Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

without permission, in writing, from a commissioned officer, under the penalties prescribed by the rules and articles of war.

“No citizen will be permitted to pass the chain of sentinels, after retreat beat in the evening, until reveille in the morning. Drunkenness, the bane of all orderly encampments, is positively forbidden, both in officers and privates : officers under the penalty of immediate arrest; and privates, of being placed under guard, there to remain until liberated by a court martial.

“ At revei'le beat, all officers and soldiers are to appear on parade, with their arms and accoutrements in proper

order. "On parade, silence, the duty of a soldier, is positively commanded.

"No officer or soldier is to sleep out of camp, but by permission obtained.”

On the 7th of October, General Jackson joined his division, and learned that the Creeks had detached upwards of eight hundred of their warriors to fall upon the frontier of Georgia, while the remainder of their forces were marching upon Huntsville. On the 9th, therefore, he set his army in motion. They reached Huntsville that day, by a forced march, and on the morrow formed a junction with Colonel Coffee's regiment, on the Tennessee river. Here they rested several days, during which General Jackson sent scouts to reconnoitre the Black Warrior river, a tributary of the Tombigbee, on which were several Creek villages. This delay was occasioned by the failure of an expected supply of provisions.

While the army was thus inactive, a messenger arrived from Chinnaby, a chief of the friendly Creeks. He brought intelligence that Chinnaby's encampment, near Ten Islands, on the Coosa, was threatened by the enemy, and solicited relief. This information induced the General to march to Thompson's creek, a small branch of the Tennessee, where he had reason to believe he might be met by the expected supply. He was the more inclined to action, that the scarcity of provisions depressed the spirits of his half disciplined troops. But he was again disappointed, and his letters to different quarters, soliciting the desired aid, failed of their effect. Even the planters of the frontier, who had a vital interest in the success of his operations, neglected to assist the army contractors. In this embarrassing situation, another messenger from Chinnaby arrived, to urge the necessity of an immediate movement, as the enemy was advancing upon him in great force. This information caused the army to move again.

Near Ten Islands General Jackson was met by Chinnaby, who informed him that he was within sixteen miles of the hostile Creeks, who were assembled to the number of a thousand, to oppose his march. Hence Colonel Dyer was sent with a competent force to attack the village of Littafutchee, on a branch of the Coosa. This done, the army set forward once more, and reached the islands of the Coosa without opposition, thus proving the report of Chinnaby to have been unfounded. Here Colonel Dyer rejoined, having accomplished his object. He had burned Littafutchee, with little or no loss on his own side, and brought back with him twentypine prisoners, men, women, and children. The scouting parties now began to bring in prisoners, and cattle and corn taken from the enemy.

The first week in November, information was received that a considerable body of the Muscogee warriors had taken a position at the village of Tallushatches, on the opposite side of the Coosa. Colonel Coffee was sent to attack them at the head of nine hundred mounted men. He forded the Coosa under the direction of an Indian guide, and advanced on Tallushatches. The Muscogees were aware of his approach, and prepared to meet it as became men. They struck the war drum, sung the war song, and by their savage war whoop gave notice that they were prepared for battle. Within a mile and a half of the village Colonel Coffee halted, divided his force, into two bodies, and then advanced in such a way as to surround the enemy, who remained quiet in the buildings. Seeing this, the commander had recourse to a feint.

He sent forward two companies to decoy the Indians from their cover. No sooner had these deployed into line in front of the village, and fired a few shots, than the savages boldly charged and drove them back on the main body, which opened a general fire and charged in turn. The Muscogees retired, resisting obstinately all the way, till they reached their village, where they stood fast, and a desperate conflict ensued. The Indians did not ask quarter, and when shot down continued to fight on the ground as long as their breath lasted. Many of their wives assisted in the defence, and emulated the bravery of their partners. The Tennesseans revenged the slaughter of Fort Mimms, by slaying all the men, and some women and children. Not one of the savages escaped: their total loss in killed was upwards of a hundred and eighty, and eighty-four women and children were taken alive. On the other side, five of the whites were killed outright, and forty-one were wounded.

When Colonel Coffee had rejoined the main body, General Jackson resolved to build a fort and establish a depot at Ten Islands. The fortification was named Fort Strother.

