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CHOCTAW TROOPS, War of 1812

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Categories: Battle of New Orleans | Creek War | Gulf Coast, War of 1812 | Mississippi Territory | Mississippi | Indian Nation, War of 1812 | Choctaw | Native Americans | Native American History | Native American Warriors.


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... ... ... ... served for Mississippi Territory in the War of 1812
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Encouraged by Tecumseh, the Creek Nation attempted to expel white settlers from the area north of Mobile in 1813. Many of the settlers in Mississippi Territory were drafted into the militia to fight the Creek Indians and to repulse the British invasion of New Orleans in 1815.

Traditionally, Choctaw boys became men when they engaged in successful warfare and the Redstick rebellion provided an opportunity to acquire manhood status in this conventional manner. For this reason, and because the United States recognized Choctaw recruits as soldiers in the U.S. Army, Choctaw men eagerly joined the war.[1]
"Tecumseh ante Harrison" by John Reuben Chapin

The policy of the federal government to remove the Indian nations to the west of the Mississippi River was intended to open land for white settlement. These settlers were satisfied with their new land and thankful to the US government for providing it. The people of the Indian nations living east of the Mississippi did not share the settler's joy. As it became increasingly apparent that the whites would not live at peace with the Indian people, some of the Indians began to organize a pan-Indian movement of resistance. This became more urgent when President Thomas Jefferson began to actively advocate the removal of the Indians to west of the Mississippi River. The foremost leaders of this movement were the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet.

Tecumseh and his brother were encouraged by the British to create a coalition of all the Indian tribes in the Mississippi Valley. In 1811 these two men traveled from their homes in the old Northwest Territory of the US to visit with the southern Indians. As they traveled through the South, they encouraged the tribes to unite and to refuse to cede any more land to the whites. If this plan failed they advocated destroying the whites before the whites either destroyed the Indians or banished them across the Mississippi. The settlers in the Southwest followed the progress of Tecumseh and his party with increasing fear. They were on the verge of panic when in 1812 a second war with Great Britain began. If Tecumseh and the British could unite the Indians against the Americans, then the settler's lands, their families and even their own lives could be lost.

Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi, 1909

The settlers in Mississippi Territory were especially fearful since their militia existed only on paper. The territorial militia lacked both arms and ammunition. The settlers felt that they would be helpless against the approximately 23,000 Choctaw and Chickasaw living within the borders of the present state of Mississippi. Still the territorial governor did not hesitate to threaten the Indians with force. He circulated letters to each of the Indian nations in Mississippi threatening to burn their field and homes if they joined the war on the British side. The Choctaw scornfully ignored the territorial governor's threats.

Under the leadership of chief Pushmataha, they decided to remain neutral. They did nothing to help either side until in August 1813 a force of Creeks attacked Fort Mims in Alabama and precipitated the Creek War.

The situation at this time presented anything but a pleasing prospect. As yet the Choctaws, though allied with the Americans, had furnished no troops to the army and it was with much relief that the people heard that Pushmataha had visited St. Stephens with a proposal to enlist several companies of Choctaw troops for the American cause.
The celebrated chieftain met with much encouragement from General Claiborne and was accompanied to Mobile by Mr. George Gaines where the formal acceptance of the troops by General Flournoy took place. The commanding general, having by this time slowly but thoroughly embraced General Claiborne's view of the Indian matter, now no longer directed him to act on the defensive but, to his great relief empowered him to attack the Indians. The order, however, did not provide for an invasion of the Creek country so much desired by Claiborne.
After arriving home, Pushmataha, celebrated for his wisdom and discretion among the Choctaws, assembled the most powerful heads and rulers of the whole nation and with his convincing eloquence actively federated them with the Americans. The Chickasaws, too, were attached to the Americans through the efforts of Colonel McKee and John Peachland. It was as has already been observed, largely due to the statesmanship of Governor Holmes and General Claiborne that the aid of the Choctaws and Chickasaws was enlisted in the war, and their alliance with the American Republic was one of the master strokes in the successful defense of the Coast against British invasion.[2]

