A party of Red Stick warriors attacked a father and son within three miles of Fort Gaines 200 years ago today.
This article is part of a continuing series that commemorates the 200th Anniversary of the First Seminole War.
Capt. George Birch of the 7th U.S. Infantry was still at Fort Gaines 200 years ago today, trying to secure more cattle that could be driven to Fort Scott on the Flint River. The garrison there was on half-rations and completely out of meat. He did not hear from a party of local Muscogee (Creek) warriors who had agreed to look in the woods for free-range cattle until 4 p.m. when they arrived at Fort Gaines and reported that they had been unable to find their horses which were also roaming free in the woods.
While he was discussing the situation with them, news suddenly arrived that an attack had taken place less than three miles away:
…I received a report of a man and son having been fired upon by a party of the hostile Indians. The son came in and supposes his Father to be dead about three miles from the Fort. I immediately sent Lieut. [name is illegible] and twenty men of my command, twelve militia and twenty friendly Indians to reconnoitre and bring the man in, and for the Indians to pursue the hostile party and ascertain their number, and on their return to drive in Cattle. (1)
Birch did not identify the unfortunate father and son in his diary nor did he describe the location at which they were attacked. Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, in a subsequent report, gave his name as “Mr. Weaver” and reported that a house had also been burned. (II)
The detachment sent out to investigate the attack returned late in the day on January 11, 1818:
…The Command returned about dark with the body of the old man who had been shot in two or three places and scalped. Our Indians reported the hostiles to be about five or six having tracked them some distance. They carried off one of the horses and killed the other, our Indians encamp with us to night. (III)
The body of Mr. Weaver was likely buried in the old Pioneer Cemetery at Fort Gaines. Research there has revealed a large number of unmarked graves and from the proximity of the cemetery to the site of the fort, it is logical to conclude that it was the original burial ground for the post.
The attack made clear that drifting beyond the immediate vicinity of the fort could result in death. Men had been killed on both the road to Fort Hawkins (today’s Macon, Georgia) and the Three Notch Road to Fort Scott during the previous month, but the attack on Mr. Weaver and his son struck in the actual community that had grown near Fort Gaines.
Settlers once again flooded into the fort and the soldiers there went on high alert. No immediate attacks followed but Capt. Birch was left to ponder how best to secure the citizens as well as the livestock and corn from their farms.
This series will continue. Learn more about the history of Fort Gaines in the video below or in the book Fort Gaines, Georgia: A Military History.
(I) Diary of Maj. George Birch, 1809-1825, manuscript.
(II) Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines to Gov. William Rabun of Georgia, January 23, 1818, published in the Georgia Journal, January 26, 1818.
(III) Diary of Maj. Birch.