One of the worst massacre in American History took place at Fort Mims. Alabama in the year 1813 that shocked and saddened the nation. These stories are important because past events often stay past events until historical researchers bring them to surface.
A total of 516 men, women and children were slaughtered at high noon Aug. 30, 1813.
The massacre too place in Baldwin County just one month after the Battle of Burnt Corn located some 50 miles from Tensaw in the same county.
Burnt Corn Battle was under the command of of Col. James Caller and the Creek Indians who at the time were a powerful and proud nation. This historical conflict involving Spain, France, Great Britain and the United States ended in an embarrassing and disastrous defeat for the Americans putting fear in the surrounding areas and the entire region of Alabama.
Fort Mims was on guard that something was going to happen but when was unknown.
Sentries kept a sharp lookout for trouble. The day before the massacre, Aug. 29 two men were sent outside the Fort to herd cattle. They spotted Indians. Running back to the Fort as fast as they could they made it to safety and reported what they saw. They reported seeing an unknown number of indians wearing war paint.
A detachment of horsemen were sent out to search there area but found no trace of indians.
The next day, terror struck. Aug. 30th 1,000 Creek Indians, led by Chief Red Egle whose American name was William (Billy) Weatherford, hid in a deep ravine just 400 yards from the east main gate of Ft. Mims.
Unaware of any trouble the dinner call sounded by a drum was heard at high noon.
The Creeks road their fast horses across the open area surrounding the stockade and enterted the east gate before anyone had time to close them. With in four hours of entry men, women and children were slaughtered everywhere inside the fort where only a few escaped.
Other forts who learned of the massacre sent soldiers in the region to come and help bury the dead.
Fort Mims was under the command of Major Daniel Beasley, This part of the story leads up to why the Fort was attacked due to carelessness. On Aug. 7th General Claiborne, who was in command at Mt. Vernon had paid a visit to Fort Mims to imspect the stockade. He instructed Major Beasley to strengthen the pickets and to build one or two additional blockhouses. Lieutenant Wiliam R Chambliss reported that Major Beasley received a letter one or two days before the Massacre from General Claiborne advising him of the reported movements of the enemy. (Creek Indians)
Major Beasley ignored all warnings saying they were false claims and sent tow notes to General Claiborne assuring him of his "ability to maintain the fort against any number of Indians."
Weatherford (Red Eagle) who was captured in the indian attack by General Andrew Jackson ater the Fort Mims Massacre, testified to General Jackson and Thomas Woodward why he chose to stay with the Creeks. Knowing that there was no chance for the Indians to defeat the whites Red Egal felt it was his duty to stay with them. To try to keep the tribe from being destroyed by the white man.
Red Eagle was drawn in to the Ft. Mims expedition and made every attempt he could to warn the garrison there of the intended attack. Perhaps he might have succeded in getting his word across had Major Beasley not been drunk. When Red Eagle found that he could not stop the Indiansfrom their plans to attack he first sent a message to General Claiborne. In a final attempt Red Egle sent messengers to the fort itself.
The guards who received the messages reported them and were punished for imagining such a story. It is said that one negro was severely beaten for reporting the indian warnings.
On the stand Red Eagle said he was suprised to fine the fort in the condition it was in. He said he was unable to restrain the Indians after the first shots were fired. Red Egle recalled about one hour into the fight he attemptd to talk them into leaving the fort but they refused and threatened to kill him if he tried to interfer.
On the morning of Aug. 30 a scout from the fort, Jim Cornells had left Fort Mims and ridden some miles up river. Spotting the Indians Jim rode to the front gate at Ft. Mims just before the attact and shouted that the Indians were coming. Beasley then ordered Cornells be arrest. Cornells turned his horse around and rode off in the direction of Fort Pierce. He turned and yelled at the major again that the indians were coming. Major Beasly was not the only one drunk that day. It seems that many of the garrisons were also drunk.
Red Eagle did not want to lead the attack on the Fort. History proves he was forced ito it against his wishes. He knew most of the people in the Fort. Beasley ignored the warnings of an impending attack.
The fort is said to be haunted by the restless spirits, most of whom were friends of Red Eagle's and well known to him.
I read a lot about the Ft. Mims massacre because I found the below in my famiy research. Zilpha was my 4th great grandmother. I actually had family on both sides of this battle.
