The Creek War was part of the War of 1812 in which the United States under General Andrew Jackson defeated the "Red Sticks" militant faction of the Creek Indians who were massacring American settlers. The other faction of Creeks were allied to the U.S. The Creeks were collaborating with Tecumseh, who tried to organize a pan-Indian confederation with British support. The Creeks were supplied by the Spanish in Florida, who were allied with Britain.
The Creek Indians of Georgia and Alabama were divided into two factions: the Upper Creeks (or Red Sticks) in the west, who opposed the Americans and sided with the British and Spanish during the War of 1812, and the Lower Creeks in the east, ("White Sticks") who tried to remain on good terms with the Americans. At issue was assimilation into American society, which was embraced by the Lower Creeks and violently rejected by the Upper Creeks. the latter had experienced a pagan religious revival which taught them that all whites (and half-breed children with one Indian parent and one white parent) were evil and had to be destroyed. Numerous prophets arose among the Red Sticks, inciting them to war.
Shawnee leader Tecumseh visited Creek towns in 1811-12 and persuaded the Upper Creeks to join a general Indian war on the Americans, promising support from Britain. While the Upper Creeks began to raid American settlements, the Lower Creeks helped the Americans to capture and punish leading raiders, often becoming casualties of revenge themselves.
Fort Mims Massacre
After the Red Sticks murdered more than five hundred white settlers at Fort Mims, it was war to the death on the frontier. Following a successful attack on a white expedition at the Battle of Burnt Corn, the Red Sticks decided to attack and destroy Fort Mims in the Mississippi Territory. Hundreds of white and half-breed families had sought protection there. The fort was badly defended because of gross negligence, poor scouting, an attack at noon when most of the garrison was eating, seizure of the port holes by the Indians, and inability to close the main gates. On Aug. 30, 1813, the Indians attacked. Of the 275 to 300 whites and half-breeds in the fort about 30 escaped and the rest were killed during the battle or scalped and killed immediately after it. The Red Sticks lost about 100 killed.
Washington rushed in troops under General Jackson. This mobilization preempted the British, now en route to New Orleans, from occupying an undefended Gulf Coast in 1814. Jackson led American militias, regulars, White Stick Creek and pro-American Cherokee allies against the Red Sticks in what is now Alabama. Indians seldom fought pitched battles; they preferred the ambush, but now they had to fight to defend their winter food supplies. Jackson vigorously pursued the Red Sticks, sacking the Indian village of Talishatchee on Nov. 3 and on Nov. 9 1813, crushing a force at Talladega. With a force of Georgians and White Stick Creek, Gen. John Floyd on Nov. 29 attacked the Creek village of Auttosee on the Tallapoosa River, burning the village and killing 200 Red Sticks. At the battle of Econochaca in northern Alabama on Dec. 23 Mississippi volunteers burned the village of the Red Stick leader William Weatherford (Red Eagle). Finally Jackson trapped the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend in Alabama in March 1814, and killed some 850 to 900 enemy, and taking 500 women and children prisoner. The remainder fled to Spanish Florida where they merged into the newly formed Seminole tribe, and continued to fight the United States until as late as the 1840s. The White Stick Creek, despite having aided Jackson in the war, were compelled to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson (Aug. 9, 1814), under the terms of which they were forced to cede to the United States more than 20 million acres in the present states of Georgia and Alabama. They were relocated to reservations in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma), where many still live with federal subsidies.
- Buchanan, John. Jackson's Way: Andrew Jackson and the People of the Western Waters. (2001). 434 pp. online review
- O'Brien, Sean Michael. In Bitterness and in Tears: Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks and Seminoles. (2003). 254 pp.
- Owsley Jr., Frank L. Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815 (2000) excerpt and text search
- Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and his Indian Wars (2001)
- Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767-1821 (1977);
- Rowland, Dunbar. Andrew Jackson's Campaign against the British, or, the Mississippi Territory in the War of 1812, concerning the Military Operations of the Americans, Creek Indians, British, and Spanish, 1813-1815 (1926) online edition
- The Creeks used a bundle of sticks to send a message to another tribe; red sticks meant war, with the number of sticks equaling the number of days before the war would begin. White sticks meant peace.
- Frank L., Owsley Jr., "The Fort Mims Massacre," Alabama Review 1971 24(3): 192-204