In the meantime, the wealthy half-bloods about Little river had dropped down the Alabama, in their boats, and had secreted themselves in the swamp about Lake Tensaw. Uniting with the whites, they soon began the construction of a fort around the residence of Samuel Mims, a wealthy Indian countryman, to whom we have often alluded, and who, originally, was one of the pack-horsemen of the Honorable George Galphin.
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Being about to relate a horrible affair, in which people of all ages and both sexes were subjected to savage butchery, a particular description of the place where it occurred is deemed necessary. Mims lived within four hundred yards of the Boat Yard, upon Lake Tensaw, a mile east of the Alabama River, and two miles below the Cut-Off. His house was a large frame building of one story, with spacious shed-rooms. Around it pickets were driven, between which fence rails were placed. Five hundred portholes were made, three and a half feet only from the ground. The stockading enclosed an acre of ground, in a square form, and was entered by two ponderous but rude gates, one on the east and the other on the west. Within the enclosure, besides the main building, were various out-houses, rows of bee gums, together with cabins and board shelters, recently erected by the settlers, wherever a vacant spot appeared. At the southwest corner a blockhouse was begun, but never finished. This defense was situated on a very slight elevation. A large potato field lay adjoining on the south, in which were a row of Negro houses. Woods intervened between the picketing and the lake, while in a northern direction cane swamps, which grew denser as they approached the river, were hard by. On the east the fiat lands continued for several miles, interspersed with cane marshes and some ravines. It was altogether a most ill-chosen place for a fort, as it ultimately proved. 1Conversations with Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, of Baldwin.
No sooner was Fort Mims partially finished than the citizens poured in, with their provisions and effects. Colonel Carson, who had reached Mount Vernon in advance of Claiborne, sent over Lieutenant Osborne, with sixteen men. Afterwards Claiborne dispatched one hundred and seventy-five more volunteers to Fort Mims under the command of Major Daniel Beasley, with Captains Jack, Batchelor and Middleton. He found seventy militia upon duty, commanded, for the present, by Dunn and Plummer, two inexperienced officers. Permitting them to elect their officers, the brave Dixon Bailey was unanimously chosen for the post of captain, and Crawford for ensign. The next day General Claiborne, arriving at Fort Mims and inspecting the works, addressed a general order of instruction to Beasley, charging him “to strengthen the picketing, build two more block-houses, respect the enemy, to send out scouts frequently, and allow the suffering people provisions, whether whites or friendly Indians.” Returning to his headquarters, at Mount Vernon, he, for the moment, directed his attention to other portions of the frontiers. 2Claiborne’s MS. papers. In the meantime, Major Beasley had extended the picketing on the east side sixty feet deep, forming a separate apartment for the accommodation of the officers and their baggage. He greatly weakened his command by sending small detachments to Forts Madison, Easley, Pierce, and Joshua Kennedy’s saw-mill, where citizens had collected, and asked for assistance. 3Conversations with Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, of Baldwin. At this mill the government had a large contract for lumber to put Fort Charlotte, of Mobile, in repair, and build a fort at Mobile Point, and it was deemed necessary to strengthen it with troops to prevent the Indians from burning it down. 4Claiborne’s MS. papers.
The whole population of Fort Mims, consisting of whites, Indians, soldiers, officers and Negroes, now amounted to five hundred and fifty-three souls. Crowded together in an Alabama swamp, in the month of August, much sickness prevailed. 5Conversations with Dr. Thomas G. Holmes. In the meantime, Crawford was dismissed from the post of ensign for having deserted from the regular army, and Peter Randon, a half-breed, was appointed in his place. Beasley kept up a correspondence with Claiborne, several times acquainting him with alarms, which turned out to be false. 6Claiborne’s MS. papers.
