Days Gone By - stories from the past

Native American William Weatherford lived with Andrew Jackson after the war

Excerpt from ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS: Confrontation (Story continued below)


Having made peace with Red Eagle (William Weatherford), after the Creek Indian War, General Andrew Jackson gave him protection which was necessary while he was in a camp filled with the friendly Indians, whose hatred of the warrior was undying.

William Weatherford's grave

Red Eagle busied himself at once in the pacification of the country, as he had assured Jackson that he would do, and to his great influence, in a large measure, the prompt acquiescence of the Creeks with the terms of peace was due. Afterwards, Red Eagle returned to his plantation near Fort Mims and resume his life as a planter.

Weatherford went to Fort Claiborne for protection

However, his foes among the friendly Native Americans who had sided with the whites were prevalent and that their thirst for his blood made his peaceful stay there impossible. Weatherford finally went to Fort Claiborne and put himself under the protection of the commanding officer there, who assigned him a tent near his own and a body-guard for his protection. He remained at Fort Claiborne for ten or fifteen days, but there were still so many persons in the camp who had lost friends at Fort Mims, and who were determined to take the Creek chieftain’s life, that his protector feared to keep him at the fort longer.

William_Weatherford

He was removed in secrecy from the Fort in the dead of night and taken beyond the camp lines where Captain Laval arranged to escort him to a tree outside the posts. A powerful horse was provided, and Red Eagle mounted the animal and galloped away in the darkness to General Jackson’s camp.1

At General Jackson’s camp

When he arrived, he was received by the Tennessee general with the respect due to a gallant soldier, and there he remained under Jackson’s watchful care until after the signing of the treaty of August 9th, 1814, by which the Creeks gave up all the southern part of their territory.

“The treaty was exacted nominally as an indemnity to the government for the expenses of the war, but the real purpose was to plant a strong and continuous line of white settlements between the Creeks and their bad advisers, the Spanish, at Pensacola. By these means, Jackson, who managed the affair, made impossible any future renewal of the war to which he had put an end by arms.”

Andrew Jackson took Red Eagle to his home in Tennessee

“When the treaty was concluded, Jackson’s mission was done, and he returned to his Tennessee home—the Hermitage, and took Red Eagle with him as his guest in order that the chieftain might be safe from the assassination with which he was still threatened. Jackson carefully concealed the fact of his presence. For nearly a year the two commanders who had fought each other so fiercely lived together as friends under one roof, the conquered the guest of the conqueror.”2

The_HermitageCreativeCommonsThe Hermitage – home of President Andrew Jackson

When Weatherford returned to Alabama, he established himself as a planter. His relatives had saved much of his property for him and by wise management, he recovered his fortunes and became again a man of considerable wealth.

Always on the side of law and order

“Red Eagle had been overcome in war, and was disposed to maintain the peace, in accordance with his promise; but his spirit was not broken, and none of his courage had gone out of him.”3

His influence was always on the side of law and order. On one occasion a very brutal assassination was committed at a public sale by two ruffians of the most desperate border type. A magistrate summoned the people as a posse comitatus to arrest the offenders, but they so violently swore that they would kill anyone who should approach them. No man dared attempt the duty. Red Eagle, who was present, expressed his indignation at the murder, and his contempt for the fears of the bystanders, and volunteered to make the arrest if ordered by the magistrate to do so.

Hermitage sign

The magistrate gave the order, and drawing a long, silver-handled knife, which was his only weapon, Weatherford advanced upon the murderers, who warned him off, swearing that they would kill him if he should advance. Without a sign of hesitation, and with a calm look of resolution in his countenance which appalled even his desperate antagonists, he stepped quickly up to one of them and seized him by the throat, calling to the bystanders to ”tie the rascal.” Then going up to the other he arrested him, the desperado saying as he approached: “I will not resist you, Billy Weatherford.”

Lived in peace and friendship

Weatherford’s plantation was among the white settlements, and the country round about him rapidly filled up with white people, among whom the warrior lived in peace and friendship. Mr. Meek writes of him at this time in these words:

“The character of the man seemed to have been changed by the war. He was no longer cruel, vindictive, idle, intemperate, or fond of display: but surrounded by his family he preserved a dignified and retiring demeanor; was industrious, sober, and economical; and was a kind and indulgent master to his servants, of whom he had many. A gentleman who had favorable opportunities of judging says of him that ‘ in his intercourse with the whites his bearing was marked by nobleness of purpose, and his conduct was always honorable. No man was more fastidious in complying with his engagements. His word was by him held to be more sacred than the most binding legal obligation. Art and dissimulation formed no part of his character. Ever frank and guileless, no one had the more entire confidence of those among whom he lived. 4