With a single white companion Colonel Gaines went with Pushmatahaw to the nation, where, gathering the Choctaws into a council, the chief made them a speech, saying that Tecumseh, who had suggested this war, was a bad man. He added:[3]

"He came through our country, but did not turn our heads. He went among the Muscogees, and got many of them to join him. You know the Tensaw people. They were our friends. They played ball with us. They sheltered and fed us when we went to Pensacola. Where are they now? Their bodies are rotting at Sam Mims's place. The people at St. Stephen's are also our friends. The Muscogees intend to kill them too. They want soldiers to defend them. You can all do as you please. You are free men. I dictate to none of you; but I shall join the St. Stephen's people. If you have a mind to follow me, I will lead you "

Pushmatahaw finished this speech with his drawn sword in his hand. When he paused, one of the hitherto silent warriors stood up and, striking his breast with his open palm, after the manner of the Choctaws on specially solemn occasions, said, "I am a man; I will follow you;" whereupon his fellows imitated his example, and thus a considerable force of men, who might have been added to Weatherford's strength but for the friendliness of Pushmatahaw, became active friends of the whites. [4]

The Life of Apushitamaha by Dr. Gideon Lincecum, Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society by Riley, Franklin L. (Franklin Lafayette), 1868-1929; Mississippi Historical Society Published 1898

Mushulatubbee was the chief of the Choctaw Okla Tannap ("Lower Towns"), one of the three major Choctaw divisions during the early 19th century. In 1812 he had led his warriors to assist General Andrew Jackson in the war against the Creek Red Sticks, known as the Creek Wars. In addition to fighting with Jackson and his forces against the Creek, Mushulatubbee led 52 Choctaw warriors in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. They fought in the swamps and cypress trees, picking off many British pickets and demoralizing them. They kept shooting down the Red Coats, as they were fighting for their homeland. When the Battle of New Orleans was over, Moshulatubbee and his 52 warriors returned home. They left the service on January 27, 1815 from Fort Stoddard.

Apuckshunubbee (ca. 1740–October 18, 1824) was the third of the three principal chiefs of the Choctaw Native American tribe in the early nineteenth century, from before 1800. He led the western or Okla Falaya (Tall People) District in present-day Mississippi. There were also the eastern and southern districts.


Charles Bird King, Pushmataha

“a warrior of great distinction; he was wise in counsel, eloquent in an extraordinary degree, and, on all occasions and under all circumstances, the white man’s friend.”[5]

In 1812 a battalion of Choctaw Indians joined General Claiborne, and about 150 of them, under the command of Pushmataha, were with Claiborne in the expedition to Holy Ground. Later in the war Pushmataha commanded fifty or more warriors attached to Major Blue’s command, in the Pensacola and Mobile operations. When New Orleans was threatened General Jackson appealed to this faithful nation for assistance. Silas Dinsmore, Indian agent, under orders from General Jackson, writing to Governor Holmes from “Camp Pearl River, 30th January, 1815,” said: “It is probable that in two weeks four or five hundred Indians will be ready for service, say one hundred and twenty already at or near Mobile, one hundred here, one hundred from the upper towns, fifty from Chickasawhays and one hundred from the lower towns.” (Mississippi Archives.)

Lt. Colonel Pushmataha's Choctaw Battalion, raised in Neshoba County, early October, 1813.

Captain Mingo Hopaii's Company, 51 men
1st Lt. Slim King's Company, 22 men
Captain Edmond Flosum's Company, 40 men
Captain Thluko's Company, 12 men
"At his camp at Pine Level in Clarke County General Claiborne received orders on November 10, from General Flournoy to quit that post for another field of action. Sharing his burning desire to make Pensacola the objective point, it was with eagerness that his troops broke camp on November 13, and moved forward to Weatherford's Bluff where they w r ere to make preparations for General Jackson looking to an attack on Pensacola which was now believed by all to be the seat of trouble. On November 17, 1813 Claiborne crossed the Alabama River and halted at Weatherford's Bluff. Here his troops, cheerful despite the scantiness of food and clothing, fortified themselves for future action, Pushmataha's warriors practicing daily with the new rifles given them at Fort Madison, and, if tradition can be trusted,sallying forth to take a view of Burnt Corn, the fame of which had spread far into the Choctaw Nation. It was in a spirit of exultation that the great chieftain claimed that he put to flight a party of Creeks whom he found occupying the famous battle-ground."[6]
The last battle of the year 1813 was to fall to General Claiborne and his Mississippi volunteer regiments. Carrying out his long cherished desire, he gathered a strong force about him composed almost entirely of Mississippi soldiery and a number of Louisiana volunteers and confided to them his determination to march to the enemy's capital. This fortress of two hundred houses, fortified after the Indian manner, bore the sacred name of Econachaca called, also, "Ikanchaka," the Holy Ground. "The fortress and town were erected" says the Mississippi historian, Claiborne, "by Weatherford on the south bank of the Alabama 125 miles from Fort Claiborne just after the massacre of Fort Mims." It was designed for a safe haven for the Creeks in time of trouble. A rude citadel, planted on a little peninsula jutting out into the river and set in the deep forest, it was surrounded on the land side by marshes, slashes and bayous. To it no path ran that the foot of the white man had ever trod. Guarded by 10,000 ungoverned and rampant savages, it yet notwithstanding its wizard circles and the incantations of its holy men — was not impenetrable to the conquering race that now sought it. It was here that, with the spirit of the Inquisition, the "Prophet" Francis ordered all prisoners to be burned at the stake, and it was here he boasted that no enemy of the Creek could tread without being blasted by the hand of the Great Spirit.[7]

In his letter to Governor Holmes Claiborne said:

"I am now on the east bank of the Alabama, thirty-five miles above Mims, and in the best part of the enemy's country. From this position we cut the savages off from the river, and from their growing crops. We likewise render their communication with Pensacola more hazardous. Here will be deposited for the use of General Jackson, a supply of provisions, and I hope I shall be ordered to co-operate with him. Colonel Russell of the Third U. S. Infantry has been ordered to co-operate with the Georgia troops, and is now on his march to this place. We have by several excursions alarmed the Indians, and the possession of this important position will induce them to retire. I have with me Pushmataha, who, with fifty-one warriors, accompanied by Lieutenant Calahan of the volunteers, will march this morning and take up a position to intercept more effectually the communication of the enemy with Pensacola."
On the morning of December 13, 1813, Fort Claiborne was abandoned and the Mississippi army at their trusted General's command moved forward towards the Creek capital to confront not only the bitter Francis but the fierce Weatherford himself. The frontier army of 1000 patriots. These with 150 fine Choctaw warriors under the celebrated Pushmataha made up Claiborne's army. To this deft and adroit chieftain, now a brigadier-general in the United States Army, is due much of the enthusiasm with which the Choctaws participated in the invasion of the Creek country.
When Claiborne had conquered the Holy Ground and had driven out its inhabitants — both prophet and warrior, he occupied it with his soldiers for a few hours during which the Choctaws under Pushmataha were given the privilege of possessing themselves of the victor's spoils, the white soldiery now embittered by memories of Creek atrocities disdaining to appropriate to themselves anything that belonged to the savages. Their passing disdain turned into horror and bitter invective when they discovered m the public square of the Holy City a tall pine pole from which was suspended the scalps of those who had been murdered at Fort Mims. From this gruesome object hung the curly scalp of the infant and its mother's long braids intermingling with the hoary locks of the aged. The letter, too, found in Weatherford's house, in which Governor Manique of Pensacola congratulated him upon the victory of Fort Mims, hlled them with renewed purpose to stamp out the Creek Nation.
After ordering the torch to be applied to the town and reducing it to ashes, Claiborne with his army swept the whole territory in which the Holy Ground was located, destroying all towns, villages, farms and boats that were to be found. [8]


Choctaw Detachment of Warriors in the service of the United States, March 1 to May 29th 1814.

Lt. Colonel Pushmataha[9]
Lt. Colonel Humming Bird
Major Louis Leflore
1st Lt. and Quartermaster John Pitchlyn Jr.
Quartermaster-Sergeant Samuel Long
Extra Interpreter Middleton Mackey

General Humming Bird, Chief of the Okla Hannali District [Okla-hvnnali or Six Towns] Southwestern Division. 1824-1826 The United States government recognized General Humming Bird as the successor of Pushmatah, his nephew. General Humming Bird died September 1828 and is buried a Kusha Cemetery in Mississippi, where his mother, a sister of Pushmataha, Nahotema was buried. He served with General Anthony Wayne during the Indian War in Ohio.("A Story of Choctaw Chiefs" by Peter J. Hudson April 1934)[10]


The bulk of Choctaw fighting men joined Major Uriah Blue's command that captured Pensacola in November 1814


Major Pierre Jugeant and Chief Capt. Pierre de Juzan, inn keeper, Juzan's Lake, Mississippi, led 52 Choctaws from the swamp against the British right flank, Battle of New Orleans. Juzan led a smaller force of about 30-60 Choctaws to New Orleans with Andrew Jackson's command. Once in New Orleans, Juzan and this smaller unit of Choctaw soldiers patrolled the Chef Mentour Road along the Gentilly Plain to prevent British incursions via Lake Borgne after the British captured the lake on December 14.

Links

Pushmataha: Choctaw Warrior, Diplomat, and Chief By Greg O'Brien

Wenonah's Stories

Push-ma-ta-ha, Choctaw Indian Chief

A Story of Choctaw Chiefs by Peter J. Hudson April 1934

The Oklahoma History Center

THE CHIEFS OF THE CHOCTAWS

Sources

  1. http://www.nps.gov/articles/choctaw-indians-and-the-battle-of-new-orleans.htm
  2. https://archive.org/stream/publicationsofmi04rowl#page/n131/mode/2up/search/hinds
  3. Red Eagle and the Wars With the Creek Indians of Alabama. George Cary Eggleston
  4. Red Eagle and the Wars With the Creek Indians of Alabama. George Cary Eggleston
  5. http://www.bartleby.com/268/8/6.html
  6. https://archive.org/stream/publicationsofmi04rowl#page/n147/mode/2up/search/Pushmataha
  7. https://archive.org/stream/publicationsofmi04rowl#page/n149/mode/2up/search/Pushmataha
  8. https://archive.org/stream/publicationsofmi04rowl#page/n159/mode/2up/search/Pushmataha
  9. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=845
  10. Push-ma-ta-ha, Choctaw Indian Chief

Further reading

James Taylor Carson, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians (originally published 1899; reprinted Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

Clara Sue Kidwell, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995).

Gideon Lincecum, “Life of Apushimataha,” Mississippi Historical Society Publications (1906) 9:415-485.

Greg O'Brien, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming).

John Swanton, Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians (Smithsonian Institution: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin no. 103, 1931).

Richard White, The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).

Notes: War of 1812


Elijah M. McCurdy, US Army, father William Marion McCurdy


Pushmataha, Choctaw warriors, brother to Nahotima


Mushulatubbee, Choctaw warriors, brother to Caty


Jacob Pyburn, Mississippi Volunteers, father of Benjamin Jacob Pyburn


James Chitty, Alabama, father of Mary Jane Chitty


Charles Juzan, husband of Peggy

http://jenniferhsrn2.homestead.com/veterans.html





Images: 6
Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi
Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi

Characteristick head of a Creek War Chief
Characteristick head of a Creek War Chief

Characteristick Chactaw Busts
Characteristick Chactaw Busts

Pushmataha, by Charles Bird King,
 Pushmataha, by Charles Bird King,

"Tecumseh and Harrison" by John Reuben Chapin

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