The Creeks, whom we left returning to Pensacola from the battleground of Burnt Corn, were again liberally supplied with arms and ammunition. Making their way back to the Tallapoosa without molestation, active preparations were made by them for immediate war. Warriors from the towns of Hoithlewale, Fooshatche, Cooloome, Ecunhutke, Souvanoga, Mooklausa, Alabama, Oakchoieooche, Pockuschatche, Ochebofa, Puckuntallahasse, Wewocoe and Woccocoie marched in a southern direction, while others, from Tallase, Auttose and Ocfuske, formed a front of observation towards Coweta to conceal the movement. 7Indian Affairs, vol. 1, p. 858. The Spaniards and the British agents charged McQueen’s party to “fight the Americans. If they prove too hard for you, send your women and children to Pensacola, and we will send them to Havana, and if you should be compelled to fly yourselves, and the Americans should prove too hard for both of us, there are vessels enough to take us all off together.”–Claiborne’s MS. papers.
Associated with McQueen and Francis was William Weatherford, the son of Charles Weatherford, a Georgian, who had lived almost a lifetime in the Creek nation. His mother, Sehoy, was the half-sister of General McGillivray, and a native of Hickory Ground. William was uneducated, but was a man of great native intellect, fine form and commanding person. His bearing was gentlemanly and dignified, and was coupled with an intelligent expression, which led strangers to suppose that they were in the presence of no ordinary man. His eyes were large, dark, brilliant and flashing. He was one of “nature’s noblemen,” a man of strict honor and unsurpassed courage. He was now with the large Indian army, conducting them down to attack the Tensaw settlers, among whom were his brother and several sisters, and also his half-brother, David Tait. 8David Tait was the son of Colonel Tait. a British officer, who was stationed at the Hickory Ground, upon the Coosa, in 1778, as we have seen. How unhappily were these people divided! His sister, Hannah McNac, with all her sons, belonged to the war party, while the husband was a true friend of the Americans, and had fled to them for protection. Weatherford led his army to the plantation of Zachariah McGirth, a little below the present Claiborne, where, capturing several Negroes, among whom was an intelligent fellow named Joe, from whom they learned the condition of Fort Mims, and the proper time to attack it, he halted for several days to deliberate. One of the Negroes escaped, and conveyed intelligence to the fort of the approach of the Indians. Major Beasley had continued to send out scouts daily, who were unable to discover traces of the enemy. The inmates had become inactive, free from alarm, and abandoned themselves to fun and frolic. The Negro runner from McGirth’s plantation now aroused them for a time, and Fort Mims was further strengthened. But the Indians not appearing the Negro was pronounced to be a liar, and the activity of the garrison again abated. At length two young Negro men were sent out to mind some beef cattle that grazed upon the luxuriant grass within a few miles of the fort. Suddenly they came rushing through the gate out of breath, and reported that they had counted twenty-four painted warriors. Captain Middleton, with a detachment of horse, was immediately dispatched with the Negroes to the place, but being unable to discover the least sign of the enemy, returned about sunset, when one of the Negroes, belonging to John Randon, was tied up and severely flogged for alarming the garrison, with what Major Beasley deemed a sheer fabrication. Fletcher, the owner of the other, refused to permit him to be punished, because he believed his statement, which so incensed the major that he ordered him, with his large family, to depart from the fort by 10 o’clock the next day. The next morning Randon’s Negro was again sent out to attend the cattle, but seeing a large body of Indians fled to Fort Pierce, being afraid to communicate the intelligence to those who had whipped him. In the meantime Fletcher’s Negro, by the reluctant consent of his master, was tied up and the lash about to be applied to his back; the officers were preparing to dine; the soldiers were reposing on the ground; some of the settlers were playing cards; the girls and young men were dancing, while a hundred thoughtless and happy children sported from door to door, and from tent to tent.
At that awful moment one thousand Creek warriors, extended flat upon the ground in a thick ravine, four hundred yards from the eastern gate, thirsted for American blood. No eyes saw them but those of the chirping and innocent birds in the limbs above them. The mid-day sun sometimes flashed through the thick foliage, and glanced upon their yellow skins, but quickly withdrew, as if afraid longer to contemplate the murderous horde. There lay the prophets, covered with feathers, with black faces, resembling those monsters which partake of both beast and bird. Beside them lay curious medicine bags and rods of magic. The whole ravine was covered with painted and naked savages, completely armed.
