one Asa Musgrove, the Statesman story decribes an event that supposedly took place
a couple of years before Crockett crossed the Red River into Texas
in January 1836. In it Musgrove (the story referred to him as “Judge,” a common
term for lawyers back then) relates an amusing incident involving the colorful
frontiersman he said he saw happen in Santa Fe.
“It was in 1834, shortly
before the outbreak of the war between Texas and
Mexico,” Musgrove began.
“A party of a dozen or more was shooting at a target with rifles when a stranger
rode up, threw his leg across the pommel of his saddle and watched the sport.”
Musgrove observed that the man had a long rifle strapped across the back
of his saddle, “one of tghose old-fashioned affairs heavily ornamented with silver.”
Though his opinion does not seem to have been solicited, the stranger
began commenting on the men’s marksmenship – or rather, their lack of it. Soon,
they invited him to “set the pace” if he knew so much about shooting.
replied that he never throwed away any ammunition, but if they would put up their
crack shot he would shoot with him for 10 Mexican dollars,” Musgrove continued.
“The crowd agreed, and the stranger unslung his gingerbread gun, as his opponent
Before any lead flew, the stranger made a suggestion:
y’d like t’ raise the bet?”
Sizing him up as just another freshly arrived
blowhard, the shooters doubled the bet and then tripled it.
the deal, the stranger offered to bet his gun against his opponent’s rifle. The
confident local shooter, envisioning a small fortune in silver and a rifle to
boot, readily accepted the wager.
At that, the stranger assumed a wide-footed
stance, raised his rifle and nestled the butt-plate against his shoulder.
the delight of the crowd, the muzzle of that flintlock wobbled worse than a homeward-bound
drunk. Someone yelled out to the stranger that if he didn’t watch out, he’d end
up shooting a circle around the target.
The man lowered his rifle, stood
silently for a moment as if weighing a big decision, and then said he’d bet his
horse against $40 more dollars. Happy to take advantage of a foolhardy stranger
who clearly couldn’t even hold his rifle steady, the crowd assented to the proposition
and further enhanced the pot.
The matter settled, the stranger again raised
his flintlock. This time, the rifle extended from his shoulder as steady as a
big oak limb.
When he squuezed the trigger, a cloud of black powder smoke
billowed from the barrel as a round lead ball punched a neat hole dead center
in the target.
Reloading, the stranger fired again, his bullet going through
the same hole. He did the same thing a third time, easily out-shooting his no-longer-cocky
“As he rode off with the spoils some one cried out, asking his
name. ‘Davy Crockett,’ came the reply, and the party adjourned to the nearest
saloon without another word.”
While Musgrove, whoever he was (no information
on anyone by that name turns up on an Internet search), told a good story, it’s
clearly just one of the many made up tales about Crockett. The backwoods gentleman
from Tennessee, while he definitely knew some characters who had traveled the
Santa Fe Trail, never made it to New Mexico.
Of course, it’s at least
possible the incident could have happened elsewhere. Crockett supposedly was a
good shot and on occasion well could have taken advantage of that skill to earn
himself a little whiskey money. No matter, as a fun piece of folklore, it hits
the bull’s eye.
Alamo | Texas