Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Battle of Prairie Grove 151st Anniversary

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
December 7th marked the 151st anniversary of the bloody Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

The massive battle erupted when Major General Thomas Hindman emerged from the Boston Mountains with his Confederate army in an attempt to flank the Union army of Brigadier General James G. Blunt before it could be reinforced by the division of Brigadier General Francis J. Herron.

When Hindman came out of the mountains at the site of the modern town of Prairie Grove, Herron's column was at nearby Fayetteville having completed a forced march south from Missouri into Northwest Arkansas. The main Union force, under Blunt, was to the west at Cane Hill (now spelled Canehill).

Hindman succeeded in placing his force directly between the two Union columns and his plan was to overwhelm Herron's Division before it could unite with the main body under Blunt. After initial fighting on the Fayetteville road, the Confederate army took up a defensive position along the Prairie Grove ridge and welcomed the Union attack.

Over the hours that followed, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War in the West took place on the ridges and open ground of Washington County, Arkansas.

To learn more, please visit

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Best Christmas Lights of 2013 now online!

Courtesy of Callaway Gardens's annual list of the South's Best Christmas Lights is now online and updated for 2013!

Most of the lighting displays are up and going and the rest pretty much kick off tomorrow (December 1st) or during the coming week.  Here are some notes about this year's highlights

  • It will be the final year for Christmas in Alabama, the Bradley family's gigantic display in Grand Bay, Alabama (near Mobile).
  • Holiday Spectacular in Wicksburg, Alabama (near Dothan) is continuing after the sad passing of one of its founders and will be even bigger this year!
  • The Arkansas Trail of Lights website is online for 2013!  I have the link on the list page.
  • Three Rivers State Park in Sneads, Florida is expanding the nights its lights will be open this year.
  • Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens in Georgia is up and running for 2013!
  • Lights under Louisville is open for the season.  This is an awesome underground drive-through display!
  • Check out info for these and all of the others for 2013 at

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stafford Civil War Park in Virginia preserves memory of Union Army's "Valley Forge"

Stafford Civil War Park
The remarkable new Stafford Civil War Park is a fascinating heritage preserve in Stafford County, Virginia. It preserves part of the scene of the Army of the Potomac's "Valley Forge" during the winter of 1862-1863.

Opened to the public in April of this year, the park encompasses 41 acres of pristine historic landscape where the 1st and 3rd Divisions of the XI Corps camped following the Battle of Fredericksburg. It was here and in surrounding Stafford County that the Army of the Potomac weathered what some have called its "Valley Forge" in January through April 1863.

Ruins of fire pit or chimney from Union hut
The park features a driving tour, walking trails, interpretive signs, cannon, stone bridge ruins and the well-preserved earthworks of three artillery batteries.  It is one of the best places in the nation to explore visible remains of a major Civil War camp. The stone fire pits and chimneys of the huts built by Union soldiers can still be seen, along with the foundations of blockhouses and holes left by soldiers who dug holes into which they built their huts, using the earth as additional insulation.

To learn more about this fascination heritage destination, please visit

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Night at the Museum coming to Andersonville NHS in Georgia

Andersonville National Historic Site
Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia is preserves the site of the massive Camp Sumter Civil War prison and is home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

The park is normally open during daylight hours, but on November 16th visitors will have a rare opportunity to explore the national park area after dark.

The national historic site and museum will open its doors to the public beginning at 6 p.m. on November 16th to allow visitors to explore the museum and its exhibits, attend special films and hear a presentation on the 15 American Indian men from the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters who were held prisoner at Camp Sumter.

In addition, lanterns will light the way from the museum to the restored northeast corner of the prison stockade. Living history presenters will be there to interact with visitors and portray life at Andersonville during the winter of 1864-1865.

It should be a fascinating event and will be the last chance to see the prison after dark until 2014.

Please click here to learn more about "Night at the Museum.