The hour of 12 o’clock arrived, and the drum beat the officers and the soldiers of the garrison to dinner. Then, by one simultaneous bound, the ravine was relieved of its savage burden, and soon the field resounded with the rapid tread of the bloody warriors. The sand had washed against the eastern gate, which now lay open. Major Beasley rushed, sword in hand, and essayed in vain to shut it. The Indians felled him to the earth with their clubs and tomahawks, and rushing over his body into the additional part of the fort, left him a chance to crawl behind the gate, where he shortly after expired. To the last he called upon the men to make a resolute resistance. The eastern part of the picketing was soon full of Indians, headed by five prophets, whom the Americans immediately shot down, while engaged in dancing and incantations. This greatly abated the ardor of the enemy, many of whom retreated through the gate for the moment.
They had been assured that American bullets would split upon the sacred persons of the prophets, and pass off harmless. The unhappy inmates of Fort Mims now made all efforts to defend the place, but their attempts were confused and ineffective. The assailants, from the old line of picketing, in the additional part of the fort, and from the outside stockading, commenced a general fire upon the Americans. Soldiers, Negroes, women and children fell. Captain Middleton, in charge of the eastern section, was soon dispatched, together with all his men. Captain Jack, on the south wing, with a company of riflemen, defended his position with great bravery. Lieutenant Randon fought from the guardhouse, on the west, while Captain Dixon Bailey repulsed the enemy, to the best of his ability, on the northern line of pickets, against which much the largest number of Indians operated. The number of savages was so great that they apparently covered the whole field, and they now rent the air with their exulting shouts. Many of the younger prophets surrounded the main building, which was full of women and children, and danced around it, distorting their faces, and sending up the most unearthly screams. The pickets and houses afforded the Americans some protection, where the young men, the aged, and even the boys, fought with desperation. Captain Bailey was the man to whom the eyes of all the settlers were turned at this critical moment. He maintained his position, and was the only officer who gained the portholes before they were occupied by the enemy. His repeated discharges made lanes through the savage ranks. Fresh numbers renewed their efforts against him, and often an Indian and an American would plant their guns across the same porthole to shoot at each other. Bailey encouraged the whole population in the fort to fight, assuring them that Indians seldom fought long at one time, and, by holding out for a little while longer, many would be saved. Failing in his entreaties to prevail upon several to rush through the enemy to Fort Pierce, only two miles distant, there procure reinforcements, and attack the assailants in the rear, he resolved to go himself, and began to climb over the pickets for that purpose; but his neighbors, who loved him dearly, pulled him back.
About three o’clock, the Indians, becoming tired of the contest, plundered the additional part of the fort, and began to carry off the effects to the house of Mrs. O’Neil, which lay three hundred yards distant, on the road to the ferry. Weatherford overtook them, on a fine black horse, and brought them back to the scene of action, after having impressed them by an animated address. About this time, Dr. Osborne, the surgeon, was shot through the body, and carried into Patrick’s loom-house, where he expired in great agony. The women now animated the men to defend them, by assisting in loading the guns and bringing water from the well. The most prominent among these was Mrs. Daniel Bailey, who, provoked at the cowardice of Sergeant Mathews, severely punctured him with a bayonet as he lay trembling against the wall. Many instances of unrivalled courage could be enumerated, if our space permitted it. One of Jack’s soldiers retreated to the half-finished blockhouse, after his Commander and all his brothers-in-arms had fallen, and from that point, discharged his gun at intervals, until he had killed over a dozen warriors. James and Daniel Bailey, the brothers of the gallant Captain, with other men, ascended to the roof of Mims’ dwelling, knocked off some shingles for portholes, where they continued to shoot the lusty warriors on the outside of the picketing. But the superior force of the assailants enabled them constantly to bring fresh warriors into the action. They now set fire to the main building, and many of the out-houses. The shrieks of the women and children went up to high heaven.
