Posts tagged ‘Indian Wars’

FRIDAY FOTO (July 30, 2021

Change of Pace.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Daniel Herman) Click on photo to enlarge iamge.

Here at 4GWAR we think variety is the spice of life — especially when it comes to the Friday Foto. For the last three weeks, we’ve featured aircraft from Navy F/A-18 Hornets to an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

So, in the spirit of image diversity, this week’s FRIFO gets about as far away from airpower as one can get: Horsepower — literally.

Here we see the 1st Cavalry Division’s mounted honor guard at a transfer of command ceremony for new commander, Major General John B. Richardson IV, at Fort Hood, Texas on July 21, 2021.

Yes, the U.S. Army still has a cavalry division, but today it looks more like this. The last mounted troopers of the 1st CD traded in their horses for jeeps, trucks and tanks in February 1943 to prepare for action in the Pacific Theater during World War II, where it saw action in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the islands of Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines.

However, today’s the 1st Cav does have this Horse Cavalry Detachment — one of seven active duty mounted units in the Army — for parades and other ceremonial and public functions.

July 30, 2021 at 1:23 pm Leave a 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 ( photo)

Fort Mims massacre re-enactment ( 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.


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

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Dec. 16-Dec. 22)

Battle of the Mississinewa

Three days after a forced 80-mile march through snow and bitter cold from Fort Greenville in Ohio (see last Monday’s posting), Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell and a force of 600 mounted troops arrive Dec. 17 at the Mississinewa River in the Indiana Territory. The mixed force of U.S. Dragoons and volunteer units mostly from Kentucky – but also Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan – is on a mission to attack and destroy several Indian villages strung out along the river, especially the Miami village of Mississenaway).

Indiana Territory map by Dingusdog via Wikipedia

Indiana Territory map by Dingusdog via Wikipedia

The Shawnee leader Tecumseh has been trying to organize the tribes East of the Mississippi River to resist further encroachment by the Americans. Tecumseh, who has encouraged the Miamis, Kickapoos, Wea and other tribal peoples to join him, has thrown in his lot with the British in their war with the Americans. In the summer of 1812, Indian bands attack several white settlements and Army forts in Indiana and Major Gen. William Henry Harrison, commander of the Northwest Army, wins Washington’s approval to launch a punitive expedition against the Miamis and their allies. He picks Campbell to lead

Campbell’s troops take the first village, kill about eight Indian men and take 42 prisoners – all but eight of them women and children. The captured village is that of the Delaware (Lenape) leader Silver Heels. Campbell is under orders to avoid harming Silver Heels and his people, who have to join Tecumseh’s war with the whites. The U.S. forces continue along the river, burning two evacuated Miami villages. Many of Campbell’s men are suffering from frostbite while ammunition and food are running low, so he decides to declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ and head back to Fort Greenville.

The next morning (Dec. 18), about 300 Indian warriors attack Campbell’s camp at dawn. The U.S. troops manage to drive them off after about an hour of fierce fighting but a dozen soldiers and militia men are killed and more than 40 wounded. Indian casualties are unknown but believed to number about 30 dead. More than 100 soldiers’ horse are killed in the fight. To hasten the return back to Ohio, the Indian women and children captives are placed on captured ponies while the soldiers who lost their mounts have to walk in knee-deep snow.

Fearing another Indian attack, Campbell’s troops build a fortified camp every night during the six-day retreat back to Ohio, depleting the men’s strength even further. One day out from Fort Greenville, with all food gone, half the force suffering from the cold and many of the wounded near death, the force is met by a relief column. Campbell’s force reaches the Fort on Dec. 24. More than half of his men are incapacitated by frostbite.

Even though the main objective, Mississineway, is never reached, Harrison declares the operation a success and Campbell is promoted. The Indian captives are sent to an Indian settlement in Ohio. Harrison’s plans to march north and retake Fort Detroit are put on hold.

One of the largest historic re-enactments of the War of 1812 marks the Battle of Mississinewa every October outside Marion, Indiana. Here’s a brief YouTube video, which gives a sense of the uniforms and weapons used 200 years ago by British and American troops (even though most of the actual participants in the Battle of Mississinewa were frontiersmen and Native Americans).

December 17, 2012 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

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

Frontier Fighting

The war on the frontier heats up this week despite heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

In response to Native American attacks on two U.S. forts in Indiana territory during the summer (Fort Harrison on the West and Fort Wayne on the East) Gen. William Henry Harrison receives permission in early November from Secretary of War William Eustis to mount a punitive expedition against the villages of the Miami Indians along the Mississinewa River in north central Indiana (near the present day city of Marion, Indiana).

