Days Gone By - stories from the past

The Breaking Point for the Native-Americans

The following is an Excerpt from ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS: Confrontation –
(Excerpt continued below)

The Breaking Point

The hunting grounds of the Creeks once stretched across Georgia; but by treaties, first with Georgia and then with the United States, the bounds had been narrowed until in 1800 they were the Tennessee river, the western half of Georgia, and the Mississippi. Territory.

Benjamin Hawkins presided as agent for the United States over the Native Americans at the time. He had been appointed in 1796, and following the policy of the Government, he had taught the Native Americans how to plow and sow, raise crops, spin cotton, and even persuaded them to adopt a sort of national organization for the purpose of preserving peace and enforcing law.

Map of Indian Lands 1802 (Library of Congress)

In 1800, many of the Native Americans in what would become Alabama, dwelt in villages and owned farms, cattle, slaves, and knew the use of many implements of agriculture. Most of these villages, perhaps two-thirds of them, belonged to the Upper Creeks and were scattered along the banks of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers in the heart of what is now Alabama. The Lower Creek towns were on the Chattahoochee.

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Hawkins had established a strong connection with the Native Americans and felt secure that they would never take up the tomahawk and give serious trouble. He knew the visit of Tecumseh had greatly excited the young warriors and that the prophets in the villages were busy teaching the young men in the villages war songs and dances of the Indians of the Great Lakes, but the old chiefs were peaceful and vigilant. No one was more surprised than Hawkins when he heard that the whole Upper Creek country was rising for war.

According to John Bach McMaster, the following series of events led to their war plans. The first began shortly after Tecumseh’s visit.

In 1812, the Creek Nation dispatched a half dozen Indians on a mission to the Chickasaws. Little Warrior, a headman of a town called Wewocan, led the mission. Having delivered their “talk”, they should have returned back to the Creek Nation in present day Alabama, but Little Warrior took them northward and joined Tecumseh at Malden. They were present at the massacre at the river Raisin, also known as the Battle of Frenchtown on January 18, 1813.

This massacre was a series of conflicts between the United States and a British and Native American alliance near the Rasin River in Frenchtown, Michgan Territory. Tecumseh commanded the native forces that fought in the battle, although he was not in Frenchtown at the time of the battle. This was the deadliest conflict recorded on Michigan soil, and the casualties included the highest number of Americans killed in a single battle during the War of 1812.

The group, exhilarated from the recent conflict, returned homeward and they carried “talks” from the British and the Shawnee, as well as a letter from a British officer at Malden to the Spanish officials at Pensacola. Crossing the present State of Illinois, Little Warrior and his band reached the Ohio River early in February and some seven miles above the mouth of the river they came upon the cabins of families of settlers.

Still excited from the success of their conflict at Raisin, the Native Americans murdered these settlers on February 9, 1813. The band then crossed the Ohio, and hurried through the Chickasaw country, boasting of their deed as they went, and by the middle of March, they were once more on the Coosa River in Alabama.

Since Little Warrior had “talks” from the British, the chiefs all met with him at Tuckabatchie to hear them. The chiefs at the gathering were surprised to also receive a letter from the Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins complaining of the murders of the settlers on the Ohio River. As per the custom between the Americans and Native Americans at the time, Hawkins demanded the delivery of the seven murderers so they could be tried. The accused men immediately took off to the woods, but the chiefs declared them guilty, decreed death, and sent out two parties of warriors to carry out the sentence. Chief McIntosh commanded one party while Captain Isaacs led the other. Within a few days, all seven were dead.

Chief McIntosh

The incident and dire punishment caused much excitement in the Indian Nation and war dances continued in earnest. The Nation was ripe for a civil war—a war of factions among themselves; it only needed a spark to create an explosion, and the spark was not long in coming. Outrages against friendly Native Americans and white settlers which were designed to force a war were committed. A United States mail-carrier was killed as he was traveling to Pensacola and the contents of his bags were stolen.

Prophets and orators in the Indian Nation denounced the “peacefuls,” as they called the Creeks opposed to war. The old chiefs noticed the excitement and sent a message to the Alabamas, a small tribe living at the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers who were greatly influenced by the prophets, particularly Red Eagle (also known as William Weatherford).

The old chiefs said, “We have heard much of what is going on among you, and how the Great Spirit comes in the sun and speaks to you. Let us see and hear some of these things, that we also may believe.”

However, the Alabamas were in no state of mind to hear the message from the old chiefs. They killed the runner and sent his scalp about among their friends. Still the peaceful Native Americans remained true to their allegiance and fought their hostile brethren when the occasion required.

The killing of Little Warrior seemed to be the breaking point and the pent-up anger and excitement since Tecumseh’s visit broke out. Every warrior who had borne a part in killing the murderers was driven from the country. Even the Tuckabatchee chiefs fled to Coweta and sought protection from Benjamin Hawkins.

About two thousand Native Americans, armed with red sticks and war clubs set out to kill all who had aided in putting Little Warrior and his band to death. They planned to destroy Tuckabatchee and Coweta, march against the whites, and not leave one white man or friendly Native American living between the Chattahoochee and the sea. The warriors were called ‘Red Sticks’ because of the red sticks they carried, and along with bows, arrow, and the magic of the prophets, they were determined that they would be successful.


Other 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