Seminole War
The Destruction of Fowltown and Attapulgus (Seminole War 200th)

A small natural spring bubbles up at one of the possible sites of Fowltown.

U.S. troops from Fort Scott staged their third and final raid on the Lower Muscogee Creek village of Fowltown 200 years ago today.

This article continues a series marking the 200th anniversary of the Seminole War. Click here to read other articles in the series.

Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle, who commanded at Fort Scott in the absence of Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, knew little if anything of the situation across the Flint River from the post as the new year dawned. Fort Hughes at present-day Bainbridge had been evacuated on December 18-19, leaving the army with no troops on the opposite side of the river for the first time since the Battle of Fowltown (Nov. 21-23, 1817).

Burges’s Crossing at Bainbridge as it appeared in the early 20th century.

Accordingly, Arbuckle left Fort Scott 200 years ago today on the morning of January 4, 1818:

…On the 4th inst. I cross the Flint River about fourteen miles above this post and proceeded to Fowl Town, which had been deserted. I burnt it, and on the next day arrived at Attapulgis a small town about fourteen miles south east of this post, it had also been abandoned, and the cattle and stock of every kind removed, as had been the case at Foul Town. I am informed they have gone to or beyond the Oaklocny.”[i]

The Register of Details for Fort Scott shows that Lt. Col. Arbuckle took 23 sergeants, 73 corporals and 304 privates on “command to Fowl Town and Attapulchas.” He clearly was concerned about the possibility of fighting when he left the post. [ii]

Historical marker in Attapulgus, Georgia.

The soldiers, however, did not encounter even a single warrior on their march, which took them up today’s Ten Mile Still Road to Burges’s Crossing and Fort Hughes and then back down the east side of the Flint River to Fowltown and Attapulgus. They likely were under surveillance, but no effort to attack them was made.

The raid marked the end of the most famous location of Fowltown. The village had occupied several different sites since it was first described by Col. Benjamin Hawkins as being located on Fowltown Creek northwest of today’s Albany, Georgia. The location in Decatur County south of Bainbridge, however, was the scene of the Battle of Fowltown. (To learn more about the history of Fowltown, please consider the book Fowltown: Neamathla, Tutalosi Talofa & the first battle of the Seminole Wars).

Today’s community of Attapulgus, Georgia.

It is interesting to note that Arbuckle had not burned the town at the end of the fighting on November 23, 1817, as his account of the January 1818 raid clearly indicates that it was still standing at that time.

The raid also marks the first mention of the Muscogee (Creek) town of Attapulgus. Little is known of the background of this community, but its inhabitants may have been the Osoochees who were mentioned in several accounts as coming to the aid of Neamathla and the people of Fowltown during the U.S. Army attacks on their village. If so, then the inhabitants of Attapulgus probably came south from the Albany area during the winter of 1813-1814 with the people of Fowltown.

Arbuckle’s information on the whereabouts of the people of the towns was partially correct. The Attapulgus villagers had gone down the Ochlockonee River into what is now Gadsden County, Florida. Neamathla and the Fowltown people, however, had relocated to modern Jefferson County, Florida, and established a new town several miles east of Lake Miccosukee.

The raid did help the army learn more about what was taking place east of the Flint River, but failed to secure any provisions for the troops at Fort Scott. Beef supplies at the post were almost completely exhausted and the rapid consumption of its stocks of corn and flour was alarming. The soldiers had been on half-rations for weeks and the arrival of Maj. Peter Muhlenberg and another 150-200 men had created an immediate crisis.

Unless food could be found – and soon – Arbuckle would have to abandon Fort Scott.

[i] Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, January 12, 1818, Andrew Jackson Papers, Library of Congress.

[ii] Register of Details for Command from Fort Scott, from the 18th of December, 1817, until the 19th of March, 1818, whilst under the command of Lt. Col. Arbuckle, Office of the Adjutant General, Letters Received, 1805-1821.

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