Tustennuggee Emathla, Creek Chief
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This is a fine looking man, six feet and one inch in height, of manly and martial appearance, and great physical strength, who seems well calculated to command the respect of a band of savage warriors. Our brief sketch of him is framed from memorandum taken from his own lips. He is a full-blooded Creek, and was born on the Tallapoosa River, about the year 1793, which would make him forty-five years old at the period to which we bring down his biography. He is most generally known by the familiar name of Jim Boy, but is properly entitled to that which we have placed at the head of this article, Tustennuggee, meaning warrior, and Emathla, which signifies next to the warrior.
When the war broke out in 1811, between the Creeks and the American people, he was too young to wield the tomahawk, but was permitted to follow the warriors of his nation to the field; and he thus witnessed the capture of Fort Mimms, a fortress which the Indians surprised at the commencement of hostilities, and where they basely massacred all who fell into their hands, without regard to age or sex. He was also present at the battle of Cahawba, but took no further part in that war. He afterwards accompanied General Jackson, under the command of McIntosh, towards Florida, but was not in any fight.
When the Creek nation became divided into two parties, one of whom were friendly to the American people and government, and disposed to yield to the settled and inevitable policy which demanded their entire separation from the white race, and the other hostile to our country and unwilling to emigrate, Tustennuggee Emathla attached himself to the former party. He has continued, since he reached the years of maturity, the undeviating friend : ” the Americans; and it affords us great pleasure to recognize, in the steady attachment of this individual and many others, the most intelligent and best disposed of their race, some proof that, what ever abuses may have corrupted and disgraced our intercourse with that unfortunate people, the general policy of our government towards them has been of a kind and liberal character.
In the late war in Florida, Tustennuggee Emathla seems to have rendered some service. General Jessup sought his services to lead a party against the Seminoles, and he accordingly raised a band of seven hundred and seventy-six warriors, whom he con ducted to the seat of war. He descended the Chattahoochee to Tampa Bay, having instructions from General Jessup not to engage in hostilities against the Seminoles until he should first have endeavored, as a mediator, to induce them to abandon the bloody and fruitless contest in which they were unhappily engaged. In this attempt he was not successful; and we find him, soon after his arrival at Tampa, joining the camp of Colonel Lane, by whom he was sent, with two hundred of his warriors, to look after the Seminoles. He fell in with a party of the latter, and drove them into a swamp, from which they opened a fire and wounded several of his men. He was then sent to meet Governor Call, and arrived at the spot where General Gaines was surrounded, soon after that officer had been relieved. On the following day he joined Governor Call, and proceeded to Fort Drane. Thence they moved on one of Acee-Yoholo’s towns, called Weecockcogee, or little river, about sixty miles from Fort Drane, where the Seminoles, though numerous, refused them battle, fled, and were pursued. The Creeks were unable to overtake them; but the Tennessee horse fell in with them on the following day, and a fight ensued, in which several were killed on each side.
Tustennuggee and his party joined the army again at Fort Dade, and the Seminoles being in a Swamp hard by, an attack was planned, in which the Creeks were invited to go foremost, an honor which they promptly declined, while they cheerfully agreed to advance side by side with the white men. In this fight the Creeks lost four men, besides one who was accidentally killed by the whites; but the Seminoles were beaten. He was afterwards sent to a place towards Fort Augustine for provisions, and was in several skirmishes not worth recording.
This chief states that he joined our army under a promise made by the commanding general, that in the removal of the Creeks to the west of the Mississippi, which was about to take place, his family and property should be attended to, and that he should be indemnified for any loss that might happen in consequence of his absence. These stipulations, he alleges, were broken by the removal of his women and children while he was absent in the service of the government, whereby his entire property was destroyed. Nor was this the worst of his misfortunes. His family, consisting of a wife and nine children, were among the unfortunate persons who were on board the steamboat Monmouth when that vessel was sunk by the mismanagement of those to whose care it was entrusted; and two hundred and thirty-six of the Creeks, including four of the children of Tustennuggee Emathla, were drowned. Melancholy as such an occurrence would be under any circumstances, the catastrophe is infinitely the more deplorable when happening to an ignorant people while emigrating unwillingly under the charge of our public agents, and to a people whose whole inter course with the whites has tended to render them suspicious of the faith of civilized men. The more intelligent among them will doubtless attribute the misfortune to culpable negligence, if not design, while the ignorant will see in it, with superstitious awe, another link in the chain of fatal events entailed upon the red men by their contact with the white race. So far as the chief before us has any claim upon the justice or benevolence of our country, there can be no doubt that the government will maintain its faith invio late. Whatever may be thought of our policy towards the Indian tribes, as such, we are not chargeable, as a people, with any backwardness in the discharge of our obligations to individual claimants.