« ZurückWeiter »
With this answei, the Hillabee ambassadors returned to their villages on the 24th of the month.
That very night the Hillabees were attacked in their huts by the Tennessee militia, under General White. Sixty of them were killed, upwards of two hundred and fifty were made prisoners, and their villages were utterly destroyed. The officers of the eastern division, jealous of General Jackson's reputation, and unwilling to lend their aid to raise it, had refused or neglected to co-operate with him throughout the campaign. Such is often the harmony of militia operations. In this instance, the result is to be deplored. The Hillabees believed themselves assailed by Jackson, to whom they had offered his choice of terms, and from whom they ha l received a promise of amnesty. Under these circumstances, they concluded that peaceful conduct could not defend them from open force or treachery, and till the final cessation of hostilities they waged a war of extermination. In no instance did they ask or accept quarter.
The clamors of the troops were by no means abated during their residence at Fort Strother. The want of food was indeed obviated by the arrival of sufficient stores, but they resolved, if possible, to obtain a discharge. They insisted that the period for which they bad undertaken to serve would terminate on the 10th of December, that making a year since the commencement of their engagement. Although they had been unemployed during the greater part of this time, they very reasonably contended that this circumstance did not authorize any deductions from the regular period of their engagement. General Jackson thought other. wise : he replied, that the law of Congress, under which they had been accepted, requiring one year's service out of two, could contemplate nothing less than an actual service of three hundred and sixty-five days; and, until that had been performed, he could not, unless specially authorized, undertake to discharge them."
On the evening of the 9th, Jackson was informed that a whole brigade of volunteers was again preparing forcibly to move off. He immediately issued the following general order :
" The commanding General being informed that an actual mutiny exists in his camp, all officers and soldiers are commanded to put it down.
“The oficers and soldiers of the first brigade will, without delay, parade on the west side of the fort, and await further orders.” The artillery company, with two small fieldpieces, being posted in the front and rear, and the militia, under the command of Colonel Wynne, on the eminences in advance, were ordered to prevent the departure of the volunteers. This formidable opposition compelled the deserters to return once more to their posts. But although baffled in this manner, their dissatisfaction at remaining could not be quelled, and Jackson was finally induced to issue an order to General Hall, to march his brigade 10 Nashville.
Meanwhile the cavalry and mounted riflemen, who, under an express stipulation to return and complete the campaign, had been permitted to retire into the settlements, had, at the time appointed, reassembled in the neighborhood of Huntsville. But, catching the infection of discontent from the infantry, they began now to clamor with equal zeal for a úis.
charge. No representations could induce them to remain ; and they finally abandoned their posts tumultuously, and returned to their respective homes. Thus Jackson was deserted by almost his whole original army, and remained with only about thirteen hundred men of the eastern division. The term of service of most of these had nearly expired, and they claimed their discharge as due on the 14th of December.
"The Governor of Tennessee had ordered a levy of twenty-five hundred :men from the second division, to assemble at Fayetteville on the 28th of January, to serve for a period of three months. General Cocke was also required to furnish his quota. General Roberts brought two hundred men to Fort Strother, but these stipulated that they should be discharged at the end of three months. Nevertheless, fearing the resolute disposi. tion of General Jackson, they immediately broke up and deserted to a
Orders were immediately issued to pursue and apprehend them, and finding themselves likely to be compelled, they returned without further ado.
"The time had now come, when those of the militia who had remained in the service, claimed to be discharged, and they declared their determination to return home, whether their claim should be allowed or not. General Jackson, therefore, contrary to the advice of Governor Blount, issued an order forbidding all persons under his command to leave the camp without his written permission, on pain of death. The order was disregarded. The officer of the guard, Lieutenant Kearly, and all his sentinels, left their posts, and the officer refused to surrender his sword or submit to arrest. He formed his company, and was about to march them homeward, when a company arrived to stay his proceedings. Kearly prepared to fight his way through all opposition, and his company would have seconded him, had not General Jackson instantly repaired to the spot. He presented a pistol to the subaltern's breast, compelled him to give up his weapon, and placed him under guard. But on his submission and repentance, Kearly was released from arrest and again received into favor. While this was going on, the rest of the brigade left the camp and proceeded toward hone, leaving behind them but a single regiment of militia, whose time had nearly expired. The General sent a written address after them, but it did not bring back one individual.
