|Monument to the 153rd Pennsylvania at Gettysburg|
Memorial DayAlright, so I missed the deadline again this year. Stuff Happens, so we're posting this for the Fourth of July, which this year falls on the Fourth.
A couple years ago, TOF posted an account of the Incomparable Marge's grandfather's grandfather; viz., John H. Hammontree, who served in Co. H 5th Tenn. Vol. Infantry, US Army of the Ohio. This year, we turn our attention to his grandfather, James Hammontree, who served in Duncan's Company, Bunch's Regiment, during the War of 1812.
The Backstory1. Jonathan Hammontree appears to have been born in England, ca 1693 and emigrated to Virginia sometime before 1719, settling in Richmond Co., which had been erected from the northern half of old Rappahannock Co. in 1698. Specifically, he appears like magic in North Farnham Parish. Like magic, because the surname Hammontree has never been found anywhere earlier than 1719, in North Farnham VA, in any reasonably variant spelling.
Note: A William Hammontree, age 64, appears in an English Census of 1871, living in Westmill, Hertfordshire, where William claimed to have been born. Thus the Hammontree surname finds European roots in England at least as early as 1807, although this is nearly one hundred years after the name is first attested in Virginia. It has appeared as spelled Heamondre, Hamontre, Hamondry, and just about any other variant imaginable. These were likely the results of non-standardized spelling back in the day than of actual name changes. But the spellings ending in -dre look suspiciously French and raise the possibility that the family was among the 50,000 French Huguenots that took refuge in England after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in October 1685. If so, Jonathan would have been a first-generation Englishman, born shortly after his parents (illegally!) sneaked out of France.Jonathan Hammontree and his wife Mary had four known children, christened in North Farnham, to wit:
- Rubin Hammontree (1719-1802),
- Anne Hammontree (1721-??),
- John Hammontree (1723-1786),
- David Hammontree (1726-1770)
Court records of Richmond Co., VA of 1722 indicate that Jonathan Hammontree failed to produce a certificate showing he had attended church in April of that year in Northumberland County. Apparently, this was a grand jury matter in colonial Virginia.¹ On 6 Jun. 1722, the court ordered the sheriff to summon "Jonathan Hamantree" and others to the next court session. This historical record is the earliest extant original document in which the Hammontree surname appears. (The parish records are 19th cent. transcriptions.)
Waters and others to be sumoned – Ordered that the sheriff summon to next Court John Waters, James Merrick, Richard Jones, Wm. Vanlandingham, John Alverson, John Booth, Jane Earth, Jonathan Hamantree, John Oldum, James Oldum, Moses Webster, Edmund Northen, and Robert Purtell all of Northfarnham Parish to answer the Presentment of the Grand Jury against them for not going to their Parish Church for one month last (Richmond County Order Book 9, 1721 – 1732: 54) Noted here.After a grace period in which to procure such a certificate, Jonathan was ordered on 1 Aug. 1722 to pay to the church wardens of St. Stephens Parish a fine of either five shillings or fifty pounds of tobacco for failure to attend church in April.
1. Church attendance certificate. This is what it means to have an Established State Church, Late Modern ravings about the horrors of creche scenes notwithstanding. The Established Church of Virginia was Episcopalian, part of the Anglican Communion. Perhaps Hammontree was a Calvinist dissenter (which would fit with being of Huguenot descent) or maybe he was just goofing off.
Note:1. Adam and Eve. Doctrine requires belief only that every human being now living is descended from Adam. It does not require belief that every human being is descended only from Adam.
- John Hammontree (1742-1778) who later enlisted in Capt. John Mountjoy's Co. of Foot, 10th Virginia, Continental Line, and died at Valley Forge PA
- Alexander Hammontree (c. 1747 - c. 1812)
- William Hammontree (c. 1750-c.1815)
- George Hammontree (c. 1756 -??) <1856 also="" enlisted="" in="" li="" revolution="" the=""> 1856>
- Harrison Hammontree (c. 1758 - 25 Jul 1781) who later enlisted in Capt. Wm. Cunningham's Co. of Foot, 1st Virginia, Continental Line.