Please click here to learn more about Andersonville National Historic Site.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some new Ghost Stories for Halloween 2013!

The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge
Marianna, Florida
One of the most popular pages at is our collection of stories about the Ghosts & Monsters of the South.

For Halloween 2013, we have added some new stories that you might enjoy.  From a headless horse in Southwest Georgia to a ghost ship crewed by pirates in the Everglades, I think you will enjoy these journeys into the folklore of the South!

New stories for 2013:

Other favorites:
Don't forget you can access all of these stories and many others anytime at

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Alamo hero's home in Alabama

William B. Travis home in Alabama
The historic home of William Barret Travis still stands in the unincorporated community of Perdue Hill, Alabama.  The future commander of the Alamo lived here in 1828-1830.

The house was built in around 1820 in the once thriving river port of Claiborne, about 1 1/2 miles west of its current location. In 1828, William B. Travis and his new bride, Rosanna Cato Travis, moved into the charming little cottage.  Their son, Charles Travis, was born there and the future hero of the Texas Revolution practiced law, ran a newspaper and served as an adjutant in the Alabama State Militia while he lived in the home.

Travis was only 19 years old when he and Rosanna were married, but by then had been educated at academies in Sparta and Claiborne and entered the practice of law in the office of James Dellet. That he was popular among his neighbors is evidenced by his election to a post in the state militia (forerunner of today's National Guard).  In those days, militia officers were elected.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
After only two years of marriage and when his young son was only one year old, however, Travis suddenly left Claiborne.  The cause of his sudden departure is debated to this day.  Some say he was so severely in debt that he was unable to meet his obligations.  Others say his decision to lead was the result of marital strife with Rosanna.  The cause also could have been a case of the "Texas Fever." Men from all over the United States then were flocking to Texas hoping to make fortunes for themselves.

Regardless of why he left Alabama in early 1831, Travis became the heroic commander of the Alamo who inspired the world with his determined promise of "Victory or Death!"  He, of course, died at the Alamo alongside James "Jim" Bowie, David Crockett and other heroes on March 6, 1836.

To learn more about Travis and his Alabama home, please visit

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway is OPEN

Cold Mountain, NC, from the Blue Ridge Parkway
UPDATE:  All areas along the parkway have reopened to visitors.

The famed Blue Ridge Parkway is OPEN for those who would like to take the scenic drive to see the fall leaf change.  All facilities along the parkway, however, are closed due to the government shutdown.

According to the National Park Service, all visitor centers, historic sites, hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms along the Parkway are CLOSED. There are numerous towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway, however, to make up for the loss of some of these facilities.

Tunnel along the Parkway
October is normally a time of tremendous use of the Blue Ridge Parkway as drivers take the winding road for spectacular views of the fall leaf change in North Carolina and Virginia. According to the park service, around 70,000 visitors per day normally visit the parkway in October.

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls are Closed to Visitors
The closure of so many facilities is likely to reduce that total considerably and have a negative impact on towns, cities and communities all along its route. In addition to the 195 park service employees furloughed along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 200 employees of private businesses that contract for services also have been laid off.

Security officers, however, remain on duty to keep people from trying to visit any of the historic sites or other facilities along the road.

The National Park Service website for the Blue Ridge Parkway also is shut down, but you can read more about the beautiful road at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Leaf Watch 2013 - Georgia's Top 15 Parks for Fall Color

Amicalola Falls State Park
With virtually all of America's national parks and national forest recreation areas still closed due to the Federal shutdown, many traditional places for enjoying the fall leaf change in the South are unavailable this year.

In Georgia, fortunately, there are a wide array of state parks and historic sites where visitors are still welcome on their public lands and can enjoy the beautiful colors of the fall.  All Georgia State Parks remain open and are unaffected by the issues in Washington, D.C.

