Friday, May 14, 2010

Fort Mims State Historic Site - Tensaw, Alabama

Not far from Mobile and the booming East Shore of Mobile Bay, an often overlooked historic site is actually one of the most important in Alabama.

Fort Mims State Historic Site is a small park preserving the scene of the bloody Fort Mims Massacre of 1813. The event sparked a dramatic confrontation between the United States and portions of the Creek Nation that is remembered today as the Creek War of 1813-1814. The conflict ended with Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, a document that opened much of Alabama and Georgia to white settlement.

Located near Boatyard Lake in the community of Tensaw, Fort Mims was a haphazard log stockade thrown up around the home of Samuel Mims in 1813. Violence was then spreading in the Creek Nation as an increasing number of towns and warriors threw their support behind the Creek Prophet Josiah Francis. A follower of the Shawnee Prophet Tenskwatawa (brother of Tecumseh), Francis was the leader of a religious movement among the Creeks that focused on a withdrawal from white society and a return to native ways. He had established his headquarters at Holy Ground, a village overlooking the Alabama River between today's cities of Montgomery and Selma. His followers were called Red Sticks, because they displayed red war clubs in their towns as a sign of war.

An attack by Mississippi Territorial Militia on a Red Stick supply party at Burnt Corn Creek, Alabama, infuriated the families of the slain warriors. As a result, a large force of Red Sticks set out for Fort Mims to seek revenge.

The attack came on August 30, 1813, when William Weatherford and other Creek leaders launched an attack on the poorly designed stockade. The inhabitants of the fort had just sounded the bell for their midday meal when war cries sounded from a nearby ravine. Columns of warriors stormed forward. The commander of the fort, Major Daniel Beasley tried to close the open gates, but sand had drifted against them and he was struck down before he could dig it away.

By the time the battle was over, hundreds of men, women and children were dead, along with an unknown number of Red Stick warriors. News of the attack electrified the frontier, bringing the United States fully into the Creek War. To learn more about this significant historic site in Alabama, please visit

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