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THE CREEK DISTURBANCES
We stated in our last that fresh hostilities had been manifested by some of the Creek Indians, and published a letter stating that an engagement had taken place between a few citizens from Irwinton, (eighteen in number) under the command of Gen. Welborn and a party of Indians in the Cuwaggee Swamp. Since then we have been favored with Gen. Welborn's official account of that affair, furnished to Capt. Page, at Fort Mitchell, which will be found below.
We also learn verbally, by a passenger arrived at this place from Irwinton, that Gen. Welborn started a second time from his camp with thirty-eight men, in pursuit of the Indians, but had not found the main body when our informant left. They however met a gang of four, three men and a woman; two of the men they shot and took the woman prisoner — the other man made his escape. One of the men killed was found to be an old offender who had always been hostile.
The number of the savages in the Cowaggee Swamp that are again disturbing the peace of that quarter, are variously estimated from fifty to six hundred. Our own opinion is, from the best information we can gather, that they cannot at this time exceed one hundred and fifty in the swamp, perhaps not over one hundred. But decisive measures should be resorted to at once, before the irruption comes to a head. Whoever known any thing of the Indian character is aware that none of them have any love for the white man. This they openly avow, even while they profess friendship, and boldly tell the whites that they would fight them to the death of half the nation, if the other half could hope to be ultimately victorious. And nothing so much encourages the inert to proceed to hostilities as a temporary success of any of the more hostile. They have met Welborn once, and he retreated; and though we know the man too well not to know that he had ample reason, as his report fully shows, the Indians will construe it into a defeat. They should therefore be proceeded against at once. If they are a party of the hostiles returned from Florida after the defeat of Oseola, they should be subdued before those who profess to be friendly join them; if a part of the latter they should be put down before others join them. We marvel that Gov. Clay does not act promptly and efficiently in affording, this section of his Stale relief. A volunteer company of horsemen, under the command of Capt Whitman, left Montgomery some time ago and proceeded to the Cowaggee — we have not heard from them since they arrived in the nation. These men marched without the orders of the Governor, and we believe are the only troops besides those of Gen. Welborn, who have gone to the aid of the sufferers. We do not apprehend the danger to the inhabitants generally to be great; but where they have but just returned to their homes, after having been driven away in alarm and terror by the savages, and the marks of their merciless footsteps still thick around them, the very name of Indian strikes dismay to the heart. Nor in their indiscriminate warfare is any one safe. The tender mother and the infant at her breast, are equally the subjects of their murderous rifle and tomahawk with the armed warrior.
Many of the women and children near Columbus, have been sent to this side of the river, and, as will appear from another letter which we publish below, the men are organizing themselves for more effective warfare. We do not know that our Executive would be justified in ordering any of the Georgia volunteers into the State of Alabama on his own responsibility, but we state, and do it at the request of the inhabitants on the other side, that volunteers, for a short time, from this side, until they organize themselves into a posture of defence, would be received with gratitude among them. We trust the neighboring counties of this State will not be unmindful that we are all members of the same republican family, and that most of the inhabitants of the disturbed territory were but a short while ago their immediate neighbors at home, and still remain their friends and fellow citizens.
As regards our own city, we trust the authorities will keep up a nightly patrol. That our arms will be furbished up, and the military kept in a state of readiness at a moment's warning. We have already said, that we do not apprehend the danger to be great in the nation, and we apprehend none whatever here. Still we dare not trust an Indian. Besides, there is something due to the fears of the timid. Where they see every thing prepared, they can retire to see repose in the confidence that should danger invade them, they will be protected. This, itself, is an important duty to the timid and the helpless.
GEN. WELLBORN'S OFFICIAL REPORT.
Capt. John Page, U. S. Army.
CAMP AT DR. BATTELS, Jan. 30, 1837.
Sir, - According to your instructions through Maj. D. G. Skinner, a volunteer company raised some time before for the defence of the citizens in the Creek nation (and which was in service at the time of the receipt of your instructions) of which I was elected Captain, was posted at this place. The swamps in the neighborhood were diligently searched for several days, but no Indians could be found. Last Friday, the 27th, information was received at the camp by several neighbors that fresh signs of Indians had, within a day of two, been seen in the neighboring swamps. I therefore, on the evening of that day, left the camp with eighteen men and the surgeon of the company, Dr. L. T. Wellborn, for the purpose of searching for those Indians. After leaving the camp two or three miles we were met by an express, young Fagan, who informed us that on the evening before a band of hostile Indians (which he estimated at about twenty or thirty in number) had attacked the family of old Mr. Pugh, killed the old gentleman, his overseer, and several negroes; also burned his houses, &c., that he with 18 other men had gone to the scene of massacre and destruction on that morning, and made an attack on those devastating Indians who were still resting over the ashes of the houses and the slain; the Indians returned their fire with great effect, killing two of their company, McDaniel and Bryant, and the rest were compelled to retreat. I lad left a part of my company at the camp for its protection, and some were gone to remove their families from the neighborhood. Not withstanding the fewness of our numbers we resolved immediately to go in pursuit of those destroyers, and if possible put a stop to their savage butchery. The sun was now about one hour high; we put off (Mr. Fagan our guide.) After travelling up the middle prong of the Cowagge Creek about 10 or 12 miles we discovered a house in flames a little ahead of us; we approached within half a mile of the fire when we lit and ties out horses, then formed a line, and on foot went near enough to see, to our very great disappointment, that no Indians were there. We then concluded that it was most likely they had gone on to Mr. Fagans', about five miles further up the creek, when we then expected to find them burning Mr. Fagans' house, &c., but when we arrive at Fagans' we were again disappointed; all the houses were standing and not a humnan being there. There we tarried until day break, when we concluded to go back to Martin's, where the house was burning, which we passed as before stated. When we got back to Martin's we found the meat house unburnt and a quantity of excellent meat hanging in it We then refreshed ourselves a little, saw no Indians, but found their trail leading into a dense cane brake on the creek; we pursued it along a path Mr. Martin had from his dwelling to a field in the swamp. We lost the trail in the swamp, and after making diligent search for them down the creek and did not find them, we mounted our horses and determined to search for them above, which in a few minutes resulted in meeting them in the path before spoken of, leading from the field to the house. They announced our meeting by firing a volley of rifles at us and yelling tremendously. The cane on the other side of the path was unusually thick and stout, so I thought it best to fall back to the field, which was done in good order, and when I had reached as favorable a situation as I could find I ordered my men to halt, dismount and fight, which order was promptly and eagerly obeyed. The Indians were in close pursuit and firing all the while, but without effect. When we commenced firing they hastened behind trees and lay very close in the weeds. A brisk fire was kept up from both sides for about half an hour, when discovering they very greatly out numbered us, and was flanking us on either side, I reluctantly ordered a retreat, which was performed coolly and in good order, not neglecting the wounded (six in number) nor those who had lost their horses, but all was brought off safe except Lieut. Patterson and seven horses who were killed dead upon the ground. We killed several Indians, some three or four one perhaps more. There was not less than sixty Indians engaged in this conflict. The gallant and good conduct of both my officers and men deserve the highest commendation. The Indians pursued us about one mile. We returned to camp about sunset. By day break Sunday morning we were reinforced from Irwinton with thirty-seven of her brave and patriotic citizens who came to our rescue, having been informed about bed time of our fight and that the Indians had pursued us to the camp. We left the camp about 9 o'clock Sunday for the battle ground, where we found and buried Lieut Patterson. The Indians, had, after the battle, burned Martin's meat house. We pursued their trail until night but did not overhaul them. We saw several other houses burned, and returned for the night to Mr. Fagan's. We renewed the pursuit this morning, but owing to the heavy rain no traces could be found of them, and as many of my companions from Irwinton were compelled to return, I have again returned to camp; I intend to pursue them again tomorrow.
I find the citizens of this country highly excited on account of the position of the supposed friendly Indians. It is generally believed, and I concur in that opinion, that these Indians are from the friendly camp. I therefore suggest to you the propriety of taking some measures to control these reputed friendly Indians and keep them within the limits of their encampment until they can be moved. If these Indians are permitted to roam at pleasure, I feel confident, from the present state of feeling, that they will be treated as hostile, which to prevent would be highly desirable.
Your obedient servant,
Captain of the Barbour Rangers.
Walter Patterson, 1st Lieut, left dead on the ground.
Capt Wellborn slightly wounded in the hand.
Wm. Camen, 2nd Lieut, left arm badly shattered.
Hiram Carter wounded in the abdomen badly.
M. Watley arm broke.
J. K. Wenslett wounded in the leg.
* Camp Battell is 32 miles from Irwinton.
We stop the press to announce the following agreeable intelligence, just received from the seat of war in the Creek nation.
Copy of a letter from a volunteer against the Creek Indians to his brother in this City, dated
TUSKEGEE, Feb. 8,1837.
Dear Brother: We are now at this place, (or near it,) with about 140 men, who joined us not far below here. Maj. Jernigan first joined before we arrived here, and with our companies we took 87 Indians and 73 stand of arms - but by the death of one Indian only. We expected a very severe battle; but taking them so unexpectedly, and surrounding the Big Swamp, near which they were encamped, in such a complete manner, that the consequence was not worse than above stated. Gen. Wellborn had left two days before we arrived here, for a scout down the Cowaggee. The Indians which we took were those who fought Wellborn, and are now all in jail here. All will be settled in two weeks, but not without severe times. We intend to take all the Indians who pretend to be friendly and place them under guard, and the balance we will kill as we find them.
In great haste.
We are under the painful necessity of announcing the death of Mr. John Coleman, late of this city. Mr. Coleman had sold his property in Columbus and purchased a plantation on the Cowaggee, whither he had removed with his family, and was a close neighbor to the unfortunate Pugh, who was so recently murdered, by the Indians. When that event took place, Mr. Coleman proceeded to move his family, with all possible expedition, to the Georgia side of the river. They had reached Stewart county on their way to this place, when it was discovered that the fatigue, anxiety and distress of Mr. Coleman had entirely deranged his mind, and while in this state, he got hold of a pistol, unknown to his family, and put an end to his existence by lodging its contents in his brain. We do not vouch for the correctness of this statement in all its particulars; it is however, the substance of all we are able to learn of the unfortunate occurrence.
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