Seminole War
The Georgia militia abandons the frontier (Seminole War 200th)

The site of Fort Early is near Cordele in Crisp County, Georgia.

Brig. Gen. Thomas Glascock’s brigade of Georgia Militia refused to remain in the field and was reported to be headed for home on this date 200 years ago. The abandonment of the frontier came even as Seminole, Miccosukee and Muscogee (Creek) attacks surged.

This article is part of a continuing series that marks the 200th anniversary of the first year of the Seminole War. Please click here to read other articles in the series.

Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines wrote to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson from the Georgia town of Hartford on January 31, 1818 – 200 years ago today – to inform him of the alarming news:

With extreme regret I have to state to you that the Militia under General Glascock has manifested no disposition whatever to remain a moment longer than the two months for which they were ordered into service. I had reason to calculate upon as many volunteers remaining in service as would defend the new Fort upon Flint [i.e. Fort Early], Fort Gaines and the Frontier adjacent to this place, until the arrival of the detachment of Militia from Major General Floyd’s Division, but in this I have been disappointed. [1]

Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines as he appeared at around the time.

The news came as Jackson continued his long journey from Nashville to Fort Hawkins at present-day Macon, Georgia. Two regiments of Tennessee Volunteers were gathering at Fayetteville, Tennessee, 200 years ago today, but it would take weeks for them to reach the threatened frontier.

Gen. Gaines tried to protect the forts and settlements, but there was little that he could do without more men. Only one officer and 20 militia soldiers remained at Fort Early, along with 20 soldiers from the regular U.S. Army. A similar detachment of one officer and 20 militia volunteered to stay behind at Fort Gaines to protect the corn stored there and the civilians that had flooded into the fort for protection. Forty of the civilians at the latter fort were armed, which added somewhat to its strength although the stockade had been designed for a much larger garrison. [2]

Another militia officer and 60 men had agreed to remain at Hartford to protect that town and its neighboring settlements. Gen. Gaines and his small escort detachment were also there. [3]

Ruins in historic Darien, where reinforcements were expected but had not yet appeared.

The return home of the Georgia militia came as raids by Seminole, Miccosukee and Muscogee (Creek) warriors spread from the east coast of Georgia to the outskirts of Mobile and Blakeley in the Alabama Territory. (Please see Attack on the Satilla RiverAttack near Fort Early, Georgia and The war spreads west to Blakeley & Mobile).

To make matters worse, Gaines had no idea when replacement troops might arrive:

…The detachment from Maj. Genl. Floyd’s Division has not yet made its appearance, nor have I received any account of  its having arrived at Darien, although required to assemble there on the 6th of this month…The detachment of the 4th Infantry under Lt. Wager has been detained at Darien by reason of the ill health of the Lieut. and there being no other company officer with the detachment. I have directed it to be marched to this place under a confidential sergeant. [4]

The only other troops on the entire frontier from the Chattahoochee River to the Atlantic Ocean were the U.S. troops at Fort Scott on the lower Flint and at St. Marys and Amelia Island on the coast. The march home of the 60-day militia troops had created an extremely dangerous situation and would lead to fatal consequences for residents of the region.

This series will continue.

[1] Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, January 31, 1818, Jackson Papers, Library of Congress.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


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