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General Sam Houston

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General Sam HOUSTON

What one who knew him from boyhood remembers.

[Nashville American.] A short time ago Judge Jo. C. GUILD who is

actively engaged in the preparation of a work embracing his personal

recollections of men and events in Tennessee during the past sixty

years, requested Col. Willoughby WILLIAMS, of this city, to write a

brief sketch of Gen. Sam. HOUSTON, with whose history from early

boyhood, Col. WILLIAMS is better acquainted than any living man. The

request was complied with, and we are permitted to give the result


Nashville Tenn., April 1, 1878.-- Judge Jo. C. GUILD --

My Dear Sir:

In the several conversations we have had on the subject of

Gen. Sam. HOUSTON'S life, you have expressed a desire to have me

relate some of the particular scenes and events in his early [faded]

sill familiar in my mind. I will endeavor then, in a short sketch

give you what now occurs to me of most interest. My earliest

recollections of Gen. HOUSTON date back to 1811 at Kingston, Roane

county Tenn. He was a clerk at the time of Mr. SHEFFY. My mother, in

her widowhood, was living about three miles from Kingston. I was

thirteen years of age, and Mr. HOUSTON five years my senior. The line

of the Cherokee country was about three miles south of Kingston, the

Tennessee river being the boundary. The Indian trade being much

valued, his services were highly appreciated from the fact that he

spoke with fluency the Cherokee language. He was especially kind to

me, and much of my time was spent in his company. He remained in the

capacity of clerk until after the declaration of the war in 1812. At

that time the United States were recruiting troops at Kingston for

the war. Lieut. Wm. ARNOLD, of the Thirty-ninth regiment of Regulars,

was sent to Kingston on recruiting service. The whole population had

caught the war fever and intense interest prevailed. The manner of

enlisting at that day was to parade the streets with drum and fife,

with a sergeant in command. Silver dollars were placed on the head of

the drum as a token of enlistment, the volunteer stepped up and took

a silver dollar, which was his bounty; he was then forth with marched

to the barracks and uniformed.

The late Robert H. McEWEN, of this city, cousin of Gen. HOUSTON, and

myself were standing together on the streets and saw HOUSTON take his

silver dollar in the year 1813. He was taken immediately to the

barracks and dressed in uniform and appointed the same day as

Sergeant. Soon after this Lieut. ARNOLD had received thirty-nine

soldiers, and was ordered to send them forth to join the troops,

marching to the Creek war, under the command of Col. John WILLIAMS,

of Knoxville, who commanded this regiment of regulars in person at

the battle of Horse Shoe, and afterwards became a distinguished

Senator in Congress from Tennessee. Soon after HOUSTON left Kingston,

his friends applied to President MADISON for his promotion, who

commissioned him as Ensign. The commission was promptly sent, and

reached him before the battle of Horse Shoe. At the battle he mounted

the Indian defense with colors in hand, and was wounded by a barbed

arrow in the thigh. A soldier, whom he ordered to extract it by main

force, made several ineffectual attempts, and only succeeded under a

threat by HOUSTON to kill him unless he pulled it out. He was carried

back, suffering intensely from the wound which had been lacerated.

His indomitable will led him immediately back into the fight, when he

was soon wounded by two balls in the shoulder. His intrepid spirit

displayed on this occasion won him the lasting regard of Gen.

JACKSON. Disabled from further service, he was sent back to Kingston

with the sick and wounded. Robert H. McEWEN and myself met him some

distance from Kingston, on a litter supported by horses. He was

greatly emaciated, suffering at the same time from his wounds and the

measles. We took him to the house of his relative, 'Squire John

McEWEN, brother of R.H. McEWEN, where he remained from some time, and

from thence he went tot he house of his mother, in Blount county.