To Patrick’s loom-house had been attached some extra picketing, forming what was improperly termed a bastion. Hither Captain Bailey, and those of his command who survived, entered and continued to pour upon the savages a most deadly fire. Many citizens attempted to reach that spot, now the only one of the least security. The venerable David Mims, attempting to pass to the bastion, received a large ball in the neck; the blood gushed out; he exclaimed: “Oh, God, I am a dead man!” and fell upon his face. A cruel warrior cut around his head, and waved his hoary scalp exultingly in the air. Some poor Spaniards, who had deserted from the Pensacola garrison, kneeled around the well and crossed themselves, and, while interceding with the Most High, were dispatched with tomahawks. “To the Bastion! To the Bastion!” was now the fearful cry of the survivors. Soon it was full to overflowing. The weak, wounded and feeble, were pressed to death and trodden under foot. The spot presented the appearance of one immense mass of human beings, herded together too close to defend themselves, and, like beeves in the slaughter-pen of the butcher, a prey to those who fired upon them. The large building had fallen, carrying with it the scorched bodies of the Baileys and others on the roof, and the large number of women and children in the lower story. The flames began to reach the people in the bastion. Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, an assistant surgeon in the garrison, seized an axe, cut some pickets in two, but did not take them down, suffering them to remain until a suitable opportunity offered to escape. The brave Dixon Bailey now cried aloud that all was lost, that his family were to be butchered, and begged all to make their escape, if possible. His Negro man, Tom, (still living, at Sisemore’s plantation) took up his favorite son, who was thirteen years of age, but feeble with the fever, and bore him through the pickets, which Holmes now threw down, and gained the woods in safety. But, strange to say, the infatuated Negro presently brought back the poor boy to a squad of hostiles, who dashed out his brains with war-clubs. Little Ralph cried out, “Father, father, save me! Of his Heavenly Father the poor little heathen had probably never heard.
In front of the northern line of picketing was a fence, fifty yards distant, in every lock of which many warriors had placed themselves, to cut off all retreat; besides which, others stationed themselves at various points to shoot those who should run. Dr. Holmes, Captain Bailey, and a Negro woman named Hester, the property of Benjamin Steadham, were the first to escape through the aperture. Holmes, receiving in his flight several balls through his clothes, but no wounds, strangely made his way over the fence, gained the swamp, and concealed himself in a clay hole, formed by the prostration of an immense tree. Bailey reached the swamp, but, being badly wounded, died by the side of a cypress stump. Hester received a severe wound in the breast, but reached a canoe in the lake, paddled to Fort Stoddart that night, and was the first to give intelligence to General Claiborne of the horrible affair.
Returning again to the fatal spot, every house was seen to be in flames. The bastion was broken down, the helpless inmates were butchered in the quickest manner, and blood and brains bespattered the whole earth. The children were seized by the legs and killed by beating their heads against the stockading. The women were scalped, and those who were pregnant were opened, while they were alive, and the embryo infants let out of the womb. Weatherford had some time previous left the horrid scene. He had implored the warriors to spare the women and children, and reproached them for their barbarity; but his own life was threatened for interposing, many clubs were raised over his head, and he was forced to retire. In after years he never thought of that bloody occasion without the most painful emotions. He had raised the storm, but he could not control it.
The British agents at Pensacola had offered a reward of five dollars for every American scalp. The Indians jerked the skin from the whole head, and, collecting all the effects which the fire had not consumed, retired to the east, one mile from the ruins, to spend the night, where they smoked their pipes and trimmed and dried their scalps. The battle had lasted from twelve to five o’clock.
Of the large number in the fort, all were killed or burned up except a few half-bloods, who were made prisoners; some Negroes, reserved for slaves; and the following persons, who made their escape and lived: Dr. Thomas G. Holmes; Hester, a Negro woman: Socca, a friendly Indian; Peter Randon, lieutenant of Citizens’ company; Josiah Fletcher; Sergeant Mathews, the coward; Martin Rigdon; Samuel Smith, a half-breed; _____ Mourrice, Joseph Perry, Mississippi volunteers; Jesse Steadham; Edward Steadham; John Hoven; _______ Jones; and Lieutenant W. R. Chambliss, of the Mississippi volunteers.
