Andrew Jackson’s capture of Pensacola and the Barrancas (please see Surrender of Fort San Carlos de Barrancas) did not bring the First Seminole War to an end, the American general’s declaration not withstanding. Three prominent Red Stick leaders remained active in Northwest Florida and fighting there continued until at least December 1818.
This article is part of a continuing series that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War. Please click here to see a timeline of all the articles in this series.
Holmes, Econchattimico and the Mico Decoxey were well-known Red Stick leaders in 1817-1818. Econchattimico – the “Red Ground King” – was born in Florida but raised the red stick as a follower of the Prophet Josiah Francis after the arrival of the British on the Apalachicola River in 1814. The other two leaders had come down into Northwest Florida after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Jackson, in fact, targeted Holmes in 1814-1815 by sending Maj. Uriah Blue to the Choctawhatchee River with orders to kill the chief and his warriors.
Blue’s expedition fell apart after burning Holmes’ abandoned town on the Choctawhatchee and Davy Crockett, who took part in the raid, wrote about the suffering of Blue’s men from hunger and exposure.
Little is known about the life of Holmes before he came to Florida. He was a Red Stick and a follower of the Prophet Josiah Francis during the Creek War of 1813-1814. The term “Red Stick,” by the way, refers to the red war clubs that these warriors raised in their towns to signify their alliance with the Prophet and readiness to fight. Holmes likely did fight in such battles as Holy Ground, Emuckfaw and Calabee Creek and may have been present at Fort Mims.
He brought his people down the Choctawhatchee River into Florida in the spring of 1814 and probably was not present at the bloody Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Accounts of Maj. Blue’s raid suggest that he first settled on the west side of the Choctawhatchee in today’s Walton or Holmes Counties. He successfully evacuated his people ahead of Blue’s attack on his town and moved downriver to a site near Washington Blue Spring in today’s Washington County, Florida. He was living there in June 1818.
Econchattimico was the principle leader of Ekanachatte (“Red Ground”), an old Lower Muscogee (Creek) town on the Chattahoochee River at what is now Neal’s Landing in Jackson County, Florida. He evacuated this town in the winter of 1817-1818 after his warriors took part in the attack on Lt. Richard W. Scott’s party. Econchattimico established a temporary “war camp” in the Chipola River swamps near today’s Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail north of Marianna.
Brig. Gen. William McIntosh’s U.S. Creek Brigade attacked the Red Ground party’s cam on March 13, 1818. McIntosh’s men shot down ten who tried to flee and captured 43 other men and 180 women and children. Econchattimico and some of his warriors were driving a herd of cattle and not in camp when the attack, remembered today as the Battle of the Upper Chipola, took place. They escaped and remained hidden on the Chipola 200 years ago in June 1818.
Also on the Chipola was the Mico Decoxey, who is sometimes confused with Homathlemico, the Red Stick leader hanged by Jackson at St. Marks, Florida. Mico Decoxey is an odd title. It could be an English corruption of words “Mico de Atasi” in Spanish. The chief had lived in the Atasi (Autossee) town on the Tallapoosa River. He brought his followers down into Spanish Florida after the Battles of Atasi and Calabee Creek.
Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle reported in February 1818 that “the Otessee Mico or Mico Decoxey and the Red Ground chief and others of the hostile Indians are on the Chipola.” The exact location of his town, however, is not known.
These three Red Stick forces in the basins of the Chipola and Choctawhatchee River concerned Andrew Jackson and the task of finding them fell to Capt. Thomas H. Boyles, the commander of a company of partisan rangers. It would not be an easy task and Boyle would shed his own blood before the campaign reached its end.
This series will continue.
To learn more about the Red Sticks, please watch Two Egg TV’s documentary on the Battle for Fort Mims. You can watch it free or buy it for just $4.99 at Amazon Prime Video on your Roku device, Fire Stick or Smart TV. You can also watch free right here by clicking the image below: