by Denise Weimer
In last month’s post, "The Red Stick War? What’s That?" (https://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-red-stick-war-whats-that.html), I explored a little-known part of the War of 1812. The Southern frontier, where the Red Stick Creeks allied to the British engaged the American and Cherokee forces, provides an intriguing setting for some of my historical novels. This month, I’d like to delve a little deeper into the conflict as we follow the progression of events in my April novel, Bent Tree Bride.
AL, War of 1812
In the summer of 1813, the Red Stick Creeks began attacking National Creeks (those not wanting to go to war with the United States), burning homes and destroying cornfields and livestock. The National Creeks asked the Cherokees for aid, and many relocated to the Cherokee towns of Coweta, Cusseta, and Turkey Town. Turkey Town was located about a mile from present-day Centre, Alabama, on the west side of the Coosa River. Cherokee Principal Chief Path Killer operated a ferry on the trail that follows close to the present road from Rome to Cave Springs, Georgia.
On July 27, 1813, at Burnt Corn Creek, Mississippi Territorial Volunteers under Major Daniel Beasley and Captain Dixon Bailey from Fort Mims near present-day Mobile ambushed a Red Stick supply caravan bringing flour, corn, and ammunition from the Spanish in Pensacola, Florida. The Red Sticks were chased into the swamp but regrouped and drove the Americans away from looting the pack train.
U.S. Indian Agent Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs Sr. wrote, “There is no doubt the insurgent Creeks are acting in concert with the English throu the northern Indians.” He suggested two battalions of Cherokee soldiers be raised under a white major to patrol the territory.
Fort Mims, attack #26
Retaliation for Burnt Corn Creek came on August 30th by order of William Weatherford/Chief Red Eagle. As some 700 Red Stick warriors approached, around 400 white settlers and National Creeks took refuge at Fort Mims, a hastily erected stockade on the plantation of Samuel Mims, a wealthy resident of the mixed white and Creek Tensaw District of Mississippi Territory. Major Beasley had ignored warnings of danger given by a slave and a mounted scout. With a tomahawk to the head, he died while attempting to shut the fort’s gate. The Red Sticks flooded inside, killing half of the surprised, hundred-man garrison in the first few minutes. Captain Dixon Bailey, a Creek, and his American and Creek militia repelled the attack for four hours (including a breath-baiting hour's lull during which the Red Sticks agreed to resume the attack) while the civilians huddled inside the one-acre stockade. Forcing the settlers out with burning arrows, the Red Stick warriors killed 250 and took at least 100 captive, mainly slaves. The Red Sticks razed the surrounding farms after the battle. The massacre of civilians led to a rallying cry for Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia militia of “Remember Fort Mims.”
Next month’s post will look at the formation of the Cherokee Regiment in the fall of 1813 and follow the allied forces into Creek Territory, the starting point for Bent Tree Bride.
Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!
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