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites have announced the top 15 places to see this year's fall color:

Top 15 Georgia State Parks for Fall Color

Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall.  The falls can be enjoyed from both easy and difficult trails.  A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views.  There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top.  For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.  Amicalola Falls gets very busy on pretty October weekends.  Pumpkin farms and apple orchards are nearby.

At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park.  Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike.  For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail.  If driving Hwy. 441 north to the park, you can also stop by Tallulah Gorge State Park and quirky Goats on the Roof.

One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging hiking trails.  A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls.  (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.)  The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon.  New yurts are located off this trail.

Georgia’s newest state park opened this summer on Lake Lanier, protecting a beautiful hardwood forest and many miles of shoreline.  If you have a boat, this would be a great park to enjoy fall color from the water.  A 1.5-mile paved (and quite hilly) trail is open to bikes and foot traffic.  Another 2-mile trail is open to hikers only.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park
Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta.  The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail.  For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a lifesize bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and great views of the forested valley.  Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s pretty, green lake.  For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail.  Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore, and horseback rides are available as well.  Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks that are worth stopping for.

Kayak tours of this park’s lake let you enjoy autumn color from a different perspective.  Sign up for a ranger-led paddle or rent a canoe to explore on your own.  Mountain bikers can explore 10 miles of trails ranging from beginner to experienced.  This park is easily reached from I-20 exit 105.

This park near Rome is a good choice for families with young children.  An easy walk circles a fishing lake, and kids enjoy feeding fish from the boardwalk.  Older children will like the Marble Mine Trail which leads to a small waterfall with a pretty blue-green tint.  Serious hikers can explore the nearby 330-mile Pinhoti Trail.

Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake.  Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower.  Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.

Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta you’ll find a variety of trails with nice fall color.  The easy, flat 4-mile Iron Hill Loop is open to bikes and foot traffic, offering great views of the lake and forest.  Another good choice for lake views is the 5.5-mile Homestead Trail.  Families with young children will like the paved walking path behind the park office.  Be sure to explore the log cabin and blacksmith shed.

Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color.  Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls.  A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees.  This park is near many wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

Just west of Atlanta you’ll find 9 miles of hiking trails, a beautiful creek and small lake.  For an easy walk, take the popular 1-mile Red Trail which follows the creek to the ruins of an old mill.  For more of a workout, continue past the mill to the Blue Trail, where you’ll climb steep bluffs for outstanding creek views.  Sign up for a guided hike to learn more about this park’s Civil War history.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails.  Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom.  During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.”  Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.

Avoid Oktoberfest crowds in Helen by hiking a pretty 3-mile trail which leads from the park into town.  You can enjoy lunch and window shopping before hiking back to the trailhead.  Mountain bikers can zip past fall color on the park’s challenging 7.5-mile bike loop.  If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls.  (To avoid having to hike back, leave a second car at the falls.)

VOGEL STATE PARK – Blairsville
The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake.  For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall.  The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.

To learn more about the leaf change in Georgia, be sure to visit

To check conditions in Alabama and Arkansas, please visit

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaf Watch 2013 locations for Alabama & Arkansas

Fall is coming to life in the Ozarks!

The shutdown of America's national parks is partially jeopardizing one of the favorite seasons in the mountains of the South - the Fall Leaf Watch.

Pea Ridge National Military Park, Buffalo National River, Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve and all other national parks in the south, as well as national forest recreation areas, etc., are all closed.  These closures are having a major impact on the fall tourist season in the South as the federal government has blocked American cities from enjoying hundreds of thousands of acres of their public lands to enjoy Leaf Watch 2013.

Thankfully, state and local parks, state forests, etc., remain open.  Here is a list of some places in Alabama and Arkansas where you can still enjoy this year's Leaf Change.  All of these parks are open and ready to welcome you and your family!

A mountainside begins to turn from green to gold and red!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ALL Alabama State Parks remain open.

Cheaha State Park
I've been receiving quite a few questions about the status of Alabama State Parks as we approach the Fall leaf change.