Dr. Holmes lay concealed in the clay hole until nine o’clock at night. The Gin-House at the Boat Yard had been fired, and the conflagration threw a light over the surrounding country in addition to that still afforded by the ruins of Fort Mims. Hence, he was forced to resume his position, until twelve o’clock, when the flames died away. Remembering that he had never learned to swim, he abandoned the idea which he first entertained, of crossing the Alabama and making his way to Mount Vernon. He therefore bent his course towards the high lands. He frequently came upon small Indian fires, around which the bloody warriors lay in profound sleep. Bewildered and shocked in every direction in which he turned by unwelcome and fearful sights like these, he at length, after a great deal of winding and turning, fell back into the river swamp, hid in a clump of thick canes, and there subsisted upon water, mutton reed and roots. All this time he was in the immediate neighborhood of the scene of the tragical events we have described, and heard distinctly the Indians killing the stock of the citizens. When silence ensued, after the fifth day, he made his way to the Race-Track, and from thence to Pine-Log Creek, where he spent the night. Reaching Buford’s Island the next day, and seeing the tracks of people and horses, he determined to fall in with them, although they should prove to be hostile Indians, so desperate had he become from starvation. At the Tensaw Lake, Holmes found the horses tied, and, rejoicing to find that they belonged to his friends, fired off his gun. John Buford and his party, supposing the discharge proceeded from the war party, fled up into a bayou in a boat, where they remained two days. The disappointed Holmes went to the abandoned house of Buford, where he fortunately obtained some poultry, which he devoured without cooking. Three days afterwards he was discovered by Captain Buford and conveyed to Mount Vernon, where the other fourteen who escaped had arrived and reported him among the slain.
Martin Rigdon, Samuel Smith, Joseph Perry, _____ Mourrice and Jesse Steadham escaped through the picketing together. The latter was shot through the thigh early in the action, and Mourrice in the shoulder. Leaping the fence in front of the bastion, over the heads of the squatting Indians, they reached the swamp, where they remained three days, when, finding an old canoe below the Boat Yard, they made their escape to Mount Vernon. Edward Steadham, who was wounded in the hand while flying from the bastion, entered the swamp, swam the Alabama above the Cut-Off, and arrived at Mount Vernon four days after the massacre. All the others who escaped so miraculously made their way with success through the Indian ranks, and had many similar adventures, reaching the American headquarters at the most imminent peril. Lieutenant Chambliss had received two severe wounds in the fort, and in running across the field received another. Reaching the woods, he crept into a log-heap. At night a party of warriors set fire to it, for the purpose of smoking their pipes, and when the heat was becoming intolerable, and he would soon have been forced to discover himself, they fortunately were called off to another campfire. He left that place immediately, wandered about, and for a long time was supposed to be dead. He made his way, however, to Mount Vernon, and from thence went to Soldiers’ Retreat, the residence of General Claiborne, near Natchez, where Dr. John Coxe, an eminent surgeon, extracted two arrow-heads and a ball from his body. 9Claiborne’s MS. papers.
The day after the fall of Fort Mims the Indians began to bury their dead, by laying their bodies between the potato rows and drawing dirt and vines over them; but, from the great number of the dead, it was abandoned. Many were also wounded, who were put in canoes and conveyed up the river. Others wounded started home on foot, and died at Burnt Corn Spring. Most of those who were unhurt remained in the neighborhood to kill and plunder, while another party went to Pensacola with the scalps suspended upon poles. 10I am indebted to Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, of Baldwin, Alabama, for the prominent facts in the foregoing narrative of the fall of Fort Mims. He made notes of the horrible affair a few years after the massacre took place, while the facts were fresh in his memory. I also conversed with Jesse Steadham, of Baldwin, and Lieutenant Peter Randon, the latter of whom I found in New Orleans, who also escaped.