After this battle, he received the appointment of Luitenant for his

gallantry. After the restoration of peace he was appointed sub agent

of the Cherokee nation under Return J. MEIGS, who was agent, the

Agency being on the west bank of the Hiwassee, near where the

railroad between Knoxville and Chattanooga crosses, the spot where

the remains of Gov. McMINN and Return J. MEIGS lie buried, both

having been agents to the Indian nation. While in the capacity of sub-

agent, a controversy arose between himself and Mr. CALHOUN, Secretary

of War, which caused his removal about the year 1816. Soon after this

he came to Nashville and commenced the study of law with Hon. James

TRIMBLE, father of Mr. John TRIMBLE, of this city, and obtained

license to practice after six or eight months study. At the first

meeting of the Legislature he was elected Attorney General of this

district over some distinguished lawyers as competitors, and was

elected Major General of the militia of this division of the State,

and in 1823 was elected to Congress, and re-elected in 1825. While

there he preferred some charges against the Postmaster here, who, it

was understood, would hold him personally responsible on his return

home. The matter was public, and great excitement existed among the

friends of both parties, and rumors, were afloat that a duel would

follow. Col. John T. SMITH, a noted duelist, in Missouri, arrived in

the city, and it was understood that he would be the bearer of the

challenge to HOUSTON. It was believed that Col. McGREGOR, who was

General HOUSTON'S second, would refuse to accept the challenge

through the hands of Col. SMITH, for reasons which he explained. This

caused some excitement among the friends of General HOUSTON, as they

expected a difficulty to occur between Mr. McGREGOR and Col. SMITH,

because of the refusal to accept the challenge if borne by SMITH, he

being well known as a desperate man. It was anticipated that the

challenge would be delivered at the Nashville Inn, where Gen. HOUSTON

was stopping that afternoon, and all were on the lookout for the

movements of SMITH. He was soon seen, about where now stands the

Hicks china store, walking in the direction of the Nashville Inn, and

the friends of both parties hurried to the Inn, where the meeting was

to take place. Maj. Philip CAMPBELL, a gallant soldier in the Creek

war, and a warm personal friend of Gen. HOUSTON, with ten or fifteen

other HOUSTON men made their appearance at the Inn, prepared to take

part, as it was expected there would be a fight when McGREGOR refused

to accept the challenge borne by SMITH. The challenge was presented

by SMITH to McGREGOR in front of the Nashville Inn, with these

words: "I have a communication with Col. IRWIN to Gen. HOUSTON, which

I now hand to you, sir" extending his hand with the challenge.

McGREGOR replied: "I can receive no communication through your hands

from Col. IRWIN,' and the paper dropped on the pavement before them.

Col. SMITH then returned to his quarters, walking down the Public

Square, the same route by which he approached the place of meeting.

The crowd rushed into the hall of the Inn where Gen. HOUSTON was

standing, greatly relieved that there was no fight between McGREGOR

and SMITH. Gen. Wm. WHITE, a brave and chivalrous gentleman, remarked

that he did not "think the proper courtesy had been extended to Col.

SMITH." HOUSTON heard the remark, and said: "If you sir, have any

grievances, I will give you any satisfaction you may demand." Gen.

WHITE replied: "I have nothing to do with your difficulty, but I

presume to know what is due from one gentlemen to another." This

ended the conversation. The next day it was rumored on the streets

that Gen HOUSTON had "back down" Gen. WHITE. When it reached the ear

of the gallant WHITE, through some evil-minded person, he resented

the Imputation by sending a challenge to Gen. HOUSTON, who readily

accepted. Robert C. FOSTER, a prominent citizen of Davidson county

and preserver of the peace, came to town and heard the rumor. He

expected the fight, and immediately had a warrant issued for the

arrest of both parties, which was placed in the hands of Joseph W.

HORTON, Sheriff of this county at that time. Mr. HORTON requested me

to accompany him the next morning to the residence of Mr. WHITE to

make the arrest. WHITE was then living four or five miles north of

the Cumberland river. Declining the request of Mr. HORTON, I

immediately went to HOUSTON'S room, and found that he had heard, late

in the evening, of the warrant for the arrest both of himself and

Gen. WHITE. That evening he left the city and passed by the Hermitage

on his way to the home of Jimmy Dry SANDERS, in Sumner county. The

next day he sent a message to learn what had been done with WHITE and

to notify him that he would offer him that he would be in Kentucky on

a certain day and there would offer him any redress he might desire.

