Posts tagged ‘Creek War’

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (November 2-November 8, 1814)

Fires in the North.

November  5

Defense of Fort Erie late summer 1814

Defense of Fort Erie late summer 1814

At the Eastern end of Lake Erie, U.S. troops end their occupation of Canada’s Fort Erie. After setting off a series of explosive charges within the post, they cross the Niagara River and take up winter quarters in Buffalo, New York.

The blasts destroy the fort’s walls and set the buildings ablaze.

November 5-7

At the other end of Lake Erie, Brigadier General Duncan McArthur’s raiding party of 700 mounted infantry from Kentucky and Ohio, encounters about 100 Canadian militia and their Mohawk allies at Brant’s Ford on the Grand River. The Canadians hold the high ground and after a brief exchange of fire, McArthur decides to find an easier place to cross and return to U.S. territory.

The next day McArthur’s troops drive off  about 550 British and Canadian troops at the Battle of Malcom’s Mills in what is now Ontario Province. On November 7th, he burns the fmills, depriving British and Canadian troops of a key source of flour.

Learning that more than 1,000 reinforcements of Canadian militia are heading his way, McArthur orders his horsemen back to Detroit, Michigan Territory. He burns every significant settlement on Canada’s Lake Erie shore along the way. His troops suffer only one killed and six wounded. The British and Canadians lose 18 dead, nine killed and about 100 captured.

Storm Clouds over the Gulf

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

November 6-8

Almost 1,000 due South of McArthur’s raiders, Major General Andrew Jackson is preparing to drive the British out of Florida. Without authorization from Washington, leads about 4,000 U.S. troops and militiamen from what is now Alabama into the Florida panhandle (known as Spanish East Florida in 1814).

At this time, Spain is a neutral country in the war between the United States and Britain. What is now the State of Alabama is part of the U.S. Territory of Mississippi, extending from Georgia and the Spanish colony of Florida west to the Mississippi River and the State of Louisiana.

After a year of bloody warfare, Jackson has crushed the anti-American “Red Stick” faction of the Creek Indian nation at Horseshoe Bend and pressed tribal leaders to accept the Treaty of Fort Jackson  forcing the devastated Creeks to surrender 23 million acres of land in Georgia and Alabama.

Map created by Dystopos via Wikipedia Click on image to enlarge

Map created by Dystopos via Wikipedia
Click on image to enlarge

Concerned that the British have designs on Mobile (Alabama) as a base of operations and may be enlisting recalcitrant Creek warriors and fugitive black slaves from America to join their ranks for an attack on New Orleans, Jackson decides to strike first.

Spooked by Jackson’s bellicose warning letters, to allow U.S. troops into Florida — or else — the Spanish governor actually invites the British into Florida to bolster his tiny force of 500 soldiers. The Spanish man Fort San Miguel at Pensacola and a small British garrison holds Fort San Carlos 14 miles to the West. The Spanish fort and Pensacola fall quickly to Jackson’s larger force but the British blow up Fort San Carlos and withdraw before Jackson can attack. Shortly thereafter, Jackson learns the British are about to land near New Orleans and he begins marching West to defend the city.

 

 

November 3, 2014 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (March 23-March 29, 1814) UPDATE

UPDATES with new final item: court martial of Brig. Gen.  Hull returns guilty verdict.

A Widening War

From the cane bottoms of Alabama to the Pacific Coast of South America, military and naval actions in March 1814 illustrate how the war between the United States and Great Britain has spread far beyond the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. U.S. Navy ships and privateers raid British commerce in the Caribbean Sea and around the British Isles. The Royal Navy sends more and more ships to tighten the blockade of most U.S. ports along the Atlantic Coast. In Mississippi Territory, Major General Andrew Jackson confronts the pro-British Red Stick faction of the Creek Indian Nation … and the American frigate USS Essex is raiding the English whaling fleet in the South Pacific.

Sharp Knife’s Revenge: Horseshoe Bend

Battle Diorama at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

Battle Diorama at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

March 27, 1814: With more than 3,000 troops, including regulars from the 39th U.S. Infantry Regiment and 700 Native American allies – mostly friendly Cherokees and about 100 Creeks – Andrew Jackson prepares to attack the Creek Indian stronghold, Tohopeka, at a bend in the Talapoosa River known to the whites as the Horseshoe.

