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Rethinking the Creek War and the War of 1812

Edited by Kathryn E. Holland Braund

Publication Year: 2012

Tohopeka contains a variety of perspectives and uses a wide arrayof evidence and approaches, from scrutiny of cultural and religious practices to literary and linguistic analysis, to illuminate this troubled period.
Almost two hundred years ago, the territory that would become Alabama was both ancient homeland and new frontier where a complex network of allegiances and agendas was playing out. The fabric of that network stretched and frayed as the Creek Civil War of 1813−14 pitted a faction of the Creek nation known as Red Sticks against those Creeks who supported the Creek National Council.  The war began in July 1813, when Red Stick rebels were attacked near Burnt Corn Creek by Mississippi militia and settlers from the Tensaw area in a vain attempt to keep the Red Sticks’ ammunition from reaching the main body of disaffected warriors. A retaliatory strike against a fortified settlement owned by Samuel Mims, now called Fort Mims, was a Red Stick victory.  The brutality of the assault, in which 250 people were killed, outraged the American public and “Remember Fort Mims” became a national rallying cry.
During the American-British War of 1812, Americans quickly joined the war against the Red Sticks, turning the civil war into a military campaign designed to destroy Creek power. The battles of the Red Sticks have become part of Alabama and American legend and include the famous Canoe Fight, the Battle of Holy Ground, and most significantly, the Battle of Tohopeka (also known as Horseshoe Bend)—the final great battle of the war. There, an American army crushed Creek resistance and made a national hero of Andrew Jackson.
New attention to material culture and documentary and archaeological records fills in details, adds new information, and helps disabuse the reader of outdated interpretations.
Susan M. Abram / Kathryn E. Holland Braund/ Robert P. Collins / Gregory Evans Dowd /
John E. Grenier / David S. Heidler / Jeanne T. Heidler / Ted Isham / Ove Jensen / Jay Lamar /
Tom Kanon / Marianne Mills / James W. Parker / Craig T. Sheldon Jr. / Robert G. Thrower / Gregory A. Waselkov

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword A Deliberate Passion Creating and Commemorating the First National Park in Alabama

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pp. xi-xiv

Horseshoe Bend is one of only four National Park Service units primarily focused on the period of the War of 1812. It is the only national park unit east of the Mississippi that commemorates a battle between US and American Indian forces. It is the site of the highest loss of American Indian life in a single battle in US history...

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pp. xv-xvi

Almost two hundred years ago, the territory that would become Alabama was both ancient homeland and new frontier. In its forests and meadowlands, along its creeks and rivers, in its towns and forts and wilderness, a complex network of allegiances and agendas were playing out. In the early 1800s, the fabric of that...

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pp. xvii

I would like to thank Ove Jensen, my friend and ally in this endeavor, for his vision and unwavering determination to bring historical scholarship and the public together. Ove’s zeal and devotion to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park inspired me from the moment we first met and his continuing service to one of the Creek people’s most...

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pp. 1-9

As the corn was ripening in July 1813, the Creek people were engulfed by what Benjamin Hawkins termed a “rage of Frenzy.”1 Hawkins, who served as the United States’ representative to the Creeks, might better have described it as a frenzy of rage, and a good deal of it was of his own making. Hawkins seemed oblivious to the...

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1. Causalities and Consequences of the Creek War: A Modern Creek Perspective

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pp. 10-29

The Creek War of 1813–1814 began as a civil war between two factions within the Creek Confederacy. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Euro-American influences and encroachments were producing profound changes in the culture of...

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2. Thinking outside the Circle: Tecumseh’s 1811 Mission

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pp. 30-52

According to long-standing conventions, challenged but not overthrown in the late twentieth century, Tecumseh’s 1811 visit was a revolutionary departure from traditional tribal thinking, was that of a secular statesman who at some level stood apart from his brother’s spiritual movement, and was echoed by earthquakes...

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3. “A Packet from Canada”: Telling Conspiracy Stories on the 1813 Creek Frontier

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pp. 53-83

The Creek War is commonly said to have begun with the Battle of Burnt Corn, a surprise attack by Mississippi territorial militia on a party of Red Stick Creeks that ended in an unexpected defeat of the attackers. The battle is conventionally understood to have raised Red Stick expectations of victory...

