Rotarians learn American history at weekly meeting

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jim Medley is not a history professor, but he probably could have been.

Medley drew from his interest in history, especially American history, to step in and present a program to the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday.

Not many of the Rotarians were well versed about the Fort Mims massacre on August 30, 1813 when they arrived, but knew a great deal more about the Creek War when the lunch meeting closed.

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Medley verbally sketched the scene of the territory occupied by the Creek or Muscogee Indians that spanned the Alabama River from Mobile to northeast Alabama.

“We were trespassers,” Medley said of the white men who came into the territory. “The Indians tolerated the white men for a while but there was growing unrest.”

Medley said that Chief Tecumseh in New York had a vision and attempted to get all of the Indians to ban together and kick the white man out. However, the uprising never happened.

“The Indians enjoyed the white man’s goods. The women liked the pots and pans and nobody wanted to take their pots and pans away,” Medley said, laughing.

In time, the “Red Sticks” opposed the land cessions to the settlers and the settlers became alarmed about the rising tensions. The settlers sought refuge at the stockades at Fort Mims.

In August, there were repeated reports of Indians outside Fort Mims but the people inside the fort ignored the warnings.

“It was said that there were no Indians outside the fort, only red cows,” Medley said.

But, when the head of a scouting commander at Fort Mims had his head split open with a hatchet, those inside realized that they were up against more than red cows.

“The gate to the fort had been left partially open and the Indians stormed the fort,” Medley said. “Between 250 and 300 settlers and soldiers were massacred. A few women and children were spared. The massacre at Fort Mims was the largest in the history of Indian warfare.”

The Indian victory at Fort Mims spread panic throughout the Southeastern United States frontier and settlers demanded that the government take action.

Federal troops were occupied with the northern front of the War of 1812, so Georgia, Tennessee and the Mississippi Territory mobilized their militias to fight against the Creeks that had supported the Red Sticks’ cause.

“After several battles, Old Hickory (Col. Andrew Jackson) commanded the state militias and Cherokee allies at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend,” Medley said. “

The Red Sticks were defeated – almost all of them were killed – and the Creek War came to an end.”