ALL Alabama State Parks are open and ready for visitors!  This includes Cheaha State Park and DeSoto State Park, both of which adjoin Federal lands.  All state park roads, trails and amenities (lodges, cabins, restaurants, etc.) are open.

Federal lands in Alabama, however, have been closed due to the Government Shutdown.  Areas that are closed include:

  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
  • Little River Canyon National Preserve
  • Natchez Trace National Parkway
  • Russell Cave National Monument
  • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
  • Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
Little River Falls
In addition, all offices, recreation areas and trails in the Talladega and Bankhead National Monument are closed due to the federal shutdown. Even the National Park Service website is shut down.

ALL Alabama state historic sites are open as usual. These include Fort Morgan, Fort Toulouse/Jackson, etc.

There is no plan to close state operated parks and historic sites and no definite reopening date for national park and forest areas in Alabama.

Since you can't visit national park areas, feel free to look at photos and read about them (as well as Alabama state parks and historic sites) at

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Milly Francis: The Life & Times of the Creek Pocahontas - New Book

I'm pleased to announce the release of my new book, Milly Francis: The Life & Times of the Creek Pocahontas. It is now available in both print and Amazon Kindle editions.

If you are not familiar with the story of Milly Francis, it is one of the most remarkable and tragic you will encounter in the long story of the United States and its dealings with American Indians.

Born in around 1803 in central Alabama, Milly was the daughter of Josiah Francis, a man who later became known as the Prophet Francis or Hillis Hadjo ("Warrior of Crazy Medicine"). He was the leader of a religious movement that exploded in the Creek Nation in 1812-184 and one of the key figures of the Red Stick Creeks during the Creek War of 1813-1814. The Prophet later fought on the side of the British during the War of 1812 and alongside the Seminoles of Florida in the First Seminole War of 1817-1818.

Milly Francis Monument at Bacone College
Muskogee, Oklahoma
By the time she was 15 years old, Milly had survived three wars and the cataclysmic destruction of the Red Stick Creeks by the armies of Andrew Jackson, John Floyd and Ferdinand L. Claiborne. She had been forced to flee her home in Alabama to refugee camps in Spanish Florida.

In 1818, however, Milly Francis saved the life of a Georgia militia soldier named Duncan McCrimmon (sometimes spelled McKrimmon). It was a true Pocahontas like incident in which she witnessed the warriors of her town preparing to execute the young white man, but pleaded for his life until they agreed to spare him. In newspapers throughout the United States and even in England, Milly was hailed as a "new Pocahontas" or "modern Pocahontas."

Milly Francis Monument at San Marcos de Apalache
St. Marks, Florida
She gained even greater fame when McCrimmon offered to marry her as a show of his gratitude and she refused, telling him that she would have shown such mercy to any other person under the same circumstances.

Thousands of young girls born in the 1820s-1840s were given the name "Milly Francis" after the woman who became known as the Creek Pocahontas. She also has been called the Florida Pocahontas, the Georgia Pocahontas, the Seminole Pocahontas and the Oklahoma Pocahontas.

Her act of mercy came at a time when the people of a "savage race" were not thought to hold such sentiments. It can truly be said that Milly Francis forced the start of America's long process of rethinking its treatment and attitudes about its original inhabitants.

It was not until the final days of her life, long after she had been sent west on the Trail of Tears, that the United States recognized the debt of gratitude that it owed her. Milly Francis became the first American woman to be recognized with a special medal of honor from the U.S. Congress.

To read her story and the story of her times, please consider the new book. You can order it through by following these links:

Paperback - Milly Francis: The Life & Times of the Creek Pocahontas ($19.95)

Kindle - Milly Francis: The Life & Times of the Creek Pocahontas ($7.99)

You can read a brief version of her story at

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Great Southern Waterfalls #2 - Little River Falls in Alabama

Little River Falls in Alabama
#2 in the series of Great Southern Waterfalls is Little River Falls in Alabama!  (To see #1 in the series, please visit Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas).

