Daniel Stephens and the War of 1812

 

The Davy Crockett Connection

His son’s statement (q.v.) implies that Daniel Stephens knew and fought with Davy Crockett but the relationship was evidently not a close one.  We know that David Crockett was a Sergeant and Daniel Stephens was a private in Major William Russell’s Separate Battalion of Volunteer Mounted Gunmen.   The unit, consisting of about 500 men, was formed in September 1814 in Lincoln County, Tennessee and was on active duty for six months.   After its formation the battalion marched to Pensacola, arriving just in time for the British surrender in early November 1814.   In November and December Russell’s Battalion roamed the Escambia River area near Pensacola chasing renegade Creeks.   After arriving at the Apalachicola River in late December the force was split.  One part marched west to join General Jackson at New Orleans while the other part marched northwest toward the Tallapoosa River in Alabama.   Davy Crockett went north and missed the Battle of New Orleans.

Davy Crockett had served earlier in the war as well, though not in a unit with Daniel Stephens.  He and his wife had lived in Lincoln County during the years of 1809-1810, then moved to Franklin county and settled on Beans Creek, where he remained until the close of the War of 1812.   When the Creek Indians opened hostilities with the 10 Aug 1812 attack on Fort Mimms, Davy volunteered for the militia in Captain Jones’ Mounted Volunteers.  They went to Beatty Springs where David Crockett went with Major Gibson across the Tennessee River into the Creek nation as a spy.   David chose George Russell, son of Major William Russell, as his partner. They returned safely and reported to General Coffee.  Crockett and 800 of General Coffee’s volunteers crossed the Tennessee River to Huntsville, Alabama, and down the river to Muscle Shoals and Melton’s Bluff, next to Black Warrior’s town, near the present city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.   David Crockett asked permission of General Coffee to go hunting and there he killed a bear.   He fought in the battle of Fort Strother, Fort Talledega, and the Battle of Talledega.   He participated in a massacre of Indians at Tallussahatchee in northern Alabama, but returned home when his enlistment was up; he was not present at the decisive Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814 when the Creeks were defeated.

There is no known connection between the family of Davy Crockett and anyone named Stephens.  Crockett’s own memoirs, published in 1834 as A Narrative of the life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee1  make no mention of anyone named Stevens or Stephens.

According to a popular — but inaccurate — song of the 1960’s, he trekked to Louisiana to participate in the Battle of New Orleans.  True or not, he did scout for Andrew Jackson in the Creek War, in 1813 and 1814.

Jackson’s Military Road

Daniel Stephens may have participated in some way in the construction of this road.  The road, which connected Nashville with New Orleans, was about 436 miles long.   It consisted of existing roadways on either end with a long new segment that connected Columbia, Tennessee with Madisonville, Louisiana.

Congress appropriated funds for construction in April 1816, a survey was completed a year later, and the road was completed in May 1820.  According to newspaper reports at the time, the construction gang numbered about 300 men.

Daniel Stephens is said to have participated, though the only evidence is a statement made by his grandson James Solomon Stephens: “His grandfather was in the War of 1812 at the battle of New Orleans, and helped cut the Jackson Military Road from New Orleans to Nashville.” 2

 

 

 

  1. Published by E.L. Carey and A. Hart. in 1834. []
  2. The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi (1912 edition), page 393. []