WHITE met him according to appointment, and they fought a duel at sun

rise. WHITE was thought to be mortally wounded, but recovered. On the

evening of the fight a large crowd was assembled at the Inn to hear

the news of the duel, among them Gen. JACKSON. WHITE waiting in

expectation, a personal friend of Gen. HOUSTON and a noted character,

John G. ANDERSON who had gone up to witness the fight was seen coming

at full speed over the bridge, and soon announced that HOUSTON was

safe and WHITE mortally wounded. After HOUSTON'S term in Congress

expired, he was elected Governor of Tennessee, successor to Gen. Wm.

CARROLL. During his Governorship, he married Miss ALLEN, who was a

member of a large and influential family in Summer and Smith


Gen. CARROLL, after being out of office two years, was again eligible

and declared himself a candidate to opposition to HOUSTON. The first

meeting of HOUSTON and CARROLL in the canvass occurred at Cockerell's

Spring in the month of April, at a battalion muster. I was at that

time Sheriff of the county and Colonel of the militia, and at

HOUSTON'S request, drilled the regiment that day, he desired me to

fully acquaint my self with popular sentiment, and communicate it to

him after the speaking, which I did affording him, much gradncation

(?) [faded]. He left the muster ground Saturday afternoon, for the

city, and I accompanied him as far as the residence of Mr. John BOYD

in sight of the city, and then returned to my home, leaving him in

fine spirits. I went into the city on Monday morning early, and while

registering my name at the Nashville Inn, the late Daniel F. CARTER,

who was at the time clerk of the hotel, said to me: "Have you heard

the news?" I replied, "No what news?" He replied, "Gen. HOUSTON and

wife have separated, and she has returned to her father's home." I

was greatly shocked, having never suspected any cause for separation.

Asking where Gen. HOUSTON could be found, Mr. CARTER replied, he was

in his room, but could not be seen, I went immediately to his room

and found in company with Dr. SHELBY. He was deeply mortified and

refused to explain this matter. I left him with Dr. SHELBY for a few

minutes and went to the Court-house on business. When I returned I

said to him, "You must explain this sad occurrence to us, else you

will sacrifice your friends and yourself." He repled, "I can make no

explanation. I exonerate this lady fully, and do not justify myself.

I am a ruined man; will exile myself, and now ask you to take my

resignation to the Secretary of State." I replied, 'You must think of

it,' when he again said, 'It is my fixed determination, and my

enemies, when I am gone, will be too magnanimous to censure my

friends.' Seeing his determination, I took his resignation to the

Secretary of State, who received it. The following morning he went in

disguise to the steamboat, accompanied by Dr. SHELBY and myself. He

wrote me afterwards that he was not recognized until he reached

Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas river, where he met a friend,

of whom he exacted a promise not to make him known. He went up the

river to Fort Smith, thence to the Cherokee Nation to his old friend

Jolly, a noted Indian whom he knew when sub agent. He remained in the

Nation some time, and on one occasion passed through Nashville, with

a delegation of Indians on their way to Washington City, in the full

garb of a Cherokee. From the Nation he went to Texas and settled at

St. Augustine, commencing there the practice of law with John DUNN,

of this county, son of Michael C. DUNN, and there remained until the

breaking out of the Texas revolution. He soon raised an army, and was

made commander-in-chief of the Texas army, and at the battle of San

Jacinto captured Santa Anna, President of Mexico, which closed the

war. He sent Santa Anna and Gen. ALMONTE as his prisoners through

Nashville, on their way to Washington City, under charge of Col.

George W. HOCLEY, formerly of Nashville. Gen HOUSTON was then made

President of the Republic of Texas, and, after its annexation, was

Senator in Congress from that State; then was made Governor, and at

the commencement of the war was opposed to secession and rebellion,

was disposed by the Legislature and soon after died. Some years

previous to his death he professed the Christian religion and became

a consistent member of the Baptist church. The incidents I have

related to you, my old friend, are just as they present themselves

from my own memory, without reference to history, hence there may be

some inaccuracy in the dates. Many other incidents occur to my mind,

but I will not tax you longer. Long and faithfully yours. WILLOUGHBY


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