Andrew Jackson was raised in poverty, but defied the odds to become a successful lawyer. By 1812, when the war between the U.S. and Britain broke out, Jacksons skills in military leadership came out and he was later hailed by Americans as a hero. Jacksons role in the 1812 war gained him entry into the race for the presidency in 1824. After failing to clinch the coveted presidential seat, Jackson made a comeback four years later and defeated John Quincy Adam to become Americas seventh president. The Battle of Horse Shoe Bend was one of the small battles of 1812, which helped the U.S. free itself from the yoke of the British. This paper will review the battle of Horse Shoe Bend and how Jackson played a commanding role in it and how his participation earned him the title of strategic commander at the battle of New Orleans.
Prior to the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend
Before the Horseshoe Bend battle, the Creek population lived in loose towns located along rivers Alabama and Georgia. The settlers of Anglo-America had partitioned the Creek towns into two distinct groups, that is, the upper towns along the Alabama, Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers and the lower towns along the Ocmulgee, Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. In 1811, Tecumseh, the Shawnee military commander, paid the southern tribes a visit in a bid to lure the inhabitants to join his mission and drive out the Americans. The upper creek towns agreed to side with Tecumseh, and when the war started in 1812, they fought alongside the British and Tecumseh against the Americans. The 1812 War led to the Creek War of 1813-1814.
The Creek War
The upper creek towns agreed to side with Tecumseh, and when the war started in 1812, they fought alongside the British and Tecumseh against the Americans. The 1812 War led to the Creek War of 1813-1814.The Creek War was a conflict pitting the Creeks friendly to the U.S. against the Creeks, also known as Red Sticks, who were against the Americans. On July 1813, a militia group from the Mississippi ambushed Red Sticks who had returned on a mission to secure supplies and ammunition from Pensacola. The following month, the Red Sticks responded to the ambush by killing 250 American and Creek occupants at Fort Mims. This came to be referred to as the Fort Mims Massacre. The U.S. forces retaliated with forces from Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee and launched an assault on the Creek territory. At this point, Andrew Johnson, a militia officer and state politician, was appointed by the Tennessee governor to lead the states militia forces into the Creek territory. Jackson led his forces through a slow and challenging campaign along the Coosa River. The following year in March, Jackson sought reinforcements from the U.S. infantry and with 3,300 men, including the Creeks loyal to the U.S., he left Coosa to launch an attack on a Red Stick stronghold in the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River.
Battle of Tohopeka
Jackson and his fleet camped a few miles northwest of the Tallapoosa River. In the meantime, 1,000 Red stick warriors, civilian women and children were lying in wait at the bend. By December 1813, civilians from six major creek towns had sought protection at the Horseshoe bend and erected 300 log houses forming a village that they named Tohopeka. The Red sticks also constructed a 400-yard long barricade hoping to have an advantage over any attacking army or stall enemy forces while children, women and the elderly run for cover down the river.
On the dawn of March 27, Jackson split his army into two forces. One force consisting of 700 riflemen and 600 warriors, led by General John Coffee was to surround the village while the remaining 2,000 men, led by Jackson, were to launch attacks directly on the barricade. Before sending his men to invade the village, he ordered them to fire shots at the barricade. Meanwhile, Coffee ordered a few of his warriors to swim across the river and steal the enemys canoes and burn Tohopeka from behind. After a few hours of fire shots, Jackson signaled for an attack on the village. After a short brutal fight, the Red sticks were outnumbered and outgunned. Many attempted to flee, but Coffees men shot at them from the other side of the river. The fight lasted for almost six hours and ended at dusk. Over 800 enemy forces were killed that day with only 49 of Jacksons forces dead and 154 sustaining wounds. Chief Menawa managed to escape despite sustaining serious wounds.
The Battle of Tohopeka (Horseshoe Bend) marked the end of the Creek War. A few months later, Jackson and a collection of the Creek chiefs reached an agreement, the treaty of Fort Jackson, which saw the Creeks hand over 23 million acres of their ancestral land to the U.S. and brought an official end to the Creek War. Many American settlers occupied the area which later became the state of Alabama. Today, the historic battlefield is preserved as the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. Shortly after the war, Jackson was promoted to major general in the American Army. In his new military position, Jackson defeated the British at the battle of New Orleans, a feat that earned him enough political ammunition to become the seventh U.S. president. During his term as president, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, a law that saw the eviction of all Southeastern Indian tribes.
Andrew Jackson was raised from a humble background by a single mother. However, he pursued a career in law that saw him attain various political positions such as that of a judge, attorney general and senator. At the height of the 1812 War, Jackson was appointed as an army general to lead an assault on Tohopeka and his achievement in this war got him assigned as joint commander to lead the onslaught of British forces in New Orleans.
Halbert, H. S., and T. H. Ball. The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. 1895. Reprint, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1969.
Holland, James W. Andrew Jackson and the Creek War: Victory at the Horseshoe. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1968.
Martin, Joel W. Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees' Struggle for a New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.
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