If you are not familiar with the history of the Volunteers, here are some facts about them: the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the war that made Texas a state, and the war that avenged the death of Davy Crockett. These are just a few of the many battles in which the Tennessee Volunteers participated.
Tennesseans fought in the War of 1812
When the War of 1812 broke out in June 1812, Tennessee was still a backwoods, fledgling state, but it played a prominent role. Andrew Jackson led an army of Tennessee militia and volunteers. His army was instrumental in the Creek War and the battle of New Orleans. Other Tennessee veterans of the war included David Crockett and Sam Houston.
Tennessean soldiers distrusted the Native Americans and resented the British for interfering in American affairs. However, they were motivated by patriotic duty and the thrill of adventure. They elected their officers at enlistment and they were typically the wealthiest men in the country.
The First Tennessee Regiment – known as the Drafted Militia – fought alongside Andrew Jackson. During the Creek War, Dyer’s regiment participated in most of the battles. During the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, they formed reserve companies and participated in several battles. They also took part in reconnaissance patrols through Creek territory.
After the Creek War, Jackson’s army marched northward, advancing to West Florida and securing Pensacola. Then reports of British activity spurred the army’s march to the city of New Orleans. This force of Tennessee and U.S. Army regulars, Choctaw Indians, and free blacks eventually defeated the English in January 1815.
The English were surprised and disappointed by the Tennessee militia’s slant to the right, but the English were well covered by the woods. The American detachment was several yards from the protective cover of the woods. In the end, the British were not able to mount heavier guns, but this did not stop the attack. Seven Americans died and eight others were wounded.
A contingent of mounted Tennessee militiamen was sent north of Jackson’s army. This was a difficult 16-day march. The area was interlaced with streams and thick undergrowth. It also rained for two consecutive days. The militiamen waited for word from Jackson.
They fought in the Mexican War
Tennesseans played an important role in the war. They fought in the battle of Cerro Gordo, a mountain pass located between Vera Cruz and Mexico City. It was a strategic place, where the armies of Gen. Winfield Scott and Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna met. The First and Second Tennessee Infantry regiments distinguished themselves during this battle. Ultimately, their efforts won the war and enabled the Americans to take Mexico City. The battle also marks the first large-scale amphibious assault in US military history. Tennessean Gideon Pillow led a brigade of volunteers during this battle.
Although their enlistments were terminated prior to the fall of Mexico City, most Tennessee volunteers decided to return home after the war. While most soldiers, especially those in the First and Second Tennessee regiments, returned home prior to the conquest of Mexico City, Pillow and his regiments remained until the end of the campaign. Pillow was later court-martialed for exaggerating the significance of battles in the outskirts of the enemy capital.
The volunteers’ service in the war cemented Tennessee’s reputation as a volunteer state. In 1846, President James K. Polk called for two thousand Tennessee men to join the Mexican American army, and they responded in huge numbers. During the war, the Tennessee militia raised five regiments, and the overwhelming support they showed for the war effort helped cement Tennessee’s reputation as the Volunteer State.
The remains of a few of those Tennessee volunteers are returning to the United States. In September, the remains of some of these soldiers were transferred to the Department of Defense’s Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where forensic analysis is being done. The author is still working on confirming which of the remains are those of Tennesseans who fought in the Mexican War.
After the war, most American citizens supported the war and honored the veterans. In Tennessee, the area around Fort Campbell, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, and Monterey have become known as places associated with the war’s heroes. In the years following the war, some of the volunteers became governors of the country, including William Trousdale, William Bowen Campbell, and William B. Bate.
They fought in the war that led to Texas becoming a state
Volunteers from Tennessee were important to the cause of Texas’s independence from Mexico. The war began in 1846 over a boundary dispute, and as the number of American troops was insufficient for an effective foreign occupation, the Secretary of War called on 2,800 volunteers from Tennessee to serve in the army. A group of volunteers from Tennessee led the troops in the Battle of the Alamo, which was decisive in securing Texas’s independence.
The war against Mexico started in the fall of 1845, and units of soldiers were formed in Texas. Some regiments included Indians. Another unit was made up of Mormons. The state’s government used a lottery system to determine who was eligible to volunteer for service in new units.
More than 30,000 volunteers from Tennessee fought in the war, and at least 35 of them were killed in battle. Today, those remains are in the Gallatin City Cemetery, where a monument commemorating the men of that era stands. Tennessee lawmakers are now working to bring these remains home.
Volunteers from Tennessee also fought on both sides of the conflict. The First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry served in the battle of Monterey and Fort Teneria, earning the nickname “Bloody First.” In the aftermath of the war, the Second Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, Fourth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, and Fifth Volunteer Infantry were recruited from Tennessee. They acted as supply line guards and garrison troops and saw some action during the closing days of the war.
The Mexican-American War began over a border dispute. The United States and Mexico both wanted to control the Rio Grande river, which was on the southern border of Texas. The United States won the war, but it cost the United States additional territory. They also gained parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and California.
The war that led to Texas becoming a state had many causes, but some observers saw Texas as the beginning of a revolution. It was a struggle of culture between Anglos and Mexicans and only a few observers believed that the rebellion was a reaction to the Mexican government’s policies. However, the conflict led to the creation of the state and the emergence of the Republic of Texas.
They fought in the war that avenged the death of Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett began his military career as a scout for the Tennessee militia. His commanding officer was Major Gibson. His first mission was to help Andrew Jackson defeat the Creek Indians at Fort Mims in Alabama. He also participated in a massacre of the Tallussahatchee tribe, killing more than two hundred Creeks. After his Creek Indian War enlistment was complete, he returned home. He reenlisted and was made the third sergeant of Capt. John Cowan’s company. Crockett arrived in Florida the day after the Battle of Pensacola. He spent much of his time trying to ferret out British-trained Indians and the Creeks.
Davy Crockett was a man of the first order and was elected to the Congress in 1827. He served for two terms and was often in quarrel with President Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was a fan of taking Indian lands as part of peace treaties. Davy was opposed to Andrew Jackson’s land bill, which would have taken land from the Indians. He also wanted to sell land in the west for cheap prices.
Davy Crockett was a man of the South. He was from Tennessee. He married Elizabeth Patton in 1815 and they had two children. In the fall, he explored Alabama. He contracted malaria while on this journey, but miraculously recovered. Later, he moved to Lawrence County, Tennessee.
David Crockett was born on August 17, 1786 in Tennessee. His grandparents were killed by Indians. His father fought for American independence at King’s Mountain. He later bought a log tavern on a road between Knoxville and Abingdon, Virginia.
After the battle, Davy Crockett was a hero in Tennessee. He represented the spirit of democracy. But in a war of despots, Crockett was a victim. In the end, he was given immortality. But his political future would be secure if he survived. The status of a war hero was always worth a passel of votes.
Tennessee volunteers fought in the war that venged Crockett’s death. Despite the fact that his death was tragic, Crockett’s legacy lives on. He is often depicted with a tomahawk and knife. His motto was ‘Be Always Sure of Yourself’.