On the evening of the 7th, a runner arrived from Talladega, a fort of the friendly Indians, thirty miles below, with information that the enemy had encamped before it in great numbers, and would certainly destroy it unless immediate assistance should be rendered. Jackson did not hesi. tate to march to their assistance, with all his disposable force, amounting to twelve hundred infantry and eight hundred mounted men.

The troops crossed the river that very night, each horseman carrying a foot soldier behind him, though the Coosa is here six hundred yards wide. The whole night was consumed in this operation, yet the army continued its march with unabated ardor, and by the next evening arrived within six miles of the enemy. At night an express arrived from General White, with the news that that officer had not been able to move to the protection of Fort Strother, according to Jackson's desire, having received a counter order from General Cocke, to march to the mouth of Chatouga Creek. This intelligence, that his rear was left unprotected, caused General Jackson to decide on attacking the enemy without delay, lest by a change of their policy, his depôt should be carried in his absence. Orders were given accordingly.

At four in the morning, the army moved, in order of battle. The infantry advanced in three columns, and the cavalry followed, while the

wings were protected by flankers. The advance, consisting of four companies, marched four hundred yards in front, under Colones Carroll. By seven, the army was within a mile of the enemy, and the columns deployed into line, while the cavalry made a circuit round the enemy's Hank, so as to leave them small chance of escape.

About eight, the advanced guard, having approached a small thicket of underbrush, received a sharp volley. They returned it, and retreated upon the centre, according to their orders, it being the policy of the General to draw the Indians from their cover. The Indians, elated by this apparent success, raised the war whoop, and fell furiously on the left wing, tomahawk in hand. This movement had nearly decided the battle, for several companies gave way before their onset, and the officer ordered by Genera! Jackson to throw his troops into the gap, did not execute the command. The General promptly supplied their place with the reserve, which, with the assistance of the broken troops, who began to rally, checked the advance of the savages. The line now delivered an unbroken fire, and in fifteen minutes the Creeks gave way at all points and fled. The cavalry of the left wing made great slaughter of them, and numbers fell in the pursuit, which continued three miles. The troops behaved as might have been expected from the volunteers of Tennessee, and that is a sufficient encomium.

In this battle a thousand and eighty of the Creeks were engaged ; of whom three hundred were left dead on the field, and about as many more were slain in their flight. The loss of the Americans was fifteen killed, and nearly a hundred wounded, many mortally. The results of the action were, the relief of the friendly Indians at Talladega, an increase of confidence in themselves and their General on the part of the Tennes. seans, and the discomfiture of the hostile Creeks.

The condition of his posts in the rear, and a want of provisions, compelled General Jackson and his men to return. Accordingly, having buried his dead, and provided litters for the wounded, he reluctantly commenced his return march on the morning succeeding the battle. He confidently hoped, from the previous assurances of the contractors, that, by the time of his return to Fort Strother, sufficient supplies would have arrived there : but to his surprise, he found that not a particle had been forwarded since his departure, and that what had been left was already consumed. Even his private stores, brought on at his own expense, and upon which he and his staff had hitherto wholly subsisted, had been, in his absence, distributed amongst the sick by the hospital surgeon, who had been previously instructed to do so, in the event their wants should require it. A few dozen biscuit, which remained, on his return, were given to the hungry applicants, without being tasted by himself or family, who were probably not less hungry than those who were thus relieved. A scanty supply of indifferent beef, taken from the enemy, or purchased of the Cherokees, was now the only support afforded. Thus left destitute, Jackson, (says his biographer, Eaton,) with the utmost cheerfulness of temper, repaired to the bullock pen, and, of the offal there thrown away, provided for himself and staff, what he was pleased to call, a very comfortable repast. Tripes, however, hastily provided in a camp, without bread or seasoning, can only be palatable to an appetite very highly whetted ; yet this constituted, for several days, the only diet at headquarters ; during which time, the General seemed entirely satisfied with his fare.

In this campaign, a soldier one morning, with a wobegone countenance, approached the General, stating that he was nearly starved, that he had nothing to eat, and could not imagine what he should do. He was the more encouraged to complain, from perceiving that the General, who had seated himself at the root of a tree, waiting the coming up of the rear of the army, was busily engaged in eating something. The poor fellow was impressed with the belief, from what he saw, that want only prevailed among the soldiers, and that the officers, particularly the General, were liberally supplied. He accordingly approached him with great confidence of being relieved. Jackson told him, that it had always been a rule with him never to turn away a hungry man when it was in his power to relieve him. I will most cheerfully, said he, divide with you what I have; and, putting his hand to his pocket, he drew forth a few acorns, from which he had been feasting, adding, it was the best and only fare he had. The soldier seemed much surprised, and forthwith circulated amongst his comrades, that their General was actually subsisting upon acorns, and that they ought no more to complain.

