During September and October, 1813, many depredations were committed by small parties of Indians in the Fork, and occasionally some of the settlers were killed. About the last of October, one of Carson's men, named Beard, was killed near Fort Madison. The circumstances of his death, as detailed to the writer several years ago by the Rev. Josiah Allen and his brother Henry, both of whom knew Beard well, were as follows: Early one morning, two wagons, one driven by Jim Dale, the other by Malachi Sharbrough, with a detail of soldiers, were sent a mile or so above Fort Madison to get a supply of corn for the garrison. Not long after their departure, Beard, who was on the sick list and temporarily boarding with the family of Micajah Benge, borrowed the latter's horse, and equipped with sabre and holster pistols, left the fort and started out to Benge's farm to get a supply of potatoes and collards. A short distance from the fort, he met one of the soldiers of the detail, who had received permission to return to get more cartridges, as he found out that he had only a few in his cartridge box. Benge's collard and potato patch, comprising about two acres, was situated on the ridge, about half a mile north of the fort. At the southwest corner of the patch, there had stood three large pines. As these trees shaded the patch too much, Benge cut them down. They had fallen down the western slope of the ridge, their trunks lying parallel and their tops interlocking. The road leading northward from the fort--the road which the soldiers and the wagon had taken--had once run along the western string of the fence, but on account of the fallen trees at this point, it had been turned somewhat to the left, passing along by the tree tops and entering the original road near the northwest corner of the patch. Five Creek warriors, bent upon some hostile deed, had secreted themselves in these tree tops. As the wagons came along they saw that there were too many soldiers to venture an attack, so they lay close. After awhile, when the wagons had disappeared from sight, Beard came up. He rode along by the pine stumps, in the original road, between the Indians and the fence. He dismounted near the northwest corner of the patch, tied his horse by the reins to the fence, then climbed over and began to cut some collards. He had retained his sword, but left his pistols in the holsters. Meanwhile, the soldier, whom Beard had met, having replenished his cartridge box, was hastening back on the road to overtake the wagons. The soldier had arrived within about two hundred yards of the patch, when be saw two Indians spring out of the tree tops, run and leap over the fence, and with a loud war-whoop rush towards Beard. Beard dropped his collards, and ran to the eastern string of the fence, which he crossed, with the warriors close at his heels. He then ran along the string of the fence to the southeast corner, and there took a hog trail which led out into the main road near where the soldier stood, for the latter had halted on seeing the Indians. The soldier threw his musket to his shoulder, but feared to fire lest he might kill Beard, who was just in front of the Indians, and on a line with them. At last Beard came to where the trail ran somewhat to the right, in the midst of some postoak runners. Here the Indians shot him down, crushed his skull with lightwood knots, scalped him, took his sword and then ran away at full speed towards the east. All this occurred in the space of a few minutes, and within two hundred yards of the soldier, who afterwards said that the postoak runners were so thick at the spot where Beard was killed that he could not see the Indians, and they were out of sight before he could get a good aim at them. Just after Beard was killed the soldier said that he saw the three other Indians spring from their lair in the tree tops, and flee at great speed across the potato patch in the same direction taken by their comrades. Lieutenant Bradberry's company had just left the fort for an excursion when they heard the firing, and instantly wheeling, they came to the place at full gallop, David Glass being the first man to reach the spot where Beard lay. Soon afterwards the wagons with the detail, coming back at full speed, arrived on the ground, for they too heard the firing. Bradberry's troopers, after hearing the statement of the soldier, made an excursion eastward in search of the Creek warriors, but failed to find them. Beard's body was placed on one of the wagons, brought back to the fort and there buried. His horse, frightened by the Indian war-whoop, had fortunately broken loose, and returned to the fort. Beard was about thirty-five years old, and was said to have come to the Mississippi Territory from Illinois or Missouri.
During the occupation of Fort Madison, many excursions were made by the citizens and soldiers, sometimes, perhaps, merely in quest of adventure, and sometimes to gain information in regard to the movements of the enemy. The most noted of these excursions was one made under the lead of Tandy Walker, once government blacksmith at St. Stephens, recorded, with some slight conflict of statement, in both the narratives of Pickett and Meek, but more in detail by the latter. This party, consisting of Tandy Walker, George Foster, an expert hunter and a bold quadroon mulatto named Evans, left Fort Madison, early in November, crossed the Alabama river, and advanced, says Pickett, to the battle ground of Burnt Corn, but Meek, whose statement we prefer, says they advanced to the destroyed residence of James Cornells, at Burnt Corn Spring. We quote Judge Meek's narrative: "When near the place, Evans dismounted, and, leaving his horse with his companions, stealthily approached to make observations. In a field, he saw an Indian, at a short distance, digging potatoes. He at once shot him, and, after some minutes, not seeing any other Indians, he entered the field and took the scalp of his victim. Returning to his companions, they examined the premises and found, on the opposite side of the field, the camp and baggage of a considerable party of Indians who had fled at the sound of Evans' gun. With this booty, the three adventurers now hastened towards the Alabama. At Sizemore's deserted old place, near the river, they found a field of corn, nearly ripe, with plenty of fine grass. Though they saw many moccasin tracks and other signs of Indians, they determined to stop here to feed their horses and to pass the night. They accordingly went a short distance into the field, and, as it was a cool November evening, kindled a small fire and lay down to sleep. In the night, Foster had a strange and alarming dream, or 'vision,' as he termed it, which awoke him and filled him with apprehension. Arousing his comrades and telling his dream, he urged them to leave the spot, as he felt they were in danger there from the Indians. They made light of his fears, and lapsed back into slumber. He, however, arose, and going still farther into the field, threw himself down in the high grass and went to sleep. At the dawn of the day he was aroused by a volley of guns fired upon his companions, and fled with all haste into a neighboring cane-brake. through which he made his way to the river, and, swimming it, he safely reached the fort.
After two days, Tandy Walker came in, severely wounded, his arm being broken by several balls, and his side badly bruised by a ball which struck a butcher knife in his belt. It appeared that the Indians had waited until the first faint light of day to make their attack. They then fired some five or six guns and rushed for yard with their knives. Evans was killed; but Walker, though wounded, sprang from the ground and ran through the corn and high grass. Being very swift of foot, he outstripped his pursuers and soon got into the canebrake, where he lay concealed till night, suffering greatly from his wounds. Then he proceeded to the river, and making a raft of canes, to which he hung by his well arm, he swam across. He was so feeble from the loss of blood and from pain, that it took him all that night and the next day to reach Fort Madison."
Pickett gives the 5th of November as the date of this affair on the Alabama. As a slight supplement to the story, we will state on the authority of one of Walkers old friends, that after he had taken refuge in the cane-brake, the Creeks searched for him a long time, several times they came very near his hiding place; but finally, to Walkers great relief, a note or signal sounded on a powder charger caused them to abandon the search.