William Weatherford's gravesiteWilliam Weatherford’s gravesite in Baldwin County, Alabama (findagrave.com)

Another gentleman who knew Weatherford intimately for a number of years informs me that ‘ he possessed remarkable intellectual powers; that his perceptions were quick almost to intuition, his memory tenacious, his imagination vivid, his judgment strong and accurate, and his language copious, fluent, and expressive. In short,’ he says, ‘ Weatherford possessed naturally one of the finest minds our country has produced.’ These traits of character exhibited for a number of years won for their possessor the esteem and respect of those who knew him, notwithstanding the circumstances of his earlier life. Indeed those circumstances threw around the man a romance of character which made him the more attractive. After the bitterness which the war engendered had subsided his narratives were listened to with interest and curiosity.’ Though unwilling generally to speak of his adventures, he would, when his confidence was obtained, describe them with a graphic particularity and coloring which gave an insight into conditions of life and phases of character of which we can now only see the outside. He always extenuated his conduct at Fort Mims and during the war under the plea that the first transgressions were committed by the white people, and that he was fighting for the liberties of his nation. He also asserted that he was reluctantly forced into the war.”5

Red Eagle died on the 9th of March, 1824, from over-fatigue in a bear-hunt. He left a large family of children.

1Eggleston, George Cary, Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1878

2Eggleston, George Cary, Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1878 and according to Dr. Marion Elisha Tarvin, William’s half brother, David Tate (Tarvin’s grandfather) was the only man in AL who knew where Weatherford was during his stay at the Hermitage. rootsweb ancestry.com

3Eggleston, George Cary, Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1878

4Eggleston, George Cary, Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1878

5Eggleston, George Cary, Red Eagle and the Wars with the Creek Indians of Alabama, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1878

This story and more about the Creek Indian War can be found in ALABAMA PIONEERS Confrontation

Other stories 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

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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27 comments

  1. Laura Hubbard Aldridge

    Chuck Harrison Becky Thigpen-Harrison

  2. Wayne Kimble

    Andrew Jackson was an Indian hatter things he did to native Americans are unforgivable

  3. Annette Weeks Otts

    I have been to this grave site. It is on the bank of the Alabama River south of Monroeville.

  4. Annette Weeks Otts

    His mother is buried by him.

  5. Jo Thomas

    His Mother is Princess Sehoy of the influential Wind Clan. Princess Sehoy Chapter DAR in Birmingham is named in her honor. There were three generations of Princess Sehoys and they were among the most powerful wonen in many eras of Alabama history.

  6. Faye Sheffield Pettis

    Is he the one that LEDs the war against Fort Mims

  7. Debbie Allen

    My family and I have been to this site many years ago, the trees around it has moss hanging out of it and the big stones outline the graves it is a very calming place. If you get the chance to visit. We own a newspaper and have done sereval stories on the Creek Indian War. From Burnt Corn to P. Cola. They hold a festival every year at the site of Fort Mims it’s a wonderful story set on the banks of the Alabama River.

  8. Debbie Allen

    You may also be lucky enough to find one of our newspapers The Monthly View at one of the places with the story in it. Check out the Chamber of Commerce in that area…

  9. Hank Roberts

    I sure like the story but there is some doubt as to its historical accuracy…The main story of this was written by my great grandfather, James Denney Driesbach years after the event in question.

    1. Cousin’ Jamie as he was called either in person or not and Mrs. Christine were related to my family-Scott’s and Englishes through the Driesbach’s. I knew Mrs. Christine when I was young but only new Cuddin’ Jamey through family recollections at gatherings and funerals.

  10. Jared Edens

    Andrew Jackson was a piece of crap

  11. Thank you for this and your work in genealogy. I had always heard stories about Red Eagle while growing up, but I never knew how many were true, or if they were victim to exaggeration, but I definitely learned some new things! I appreciate the time you spent researching and writing this article. I hope you write more about Red Eagle and the Creek Nation. If you have a book available with more insight and stories about William Red Eagle Weatherford, or if you’re interested in writing one, please let me know.

    1. Thanks Will! I bet you have a lot of stories too.

    1. Kayli Joi Carroll

      Wind Clan for life!! Lol

  12. Chip Brown
  13. Don Blakeley

    Jackson killed a lot of people!

  14. David Barrow

    Weatherford was not known as Red Eagle in his time. That comes from a dime novel written well after the fact. He was known among the Creeks as Truth Maker or Yellow Billy.

  15. Josh Giles

    Stephanie Burton my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather

  16. Darby Weaver

    Look up William Weatherford and the American State Papers and Nancy Fisher

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