10 Year Anniverary & New Releases Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' Butterfly Cottage - Melanie B, Dogwood Plantation - Patty H R, Janet Grunst's winner is Connie S., Denise Weimer's Winner is Kay M., Naomi Musch's winner is Chappy Debbie, Angela Couch - Kathleen Maher, Pegg Thomas Beverly D. M. & Gracie Y., Christy Distler - Kailey B., Shannon McNear - Marilyn R.

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend

 by Denise Weimer

Today we take a gander at the decisive battle of the Creek War or Red Stick War, which waged from 1813-14 on the Southeastern frontier as part of the War of 1812 … the setting for my latest historical romance, Bent Tree Bride. My posts have followed the movements of allied Tennessee militia and the Cherokee Regiment under General Andrew Jackson into the hostile Creek Territory of modern-day Alabama, where they fought against the Red Stick Creeks allied to the British. A series of campaigns and battles in fall of 1813 wound down to a cold and hungry winter for those soldiers whose enlistments continued. Most of the Americans lodged at Fort Strother that winter, while the Cherokees were based at Fort Armstrong. A contingent also guarded Principal Chief Path Killer at the Cherokee village of Turkey Town.

In mid-January, impatient for action, Jackson took fresh recruits against the enemy at Emuckfau, where he found the Red Sticks more difficult to vanquish than expected. On his way back north, he was attacked again while taking his cannon across Enitachopco Creek.

By March, Fort Strother swelled with new recruits, and Jackson was ready to land the final blow on the last major Red Stick village of Tohopeka in a teardrop peninsula of the Tallapoosa River. He sent his Cherokee Regiment ahead to scout and burn deserted Creek villages and his engineers to widen narrow trails for cannon and supply wagons.

On Sunday, March 27, 1814, Colonel Gideon Morgan’s five hundred Cherokees and Major William McInstosh’s one hundred National (friendly) Creeks were ordered to come up from behind the town to prevent enemy escape. Hundreds of Red Stick warriors gathered behind a five-to-eight-foot wall of logs and rock-hard mud. Jackson fired his three- and six-pound artillery at the barricade for two hours to no effect.

Across the river, the Cherokees grew impatient. Several warriors swam the Tallapoosa to commandeer canoes on the opposite bank, ferrying their comrades across under fire. They took captives and burned huts at the rear of the village, the smoke alerting Jackson of the wisdom of an infantry assault on the wall. Young Ensign Sam Houston was among the first to heed his mortally wounded commander’s summons to scale the wall, taking an arrow in his thigh. Dozens fell dead every minute as the cannons were dragged to the barricade and fired on retreating Red Sticks, and the Cherokees corralled the enemy from the rear.

Re-enactors at Horseshoe Bend
By late afternoon, the Red Sticks abandoned the fight but were killed while trying to flee across the river. Fighting continued until darkness fell. The next day, the armies returned north, though Jackson took a band of men along the Coosa to round up remaining prisoners. By April, Creek Chief Red Eagle walked into Jackson’s camp and turned himself in. Months later, Jackon negotiated peace with the Creeks and took 20 million acres of their land, sending much of the tribe west. Their bid to keep their land through alliance with the British had failed. Despite their invaluable service to the American troops, within two decades, the Cherokees’ hopes for peaceful coexistence with white settlers would also be crushed.

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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