Fort Mims Massacre
The background to the massacre at Fort Mims stems from the purchase of military arms from the Spanish controlled area of Pensacola in July of 1813. Red Stick Creek leaders traveled to purchase military arms and supplies to aid in repelling white settlers from Creek lands. Peter McQueen and High Head Jim (Red Stick Creeks) led the excursion and upon returning through an area known as Burnt Corn Creek on July 27th 1813 met with militia forces determined to stop the returning military supplies. This altercation resulted in a surprise initial victory for militia forces, but the Red Stick Creek warriors eventually took the field of battle when they regrouped and returned with a coordinated attack against the militia forces. This little regarded battle led to the following retaliation against white settlers and militia forces at Fort Mims on August 30th 1813.
White settlers from the surrounding area of Burnt Corn Creek retreated to the home of Samuel Mims to seek protection from the Creek Indian violence by militia forces. General Claiborne, leader of militia forces, placed Major Daniel Beasley in charge of the defense and protection of Fort Mims. Major Beasley believed there would be no attack from the Red Stick Creeks and therefore made no preparations for a future assault on Fort Mims. Research concerning the Fort Mims massacre reveals that an early warning by children seeing Indians and a detailed account by James Cornell warning Major Beasley of Red Stick Creeks approaching were all disregarded.
William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, gave orders to his Red Stick Creek forces to overtake Fort Mims. The orders stipulated that the coordinated attack would begin with the sounding of the lunch time drums by the Fort Mims militia forces for lunchtime. Red Eagle also ordered that the women and children be spared from the violence; regrettably not all warriors heeded this order. The Fort Mims massacre lasted from 12 until 4 in the afternoon. General Claiborne and his militia forces stationed at nearby Fort Pierce could hear the attack and prepared for the siege of Fort Pierce that never came. The number of dead at Fort Mims remains a highly contested issue among historians, but conservative estimates the number at 247 bodies. It took three weeks for the burial detail to reach Fort Mims. The late summer heat possibly affords the reason why the burial detail burned the bodies of the dead.
“Remember Fort Mims” became a battle cry for the ensuing Creek Indian War by militia forces and volunteers.
-Special thanks to Darren Denney, Graduate student at the University of Montevallo, for the above summary of the Massacre at Fort Mims.
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