Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Location of Fort Mims State Historic Site

Fort Mims State Historic Site
I receive a significant number of emails from people trying to find directions to Fort Mims State Historic Site in Tensaw, so I'm going to provide them here. Hopefully these will help you find the site and encourage more people to visit.
The site is located 7 miles west of Tensaw, a community on AL 59 roughly 45 miles north of Mobile.

To reach the site from Mobile, travel north on I-65 for 22 miles to Exit #31 (AL 225). This is the Stockton/Spanish Fort exit.  From the exit, turn left onto AL 225 for 3.6 miles to AL 59. Turn left onto AL 59 and follow it 13.2 miles to Tensaw.

When you reach Tensaw, turn left onto Boatyard Road (County Road 80) and follow it for just over 6.5 miles to Fort Mims Road. There will be a historical marker at the intersection. Turn right onto Fort Mims Road and follow it around the curve. The fort site will be just ahead on your right.

The Fort Mims site includes a monument, interpretive signs, picnic facilities and a partial reconstruction of the stockade. This, of course, was the site of the August 30, 1813 massacre or battle of Fort Mims.

Monument at Fort Mims
The battle took place when a large force of Red Stick Creek Indians (so named because they displayed red warclubs or "sticks" in their towns) attacked a small force of Mississippi Territorial Militia assigned to protect the civilians congregated in the fort. Alabama was then part of the Mississippi Territory, although the Creeks believed with considerable justification that the land belonged to them.

The attack came in retaliation for a similar attack on a Red Stick supply party at Burnt Corn Spring by militiamen. Several Red Sticks were killed in that battle and their demands for vengeance led to the Fort Mims assault.

By the time the smoke of battle cleared, Fort Mims had been largely burned to the ground. Exactly how many people died remains a subject of considerable debate, but burial parties later reported finding the remains of around 250 of the fort's occupants and 100 of the Red Stick attackers. Some estimates, however, place the number of people killed in the fort as high as 550.

The attack on Fort Mims, even though it was a retaliatory strike, ignited a bloody war between the Red Sticks and the United States that culminated when Andrew Jackson broke the power of the Red Stick movement at the Battle of Horseshore Bend the following year. A phase of the War of 1812, the conflict is remembered today as the Creek War of 1813-1814.

To learn more about Fort Mims, please visit

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 1941: Alabamians at Pearl Harbor

U.S.S. Arizona in flames on December 7, 1941
Courtesy of the National Park Service
The speech delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt one day after the surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, still touches deep into the hearts of Americans:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941.

The total loss of life during the attack was listed as 2,390.  Another ----- men and women were wounded. The majority of these were sailors in the U.S. Navy, most of them dying aboard the U.S.S. Arizona. The casualty list includes 49 civilians killed with another 35 wounded. Included among the dead civilians were children as young as 7 months.

Explosion aboard the U.S.S. Shaw
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
The servicemen and women and civilians killed came from every state and the then Territory of Hawai'i. Among them were dozens of Alabamians.

I have not been able to find a complete list of all servicemen from Alabama killed at Pearl Harbor, but the following men are known to have died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.  If you know of others, please let me know and I will add them:

Adams, Robert Franklin
Benson, James Thomas
Bibby, Charles Henry
Bishop, Millard Charles
Black, James Theron
Blankenship, Theron A.
Boyd, Charles Andrew
Broadhead, Johnnie Cecil
Chandler, Donald Ross
Frizzell, Robert Niven
Hindman, Frank Weaver
Holland, Claude Herbert, Jr.
Holmes, Lowell D.
Hughes, Lewis Burton, Jr.
Isom, Luther James
Johnson, Samuel Earle
Jones, Daniel Pugh
Jones, Woodrow Wilson
McCary, William Moore
McGrady, S.W.G.
Morris, Owen Newton
Murdock, Charles Luther
Murdock, Melvin Elijah
Nichols, Alfred Rose
Nichols, Louis Duffie
Peleschak, Michael
Penton, Howard Lee.
Putnam, Avis Boyd
Rogers, Thomas Sprugeon
Shores, Ireland (or Irland?), Jr.
South, Charles Braxton
Wilson, Comer A.
Woolf, Norman Bragg
Others from Alabama known to have been killed in the attack include:

John Arnold Austin of Warrior, who gave his own life aboard U.S.S. Oklahoma to save the lives of 15 of his shipmates. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Julius Ellsberry of Birmingham, one of 62 black servicemen who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor. He died aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma.

If you would like to review the complete casualty lists for Pearl Harbor, the National Park Service maintains an excellent listing at

You can learn more about Pearl Harbor, which is now part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at

An excellent place in Alabama to learn more about World War II is the Battleship U.S.S. Alabama at Mobile Bay. To learn more, please visit: