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blow from the keen-edged sabre, which quite disabled him, and which probably soon after caused his death.
The two wounded boys, one fourteen and the other sixteen, with twenty other prisoners, were hurried off to Camden in South Carolina, forty miles distant, where the British were in strength. Their brutal captors allowed them no food or water by the way, and would not even permit them to drink from the streams they forded. At Camden, they were thrown into a contracted enclosure, without beds, medical attendance, or any means of dressing their wounds. Their supply of food was scanty and bad. Days and nights of misery passed away. The small-pox, in its most loathsome form, broke out. The dying and the dead were all together. Mrs. Jackson, hearing of the sufferings of her boys, hastened to their relief.
There was resistless energy in a mother's love. She succeeded in obtaining the release of her sons by exchange, and gazed horror-stricken upon their wan and wasted frames. Having obtained two horses, she placed Robert, who was too weak to stand, or even to sit in his saddle, upon one, where he was held in his seat by some of the returning prisoners. Mrs. Jackson rode the other. Andrew, bareheaded, barefooted, clothed in rags, sick even then with the small-pox, and so weak that he could scarcely drag one limb after the other, toiled painfully behind. Thus they made their journey through the wilderness for forty miles, from Camden back to Waxhaw.
Before this sad family reached their home, a drenching rainstorm set in. The mother at length got her sons, both sick of small-pox, home and to bed. In two days, Robert was dead, and Andrew apparently dying in the wildest ravings of delirium. The strength of his constitution triumphed; and, after months of languor, he regained health and strength.
As he was getting better, his mother heard the cry of anguish from the prisoners whom the British held in Charleston, among whom were the sons of her sisters. She hastened to their relief, was attacked by fever, died, and was buried where her grave could never afterwards be found. A small bundle of the clothing which she wore was the only memorial of his mother which was returned to her orphan boy. Thus Andrew Jackson, when fourteen years of age, was left alone in the world, without father, mother, sister, or brother, and without one dollar which he could call his own.
Before Andrew had fully recovered his strength, he entered a shop to learn the trade of a saddler, and for six months labored diligently in this calling. But gradually, as health returned, he became more and more a wild, reckless, lawless boy. He drank, gambled, fought cocks, and was regarded as about the worst character that could anywhere be found. In December, 1782, the British having evacuated Charleston, Andrew, who by some means had come into possession of a fine horse, mounted him, and rode through the wilderness to Charleston. Having no money, he soon ran up a long bill at the tavern. One evening, as he was strolling the streets, he entered a gambling-house, and was challenged to stake his horse against two hundred dollars. He won. With this money he settled his bill, mounted his horse, and rode home through the solitary pine-barrens, reflecting not very pleasantly upon the past, and forming plans for the future.
He now turned schoolmaster. A school in a log hut in those wilds was a very humble institution. Andrew Jackson could teach the alphabet, perhaps the multiplication-table; and, as he was a very bold boy, it is not impossible that he might have adventured to teach handwriting. And now he began to think of a profession, and decided to study law. With a very slender purse, and on the back of a very fine horse, he set out for Salisbury, N.C., a distance of about seventy-five miles, where he entered the law-office of Mr. McCay. Andrew was then eighteen years of age. Here he remained for two years, professedly studying law. He is still vividly remembered in the traditions of Salisbury, which traditions say,
"Andrew Jackson was the most roaring, rollicking, gamecocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow that ever lived in Salisbury. He did not trouble the law-books much. He was more in the stable than in the office. He was the head of all the rowdies hereabouts."
Andrew was now, at the age of twenty, a tall young man, standing six feet and an inch in his stockings. He was very slender, but remarkably dignified and graceful in his manners, an exquisite horseman, and developing, amidst his loathsome profanity and multiform vices, a vein of rare magnanimity. His temper was fiery in the extreme; but it was said of him, that no man knew better than Andrew Jackson when to get angry, and when not. He was fond of all rough adventures, wild riding, camping
out; loved a horse passionately; and, though sagacious and prudent, was bold in facing danger. The experience through which he had passed in the Revolution had made him a very stanch republican.
He had now got his profession. Again mounting his horse, he rode to Martinsville, N.C., where it seems that he spent a year as a clerk in a country store, waiting for an opportunity to open an office somewhere. The whole of that region which we now call Tennessee was then almost an unexplored wilderness, called Washington County, N.C. It was ranged by bands of Indians, who had been so outraged by vagabonds among the whites, that they had become bitterly hostile. Ravaged by Indian wars, it became a burden to North Carolina, and was ceded to Congress. There was a small settlement of pioneers, five hundred miles west of the summit of the Alleghanies, near the present site of Nashville, on the banks of the Cumberland. Jonesborough was another small settlement in East Tennessee, near the western base of the Alleghanies. The intervening space was a wilderness, which could only be traversed by parties well guarded, to repel attacks to which they were constantly exposed.