Model of a Miami Indian village (Courtesy of Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society)

Model of a Miami Indian village
(Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society)

On Nov. 25, Harrison orders Colonel John Campbell to attack and destroy the Miami village of Mississinewa but to spare and women and children and march them back to Ohio.

On Dec. 14, Campbell sets out from Fort Greenville in Ohio with about 600 mounted troops. They are bound for Mississinewa 80 miles away through deep snow and freezing temperatures.

December 10, 2012 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Oct. 28-Nov. 3)

Foreshadowing Future Battles

All is apparently quiet on land and sea this week 200 years ago, but communications from two commanders at opposite ends of the country to their superiors foreshadow battlers yet to come.

Gen. William Henry Harrison, commander of the Army of the Northwest (today’s Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, is informed by traders with the Indians that the Miamis have been sending messengers to the Delawares, inviting them to join the fight against the United States. Word of these communications comes just a month after the garrisons at Fort Wayne and Fort Harrison (both in Indiana) have withstood attacks by Native American warriors in large numbers.

Indiana Territory map by Dingusdog via Wikipedia

On Oct. 26, 1812, Harrison writes to Secretary of War William Eustis in Washington seeking approval for a plan to attack Miami towns along the Mississinewa River in the Indiana Territory. On Nov. 5, Eustis writes back that Harrison should use his own judgment as to whether “the Miamis, as well as the other Indians, must be dealt with as their merits and demerits” may require.

A month later Harrison will order Lt. Col. John Campbell to lead an expedition of 600 mounted troops against the Miami villages along the Mississinewa.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the naval commander is worried that he doesn’t have enough ships and men to defend the port against the British or pirates.

Commodore John Shaw, who commands a small flotilla of boast and ships, writes to Navy Secretary Paul Hamilton to complain that the number of vessels under his command is inadequate to deal with the threat posed to American commerce at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

It will be two years before the British, finally done fighting Napoleon’s armies, will make a move against New Orleans. Some of the pirates Shaw fretted about will be among the motley force defending New Orleans in January 1815 including: U.S. Army regulars, Sailors and Marines, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi militia, New Orleans gentry and free blacks, slaves and Choctaw Indians.

Battle of New Orleans
(Library of Congress)

October 29, 2012 at 1:21 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Old West Cavalry Post at Fort Garland, Colorado

Boots and Saddles

While your 4GWAR Editor on vacation last week we traveled from Denver, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico via the scenic route through La Veta Pass. The aspens were turning golden in the bright fall sunshine and made a striking contrast to the lodge pole pines and other evergreens.

Fort Garland plaza or parade ground
(4GWAR Photo by John M. Doyle)

Along the way we passed historic Fort Garland, an Old West Army post saved from ruin by local activists. The fort is actually a collection of adobe buildings, arranged in a rectangle around a tree-lined parade ground without walls. We toured the officers’ quarters — now the museum shop — commandant’s quarters and the two barracks buildings: one for a company of cavalry and one for a company of infantry.

After the Civil War, the post was commanded for a year by Kit Carson, the mountain man and trapper turned Army officer. Carson is famous/or infamous (depending on your point of view) for subduing the Navaho (Dine) tribe in the mid-1860s. Troops from Fort Garland took part in the 1862 battle of Glorieta Pass, in which union troops — assisted by volunteers from the Colorado and New Mexico territories prevented Confederates who marched up from El Paso, Texas from invading Colorado and seizing its rich gold and silver mines. (Think of the impact that might have had on the Civil War).

Bunks in the old infantry barracks at
Fort Garland, Colorado.
(4GWAR Blog photo by John M. Doyle)

For about three years in the 1870s the fort was garrisoned by troopers of the 9th Cavalry, one of two all black cavalry regiments formed after the Civil War. The Buffalo Soldiers, as they were known, patrolled the San Luis Valley keeping Ute Indians and encroaching white miners, ranchers and traders away from each other’s throats. There was no need for Army protection by the early 1880s and the post was closed in 1883.

Vehicles on display in the old cavalry
barracks at Fort Garland, Colorado.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

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.

October 10, 2012 at 1:14 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Aug. 12 – Aug. 18)

Success at Sea

USS Essex takes HMS Alert (From Wikipedia)

While things continue to go wrong for the Army in the West (see below) the Navy scores another small triumph at sea.

