In the early 18th Century the French controlled much of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Canada. However, Chickasaw Indians allied with the British were hostile to French expansion along the middle Mississippi. The French governor of Louisiana, Jean Baptiste la Moyne de Bienville, the founder of New Orleans, had already eradicated the hostile Natchez Indians located at present-day Natchez, Mississippi. He only had to remove the Chickasaws to have complete control of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Canada. And to remove the Chickasaw obstruction Bienville had a fool-proof plan that was bound to succeed. His plan was to attack the Chickasaw power center, located at present-day Tupelo, Mississippi, from two sides. Bienville’s 544 French troops, 600 Choctaw allies and 45 Africans would attack from the south while a force of French and Indian allies from upper Louisiana, present day Illinois and Missouri, would attack from the north. The two forces were to converge on the Chickasaw villages on March 31, 1736 and destroy them. But bad weather delayed Bienville’s journey up the Tombigbee River from Mobile. The northern force arrived early and attacked on March 25th without the support of Bienville. They were soundly defeated by the Chickasaws. Bienville arrived on the scene two months later and attacked the fortified village of Ackia. At 2 PM on May 26th his French soldiers made an uphill frontal assault on Ackia and were cut down under a withering fire from the English-supplied Chickasaws. The survivors were pinned down on the hillside below the village. The Choctaws, embarrassed at the French debacle and not wanting to lose face in front of their mortal blood enemy, the Chickasaws, also conducted an assault on Ackia and too were driven back. In all about 100 Frenchman and 25 Choctaws were killed at the Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736. This battle dealt a serious blow to French expansion in North America. The French never defeated the Chickasaws in battle. Today, the battle site of Ackia is occupied by a quiet little neighborhood called Lee Acres located near downtown Tupelo, Mississippi.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at email@example.com