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afford thern protection, in case of an attack. The settlers also very generally began to take refuge in the fortifications, if so we, may term them, along the Alabama River.
Having obtained an abundant supply of arms and ammunition from Pensacola —furnished, as was charged, by the British—the hostile Creeks determined to venture upon some exploits which should signalize their share in the war. Accordingly, Fort Mimms, on the Alabama, not far from Mobile, was marked out for destruction, in the summer of 1813. This was one of the usual stockaded forts on the river's bank, to which Governor Claiborne had sent Major Beasly, with a hundred and eighty men. The inhabitants of the Tensas settlement were collected there; and subsequently, Claiborne dispatched orders to Beasly, urging him to the utmost vigilance and caution; charging him to complete the block houses, to strengthen the stockades, and to keep a vigilant watch against sudden attack.
Under some unaccountable delusion, Beasly acted as if there was no danger to be feared. Near the end of August, a negro came in, who brought warning that the Indians meant to attack the post. The warning was more than once repeated; but, unhappily, was unheeded. On the night preceding the massacre, the dogs of the garrison, who are said to be able to smell the Indians, gave notice of danger by a peculiar growling. Yet there was no alarm felt; but all were confident of security.
The next day, August 30th, the fatal delusion was dispelled. Towards noon, the Indians advanced through an open
field, to within thirty yards of the fort before they were discovered; so well devised, bold, and fortunate, was the plan of the blood thirsty sav
ages! The gate, too, was wide open, and raising their fearful whoop they rushed into the fort. Every man who could fight seized his weapon and hurried to his post. The first struggle took place at the gate, and the slaughter was dreadful. Beasly himself, shot through the body, was one of the first victims. Crowds on crowds of Indians pressed to the attack, driving in by mere numbers the vainly brave garrison, whose immovable security had betrayed them to the enemy. For some hours the fight literally raged. It was a hand to hand combat; bayonet, sword, and clubbed rifle clashing and colliding with tomahawk, scalping knife, and war club. The defences of the white men were fired; they were shot down from without; and encumbered by the women and children, and other non-effectives who had taken refuge in the fort, they were, in spite of the most desperate valor, completely overpowered.
At length, about five in the afternoon, the few who survived, not one of whom was without a wound, and several had received more than one, gathering the guns of their fallen comrades, and throwing them with the ammunition they could not carry into the flames, resolved to force their way out. The upper part of the block-house, to which some of the women had retreated, was rapidly consuming,—it was certain destruction to remain where they were, —perhaps they might succeed in fighting their way through the swarms of the enemy. Seventeen only, and notwithstanding their wounds, did succeed. Above three hundred and fifty persons —including volunteers and militia, the ordinary garrison, refugees from the neighborhood, (twenty families and more,) friendly Indians, and some hundred of negroes—perished during the fight, or in the flames, or were put to death after all resistance had ceased, with barbarities too revolting to be narrated. The entire number of those who escaped was under thirty. The scene presented to those who came to bury the dead, after the Indians had withdrawn, exceeded all description.
THE MASSACRE AT FORT MIMMS.
Gloom and consternation took possession of the whole south-western frontier. Every fort was crowded with fugitives, and Mobile, which General Wilkinson had seized in the month of April, was now a most welcome harbor of refuge to multitudes, whom terror at the news of the tragedy at Fort Mimms drove from their homes. The whole region was in a deplorable state, and the distress of the people during the sickly season, in September, was extreme. The number and fierceness of the Indians were frightful, and every station, every block-house, and every fort was assailed by the open foe, or by lurking bands of concealed savages.
In this emergency, it was felt that no help from the government at Washington was to be obtained; the people of the neighboring states must give the requisite assistance, or the whole country must be abandoned by the whites. "The people and government of the contiguous states, Georgia and Tennessee, and of those convenient, South and
North Carolina, instantly acted with excellent decision, before it was possible to furnish the means, hardly to give orders, from the seat of erovernment. In war, the well-being of popular government requires that each sovereignty act in its own sphere, and perform the constitutional duty prescribed to it. Irregularities of action betray infirmities which are not inherent in the system. The communities and governments of the states of Georgia and Tennessee faced the emergency with alacrity and energy, similar to what was displayed in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania."*
Amongst other means for reducing the Creeks, now thought of, was the employment of the Choctaws against them. A "Committee of Safety" set forth at length the reasons which appeared to them to call for this measure; the most convincing, in their opinion, being, that if the United States did not secure the co-operation of these Indians, the enemy might do so, and then, instead of being subdued, the Creeks would be reinforced. "In the emphatic language of Major Gibson," says Monetae, "the point was narrowed down to this, 'We must engage the Choctaws, or fight them!'"
It was not, however, till the month of November, that the requisite negotiations were completed, and it was the middle of the month before General Claiborne, accompanied by the Choctaw auxiliaries, advanced towards Weatherford's Bluff, on the Alabama, for the
* Ingersoll's "Eistory of the Second War" voL L, p. 333.