Forts
Torture and scalping on the Apalachicola (July 19, 1816)
Estiffanulga Bluff was near the northern extent of the farms established by the inhabitants of Prospect Bluff.

Estiffanulga Bluff was near the northern extent of the farms established by the inhabitants of Prospect Bluff.

Creek warriors moving down the east side of the Apalachicola River captured a courier from Prospect Bluff 200 years ago today. He was bearing a gruesome trophy.

This is part of a series marking the 200th anniversary of the destruction of the Fort at Prospect Bluff (or “Negro Fort”), Florida. Please click here to access other articles in the series.

Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Clinch and his soldiers from the 4th Infantry continued to move down the river on July 19, 1816. Their Creek allies, meanwhile, scouted the east side of the river and captured any unwary maroon settlers they encountered.

Creek scouts chased down and captured a messenger from Prospect Bluff on the night of the 18th. He was brought to Lieutenant Colonel Clinch the next morning, 200 years ago today:

The courier from Prospect Bluff was carrying a fresh scalp.

The courier from Prospect Bluff was carrying a fresh scalp.

…He had a scalp which he said he was carrying to the Seminoles. – He further stated that the Black Commandant and the Choctaw Chief had returned to the Fort from the Bay the day before, with a party with a party of men, with information that they had killed several Americans and taken a Boat from them.[1]

The incident described by the prisoner was the Attack on the Watering Party from Gunboat No. 149, which had happened on the 17th. The scalp may have been that of John Daniels, an ordinary seaman, who was captured in the attack. He was carried back to Prospect Bluff as prisoner. Once there he was subjected to severe torture by being scalped and then burned to death.

Dr. Marcus C. Buck, a surgeon with the 4th Infantry and supposed inventor of the “Buckboard” wagons of Old West fame, elaborated on the capture and noted that many black settlers were captured as the force continued its descent of the Apalachicola River:

Neamathla (Eneah Emathla) was the principal chief of Fowltown in what is now Decatur County, Georgia.

Neamathla (Eneah Emathla) was the principal chief of Fowltown in what is now Decatur County, Georgia.

…On our way, many slaves from the United States and from the friendly settlements of Indians near the Appalachicola were apprehended; amongst others a fellow bearing a scalp from the commander of the Negro Fort and the Choctaw Chief to the Fowl Town, Mickasooka and Seminole Chiefs. The scalp was that of Midshipman Lufborough, or one of his boats crew, who were murdered by them while getting water for the gunboats. There were five men in the boat, one of whom made his escape by swimming, having been knocked overboard by the falling of one of the slain men.[2]

It is interesting that Dr. Buck’s account refers to “many” people being captured as the U.S. force moved down for its attack while Clinch referred only to the capture of Garcon’s courier. The two accounts were written within two days of each other and both men were part of the staff of the 116 man infantry battalion.

Buck’s note that the courier was on his way to Fowltown, Miccosukee and the Seminole towns is important. Fowltown was a Lower Creek town in Southwest Georgia headed by Neamathla (Eneah Emathla). He had been a strong ally of the British during their presence on the Apalachicola. Miccosukee was the primary town in the region and the home of Cappachimico (Kinhajo), another strong ally of the British. The surgeon probably was referring to the town of Boleck (“Bowlegs”) on the Suwannee River in his mention of “Seminole towns.” Like Neamathla and Cappachimico, Boleck had been an ally of the British during the War of 1812.

All three of these groups, along with the actual inhabitants at Prospect Bluff, possessed part of the arms and ammunition stored in the fort.

A surviving section of the inner moat of the Fort at Prospect Bluff can be seen running through the center of the photo.

A surviving section of the inner moat of the Fort at Prospect Bluff can be seen running through the center of the photo.

Clinch had demanded to see Neamathla the previous month but “was informed by the Indian that came on board that he had not returned from the N.F. [Negro Fort] where he had been for the purpose of procuring ammunition.” [3]

The allied Creek chief John Blunt also hailed the American boats on the 19th with information that he had been unable to make contact with the ships in Apalachicola Bay. Blunt had been sent to inform Sailing Master Jairus Loomis that the infantry was on its way downriver. Whether the chief had been unable to make it past the now alert Fort at Prospect Bluff or whether the ships would not respond to his signals is not clear. The Watering Party Attack had left Loomis on his guard and unsure of who to trust.

As darkness fell on the night of July 19, 1816, the soldiers and Creek warriors were closing in on Prospect Bluff. They would reach their destination early the next morning.

Our series marking the 200th anniversary of the U.S. attack on the Fort at Prospect Bluff will continue tomorrow.

Please click here to read previous posts in this series.

 

[1] Lt. Col. Duncan L. Clinch to Col. Robert Butler, Adjutant General, August 2, 1816, Andrew Jackson Papers, Library of Congress.

[2] Dr. Marcus C. Buck to his Father, August 4, 1816, included in “General Clinch and the Indians,” Army and Navy Chronicle, Volume 2 (New Series), 1836, pp. 114-116.

[3] Lt. Col. Duncan L. Clinch to Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, June 12, 1816, Andrew Jackson Papers, Library of Congress.

 

About the author

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *