The Website of Novelist
David Pyke

In 1836, an idealistic young Mexican officer named José Enrique de la Peña chronicled his experiences during the Texas Revolution and the Battle of the Alamo.

In 1975, the de la Peña diary/memoir was translated by Carmen Perry and published as With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution. The book was remarkable for detailing the suffering of Mexican soldiers, but it was a passage in Chapter 4 that drew attention. De la Peña stated that seven Alamo defenders were captured, but Santa Anna ordered them executed. One of the prisoners was David Crockett.

The book ignited a firestorm of controversy. Many Alamo devotees – in and out of Texas – rejected any challenge to the cherished belief that Davy died fighting, while historians argued over the diary/memoir's authenticity. The debate smolders to this day: did Crockett die during the battle or was he captured and executed?

But what if Davy Crockett survived the Alamo?

That's the premise in Rescuing Crockett, the historical adventure novel by David Pyke.

When the American ambassador to Mexico stumbles across a portrait of David Crockett drawn two years after the fall of the Alamo, a handful of Texians (as Texans were known until the 1850s) embark on a quest for the truth. The Texians are led by Sam McCulloch, a free Black man and the first Texian casualty in the Texas Revolution; Henry Wax Karnes and Juan Seguin, heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto; and Silas Grant, a resourceful sixteen-year-old who was with the Texas army and is preparing for life with Emily Perry, a courageous, determined young woman with red hair and emerald green eyes. Seizing a chance at redemption for the loss of friends and family at the Alamo, the Texians explore a world still healing and rebuilding from the war.

They investigate the stories of Alamo survivors and sort through conflicting accounts to build a picture of Crockett’s last stand. They follow the path of the Mexican army’s retreat and learn of a wounded man escorted under guard to a ship on the Gulf Coast. Finally, the Texians slip into Mexico to find a witness to the final moments inside the Alamo. Layers of the mystery peel away to reveal a shocking secret involving Texas’s greatest enemy: Antonio López de Santa Anna.

The questing Texians are a multiethnic ensemble, and Rescuing Crockett delves into Texas's troubled racial relationships. Most of the novel’s characters, places, events, and situations are based on those from history.

Rescuing Crockett is high-concept historical fiction and action/adventure, similar in style and pace to the novels of Bernard Cornwell (The Last Kingdom series and Grail Quest series) and Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire and A Man at Arms). Rescuing Crockett is complete and is planned as the first book in a series following Silas, Emily, and Sam through the turbulent history of nineteenth-century Texas.

Rescuing Crockett's Audience

I wrote Rescuing Crockett for readers like myself, a lifelong fan of high-concept stories, interesting characters, unfolding mysteries, well-paced and well-researched plots, and writing that transports the reader to another world.

Rescuing Crockett is comparable to the historical adventures of Bernard Cornwell and Steven Pressfield, the thrillers of Frederick Forsyth, and the westerns of Larry McMurtry and James Carlos Blake. I believe it will also appeal to those interested in Crockett and the Alamo, which annually attracts 2.5 million visitors.

Writing Influences

I believe a writer is the sum of their reading, and these authors and books have particularly influenced my novel writing:

  • James Carlos Blake's In The Rogue Blood, Wildwood Boys, Friends of Pancho Villa, and The Pistoleer
  • Geraldine Brooks's The Secret Chord
  • Max Brooks's World War Z and Devolution
  • Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama
  • Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles, Sharpe series, The Last Kingdom series, Grail Quest series, Starbuck Chronicles, Stonehenge, Fools and Mortals, 1356, Agincourt, and Redcoat; and his nonfiction, Waterloo
  • Justin Cronin's The Passage, The Twelve, and City of Mirrors
  • S.A. Crosby's Razorblade Tears
  • Clive Cussler's Raise The Titanic and Treasure
  • Frederick Forsyth's The Day Of The Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War, and Avenger
  • Neil Gaiman's American Gods
  • Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, Mindbridge, and All My Sins Remembered
  • Stephen Harrigan's The Gates of the Alamo
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, It, The Stand, Cell, Duma Key, Elevation, and Billy Summers
  • Shane Kuhn's The Intern's Handbook
  • Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove series, Anything For Billy, and Zeke and Ned
  • Lauren Owen's The Quick
  • Frederik Pohl's Gateway
  • Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, The Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, and A Man At Arms
  • John Scalzi's Old Man's War series
  • V.E. Schwab's Vicious and Vengeful
  • Barry Strauss's The Death of Caesar, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, The Battle of Salamis, and Ten Caesars
  • Stephan Talty's Agent Garbo
  • Studs Terkel's The Good War
  • Leon Uris's Battle Cry
  • Andy Weir's The Martian
  • Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff
  • and Audie Murphy's memoir, To Hell and Back

The History Behind Rescuing Crockett

Rescuing Crockett is a work of fiction, but it is built upon elements of Texas and Mexican history.

