Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Delivers War Speech to Creek Indians at Tuckabatchee, Alabama in October 1811

Background

Prior to the War of 1812, the British and the Spaniards had been forging alliances with Indians on the American frontier to try to slow American expansionism, and therefore power. One significant Indian Chief, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, used this time and support to try to build an Indian Confederacy along the western edge of the American frontier. Tecumseh's Shawnees were based predominantly in current day Indiana, Illinois and western Kentucky, but were historically linked to the Creek people of current day Alabama and Georgia. Tecumseh travelled to Alabama to rally the Creeks to war against the whites in the region.

Below is Tecumseh's speech to the Creeks at Tuckabathcee in October 1811 as told by Sam Dale to JFK Claiborne;

"In defiance of the white warriors of Ohio and Kentucky, I have traveled through their settlements, once our favorite hunting grounds. No war-whoop was sounded, but there is blood on our knives. The Pale-faces felt the blow, but knew not whence it came.

Accursed be the race that has seized on our country and made women of our warriors. Our fathers, from their tombs, reproach us as slaves and cowards. I hear them now in the wailing winds.

The Muscogee was once a mighty people. The Georgians trembled at your war-whoop, and the maidens of my tribe, on the distant lakes, sung the prowess of your warriors and sighed for their embraces.

Now your very blood is white; your tomahawks have no edge; your bows and arrows were buried with your fathers. Oh !

Muscogees, brethren of my mother, brush from your eyelids the sleep of slavery; once more strike for vengeance; once more for your country. The spirits of the mighty dead complain. Their tears drop from the weeping skies. Let the white race perish.

They seize your land; they corrupt your women; they trample on the ashes of your dead!

Back, whence they came, upon a trail of blood, they must be driven.

Back! back, ay, into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores !

Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and children! The Red Man owns the country, and the Pale-faces must never enjoy it.

War now! War forever! War upon the living! War upon the dead! Dig their very corpses from the grave. Our country must give no rest to a white man's bones.

This is the will of the Great Spirit, revealed to my brother, his familiar, the Prophet of the Lakes. He sends me to you.

All the tribes of the north are dancing the war-dance. Two mighty warriors across the seas will send us arms.

Tecumseh will soon return to his country. My prophets shall tarry with you. They will stand between you and the bullets of your enemies. When the white men approach you the yawning earth shall swallow them up.

u Soon shall you see my arm of fire stretched athwart the sky. I will stamp my foot at Tippecanoe, and the very earth shall shake.'"*

* At the battle of the Holy Ground, which occurred some time after, the prophets left by Tecumseh predicted that the earth would yawn and swallow up General Claiborne and his troops. Tecumseh refers to the Kings of England and Spain, who supplied the Indians with arms at Detroit and at Pensacola. The British officers had informed him that a comet would soon appear [ed. The Great Comet of 1811], and the earthquakes of 1811[ed. the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812] had commenced as he came through Kentucky. Like a consummate orator, he refers to them in his speech. When the comet soon after appeared, and the earth began to tremble, they attributed to him supernatural powers, and immediately took up arms.

Source, pages 59-61
Life and times of Gen. Sam Dale, the Mississippi partisan (1860)
Author: Claiborne, J. F. H. (John Francis Hamtramck), 1809-1884

Unbeknownst to Tecumseh, his brother, Tenskwatawa or "The Prophet," was busy picking a fight with William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe, Indiana shortly thereafter which would severely hamper his plans for an Indian Confederacy on the western borders to stop the ever expanding American frontier.

Ride Suggestion

This ride starts at exit 26 on I-85 to the east of Montgomery, Alabama. In between exit 26 and Tallassee, Alabama, on the banks of the Tallapoosa River, is the historic meeting place of the Creeks called Tuckabatchie where Tecumseh gave his speech to the Creeks. The ride continues through Lake Martin and down the beautiful Highway 9 to Wetumpka. This area is part of the traditional homeland of the Creeks.


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