HOLY GROUND CAMPAIGN AND BATTLE
The principal campaign and engagement between the Creeks and the whites in South Alabama, continuing for several weeks and concluding with the battle of the Holy Ground, December 23, 1813.
The Holy Ground, or Ikanatchaka, was an Indian town of controlling influence among the Indians, during the Creek Indian War of 1813-14. It was located between Pintlala and Big Swamp Creek, on the Alabama River in the present Lowndes County. It was about two miles north of White Hall. The town contained the council house of the Alabama tribe and was the residence of the principal Creek prophets, who with their magic spells at the opening of the War, had asserted that it had been made holy or was consecrated against the intrusion of white men. Until its destruction, it was a base for provisions and war supplies of the Creeks in their operations against the settlers.
Site of Holy Ground, a Creek Indian settlement in present-day Lowndes County, Alabama ca. 1930 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Indians took precautions
Gen. F. L. Claiborne then in south Alabama resolved that the Holy Ground must be destroyed. In November 1813, he marched with his army from the Tombigbee to Weatherford’s Bluff on the Alabama, where he established a depot of provisions for Gen. Jackson and erected a fort, to which the name Fort Claiborne was given. Here on November 28, his army was reinforced by the 3d United States Infantry Regiment under Col. Gilbert Christian Russell. On December 13, in obedience to instructions from Gen. Thomas Flournoy, Gen. Claiborne advanced his forces from Fort Claiborne toward the Holy Ground. After several days’ march, a brief halt was made in the present Butler County, where a depot was established, known as Fort Deposit, where he left his wagons, cannon, baggage, and the sick, with 100 men as a guard. The march was then resumed.
The Indians on learning of the approach of Gen. Claiborne’s army took the precautions to move their women and children across the Alabama River into what is now Autauga County. They thus evidenced their unwillingness to put much faith in their vaunted belief as to the impregnability of the town. About midday December 23, the town was attacked. The battle lasted only about one hour, resulting in a complete defeat, the Indians making good their escape across the river, leaving 33 warriors slain. The number of wounded is not known, as they succeeded in bearing them all away. William Weatherford, the “Red Eagle,” had conducted the defense of the Holy Ground, and was one of the last to make an escape. His famous horseback leap from the river in making his escape was one of the picturesque incidents of the Creek War.
The American loss at the Holy Ground was 1 killed and 20 wounded. This extremely light loss, considering the bravery with which the Creeks fought, must be ascribed to the scarcity of ammunition among them, which compelled many of the warriors to have resort to bows and arrows.
Spoils were given to Gen. Claiborne
The spoils of the Holy Ground were given by Gen. Claiborne to his Choctaw allies, and the town was then burned. The two succeeding days were devoted to the destruction of other towns of the Holy Ground and vicinity, and .the Indian farms and boats.
The defeat of the Creeks at the Holy Ground closed their military operations in south Alabama, and it tended greatly to facilitate the work of Gen. Jackson in bringing the war to a close, three months later, by the decisive Battle of the Horseshoe Bend. After the battle, the army returned to Fort Claiborne, where many of the volunteers were honorably discharged, their term of service having expired.
- The Yazoo land fraud;
- Daily life as an Alabama pioneer;
- The capture and arrest of Vice-president AaronBurr;
- The early life of William Barrett Travis in Alabama, hero of the Alamo;
- Description of Native Americans of early Alabama including the visit by Tecumseh;
- Treaties and building the first roads in Alabama.
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