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Ancient Tumuli on the Savannah River

Near the close of a spring day in 1776, Mr. William Bartram, who, at the request of Dr. Fothergill, of London, had been for some time studying the flora of Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, forded Broad River just above its confluence with the Savannah, and became the guest of the commanding officer at Fort James. This fort was situated on an eminence in the forks of the Savannah and Broad, equidistant from those rivers, and from the extreme point of land formed by their union. Fort Charlotte was located about a mile below, on the left bank of the Savannah. The stockade of Fort James was an acre in extent. Attended by the polite surgeon of the garrison, Bartram made an excursion up the Savannah River, “to inspect some remarkable Indian monuments,” four or five miles above the fort. Of them he writes as follows: “These wonderful labors of the ancients stand in a level plain very near the bank of the river, now 20 or 30 yards from it. They consist of conical mounts of earth, and four square terraces, &c. The great mount is in the form of a cone, about 40 or 50 feet high, and the circumference of its base two or three hundred yards, entirely composed of the loamy, rich earth of the low grounds; the top or apex is flat; a spiral path or track leading from the ground up to the top is still visible, where now grows a large, beautiful spreading red cedar1. There appear four niches excavated out of the sides of the hill, at different heights from the base,...

Choctaw Indian Mounds

I read the following in the American Antiquarian over the signature of H. F. Buckner: “Mr. Maxwell, in a historical address, says: My conviction is that the high grade of military skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a know ledge of the necessities of attack and defense unknown to the mode of warfare practiced by the tribes found here by De Soto.” Mr. Maxwell does not state in what respect the high grade of military engineering skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a knowledge of the necessities of attack and defense unknown to the mode of warfare practiced by the tribes found here by De Soto. However, I will here state that the old Shakchih Humma fort, within the enclosure of which was established the missionary station among the Choctaws, called Hebron, of which I have already spoken, and where I spent many years of my life, displayed as “high grade of military engineering skill” and attested a “knowledge of the necessities of attack and defense” equal to our high grade of military engineering skill displayed in the military forts erected throughout the present Indian Territory, of which I have had an ocular demonstration. “Who the Mound Builders were it is impossible to determine,” continues Mr. Maxwell. “They were not built by the ancestors of the tribes found here by De Soto, as they pretended no knowledge of their construction, traditional or otherwise.” Truly, a poor basis upon which to predicate the above broad assertion; since De Soto expedition was made alone for the purpose of finding gold, while to learn...

Journey of Bartram Through Alabama

William Bartram, the botanist, passed through the Creek nation, and went from thence to Mobile. He found that that town extended back from the river nearly half a mile. Some of the houses were vacant, and others were in ruins. Yet a few good buildings were inhabited by the French gentlemen, and others by refined emigrants of Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Northern British Colonies. The Indian trade was under management of Messrs. Swanson and McGillivray. They conducted an extensive commerce with the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks. Their buildings were commodious, and well arranged for that purpose. The principal houses of the French were of brick, of one story, of a square form, and on a large scale, embracing courts in their rears. Those of the lower classes were made of strong cypress frames, filled in with plaster. Major Farmar, one of the most respectable inhabitants of West Florida, who formerly had much to do with the colonial government, resided at Tensaw, in sight of the present Stockton, where once lived the tribe of Tensaw Indians. The bluff sustained not only his extensive improvements, but the dwellings of many French families, chiefly his tenants, while his extensive plantations lay up and down the Tensaw River, on the western side. Indeed, all up that river, and particularly on the western branch, were many well cultivated plantations, belonging to various settlers, while others were in ruins, having been abandoned by the French when the English took possession of the country. The plantations on the Mobile River, as seen five years before, have already been mentioned. At one of these Bartram stayed...

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