"Zilpha Bartlett who was married to Thomas Andrews (b. 1770 ... Zilpha (Sefaya)) was Alibamo Coosada and a daughter of the Napochi Mi'ko. The name Bartlett was borrowed from one of the British Indian Agents of the time, James Bartlett, a close friend of the Napochi Mi'ko who adopted the name Bartlett (this was a common practice among Creeks). Her older brother was Napochi Hadjo (also known as Tommy Bartlett) who took part in the assault on Fort Mims and was an implacable enemy of US expansion into Creek lands. "
"Zilpha's brother Thomas Bartlett ... stood strong to his Indian heritage and fought the white man, yet his sister was married to one. It was noted he was held prisoner for a while (near Fort Ruckner) for refusing to leave Alabama when they were moving the Indians off their lands. Zilpha and [her husband] Thomas Andrews [Thomas was also more than half NA] were allowed to visit him. They encouraged his release in which he had to agree to abide by the white mans laws."
Very interesting. I could only imagine what it was like to have family on both sides of that incident. That's alot of rich history in your family tree. My great grandfather was indian. WHen his brother went to visit his wife's family he was not allowed in the house but had to eat his dinner on the porch. My James family are from the David James and Margaret line from Wales. This would have been Josh James son of Joel Leftwich James and Angelina Ryan.
This summer I read "Old Hickory's War." It was an interesting read. The massacre at Ft. Mims was covered in detail along with the conquest of this part of our nation over the Britsh, Spanish and the Natives. The politics and roles of the TN and GA miltia were intriguing. Like most of our early historical conflicts it was a bloody and brutal affair perpetrated by both sides.
Doesn't that pretty much define a war?
That is so true.
I love to read history, especially when it's personal. Love the story you gave above, not for the good or the bad of it, just that it's history, and your own personal history at that. Cool. My g-grandmother was a greater part Indian and spent most of her life trying to hide it, as she was a cattleman's wife in Texas. She was the g-granddaughter of Zilpha above.
I too am a grand daughter of Zilpha and Thomas Andrews. I would love any info you have on the family and I would be happy to share the newest on my line. I am the daughter of Luther Lamar Andrews and Linda Sue Fisher. Luther Lamar Andrews is the son of Rhueie Vaughn Andrews and Mamie Arlene Eddins. Rhueie Vaughn Andrews was the son of Thomas Damascus Andrews and Lillian Moore. Thomas Damascus was the son of Bennett Andrews and Martha E Thompson. Bennett the son of Benjamin Andrews and Emily Matthews. Benjamin was the son of Thomas Andrews and Zilpha Bartlett. So that is my line. I live in Houston Texas and have been doing family research for over 30 years. I would love to swap info with ya.
I've been gone awhile and just read your post here. Hi (distant) cousin!! lol
My grandmother was Bertha Miller, her parents were Zack Miller and JoAnna Andrews, her parents were John Nelson Andrews (CSA & part NA) & Mary Carter (part NA), his father was John Andrews & Sinai Atkinson (believed to be part NA), his parents were Thomas Andrews (part NA) and Zilpha Bartlett (Creek). Zilpha is my 4th g-grandmother. :) I would love to swap info with you. My Mom has been researching these people for the last 50 years, but would love to hear more about the Andrews, and any other related lines. Would LOVE to hear about how your families came to Texas. Contact me at home please :) firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ft. Mims Massacre sounds familiar to me only because it was mentioned in the Disney movie "Davy Crockett" --- not the most historically accurate film, but ,as you know, very captivating to kids at the time.
"In 1813 the Creeks uprose,
Adding redskin arrows to the country's woes;
But Injun fightin' is somethin' he knows,
So he shoulders his rifle, and off he goes.
Davy, Davy Crockett
Answerin' his country's call.
Thanks for introducing this topic. In my mind, the attack on Fort Mims was probably the "9/11" of its day. There were certainly some events leading up to it, and the battle of Burnt Corn Creek was probably the one that set the wheels of war in motion.
There were mixed-blood people on both sides, but I don't think I had family involved in either side of that particular battle. I have a lot of family connections in lower Alabama, but I think most of my folks moved there from South Carolina in the 1830's. I am aware of one ancestor named Athanasius Woodham, who was a private in the Alabama militia and a veteran of the Indian wars, but I believe his involvement was more likely in the "Chattahoochee War" of 1835-1836.
My brother and I visited a bunch of Creek War sites on a road trip two years ago. The high points were Fort Mims, William Weatherford's grave, Fort Toulouse/Fort Jackson (where Red Eagle surrendered), and Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. I also visited Fort Mitchell, an important staging area, just last year. If you have to pick just one, I would recommend Horseshoe Bend.
If you are interested in the history of the Red Stick War, there is a wealth of information. Probably the best of the current books is, A Conquering Spirit, by Gregory Waselkov. The author thoughtfully provided a chapter on sites you can visit today, if you want to plan a Creek War themed road trip. I wish I had seen this book before I took my own journey!
Crooked River Bob