The War of 1812 in Alabama and the Creek War, 1813-1814

The War of 1812 took place while Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory. Alabama was involved primarily because of a civil war between the Creek Indians.

 

Causes:

The Federal Road divided the traditional Upper Creeks from more assimilated Lower Creeks.

  • Creek ownership of traditional lands was endangered as land-hungry whites moved across it or settled illegally on it.
  • The British sent Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, from the Great Lakes to unite all Indians against white Americans and form an alliance with England and Spain.
  • England and Spain incited the Creeks against American settlers and supplied Creeks with guns and ammunition.

Battles raged on the frontier between Creek “Red Sticks” and American militia led by General Andrew Jackson. The last and most famous battle, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (now a National Military Park) destroyed the strength of the Creek Nation. General Jackson forced the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, ceding some forty thousand square miles of land to the United States.

Consequences:

  • Foreign influence among Indians was destroyed.
  • United States took Mobile from Spain, the only additional land acquired in War of 1812.
  • The Fort Jackson Treaty, acquiring Creek lands, began a series of forced land-cession treaties by the United States with other southern tribes until all were removed west.
  • General Andrew Jackson became a national hero for defeating the Creeks, a victory that helped pave his way to become President of the United States.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Halbert, Henry S. and Timothy H. Ball. The Creek War of 1813-1814. 1895. Reprints, edited, with introductions and notes, by Frank L. Owsley Jr., Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 1969 and 1995.

In vivid detail, Halbert and Ball recount everything they could find about this conflict. The names of participants (their ancestors and children), locations of battles with full descriptions of gory scenes, and comments on accounts of informants and other writers make this a wonderful source. Students will find textbook accounts of the Fort Mims massacre pale compared to this one. The question of what caused the Creek conflict, whether it was a civil war brought on by factionalism between Lower Creeks and Upper Creeks, is debated.

Holland, James W. Andrew Jackson and the Creek: Victory at the Horseshoe. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1968. Reprint, 1990.

This fifty-page booklet, published to promote Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, offers a concise story of the events that brought an end to the Creek Nation in the South. Students will enjoy this well-illustrated, lively account.

Martin, Joel W. Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees’ Struggle for a New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.

Martin approaches the history of the Muskogees (Creeks) from a religious point-of-view. According to his theory, their “culture of the sacred” determined how they interacted with and reacted to Europeans and, later, Americans. To support his theory, he discusses their spiritual, economic, and social background. He compares their revolt against the Americans in the Creek War with struggles of other native Americans to retain their traditions. It is an interesting theory that can provide an introduction to the religious beliefs of the Creeks.

Wright, J. Leitch Jr. Creeks and Seminoles: The Destruction and Regeneration of the Muscogulge People. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

The names Creek and Seminole were attached to the Muscogulge people for the convenience of European and U.S. governments who wanted to address nations. The Muscogulge lived in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida—geographically close, but not unified under one leader. Although some had ancient common origins, many spoke different languages and often could not understand each other. Wright explains the background of the Muscogulges and describes their culture in language readily understood. He defines words that he believes might be unfamiliar to the general reader. He elaborates on familiar topics such as trade, relations with European powers and the U.S. government, the Creek Wars with Andrew Jackson and his pursuit of the survivors into Florida, and finally removal, dispersal, and survival. This book is an enlightening inside view of the Muscogulges’ heroic struggle for survival; it is also an indictment of the U.S. Government.

Piqua Shawnee

Piqua Shawnee Tribe

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