Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 2) >> Simms, ''Bill Bauldy,'' and Alligator Horses >> Page 33

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Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription about as fast as a roughshod rocket, and landed on Uncle Sam's side,
amid a salute of five hundred double-barreled rifles in honor of
Colonel Crockett and his amphibious pet cataract navigator. (Dorson
A second piece featuring Crockett and alligator lore, "Crockett and His Pet
Alligator on an Exploring Expedition," describes Crockett, his pet alligator Long
Mississippi, and his friend Ben Hardin, who travel to Brazil in response to a request
by the Brazilian government to explore some previously uncharted rivers. In
describing their arrival on the back of their incredibly enormous alligator, Crockett
But when they seed me steerin' to their port on my pet, a ninety-seven
feet Missippy Crocodile , already harnessed for the expedition
with my first mate, Ben Hardin, settin' on the ring of the crittur's tail
an' holdin' the reins while I sot on his back, cracked my twisted
buffalo skin, and ticked old Mississippi under the forelegs to make
him go, the authorities give ninety cheers and a hundred guns for
Crockett and Ben Hardin. So off we started, a leetle faster than
thinking, to find the t'other end o' thar longest river, Rio Medaria.
An' we did it, measurin' and all, in six days. It was jist 2300 miles
long. We killed an' skinned jist two hundred Auntycondas and giv
`em to my Crocodile for feed; choked fifty tigers to death; an' tamed
the yaller kind o' Brazilian wild pusses till he was docile as a new-
born rabbit.... (Dorson 117)
In an earlier sketch, "A Kentucky Team" (1840)—the first published piece of
oral lore in the Crockett Almanacs featuring alligators as a mode of conveyance for
backwoodsman but not actually describing them riding on an alligator's back
makes note of progress in transportation methods on the Mississippi River. The
sketch's raconteur, who says he prefers to get around using "God's critturs," relates
an anecdote about one Bartholomew Grithard, renowned for breaking alligators to
use as horses and for harnessing two alligators to pull his own boat: "the two
varmints was tacked up an harnist to his bote, and he war driving 'em down stream"
(Lofaro 21).4

4 Another piece of alligator folklore is found in the 1854 Crockett Almanac in the sketch,
"Sal Fink, the Mississippi Screamer." Sal is a half-horse, half-alligator kind of woman,
a type Lofaro aptly classifies as a "riproarious shemale," a "woman of manly virtues and
accomplishments, who is valued for her strength, endurance, woodcraft, and vigor"
(122). In describing Sal, the anonymous narrator says: "When a gal about six years old,
she used to play see-saw on the Mississippi snags, and after she war done she would
snap `em off, an' so cleared a large district of the river. She used to ride down the rive
on an alligator's back, standing upright, an' dancing `Yankee Doodle,' and could leave
all the steamers behind " ( Dorson 49-50). Whether or not Major Henry, who died in
1850, may have heard this tale in oral form before it was initially published in 1854, is