Easily accessible to the public, Little River Falls is part of Little River Canyon National Preserve, a relatively new national park area near Fort Payne, Alabama. The falls are located where State Highway 35 crosses Little River Canyon.

The magnificent falls flow year round and are 45-feet high.  While they are not among the tallest waterfalls in the South, they make up for it in sheer power and scenic beauty.

Formed where the Little River drops over an escarpment as it flows through Little River Canyon atop Lookout Mountain, Little River Falls are free to visit and are open daily during daylight hours. The parking area includes space for cars, RVs and buses and provides access to a short paved trail that leads down to an overlook just above the falls. From there the more adventurous can venture out onto the rocks and the top of the falls.

A nice but more distant view of Little River Falls is also available from the overlook on Canyon Rim Drive, also part of Little River Canyon National Preserve.

Camping is not allowed at the falls, but campsites are available at nearby Desoto State Park.

To learn more about Little River Falls, please visit

Friday, September 6, 2013

Great Southern Waterfalls #1 - Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas

Cedar Falls in Arkansas
This is Part #1 of a special fall series on great waterfalls you can see across the South! I will update this page with links as I add others.

#1 on our list of Great Southern Waterfalls is Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas.

Ninety feet in height, Cedar Falls is formed by the sudden drop of Cedar Creek from the top of Petit Jean Mountain into Cedar Canyon. One of the best waterfalls to see in Arkansas because it flows year-round, Cedar Falls is one of the reasons that Petit Jean was made the first Arkansas state park when the land was acquired by the state in 1921.

The falls can be viewed from overlooks on both sides of the canyon, or the more energetic can follow a hiking trail down into Cedar Canyon and to the bottom of the magnificent waterfall.The hike provides a stunning view accompanied by the thundering sound of the waterfall hitting the rocks at the bottom of the canyon.

Another view of Cedar Falls
The waterfall is the centerpiece of the state park, which is one of the most beautiful in the South. Covering 2,568 acres, Petit Jean State Park offers a remarkable collection of natural and historic points of interest.

In addition to Cedar Falls, there are rock formations, caves with prehistoric Indian art, magnificent views, a pre-Civil War pioneer cabin and even Petit Jean's Grave, the place where legend holds a young French girl was buried when she died of sickness after stowing away aboard a ship during Colonial times to come to America in search of her true love.  Her ghost is said to haunt the mountain.

To learn more, please visit

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Preview Chapter of the "The Scott Massacre of 1817"

I thought you might enjoy reading a chapter from my book, The Scott Massacre of 1817. Published in January of this year for the benefit of the West Gadsden Historical Society, it tells the story of the bloody battle on the Apalachicola River that led to Andrew Jackson's 1818 invasion of Spanish Florida and ultimately the cession of the colony to the United States.

The book is available in both print and Kindle editions through or at

Chapter One

The Year without a Summer

 On November 30, 1817, a boat carrying soldiers and supplies, as well as seven women and four children, rounded the sharp bend of the Apalachicola River where the city of Chattahoochee stands today. The current was strong and despite the efforts of the men pulling at the oars, the boat was pushed close to the east bank of the river. Lieutenant Richard W. Scott of the 7th U.S. Infantry regiment commanded the vessel and had been warned that he might face an attack from Red Stick Creeks and their Seminole Indian allies before he reached the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers.

Scott and his soldiers, half of whom were sick and unarmed, had kept careful watch but so far the attack they expected had not materialized. By the morning of the 30th, the boat was less than two miles from the confluence and only twelve miles from the safety of Fort Scott. Fighting to keep the boat moving forward as it was pushed near the east bank by the current, the lieutenant and his men never saw the warriors who were waiting there for them.

