Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama was one of the most significant military encounters in American history. Fought on March 27, 1814, the battle was the final major engagement of the Creek War of 1813-1814 and one of the most convincing American victories of the War of 1812.

The Creek War was an outgrowth of a civil war that had erupted among the Creek Nation in Alabama and Georgia. A branch of the nation, called the "Red Sticks" or "Red Clubs," became devoted followers of a religious movement headed by the Shawnee Prophet, Tenskwatawa. Led by the Alabama Prophet, Josiah Francis or Hillis Hadjo, the Red Sticks opened a war against the so-called "White Party" of the Creeks, led by the traditional leader of the nation, Big Warrior.

The war spilled over after a party of white militia attacked a Red Stick party carrying ammunition back to the nation from Pensacola at Burnt Corn Creek, Alabama, during the summer of 1813. The Red Sticks responded by attacking and capturing Fort Mims, a frontier stockade north of Mobile and killing hundreds of the men, women and children in the fort.

The Fort Mims attack outraged the frontier and U.S. armies advanced on the Red Sticks from three directions. The principal of these, commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, pushed south into the Creek heartland fighting four major battles during the winter of 1813-1814. Jackson finally attacked the primary Red Stick stronghold at Tohopeka or "Horseshoe Bend" on March 27, 1814.

The Creeks had fortified the bend by erecting a strong wall across the narrow neck of land created by the looping course of the Tallapoosa River. The wall proved impervious to artillery fire from Jackson's army. The stalemate was broken when a party of Cherokee and "White Party" Creek warriors swam the river behind the Red Stick battlelines and brought back canoes to allow a force to attack the barricade from the rear.

When Jackson heard the sounds of this attack, he ordered his main army to charge and storm the barricade. Led by the 39th U.S. Infantry, the troops stormed forward in a bloody attack that forever broke the power of the Creek Nation in Alabama.

To learn more about the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and to experience an online tour of Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, please visit our Horseshoe Bend pages at:

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