Tuesday, March 25, 2014

200th anniversary of Battle Horseshoe Bend is tomorrow

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
Tomorrow (March 27, 2014) will mark the 200th anniversary of the cataclysmic Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama.

Fought on March 27, 1814, between the U.S. Army of Major General Andrew Jackson and the Red Stick Creek army of Menawa, the battle broke the power of the Creek Nation and started the Creeks on their journey to the Trail of Tears.

The Red Sticks were followers of a religious movement started in the Creek nation by the Prophet Josiah Francis. They believed in a return to traditional ways and a disassociation with the so-called "Plan of Civilization" introduced into the nation by United States through its agent for Indian affairs, Benjamin Hawkins.

Fort Mims State Historic Site
The Red Sticks had gone to war against the traditional leaders of the nation in 1813 after several of their party had been assassinated for involvement in an attack against white settlers on the Duck River in Tennessee. The Creek War of 1813-1814 began as a civil war among the Creeks themselves, but spilled over after Mississippi Territorial Militia attacked a Red Stick supply party at Burnt Corn Creek in Escambia County, Alabama.

The Red Sticks won the Battle of Burnt Corn Creek then retaliated against the United States by attacking Fort Mims and killing more than 250 men, women and children. The destruction of Fort Mims stunned the American frontier and led to the invasion of the Creek nation by three U.S. armies.

Holy Ground Battlefield Park
An army under Gen. F.L. Claiborne pushed up the Alabama River and destroyed the primary town of the Prophet Francis at the Battle of Holy Ground. A second army under Gen. John Floyd built Fort Mitchell on the Chattahoochee River and then fought the Creeks at Autossee (Atosi) and Calabee Creek in eastern Alabama. The third army, under Andrew Jackson, pushed south from Tennessee and fought the Red Sticks at Tallushatchee, Talladega, Emuckfau and Enitichopco before closing in on the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River 200 years ago today.

Site of Tohopeka at Horseshoe Bend
One of the two main forces of Red Stick warriors had fortified themselves at Horseshoe Bend, building a village there they called Tohopeka ("Horse's Flat Foot") after a unique looping bend of the Tallapoosa River that looks like a  horse's hoof from the air. Led by the war chief Menawa and the prophet Monahoe, the Creek army numbered perhaps 1,000 men.

Jackson's army, which included both Cherokee and U.S. allied Creeks, outnumbered the Red Sticks by more than 3 to 1 but the fortifications erected by the defenders were extremely well constructed. The outcome of the fight was in no way clear on the evening before the battle as the U.S. troops approached Tohopeka.

I will post more on the Battle of Horseshoe Bend tomorrow. If you would like to read more now, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/AlabamaHSB.

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