BATTLE OF CALEBEEi
During the Creek Indian War, that had begun August 30, 1813, with the Indian attack on Fort Mims, an engagement took place between the Georgia militia, under Gen. Floyd,1 and the Creek Indians, January 27, 1814, on Calebee Creek, about 7 miles from the present town of Tuskegee, Macon County. After the battle of Autossee, November 29, 1813, and his retreat to Fort Mitchell, Gen. Floyd remained inactive about 6 weeks awaiting food and recovering from sickness.
The Indians fortified themselves in large numbers
On receiving necessary supplies, and recruiting his forces, with about 1,227 men, a company of cavalry, and 400 friendly Indians, he set out on another campaign. He moved along the line of the old federal road, establishing Fort Bainbrldge in Russell, and Fort Hull in the Macon County.
News was received that the Indians were fortifying themselves in large numbers at Hoithlewallee. On January 26 he encamped in a pine forest, upon the high land bordering Calebee Swamp. The hostile Indians were on the same date encamped in what was subsequently known as McGirth’s Still House branch. Here they held a council. Their numbers had increased to 1,800 warriors, probably the largest force assembled during the Creek war. Many were without guns, and were armed with war-clubs, bows and arrows.
William Weatherford’s grave (from Alabama Department of Archives and History)
William Weatherford was present and addressed the council. He proposed that the Indians wait until Gen. Floyd’s army had crossed Calebee Creek. Weatherford’s advice was rejected, and he left the council, and started back to Polecat Spring. About an hour and a half before daybreak on the morning of January 27, the Indians stealthily approached the camp, with Red Stick leader Paddy Welsh directing the attack.
The Indians made a fierce rush upon the main body
They fired upon the sentinels and made a fierce rush upon the main body. A general action immediately followed. Although surprised, Gen. Floyd’s troops were quickly organized. Floyd shouted “Cheer up boys, we will give them hell when daylight comes,” i and with the aid of the cannon repulsed them. The Indians made desperate efforts to capture the cannon, and in consequence the artillerymen suffered very severely.
Ezekiel M. Attaway, one of the three men with the guns, shouted to his fellow soldiers, “We must not give up the gun, boys. Seize the first weapon you can lay your hands upon, and stick to your post until the last.”ii While the redsticks were thus bravely fighting, the friendly Indians with the exception of Capt. Timpochee Barnard and his Uchees, who assisted Captain John Broadnax’s picket guard, acted in a cowardly way.
Timpoochee Barnard gravestone
General Floyd reorganized
About daylight Gen. Floyd reorganized his lines, and ordered a general charge. The Indians gave way before the bayonet, and they were pursued through the swamp by the Captain Duke Hamilton’s cavalry, by some of the rifle companies and by some of the friendly Indians.
The Indian losses are not known, but 70 bodies were found upon the field, including High Head Jim, a major chief and Paddy Welsh was seriously wounded. The American loss was 17 killed, and 132 wounded. The friendly Indians lost 5 killed and 15 wounded. Captain Jett Thomas’ artillery Company fought bravely in the battle. The unexpected engagement on the Calebee thwarted Gen. Floyd’s designs against Hoithlewallee. He thereupon retreated to Fort Hull, in which he left a small garrison. He then returned to Fort Mitchell. After the withdrawal of Gen. Floyd the Creeks took possession of the battlefield. The retreat and abandonment of the campaign gave the Indians the impression that they had won the victory.
- References.—Russell, History of the Late War (1815), p. 242; Brackenridge, History of the Late War (1844), p. 193;
- White, Historical Collections of Georgia (1855), pp. 290-292;
- Pickett. History of Alabama (Owen’s ed., 1900), pp. 584-586;
- Woodward, Reminiscences of the Creek Indians (1859), pp. 101, 102;
- The Atlanta Constitution, April 30, 1905.
i History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, Volume 1 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen
ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1)is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.
Some stories include:
- The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
- The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
- Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
- Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
- Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement