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THE BATTLE AT BAD LUCK CREEK BY DEAN TEVIS During the 193(1s East Texas' spokesman in the field of history and legend was Dean Tevis, feature writer for the BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE . Tevis regularly wandered the piney woods in search of the old legends and tales that were told about that country and its settlers. He knew just about everybody in the Big Thicket and recorded many stories that now, thirty years later, have been buried with the tellers. Tevis's story of the Battle of Bad Luck Creek and Kaiser's Burnout (BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE, October 25,1931) is one version of a Civil War episode that left a distinct mark on the Big Thicket. The canebrake that was fired to flush out Warren Collins and the Big Thicket layhawkers never did grow back, and you can still see where Captain Kaiser and his men (in another version of the same story) left their fiery scar on the landscape. There was another kind of mark left on the Thicket by the War, and this one also took a long time healing, if it ever has. That was left by the natural ill will that was felt between those men who went to the War and those who refused to go. It is always hard to say who shows the more courage in cases like theirs. The layhawkers were "union sympathizers" only in the sense that Sam Houston was; they weren't ready to see the United States broken in two. On 75 76 29. Dean Tevis. the other hand, they weren't highly concerned with the political issues of any faction; they didn't have faction personalities. At one time, however, so another story goes, they all went down to Liberty to foin up with a captain whom they particularly admired. But when they got there, military confusion and regimentation had taken over and they found that their leader had been sent to another area. Disgusted, they went back to the Thicket. There's nothing certain about how long they had to hide out. They probably left their cabins and headed toward their Union Wells hideout every time they heard that the soldiers were getting ready to put the pressure on. When they ran low on salt or tobacco or other necessities, they robbed bee hives and took the honey to a pine hammock a few miles southeast of their camp to leave in exchange for whatever they needed. The little town at that location is still known as Honey Island. Captain Charlie Bullock descended on the layhawkers sometime during the fall of 1864 and captured one band of them, including Warren Collins. Bullock marched them back to Woodville and failed them in an old board-and-batten shack and put them 30. A bee tree. 78 TALES FROM THE BIG THICKET under guard. The soldier failed to search Warren closely enough, however, and he was able to keep a small pearl-handled pen knife that he had hidden in his boot. After everything had settled down, the men began whittling away at the 1 x 12 siding where it joined the floor and soon had it to where it would swing out far enough for a man to squeeze through. Then Warren went up to the front and put on a show, dancing the buck and wing for the guards, while his comrades slipped out and headed back to the Thicket. When the guards saw that their prisoners were gone, they took off in all directions looking for them and Warren slipped out and hid under the jail. He rested there until everything had quieted down that night; then he crawled out and headed for home. The last episode of the layhawker legend occurred in the spring of 1865 when Captain Bullock called for assistance from the Confederate fort in Galveston. Captain lames Kaiser was sent with a troop of soldiers to Woodville, and Kaiser and Bullock proceeded to march to the Thicket and ring the Union Wells hideout with soldiers and finally with fire. Before the flames died out, three thousand acres had been burned and two layhawkers had been killed. The rest had escaped. The maneuver was so abortive that Captain Bullock quit the chase and the layhawkers finished that last year of the war in peace. Tevis's version of this legend has a happy ending, with the layhawker leader and the Confederate captain going off on a hunt together after the War. One of the...


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