One evening, in the deepening twilight, when they had been out thirty-four days, the Indian scouts, ever sent in advance, came into camp with the announcement, that at the distance of but a few hours’ march before them, the Chattahoochee River was to be found, with a large Indian village upon its banks. We know not what reason there was to suppose that the Indians inhabiting this remote village were hostile. But as the American officers decided immediately upon attacking them, we ought to suppose that they, on the ground, had sufficient reason to justify this course.
The army was immediately put in motion. The rifles were loaded and primed, and the flints carefully examined, that they might not fall into ambush unprepared. The sun was just rising as they cautiously approached the doomed village. There was a smooth green meadow a few rods in width on the western bank of the river, skirted by the boundless forest. The Indian wigwams and lodges, of varied structure, were clustered together on this treeless, grassy plain, in much picturesque beauty. The Indians had apparently not been apprised of the approach of the terrible tempest of war about to descend upon them. Apparently, at that early hour, they were soundly asleep. Not a man, woman, or child was to be seen.
Silently, screened by thick woods, the army formed in line of battle. The two hundred Indian warriors, rifle in hand and tomahawk at belt, stealthily took their position. The white men took theirs. At a given signal, the war-whoop burst from the lips of the savages, and the wild halloo of the backwoodsmen reverberated through the forest, as both parties rushed forward in the impetuous charge. “We were all so furious,” writes Crockett, “that even the certainty of a pretty hard fight could not have restrained us.”
But to the intense mortification of these valiant men, not a single living being was to be found as food for bullet or tomahawk. The huts were all deserted, and despoiled of every article of any value. There was not a skin, or an unpicked bone, or a kernel of corn left behind. The Indians had watched the march of the foe, and, with their wives and little ones. had retired to regions where the famishing army could not follow them.
The Camp and the Cabin.
Deplorable Condition of the Army.—Its wanderings.—Crockett’s Benevolence.—Cruel Treatment of the Indians.—A Gleam of Good Luck.—The Joyful Feast.—Crockett’s Trade with the Indian.—Visit to the Old Battlefield.—Bold Adventure of Crockett.—His Arrival Home.—Death of his Wife.—Second Marriage.—Restlessness.— Exploring Tour.—Wild Adventures.—Dangerous Sickness.—Removal to the West.—His New Home.
The army, far away in the wilds of Southern Alabama, on the banks of the almost unknown Chattahoochee, without provisions, and with leagues of unexplored wilderness around, found itself in truly a deplorable condition. The soldiers had hoped to find, in the Indian village, stores of beans and corn, and quantities of preserved game. In the impotence of their disappointment they applied the torch, and laid the little village in ashes.