Tag: Creek

Battle of Emuckfau Creek and Enitachopco 22-24 January 1814

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.

Motorcycle Ride

Try this ride which encompasses both battle sites at the two creeks.

Photo Credit: By US National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson and the Treaty of Fort Jackson 9 August 1814

Result of the Creek War Treaty of 1814

After the tough battles at Emuckfau/Emuckfaw and Enitachopco Creeks and the near total devastation of the Red Stick Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, Jackson ordered all of the Creeks to report to Fort Jackson on 1 August 1814 to discuss terms of a comprehensive treaty. Jackson was a new Major General in the U.S. Army due to the resignation of William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, and was in no mood for compromise and stood firm with all of the Creeks, including the US friendly White Sticks. He took his new rank seriously and was intent on using his new power with his heroic reputation to get what he wanted (and what the thought the US needed).

Treaty of Fort Jackson

What was to become the Treaty of Fort Jackson made several major demands, including;

  • Surrender the prophets (leaders) of the Red Sticks
  • The US would have free navigation of the waterways in the Creek areas
  • The US would have the right to build roads in the Creek areas
  • The US would control all trade in the Creek areas
  • The US could build military and trading centers in the Creek areas
  • The Creeks must cede over half of Creek held land to make good for the costs associated with the war

That last point was the one that caused the most consternation as it it applied to all Creeks, not just the troublemakers. Jackson wanted the majority of the existing Creek lands, including a strip that would separate the Creeks from the Spanish Florida tribes and was adamant in his demand. Old allies’ concerns were cast aside by Old Hickory in the name of national defense. Jackson wanted to break the communications link between the northern and southern tribes and severely weaken the influence of foreign powers from the Gulf of Mexico inland, namely the British and their occasional alliances with the Creeks.

Benjamin Hawkins, a civilian advisor at the talks, tried to help the Creeks bend Jackson with well reasoned pleas that they had been strong allies of the Americans against the Red Sticks and, although they had once sided with the British, they would promise not to do so again in the future. They had brought up this point, because they knew that it was this threat of foreign intervention and its threat to block access to the Gulf that was causing the pragmatic Jackson to demand total severance from the temptation. No, General Jackson would have total capitulation or the resisting Creeks would be banned from the area altogether.

Hawkins pleaded with Washington to apply pressure on Jackson to relent a little, but Washington had a man who wanted what they wanted, even if he was the type to forego diplomatic niceties of compromise. Finally, the old warrior, Selocta, who had fought with Jackson during the hard times in eastern Alabama asked for just the area west of the Coosa River as a concession. One can almost feel the chill in the air today when thinking of the old soldier saying “no” to one of his comrades-in-arms one final time.

Jackson’s only slip of will (if it can be even be called that) was that he would allow the Creeks who disagreed with the Treaty of Fort Jackson to go to the Florida panhandle. The Creeks had little choice. The Treaty was signed on 9 August 1814.

Motorcycle Ride

Check out the “Figure 8” ride starting at Fort Jackson Park and taking a big chunk of the historical Creek homeland in eastern Alabama. Go outside of Summer, unless you like sweating like a whiskey salesman in a Woman’s Christian Temperance Union hall.

Photo Credit:
By User:Dystopos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson Horseshoe Bend Battle, Creek War, 27 March 1814

Creek War

The Creek War was part of the War of 1812, because the Americans believed, with good reason, that the British and Spanish were coaxing the Red Stick (anti-US) Creeks along with supplies and guidance. The fact that the Tohopeka (Horseshoe Bend) stronghold on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama was fortified with European style battlements re-enforced this belief.

After the tactically brutal and ugly fights at Emuckfaw and Enitachopco in January 1814, Andrew Jackson gathered his new forces and had another go at the Red Stick Creeks led by the Prophet Monahell and Chief Menawa with the possible inclusion of the famed William Weatherford (Red Eagle), a half Scottish, half Creek warrior. Jackson was determined to make this campaign the last major one in the area by destroying the Red Stick Creek force at its very stronghold and defended by its best warriors and leaders.

Jackson took off from Fort Strother in mid March with new Tennessee volunteers from the eastern part of that state, the 39th U.S. Infantry, Cherokees and White Stick (pro-US) Creeks. Jackson’s target was to be the stronghold at the horseshoe shaped bend on the Tallapoosa River that the Creeks called Tohopeka. The new forces were important, because Jackson’s previous foray into this wilderness was with Tennnessee volunteers who had many complaints about their pay and enlistment periods. This new force was more motivated and professional. The plan was to form an envelopement and was designed to trap the Red Sticks in the confines of the river bow (see a map of the arrayed forces).

Jackson sent his trusty number two, John Coffee, the White Stick Creeks, some Cherokees and the dragoons to the far side (southern) of the river to feint a river crossing. Jackson took the main force to attack the breastworks head on from the north. Jackson opened up with his limited artillery, but his small guns just bounced shot off the timbered works. However, the sound of the guns excited some of Coffee’s force and they managed to swim the Tallapoosa and steal some canoes. This allowed a landing and cut off the Red Sticks’ main retreat option. Whilst Coffee was harrying the Red Sticks near the river, Jackson ordered a charge on the works. Jackson’s force was then able to use the timber for protection themselves as they fired through the portals from the outside. Finally, a courageous push over the top that included Sam Houston (who was seriously wounded) succeeded in breaching the Creek perimeter with substantial forces. The Red Stick forces fought a determined, but doomed defense inside the stronghold with Jackson even leveling his artillery at point blank range into the huts used as a last stand.

The battle resulted in the largest death toll of Native Americans (557 +) in a single battle throughout all of the Indian wars. Monahell was killed (possibly by Menawa who was fed up with Prophetic devices rather than fighting), Menawa was severely wounded, but escaped and William Weatherford escaped only to walk into Fort Jackson (formerly Fort Toulouse) a few months later to surrender. Weatherford was to play a key role in encouraging many other Red Sticks to give up to the Americans.

Andrew Jackson Horseshoe Bend

Horsehoe Bend is seen as the last of the Creek nation living independently in their ancestral grounds, but this particular Indian War will forever be associated with the War of 1812, because of the winning General. Clearing out the Creeks would allow Jackson to focus on New Orleans nearly a year later with glorious results for Old Hickory.

Image Information: Mcewen, Robert Houston. [Sketch map of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend of Tallapoosa River, 27th March 1814]. 1814. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012588005/. (Accessed January 14, 2018.)

Motorcycle Ride Recommendation

Try this “figure 8” ride starting and ending at Fort Toulouse / Jackson State Historic Site. This takes in the scenic Alabama State Routes 9 and 22 as well as the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.

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 traveled 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 JFH 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. 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

Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Tallassee, Alabama.  Near Tallassee, on the banks of the Tallapoosa River, is the historic meeting place of the Creeks called Tuckabatchee (many different spellings) where Tecumseh gave his speech to the Creeks. Try AL-229 north and AL-9 south to get feel for the traditional homeland of the Creeks.

© 2018 Battlefield Biker

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