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Red Eagle and the Wars With the Creek Indians of Alabama 1812-1814

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Red Eagle and the Wars With the Creek Indians of Alabama 1812-1814
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Author(s): George C. Eggleston
Date Published: 2011/09
Page Count: 224
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-624-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-623-7

Red Sticks, White Sticks and the war in Alabama

The Creek Indian War, also known as the Red Stick War, took place between 1813-1814 and has been considered by many historians as part of the War of 1812. The Creek—or Muscogee—Indians of Alabama were effectively waging a civil war among themselves. One militant faction, the so called Red Sticks, proposed an aggressive return to the traditional life of their forebears and an end to treaties with and concessions to pioneer settlers represented by the United States government. The White Sticks, opting for peace, inevitably took the opposing view. Although the conflict began as one between the indigenous Indians, American forces, under the soon to be famous Andrew Jackson among others, were drawn into the conflict because much of the animosity was focussed on pioneer settlements. The conflict started in the usual manner of American Indian Wars—with the murder of settler families. The inevitable revenge and retribution that followed—and an escalation of the kind of merciless savagery the Americans had come to expect—culminated in the massacre of 500 settlers, friendly Indians, mixed blood Creeks and soldiers at Fort Mims in an attack led by the Red Stick war leader, Red Eagle. Other forts were also attacked. Panic spread through the region exacerbated by the inability of the Federal government to provide ready aid since it was engaged against the British and their Indian allies to the east. As a consequence much of the fighting was undertaken by militias from Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi supported by White Stick allies. National hero, Davy Crockett, also served in this conflict. The war ended in a victory for the Americans and put Andrew Jackson on a path to the presidency and the White House. It was a disaster for the entire Creek Indian tribe—irrespective of their allegiances—who paid for the conflict through the confiscation of vast tracts of their traditional lands.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

We left Red Eagle at the head of his men, within a short distance of the fort, quietly contemplating it. His prey was apparently within his grasp and his men were ready, but still Red Eagle waited, repressing the eagerness of his followers sternly. The people in the fort were singing, playing games, and occupying themselves in every way but the soldierly one. They were not on the alert—they were completely off their guard. Apparently the time had come to strike, but Red Eagle knew his business, and waited. He knew that to take a stockade fortress without the aid of artillery he must surprise the garrison completely, and this was what he sought to do by delay.<br>
Noon came, and with it came the drum for dinner. That was the signal Red Eagle had been waiting for. It was not enough that the garrison should be listlessly off guard. Red Eagle wished them to be occupied with something else, and now they were going to dinner. Giving them time enough collect for that purpose, the Indian commander advanced his line, doing so quietly, contrary to the Indian habit. He was determined to make the surprise as complete as possible. In this way the Indian line, running rapidly forward, reached a point within thirty yards of the open gates before their approach was discovered by anybody within. Then the few men who happened to be near enough made an attempt to close the gate; but it was too late, even if the accumulated sand at its foot had not prevented. The Indians rushed in pell-mell, and almost in the instant of discovering their presence Major Beasley learned that they were already within the outer lines of his defensive works.<br>
Luckily there was a second line of picketing at this point, partly completed, which prevented the immediate passage of the Indians to all parts of the fort, and gave the whites a defensive work from which to fight their foes. Major Beasley was at last awake to the reality of the danger of which Claiborne had warned him repeatedly, his last warning having come in a letter which Beasley had received only the day before, and to which he had replied that he was prepared to repel the attack of any force which might come against his fortress. If he had scorned this danger culpably, and had neglected to provide against it as he should have done, he at least did what a brave man could to repel it, now that it had come. He was among the first to confront the enemy, and among the first to fall, mortally wounded. He rejected all offers of assistance and refused to be carried into the interior of the fort, preferring to remain where he was to animate the troops by his presence and to direct their operations. He continued thus to command them until the breath left his body.<br>
The fighting was terrible. It was not two bodies of troops struggling for possession of some strategic point, but a horde of savages battling with a devoted band of white men in a struggle the only issue of which was death. The savages fought not to conquer but to kill the whites, every one, women and children as well as men; and the whites fought with the desperation of doomed men whose only chance of life was in victory. It was hand-to-hand fighting, too. It was fighting with knives and tomahawks and clubbed guns. Men grappled with each other, to relinquish their hold only in death. <br>
Several Indian prophets were among the first of the savages to fall, and for a time their death spread consternation among their followers. These prophets had confidently told the Indians that their sacred bodies were invulnerable; that the bullets of white men would split upon them, doing no harm. When they went down before the first volley, therefore, the utter failure of their prophecy caused the Indians to lose faith in the cause, and they were ready like children to abandon it in their fright. Red Eagle was a man of different mettle. He had used these wretched false prophets to aid him in stirring the enthusiasm of the Creeks, but he had never believed their silly pretences. With such a commander the Creeks soon recovered their courage, and the fight went on.