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26 June, 2013
The Creek War of 1813 and 1814
Chapter 15: The Banshi Skirmish
by Halbert, H. S. and Ball, T. H.


A steed comes at morning; no rider is there;
But its bridle is red with the sign of despair.
--Lochzel's Warning.

It is not certain when the events bearing this name took place. An intelligent citizen of Clarke county says, before Fort Easeley was evacuated. Pickett says early in October. The inmates of Fort Easeley and of Turner's Fort came for greater security to Fort St. Stephens, probably early in September, and from this neighborhood Colonel William McGrew, with some twenty-five mounted men, had gone up the river, into the Wood's Bluff neighborhood, to look after the Indians who among the various tenantless and exposed plantations were committing depredations. Before this small band of horsemen had reached a little stream called Bashi, that flows into the Tombigbee a mile or two north of Wood's Bluff, they suddenly found themselves among concealed Creek warriors. They were ambushed. A turkey tail was raised above a log by one of the concealed Indians, and this was the signal for attack. The Indians who had guns instantly fired from their places of concealment and the white leader, who had taken part in the Burnt Corn engagement, fell from his horse. Edmund Miles was also killed, and Jesse Griffin severely wounded. Colonel McGrew's men returned the fire of the Indians, but without much effect. The Indians from their places of ambush had largely the advantage of the mounted men, and these found it needful to make good their retreat. Besides the commanding officer three of the men were missing Edmund Miles, Jesse Griffin, and David Griffin. These two Griffins were twins. One of them on the morning of that fatal day seemed to expect some calamity, and they agreed to stand by each other, the one not to leave the other in case of danger. They came into the world together, and they proposed, if need should be, to stand or fall side by side, and go out of the world together. According to the best information Jesse Griffin was shot through the thigh and, being unable to retreat with the others, his brother David, according to their agreement, staid by him while life remained. It is one tradition that the two kept up a fire upon the Indians, as fast as they could load their guns, until seven of the Indians were killed; but, however that may be, it is very sure that among the few whites and the Indians slain the body of David Griffin was not found. His son, William Griffin, born at Wood's Bluff in 1812, and at this time with his mother either in Fort Easeley or at St. Stephens, a resident at Bashi in 1879, states, as the account that was given to him, that the last sight which his comrades had of his father, as the Indians were still firing upon them in their retreat, showed him in the act of loading his gun, himself then with a broken limb, but resolute in appearance, as determined to fight to the last moment of his life. William Griffin, was informed by those who hold a right to know that the body of his father was surely never found. All that was found as a trace of him on that skirmish field was the breech of his gun. The barrel was not there. His body, like the body or person of the young Kimbell boy, disappeared, how, none of his friends ever knew.

Colonel McGrew's horse, like the dark gray charger of Mamilius in Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, started for his home.

Says Alexander Carleton, Esq., of Clarke County, "On the next morning after the battle, the Colonel's horse was at St. Stephens, thirty miles distant, with signs of blood on the saddle, and only one pistol in his holster."

Some days afterwards, General Claiborne crossed the river from St. Stephens, and advanced into this Wood's Bluff and Bashi region. The bodies of Colonel McGrew, of Edmund Miles, and of Jesse Griffin were found and were buried with military honors. These men fell "about five miles east of Wood's Bluff, near the present Linden and Coffeeville road, and about a half mile south-west of the Bashi bridge."* [* One frosty morning I passed this spot alone on horseback and the road was lonely enough then for Indians to have easily ambushed a traveller. A "frail memorial" had been erected there but it was decayed and no longer of use. T. II. B.]

General Claiborne spent a few days scouring this wild region. He found some Indians. Several of his men were wounded in the skirmish engagements. Among those severely wounded was Captain William Bradberry, another of those officers who had fought at Burnt Corn. Says Hon. E. S. Thornton of West Bend, he was shot "about two miles above the Lewis Mitchell place, and five miles above West Bend, on the old Coffeeville and Wood's Bluff river road." His wound proved to be fatal.

Claiborne and his men returned to Jackson below St. Stephens, on the east side of the river, then commonly called Pine Level, and there for a time they camped, hoping to receive orders or permission from General Flournoy to cross the Alabama and proceed into the Creek country.

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