" In the meanwhile, the Muscogees were sustaining reverses calculated to depress their spirits and facilitate future operations against them. the 4th of December they were defeated by the Georgia militia, under General Floyd, at Autossee, a town on the Talapoosa river. The strength of eight several towns had been gathered for the defence of this spot. Upwards of two hundred of the savage warriors were slain, and two villages were destroyed. General Clairborne also destroyed the town of Eccancacha, and routed its defenders with loss, on the 1st of January, 1814.
“On the 13th of January, eight hundred and fifty of the newly raised Tennessee volunteers arrived at Fort Strother. They had agreed to serve for sixty days only, and no persuasion could induce them to extend the term. They were organized in two mounted regiments. Two days
after, these troops took up the line of march for Talladega, followed by General Jackson with his staff, an artillery company, three companies of foot, and a company of volunteer officers, nine hundred and thirty in all. At Talladega they were joined by two or three hundred friendly
Creeks and Cherokees. With this force, the chief directed his march to Emuckfaw river, where he was advised that a large body of the enemy had collected. On the night of the 21st he encamped within three miles of them.
"At daybreak the next morning, the Creek warriors drove in the sentinels, and vigorously charged the left flank. The assault was bravely given, bravely received, and the battle was maintained with great spirit on both sides for half an hour. When light broke, a general charge forced the Muscogees at every point, and as the Indian allies joined in the pursuit, the slaughter was considerable. General Coffee was then dispatched with four hundred men to destroy the Creek encampment, but found it too strong and too well garrisoned to render the attempt prudent. He therefore returned to the camp.
“ Half an hour after his return, a party of the enemy attacked the picket guard on the right flank, as a feint to draw the attention of the whites thither, and thus make them expose the left wing. The savages were disappointed. General Jackson ordered General Coffee to defend the right with the assistance of two hundred of the Indian allies, and repaired himself to the left wing. The shock of the enemy here was sudden and violent, but it was sustained with a gallantry not to have been expected in raw recruits. The Creeks maintained the battle after the fashion of their ancestors, availing themselves of every cover afforded by the broken ground, lying down to load and rising to fire. After a few vollies, the left wing again charged, the Muscogees again fled, and were again pursued; but in the mean time General Coffee was hard pressed, the Indians directed to aid him, having mistaken their orders. By some misapprehension not explained, only fifty men followed him to repel the first attack, and he found the enemy posted to great advantage. They occupied a grove of pines intermingled with brushwood, forming as good a cover as an Indian warrior could desire. He ordered his men to dismount and charge them, and they were driven to the bank of a stream, where they concealed themselves among the reeds, whence he could not dislodge them. He then retired, and the Indians again emerged from their cover, and engaged him on more equal terms. Happily for him, their number was not great, and he was able to stand his ground till General Jackson ordered Jem Fife, the chief of the friendly Creeks, to go to his assistance with a hundred and fifty warriors. It was promptly done. General Coffee and the Creek chief charged in concert, and the enemy broke, losing forty-five men in the charge and pursuit.
“Having buried the dead and attended to the wounded, the camp was fortified; for the Muscogee operations had been so well planned, and they had fought with so much determination, that there was reason to believe they would not let the matter rest thus. No attack occurred during the night, and in the morning the army commenced its retreat to Fort Strother. Through the day they were not molested, but the spies reported that the enemy hovered on the flanks and rear. This induced the chief to believe he should be attacked in the night, or that an ambush would be prepared for him. Nevertheless, this night also passed without alarm.
" There was a defile in front between two hills, where a small stream was to be crossed, a place every way fit for an ambuscade, and admirably adapted to the peculiar warfare of the Indians. To avoid being taken here at a disadvantage, the General resolved to pass the stream at another ford, where there was nothing to obstruct the evolutions or fire of his troops. Before the enemy was aware of this change of route, the advanced grard, the wounded, and a part of the centre division had crossed the stream. The single piece of artillery had just entered the ford when the battle cry of the Muscogees was heard behind, and the rear guard was charged. The General had taken his measures to repel such an assault wisely. The rear column had received orders to stand fast, while the right and left column should wheel on their pivot, recross the stream above and below, and fall upon the flanks and rear of the enemy. For once, he had overrated the firmness of his men, and this had like to have been the last of his battles. The rear guard gave way, on receiving the attack, and retired upon the rear division, the right and left columns of which broke in confusion, drawing with them a part of the centre column. Twenty-five men only maintained their ground, while an appalling confusion and consternation pervaded the rest of the army. In such circumstances, it is indeed wonderful that the whole army was not utterly destroyed.
