How Did Colonel Davy Crockett Die?

How Did Colonel Davy Crockett Die?

Everyone knows that Davy Crockett died at the Battle of the Alamo, but the question that scholars have been debating for years is how.

For over one hundred and seventy years, scholars have been debating exactly Davy Crockett died at the Battle of the Alamo. Popular legend says he died swinging his riffle, Ole’ Betsy, like a club. Some scholars have suggested that he was one of the first to be killed. Others, that he was one of a handful of survivors who were ultimately shot after being captured. Still others say that he was one of the first to fall. Which of these versions are correct?

The body of evidence seems to support the notion that Crockett was one of a handful of defenders that the Mexican army captured. Santa Anna had ordered that no prisoners be taken, however, so he ordered that they be shot and bayonetted. While several eye witnesses reported that this was how Crockett had died, this theory was not confirmed until the diary of Lt. Jose Enrique de la Pena was first published in 1975. As a Mexican officer, we can expect that he had a better knowledge of Crockett’s fate than most, so it seems likely that his version is accurate.

Interestingly, one of the very first books written about the Battle of the Alamo says that this is how Crockett died. The same year that the Alamo fell, Richard Penn Smith wrote a book called “Col. Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas….Written by Himself.” While much of the book is fictitious and/or plagiarized, it does give an accurate narration of how Crockett was captured and eventually executed.

The idea that Davy had “gone down swinging “ole Betsy” arose out of dissatisfaction with the idea that Crockett would allow himself to be captured. Crockett had been such a legendary figure in life, that many expected to remain legendary in death. Despite being inaccurate and based on no evidence of any kind, this is what has passed for history for many years. Since 1975, however, the true account of what happened has caught with the myth. The last movie about the Alamo ended with the execution of Crockett. Even it embellishes slightly, however, by making it seem that he was the only survivor. Indeed, there were probably four or five others.

While most scholars are pretty well convinced that Crockett was executed after being captured, we cannot be sure if that is really what happened. Colonel Travis” slave, Joe, said that he saw Crockett dead surrounded by the bodies of Mexican soldiers. Susanna Dickinson, the wife of one of the defenders, said that Crockett died outside the fort, early in the battle. The majority of the evidence, however, seems to support Pena’s claim. Some in Crockett’s day might have considered being executed somehow less admirable than dying in battle, but Pena indicates that they died with honor and did their duty to the last.

Liked it
Nikki, posted this comment on Jan 20th, 2008

i likeed it. I am doing a project on Davy Crockett and this helped! thanks!

Kristen, posted this comment on Jan 20th, 2008

I am a huge Davy Crockett fan!! I think that it is so cool that as congress man he went down to the alamo to fight. When congress men back thenn did not do that. I love his famous quote “you all can go to hell i will go to texas”. I think that Davy Crockett was killed after the fight of and was exucted.

kelsey, posted this comment on Apr 16th, 2008

i am related to Davy Crockett he really died in a corner and was stabed until deth o.k.

kelsey, posted this comment on Apr 21st, 2008

Davy really died when he was in a corner and Mexicans came up behind him and shot him through the side of his hip.He fell down and they stabbed him.Then Will Travis shot all of the Mexicans and Davy Crockett was dead.I know this because i am related to him and this true story got passed down.So get it right and shut up.

texan, posted this comment on May 14th, 2008

Kelsey you may be God’s first cousin but you do not know anything more than anyone else. If your Mama told you this just remember she is was not there too!

shanell, posted this comment on Oct 13th, 2008

someone said that he was burnt but okay

Watcher, posted this comment on Nov 10th, 2008

He probably died swinging! like Joe the slave said, he saw crockett surrounded by mexicans with his knife in one of them! Joe was there!

GonnaFailHistoryClass, posted this comment on Feb 20th, 2009

im doing a paper on how daid crockett died and this helped me….a little bit…nawt that much, but it still helped

Ethan, posted this comment on Apr 7th, 2009

im doing a report. i think it is awsome to know all versions of the story.

