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Mims, Fort, massacre at

In the autumn of 1812, Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, went among the Creeks to stir them up to make war upon the whites. They were divided in sentiment, for many of them preferred peace and friendship with the Americans, and civil war was engendered. The white settlers among them were in great peril, and in the spring of 1813 they were led to expect an exterminating blow. They knew that a British squadron was in the Gulf, and on friendly terms with the Spaniards at Pensacola. They prepared to defend themselves as well as they might. They learned that British agents at Pensacola were distributing supplies among the Creeks. Very soon hostilities began here and there, and the white people fled to secret places for refuge—some in the thick swamps not far above the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers. There they were joined by wealthy half-blood families, and the house of Samuel Mims, an old and wealthy inhabitant, was strongly stockaded with heavy pickets. Several other buildings were enclosed within the acre of ground stockaded, and the whole was known as Fort Mims. Major Beasley was placed in command and authorized to receive any citizens who would assist in defence of the station, and issue soldiers' rations to them. Its dimensions were soon too small for the people who flocked to it for protection against the impending storm, and a new enclosure was built. At the close of August Indians were seen prowling around Fort Mims; but Major Beasley was confident that he could “maintain the post against any number of Indians.”

Aug. 30 was a beautiful day, and no sense of danger was felt at the fort. It contained 550 men, women, and children. The mid-day drum was beaten for dinner. The soldiers' were loitering listlessly around, or were playing cards; almost 100 children were playing around, and young men and maidens were dancing. At that moment 1,000 almost naked Creek warriors lay in a ravine not more than 440 yards from the fort, ready, like famished tigers, to spring upon their prey. They were led by Weathersford, a famous Creek chief. The first tap of the dinner-drum was the signal for the Indians to rise from their cover and rush to the fort; and the first intimation of their presence was a horrid yell, that filled the air as they came streaming over a field towards an open gate of the fort. Beasley flew to close it, and the soldiers rushed with their arms to the portholes. The unarmed men and the women and children, pale with terror, huddled within the houses and cabins of the enclosure. [190] Beasley was too late. He was felled by clubs and tomahawks, and over his dead body the terrible torrent rushed into the new enclosure.

The soldiers made a gallant fight for three hours. They were nearly all slain. The unarmed people were in the old enclosure, with a picket between them and the slaughter. The Indians became weary, and slackened their fire. The people in the main fort hoped the savages were about to depart. They were disappointed. Weathersford was not a man to accept half a victory when a whole one was attainable. His people, who had begun to carry away plunder, were rebuked by him, and exhorted to complete the work. The horrid task was resumed. The few soldiers left made stout resistance, when the Indians sent fire on the wings of arrows to the roof of Mims's house, and it burst into a flame. Very soon the whole “fort” was in flames. The Indians pressed into the main fort. With the most horrible cruelties they murdered the defenseless. Weathersford begged the warriors to spare the women and children, but they refused. He had raised the storm, but was not able to control it. At sunset 400 of the inmates of Fort Mims lay dead. Not a white woman or child escaped. Twelve of the soldiers cut their way through the cordon of Indians and escaped. Most of the negroes were spared, and were made slaves of the Indians. A negro woman, who had received a ball in her breast, escaped to the river, seized a canoe, and, paddling down to Fort Stoddart, gave to General Claiborne there the first tidings of the horrible tragedy. The contest lasted from 12 M. until 5 P. M. The Indians had suffered severely, for not less than 400 Creek warriors were killed or wounded, as the victims had sold their lives as dearly as possible.

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