Creek Indian Wars

The Creek Indians, who had been allies of the British during the War of 1812, were angered by white encroachment on their hunting grounds in Georgia and Alabama. In 1813, some Creeks under Chief Red Eagle (William Weatherford) (1780-1824) attacked and burned Fort Mims on the lower Alabama River, killing about 500 whites [the Fort Mims Massacre]. Afterward, US militiamen, led by General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), invaded Creek territory in central Alabama and destroyed two Indian villages, Talladega and Tallasahatchee, in the fall of 1813. Jackson pursued the Creek, and on March 27, 1814, his 3,000 man army attacked and defeated them at that Battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama. More than 800 Creek warriors were killed, and the power of the Creek nation was completely broken. At the Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814, the Creek were compelled to cede 23 million acres (half of Alabama and part of southern Georgia) to the whites. It is sometimes considered to be part of the War of 1812.


Creek Indian Treaties


The United States continued to gain title to Native American land after the Treaty of Greenville, at a rate that created alarm in Indian communities. In 1800, William Henry Harrison became governor of the Indiana Territory and, under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson, pursued an aggressive policy of obtaining titles to Indian lands. Two Shawnee brothers, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, organized another pan-tribal resistance to American expansion.

While Tecumseh was in the south attempting to recruit allies among the Creeks, Cherokees, and Choctaws, Harrison marched against the Indian confederacy, defeating Tenskwatawa and his followers at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The Americans hoped that the victory would end the militant resistance, but Tecumseh instead chose to openly ally with the British, who were soon at war with the Americans in the War of 1812.


A faction of Creeks known as Red Sticks sought aggressively to return their society to a traditional way of life. Red Stick leaders such as William Weatherford (Red Eagle), Peter McQueen, and Menawa, who were allies of the British, violently clashed with other chiefs within the Creek Nation over white encroachment on Creek lands and the programs administered by U.S. Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins. Before the Creek Civil War began, the Red Sticks attempted to keep their activities secret from the old chiefs.

In February 1813, a small party of Red Sticks, led by Little Warrior, were returning from Detroit when they killed two families of settlers along the Ohio River. Hawkins demanded that the Creek turn over Little Warrior and his six companions. Instead of handing the marauders over to the federal agents, the old Chiefs decided to execute the war party themselves. This decision was the spark which ignited the civil war between the Creeks.


Creek War of 1836

The Creek War of 1836 was a conflict fought between the Muscogee Creek people and non-Native land speculators and squatters in Alabama in 1836. Although the Creek people had been forced from Georgia, with many Lower Creeks moving to the Indian Territory, there were still about 20,000 Upper Creeks living in Alabama.

However, the state moved to abolish tribal governments and extend state laws over the Creeks. Opothle Yohola appealed to the administration of President Andrew Jackson for protection from Alabama; when none was forthcoming, the Treaty of Cusseta was signed on 24 March 1832, which divided up Creek lands into individual allotments. Creeks could either sell their allotments and received funds to remove to the west, or stay in Alabama and submit to state laws. Land speculators and squatters began to defraud Creeks out of their allotments, and violence broke out, leading to the so-called “Creek War of 1836”. Secretary of War Lewis Cass dispatched General Winfield Scott to end the violence by forcibly removing the Creeks to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.




Creek Indian Tribe

A confederacy forming the largest division of the Muskhogean family. They received their name form the English on account of the numerous streams in their country. During early historic times the Creek occupied the greater portion of Alabama and Georgia, residing chiefly on Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers, the two largest tributaries of the Alabama River and on the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers. They claimed the territory on the east from the Savannah to St. Johns River and all the islands, thence to Apalachee Bay, and from this line northward to the mountains. The south portion of this territory was held by dispossession of the earlier Florida tribes. They sold to Great Britain at an early date their territory between Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers, all the coast to St Johns river, and all the islands up to tidewater, reserving for themselves St Catherine, Sapelo, and Ossabaw Islands, and from Pipemakers Bluff to Savannah (Morse, N. Am., 218, 1776).

Consult Further: Creek Tribe History

Suggested Reading

  • Notes on the Creek Indians
    Notes on the Creek Indians was published in 1939 by Swanton and taken from the notes of Maj. J. W. Powell. Those notes were initially written down in interviews with two Creek Indians from Okmulgee Town in Oklahoma in the early 1880's, Legus F. Perryman and Gen. Pleasant Porter. While not extensive, and in part, duplicates Swanton's Early History of Creek Indians, there is specific information found within the manuscript not available elsewhere.
  • Tribal Migrations East of the Mississippi
    The map entitled "Linguistic Families of American Indians North of Mexico", by J. W. Powell, issued by the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, some years ago and several times revised and reprinted, indicates the position of the various groups of tribes when they first became known to Europeans. The map, as its title implies, includes the entire North American continent north of Mexico, but in the present paper, only that portion bordering on the lower Mississippi, and eastward to the Atlantic coast, will be considered.
  • Contact Between the Southern Indians and Mexico
  • Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors
  • A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians
    Writing more then just a book about an Indian legend, Samuel Gatschet’s classic ethnographic manuscript delves deeply into the enthnography of the Southern tribes of Creek Indians, providing a look into the linguistic groups of the Gulf States, the tribes which spoke those languages, the villages they lived in, and a more comprehensive study of Creek life. Finally, Gatschet provides an overall look at Indian migration legends, and then gives an English translation of the Creek migration legend.


Creek, Creek War,

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1 thought on “Creek Indian Wars”

  1. Additional reference: Newspaper notice “The Democrat”, 30 Aug 1836, Notice for convention of court martial by the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Alabama Militia ordered by BG William A Aikin, 23 Aug 1836. Court membership lists officers of this brigade. Purpose of convening court: Review of appeals on organization of Brigade.

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