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4. Red Sticks

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pp. 84-104

In July 1813, Creek agent Benjamin Hawkins sent a talk to the Creek Indians, whom he feared were aggrieved to the point of war, noting, “I hear you are preparing yourselves for war. I hear you have taken part with the prophets. . . . I hear you have begun the war dance, made your war clubs, and are for war with the white people...

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5. Before Horseshoe: Andrew Jackson’s Campaigns in the Creek War Prior to Horseshoe Bend

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pp. 105-121

An anxious Andrew Jackson, writing hurriedly to his wife from Fort Strother in early March 1814, told her he was “buried in preparations for a movement from this place,” a movement he promised would “put a speedy end to the Creek war.” “As soon as it is done,” he vowed, “I shall without delay return to your arms.”1 Absent from...

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6. Cherokees in the Creek War: A Band of Brothers

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pp. 122-145

In July 1813, civil war erupted among the Creeks, southern neighbors of the Cherokees. A disaffected faction labeled as the Red Sticks opposed the increasing US influence in the Creek National Council and its usurpation of clan authority. Although the Cherokees had often considered the Creeks as enemies, many had fought...

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7. Horseshoe Bend: A Living Memorial

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pp. 146-157

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is one of 392 units in the National Park System and one of only two dozen battlefield or military parks. It is the only national military park in Alabama. The 2,040-acre park receives some fifty to sixty thousand visitors annually. Most people come to enjoy the serene landscape, view wildlife...

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8. Fort Jackson and the Aftermath

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pp. 158-169

The battle at the Horseshoe on March 27, 1814, is almost invariably described as the end of the Creek War, the final climactic act of an exceptionally violent though—at barely seven months—brief conflict between the United States and a large segment of the Creek Nation. In its immediate aftermath,...

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9. “We Bleed Our Enemies in Such Cases to Give Them Their Senses”: Americans’ Unrelenting Wars on the Indians of the Trans-Appalachian West, 1810–1814

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pp. 170-181

This chapter addresses the unrelenting wars that Americans waged in the early 1810s against the Indians of the trans-A ppalachian West. Two major Indian conflicts—the Northwest Indian War of 1810–1813 and the Red Stick War of 1813–1814—wracked the trans-Appalachian frontier preceding and concurrent with the War of 1812. At the...

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10. “Where All Behave Well”: Fort Bowyer and the War on the Gulf,1814–1815

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pp. 182-199

In the predawn twilight of February 8, 1815, Lieutenant Colonel William Lawrence awoke to a troubling tableau. He stared intently into the fading darkness from the ramparts of Fort Bowyer out at the gray waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There was movement to the west and the south, and the rising sun soon revealed an alarming...

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11. Archaeology, Geography, and the Creek War in Alabama

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pp. 200-231

This chapter is a brief survey of geographical and archaeological information relating to the Creek War during the period between the Battle of Burnt Corn ( July 27, 1813) and the Treaty of Fort Jackson (August 9, 1814). My particular focus is on the Upper...

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12. Digging Twice: Camps and Historical Sites Associated with the Warof 1812 and the Creek War of 1813–1814 - James W. Parker

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pp. 232-246

Archaeological sites related to the US war effort in the Creek War during the era of the War of 1812 are scattered across Alabama as well as neighboring states. Beginning in 1996, the US National Park Service, consultants, and state agencies conducted surveys and worked to identify the most important sites of the conflicts (there are two) as part...

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Afterword: The Western Muscogee (Creek) Perspective

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pp. 247-248

As a Muscogee (Creek) citizen and member of the Wind clan from the Tulmuchusee tribal town and an adopted member of the Hillabee ceremonial ground, my goal is to present the western Creek perspective of this history that is so important to us. What I did was listen...

Appendix I: Current Preservation Status of Major Creek War / War of 1812 Sites in Alabama

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pp. 249-254

Appendix 2: Known and Potential Archaeological Sites in Alabama

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pp. 255-272


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pp. 273-300


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pp. 301-304


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pp. 305-312

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386153
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817357115

Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2012