RayQuan Wannamaker, posted this comment on Apr 29th, 2009

Davey Crockett is awesome I bet he was a cool kid when he was younger

Bob Waters, posted this comment on Dec 11th, 2009

Not sure what this “majority of the evidence” is. Susannah Dickinson, Joe, and Ben, the cook to one of Santa Anna’s officers (who had met Crockett years earlier when the latter was a Congressman) are the only witnesses on either side of the matter who actually knew Crockett and would have been able to identify him; they all say that he died in battle. Ben even identified him for Santa Anna (who wrote of being shown Crockett’s “cadaver,” not of having executed him!) in the presence of the alcalde of San Antonio and another Mexican solider, both of whom subsequently described Santa Anna’s behavior on seeing Crockett’s very dead body.

On the other side we have numerous cases of some usually unidentified person whom we have no particular reason to believe had ever laid eyes on Crockett telling somebody else that one of the prisoners the Mexicans killed after the battle was the Tennessean. In no case is it a person whom it can be established could have reliably identified Crockett who makes that claim. Granted, Ben had only met Crockett once, years before, and Mrs. Dickinson changed her story so often that some might not consider her the most reliable of witnesses. But combine their testimony with Joe’s and Santa Anna’s own, and the case for Crockett’s death in battle seems to me to be so much stronger than gossip and hearsay that composes the opposite argument that it’s hard to see why there’s even a controversy.

Perhaps “a majority” of the evidence supports Crockett’s capture and execution, but seems to me to be pretty sorry evidence. The reliable evidence seems to me to speak with one voice in the unanimous agree of the people who- unlike the anonymous gossipmongers who told somebody or other, “Psst! That’s Crockett!-” actually had credentials for being able to identify the man. They all say that Crockett lay dead when Santa Anna first saw him. Santa Anna himself agrees.

Quality of evidence ought to count for more than quantity.

amos edmonds, posted this comment on Apr 5th, 2010

i think think this is really stupid and thats not the truth.he died of some kind of illnessb hfndjlsgd hdg;szbndfj;v fdhhbfvdxhfhjdff dhhfmkcxz t5irowy nkdzs78gfrdmrkgnfd gfjdgjfks hfdljsrje rhej;re fbhrdhfrjks fgdlhgfsghlshgnrmea grheihre fduhfjkd; gdmsgbdej;gbnrem gvrfdejhfae grfgbvfjrdeg vfrdseghdfk;bgvfmnd gdfgbfd gmn dfjgbdfhkbgdfhgdfhghfdghfdgfd fn gbfdjks;ghrtkje;hgethtjkfhfb ngjmhdsjkg;jdekstraem.t rae.treatbnrme.atgr aebtgrhsg resjghfrdis;ghjdfkrsg f ds g fr d g frd g frjdekghjrkhahreahruiaehtuiehaieahtuiehjrektgr egjrehregnmrfksetgr ehtgrektre rhetgre rejre rufntr fudhgkfrdsrbgfdstnmlfbhjre fdghdjk;s trneghfdk rembgfdr mae, gfdgfnmd grejgdf bredfg nmsgrshmreshrjek;fd gfdhjghfjkds gsbhhtjrkes tgrjdghfdkngfdks res.t thgfjkd.sgtr nemgdfhtr mehfdhgmknre.s gfrdgjksdebgi;r84976wtkriybhtjr

Michael J. Brathwaite, posted this comment on Apr 11th, 2010

While I have been convinced by Dan Kilgore and Dr. James Crisp that David Crockett was one of those executed after the battle on the strength of the Dolson letter I’d like to make a couple of comments about the article: firstly, while de la Pena is unlikely to have been capable of identifying Crockett, he seems to have gone to some trouble to make his account as accurate as possible rather than relied on unsubstantiated rumours. Secondly, I am not aware of Susanna Dickinson saying Crockett was killed early in the battle: many years ago a biography of Crockett quoted an unnamed woman saying that, and those of us who had seen the 1960 film, “The Alamo”, assumed he meant Susanna Dickinson because the film had led us to believe that she was the only woman there. However, I think the account he was referring to was one by Madam Candalaria.

garrett.c, posted this comment on Apr 12th, 2010

i feel that davy died fighting for what he belived and it dosent matter if he was executed, dtabed or went down clubing all i know is that he dided for what he beleived in and that my paper is beast

manu reddy, posted this comment on Apr 14th, 2010

i think that he died after he was captured.