The shoreline erupted with a sheet of flame as lead balls exploded from hundreds of rifles and muskets, all aimed at Lieutenant Scott and his command. The bloodbath that followed forever changed American history. The U.S. Army sustained its first defeat of the Seminole Wars, a series of conflicts that would plague the nation for four decades to come. In their victory, the Seminoles and their Red Stick allies assured their defeat in the greater war. Andrew Jackson would be sent to invade foreign soil, clearly demonstrating to Spain that it could not hope to hold Florida. The old colony became a U.S. territory just four years later.

The autumn of 1817 came during a time of tumult and chaos in the world. The spell started in 1811 when a brilliant comet appeared in the skies. Massive earthquakes shook the New Madrid Fault that same year, so rattling the United States that politicians took to the streets in Washington, D.C., believing that the capital was somehow under attack. The natural phenomena at least partially helped spark a time of great disturbance in the course of world history. The once mighty Creek Nation was shattered at Horseshoe Bend in March 1814 and that same year Andrew Jackson smashed the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Napoleon fell, rose, and fell again. And just as it seemed as if peace might return to the world, the volcano Timbora erupted in the Pacific.

Ash from the explosion drifted high into the atmosphere and slowly spread around the world. So much of it infiltrated the sky that the year of 1816 was remembered for decades to come as the “Year Without a Summer.” Strange weather destroyed the corn crops in New England and Europe. Hundreds of thousands died and food riots shattered the peace of Switzerland. In the United States, the light of day glowed in a strange golden or orange color and unseasonable cold persisted far longer than anyone had ever seen. The unusual and deadly weather continued for two years to come.

In Florida during the summer of 1816, U.S. forces destroyed the so-called “Negro Fort” on the Apalachicola River. A heated cannonball passed through the open door of a gunpowder magazine, instantly ignited an explosion that shook the ground as far away as Pensacola. In a blinding flash, 270 of the estimated 320 men, women and children in the fort perished.

With them was destroyed or captured a vast armament of muskets, carbines, swords, gun flints, cannon, powder and other military supplies that had been left behind by the British at the end of the War of 1812. The totality of the disaster so stunned the Lower Creek and Seminole Indians of Florida, Southwest Georgia and South Alabama that they did not resist the movement of the American troops as they marched back up the river to Georgia. Returning to a temporary outpost called Camp Crawford on the lower Flint River, they began building a more permanent fort with squared log buildings and comfortable quarters. The new post was called Fort Scott, after General Winfield T. Scott, and was described as “elegant” by one inspector who reviewed the work in progress.

The fort was still incomplete in December 1816 when orders came for Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Lamont Clinch and his men from the 4th U.S. Infantry to evacuate it. Leaving the buildings and supplies stored there in the care of George Perryman, the mestizo brother of the Lower Creek chiefs William and Ben Perryman, the troops evacuated Fort Scott and headed north to Fort Gaines and then Fort Mitchell.

The move gave new confidence to the refugee Red Stick fighters concentrated near the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers. They had fled to the region after their bloody defeat at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend seeking and receiving resupply from the British who had built two forts on the Apalachicola. Irate over the destruction of their depot at the “Negro Fort,” they now exacted their revenge on the unfinished and unguarded buildings of Fort Scott. Appearing almost as soon as the soldiers departed, they threatened Perryman and drove him off from the place. He was only able to secure his family and a few personal possessions before fleeing the scene in a canoe. The supplies left at the fort were ransacked and stolen and fire was set to the log buildings. George Perryman saw at least three buildings burning as he fled. The Indians, he said, were “in numbers.”[i]

It is generally believed, and probably accurately so, that the Fowltown warriors were among those who raided Fort Scott. The town had joined with the Uchees (Yuchis) in “taking the talk” of the Prophet Josiah Francis and his followers during the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Francis, it was said by his followers, could communicate with the water spirits. He was often seen walking down into a flowing stream or river from which he would not emerge for many hours. A practitioner of the Nativistic religion of the Shawnee Prophet Tenskwatawa, Francis taught the converts who gathered around him that the Indians should separate themselves from the whites, that accommodationist chiefs should be overthrown and that the Creeks should live in peace with all people, but subject to none. No more Native American land was to be given up.