Zachariah McGirth was the son of James McGirth, who was, as we have seen, an unprincipled but brave man, and a captain of a company of Tories during the revolutionary war, called the “Florida Rangers,” forming a part of a battalion commanded by his brother, Colonel Daniel McGirth. When the war terminated Captain James McGirth fled to the Creek nation, with his children, among whom was Zachariah. The latter married a half-breed Creek woman, named Vicey Curnells, had become wealthy, and was now an inmate of Fort Mims with his wife and eight children. About ten o’clock on the day of the massacre McGirth entered a boat with two of his Negroes, and went out of Lake Tensaw into the Alabama, with the view of ascending that river to his plantation, which was situated below Claiborne, for some provisions. Reaching the Cut Off he heard a heavy discharge of guns at Fort Mims. With pain and anxiety he continued to listen to the firing, and running his boat a mile down the river, in a small bayou, resolved to remain there, being firmly impressed with the belief that the Indians had attacked the fort. Late in the evening the firing ceased, and presently he saw clouds of black smoke rise above the forest trees, which was succeeded by flames. The unhappy McGirth now well knew that all was lost, and that in all probability his family had perished in the flames. Being a bold man, like his father, he resolved to go through the swamp with his Negroes to the fatal spot. When he came within a quarter of a mile of the fort he placed the Negroes in a concealed place, and approached alone. All was gloomy and horrible. Dogs in great numbers ran all over the woods, terrified beyond measure. Seeing that the savages had left the ruins, he returned for his Negroes, and a little after twilight cautiously advanced. McGirth stood aghast at the horrible spectacle. Bodies lay in piles, in the sleep of death, bleeding, scalped, mutilated. His eyes everywhere fell upon forms half burned up, but still cracking and frying upon the glowing coals. In vain did he and his faithful slaves seek for the bodies of his family. Pile after pile was turned over, but no discovery could be made, for the features of but few could be recognized. He turned his back upon the bloody place, crossed the swamp to his boat, and paddled down the Alabama to Mount Vernon with a sad and heavy heart.
McGirth, now alone in the world, became a desperate man, ready to brave the greatest dangers for the sake of revenge. During the Creek war he was often employed in riding expresses from the Tombigby to Georgia, when no one else could be found daring enough to go through the heart of the enemy’s country. After a long service amid such dangers, a friend accosted him one day in Mobile, and told him some people desired to see him at the wharf. Repairing there, he saw, a common sight in those days, some wretched Indians, who had been captured. He was asked if he knew them. Hesitating, his wife and seven children advanced and embraced him. A torrent of joy and profound astonishment overwhelmed him. He trembled like a leaf, and was, for some minutes, speechless.
Many years before the dreadful massacre at Fort Mims, a little hungry Indian boy, named Sanota, an orphan, houseless and friendless, stopped at the house of Vicey McGirth. She fed and clothed him, and he grew to athletic manhood. He joined the war party, and formed one of the expeditions against Fort Mims. Like the other warriors, he was engaged in hewing and hacking the females to pieces, towards the close of the massacre, when he suddenly came upon Mrs. McGirth and his foster-sisters. Pity and gratitude taking possession of his heart, he thrust them in a corner, and nobly made his broad savage breast a rampart for their protection. The next day he carried them off upon horses, towards the Coosa, under the presence that he had reserved them from death for his slaves. Arriving at his home, he sheltered them, hunted for them, and protected them from Indian brutality. One day he told his adopted mother that he was going to fight Jackson, at the Horseshoe, and that, if he should be killed, she must endeavor to reach her friends below. Sure enough, the noble Sanota soon lay among the slain at Cholocco Litebixee. Mrs. McGirth, now being without a protector, and in a hostile region, started off on foot, with her children, for Fort Claiborne. After much suffering, they reached their deserted farm, below Claiborne, where Major Blue, at the head of a company of horse, discovered these miserable objects and carried them to Mobile, where the interview just related took place with the astonished husband, who imagined that he had some months before surveyed their half-burnt bodies upon the field of Fort Mims. His son was the only member of his family who had perished upon that bloody occasion. 11Conversations with Colonel Robert James, of Clarke County, Alabama, who often heard McGirth, relate these particulars. McGirth, in 1834, made the same statements to me.