Historic Characters

The majority of the named characters in Rescuing Crockett are based on or inspired by real people. Here are a few of the historic characters found in the novel:

Horace Alsbury
Horace Alsbury
A member of the Texian cavalry at San Jacinto, he monitored the retreat of the Mexican army.
Juana Navaro Alsbury
Juana Navaro Alsbury
She, her infant son (Alejo Pérez, Jr.), and sister were in the Alamo during the battle. Alejo died in 1918, the last survivor of the Alamo.
Fanny Calderón de la Barca
Fanny Calderón de la Barca
She traveled throughout Mexico with her husband, the first Spanish ambassador to Mexico.
Madam Candelaria
Madam Candelaria
Cared for Jim Bowie in the Alamo and became a leading citizen of San Antonio after the Revolution.
Susanna Dickinson
Susanna Dickinson
The most famous of the Alamo survivors.
Powhattan Ellis
Powhattan Ellis
Former U.S. Senator who served in Congress with David Crockett and was ambassador to Mexico.
Joe
Joe
Slave of the slain Alamo commander, he survived the battle only to be returned to slavery after the Revolution.
Henry Wax Karnes
Henry Wax Karnes
Scouted the Mexican army during the Runaway Scrape and led a company that routed the Mexican calvary at San Jacinto.
Sam McCulloch, Jr.
Sam McCulloch, Jr.
A free Black man and the first Texian casualty of the Revolution, wounded when Texians captured the fort of La Bahia.
James Clinton Neill
James Clinton Neill
Commanded the Twin Sisters cannons and was wounded in a skirmish the day before the Battle of San Jacinto.
Erasmo Seguin
Erasmo Seguin
Alcalde of San Antonio, Chief Justice of Bexar County, and father of Juan Seguin.
Juan Seguin
Juan Seguin
Led the rearguard during the Runaway Scrape, fought at San Jacinto, and buried the Alamo defenders' remains.

David or Davy?

David Crockett didn't care for the nickname "Davy." He signed documents "David," and the title of his autobiography was A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee. However, he certainly made use of Davy.

Davy was associated with his king-of-the-wild-frontier persona, which was useful in his political career. Davy Crockett was the stuff of comic almanacs and inspired a play called The Lion of the West, about a character named Nimrod Wildfire.

Crockett's political career ended in 1835 when he lost an election for Congress, to which he advised constiuents, "You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." He did so probably intending to leave Davy behind for good. After his death at the Alamo, however, Davy was popularized in books, magazines, comic books, song, and, much later, by actor Fess Parker in Disney's television miniseries, Davy Crockett.

David Pyke

My voice and my passion stem from my heritage: I'm a native Texan related to one of the Alamo defenders.

My great-great-great-great-great-granduncle, Isaac Millsaps, was one of the Immortal 32, the reinforcements from Gonzales who answered William Barret Travis's call for help, rode to San Antonio, and died in the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

I've been writing professionally since I was fifteen years old, first as a journalist at midsize and metropolitan newspapers and now in web development. I am a member of The Authors Guild, the Historical Novel Society, and the Writers’ League of Texas.

Do I believe Crockett survived the Alamo?

No. David Crockett died on March 6, 1836.

I no more believe Crockett survived the Alamo than Clive Cussler believed the Titanic was raised, Andy Weir believed an astronaut was stranded on Mars, Philip K. Dick believed the Axis won World War II, Seth Grahame-Smith believed Abraham Lincoln hunted vampires, or Colson Whitehead believed a literal railroad existed beneath the Antebellum South.

Do I believe Crockett died during the battle or afterwards?

There's insufficient evidence to persuade me one way or the other. Frankly, it doesn't matter. He was there, he stayed, and he fought for Texas.

The Background Image

The background image on this site is the oldest known photo of the Alamo, circa 1849. Note the lack of the iconic hump atop the chapel's façade. The chapel was built in 1744 but the roof collapsed in 1756 and was not repaired. After Texas became a state, the U.S. Army wanted to use the chapel for storage, so in 1850 the façade was repaired and the hump was added to support construction of a new roof.

This photo shows how the Alamo chapel probably appeared at the time of the battle in 1836.

The oldest known photo of the Alamo, circa 1849.