Heavy snow fell across Southwest Georgia 200 years ago tonight as Andrew Jackson’s army prepared for its final advance to Fort Scott on the Flint River.
This article is part of a continuing series that commemorates the First Seminole War of 1817-1818. Click here to read other articles in the series.
The Georgia militiamen forming the rear guard had caught up with the main body of the army 200 years ago yesterday on March 2, 1818. Jackson had been waiting for them at Aumucculle, the largest of the Chehaw towns in what is now Lee County, Georgia. Lt. John Banks observed flying there a white flag that would prove critical to subsequent events:
…This was an old Indian town in the Creek nation, which tribe refused to join the Seminoles in the war, and as we passed through, most of their warriors joined us. The town is about ten miles from Fort Early. They had a white flag hoisted in a prominent place in the town. We purchased some provisions of them, such as corn, potatoes, ground peas, etc. [I]
Ground peas are better known today as peanuts and they remain among the dominant crops in Southwest Georgia today. The white flag noticed by Lt. Banks had been raised by the town chief, a man that the whites called “Old Howard.” He was an uncle of William McIntosh, the war chief of Coweta, and lived at Aumucculle with his family that included at least one grown son. Howard raised the flag to show that his town wished to remain on friendly terms with the United States. It would become a hotly debated feature of an incident that took place in the town during the next month.
The heavy rains that had drenched the troops and turned trails into bogs ended and bright blue skies spread across the region 200 years ago today on March 3, 1818. The troops headed southwest, crossing Muckalee Creek and marching across the site where the city of Leesburg would be founded in the 1870s. They reached Kinchafoonee Creek near today’s Highway 32 bridge.
Capt. Hugh Young, the topographer assigned to Jackson’s staff, described the route from Muckalee to Kinchafoonee:
…The creek at the town is eighty-five feet wide with a swamp on the west side one-quarter of a mile wide and a high open bank on the east. The banks and bottom are firm and sandy. The swamp is not miry except near the highland where for one hundred yards there is a mixture of stiff white clay. It has the usual varieties of bottom growth of Palmetto. There are two bayous between the creek and high ground, one of which is not fordable in freshes – five and a half miles to another large creek on which Canards Village is situated three and a quarter miles above the point where we crossed it. The creek is ninety feet wide-sand and rock on the north side and a little miry on the south, open on both sides. [II]
“Canards Village” was the home of Noble Canard, whose name is also spelled Kenard, Kennard, Cannard, Kinard and in a variety of other ways. He fought on the side of the United States during the Creek War of 1813-1814 and brought out the warriors from his town to join the army as it halted to complete the bridge-building effort.
Lt. Banks went up the creek to buy supplies from him:
…On Tuesday, the 3rd, we had to build a bridge to cross a creek. While the army was waiting, I went about 4 miles to Kenard (an Indian chief) and bought some provisions. That night it snowed, the next day it was very cold; we were constantly wet from wading ponds and creeks, and we had ice to encounter in the ponds. [III]
The snow and severe cold came with a front that swept through Southwest Georgia and North Florida on the night of March 3, 1818. Capt. Young reported that the spring was one of the coldest on record and that spring growth was burned by the frost and killed back as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
Capt. Young described the land west of Kinchafoonee Creek as “the finest body of land I have seen since leaving Monticello, Georgia.”
This series will continue tomorrow. Be sure to check our timeline often for new articles by visiting Seminole War 200th Anniversary.
This map will show you how to reach the monument on the site of the Chehaw town of Aumucculle:
[I] John Banks, Diary of John Banks, 1936.
[II] Capt. Hugh Young, “A Topographical Memoir of East and West Florida with Itineraries,” 1818 (see Florida Historical Quarterly, Volume XIII, Number 3, January 1935: 134).
[III] John Banks, Diary of John Banks, 1936.