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Monday, April 19, 2021

Creek War Battles of Tallushatchee and Talladega

by Denise Weimer

This year, leading up to the April 13 release of my Southeastern frontier romance, Bent Tree Bride, I’ve been delving into the history behind the novel and its setting, the Creek War, or Red Stick War. This military action during the fall of 1813 through the spring of 1814 saw the Red Stick Creeks allied to the British as part of the War of 1812, while the Cherokees allied to the Americans under General Andrew Jackson. When the Red Stick Creeks began to attack the peaceful National Creek faction, the National Creeks called for help. Then Mississippi militia tangled with the Red Sticks at Burnt Corn Creek and Fort Mims. Tennessee and Georgia militia rallied, and the Cherokee Council pledged five to seven hundred volunteers for a Cherokee Regiment.

In my last post, we followed the main body of Tennessee militia into Creek Territory, to the newly and roughly constructed, hundred-yard-square Fort Strother at the junction of the Coosa River and Canoe Creek. From the Indian Agency at Hiwassee, the Cherokee troops navigated the mountains of Northern Alabama by way of the Cherokee village of Turkey Town. There they learned the Red Sticks had gathered in a nearby village. The Cherokees set out on their own to confront them, finding the victims of General Coffee’s Tennessee militia at Tallushatchee … where my conflicted Cherokee lieutenant first tests himself in action. General Jackson had captured two Creeks who revealed the Red Sticks were gathering at Tallushatchee, twenty-five miles south of Turkey Town.

General Coffee
On the morning of November 3, 1813, Jackson dispatched Brigadier General Coffee and 900 men to encircle the hostiles. Lieutenant James Patterson’s troops drew the Creeks out. They charged the right column, then retreated. At first, it seemed casualties would be few, but about four dozen Red Sticks retreated to a single log building. When General Coffee’s dragoons approached the door, a weak old Creek woman stretched a bow with her feet and killed a lieutenant. Davy Crockett, present with the Tennessee militia, later reported that this sent the troops into a rage. They killed the woman and set the house on fire, burning it with forty-six warriors inside. The Red Sticks fought desperately but were defeated. Cabins were razed and those inside burned alive. Nineteen Creek women and children were brought from hiding in the woods and taken as slaves.

Most of the Cherokee Regiment arrived too late to witness or take part in what was later called a massacre. The orders of Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs had specified women and children were not to be killed in combat. Coffee blamed the outcome on the civilians hiding in their homes. At this battle, General Jackson claimed an infant, Lyncoya, whose mother had been killed. The child was ten months old, the same age as Jackson’s adopted son, Andrew Jr. When Creek women prisoners refused to care for him, Jackson sent him to his wife in Nashville.

While Jackson’s forces returned from Tallushatchee, Red Stick warriors besieged National Creeks at Fort Leslie/Lashley near present-day Talladega, Alabama. A National Creek son of a chief escaped wrapped in a hog skin to inform Jackson. Jackson sent orders for Colonel Gideon Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment to join his own troops for the attack, but General John Cocke tossed the order and commandeered the Cherokees for another use, destroying the Creek towns of the Hillabee region. These towns had asked for peace, but Cocke rode against them before General Jackson’s acceptance could reach them. Whether the general knew Jackson had accepted their surrender or not remained in question, but his actions made the Cherokee Regiment unwitting aggressors.

On November 9, Jackson encircled Fort Leslie/Lashley with 1200 infantry and 800 cavalry. The Creeks attacked, and the militia retreated, allowing the warriors to escape. Without the Cherokees to assist, more than seven hundred Red Stick Creeks escaped to regroup. The scene was set for a harsh, starving winter with the army holed up at Fort Strother, the conflict only to be resolved by the massive spring battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Battle of Talladega

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 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!

Bent Tree Bride is now available! 

https://www.amazon.com/Bent-Tree-Bride-Denise-Weimer-ebook/dp/B08Q8K5YD6/

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