In Southern History Series: Race War! The Origins of White Nationalism and Southern History Series: The Yamasee War, we explored two actual race wars between White settlers and the Powhatan and Yamasee Indians that began with sneak attacks in Virginia and South Carolina.
The Tuscarora War in North Carolina and King Philip’s War in New England illustrate just how common race wars between White settlers and Indians were on the frontier in colonial America. Even to this day, we still don’t know for sure what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but it is highly likely that it too was wiped out by the local Indians.
During the War of 1812, the British incited Indian tribes all along the western frontier to attack White American settlers. In Alabama, the Red Sticks faction of the Creek Indians which resented White settlement, miscegenation, the loss of their hunting lands and their overall cultural decline since European contact was allied with the British. They were stirred up into a frenzy by the Shawnee warrior chief Tecumseh who persuaded them to attack the Whites and drive them out of the region.
At this time, Alabama was still part of the Mississippi Territory and was in the earliest stages of settlement. The future state was being settled from the north by settlers pouring into the Tennessee Valley from Tennessee, from the east by settlers coming down the Old Federal Road which crossed into Alabama above Columbus, GA and especially from the southwest up the Alabama River. The first capitol of Alabama was in St. Stephens in Washington County in southwest Alabama near Mobile.
In what became the worst slaughter of White settlers by Indians in the history of the South, the Red Sticks launched a devastating surprise attack on Fort Mims in what is now Baldwin County, AL. They scalped, mutilated and massacred hundreds of White settlers.
“On August 30, 1813, a force of about 700 Creek Indians destroyed Fort Mims, in present-day Baldwin County, killing 250 defenders and taking at least 100 captives, in the first major battle of the Creek War of 1813-14. Some 400 American settlers, U.S.-allied Creeks, and enslaved African Americans had taken refuge inside a stockade hastily erected on the plantation of Samuel Mims, a wealthy resident of the Tensaw District of the Mississippi Territory. The Creek attack on Fort Mims, and particularly the killing of civilian men, women, and children at the end of the battle, outraged the U.S. public, thus prompting military action against the Creek Nation, which controlled what is now much of modern Alabama. …
In mid-1813, as the Creek Nation disintegrated in civil war, the Red Sticks determined to destroy a community of Creeks who had established plantations in the Tensaw District and had taken refuge at Fort Mims. A force of 700 Red Sticks, led by William Weatherford, Far-off Warrior (Hopvyç Tustunuke), and the prophet Paddy Walsh, rushed through the fort’s open gate at noon. Half of the surprised, 100-man garrison of Mississippi Territorial Volunteers died with their commander, Maj. Daniel Beasley, in the first few minutes of battle. Capt. Dixon Bailey, a Creek, and his 45 American and Creek militiamen repelled the Red Stick onslaught and for four hours successfully defended hundreds of civilians huddled inside the flimsy, one-acre stockade. Only when the attackers set the fort’s buildings ablaze with burning arrows did resistance collapse.
The Red Sticks’ assault on Fort Mims ranks as one of the great successes of Indian warfare. The massacre of civilians, however, rallied American armies under the cry “Remember Fort Mims.” The ensuing Creek War culminated in a decisive victory for U.S. forces in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, and the Creek Nation’s subsequent cession of over 21 million acres of land to the U.S. in the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Continuing outrage surrounding the massacre contributed to the eventual forced removal of Creeks and other Indians from the Southeast in the 1830s.”
The Red Sticks started the Creek War of 1813-1814.
General Andrew Jackson finished it by marching down with his army from Tennessee and destroying the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County, AL just northwest of Auburn. The Tallapoosa River turned red that day from the blood of all the Creek Indians.
After humbling the Red Sticks, Old Hickory forced the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson through which most of Central and South Alabama and South Georgia was ceded to the United States. Shortly thereafter, these lands were opened to White settlers who over the next thirty years poured into Alabama from Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“The Treaty of Fort Jackson, or more properly the Treaty with the Creeks, 1814, was signed on August 9, 1814, and concluded the Creek War of 1813-1814 between the Red Stick faction of the Upper Creeks and the United States. The agreement was notable for forcing the Creeks to cede more than 21 million acres of land in the Mississippi Territory, much of it in present-day central and south Alabama, as well as in southern Georgia, to the United States. The land transfer opened up a vast fertile territory to white settlement and later led to the removal of the majority of the Creek Nation to the newly opened West. …”
Mainstream conservatives want to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 dollar bill and replace him with Harriet Tubman. From the Creek War to the Battle of New Orleans to the annexation of Florida, it is staggering to contemplate Jackson’s legacy even before he became president.
Note: The longleaf pine is the state tree of Alabama and used to dominate all of South Alabama and South Georgia. When White settlers first arrived in this area, they found vast almost parklike forests of longleaf pines and wiregrass full of herds of whitetail deer.