Fort Mims was a rough log stockade hastily constructed in 1813
around the home of Samuel
an early settler of Baldwin
County, Alabama. You can find this five-acre site seven miles
west of Tensaw on County Road 80 off Alabama Hwy 59.
On August 30, 1813, a force of about 700 Creek Indians destroyed Fort Mims, killing 250 defenders and taking at least 100 captives, in the first major battle of the Creek War. Some 400 American settlers, U.S.-allied Creeks, and slaves had taken refuge inside the stockade.
Some say the massacre at Fort Mims was an Indian reprisal against what happened at the Battle of Burnt Creek where Indians were ambushed by militia. Regardless of the reason, the attack on Fort Mims brought Andrew Jackson to the south and eventually sent him to the White House as President of the United States.
The Creek attack on Fort Mims, and particularly the killing of civilian men, women, and children at the end of the battle, outraged the U.S. public, thus prompting military action against the Creek Nation in what is now much of modern Alabama.
Beginning in the 1780s, southeastern Indians came under increasing pressure by the new U.S. government to cede what whites considered excess land. American settlers wanted this land for farming, but the Creeks hunted hundreds of thousands of deer on it every year and depended on the deerskins they acquired for most of their income. They used the deerskins to barter for cloth, guns, steel tools, and myriad other manufactured goods.
American politicians, anxious to obtain Indian lands for their own increasing constituencies, devised a plan that called for U.S. federal agents to encourage Indian men to abandon hunting and adopt farming, and focus on growing cash crops. U.S. leaders hoped to assimilate Indian peoples to a lifestyle that would make available vast hunting lands for American settlement. When implemented, this plan created bitter divisions in Creek society between those willing to accept new ways and those content with their traditional culture.
The Creek men who carried out the massacre were members of the Redstick faction (named for the red wooden war clubs they carried), followers of Shawnee leaders Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) (pictured at right) and Tecumseh, who advocated death to any Indians who allied with the Americans and preached adherence to traditional Indian cultures. In mid-1813, as the Creek Nation disintegrated in civil war, the Redsticks determined to destroy a community of Creeks who had established plantations in the Tensaw District and had taken refuge at Fort Mims.
A force of 700 Redsticks, led by William Weatherford (Chief Red Eagle), rushed through the fort's open gate at noon. Half of the surprised, 100-man garrison of Mississippi Territorial Volunteers died with their commander, Major Daniel Beasley, in the first few minutes of battle. The remaining garrison repelled the Redstick onslaught and for four hours successfully defended hundreds of civilians huddled inside the flimsy, one-acre stockade. Only when the attackers set the fort's buildings ablaze with burning arrows did resistance collapse.
The Redsticks' assault on Fort Mims ranks as one of the great successes of Indian warfare. The massacre of civilians, however, rallied American armies under the cry "Remember Fort Mims."
The resultant Creek War culminated in a decisive victory for U.S. forces in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, and the Creek Nation's subsequent cession of over 20 million acres of land to the U.S. in the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Continuing outrage surrounding the Fort Mims Massacre contributed to the eventual forced removal of the Indians from the Southeast in the 1830s.
A side note for trivia fans. The old saying "the good Lord willin' an' the Creek don't rise!" referred to the Creek Indian uprisings not creeks and rivers rising.
Another oh my goodness: William Weatherford, Red Eagle, is the great grandson of Jean Baptiste Louis DeCortel Marchand, the former commander of Compte de Toulouse (the French fort Fort Toulouse, Wetumpka, Alabama). Fort Toulouse was abandoned by French and rebuilt by no other than Andrew Jackson (Fort Jackson). The Treaty of Fort Jackson ended the Creek War. Weatherford was at the treaty signing. As the worm turns...
County Road 80 off Alabama Hwy 59