Politically, the Red Sticks are more anti-American than pro-British, but the Brits, looking to offset their limited resources in the Americas while fighting Napoleon, give the Indians ammunition, supplies and encouragement. The 1813 massacre of American settlers and friendly Creeks at Fort Mims on the Mississippi-Spanish Florida border incensed Jackson and other Americans in the western states intent “on a single purpose: the destruction of the Creek Nation as a potential threat to the safety of the United States,” according to historian Robert V. Remini.

Of course, in hindsight, Jackson seems little troubled by the wholesale slaughter his troops committed .

The Horseshoe is a heavily wooded peninsula jutting out into the river above high bluffs. Across the neck of the Horseshoe peninsula, the Red Sticks have built a 350-yard-long barricade of horizontal logs five-to-eight feet high. Behind the wall are some 1,000 warriors and 300 women and children.

Jackson’s two small cannon open fire on the stout log wall at 10:30 a.m. With little effect. The 39th Infantry and Tennessee militiamen face the barricade but Creeks firing through slits in the logs keep them pinned down. On the opposite side of the river, surrounding the rest of the Indian stronghold, are Colonel John Coffee with 700 mounted riflemen and Jackson’s Indian allies. Those Indians cross the river in canoes and begin the climb the bluff, attacking the stronghold from the rear – distracting its defenders on the log barricade.

HorshoeBendMap

Taking advantage of the confusion, Jackson orders a charge. The regulars and militiamen breech the barricade and a killing orgy begins inside the Red Sticks’ encampment. When the fighting ends at sundown, an estimated 800 Red Sticks are dead. Jackson’s losses are 49 killed, 154 wounded – many mortally.

The military power of the Creeks has been crushed and Jackson will pressure their leaders to sign a treaty in August ceding 23 million acres of land. Much of it will form the state of Alabama in 1819. The Indians begin calling Jackson, “Sharp Knife” for his tough tactics on and off the battlefield.

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Valparaiso: USS Essex vs. HMS Phoebe

Frigate USS Essex in 1799 (U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection via Wikipedia)

Frigate USS Essex in 1799
(U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection via Wikipedia)

March 28, 2014: Trapped in Chile’s Valparaiso Harbor for the last six weeks by two Royal Navy ships, American Captain David Porter decides to make a run for it in the USS Essex before more British ships arrive on the scene.

Since rounding South America’s Cape Horn in early 1813 – the first U.S. warship to do so – the Essex has been playing havoc with the British whaling fleet in the Pacific Ocean. Between April and October 1813, Porter captured 12 of the 20 British whalers operating in the Eastern Pacific.

Essex sailed back across the Pacific to Valparaiso, a neutral port, arriving on February 3, 1814. According to author George C. Daughan in his book, 1812, The Navy’s War, Porter was “intent on falling in with an enemy frigate. He knew British hunters were after him, and he meant to accommodate them.”

On February 8, the 36-gun HMS Phoebe and the 28-gun HMS Cherub arrived on the scene. Porter tried to provoke the Phoebe’s captain, Capt. James Hillyar into a one-on-one duel but Hillyar declined to accommodate the American. The took up position at the harbor’s mouth, trapping the Essex.

Capture of USS Essex 1838 engraving via Wikipedia

Capture of USS Essex 1838 engraving via Wikipedia

Taking advantage of a change in the wind, Porter attempted to outrun the slower British ships on the 28th. But a sudden heavy squall carried away the Essex’s main topmast. Porter tried to slip back into the harbor unscathed but the Phoebe and Cherub headed straight for the Essex. A brutal sea-battle ensued. Essex carried 46 cannon, but only six were long range guns. But the Phoebe carried mostly long range canon that were able to pound the Essex out of the range of the American ship’s 40 heavy – but short range – guns. After failing to close with Phoebe to board her, Porter tried to run Essex aground and destroy her to keep the ship out of enemy hands. But the wind wouldn’t cooperate and Porter finally had to surrender.

The Essex suffered 58 killed, 39 severely wounded, 26 slightly wounded and 312 missing out of a crew of 255. On the Phoebe, five were killed and 10 wounded. Porter and his crew were paroled by Hillyar and allowed to return to the United States in one of the English whalers the Essex had captured.

