Today, I begin a series on the Creek War (1813-1814). Most of this war was fought in Alabama when it was still part of the Mississippi Territory, and it was part of the much larger War of 1812, as Britain and Spain were allies of the Red Stick Creeks. I’ll also share some videos along the way that will go into more detail on the subjects covered. I’ll continue sharing writing tips in other blogs, but this series ties into my novel coming out, hopefully, next year. Its working title is Circuit Riders: A Story of the Creek War.
The Geographical Setting and Settlements
Before we discuss the Creek War, it’s helpful to briefly establish some background to this conflict.
During and immediately after the American Revolution, many settlers who sided with the British (Tories) left their homes in the former colonies and migrated to Alabama, settling in the Tensaw-Tombigbee valleys just north of Mobile. Many married Indian women and became rich through trade and other means. Their offspring were called métis, French for mixed blood. Originally, France ruled Mobile, but the British took over after the French and Indian War.
In 1780 Spain, an American ally during the Revolution, captured Mobile. Some Spaniards then moved up the Tombigbee River and built a fort on a limestone bluff overlooking the river that would later become Fort St. Stephens.
Under the Treaty of Paris (1783) at the end of the Revolution, Spain was granted all of Louisiana as well as territory along the Gulf of Mexico, called East and West Florida. In 1798, Congress established the 31st parallel as the boundary between Spain and the United States and created the Mississippi Territory. It later expanded to the 32nd parallel (1802) when Georgia ceded lands to the federal government. The map below shows what the Territory, a vast region spreading from the Chattahoochee River to the Mississippi River, looked like in 1813, at the time of the Creek War.
In 1799, the federal government built Fort Stoddert on the Mobile River, and in April 1813 the American general, James Wilkinson, captured Mobile without a shot fired.
American pioneers who weren’t Tories, along with their slaves and cattle, began moving into Alabama and Mississippi country in the early 1800s.
Four tribes lived in the Mississippi Territory during this era: the Choctaws, the Chickasaws, the Cherokees, and the Creeks. With the exception of the Pueblos in present-day New Mexico, these tribes were more culturally advanced than all the other tribes north of Mexico.
The Creeks were a matrilineal society, which meant a child’s inheritance was passed through the mother. Women managed households and farmed. Men hunted and fought wars. Often, chiefs and headmen consulted their women when decisions had to be made on issues that concerned their towns. However, when it came to war, chiefs made the decisions.
Because their society was matrilineal, a white man who’d married a Creek woman was considered Creek. Two of the Creek War’s most prominent Creek leaders were cousins who fought on opposite sides, William Weatherford and William McIntosh, but we’ll get into that later.
The Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees were also matrilineal. Most of the members of these tribes supported the settlers. One Choctaw leader we’ll be discussing later is Pushmataha, a highly respected chief.
Next week we’ll look at two major leaders of the Red Sticks.
McMillan, Malcolm C. The Land Called Alabama, Austin, TX:: Steck-Vaughn Company 1968.
Waselkov, Gregory A. A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814, Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 2006
4 thoughts on “The Creek War(1813-1814), Part One: Background to Conflict”
Fascinating. Love history. No end of stories packed in there!!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Norma. Most people who aren’t from my region of the country don’t know about this war, but I’ve known about it since grade school. I live where most of these events happened, which makes so much of it come alive for me.,
Beautiful work—I’m learning a lot about my home state!
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Thanks, Mike. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.