Death Before Dishonor

The 46-year-old veteran frontiersman lay in bed, desperately ill. He was suffering from the effects of a gunshot wound that he had received in a fight. But duty called. The state legislature asked him if he would lead an army of volunteers to engage the rampaging Red Stick Creeks. Though scarcely able to sit up in bed, he said that he would have the army on the march in nine days. True to his word but looking skeletal and decrepit, he had the volunteers on the road by the promised date. He moved them toward the enemy stronghold at the rate of 20 miles a day. The troops thought surely the Old Man would weaken and die. Instead, he gained strength day by day, his fierce visage and blue eyes burning with an unearthly intensity. He was a commander who inspired his men. He had an iron will and a lean sinewy body to go with it. He did not get his nickname for nothing. Old Hickory was all grit and fight.

The Red Stick faction of Creeks, who were armed by, and allies of, the British in the War of 1812, were about to suffer the wrath of Andrew Jackson and 2,000 Tennessee frontiersmen. In the first engagement of the two forces, a detachment of Jackson's boys killed more than 200 Red Stick warriors. "We shot them like dogs," said a tall, lanky frontiersman in the detachment. The frontiersman was David Crockett. Jackson's force caught up with the main body of Red Sticks a couple of days later. More than a thousand Indian warriors...

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