Andrew Jackson was appointed public prosecutor for the remote district of Nashville. It was an office of little honor, small emolument, and great peril. Few men could be found to accept it. Early in the spring of 1788, Jackson joined a party of emigrants, who rendezvoused at Morgantown, the last frontier settlement in North Carolina. They were all mounted on horseback, with their baggage on pack-horses. In double file, the long cavalcade crossed the mountains by an Indian trail, which had widened into a road. Each night, they camped in the open air. The journey of a few days brought them, without adventure, to Jonesborough, where there was a small settlement of about sixty log huts. They were now to enter the wilderness, which, for a distance of over two hundred miles, was filled with hostile bands of savages. There they waited several weeks for the arrival of other parties of emigrants, and for a guard from Nashville to escort them. Nearly one hundred composed the cavalcade, which included many women and children.
One night, after a march of thirty-six hours, with only a halt of one short hour, they encamped at a point which was thought to be the most safe in the midst of the most perilous part of the
journey. The women and children, at an early hour, in utter exhaustion, had crept into their little tents. The men, with their blankets wrapped around them, were sleeping under the shelter of logs, with their feet toward the fire. The sentinels, with their muskets, were silently and sleepily standing on the watch. Andrew Jackson had retired a little apart from the rest, and sitting upon the ground, with his back against a tree, was smoking a corn-cob pipe. Lost in silent musing, at ten o'clock, just as he was beginning to fall asleep, his attention was arrested by the various notes of the owls hooting in the forest around him. Just then, he was startled by a louder hoot than usual, very near the camp. Instantly suspicion flashed upon his mind.
Grasping his rifle, and with all his faculties on the alert, he crept along to where a friend was sleeping, and startled him with the announcement, "There are Indians all around us! I have heard them in every direction! They mean to attack us before daybreak!"
The experienced woodsmen were aroused. They listened, and were fully confirmed in the same suspicion. Silently they broke up their camp, and, with the utmost caution, resumed their march. An hour after they had left, a party of hunters came, and occupied the spot. Before the day dawned, the Indians sprang from their ambush upon them, and all but one were killed. Andrew Jackson's sagacity had saved his party.
Late in October, 1788, this long train of emigrants reached Nashville. They took with them the exciting news that the new Constitution had been accepted by a majority of the States, and that George Washington would undoubtedly be elected the first president. It was estimated that then, in this outpost of civilization, there were scattered, in log huts clustered along the banks of the Cumberland, about five thousand souls. The Indians were so active in their hostilities, that it was not safe for any one to live far from the stockade. Every man took his rifle with him to the field. Children could not go out to gather berries, unless accompanied by a guard.
Nashville had its aristocracy. Mrs. Donelson belonged to one of the first families. She was the widow of Col. John Donelson, and lived in a cabin of hewn logs, the most commodious dwelling in the place. She had a beautiful, mirth-loving daughter, who had married a very uncongenial Kentuckian, Lewis Robards, of
whom but little that is good can be said. She and her husband lived with her widowed mother, and Andrew Jackson was received into the family as a boarder. It was an attractive home for him. Of the gay and lively Mrs. Robards it is said, that she was then the best story-teller, the best dancer, the sprightliest companion, the most dashing horsewoman, in the Western country.
And now Andrew Jackson commenced vigorously the practice of law. It was an important part of his business to collect debts. It required nerve. Many desperate men carried pistols and knives. There were some disputed claims to adjust. A courthouse in that country, at that time, consisted of a hut of unhewn logs, without floor, door, or window. Long journeys through the wilderness were necessary to reach the distant cabins where the courts were held. During the first seven years of his residence in those wilds, he traversed the almost pathless forest between Nashville and Jonesborough, a distance of two hundred miles, twenty-two times. Hostile Indians were constantly on the watch, and a man was liable at any moment to be shot down in his own field. Andrew Jackson was just the man for this service,a wild, rough, daring backwoodsman. He sometimes camped in the woods for twenty successive nights, not daring to shoot a deer, or to kindle a fire, lest he should attract the attention of some roving band of savages.
One night, after dark, he came to a creek, swollen by the rains to a roaring torrent. It was pitch-dark, and the rain was falling in floods. He could not ford the stream; he dared not light a fire; it was not safe to let his horse move about to browse. He took off the saddle, placed it at the foot of a tree, and sat upon it; wrapped his blanket over his shoulders; held his bridle in one hand, and his rifle in the other; and thus, drenched with rain, and listening to the wail of the storm and the rush of the torrent, waited the dawn. He then mounted his horse, swam the creek, and proceeded on his journey.
"You see how near," Andrew Jackson once said, "I can graze danger!" Daily he was making hair-breadth escapes. He seemed to bear a charmed life. Boldly, alone or with few companions, he traversed the forests, encountering all perils, and triumphing
Mrs. Robards and her husband lived unhappily together. He