Days Gone By - stories from the past

A legendary fight took place on this date in Alabama

Captain Sam Dale – Alabama Pioneer

Captain Sam Dale - Alabama Pioneer
Captain Sam Dale – Alabama Pioneer

An episode of the Creek Indian War, November 12, 1813. Following Fort Mims massacre, numerous depredations were made by Indians throughout the entire settled sections of the country, temporary forts were erected, and a general unrest prevailed. However, events were slowly maturing for relief. Among the settlers themselves, brave and adventurous spirits rallied the people, and many thrilling examples of daring are recorded.


Capt. Samuel Dale organized a scouting party and set out from Fort Madison toward the river to drive out the Indians. During the first day, many traces of the latter had been found about the abandoned plantations.Fort_Madison

The next day the party marched to Brazier’s Landing (now French’s), and at night crossed over to the eastern bank. Jerry Austill and some others were directed to row the canoes up stream. He reached Randon’s plantation ahead of those on the shore.

canoe fight marker

As they advanced Capt. Dale and his company encountered a number of Indians, who retreated under a hot fire. The entire command then crossed to the west bank, except Capt. Dale and eleven others. Just as they were preparing something to eat, a canoe of eleven warriors swept down the stream apparently with the intention of joining a number of other Indians, in order to attack from the rear. Dale and some of his party opened fire upon the boatload of savages, but without injury. About this time two of the Indians swam ashore higher up. One was killed by James Smith.canoe fight marker2

Dale then ordered the larger canoe brought across. Eight men started over but turned back on seeing the number in the Indian canoe. This exasperated Dale,and he sprang into the smaller boat followed by Smith and Jerry Austill. A negro of the party, named Caesar, was already in the boat, and by Dale’s direction, he rapidly paddled the canoe towards the Indians. Within twenty yards the Americans rose for a broadside, but only Smith’s gun fired, as the priming of the other two had been dampened by the water from the river. Caesar courageously pushed the boat alongside the Indians and bravely held them together during the rest of the engagement. When the canoes were about to meet prow to prow, the chief recognized Dale and shouted in English, “Now for it, Big Sam.”canoe fight place

Instantly both parties were in a fierce combat, mainly with clubbed guns. Because of the crowded boat, the Indians were a little at a disadvantage although they fought viciously. Austill struck at the chief with his gun, but without effect. At the same moment, the clubbed rifles of Smith and Dale came down on his head causing instant death. The rifle barrel in hand.canoe fight

Dale fought with demon-like fury. Austill and Smith fought with equal valor, and although they were badly bruised and had several contused wounds, the three white men and Caesar all escaped, while their nine antagonists were destroyed. One Indian had fallen into the river during the combat, and the others were then thrown overboard. According to witnesses, Dale’s men cheered as the bodies of the dead warriors were cast into the river. The expedition then marched to Cornell’s Ferry, but later returned to Fort Madison.

Samuel Dale’s leading role in the ‘Canoe Fight’ attained hero status, making him as legendary to early Alabamians as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were to Kentuckians and Tennesseans, respectively. Dale went on to serve as a delegate in the convention that divided the Mississippi Territory into Alabama and Mississippi, represented Monroe County for several years in the Alabama General Assembly, and was conferred the rank of brigadier general in the Alabama militia. He later moved to Lauderdale County in Mississippi, where he died in 1841.

Jeremiah Austill

Jeremiah Austill

After the Creek War, Jeremiah Austill clerked in his uncle’s store in St. Stephens, served as Clerk of the Mobile County Court, represented Mobile in the state legislature, commenced a business as a commission merchant, and ran a plantation on the Tombigbee River.

Austill lived and worked for many years on his plantation where he died in 1879 at the age of 86. Very little is known about James Smith other than he was a native of Georgia and took part in several frontier expeditions that involved skirmishes with Indians during the Creek War. Smith moved to Mississippi after the war where he lived until his death.

 

 

SOURCES

  1. Pickett’s History of Alabama (Owen ed. 1900), pp. 560-573; Brewer, Alabama (1873), p. 435; Halbert and Ball, Creek War of 1X13 awi 181.}, (1895), pp. 229-240; Hamilton, Colonial Mobile (1910), p. 422; Alabama Historical Reporter, Aug., 1884, vol. 2; Arts, 1821, p. 115.
  2.  DuBose, John Campbell. Sketches of Alabama History. Philadelphia: Eldredge & Brother, 1901.
  3. Halbert, H. S. and Ball, T. H., The Creek War of 1813 and 1814, ed. Frank L. Owsley, Jr. 1895. Reprint, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.
  4. Pickett, Albert James. History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi From the Earliest Period. 1851. Reprint, Birmingham, Ala.: Birmingham Book and Magazine Co., 1962.

