Battle of Horseshoe Bend
Map of Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.
Click to see larger version (in new window).
In the Spring of 1814, a deadly and decisive battle would occur on the
Tallapoosa River in Alabama, killing more
Native American's in a single
battle than any other in the history of America. It would also
bring fame to General
Andrew Jackson, gain the United States 23 million
acres of new territory, and help elect Jackson as the nations 7th
President in 1828.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend was the final conflict of the Creek War of
1813 and 1814. Leading up to this time, the
Creek Indians, or Muskogee
as they are also known, lived in villages along rivers in
Alabama. Some were friendly to the United States, however when war
erupted between the
U.S. and Britain in 1812, a few warriors joined with
Shawnee military leader Tecumseh, who had previously encouraged them to
drive out Americans from their ancestral lands. Tecumseh was
allied with the British in the War of 1812.
The split among the Creek brought about a Creek Civil War, with the
faction against the U.S. taking the name of Red Sticks, which scholars
believe referred to their red-painted war clubs.
In late July of 1813,
Mississippi Territory Militia ambushed a party of
Red Sticks returning from
Florida with Spanish ammunition and supplies.
In turn, the Red Sticks killed 250 Creek and American settlers at Fort
Mims Alabama. This massacre prompted the U.S. to gather forces from
Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi Territory for a three pronged assault
on the Creek Red Sticks.
Andrew Jackson was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to take its
states militia into Creek territory, and in March of 1814 was reinforced
with soldiers from the United States Infantry. On March 26,
Jackson led 3,300 men and camped just a few miles northwest of
Horseshoe Bend. His men included 500 Cherokee and 100 Creek
warriors allied with the U.S.
In the meantime, respected Creek war
Chief Menawa waited at the bend with 1,000 Red Stick warriors, and 350
women and children who had gathered there for protection. At the
bend they had fortified the village of Tohopeka with the hope of keeping
attackers at bay, or at least allowing time for some of them to escape
On the morning of March 27, 1814, General Jackson split up his men,
ordering General John Coffee to lead a force of 700 mounted riflemen and
all 600 allied Native American warriors to cross the Tallapoosa River
just down river from the village and surround it, while the remaining
2000, led by Jackson, made their way directly to the log barricades
built by the Creek at the
neck of Horseshoe Bend.
Beginning around 10:30 a.m., and lasting for two hours, Jackson
bombarded the fortified log wall with cannon fire in order to blow a
hole through it for his troops. During this, Cherokee warriors
under General Coffee swam across the river and stole canoe's, using them
to bring an increasing number of warriors across the river to attack
the village from the south. At 12:30 that afternoon, after Jackson could
see smoke rising from the attacks to the south, he launched his own
assault, leading a brutal battle that would last for nearly six hours. The Red Sticks were outnumbered and outgunned, with many of them trying
to escape into the river only to be shot by General Coffee's men.
After the fighting ended, more than 800 Red Stick warriors lie dead.
557 of those were on the battlefield and 300 in the river. The women and
children became prisoners of the Cherokee and allied Creek warriors. Only
49 of Jackson's troops perished. Chief Menawa, who was wounded several times during the battle, lay among
the dead until nightfall, then escaped by canoe.
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend ended the Creek Civil War and made Jackson
a hero, prompting his promotion to a major general in the U.S. Army,
during which time he defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans
in January 1815. These two victories would help get him elected as
President of the United States in 1828.
few months after Horseshoe Bend, Jackson and Creek Chiefs signed the
Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814, officially ending the Creek
War and giving the U.S. almost 23 million acres of Creek land. Much
of the land became the state of Alabama in 1819.
Alexander, March 2014.
Encyclopedia of Alabama, Ove Jensen, Horseshoe Bend National
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
Horseshoe Bend Rd.
Me-Na-Wa, a Creek warrior, McKenney and Hall,
1837. This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Drawing of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Creek War,
present-day southern Alabama. Photo courtesy New York Public Library, 1847,
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