Hammontrees in the RevolutionThe three multi-great uncles of the Incomparable Marge in the Revolutionary War were:
- John (Jr.) enlisted 30 Dec. 1776, shortly after the battle of Trenton, as a private in the Company of Capt. Hughes Woodson, 10th Virginia Regiment of Foot, Continental Line. The 10th Virginia served in Weedon's Brigade, part of the Division of Major General William Alexander, a/k/a "Lord Stirling." John's regiment fought in New Jersey, at Brandywine and at Germantown before encamping at Valley Forge, PA on 19 Dec. 1777. John died there on 24 Feb. 1778.
- George. Cumberland County records indicate that George served as a private in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War (Hopkins, The Story of Cumberland County Virginia, 51). TOF has no additional information for George.
- Harrison (Harris) enlisted in the 1st Virginia Regiment of Foot, Continental Line and arrived in camp at Valley Forge on 12 Feb. 1778, twelve days before the death of his older brother John. (Today's 276th Engineer Battalion is the lineal descendant to the 1st Virginia.) He would have been drilled and trained by von Steuben, and served as a private in Capt. William Cunningham's Company, under Col. Richard Parker, in Gen. Peter Muhlenberg's Brigade, "Lord Stirling's" Division. The June and July pay records indicate his pay was docked due to illness! The August pay record gives his name as Harrison Hammontree, the others as Harris. His first tour of duty ended in November 1778, so he would have been in the Battle of Monmouth. In his second tour of duty, Harrison Hammontree received military pay on 8 Oct. 1779, during which time the regiment picked off two forts guarding New York City.
He would seem to have left the regiment before it was reorganized and sent south to Charleston, where it was captured in toto by the British. At this time he married a woman named Sarah ("Sally"), maiden name unknown. Harris and Sally were the parents of Dudley (b. ca. 1781).¹ Harris served as a soldier on the western frontier of Virginia, where he was killed fighting the Indians on 25 Jul. 1781.
1. Dudley. Dudley had been a family surname in Cumberland County at the time. The custom of giving sons the surname of the mother raises the possibility that Sarah's maiden name was Dudley; but this is mere speculation.
- Nancy Hammontree (1770-1840)
- Harris Hammontree (1773-?) -- his daughter Phoebe will marry Andrew McCollum qv.
- John Hammontree (1775-1840)
- James Hammontree (1778-1832)
- Frances (Fanny) Hammontree (1785-?)
- William Hammontree Jr. (1787-1868)
- Jacob Asbury Hammontree (1790-1865)
- David Hammontree (1795-1862)
- Jesse Hammontree (1797-1872)
- Betsy Hammontree (c. 1800--?)
At about this time, some of the Hammontrees went "over the mountain" into East Tennessee along with the Blacks, Holloways, and other families. Jeremiah and Sarah settled along Six Mile Creek, about eight miles south of Maryville. William and Patsy Hammontree settled on Baker's Creek, about fifteen miles southwest of Maryville. This area would much later became the community of Greenback, Loudon County.
At this time, Tennessee was a bit sketchy. See sketch. Maryville can be found (barely) in the third quadrant from the left, second from the bottom in the surveyed territory. This area was charmingly called "The District South of the French Broad and the Holston."
Located in East Tennessee, this district was formed on the bounds of the tract mentioned in the 1796 Tennessee State Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Section 31: “That the people residing south of the French Broad and Holston, between the rivers Tennessee and the Big Pigeon, are entitled to the right of pre-emption and occupancy in that tract.” Most of the boundary rivers mentioned have gone through name changes since the 1790’s. The Big Pigeon became the Pigeon, the Holston (the stretch of river between Kingston and Knoxville) became the Tennessee, and what was then called the Tennessee is now called the Little Tennessee. The southern area of Blount County reached past the treaty line into Cherokee lands and was not open for settlement at the time..
1. Readers of Louis L'Amour may recognize this region as the one where the Sacketts come from; in particular, them ornery Clinch Mountain Sacketts.
|Note: "Barker Cr." is "Baker's Creek" on later maps|
In April 1800, James Hammontree married Nancy Holloway in Blount County, Tennessee. This marks the first documented appearance of the family in Tennessee. As the maps show, it's also pretty much the first appearance of Tennessee. LOL.
Back in those days, frontiersmen took seriously the rule that every able-bodied male citizen was a member of the militia and had a duty to bear arms. The Overhills were not especially hostile, but sometimes Shawnee or other outsiders raided the areas, attacking whites as well as Cherokees. In 1800, Jeremiah and James enrolled in Capt. Smith's militia company; in 1801, they and brother John were members of Capt. Scott's militia.
