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The Creek War of 1813 and 1814|
Chapter 20: Closing Events. 1814
by Halbert, H. S. and Ball, T. H.
|At Fort Jackson, the old Toulouse, the treaty of peace, by some called "Treaty of Conquest," was concluded August 9, 1814. By this treaty there was ceded to the United States Government, to defray the expenses of the war,--which, of course, the vanquished must pay--a large domain west of the Coosa; which was, says Brewer, "a very important event in the annals of Alabama, for it threw open to the whites half the present area of the State." But although the treaty was signed "by the leading chiefs and warriors," and thus it terminated formally the war on the Tallapoosa, which had been virtually terminated, March 27th, by that bloody battle on the Horse Shoe Bend; many of the Indians fled to Pensacola. The British were permitted by the Spanish authorities to land some three hundred men here August 25, 1814, and the British officers were permitted by these same authorities to equip and discipline these fugitive Creek warriors that they might aid the British in an aggressive movement which they planned against Mobile and New Orleans. General Jackson went down the Alabama to Mobile, reconstructed Fort Bowyer, which was attacked September 15th by a sea and land force from Pensacola, the land force mainly Indians, the sea force the British; but the fort was successfully defended. Then General Jackson, with about four thousand men, marched across the strip of country lying between the Cut Off of the Alabama and Pensacola and captured Pensacola, the 7th of November. Leaving Major Blue to scour the coast and drive out the Indians from the swamps of the Escambia and the Choctahatibee, he started back on the 9th of November for Fort Montgomery--a new fort a mile or two north of the destroyed Fort Mims, erected by Colonel Thomas H. Benton, who had command there in the fall of 1814--and went down the river to Mobile, and on the 21st he left Mobile for New Orleans. Major Blue, with a force of one thousand men, successfully accomplished his dangerous work. So that, as the year 1815 opened, a year that was to cover Jackson with glory at New Orleans, the last fighting, for that time, with these fierce Creek warriors was over. As Brewer, Alabama's later historian, says:
"Thus was ended a war so glorious to the brave Muscogees, and yet so fatal! Their formidable strength was shorn forever."
That neither Tohopeka nor the treaty at Toulouse actually ended the Creek War is quite certain. Latour says, that the Creek Indians had been defeated and a treaty made, and he gives as its date August 10th. But he adds, that a part of the Creeks refused to join in it and remained still at war, committing depredations on the Alabama, Tombigbee, and Mobile Bay, aided and abetted by the Spaniards who supplied them with arms and ammunition.
He says, that General Jackson demanded satisfaction from the Spanish, and as this was not furnished, Jackson took Pensacola. When this was done, the war was soon closed. See Latour's "Memoirs of the War in West Florida and Louisiana, 1816."
Before the treaty of Fort Jackson was signed, Big Warrior, in the name of the friendly chiefs, tendered to General Jackson and Colonel Hawkins a reservation of land, three miles square for each, to be chosen by themselves; and to the two interpreters, George Mayfield and Alexander Cornells, one square mile each. Colonel Hawkins, in a nominal acceptance of this gift, spoke of it as not originating in any intimation from themselves, but as the spontaneous act of the chiefs, as an expression of their respect for Jackson and himself. It is needless to say that by this kindly offer General Jackson was not enriched.
Surely some readers would like to see the text of the treaty made with these vanquished Muscogee warriors a treaty to the terms of which they could scarcely refuse to agree, yet which they very reluctantly signed.
A generous, powerful, civilized government should not force a treaty that is unjust upon the helpless and unresisting. It may be questioned whether our Government has been accustomed to deal as did William Penn and Roger Williams and the Pilgrim Fathers, with the American Indians.* [* Of the Pilgrim Fathers it has been well said, "They were uniformly gentle and obliging to the savage tribes, and they were invariably and inflexibly just in treatment and in requisition."]
In 1636 a lone Indian trader was murdered and his goods taken by some white men. Three of the murderers were caught tried at Plymouth, found guilty, and hung."
"It was as certain death to kill an Indian in the forest of America, as to slay a noble in the crowded streets of London." "Pilgrim Fathers," pages 871, 872.
Such justice pleased the Indians well. They respected and trusted the Pilgrims. It would not be safe to say that the Puritans kept up the kind and just treatment commenced by the Pilgrim Fathers.
"TREATY OF FORT JACKSON.
"Articles of agreement and capitulation made August 9, 1814, between Major General Andrew Jackson on behalf of the President of the United States and the Chiefs of the Creek Nation.
"WHEREAS, An unprovoked, inhuman, and sanguinary war, waged by the hostile Creeks against the United States, hath been repelled * * X in conformity with principles of national justice, * * * be it remembered that prior to the conquest of that part of the Creek nation hostile to the United States, numberless aggressions have been committed against the peace, the property, and lives of citizens of the United States and those of the Creek nation in amity with her, at the mouth of Duck River, Fort Mims, and elsewhere, etc., etc., wherefore:
ARTICLE: 1. The United States demand an equivalent for all expenses incurred in prosecuting the war to its termination by the cession of all the territory belonging to the Creek nation within the territory of the United States lying west, south, and southeastwardly of a line to be run and described by per sons duly authorized, etc. * * * beginning at a point on the easterly bank of the Coosa River where the south boundary line of the Cherokee nation crosses the same, etc., etc.