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A General’s Disgrace

On March 26, 1814, Brigadier General William Hull, is convicted of cowardice and neglect of duty for surrendering Detroit in 1812. The Army court martial, which has been hearing the case since January in Albany, New York, does not convict the general of the most serious charge, treason.
Nevertheless, Hull is sentenced to be shot, although the court recommends clemency because of his distinguished service in the Revolutionary War. On April 25, President Madison upholds the conviction but dismisses the death sentence and cashiers Hull, throwing him out of the Army. Hull, who died in 1825, at age 72, spent his remaining years trying to clear his name and recover his previously sterling reputation.

 

 

 

March 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (March 9-March 15)

Collision Course

After a month of drilling and training the green troops who panicked during his retreat at Enotachopco Creek (in what is now the state of Alabama), Major General Andrew Jackson is almost ready to march south against the pro-British Creek Indians known as the Red Sticks.

Ma. Gen. Andrew Jackson (Image courtesy National Park Service)

Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson
(Image courtesy National Park Service)

According to Robert V. Remini’s “Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars,” the tall, gaunt Tennesean became a “hard and determined disciplinarian” who inflicted the harshest punishment on anyone who disobeyed an order a or attempted to desert – which his rough-and-tumble Tennesee Volunteers were wont to do. That hard discipline included the execution by firing squad of a 17-year-old Tennesee recruit who, during an argument with an officer, threatened to shoot anyone who tried to arrest him, according to A.J. Langguth, in his “Union 1812, The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence.”

Jackson forbade the importation of whiskey into camp and ordered his troops to improve the road between his base at Fort Strother and his army’s supply depot at Fort Deposit near the Tennessee River.

On March 14 Jackson took his army out of Fort Strother and headed south 60 miles to the Red Stick stronghold at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River. They included regulars from the 39th U.S. Infantry Regiment and additional Tennesee volunteers.

Jackson left some troops behind to guard Fort Strother. He took with him about 2,000 infantry and 700 cavalry and mounted riflemen. Accompanying Jackson were about 600 Indians – 500 Cherokees and about 100 friendly Creeks.

Map Courtesy of PCL Map Collection at the Universtity of Texas at Austin

Map Courtesy of PCL Map Collection at the Universtity of Texas at Austin

March 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 1814)

January 27 – Calabee Creek

The pro-British Red Stick faction of the Creek Indian Nation are emboldened by the withdrawal a week earlier of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s failed retaliatory expedition against their stronghold at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River in what is now Alabama. (Then part of the Mississippi Territory).

Creek War 1813-14 (PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

Creek War 1813-14
(PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

On Jan. 27, the Red Sticks launch a night attack on a force of Georgia volunteers and friendly Yuchi Indians under the command of Gen. John Floyd at Calebee Creek about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Fort Mitchell on the Alabama-Georgia border.

Floyd’s force of 1,200 infantry, a company of cavalry and 400 Yuchi repulsed the attacking Creeks. But afterward Floyd immediately withdrew to the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

January 29-30 New Brunswick, Canada

Meanwhile, far to the north, officials in Canada are nervous about the disposition of their army and naval forces scattered along the frontier with the United States. While the Creeks battle U.S. forces in the South, and Army posts along the upper Mississippi River are threatened by the Sac, Fox and other Midwestern tribes, Canada’s Native American allies in the Great Lakes region have been crushed at the Battle of the Thames, which saw the death of charismatic Shawnee leader, Tecumseh.

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames (Photo courtesy Canadian government War of 1812 Website)

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames
(Photo courtesy Canadian government War of 1812 Website)

The British build defenses on Bridge Island in what was then called Upper Canada to shelter supply boats traveling the St. Lawrence River. A 90-man cavalry barracks is constructed on a key road midway between St. Jean on the Richelieu River and the outskirts of Montreal in Lower Canada.

On January 10 an American patrol is captured by militia in Lower Canada near Missisiquoi Bay. A few days later British troops raid Franklin County in New York State.

Also in January, 217 men dispatched to crew two ships being built at Kingston, Upper Canada (in what is now the Province of Ontario) arrive at Saint John, New Brunswick by ship from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The citizens of Saint John respond overwhelmingly to a request for sleighs and sleds to convey the sailors to Fredericton on their way to their ships farther up the St. Lawrence. The Royal Navy men depart by land on January 29 and 30.

January 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm 1 comment

SHAKO: War of 1812, Collision Course in Alabama

On the Warpath

Creek War 1813-14 (PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

Creek War 1813-14
(PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin)

All is quiet during the winter of 1813-1814 along the U.S.-Canadian border where U.S. Army regulars and state militiamen have been battling British troops, Canadian militia and Native American warriors since the summer of 1812.

