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Creek War

CREEK WAR

CREEK WAR (1813–1814), also known as the Red Stick War, began as a civil war between those who accepted and those who rejected the U.S. policies of acculturation. The Creeks were feeling increased pressure from the white land seekers of the expanding United States, and during the half century preceding the war they were increasingly divided over how best to cope with the intrusions. Benjamin Hawkins, agent to the Creeks just before the turn of the nineteenth century, had administered a program of "civilization" that promoted the planting of cotton and other cash crops, the acquisition of private property, and even the purchase of African slaves. The policy appealed to many Creeks of mixed white-Indian ancestry but aroused the opposition of more traditional members, who opposed the abandonment of sacred traditions and the distribution of communal lands among individual Creeks. A strong opposition to the proposed changes developed among the Upper Creeks of central Alabama, influenced in 1813 by a visit from the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who preached nativism, anti-Americanism, and resistance to further encroachments by the whites. The Upper Creeks, known as the Red Sticks, were hostile, while the Lower Creeks, or White Sticks, remained loyal to the United States. Numerous prophets fanned religious fervor among the Red Sticks, inciting them to civil war.

On 30 August 1813, the Red Sticks sacked and burned an American stockade, Fort Mims, on the Alabama River, killing more than 350 Americans and Indians and bringing American troops into the conflict. Retaliatory forces assembled in Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi, but the principal attack came from Tennessee militiamen under General Andrew Jackson, aided by Cherokees and White Stick Creeks. Jackson vigorously pursued a campaign against the Red Sticks, sacking the Indian village of Talishatchee on 3 November and on 9 November crushing a Creek force at Talladega. With a force of Georgians and White Stick Creeks, General John Floyd on 29 November attacked the Creek village of Auttosee on the Tallapoosa River, burning the village and killing two hundred Creeks. At the battle of Econochaca in northern Alabama on 23 December, Mississippi volunteers burned the village of the Red Stick leader William Weatherford (Red Eagle).

On 27 March 1814, Jackson almost wiped out the Red Stick forces at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama, killing an estimated 850 to 900 warriors and making prisoners of some 500 women and children. This defeat effectively broke the power of the Red Sticks, many of whom fled to join the Seminoles in Florida, while others went into hiding. Ironically, the White Sticks, despite having aided Jackson in the war, were compelled to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson (9 August 1814), under the terms of which they were forced to cede to the United States more than 20 million acres in the present states of Georgia and Alabama. These land cessions only increased white demand for the Creeks' southeastern lands, and these demands ended only when Creeks were removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1835 and 1836.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Martin, Joel. Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees' Struggle for a New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.

Nunez, Theron A., Jr. "Creek Nativism and the Creek War of 1813–14." Ethnohistory 5 (Winter 1958): 17–41; (Spring): 131–175; (Summer): 292–301.

Saunt, Claudio. A New Order of Things: Property, Power, and the Transformation of the Creek Indians, 1733–1816. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Kenneth M.Stewart/j. h.

See alsoIndian Policy, U.S., 1775–1830 ; Indian Treaties ; Mims, Fort, Massacre at .

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