Three prisoners of war taken by William McIntosh’s U.S. Creek Brigade were executed 200 years ago today at Fort Gaines, Georgia. One of them was still suffering from wounds received in battle.
This article is part of a chronological series that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War of 1817-1818. Please click here to access the entire series.
Brig. Gen. William McIntosh led the main body of the U.S. Army’s Creek brigade down the west side of the Chattahoochee River from Fort Mitchell during the first days of March 1818. His troops were Muscogee (Creek) warriors and McIntosh was the war chief of Coweta, one of the principal Lower Creek towns. He had previously served with U.S. forces at both the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the destruction of the “Negro Fort” at Prospect Bluff on the lower Apalachicola River. The Red Sticks, Seminoles and Miccosukees considered him to be their bitter enemy.
As the general approached moved out, his forces captured three prisoners of war near Uchee Creek in today’s Russell County, Alabama. All of them had been present at the attack on Lt. Richard W. Scott’s party:
…I have taken three of our enemies that were firing on the vessels on this river, and one was wounded at the same place when firing on the vessels. I have got them in strings, carrying them to Fort Gaines, and expect to catch some more before I get there. Nothing more but the creeks are very high – it is as much as we can do to travel. [I]
McIntosh’s force continued down the Chattahoochee, making a show of force at Ufala Talofa, an important Lower Creek settlement near today’s Eufaula, Alabama. The Ufala King had attempted to serve as a peacemaker between the Red Sticks and the U.S. Army and in doing so had incurred the displeasure of military officers. McIntosh did not find any Red Sticks in his town, however, and soon continued his march down to Fort Gaines where he arrived on March 6, 1818.
The general made at least a token attempt to turn his prisoners over to the commanding officer but was rebuffed. He then took matters into his own hands:
…I carried them to Fort Gaines to the commanding officer, and he told me he would have nothing to do with them, and said to me, you may deal with them by your own laws. We had proof that they were at the destroying of the boat below the fork of Flint river, and one of them was wounded at that time – they were doing mischief to our friend and I knew what was the law between us and the United States; I did not want them to stand on our land, and I have taken their lives. [II]
The executions were the first carried out by U.S. forces during the Seminole Wars. Many others would follow. It is not known if the three warriors were buried or where, but the executions likely took place within sight of the walls of Fort Gaines.
McIntosh did spare a son of the Tame King. The warrior had been taken prisoner by Maj. Enos Cutler but the Coweta chief reported that he had “heard no hard against him and turned him loose again.” The man joined his command as he made plans to continue his campaign:
…I have heard where a good many of our enemies are collected, about forty miles from this place, and I am going to push on to them to-morrow as fast as I can get where they are. This is all I have to say to you and our head men and agent, and whatever I do hereafter I will let you know again. Nothing more; all my men are healthy. [III]
The concentration of forces targeted by McIntosh had assembled on the upper Chipola River in what is now Jackson County, Florida. They were led by the Red Ground chief Econchattimico, who had evacuated his town just below the Florida line and withdrawn with his people into the swamps of the Chipola. The warriors of the Creek Brigade would attack them there four days later.
The smaller division of the brigade, meanwhile, reached Maj. Gen. Jackson’s army near the crossing of Ichawaynochaway Creek in Southwest Georgia 200 years ago today. Col. Noble Kennard was placed in command of the 600-man Native American force into which were incorporated the warriors from Aumucculle (Chehaw) and Kennard’s town. The addition of the warriors raised the strength of Jackson’s command to around 1,700 men but also put a major strain on his supplies.
The soldiers camped on the banks of the Flint River below present-day Newton on the night of March 6, 1818. Their forward progress had slowed that day due to the laborious task of crossing Ichawaynochaway and Big Cypress Creeks, but would accelerate on the next morning. Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle, now apprised of the army’s location, sent out Maj. David E. Twiggs from Fort Scott to meet it with 20 bushels of corn and half of his remaining stock of flour.
Andrew Jackson would reach Fort Scott in three days.
This series will continue. You can read previous articles by visiting our timeline page at Seminole War 200th Anniversary.
This map will help you use modern roads to retrace the march of McIntosh’s brigade from Fort Mitchell to Fort Gaines. Along the way you will pass through the beautiful and historic city of Eufaula and the uniquely-named community of Screamer, Alabama!
[I] Brig. Gen. William McIntosh to Maj. Daniel Hughes, March 2, 1818.
[II] Brig. Gen. William McIntosh to Maj. Daniel Hughes, March 6, 1818.