1812 Intro  |  Exhibits Menu  |  TSLA Home

Massacre at Fort Mims
Fort Mims

Diagram of Fort Mims
Library Photograph Collection

On August 30, 1813, an outpost known as Fort Mims, about forty miles north of Mobile, Alabama, was attacked by the Red Sticks, the warring faction of the Creek Nation. Casualties, including women and children, amounted to about 250, although, at the time, the estimate was twice that figure. The massacre sent shock waves through the Mississippi Territory (present-day Mississippi and Alabama) and Tennessee and caused panic among the American settlers. The Fort Mims disaster represented the culmination of a powder-keg situation in the Old Southwest. Constant incursions by American settlers on Creek lands and traditions created a rift within Creek society over the adoption of "white" ways into their culture. Many Creeks accommodated these cultural changes to some degree and adopted sizable farming operations, raised livestock, and claimed property rights. Other Creeks wanted to curb the continued deterioration of their society. The visit of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh to the Southeastern Tribes, in the fall of 1811, encouraged anti-American sentiment. In the spring of 1812, The Red Sticks killed a family and abducted a woman named Martha Crawley along the Duck River in Humphreys County, Tennessee, straining relations within the Creek Nation and with frontier America.

The Kidnapping of Martha Crawley

Description of the kidnapping of Martha Crawley from the Nashville Clarion, May 26, 1812:

[Portions from an affidavit given by John Bennet of Williamson County regarding the brutal attack by Creek Indians on women and children and the kidnapping of Martha Crawley.]

"...the persons killed were mostly children, that a Mrs. Manly was shot in the knee and shot through the jaws, a little below the ears, was scalped, and arrows left in her – but was not dead, that capt. Crawley's wife and another person were missing; ... Mrs. Manly had stated that four Indians came into her house in McSwines bottom, she had a child in her lap of nine days old, they took the child out of her arms and threw it against the wall, which hurt it so that it is since dead, that they wounded her as above, that a little boy of hers run, but was overtaken by the Indian dogs, that they danced around him and then killed him, and killed the rest of her family."


Menawa, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall, 1836
Library Holdings

(ca. 1765-ca. 1835)

Menawa was a Creek chief who subscribed to the anti-American teachings of Tecumseh. Menawa joined the Red Sticks and led them into battle at Horseshoe Bend (or Tohopeka) on March 27, 1814. During the fighting he was wounded but managed to escape under cover of darkness. In 1825, Menawa carried out the execution of William McIntosh in retaliation for signing the removal treaty. Menawa died during Indian Removal.


Massacre at Ft. Mims

"Massacre at Ft. Mimms [sic]"
Tennessee Historical Society Picture Collection

Map of Southern Alabama
Map of Upper Alabama

"Seat of War in Southern Alabama" and "Seat of the Creek War in Upper Alabama," from The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 by Benson J. Lossing, 1869
Library Holdings

John Coffee Letter

Letter from John Coffee to his wife, Mary, Huntsville, Alabama, January 3, 1814
Dyas Collection of John Coffee Papers

Coffee expresses his disgust regarding the tyranny taking place among General Andrew Jackson's volunteer troops.