While Generals Andrew Jackson and Ferdinand Claiborne were on the march in November of 1813 messengers from Coweta, a Lower Creek town on the Chattahoochee River, brought word to General John Floyd that Peter McQueen’s Red Sticks were besieging it. Through them, Chief William McIntosh and other chiefs asked him for help.
With a force of 950 militia, Floyd marched toward Coweta via the Federal Road. Arriving at the Chattahoochee, he learned the siege had been lifted and Peter McQueen’s warriors had fallen back to the village of Autossee, on the Tallapoosa River. After he built Fort Michell (near present-day Phenix City, Alabama) as a supply base, he continued into Alabama. Joined by friendly Creeks commanded by Chief William McIntosh, his army marched toward Autossee. Alabama’s first recorded Jewish settler, Abraham Mordecai, served as their guide. Historian Albert J. Pickett described the event:
Brigadier General John Floyd crossed the Ocmulgee, Flint and Chattahoochie, and advanced near the Tallapoosa with an army of nine hundred and fifty militia and four hundred friendly Indians …
Though Floyd intended to surround the town, daybreak revealed a different situation which caused him to change his plan. What was it he saw? Another Red Stick camp about five hundred yards downstream from Autossee. Pickett continues:
It was now necessary to change the plan of attack, by advancing three companies of infantry to the lower town, accompanied by Merriweather’s rifles, and two troops of light dragoons commanded by Captains Irwin and Steele. The remainder of the army marched upon the upper town, and soon the battle became general. The Indians at first advanced … but the fire from the artillery, with the charge of bayonets, drove them into the out-houses and thickets, in the rear of the town. Many concealed themselves in caves cut in the bluff of the river, here thickly covered with cane.
Floyd sent McIntosh’s warriors to cross over to the Tallapoosa’s west side to cut off the Red Stick retreat, but frigid weather and high waters prevented them from doing it, so McIntosh posted his men on Calabee Creek to achieve his goal. McIntosh’s warriors fought well. By nine o’clock in the morning, the Red Sticks had abandoned the field, their homes set ablaze and the friendly Creeks pillaged the town. Peter McQueen wasn’t present at this fight. He’d left with his warriors before the battle.
Floyd suffered a wound in his kneecap, and nine of his men were killed. Three others died later from wounds. Somewhere from one hundred to three hundred Red Sticks were killed. The battle was bloodier than expected and he suffered from a shortage of supplies,, so Floyd retreated to his base at Fort Mitchell to regroup.
Griffith, Benjamin W. Jr. McIntosh & Weatherford, Creek Indian Leaders. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1988.
Pickett, Albert J. The History of Alabama. Republished by Birmingham Book & Magazine Co. of Birmingham, Alabama, 1962. Copyright 1878 by Mrs. Sarah S. Pickett.
Wilson, Claire M. “Battle of Autossee,” Encyclopedia of Alabama. Updated October 8, 2014.
John Floyd (1769-1839)