Gone to Texas!

A Frontier Legend Meets His
Final Destiny in His Journey West.

By  David Folds
On November1, 1835, David Crockett, along with three others, William Patton, Abner Burgin, and Lindsey K. Tinkle, left Memphis, Tennessee, to embark on a journey of reflection, adventure, and fortune hunting.  Having recently lost his U.S. House of Representatives seat to Adam Huntsman, a one-legged Jacksonian, Crockett told his constituents, “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.”  Most certainly, he told this tale over and over, all the way to Texas, always to the delight of his audience.

Crockett’s band wasn’t the only group of Tennesseans to think of Texas as their hope for fortune.  It wasn’t uncommon to see G.T.T. painted on the doorways of cabins, a sign that the former residents had “Gone to Texas.”  Crockett hoped to become a land agent in this new frontier in Mexico.  For several years, U.S. residents down on their luck, longing for adventure, had moved to this state of Mexico to become citizens, a requirement to obtain a land grant.  The distribution of this land had been put in the charge of land agents, the most notable being Moses Austin and his son, Stephen Fuller Austin.

As Crockett and his friends left the bars of Memphis to board a paddleboat, James D. Davis, then 16, noted, "He wore that same veritable coon-skin cap and hunting shirt, bearing upon his shoulder his ever-faithful rifle. No other equipment, save his shot pouch and powder horn, do I remember seeing.”  They first headed down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas River, then up this waterway to Little Rock.  While there, a reception party ready to celebrate his arrival found him at the rear of the Little Rock City Hotel skinning a deer.  Not only did they persuade Crockett to celebrate, they even talked him into participating in a gun shoot, which he won, although the legend has it that he missed his second shot, but managed to push a second ball in the same hole of his first bull’s eye.  As they all celebrated, the crowd begged for a speech, which Crockett gladly obliged by giving his “Hell and Texas” speech, much to the crowd’s delight. The band of men headed further west and crossed over the Red River into Texas, where they wondered around to avoid Indian attack until they reached Nacogdoches on January 5, 1836, with a cannon blast announcing his arrival.  Another banquet was held in his honor and, of course, he gave his “Hell and Texas” speech.  By this time, he had become quite aware of all of the political possibilities due to the talk of independence.  In order to vote and run for election, Crockett signed the oath of allegiance to Texas, but not before altering the wording just a bit.  He refused to sign the oath until the phrase requiring him to uphold “any future government” was changed by Judge John Forbes to “any future republican government.”  At that point, Crockett set his sights on serving as a representative at the upcoming Constitutional Convention.  However, to do so, he needed to travel further west to the town of San Antonio de Bexar, where the anti-Jacksonians had congregated.  East Texas was full of Jacksonians, and Crockett was no longer on their good side due to his opposition to many of Andrew Jackson’s policies.

While in Nacogdoches, two of Crockett’s companions, Burgin and Tinkle, decided that they didn’t want any part of the political turmoil, so they headed back to Tennessee, choosing not to give up their U.S. citizenship.  Meanwhile, Crockett and Patton joined up with a volunteer army group opposed to military commander and Jacksonian, Sam Houston.  The group, lead by 25-year old William B.  Harrison of Ohio, decided to take on the name, “The Tennessee Mounted Volunteers,” in honor of their newly joined celebrity, David Crockett.  They headed west, arriving in San Antonio on February 8, 1836, two days after delegates to the Constitutional Convention had been elected and sent to Washington-on-the-Brazos.

After celebrating George Washington’s birthday on February 22, 1836, the Texan garrison of San Antonio de Bexar was caught off guard by the leading troops of General Santa Anna’s military force approaching the town the following morning.  The garrison rushed into the Alamo, an old adobe mission across the San Antonio River from the town, to use as their fortress.  Although some improvements had been made to the wall for such an occasion, the mission fortress was too large for such a small occupying force. Despite internal strife over leadership between Col. William Barrett Travis and Col. James Bowie, brother to Resin Bowie, maker of the famous Bowie knife, the garrison managed to hold out for 13 days.  Crockett actually declined an official leadership position in the fort, choosing instead to hold the post of “a high private.”  The Mounted Tennessee Volunteers were given the defense of the weakest position in the fort, the wooden palisade extending from the Alamo chapel across to the south wall.  Though the weakest position in the fort, it was one of the last to fall during the final assault by the Mexican troops.

Before dawn of March 6, 1836, the Mexicans launched their great assault.  They retreated twice before successfully entering the fort through a breach in the north wall.  The battle only lasted for 90 minutes with all Texian defenders killed, except for the possibility of a few taken captive and then tortured and killed.  Some Mexican accounts claim Crockett was one of these few taken captive.  Whether he was or not, Crockett, a 49-year old man who went to Texas out of despair in hopes of finding his fortune, died a hero fighting a small battle in a remote frontier.  This stand changed the course of history, and although Crockett wasn’t one of the commanders, wasn’t wealthy, wasn’t a great success during his lifetime, he gained the legendary and beloved status we know him by today.

David Folds is a long-time affectionado of David Crockett and the Alamo. He makes his home in Nashville, TN.

Recommended Citation:
Folds, David: Gone to Texas!, Alamo de Parras Website, [Accessed ]