 

 

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

 

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VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past


By (author): Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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21 comments

  1. […] first county seat was at Fort Dale, a fortification that was named for Sam Dale, who fought to defend the area during the Creek War. The site of Fort Dale lies on the north of the […]

  2. […] Austill ((1793- 1881) was one of the participants of the famous Canoe Fight that took place in Alabama in 1813. We hear his actual words in this autobiography from him. The […]

  3. […] and the second part of the article transcribed here tells his personal version of the legendary canoe fight.   (continued from Part […]

  4. […] Austill ((1793- 1881) was one of the participants of the famous Canoe Fight that took place in Alabama in 1813. We hear his actual words in this autobiography from him. The […]

  5. […] Austill ((1793- 1881) was one of the participants of the famous Canoe Fight that took place in Alabama in 1813. We hear his actual words in this autobiography from him. The […]

  6. […] when I found this autobiography of Margaret Eades. She was the wife of Jeremiah Austill of the Legendary Canoe Fight. She, like her husband was an early pioneers of Alabama. In this autobiography we hear her actual […]

  7. […] Eades was the wife of Jeremiah Austill of the Legendary Canoe Fight. She, like her husband was an early pioneers of Alabama. In this autobiography we hear her actual […]

  8. […] Eades was the wife of Jeremiah Austill of the Legendary Canoe Fight. She, like her husband was an early pioneers of Alabama. In this autobiography we hear her actual […]

  9. Anne Terry

    So many sides of the story to tell! So many broken treaties! So many divisions amongst groups within the Creek Nation! Divide and conquer?

  10. Michael Stallings

    the creek indian war was mostly a creek civi war hardly anyone mentions that almost half the people at ft mims were other creeks….it was just another excuse in the goverments excuse in the attempted genocide of the indians

    1. Michael Stallings

      and one more note no one ever mentions what the white settlers did to the creeks to provoke the attack in the first place

  11. Robert Robinson

    Imagine having your land stolen.

  12. Florence Tarrant

    Leonard Tarrant was the Creek Indian agent from Talladega in 1834. He got with the tribe and got 12 Indian boys together to attend the Choctaw Academy in Tennessee to be educated and taught a profession . The Tarrants’ played a big part in Ala. history, but finding any information about them is just impossible.

  13. Ronald A. Jacobson

    Need to send this one to the City Commisioners in Mobile,Al.
    They know what it’s like to fight such a battle, in such a small place!

  14. Randy Rooks

    Andrew Jackson was a liar and broke his promises to the very people that helped him win this battle !

  15. Marie Wehunt Frazier

    Such a same – reading your heading Mims massacre is enough for me to not want to read this article. Genocide at its best.

  16. Memories of E.S. Liles 1941: Grand-nephew of Jim Smith. Jim Smith told that 11 indians were on the raft, Smith, Dale, & Austill were on the bank, having just eaten coon meat prepared by an elderly Negro man. His remaining story is consistent with many accounts. Jim Smith’s trusty flintlock was damaged in the fight. The stock was broken and the barrel bent. The gun remained at Liles’ grandmother’s home in Conecuh, then passed to grandmother’s sister, Aunt Reny, then Betsy Dickson, d/o Aunt Reny got the gun where E.S. Lile’s father came into possession. The gun was sent to Crutiner’s Gun Shop in Montgomery for repair. The barrel was straightened after both end were removed, smoothed and rerifled creating a shorter weapon. A patent breech was installed along with a new stock and the weapon fired perfectly. Monroe Fortner bought the gun for $13. at E.S. Lilies’s home near Mt. Union, Ala. Having moved to Covington county on the road to Dale, the family was visited on several occasions by Sam Dale. E.S. Liles went to Mobile to attend the funeral of the granddaughter (or niece) of Jere Austell. (may not be accurate)The visit was the last by any member of the Jim Smith family with any participant of the canoe fight. The weapon location is said to be in Evergreen in possession of a lady named Darby in 1941.

  17. You mention everyone in the canoe but Caesar. Who was he? What happened to him after the conflict? It seems he played his role as well as the others.

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