Slava, posted this comment on Apr 18th, 2010

It was awesome ’cause we finished learning about him.

a teacher, posted this comment on Apr 20th, 2010

I sincerely hope that the reports these students are presenting in their schools for a grade have been reviewed for spelling errors before submitting them to their teachers.

If one is going to post something in cyber-space, for any and all to see, one should attempt to spell your communication correctly.
i.e. “nawt” for “not”

Tony M, posted this comment on May 3rd, 2010

He was trying to escape and got caught , He was Begging for his Life , he feel to his knees and cryed for mercy , but as ordered , NO PRISONERS. he was shot on the spot. end of story. it’s the real truth. lt. jose enrique de la pena. Mexican Soldiers Marched for hundreds of miles hungry and tired before they got to the fort. Get the Facts! He did’nt fight to the end , you don’t want to hear the truth , the real truth. he was no hero , he tried to save his own life and he got Captured and Mexican soldiers killed him , the end. I’m not trying to burst anyones bubble but heck , I believe in the diary of LT. JOSE ENRIQUE DE LA PENA he was there folks. Don’t be in denial.
know the facts. he tryed to escape , he did’nt go down fighting , in those times it was dishonerable to try to escape so someone decided to make him out to be a hero instead but the sad truth is he was trying to save his own skin.

Tony.M, posted this comment on May 3rd, 2010

Lt. Jose Enrique de la pena , Please read up on Davy Crockett , His Diary . sorry about the spelling but I love History , not here to Offend anyone. I Mean if you were surround by hundreds of soldiers and your out numbered by Hundreds of tired and hungry soldiers with no rest , I Mean Come on , I know your all Davy Crockett Fans but i think you would run for your life. that’s exactly what happen to Davy and you can’t blame the guy. but facts are the Facts , he did’nt go down Fighting , he was executed while trying to escape. Read the Diary of LT. Jose Enrique de la pena.

justin hope, posted this comment on May 27th, 2010

i fond out a few days ago that amk realatid to davy crockitt

justin hope, posted this comment on May 27th, 2010

i meant i am

justin hope, posted this comment on May 27th, 2010

why would he run if he has peaple counting on him for insperation

FredTownWard, posted this comment on Jun 5th, 2010

The hole in the “Davy Crockett Surrendered” theory has always been that in the pre-photography era of 1836, no one in the Mexican Army from Lt. de la Pena to Santa Anna would have known Davy Crockett from Adam; in other words almost ANY member of the garrison could have claimed to be Crockett, and the Mexicans wouldn’t have known any better.

Keep in mind that the decision to surrender after two weeks of the Red Flag and the De Guello was the triumph of Hope over Reason; only 6 defenders are alleged to have even tried it (One other alleged member of the garrison talked his way to freedom by claiming to be a prisoner.)

Which is more plausible?

That against all reason (and unlike most of the Tennesseeans he brought with him into the Alamo) a man with Crockett’s reputation decided to try what his contemporaries would probably have considered “the coward’s way out”?

Or that some unknown member of the garrison, perhaps knowing of the successful attempt of the alleged prisoner to survive, decided to claim to be Davy Crockett in order to try and save himself and his 4 friends?

We’ll never know for sure, but until the Alamo Revisionists can produce evidence more convincing than, “one of the prisoners claims to be Davy Crockett,” I see no reason to accuse this legend in his own lifetime of a failure of nerve in his final moments.

