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A Conquering Spirit

Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814

Written by Gregory A. Waselkov

Publication Year: 2006

The Fort Mims massacre changed the course of American history in many ways, not the least of which was the ensuing rise of one Andrew Jackson to the national stage. The unprecedented Indian victory over the encroaching Americans who were bent on taking their lands and destroying their culture horrified many and injured the young nation's pride. Tragedies such as this one have always rallied Americans to a common cause: a single-minded determination to destroy the enemy and avenge the fallen. The August 30, 1813, massacre at Fort Mims, involving hundreds of dead men, women, and children, was just such a spark.

Gregory Waselkov tells compellingly the story of this fierce battle at the fortified plantation home of Samuel Mims in the Tensaw District of the Mississippi Territory. With valuable maps, tables, and artifact illustrations, Waselkov looks closely at the battle to cut through the legends and misinformation that have grown around the event almost from the moment the last flames died at the smoldering ruins. At least as important as the details of the battle, though, is his elucidation of how social forces remarkably converged to spark the conflict and how reverberations of the battle echo still today, nearly two hundred years later.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Contents

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pp. 6-7

List of Illustrations

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pp. 8-11

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Introduction

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pp. 12-26

September 11, 2001 . . . December 7, 1941 . . . “Remember the Lusitania!” . . .“Remember the Maine!” . . . “Remember the Alamo!” Every generation ofAmericans, it seems, has collectively experienced an event of such palpable vio-lence and manifest injustice that the very mention rallies the nation to a com-mon purpose, a bloody-minded determination to destroy this new enemy and...

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1. The Tensaw

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pp. 27-42

On the eve of the eighteenth century the area soon to be known as the Tensawhad no full-time occupants, although the Tomé Indians claimed those lands asa hunting ground. Their towns, Tomé and Naniaba, sat atop bluffs west of thelower Tombigbee and upper Mobile rivers, overlooking ¤elds planted on thelow natural levees lining the opposite banks. To the east lay the swampy ex-...

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2. Many Paths to the Tensaw

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pp. 43-66

A common literary and cinematic conceit of authors and screenwriters bringstogether people with metaphorically opposed backgrounds and interests in acon¤ned setting, a tight spot, where the intersection of their personalities re-veals great strengths and great failings of character. Thornton Wilder’s TheBridge of San Luis Rey and John Ford’s Stagecoach famously employ this effec-...

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3. Americanization of Mississippi Territory

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pp. 67-82

William Weatherford and Dixon Bailey, both Creek métis, are two principalprotagonists in this story of Fort Mims. But the presence of several hundredAmericans and Africans inside the stockade on August 30, 1813, widened im-mensely the impact of that battle well beyond the scope of a Creek civil war.Who were these other “inmates” of Fort Mims, and what brought them to this...

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4. Red Path to War

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pp. 83-126

U.S. government efforts throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenthcenturies to encourage the Creeks and other eastern Indians to adopt the life-style of white Americans and relinquish sovereignty over their lands createddeep discontent. For the Creeks, American insistence on replacement of hoecultivation and deerskin hunting by intensive plow agriculture, livestock rais-...

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5. Creek Civil War to Redstick War

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pp. 127-149

As the sun rose at 5:27 a.m. above the hills east of the Tensaw, August 30,1813, began as just another in the seemingly endless procession of steamy daysof a Gulf coast summer. Regimental and militia drummers beat reveille torouse 400-some troops and refugees crowded within the picketed walls of FortMims.1 Voluntarily penned up for over four weeks, these “inmates,” as they...

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6. The Battle of Fort Mims

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pp. 150-169

The hostile party got a vast number of horses and a great deal of othereffects in their pillage of fort Mimbs and country, from which they con-cluded that the time had arrived that was spoken of by Tecumseh, andrepeatedly con¤rmed after that by the prediction of their own prophets,that there was to come and be a time, when the Indians would have the...

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7. A Country Given Up

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pp. 170-187

General Claiborne struggled to retaliate militarily against the Redsticks, whiledefending his honor in the press. He and his counterparts in Tennessee andGeorgia, Andrew Jackson and John Floyd, had long planned a three-prongedinvasion of the Creek nation if a provocation should occur. This bold, sur-prise attack into U.S. territory against federalized militia ending in a massacre...

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8. Trying Times, 1813–1814

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pp. 188-213

For most Americans living through the War of 1812, our country’s secondstruggle for independence from Britain must have seemed one long string ofmilitary setbacks punctuated by outright disasters: Fort Dearborn, Detroit,River Raisin, Fort Mims, Chrysler’s Farm, Lewiston, Lundy’s Lane, Bladens-burg, Washington, D.C. A few inspiring victories—the USS Constitution vs....

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9. Remembering Fort Mims

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p. 214-214

An unusual social experiment played out in the Tensaw district of MississippiTerritory between 1799 and 1813. For more than a decade several hundred whiteAmericans and Creek Indians lived side by side, engaged in similar economicactivities while linked to a common capitalist trading system, socialized andin some instances intermarried, and in general got along together quite well....

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10. Reverberations of Fort Mims

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pp. 214-223

An unusual social experiment played out in the Tensaw district of MississippiTerritory between 1799 and 1813. For more than a decade several hundred whiteAmericans and Creek Indians lived side by side, engaged in similar economicactivities while linked to a common capitalist trading system, socialized andin some instances intermarried, and in general got along together quite well....

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Afterword

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pp. 224-235

Convention calls for authors of scholarly volumes to declare up front theirintellectual debts and sources of emotional support. There are, I suppose, sev-eral good reasons this should be so. Family and friends surely deserve a promi-nent “thank you” for the encouragement they so sel®essly offer a writer, whoin turn must invariably in some measure neglect them, no matter how regret-...

Appendix 1. Participants in the Battle at Fort Mims, compiled by Gregory Waselkov, James Parker, and Sue Moore

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pp. 236-269

Appendix 2. Places to Visit: Mississippi Territory and the Creek Nation, ca. 1813

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pp. 270-363

Bibliography

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pp. 364-393

Index

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pp. 394-426


E-ISBN-13: 9780817384777
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355739

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2006