Their father, William, is not listed as a taxpayer in Blount County, so it's possible that he was still in Lincoln Co, NC, at this point. William's property on Baker's Creek consisted of 128 acres. His name on the 1807 property survey #323 is given as William Hammingtree. The chain bearers for the survey were Alexander McCollum and Harris Hammingtree. Harris Hamington (Hammontree) was a chain bearer for survey #307 for Alexander McCollum and for #822 for George Wallace. McCollum was married to Phoebe Hammontree; and Wallace's property was assigned to William's sons James and John Hammontree in 1808, so clearly these families were all closely connected. These properties were all on Baker's Creek in Blount County.
|John Jolly (Oolooteka)|
Painted by George Catlin; 1834
Also in 1807, the widow Elizabeth Houston, brought her family of six sons and three daughters from Lexington VA to settle near Maryville. The hulking, restless teenager, Sam Houston, would wander off from his family periodically and go off into the Overhill country, where he would live with Oolooteka, the mingo, also known as John Jolly, who became a surrogate father to him, and taught him the language and customs of the Cherokees.
Keep an eye on Sam. He's destined for bigger things.
4. James Hammontree. Coming at last to the main actor in our July 4th tribute, we find James, having married in 1800, has busily set about fulfilling the stereotype of the frontier farm family. Land has been cleared in the wilderness and a new generation of Hammontrees has been planted along with the corn; to wit:
- James Hammontree (1799-1864/7)
- Jeremiah Hammontree (1801-1884)
- William Hammontree (1805-1862)
- John C. Hammontree (1811-after 1880)
- Peggy Theresa Hammontree (c. 1812-aft. 1870)
- Alexander M. Hammontree (1814-1902)
- Dorcas Hammontree (1817-1896) [Yes, Dorcas.]
- Sarah Anne Hammontree (1823-1894)
- Lucinda Hammontree (1825-aft 1844)
War Comes the the United States
|US Uniforms, 1812|
|HMS Leopard attacks USS Chesapeake in 1807|
In 1807, HMS Leopard pursued and broadsided the USS Chesapeake to seize some Royal Navy deserters, in the process killing three and wounding eighteen American citizens. Hence, the coming war was often referred to as "a Second War of Independence" and "a Second Revolution to Confirm the First."
Impediments to US Strategy
- The war planners were idiots.
- The War Dept. consisted of the Secretary of War and eleven clerks, which staff was unlikely to prove sufficient unto the task.
- The state militias on which the army depended were reluctant to serve outside their own states, and especially outside their own country, making an invasion of Canada somewhat iffy.
- The field generals were idiots. One of them (Wilkinson) was actually a spy working for the Spanish!
- Improv is okay for comedy; not so great for war strategy.
But We Digress
Three sons of William from Tennessee
Relatives who had stayed behind in Virginia:
- Jacob Asbury Hammontree -- 1 Regt (Wear's) East Tennessee Vols.
- James Hammontree -- Bunch's Regt (1814) E. Tennessee Mil.
- William Hammontree -- Bunch's Regt (1814) E. Tennessee Mil.
- John Hammontree -- 1 Regt (Trueheart's) Virginia Militia
- Joab (Job) Hammontree -- 1 Regt (Yancey's) Virginia Militia
- James Hammontree -- 4 Regt Virginia Militia (Lieut. Col. Huston/Lieut. Col. Wooding)
- James Hammontree -- 4 Regt Virginia Militia (Liet. Col. McDowell/Lieut. Col/ Koontz/Lieut. Col. Chilton (This may be the same James, but with changes of Regimental commanders)
More distant relatives who had gone to North Carolina.
- Job Hammontree -- 5 Regt Virginia Militia (perhaps the same Job/Joab as in the 1st Regiment. How common a name was Job?)
- Dudley Hammontree -- 5 Regt Virginia Militia (this was the son of Harris Hammontree who had died fighting Indians on the Virginia frontier after surviving Valley Forge)
- Alexander Hammontree -- 7th Regt (Gray's) Virginia Militia
- John Hammontree -- 7 Regt (Gray's) Virginia Militia
And even one who spelled his name differently:
- Churchill Hammontree -- 2 Regt (Tisdale's) NC Militia from Craven Co., apparently related to Rubin and Griffin, who had moved to New Bern in colonial times.
