Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day Ten: Long Rifles.


 
  Davy's boys have the best rifles in the place.  Plenty of good guns around and bad, even Mexican Brown Bess's picked from the dead along with bayonets and cartridge belts.  Shotguns, horse pistols, tomahawks, knives of every sort.  Swords too.  Some cudgels and a couple cavalry lances.  The Gonzales boys came in well packed but already every man in the fort had a couple of rifles, a pistol, knife.  More cannon than we can powder, mount or crew.  If we can hold them here until Houston and Fannin ride in plus the other companies we stand a chance.  A good chance.  More than even.  They don't know what's coming.

  Speaking of knives there isn't a blade in the place you couldn't shave with, even the axes.  In the evenings we cook and folks sew and mend on tackle and gear and whet knives.   

  Davy's boys brought their squirrel rifles and deer guns.  Long rifles.  They keep them in beaded and fringed deerskin stocks and you never see one around unless it's being carried. 

  Lightly built but brassed and polished.  The maker picked the wood careful.  Peter Bailey has one of the prettiest wood stocks a man has ever seen on a rifle, curlicued and polished deep, nearly black out of the sunlight, golden brown in it, but most of them are close.  They glow. 

  The men handle them like Davy handles his fiddle.  They never get laid down except on something soft.  At night the men pull them out and look them over, oiling and rubbing.  Davy was breaking pecan meat on the stock of Betsy and rubbing it into the wood.

  When they go out the rifles don't go.  They borrow a shotgun or a pistol and take a tomahawk and a knife.  Couple guys always stay behind.  I think it's just to keep those rifles company.

  They name 'em.  Davy has Betsy and a couple others.  Nelson has two he calls "the Parson" and the "Po Boy."  Thomas Archer has his "Julie B."  Some of them got their rifles in trade but most of them had made guns.

  Seems most of those rifles can shoot.  Archer shot the shovel out of a man's hand digging the river battery.  All we could see coming up over the bunker.  Had to time the shot just right.  Clanged like a bell.  Nelson killed three Mexicans dead with three different rifles when we caught them beyond the cow pens.  As quick as he could snatch.  Davy says he's shooting more than we can eat. 

   The other day soldatos were chasing chickens out in La Villita way past rifle range.  Probably six or seven men trying to catch a flock thats been pecking under our guns for a week.  One man was standing in the open holding caught chickens by the feet as the others chased.  He had three or four in each hand.  Davy shucked the sock off Betsy and primed her, gave the ball a tap with the ramrod.  He rubbed a little oil off his nose with his finger and used it to slick up the front sight then sat with his back to a cannon carriage and Betsy resting across the sock on the wall.  The wind was gusting to raise dust.  250-275 yards.  I didn't think he was going to shoot until he pulled the hammer past half-cock.  Betsy barked and about two seconds later the dust jumped off that fellows jacket.  My, how the chickens flew!   That man turned to the side, fell to his knees and rolled over.  Except for the dead man there wasn't a Mexican in sight, just chickens shaking their feathers and calling each other.  Everybody was crowding up to the wall and passing around a spyglass to have a look.

  Davy patched out the lock on Betsy and winked. "I ain't sharing chickens."

  That night one of the Kentucky boys went out with the picket carrying a rag and a tomahawk.  He was back before the moon came up with a cloth full of eggs.  Ten eggs.  Homed in on the night clucking like a bear on a honeybee hive.  We were pushing the ends of the cookfire in to get the heat up but Davy said we better send these to the women and chilluns in the chapel or there would be no end to it.  We kept two and everyone awake had a bite.  One of the senora's came out to the fire and spoke.  Juan Abamillo was at the skillet and we looked at him.  "She says go get more," he said.

  Davy cracked a stick and put it under the coals.  "There ain't pleasing some women."

  It's Thursday, March 3, 1836.

Update:  Bonham back from Fannin and Goliad.  Fannin isn't coming.

Update II:  Shootout with Mexican forces north toward the river bottom and cover.  Soldatos think it's Texians foraging out.  Could be more reinforcements coming in.

Update III:  Bowie managed to get out and make a visit to all the men on the walls.

Update IV:  The Texicans are mostly shooting a Dupont gunpowder that is of high quality.  It's probably imported through New Orleans.  The Mexicans are using Spanish or indigenous powder that the defenders consider little better than coal dust. 
  

3 comments:

STxRynn said...

This is too real. Some of the words and humor is just like my family. My old aunts and uncles were just like this. Man, what a great series. I know a few of those women like the senora. Glad mine isn't like her! Excellent!!

from the Alamo, go south, a bit west, and south again. Knock loud... de....STxRynn

Ted said...

Not one, but TWO great lines from Crockett.

And he was dang sure about not being able to please some women ...

;-)

Old NFO said...

Outstanding shots with those long rifles, no question! Sorry I missed Gun Nuts, i'll download and listen. Thanks for doing this!