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Creek War

In the 1790s and early 1800s, U.S. treaties recognized Creek land ownership, but illegal encroachment by whites began cycles of violence and revenge by both sides.

The Creeks disagreed on how to respond. Those who accepted white influence sought to cooperate with the U.S., but others wanted to defend their land and their traditions.


Divisions among the Creeks led to civil war in 1813. The U.S. joined the fight against the traditionalists, known as the Red Sticks. Forces led by Andrew Jackson destroyed Red Stick towns and faced them in a final great battle at Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814.


American artillery was ineffective against a massive barricade of pine logs. After a detachment of U.S. soldiers and Indian allies attacked from a second position across the Tallapoosa River, Jackson’s men topped the barricade. More than eight hundred Red Stick warriors died in the hand-to-hand combat that followed, bringing an end to Creek resistance.


After Horseshoe Bend, the Creeks were forced to surrender most of their lands in Alabama. Nearly fourteen million acres opened to settlement at a time when Georgia, Carolina, and Virginia farmland was wearing out. As thousands entered the region, many by way of the Federal Road, the enthusiasm for moving west became known as “Alabama Fever.”


Wealthy planters acquired large tracts in the Black Belt and the Tennessee Valley. Yeoman farmers settled on small plots, mostly in the hill country. Within another twenty years, the U.S. would forcibly remove nearly all the remaining Indians, opening yet more land.

“Alabama Fever rages here with great violence and has carried off vast numbers of our citizens.” James Graham, North Carolina, 1817


“Last evening I saw the sun set for the last time, and its light shine upon the treetops, and the land, and the water, that I am never to look upon again.” Menawa, Creek chief, during removal to Indian Territory, 1836

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