding they have already lost about three hundred men in the several assaults they have made upon us. I neglected to mention in the proper place that when the enemy came in sight we had but three bushels of corn in the garrison but have since found eighty bushels in a deserted house.

March 2: This day the delegates meet in general convention at the town of Washington to frame our Declaration of Independence. That the sacred instrument may never be trampled on by the children of those who have freely shed their blood to establish it is the sincere wish of David Crockett.

March 3: We have given over all hopes of receiving assistance from Goliad or Refugio. Colonel Travis harangued the garrison and concluded by exhorting them, in case the enemy should carry the fort, to fight to the last gasp and render their victory even more serious to them than to us. This was followed by three cheers.

March 4: Shells have been failing into the fort like hail during the day, but without effect. About dusk in the evening, we observed a man running toward the fort pursued by about half a dozen Mexican cavalry. The bee hunter immediately knew him to be the old pirate who had gone to Goliad, and calling to the two hunters, he sallied out of the fort to the relief of the old man, who was hard pressed. I followed close after. Before we reached the spot the Mexicans were close on the heel of the old man, who stopped suddenly, turned short upon his pursuers, discharged his rifle, and one of the enemy fell from his horse.

The chase was renewed, but finding that he would be overtaken and cut to pieces, he now turned again and, to the amazement of the enemy, became the assailant in his turn. He clubbed his gun and dashed among them like a wounded tiger, and they fled like sparrows. By this time we reached the spot and in the ardor of the moment followed some distance before we saw that our retreat to the fort was cut off by another detachment of cavalry. Nothing was to be done but to fight our way through. We were all of the same mind.

"Go ahead!" cried I, and they shouted, "Go ahead, Colonel!" We dashed among them, and a bloody conflict ensued. They were about twenty in number, and they stood their ground. After the fight had continued about five minutes, a detachment was seen issuing from the fort to our relief; and the Mexicans scampered off, leaving eight of their comrades upon the field. But we did not escape unscathed, for both the pirate and the bee hunter were mortally wounded, and I received a saber cut across the forehead. The old man died, without speaking, as soon as we entered the fort. We bore my young friend to his bed, dressed his wounds, and I watched beside him. He lay Without complaint or manifesting pain until about midnight, when he spoke, and I asked him if he wanted anything.

"Nothing," he replied, but drew a sigh that seemed to rend his heart as he added, "Poor Kate of Nacogdoches!" His eyes were filled with tears as he continued, "Her words were prophetic, Colonel," and then he sang in a low voice that resembled the sweet notes of his own devoted Kate:

But room cam’ the saddle, all bluidyto see,And hame cam’ the steed, but hamenever cam’ he.

He spoke no more and, a few minutes after, died. Poor Kate, who will tell this to thee!

March 5: Pop, pop, pop! Bom, bom, bom! throughout the day. No time for memorandums now. Go ahead! Liberty and independence forever!

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Chicago: Davy Crockett, Exploits and Adventures in Texas, ed. Colonel Crockett in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed December 7, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7PTE7EP5PMZU9AE.

MLA: Crockett, Davy. Exploits and Adventures in Texas, edited by Colonel Crockett, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 7 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7PTE7EP5PMZU9AE.

Harvard: Crockett, D, Exploits and Adventures in Texas, ed. . cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 7 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7PTE7EP5PMZU9AE.