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26 June, 2013
The Creek War of 1813 and 1814
Chapter 13: Incidents of the War in the Fork
by Halbert, H. S. and Ball, T. H.


It was not unusual for the inmates of the forts in the Fork to go out occasionally to visit their farms and bring back with them supplies for their immediate use. These visits were always attended with danger, for small Creek war parties were continually travelling over the country, committing all kinds of depredations. It was often noticed as a singular and unaccountable fact that when the farmers housed their corn in cribs in the fields it was almost invariably burned by these predatory parties; but when stored in the regular cribs near their residences it was never disturbed.

On the morning of the sixth of September, a man named Josiah Fisher, with his three sons, left Fort Madison and went out to his farm, situated on the Alabama River about a quarter of a mile above Sizemore's ferry. Fisher had married a Creek woman and had a half-breed family. About sunset, Ben, one of the sons, while shelling pease in the yard, was shot in the back. Instantly springing up, he made his escape to the woods. His father, then in the cane, came running out, in a stooping position, to learn the cause of the firing, when he also was shot, the ball entering his breast and coming out at the back. He likewise fled to the forest. As he started to run a warrior shouted to him in the Muscogee tongue, with which Fisher was familiar, "That is the way to do it." The other two Fishers being in different parts of the field, fled to the fort and reported the death of their father and brother. The next morning Ben came in, bleeding from his wounds, from which he happily recovered. It was now supposed that the elder Fisher was dead. But on the afternoon of the succeeding day some of the people who happened to be outside of the fort, saw a man afar off, in a stooping position, coming up the ridge road. As he came nearer they recognized him as Fisher and went forward to meet him. His wound was, indeed, a most desperate one. Drury Allen, one of the party, remarked to him: "Fisher, I do not wish to discourage you, but you will die of that wound." "No," was Fisher's reply, "if it was going to kill me I would have died before now." He then told them the cause of his long delay in reaching the fort; that when he exerted himself too much in walking it caused a flow of blood which almost strangled him; consequently, he was compelled to walk very slowly and cautiously and in a stooping position.

Fisher recovered from his wound, but it ultimately caused his death. Some two or three years after the war he had a corn-shucking at his house. Happening to engage in a friendly tussle with one of the corn-shuckers, he ruptured a blood vessel in the region of the old wound and died immediately from the hemorrhage.

Moses Savel was an inmate of Fort Madison and the owner of a mill on Savel's Branch, a small tributary of Bassett's Creek. About the last of September a detail of twelve men was sent from Fort Madison to this mill to get some corn ground. Late in the afternoon, when the work was finished, the party started out on their return, leaving behind a negro, named Phil Creagh, to close up the mill, but telling him to overtake them as soon as he could. When the parts arrived at the fort, it was noticed that the negro was not with them. Five days afterwards, he made his appearance with a tale of captivity and escape. he stated that while he was adjusting the things in the mill, a party of Indians entered and seized him. They took their captive up the Alabama River to a point several miles below Lower Peach Tree, where they had a canoe concealed. Here they crossed over to their camp, which was occupied by their families. It may here be stated that the Creeks did not regard captured negroes in the same light that they did white prisoners. Instead of putting them to death, their custom was to keep them as slaves. The frontier negroes were aware of this fact. Phil stayed with the Indians four days, and was kindly treated by them, being fed bountifully on venison and honey. Of the latter, the Indians had a large supply, kept in deer skins. Phil manifested no apparent disposition to make his escape, but seemed content with his situation, thus completely lulling his captors' suspicions. Every morning the men went out hunting, leaving their captive in camp with their families. Phil, meanwhile, was patiently biding his time. On the morning of the fifth day, he saw his opportunity. When the hunters had been gone about half an hour, he quietly slipped off to the river, took the canoe, and paddled across. Just as he reached the other shore, some of the women saw him and shouted the alarm. Phil heard it and knew that some of the hunters must have heard it too; so he began his retreat as fast as his legs would carry him. He struck after a while the ridge path and hurried along in it until he was completely exhausted. He then went out to one side, about fifty yards from the path, and laid himself down behind a log to rest. In, perhaps, about an hour, he saw four Indians coming along the path in hot pursuit. They passed him without discovering that he had abandoned the path and continued their onward pursuit. Phil thought it best to still lie close. In about an hour, as it seemed to him, he saw the Indians returning, having evidently given up the pursuit. After they had completely disappeared from sight, he arose, resumed his flight, and about sunset, arrived safe and sound at Fort Madison. Phil was satisfied with his Indian experience.

One morning, not long after the above incident, an inmate of Fort Madison, named Miller, employed a boy about sixteen years of age, named Ben Arundel, a brother-in-law of James Smith, one of the heroes of the canoe fight, to go out to his farm, situated about a mile and a half above the present Suggsville, and dig some potatoes for him. Several persons, among these Ben's own father, endeavored to dissuade him from going, telling him he ran a great risk from parties of Indians that might be in the country. But Ben was obstinate, swearing that he was not born to be killed by an Indian. Miller mounted Ben on his mare, lent him his musket and bayonet, and Ben went out to Miller's farm, whence he never returned. During the day Ben's father became very uneasy, mounted his horse and went out to find him; but he returned about sunset without his son. He told his friends that he knew that Ben was killed; for while on the way to Miller's house, he came across the tracks of two or three Indians going in the same direction, and soon he heard the report of a gun. He now knew that his son was killed, and be thought it prudent to return to the fort. The next morning Miller's mare returned, doubtless having broke loose from the fence where she was tied when the gun was fired. Lieutenant Bradberry then went with his company out to the farm. They found Ben lying in the pototo patch dead and scalped and the bayonet of his musket thrust in his throat. The Indians had taken the musket and the ammunition. The party buried Ben and then marched back to the fort.

NOTES.

The above incidents were related to the writer several years ago by the Rev. Josiah Allen and his brother Henry, both of whom were inmates of Fort Madison and knew well all the parties mentioned The incident of the Fishers can also be seen in Pickett's history, but here given more in detail from the recollections of the Allens. H. S. H.

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