General Claiborne despatched Major Joseph P. Kennedy, with a strong detachment, to Fort Mims, from his headquarters at Mount Vernon, for the purpose of interring the dead. Sept 9 1813: Upon arriving there, Kennedy found the air darkened with buzzards, and hundreds of dogs, which had run wild, gnawing upon the human carcasses. The troops, with heavy hearts, succeeded in interring many bodies in two large pits, which they dug. “Indians, Negroes, white men, women and children, lay in one promiscuous ruin. All were scalped, and the females, of every age, were butchered in a manner which neither decency nor language will permit me to describe. The main building was burned to ashes, which were filled with bones. The plains and the woods around were covered with dead bodies. All the houses were consumed by fire, except the blockhouse, and a part of the pickets. The soldiers and officers, with one voice, called on Divine Providence to revenge the death of our murdered friends.” 12Major Kennedy’s MS. report to General Claiborne.
In drawing our account of this sanguinary affair to a conclusion, it is proper to observe that General Claiborne was in no way to blame for the unfortunate result. He corresponded with Beasley, heard from him almost every day, and in his dispatches constantly urged him to be prepared to meet the enemy. Claiborne, from every quarter, received distressing messages imploring assistance, and we have already seen how judiciously he distributed his forces, as far as it lay in his power, for their protection, contrary to the instructions of Flournoy, who endeavored to confine his operations chiefly to the defense of Mobile and the country below Ellicott’s line. Just before the attack upon Fort Mims, he headed a large detachment of horse, and rushed to the defense of the people at Easley’s station, upon the Tombigby near the Choctaw line, whom he was induced to believe a large party of Choctaws and Creeks intended shortly to attack. They, however, did not appear, and, leaving a strong guard for the defense of that fort, he hastened back to Mount Vernon, and arrived there at twelve o’clock at night, after a march of seventy miles that day. He was there shocked to learn the fate of the garrison of Fort Mims. Supposing that he had already returned to Mount Vernon, Beasley addressed him a letter two hours, only before the Indians entered the gate, declaring his ability to maintain the post against any number of the enemy. 13Beasley’s letter, found among Claiborne’s MS. papers. The major was as brave a man as ever lived, but neither he nor his officers, attached to the Mississippi division, believed that the enemy were at hand; so often had reports reached them, which they pronounced untrue, because they were not immediately realized, as in the case of the Negro who was whipped, and of the other who was killed by the Indians while tied up, ready to receive the lash. 14The people at Fort Pierce, when the attack was made at Fort Mims, made their way, under Lieutenant Montgomery to Mobile, where they safely arrived.
Footnotes: [ + ]
|1, 3.||↩||Conversations with Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, of Baldwin.|
|2, 4, 6, 9.||↩||Claiborne’s MS. papers.|
|5.||↩||Conversations with Dr. Thomas G. Holmes.|
|7.||↩||Indian Affairs, vol. 1, p. 858. The Spaniards and the British agents charged McQueen’s party to “fight the Americans. If they prove too hard for you, send your women and children to Pensacola, and we will send them to Havana, and if you should be compelled to fly yourselves, and the Americans should prove too hard for both of us, there are vessels enough to take us all off together.”–Claiborne’s MS. papers.|
|8.||↩||David Tait was the son of Colonel Tait. a British officer, who was stationed at the Hickory Ground, upon the Coosa, in 1778, as we have seen.|
|10.||↩||I am indebted to Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, of Baldwin, Alabama, for the prominent facts in the foregoing narrative of the fall of Fort Mims. He made notes of the horrible affair a few years after the massacre took place, while the facts were fresh in his memory. I also conversed with Jesse Steadham, of Baldwin, and Lieutenant Peter Randon, the latter of whom I found in New Orleans, who also escaped.|
|11.||↩||Conversations with Colonel Robert James, of Clarke County, Alabama, who often heard McGirth, relate these particulars. McGirth, in 1834, made the same statements to me.|
|12.||↩||Major Kennedy’s MS. report to General Claiborne.|
|13.||↩||Beasley’s letter, found among Claiborne’s MS. papers.|
|14.||↩||The people at Fort Pierce, when the attack was made at Fort Mims, made their way, under Lieutenant Montgomery to Mobile, where they safely arrived.|