Such talk resonated with the head chief of Fowltown (called Tutalosi Talofa or “Chicken Town” in the Hitchiti tongue of the Lower Creeks). His name or title was Eneah Emathla, which translates roughly to “Fat Warrior.” He was not an overweight individual, but instead was enormous in courage. The whites, who were never very good with Indian names, called him everything from E-nee-hee-maut-by to Eneamathla before finally settling on the name Neamathla.

A man of courage and talent, Neamathla was said by one contemporary to be able to command his warriors with a mere look. He agreed with Josiah Francis that the Creeks should no longer submit to the expansionist desires of the whites and led his warriors to join the Prophet’s force at Holy Ground on the Alabama River. The Tutalosi warriors, however, were cornered and defeated at the Battle of Uchee in what is now Russell County, Alabama, by an overwhelming party of Cowetas led by the U.S.-allied chief William McIntosh.

Blocked in his objective of joining the Red Sticks in Alabama and fearing that the women and children of his town would be subjected to follow-up attack by McIntosh’s warriors, Neamathla abandoned his town on Kinchafoonee Creek near present day Albany, Georgia, and withdrew down the Flint River into the deep wilderness near the Florida border. There he resettled his people and established a new town, also called Tutalosi Talofa or Fowltown.

Neamathla and his warriors quickly allied themselves with the British, who appeared on the Apalachicola at about the same time. Joining the auxiliary force being raised by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Nicolls, they were given arms, ammunition and a drum for their town. The chief himself was presented with a military uniform coat of scarlet color and a letter signed by Captain Robert Spencer testifying that Neamathla was a loyal and good friend of Great Britain.

Neamathla was present at the British outpost near the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers on March 10, 1815, when a large gathering of Creek and Seminole chiefs signed a written appeal to the Prince Regent in London for help in enforcing the provisions of the Treaty of Ghent. The treaty had finally ended the War of 1812 and required that all combatants returned to their prewar land holdings. Colonel Nicolls and other British officers on the Apalachicola believed that the Creeks were covered under the terms of the treaty as their war with the United States had been a subsidiary part of the larger conflict. The United States disagreed and maintained that the Creeks had already entered into a separate treaty and therefore were not covered under the Treaty of Ghent.

That agreement, called the Treaty of Fort Jackson, was negotiated by Andrew Jackson in August 1814. Signed by many Creek leaders, it was in effect a Native American surrender. In exchange for peace, the chiefs agreed to Jackson’s terms and ceded to the United States a vast stretch of territory including 23,000,000 acres. The largest swath of this cession was along the Florida border and, unfortunately for Neamathla and his followers, it included the land on which they had established their new village.

The presence of Fowltown and other Lower Creek villages on the Treaty lands was not an immediate concern to anyone. Few whites were brave enough to settle in the new territory and the Indians for the most part just wanted to be left alone. The burning of Fort Scott by Red Stick warriors in January 1817 changed this equation, however, and events on the frontier soon spiraled out of control. A flurry of letters and reports traveled back and forth between the frontier and both the War Department in Washington, D.C., and the headquarters of Major General Andrew Jackson in Nashville, Tennessee.
The blame for the burning of Fort Scott quickly focused on Neamathla and his warriors at Fowltown. Although they often debated the proper policy to pursue with regard to the Indians of the Southeast, in this case U.S. officials reached an almost unanimous conclusion: Neamathla would have to remove himself and his people from the ceded lands. The chief, however, believed the land was his and that he was “directed by the powers above to defend it.” The stage was set for war and the conflict was not long in coming.

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[i] Lt. Richard Sands to Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, February 2, 1817.