But Army regulars and state volunteers are still battling the Creek Indians of the Southeastern United States in what has become known as the Creek War. That struggle erupted within the the Creek nation (also known as the Muskogee) — which inhabited parts of what is now Alabama and Georgia — over whether to join Shawnee leader Tecumseh‘s campaign against whites of the United States. The “Red Sticks” faction favored war with white America. Indian leaders from what was known as the Lower Creek towns were against war with the whites, with whom many had intermarried. They were known as the “White Sticks.”

In July 1813 at Burnt Corn Creek, Mississippi militiamen attacked and were defeated by members of the pro-British Red Sticks returning from Spanish Florida where they had gone to obtain arms and ammunition. On August 30, 1813, hundreds of Red Sticks attacked a poorly defended stockade known as Fort Mims in southern Alabama, killing more than 200 whites, black slaves and White Stick Creeks.

That led Tennessee Gov. Willie Blount to call for 3,500 volunteers to fight the Creeks, widening a tribal civil war into one between Indians and whites. After defeating the “Red Sticks” on November 9, 1813 at the Battle of Talladega, the Tennessee commander, Major General Andrew Jackson, was plagued by supply shortages and discipline problems among his rowdy frontier troops who had only signed short term enlistments.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s mounted rifles commander, General John Coffee, who had returned to Tennessee for fresh horses, wrote Jackson that his troops had deserted. By the end of 1813, Jackson was down to a single regiment whose enlistments were due to expire in mid January.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Although Gov. Blount ordered up another 2,500 troops, Jackson would not be up to full strength until the end of February. By the time 900 raw recruits arrived unexpectedly on January 14, Jackson’s original force of 2,500 had dwindled to 103 soldiers.

Since the new men had signed on for only 60 days, Jackson decided to get going before their enlistments ran out. He departed Fort Struther on January 17, and marched toward the village of Emuckfaw to support the Georgia Militia. But it was a risky strategy: a long march through difficult terrain against a numerically superior force. Making matters worse, Jackson’s  volunteers were green and insubordinate. By January 21, they had marched to within a few miles of the Red Stick settlement of Emuckfaw, setting the stage for another battle.

NEXT WEEK: The Return of THIS WEEK in the War of 1812

The weekly feature, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, returns on Monday, January 20.

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SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

January 16, 2014 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Fort Mims Massacre 1813

Creek War

While U.S. Army regulars and militiamen from the states battled British troops, Canadian militia and warriors from the First Nations (as Canadians now call them) along the Great Lakes and the Upper Midwest during the war of 1812, the Army and state volunteers were also battling the Creek Indians of the Southeast in what has become known as the Creek War.

On August 30, 1813, pro-British members of the Creek Indian nation (also known as the Muskogee) attacked a poorly designed stockade known as Fort Mims in southern Alabama where hundreds of white settlers and pro-U.S. Creeks had taken refuge.

According to some accounts, as many as 500 militia, settlers, slaves and Creeks favoring peace with the Americans were killed or captured in what has become known as the Fort Mims massacre. Modern historians generally put the death toll at about 250 men, women and children.

Fort Mims massacre re-enactment (al.com photo)

Fort Mims massacre re-enactment (al.com photo)

The bloodshed between whites and the Creeks in 1813-1814 was an outgrowth a civil war among the Creeks themselves.

That struggle erupted within the Creek nation, which inhabited parts of what is now Alabama and Georgia, over whether to join Shawnee leader Tecumseh‘s campaign against whites of the United States. The Red Sticks faction favored war with white America. Indian leaders from what was known as the Lower Creek towns were against war with the whites. They were known as the White Sticks.

The Fort Mims slaughter terrified whites in the South, who had waged war on and off with various tribes including Cherokee and Seminole Indians since before the American Revolution.  Future President Andrew Jackson, an Army and Tennessee militia general, led a long campaign against the Creeks culminating with the battle (and for all intents a massacre)  against the Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814.

Map Courtesy of PCL Map Collection at the Universtity of Texas at Austin

Map Courtesy of PCL Map Collection at the Universtity of Texas at Austin

A year later, Jackson would rise to national prominence following the Battle of New Orleans.

488px-Shako-p1000580

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

August 30, 2013 at 12:42 am Leave a comment


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