VIEWSrnDeath Before Dishonorrnby Roger D. McGrathrnThe 46-year-old veteran frontiersman lay in bed, desperatelyrnill. He was suffering from the effects of a gunshotrnwound that he had received in a fight. But duty called. Thernstate legislature asked him if he would lead an army of volunteersrnto engage the rampaging Red Stick Creeks. Thoughrnscarcely able to sit up in bed, he said that he would have thernarmy on the march in nine days. True to his word but lookingrnskeletal and decrepit, he had the volunteers on the road by thernpromised date. He moved them toward the enemy strongholdrnat the rate of 20 miles a day. The troops thought surely the OldrnMan would weaken and die. Instead, he gained strength dayrnby day, his fierce visage and blue eyes burning with an unearthlyrnintensity. He was a commander who inspired his men.rnHe had an iron will and a lean sinewy body to go with it. Herndid not get his nickname for nothing. Old Hickory was all gritrnand fight.rnThe Red Stick faction of Creeks, who were armed by, and alliesrnof, the British in the War of 1812, were about to suffer thernwrath of Andrew Jackson and 2,000 Tennessee frontiersmen.rnIn the first engagement of the two forces, a detachment of Jackson’srnboys killed more than 200 Red Stick warriors. “We shotrnthem like dogs,” said a tall, lanky frontiersman in the detachment.rnThe frontiersman was David Crockett. Jackson’s forcerncaught up with the main body of Red Sticks a couple of daysrnlater. More than a thousand Indian warriors came rushing outrnof the woods at the Tennessee boys “like a cloud of Egyptian locusts,”rnsaid Crockett, “and screaming like all the young devilsrnhad been turned loose, with the old devil of all at their head.”rnCrockett and his comrades coolly marked their targets, tookrncareful aim, and began firing. Each shot had to c o u n t -rnreloading took 30 seconds. Their firing was disciplined, accu-rnRogerD. McGrath is the author of Gun£ighters, Highwaymen,rnand Vigilantes.rnrate, and deadly. The fight took no more than 15 minutes. Byrnthen, the ground was littered with the bodies of more than 350rnRed Sticks and those warriors who had survived the carnagernwere fleeing pell-mell through the woods.rnThe final battle occurred at Horseshoe Bend, where the TallapoosarnRiver loops around a peninsula. The Red Sticks hadrnbuilt a log barricade across the base of the peninsula and figuredrnthat Jackson’s troops would either have to swim the river,rnexposed and vulnerable, or come over the barricade, equallyrnexposed and vulnerable, to get at them. Jackson surprised thernRed Sticks by doing both. He had some Indian allies swim thernriver and attack the Red Sticks from the rear while he sent hisrnTennessee boys in a frontal assault against the barricade. ThernRed Sticks were shocked by the mad rush of frontiersmen atrntheir stout barrier. Through heavy fire, the Tennesseans came,rnclawing their way up and over the logs, and into the midst ofrnthe Red Sticks, fighting hand to hand. This time the Indiansrncould not retreat by sprinting into the woods, although somerntried to escape by diving into the river. Shooting, clubbing,rnand stabbing their way through the Red Sticks, the frontiersmenrntiirned the fight into a rout. By the end of the battle, nearlyrn600 Red Stick warriors lay dead on the peninsula, and anotherrn300 Red Stick corpses were floating in the river. Jacksonrnthought that not more than 20 warriors had escaped. For all intentsrnand purposes, the Red Sticks ceased to exist. Jackson hadrnlost fewer than 30 of his Tennessee boys.rnI often wonder what the Indians of the trans-AppalachianrnWest must have thought of this new tribe that had begun pushingrninto the western parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and NorthrnCarolina and the eastern parts of Kentucky and Tennessee byrnthe I760’s. The Shawnee, the Cherokee, and the others hadrnnever seen anything like it. There were no Lame Bears, Cornstalks,rnRunning Deers, or Flying Crows, but there werernBoones, Finleys, McClellands, Martins, McGees, Robertsons,rnJUNE 1999/13rnrnrn