Monday, January 9, 2012

Military Monday: War of 1812, Part III- Battle of Horseshoe Bend

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend took place on March 27, 1814 on approximately 100 acres in what is now the state of Alabama.   The Tallapoosa River quietly winds its way through east-central Alabama, its banks edged by the remnants of the forest that once covered the Southeast. About halfway down its 270-mile run to the southwest, the river curls back on itself to form a peninsula, thus giving the area the name Horseshoe Bend.

Highlights of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend:

  • 1,000 Creek warriors were assembled behind a barricade that crossed the neck of the peninsula. In the toe of the peninsula, in Tohopeka Village, were another 500 women and children
  • The Red Sticks hoped for a decisive victory over Andrew Jackson’s force of 2,600 European American soldiers, 500 Cherokee, and 100 Lower Creek
  • At 12:30 p.m. a roll of the drums signaled the beginning of the attack. The fighting was ferocious, with great bravery displayed by both sides. Jackson reported that the action was maintained "muzzle to muzzle through the port holes, in which many of the enemy’s balls were welded to the bayonets of our musquets...."
  • In the end, 557 Creek warriors died on the battlefield and an estimated 250 to 300 more drowned or were shot trying to cross the river. Only 49 Tennessee militia men died that day, and another 154 were wounded, many mortally. Fewer than a dozen "friendly" Creek also died.

Treaty of Fort Jackson:

In August Jackson went against orders from Washington and single­handedly negotiated the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which forced the Creek to cede almost 20 million acres—nearly half their territory—to the U.S. Although most of the land the U.S. government took had been held by Red Sticks, the territory also included many villages and a great deal of hunting land held by friendly Creek. (In the 1960s the Creek won a judicial decision that provided compensation to the heirs of those whose land was taken unfairly.)

In 1829 Jackson became president, in part because of the popularity he had acquired from his victories over American Indians. He decided to adopt the Indian policy favored by most Southerners who wanted more land: move the remaining tribes west of the Mississippi to "Indian Territory," what today is Oklahoma. The Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Creek and the Seminole—the "Five Civilized Tribes"—each had treaties signed by the U.S. giving them control of their lands, and in 1831 the Supreme Court upheld the Cherokee land titles. But the Jackson Administration ignored these facts and forced the five tribes to move.

After Horseshoe Bend, the European American population of Georgia and Alabama continued to skyrocket. In the latter state, for example, the non-­Indian population rose from 9,000 in 1810 to 310,000 in 1830.

National Parks Service, The Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Determining the Facts

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