Depression deepened 200 years ago today at Fort Scott on the Flint River in Southwest Georgia. The soldiers were starving and Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle was losing hope.
This article is part of our series commemorating the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War of 1817-1818. Please click here to access the entire series.
Arbuckle was not a man possessed of the confidence and determination of officers like Andrew Jackson or Edmund Pendleton Gaines. The latter two officers were pushing for Fort Scott with all possible speed. Lt. Col. Arbuckle, however, was reduced to pleading for help from Maj. Enos Cutler at Fort Gaines:
Captn. Burch arrived here on the night of the 3rd Inst. with less than half the quantity of corn I had expected to receive. You must have a boat fitted up without delay and send more apprising me of the time of departure from Fort Gaines, and you will have secured for this post at least five hundred bushels of corn let the calls be what they may from other quarters. Some salt must be sent here without a moment’s delay if you can obtain it from any quarter. [I]
Cutler had been doing all he could to send corn and beef down to Fort Scott. He had been promised a supply from Fort Mitchell but the mounted Tennessee Volunteers on their way to join Jackson had arrived there and desperately needed food as well. The latter fort was also the base of operations for Gen. William McIntosh’s U.S. Creek Brigade, which was now moving south in a campaign to clear Seminole, Miccosukee and Red Stick forces from the Chattahoochee River valley.
Arbuckle expressed his despondency by asking Maj. Cutler to explain why the provisions promised by Col. David Brearley had not yet arrived:
What has become of Col. Brearley and his supply from Fort Mitchell? Four or five days will leave us without bread, when the corn will be our last resort. Many are the disappointments we have met with, and I now have no hopes of supplies from the Agency. Should supplies be in the bay we may be relieved from that quarter in seventeen days, with the present prospects the Tennessee horse ought to make for Georgia. Tell them go. Our meat will be out nearly as soon as our bread. Therefore you must provide it for us if possible. Let me hear from you immediately. [II]
Arbuckle did not know that Maj. Gen. Gaines had been rescued by Jackson’s army on the previous day (please see The rescue of Gen. Edmund P. Gaines) and was on the verge of giving up hope that he could still be alive. “Onis Hego’s Indians have come in this morning,” he reported of a Muscogee (Creek) scouting party sent out from Fort Gaines. They had failed to find the general and although a detachment of soldiers under Capt. J.J. Clinch remained in woods looking for Gaines, Arbuckle told Cutler that “there is now barely a hope of his being alive.” [III]
Gaines, however, was alive and recovering rapidly from the severe exposure suffered during his nine days of wandering in freezing conditions.
The main army continued its march south on March 5, 1818. “We were constantly wet from wading ponds and creeks,” wrote Lt. John Banks of the Georgia militia, “and we had ice to encounter in the ponds.” [IV]
Capt. Hugh Young, the topographer for Jackson’s army, described the route of march as being down the ridge that divided Chickasawhatchee Creek from the Ichawaynochaway:
Eighteen miles from Fowl creek there is a small Indian village situated among some hand- some branches and ponds with good land under cultivation. – Four miles from this point the fertile country terminates and thence six and a fourth miles to Echenoche creek through sand and pine higher and firmer than any of the pine-barren crossed before-struck the creek five miles from its junction with Flint-its general course S. 300 E. open woods attend to the banks on each side and the ground near the creek is high and tolerably firm. [V]
“Fowl creek” is called Fowltown Creek today and flows from the west into Kinchafoonee Creek near Leesburg and Albany. It takes its name from the Lower Creek village of Fowltown that stood along its banks before relocating down to the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in 1813-1814. (Please see the book Fowltown: Neamathla, Tutalosi Talofa & the first battle of the Seminole Wars for more information.)
The trail followed by the army led them southwest and through the vicinity of today’s community of Herod which lies 5.5 miles south of Dawson, Georgia. Use the map at the bottom of this page to retrace the route of the army using today’s roads.
A monument placed at Herod in 1914 notes the passing of Jackson’s Army but confuses the story of “Old Howard” and the Chehaw town of Aumucculle near Leesburg with a legend of “Old Herod” feeding the army at Herod. The written records of the march make no mention of an “Old Herod” but Jackson did pass that way so the monument does serve to mark the route of his army.
From there the army continued south and eventually reached the Ichawaynochaway – spelled “Echenoche” by Capt. Young – just west of the community of Elmodel. The crossing point was in the vicinity of where Herchel Collins Road (County Road 69) crosses today. Camp on the night of March 5 was made somewhere along today’s Georgia Highway 37 between Leary and Elmodel.
The march would continue early the next morning. To learn more about the Seminole War and Jackson’s march, be sure to visit our timeline page at Seminole War 200th Anniversary.
Use this map to follow the general route taken by the U.S. Army on March 3-6, 1818:
[I] Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle to Maj. Enos Cutler, March 5, 1818.
[IV] John Banks, Diary of John Banks, 1936.
[V] Capt. Hugh Young, “A Topographical Memoir on East and West Florida with Itineraries of General Jackson’s Army, 1818,” The Florida Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jan., 1935): 135.