On Aug. 13, the American frigate, USS Essex, attacks and captures the British sloop, HMS Alert in the south Atlantic. The 36-gun Essex was built in Salem, Massachusetts and paid for by the citizens of Salem and Essex County, who presented her to the U.S. Navy just before Christmas 1799. By 1812, the 864-ton Essex was already a veteran of engagements with the French in the Quasi Naval War between the United States and Revolutionary France in 1800, and against the Barbary pirates of North Africa in 1805. The youngest crewman aboard was 11-year-old midshipman David Glasgow Farragut, who would rise to become the Navy’s first full admiral, as well as the Union commander at the Battle of Mobile Bay during the U.S. Civil War (“Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!”).

Disaster in the West

Concerned about the Fall of Fort Mackinac in northern Michigan on July 17 and the threat to his own position at Fort Detroit, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. William Hull orders the commander at Fort Dearborn — in what is now downtown Chicago — to abandon the fort and evacuate his tiny garrison eastward to Fort Wayne in the Indiana Territory.

Before closing up shop, Capt. Nathan Heald tells the mostly Potawatomi Indians who are menacing the fort that they can have it and its supply stores if they guarantee safe passage for the approximately 60 U.S. regulars, 12 Illinois militiamen, nine women and 18 children. But following Hull’s written order, Heald destroys all the guns, ammunition and liquor in the fort before leaving — angering the younger Indian warriors.

Not far from Fort Dearborn on Aug. 15, 400 to 500 Indians attack the evacuation column. In the 15-minute battle, 26 regulars and all of the militia men are killed. The Indians also attack the wagons carrying civilians, killing two women and nearly all the children. After a brief stand-off, the rest of the U.S. party surrenders and are taken prisoner.

The attack, called a massacre at the time, inflames the United States, especially along the frontier. Today Native American historians dispute the unverified contemporary reports that the Indians tortured and scalped their victims. This account of the battle/massacre and the quest for historical evidence in Chicago magazine has some very helpful maps. The Chicago History Museum has a model of what the fort looked like here.

Downfall of Detroit

Brock accepts surrender of Detroit (Wikipedia)

On the same day of the attack outside Fort Dearborn, General Hull finds that his opposite number, Major Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, has crossed the Detroit River from Canada with about 300 regulars, 400 Canadian militia and some 600 Native American warriors headed by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. Hull has about 1,200 troops at his disposal, both regulars and Ohio and Michigan militia. Hull has previously sent more than 300 troops south to link up with a supply train near the Raisin River, the same supply train that led to two earlier ambushes of Hull’s troops.

Brock and Tecumseh succeed in making Hull believe their forces are much greater in size than his. Tecumseh marches his warriors through an opening in the woods several times to make it look like his contingent numbers over 1,000. They whoop and yell through the night. The idea he is surrounded by savages who might massacre the women and the children in the fort — including his own daughter and grandchild — rattles Hull.

Both sides open fire on each other with canons without doing much damage. On Aug. 16, however, the British gunners start to hit the mark, killing several inside the fort, including the commander who surrendered Fort Mackinac and is awaiting a court martial.

Hull then decides to surrender the fort without firing another shot. The easy victory stuns Brock — who is hailed as a hero in Canada — and emboldens Tecumseh and his Confederacy to become more belligerent toward the Americans. After being paroled, Hull is charged with treason for surrendering so many men and guns. He is convicted of neglect of duty and cowardice and sentenced to be shot. President Madison approves the sentence but waives its execution. Hull is sent home to Massachusetts in disgrace, a sad end for a hero of the American Revolution.

August 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm 3 comments

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (August 5 –

Canada Un-invaded

With his supply lines from Michigan compromised and the threat of even more First Nations (as they’re called in Canada) warriors joining the small force of British and Canadian troops defending Amherstburg, U.S. Brigadier Gen. William Hull decides to withdraw from his toehold in Upper Canada (now Ontario) in early August and retreat back across the Detroit River into Michigan. Hull and his troops return to Fort Detroit, their invasion of Canada lasted a mere 24 days.

Indian Fighting

TecumsehAt Brownstown Creek in Michigan, Native Americans – mostly Shawnee – led by Tecumseh ambush about 200 U.S. troops heading south from Fort Detroit on Aug. 5 to pick up cattle and much needed supplies.

The American commander – Major Thomas Van Horne overestimates the size of the force opposing him – which may only have numbered 25 warriors – and orders a withdrawal. The retreat soon turns into a rout with 70 militiamen scattering. Seventeen U.S. soldiers are killed, a dozen more are wounded. Most of the 70 missing militiamen turn up at Fort Detroit. But two soldiers are captured and later killed. Apparently only one Native American raider is killed in the skirmish.