Discontent now began to spread through the camp of General Jack. son, and at length burst into open revolt. The officers and soldiers of the militia determined to abandon their posts, and return to their homes. Jackson, apprised of their resolution, determined to oppose it at all hazard. In the morning, when they were about to carry their design into execution, he drew up the volunteers in front of them, with orders to oppose their departure. The militia, fearing to persist in their purpose, quietly abandoned it and returned to their quarters.

The next day presented a singular scene. The volunteers, who, the day before, had been the means of detaining the militia, now began likewise to mutiny. Their opposition to the departure of the militia was merely a pretence to escape suspicion, for they silently wished them success. They now determined to move away in a body, believing that no one would oppose them. As they were about to quit the camp, the militia turned the tables on them, expressing a fixed determination to obey the General's orders by enforcing their stay at the point of the bayonet. So well had Jackson contrived to make their mutual jealousies subserve his own ends. Thus situated, the volunteers had an option to remain, or to turn their weapons against their brethren in arms. They chose the former alternative. However, the complaints of the cavalry were nut to be silenced; their forage was entirely exhausted, and they had no prospect of obtaining more. General Jackson listened to their petition to be permitted to return home, and granted it, on condition that they would rejoin him when required.

The most urgent solicitations of General Jackson could not suppress the discontent which still prevailed among his troops. Even his promise that if the supplies should not arrive within two days, the forces should al march homeward together, had no effect. The officers of the volunteer brigade declared that nothing short of marching the army immediately back to the settlements, could

prevent a forcible desertion of the camp, by the soldiers. The officers of the militia expressed their willingness to remain a few days longer ; but the General was compelled to suffer a regiment of volunteers to leave the camp, under the condition, however, that, after satisfying their wants, they should return and act as an escort to the provisions.

Two days had elapsed since the departure of the volunteers, and no supplies had arrived. The militia earnestly demanded the fulfilment of the promise which had been made, that they should be marched back to the settlements. This was to Jackson a moment of deep dejection. "If only two men will remain with me,” he exclaimed, “I will never abandon this post.” Captain Gordon, of the spies, replied, “ You have one, General; let us look if we can't find another," and he soon succeeded in procuring one hundred and nine volunteers. Leaving this garrison behind, Jackson, with the rest of his army, set out towards Deposit. They had not proceeded more than ten or twelve miles, when they met a convoy of the long expected commissary's stores. This sight was as unwelcome to the soldiers as it was grateful to their chief. So great was their aversion to returning, that mutiny again displayed itself in their ranks. One company had revolted, and was already moving off in the direction of home. They had proceeded some distance before information of their departure was conveyed to Jackson. Irritated at their conduct, the General pursued them until he came near a part of his staff and a few soldiers, who, with General Coffee, had halted about a quarter of a mile ahead. He ordered them to form immediately across the road, and to fire on the mutineers if they attempted to proceed. The execution of this order caused the deşerters to retreat precipitately to the main body. Here it was supposed that the affair would end, and that further opposition would cease. But a mutinous disposition began presently to show itself throughout the whole brigade. Jackson, having advanced towards them, while his guard were at some distance, found on his arrival a much more extensive mutiny than that which had been just quelled. Almost the whole brigade had put itself in an attitude for moving forcibly off. Jackson now made a signal display of

energy and decision. still without the use of his left arm ; but, seizing a musket, and resting it on the neck of his horse, he threw himself in front of the column, and threatened to shoot the first man who should attempt to advance. In this situation, he was soon after joined by Major Reid and General Coffee, who placed themselves by his side, and abided by the result. For many minutes the column preserved a sullen and hesitating attitude. At length, they turned quietly round, and agreed to return to their posts.

About the 22d of November, a deputation arrived from the Creek tribes called Hillabees, to sue for peace. They had suffered severely at Talladega, and were now ready to submit to whatever terms the General might impose. He replied that they must restore the prisoners and property they had taken, whether from the whites or the friendly Creeks, and surrender the persa ns concerned in the massacre at Fort Mimms.

He was

« ZurückWeiter »