The War of 1812 coincided with an uprising amongst part of the Creek Indian nation that was rebelling against the U.S. governments attempts to “civilize” them. For the “volunteers” of Tennessee, including future President Andrew Jackson, the majority of the War of 1812 was spent fighting Indians and not the British.
In 1811, Tecumseh of the Shawnee, visited the distant cousin Creek and encouraged rebellion against the white man’s ways. The tribe split over whether to follow their ancient ways or throw in their lots with the white man. Those for integration with the USA were called “White Sticks” and those who favored fighting were called “Red Sticks.” This Creek civil war was destined to go beyond the nation and did soon enough with a slaughter of over 250 whites / mixed raced Creeks near Mobile, Alabama in August 1813. This caused the predictable call for retribution and U.S. military action. Enter “Old Hickory” Jackson and his Tennessee Volunteers.
In late 1813, Jackson entered Alabama and set up a supply post (Fort Deposit)and a forward post on the Coosa river(Fort Strother) in northern Alabama and began operations against the Creek. Almost from the start, Jackson was beset with mutinous Tennesseans who felt that time spent back in Tennessee counted as part of their enlistment, whilst Jackson felt it did not. Many Tennesseans left, but Jackson pushed on with what was left of his force and a couple of green Regiments that had just arrived from west Tennessee.
Battle of Emuckfau Creek
Being Old Hickory meant doing hard things anyway, so Jackson set off for the known Creek encampment at Emuckfau / Emuckfaw Creek. He camped within hearshot of the encampment on 21 January 1814 and sent out patrols to find them. The patrols reported that not only did they find them, the Creeks knew of them too. At daybreak the next day, the Creek attacked front and rear, but were thrown back. Jackson counter-attacked and killed a good many. He then wanted to take the initiative and destroy their base. Jackson sent his old friend, General John Coffey, to root out the Creek base on Embuckfau Creek. Coffey went forth, but found the place too well defended and retired. Once Coffey returned, the Creeks attacked Jackson again with a feign on one side and a main attack on the other. Once again, the Creeks were thrown back, but Jackson was in trouble with bloodied, green troops in “Indian Country” with little back up. Jackson felt he need to retire and re-enforce at Fort Strother.
On his way out of the area, Jackson camped on Enitachopco Creek on the 23rd and fixed fortifications, knowing that another attack was likely. Luckily, they got a quiet night and they headed out in the morning. The quiet was not to last. Not long on the trail
, they began crossing Enitachopco Creek and the rear guard was put to the run by the Creek attack. The panic spread and a meltdown was looking likely, but Jackson managed to pull together enough to fend off the attack with even his Nashville artillerymen fighting hand-to-hand. Eventually the tide turned with more of the lead elements re-crossing the creek to take part. The Creek warriors began to slip and finally decided getting away from Old Hickory was better than dying in place.
Jackson had the upper hand in both engagements, eventually, but had found out how hard it was going to be to fight in this nearly unsupportable backwater of eastern Alabama.
Try this ride which encompasses both battle sites at the two creeks.
Photo Credit: By US National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons