Topic: Race and Ethnicity / American Indian Studies

In Bitterness and in Tears
Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks and Seminoles
Sean Michael O'Brien

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Sean Michael O'Brien

In Bitterness and in Tears

Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks and Seminoles

Sean Michael O'Brien Sean Michael O'Brien

June 2003


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O'Brien explores the conflicts that paved the way for the removal of southeastern Native American tribes, which set the stage for the Cotton Kingdom and slavery-based economy to come.

The seldom-recalled Creek War of 1813-1814 and its extension, the First Seminole War of 1818, had significant consequences for the growth of the United States. Beginning as a civil war between Muscogee factions, the struggle escalated into a war between the Moscogees and the United States after insurgent Red Sticks massacred over 250 whites and mixed-bloods at Fort Mims on the Alabama River on August 30, 1813—the worst frontier massacre in U.S. history. After seven months of bloody fighting, U.S. forces inflicted a devastating defeat on the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River on March 27, 1814—the most disastrous defeat ever suffered by Native Americans.

The defeat of the Muscogees (Creeks), the only serious impediments to U.S. westward expansion, opened millions of acres of land to the white settlers and firmly established the Cotton Kingdom and slavery in the Deep South. For southeastern Native Americans, the war resulted in the destruction of their civilization and forced removal west of the Mississippi: The Trail of Tears. O'Brien presents both the American and Native American perspectives of this important chapter of U.S. history. He also examines the roles of the neighboring tribes and African Americans who lived in the Muscogee nation.
Prologue: "A Most Bloody Butchery"
Two Nations
The Catalyst
The Opportunists
Collision Course
The Allies
Old Hickory
"Shot Them Like Dogs"
The Mutineers
"They Are Killing Everything"
"Untrodden Wilderness"
Red Stick Resurgence
"He Makes Them Do Their Duty"
"The River of Blood"
"My Warriors Can No Longer Hear My Voice"
Red Coats and Red Allies
"Hot Bed of the Indian War"
A Troubled Peace
The Return of Sharp Knife
"Every Principal Villain . . . Dead or Taken"
One Nation
Epilogue: "An Indiscriminate Slaughter"
Works Cited
Independent historian O'Brien writes about the Creek War of 1813-14 in Alabama during the War of 1812, and its extension, the Seminole War of 1818, in Spanish Florida. The Creek or Red Stick War secured for Andrew Jackson his reputation as a military hero and paved the way for the removal of all the southeastern Indians....Recommended. General and undergraduate collections.—Choice

[a] definitive study of the Creek War of 1813-1814 and the First Seminole War of 1818. Closely examining history from both American and Native points of view....[a]n impressive contribution to American History anf Native American Studies reading lists and academic reference collections.—Wisconsin Bookwatch