Joe, posted this comment on Oct 11th, 2010

He got killed in a room with his genearl and the enemy came in and killed them both

David D. Crockett, posted this comment on Oct 23rd, 2010

I’ve enjoyed the reading,but am still unsure of how he meet his death,his life and accomplishments give good warrent for his fame.If any one man were to do as much in as little time he would also find a page in the history books. I would like to leave you with his message,”Always be sure your right then GO AHEAD” Davy Crockett 7th generation

PAD, posted this comment on Nov 30th, 2010

He was a hero!!!

anthony, posted this comment on Dec 26th, 2010

If he got executed at the end of the fight? Then how come Santa Anna never bragged about it later? And if you read more on Santa Anna he went to dinner later on as a guest of President Andrew Jackson (who you know disliked Crockett) and not once have you ever heard that Santa Anna bragged about executing the legendary David Crockett. Also Crockett didn\’t want to be trapped in the Alamo wanted to fight in the open. All I\’m saying by not hearing Santa Anna ever bring up that he killed Crockett at the end makes it hard 2beleive it. And also maybe one survivor claimed he was Crockett to try to save his own life at the end? Hard to believe Crockett was executed.

jessica, posted this comment on Feb 18th, 2011

well you guys can fuss all you need to, but i think he died by riding a donkey, for real!!!!!!!

Davey Crockett the VIII, posted this comment on Feb 27th, 2011

Kelsey is not related to Davey Crockett, but is related to Sadam Husein. She crossed the two and thought that it was Davey hiding in a corner ditch when it was Sadam. Hey Kelsey…we got it right!!!

joe a, posted this comment on Mar 19th, 2011

This is the best post I ever read. The comments are passionate but reasonable. I don’t know how Crockett died. I would like to think he was one of the last men standing. But it doesn’t really matter. He died along with all the Alamo defenders that day. PS – Yes. Spelling counts.

Stephen Bailey, posted this comment on Jun 22nd, 2011

I found out a few days ago that I really am Davey Crockett, and I can tell you for sure, that if you just look at the rest of my life, you’ll see that I didn’t run at the end. I had already been a hardened soldier by the time I was had come to Texas. I had been battle hardened in several Indian wars. I had been toughened by hand to hand combat in which I’d already killed men in power, and lived to tell about it. I knew what I was getting into when I went with my friends and fellow combatants to the Alamo. And I can guaran-damn-tee you, that I did not run on that last night.

I can’t even tell you exactly how it happened. Once the Mexicans were inside the walls, all Hell broke loose. But I do know that I took a few with me… and if you count all of my shots from the day I arrived… I’m believing that it must have been upwards of 30. So, in the end, I went down hard, just like all the rest… But I’m here to say, there was no where to run… and I wouldn’t have done it anyway. Never entered my mind. Now! There you have it !

Zack wheatt, posted this comment on Feb 4th, 2012

No one will ever know let it go rip congressman Crockett

Thomas Mitchell, posted this comment on Oct 26th, 2012

Tony M. is angered by the fact that starving Texans were trying to liberate themselves from a grueling dictator and take the precious land of what would eventually become Texas from his precious Mexico. Perhaps he is Mexican? In the age of political correctness it is usual practice for the USA to have guilt about their former heroes and any way it can be defaced, it shall. Tony – todos sabemos Crockett fought mas fuerte que cualquier Mexicano. It is ok…

Regardless, testimony has been recorded that Crockett died in front of the Chapel, his body identified by those that would have know him and even Santa Anna, who wanted to be 1000% correct, confirmed this. Just because years later someone decided to ADD ON to someone else work (it has been proven that the penmanship and time of the added version was done many years later than the original diary writings) we now take it as gospel. just more folks trying to tear down a legend because it is now the thing to do. Crockett was in several battles with Natives, a Scout, a hunter. I do not think that it was in him to have surrendered in the end. Perhaps he jumped over the north wall to fight outside, or made his way back to the chapel. I am pretty sure he did go down with a fight. His reputation would warrant such action. The Mexican Army was embarrassed that they had taken such a loss to men who were tired and starving in a little make shift fort (the Alamo by any means was not a garrison that should have been defended). They were rebelled twice and on the third attempt had to go all out and sustain the casualties. What better story to write then that of cowardly actions by an American legend. Not ONE of those soldiers would have been able to identify Crockett. I guess in the 1970’s they needed to sell more papers about this issue and what better way to pollute the minds of babes with some idiotic theory of how Crockett died.

Crockett died a hero and should be remembered as such.

Mike Rath, posted this comment on Jan 4th, 2013

From what I’ve read, Davy was wounded during the battle by a Mexican officers sword across his brow and was kind of out of it when captured. Then executed.

Leave a Response
comments powered by Disqus