Provided friendly chiefs are entitled to their improvements, land, etc.
ARTICLE 2. The United States guarantee the Creek nation all their territory east and north of said lines.
ARTICLE 3. The United States demand the Creeks to abandon all communication with British or Spanish posts, etc.
ARTICLE 4. The United States demand right to establish military posts, roads, and free navigation of waters in territory guaranteed the Creeks.
ARTICLE 5 The United States demand a surrender of all persons; property, friendly Creeks, and other Indians, etc., taken.
ARTICLE 6. The United States demand the capture and surrender of all the prophets and instigators of the war, whether foreign or native, who have not submitted to the United States, if any shall be found in territory guaranteed to the Creeks.
ARTICLE 7. The Creeks being reduced to extreme want, etc., the United States, from motives of humanity, will continue to furnish the necessaries of life until crops of corn can yield the nation a supply, and will establish trading posts.
ARTICLE 8. A permanent peace shall ensue from the date of these presents forever between the Creeks and the United States, and between the Creeks and the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations.
ARTICLE 9. If in running the lines east, the settlement of the Kinnards falls within the boundaries of the ceded territory the line shall be run so as to leave it out, etc.
The parties to these presents agree to ratify and confirm the preceding articles and do hereby solemnly bind themselves to a faithful performance, etc., etc.* [* The treaty of Ghent, which declared peace between Great Britain and the United States, was signed December 24. 1814; but as the treaty of Fort Jackson did not actually terminate the war with the Creeks, so neither did this European treaty actually terminate the "War of 1812," of which the Creek War became a part. Pensacola had first to be captured and New Orleans to be defended.]
The surrender of Weatherford to General Jackson has been described very fully by some of the writers who have been considered well informed. But from what source did they derive their information? The sifting process which has been found needful in all these Creek war researches leaves here a few quite well attested facts.
Eggleston, who wrote an interesting work called The Red Eagle, a name applied to Weatherford. whose Indian name was Hoponika Futsahia, in English, according to Woodward, Truth Maker, represents Weatherford as having been the great leader in the whole Creek war, a kind of general or commander-in-chief of all the Indian forces. But no evidence for anything of this kind has been found. There is no evidence of his presence in any conflict, only for a short time at Fort Mims and in defending the Holy Ground.* [* See Woodward's Reminiscences.]
It is sure that Weatherford made a voluntary surrender of himself to General Jackson; not as Waldo says, after exhausting his vocabulary in describing his terrible ferocity, then at last "flung himself into the hands of General Jackson and demanded his protection:" but coming with no demands, he placed his life at the disposal of the conquering general. He requested relief for starving women and children and for the deluded Indians who had followed their chiefs and their prophets. In reply to the charges of General Jackson, Weatherford claimed to be innocent of much that had been charged to him; "that he regretted the unfortunate destruction of Fort Mims as much" as did Jackson himself. "He said it was true he was at Fort Mims when the attack was made, and it was but a little while after the attack was made before the hostile Indians seemed inclined to abandon the undertaking; that those in the fort, and particularly the half-breeds under Dixon Bailey, poured such a destructive fire into their ranks as caused them to back out for a short time. At this stage of the fight he advised them to draw off entirely. He then left to go some miles" away, to look after the negroes of his half brother, David Tate. He also said to General Jackson that he joined the war party, for one thing, to save bloodshed, and that "but for the mismanagement of those that had charge of the fort he would have succeeded" there. These statements Woodward says were given to him by General Jackson himself. The speech attributed to Weatherford lacks sufficient evidence of genuineness to insure its credibility. It is out of harmony with the well attested facts of his actual part in the war. It seems evident, and such is Woodward's statement, that Jackson formed the opinion that he was a brave, fair-minded, truthful man, whom circumstances had forced into the war party. Jackson spared his life, gave him such protection as was needful, and his plantation life afterward on Little River as a good citizen is abundantly attsted.
We learn from the records of the Department of the Interior that in February, 1814, a Choctaw force of seventy-five warriors, under the command of Pushmataha, made an expedition across the Tombigbee, just below the mouth of the Black Warrior. Neither history nor tradition has preserved any details of this expedition, the bare fact alone being revealed by the records of the Government.
We here copy the roll of the field and staff of a detachment of Choctaw warriors in the service of the United States from March the 1st to May the 29th, 1814: Pushmataha, Lieutenant-Colonel; Humming Bird, Lieutenant-Colonel; Louis Leflore, Major; John Pitchlyn, Jr., First Lieutenant and Quartermaster; Samuel Long, Quartermaster-Sergeant; Middleton Mackey, Extra Interpreter.
On the 17th of August, 1814, a Choctaw company of fifty-three warriors, commanded by Pushmataha, with Moshulitubbee as second in command, was mustered into the service of the United States. This company of Indian warriors formed part of the detachment under the command of Major Uriah Blue, and assisted in bringing the Creek War to a close. They were mustered out of service at Fort Stoddart January 27, 1815.
The record of the Choctaw warriors during the Creek War was, in a high degree, honorable. Their nation proved itself a true friend of the American Government. Let us hope that posterity will never permit the name of their great and patriotic chieftain to pass into oblivion.