On this date 200 years ago General John Coffee and 1,000 Tennessee troops surrounded the Muscogee/Creek village of Tallushatchee and began a systematic slaughter of the inhabitants. Andrew Jackson invaded Creek Country with 2,500 Tennessee Militia to retaliate for a massacre that took place the previous August at Fort Mims. Mims was a stockade located on the Alabama River north of Mobile. At Fort Mims militant Creeks known as Red Sticks attacked the Fort in retaliation for an even earlier battle that took place at Burnt Corn. The Red Sticks were a militant faction of the Creek nation who sought a more traditional Native American way of life. The Red Stick movement was a reaction to loss of Creek tradition and land brought on by the American encroachment into Creek Country. A Creek civil war was simmering that pitted those Creeks friendly to Americans against those Creeks who were not, the Red Sticks. That Civil War spilled over into the larger War of 1812 at Fort Mims where the Red Sticks sought vengeance against the Metis or mixed-blood Creeks who were siding with the Americans. Historians estimate that perhaps 300 people were killed inside Mims. At Tallushatchee Andrew Jackson reported killing 200 Creek men. An untold number of woman and children were also shot or burned to death inside their homes. Davey Crockett, a soldier in Coffee’s company, reported seeing a 12-year old boy too injured to walk crawling from a burning house, “the grease stewing out of him.” But the child begged no quarter Crockett recalled. “We shot 'em like dogs,” Crockett said of the Creek men, women and children. Andrew Jackson, writing to Tennessee Gov. Willie Blount after the battle stated, “We have retaliated for the destruction of Fort Mimms."
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org