The Fort Mims massacre was a battle that occurred on 30 August 1813 during the Creek War, when a force of Creek Indians, belonging to the “Red Sticks” faction under the command of head warriors Peter McQueen and William Weatherford, or Lamochattee (Red Eagle), stormed the fort and defeated the militia garrison.
Fort Mims was located 35 miles north of Mobile
After the defeat of the garrison there ensued a massacre and almost all of the remaining Lower Creek, white settlers, and militia at Fort Mims were killed. The fort was a stockade with a blockhouse surrounding the house and outbuildings of the settler Samuel Mims, located about 35 miles north of present-day Mobile, Alabama.
Fort Mims is located approximately seven miles west of Tensaw in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Letter describes what took place
Below is a transcription of a letter from Dr. Neal Smith from St. Stephens, Miss. Territory, to James Smiley, discussing the fall of Fort Mims and General Claiborne’s battle with the Creek Nation at Holy Ground, Miss. Territory.
Dr. Neal Smith was a doctor in Clarke County, Alabama.
Dr. Neal Smith ca. 1840 (Alabama State Archives)
The original letter is at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
In the letter Dr. Smith discusses the fall of Fort Mims and a battle led by General Claiborne against the Creek Indians at Holy Ground. Though the letter is dated 1813, it was probably written in 1814: he says that the fight took place on December 23, and the Battle of Holy Ground of the Creek War took place on that date in 1813. He wrote the letter in early January, so he may have forgotten to use the new year.
January 8th 1813
A few days after the fall of Fort Mims I wrote you a few lines stating to you that circumstance and the distress of the citizens in this part of the country. I now write you a second letter which I hope you will receive and give an answer in return.
The troops in this part of the country are now idle as they have just returned from taking tower [tour] through the Indian Nation. On the 23rd of December last, General Claiborne with the forces under his command which was composed of the 3rd Regt. the twelve months Volunteers, the mounted Riflemen from the west of Pearle River and the Indians of this part & composing in all eight or nine Hundred-had a small Battle within the Creek Nation at the place called the Holy Ground; they killed about twenty Indians and Negroes on the grounds on the part of the whites one killed and five wounded.
Amongst the slain of the Indians was found one of the Shawnee Prophets who was said first to have raised the disturbance with the whites, a singer in the Creek Nation – and the leading prophet of the Creeks was said to have been mortally wounded and dropt a noted gun which was well known. They also destroyed two other small towns Weatherfords & Menacks one Negroe and two squaws were taken prisoners. Those credulous savages, through the influence of their Prophets was induced to believe that the wholy ground was their place of safty where they should stand and see the whites and the ground on which they stood fall when ever they would come to attack them. They therefore made it a place of deposit for all their valuable plunder which was destroyed and taken away and amongst the rest from twelve to fifteen hundred Barrels of corn In the midst of the public square as an ornament to their new town was histed a great number of white scalps of every description from the infant to the grey head. The whites had it in their power to have done much more damage to the Indian had they not have been disappointed by an infamous character who was employed as a contractor and deceived the whole troops in furnishing them with provision—they had to live eight or ten day on bread alone and part of the time on parched corn alone.
During the campaign I acted as surgeon to the militia and I am now preparing to settle again at the Pine Level and return to my private practice which is much more agreeable than taking campaigns through the Indian Nation or warfaring. Give my compliments to my sister and Brother tell them that I shall not go to Carolina this season and if I do not get married it is probable that I shall go and see them in the spring.
Yours with all due Respect etc.
Recv’d James Smiley
Below is a picture of Dr. Spruce McCall Osborne Osborne was a second lieutenant and an assistant surgeon in the United States Army. He was killed in the massacre at Fort Mims.
Engraving of a painting depicting the massacre at Fort Mims on August 30, 1813 (Alabama State Archives)
Read another account of Fort Mims massacre by Margaret Austill, Jeremiah Austill’s wife.
Alabama Footprints Confrontation is a collection of lost and forgotten stories that reveals why and how the confrontation between the Native American population and settlers developed into the Creek-Indian War as well as stories of the bravery and heroism of participants from both sides.
Some stores include:
- Tecumseh Causes Earthquake
- Terrified Settlers Abandon Farms
- Survivor Stories From Fort Mims Massacre
- Hillabee Massacre
- Threat of Starvation Men Turn To Mutiny
- Red Eagle After The War