“The enemy's balls fell thick and fast on the American ranks. Captain Hamilton had fallen, Captains Bradford and McGavock were down, Lieutenant Armstrong of the artillery had but life left to beg his men to save his cannon, and
many more of inferior degree gave up their lives here. The Muscogees were swarming like bees to the attack, and there were none to withstand them but the left wing, the artillery men, a company of spies, and a few that remained of the rear guard. The artille rists ascended the bank with the most determined obstinacy, loaded their gun under a shower of lead, and sent repeated charges of grape among the savages.
company of spies turned the left flank of the enemy, and frustrated a charge they were about to make on the cannon. Many instances of individual bravery occurred in this close and desperate conflict, in which the spies and artillerists earned all praise. They kept
enemy at bay, while the General, by dint of strenuous exertion, restored order in his broken ranks. The Muscogees at last fled, throwing off all incumbrances that could retard their flight.
"In these three several battles, the Muscogees fought with a courage worthy of a better fate, and their loss was accordingly severe. One hundred and ninety dead were found on the fields they abandoned ; and if we consider that no thorough search was made, and that it is the practice of Indians to carry off and conceal their slain, we must believe the number of their killed was double what it appeared. Their spirits Were depressed by the success of this sanguinary onslaught, and they did not further harass the army on its return to Fort Strother. Shortly
after, they attacked General Floyd, but were repulsed with considerable
The army encamped, on the night of the 26th, within three miles of Fort Strother. General Jackson having now terminated this triumphant campaign, and hearing that fresh troops might be expected from Tennessee, where the news of his success had much effect, determined to discharge his troops." After detaining his late volunteers, therefore, a short time, to complete boats for the transportation of his camp equipage and provisions down the Coosa, he directed them to be marched home, and there to be honorably dismissed.
The thirty-ninth regiment of Tennessee militia, about six hundred strong, arrived on the 6th of February. The troops from the second division, under Brigadier General Johnson, arrived on the 14th ; which, added to the other forces, constituted about five thousand efficient men. The execution of a private, named John Woods, who had been sentenced by a court martial, on the charge of mutiny, took place about this time. The guilt of the man has since been disputed, and the necessity of the punishment is very questionable.
Insubordination and discontent were again prevailing among the troops in consequence of a deficiency of provisions. Every thing seemed to move in opposition to the wishes of Jackson. The East Tennessee brigade had already manifested symptoms of revolt, and it was ascer. tained that this mutinous spirit had been inflamed by General Cocke, who, it appears, was jealous of the increasing fame of Jackson, and wished nothing so much as to arrest the intended campaign. General Jackson, at length, by constant and unremitted exertions, obtained such supplies as he believed would be necessary to enable him to proceed. At the mouth of Cedar Creek he established Fort Williams. On the 24th of March, 1814, leaving a sufficient force for the protection of the fort, under Brigadier General Johnson, he set out for the Tallapoosa, by the way of Emuckfaw. His whole effective force was something less than three thousand men. At ten in the morning of the 27th, after a march of fifty-two miles, he reached the village of Tohopeka. The enemy had collected here, in considerable numbers, to give him battle. The warriors from Oakfusky, Hillabee, Eufalee, and New Youcka, amounting to nearly one thousand two hundred, were at this place awaiting his approach. They had chosen an admirable spot for defence. Situated in a bend of the river, which almost surrounded it, it was accessible only by a narrow neck of land. This they had strove to render impregnable, by placing large timbers and trunks of trees horizontally on each other, leaving but a single place for entrance. From a double row of port-holes, they were enabled to fire in perfect security behind it General Coffee, with mounted infantry and friendly Indians, had been dispatched, early in the morning, to encircle the bend, and manoeuvre in such a way, as to divert the savages from the real point of attack. He was particularly directed to prevent their escape to the opposite shore in their canoes, with which, it was represented, the whole shore was lined.
* Memoir of Jackson, by a Freeman.