More Indians, Fighting

Worried about his dwindling supplies, Hull sends an even bigger force – 280 Army regulars and more than 330 Ohio volunteers – to pick up supplies at the River Raisin in southeast Michigan. But again, the Americans are confronted on Aug. 9 by a combined force of 205 British and Canadian troops and First Nations warriors.

The battle dissolved in confusion through a series of mistakes and misunderstandings by both sides. The outnumbered British force traded fire with a group of Potawatomi coming to their assistance. Both groups thought the other one was Americans.

As the American line wavered under heavy British-Canadian-First Nations fire, the British commander Capt. Adam Muir of the 41st Welsh Regiment of Foot ordered his bugler to sound the charge, but most of his troops came from units that used drums, not bugles, for commands. Confused, they fell back.

When the American commander Lt. Colonel James Miller saw the other troops retreating, he ordered his men to charge. After advancing a way, Miller realized Muir had rallied his troops and they were were prepared for another attack. The American colonel decided not to press his luck. But he also refused to advance and get the supplies, fearing another ambush. Hull finally ordered Miller to return to Detroit. It was the second time in a week that a supply escort column came back empty handed.

American casualties at what would become known as the Battle of Maguaga amounted to 18 dead and 64 wounded. The British troops lost three killed and 13 wounded. The Canadian militia suffered one killed and two wounded. The Indians lost two killed and six wounded.

Next week: Horror at Dearborn, Disgrace at Detroit

August 8, 2012 at 12:53 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (June 17-June 23)

The War Begins

Lawmakers in Washington have been debating what action to take since June 1, 1812 when President James Madison sent a message to Congress describing the injuries and indignities suffered by the United States of America at the hands of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

President James Madison

Madison makes no specific request for a declaration of war but outlined a series of grievances focusing on:

–the seizure of U.S. citizens on U.S. ships at sea by the Royal Navy for forced service (impressment) aboard British warships. Between 1803 and 1812, some 6,000 American sailors are taken from U.S. ships by the British, who were fighting a global war against France’s Emperor Napoleon and his allies. The British government believed anyone born a British subject was always a British subject – so anyone born in British territory before U.S. independence in 1783 was considered fair game for impressment.

–the interference with U.S. merchant ships on their way to European ports controlled by Napoleon. Both Britain and France mounted naval blockades of each other’s territories and neutrals like the U.S. were caught in the middle. American agriculture and maritime interests were being squeezed by the European conflict.

–the belief that British agents were stirring up Native American tribes in the Old Northwest (today’s states of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois) to attack U.S. outposts on the frontier. The “War Hawks,” a vocal group of congressmen from southern and western states – who sought to expand U.S. territory – said this provocation was grounds for war with Britain.

Historians say there were at least two other reasons why many in the U.S. wanted to go to war with Britain.

The first was the concept of national honor. Like many young nations that have come into being in the last 200 years, the U.S. in 1812 had a bit of a chip on its shoulder regarding national sovereignty and freedom of the seas. It had already fought undeclared naval wars with the Barbary States of North Africa and revolutionary France over interference with U.S. Maritime commerce.

Secondly, plenty of Americans wanted to expand the nation’s borders: north into Canada and south into Spanish-held Florida. Since the Revolution, Americans had coveted Canada. Even before the Declaration of Independence created the United States, American colonists attacked Montreal and Quebec in 1775. However, by 1812, many of eastern Canada’s residents were American Tories who remained loyal to the British crown and fled to Canada rather than be ruled back home by what they saw as the tyranny of rabble.

Finally, after four days of heated discussion, the House of Representatives voted June 4 to declare war on Britain – the first time U.S. lawmakers have declared war on anybody. The Senate took until June 17 to reach the same conclusion. The war legislation was signed by President Madison on this date (June 18) 200 years ago.

In one of several ironic turns during the war, within a few days of the U.S. war declaration – but before the news crossed the Atlantic — the British government decides to withdraw the Orders in Council that authorized the Royal Navy to stop and/or seize ships from neutral nations like the United States on their way to trade with Napoleon’s empire. In one such incident on June 22, 1807, the U.S. frigate U.S.S. Chesapeake was attacked by HMS Leopard just off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, when it refused to submit to a search for American sailors deemed British subjects.

Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

Some Americans considered the conflict a Second War of Independence to show the British once and for all that the U.S. was to be taken seriously as a nation. But with a tiny Army and Navy, a shaky union and divided public opinion (most New Englanders wanted no part of the war) the 30 year-old republic was taking on the most powerful naval force in the world and one of its largest empires.

Next Week: The Starting Lineup

June 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

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