Josiah Francis self-portrait, 1815
Like Fort Mims, Fort Sinquefield was a hastily built stockade on an acre of land with just one blockhouse. Unlike Fort Mims, just a few families sought refuge in it when the war broke out. Two of these families – the Ranson Kimbell and Abner James families – left the fort after the Fort Mims massacre in the mistaken (and fatal) belief that the Red Stick threat had ended.
On the afternoon of September 1, a party of Red Sticks attacked Ranson Kimbell’s home where these families had relocated. With the exception of Abner James’s daughter Sarah Merrill and her infant son, all who were present were killed. Other family members avoided death because they weren’t present during the attack. Although Sarah was scalped and left for dead and her son severely injured, she managed to make it back to the fort with him, survived her scalping and her son eventually survived his wounds.
The next day, September 2, some ladies went to a spring about three hundred yards from the stockade to wash clothes when, suddenly, Josiah Francis and one hundred whooping, painted warriors rushed them and the fort. Had it not been for Isaac Hayden’s hunting dogs, all of these ladies might have been killed. When he turned his hounds loose, they sprinted out the fort’s gate and into the attacking Red Sticks, which bought time for them to flee back into the fort. Only one lady was killed in this episode.
With its gate closed, Fort Sinquefield’s residents put up a stout and effective defense. After a two-hour battle, they repulsed the Red Sticks with only one man killed.
Young Jeremiah Austill, who’d soon gain a measure of fame, was sent to General Claiborne’s headquarters at Mount Vernon to deliver a report of the victory.
Bunn, Mike, “Fort Sinquefield,” Encyclopedia of Alabama. Updated September 26, 2018. Fort Sinquefield | Encyclopedia of Alabama
Bunn, Mike and Clay Williams. Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812. First Printing. Charleston: The History Press, 2008.
Halbert, Henry S. and Timothy H. Ball. The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. Chicago: Donohue and Henneberry, 1895.