- Samuel Hammontry -- 1 Regt District of Columbia Militia (Lieut Col. Lynn/Col. Daingerfield)
The Creek War
|Pushmataha (l) vs. Tecumseh (r)|
He met with little success. The Chickasaws regarded the tribes north of the Ohio as their traditional enemies. Their kin, the Choctaws, were closely allied with the Americans, and one of their mingos, Pushmataha, followed Tecumseh around like a Truth Committee, urging peace to the same audiences the northerner had addressed.
|Menawa, Red Stick leader|
|Selocta, White Stick leader|
The Duck River Massacre. A small number of Red Sticks, those who raised the red war clubs and followed Little Warrior, went north with Tecumseh and took part in the River Raisin fight, where American POWs were massacred after their surrender. The formalities of European warfare did not register on the Indians of the Eastern Woodlands, where fighting was more akin to blood feud than to warfare. In modern terms, these were seen as acts of terror by the whites but it was business-as-usual to the Woodland Indians.
Little Warrior's peeps were so pumped up on their victory at the Raisin that on their way home, they attacked an isolated two-family settlement -- the Manleys and the Crawleys -- at the mouth of the Duck River, in western Tennessee. The two husbands were off buying corn, but Little Warrior and his followers killed and scalped the five children and the man who had been left in charge of the place. They shot Mrs. Manley once in the side of the head, once in the knee, burned an eye, and partially scalped her. They took Mrs. Martha Crawley with them south into the Creek country. Mrs. Manley survived long enough to tell her husband and his friend what had happened on their return.
In response, the Americans lit candles, held vigils, hugged one another, and cautioned each other against Creekophobia.
Ho ho, TOF jests. That was a different age. Mrs. Crawley escaped by her own wiles and made her way through the forest to safety. The Cherokees hunted the renegade Creeks and the Americans demanded that Little Warrior be turned over for trial. The Creek Council instead took him into custody and executed him themselves along with three of his accomplices. The Red Sticks accused the White Sticks of sucking up to the Americans and attacked White Stick towns. Civil war erupted among the Creeks as the nativists tried to wrest control of the Creek Nation from the assimilationist council chiefs.
The Burnt Corn. Spanish officials in the Floridas offered to arm the Red Sticks. Peter McQueen, one of the Red Stick leaders, went to Pensacola to get weapons and ammunition as well as other supplies. (Sustenance farmers needed these. If they took the war path, they couldn't be farming.) Settlers along the Tombigbee heard about this, raised 180 militia, and attacked McQueen's party on its way home, eighty miles north of Pensacola, 27 July 1813. In a series of running skirmishes known as the Battle of Burnt Corn, the Americans captured most of the Spanish supplies. In retrospect, this marked the entry of the Americans into the Creek Civil War. It is also why the Americans wanted to invade and conquer the Floridas. It was the "Cambodian sanctuary" of the war.
Fort Mims. Alarmed, settlers took refuge in a series of hastily-built stockades. One of them, "Fort" Mims, originally a trading post, was a compound of seventeen buildings surrounded by a log stockade with a single massive gate. By August 1813, between 300 and 553 people had taken refuge there, including white settlers, White Stick Creeks, métis (mixed race Creek-White) and their slaves, and a militia force commanded by a colonel Beasely.
Although two slaves had seen painted warriors in the vicinity, the gate was left wide open and the militia had laid down their weapons to take lunch when hundreds of Red Sticks led by Peter McQueen and William Weatherford (a/k/a Truth Teller)¹ poured through. Weatherford, son of a Scottish trader and a Creek noblewoman, was said to be reluctant to raise the red stick -- the rest of his relatives were White Sticks -- but once committed he was all in. The fighting raged for four hours and Red Stick losses were in the hundreds; but nearly everyone in the stockade was killed save for a couple of women and children who were taken as slaves and a few others who escaped.² At some point, Weatherford tried to stop the slaughter but, "My warriors were like famished wolves, and the first taste of blood made their appetites insatiable."
An irony was that both Beasley and Mims had more Indian blood than either McQueen or Weatherford.
1. Truth Maker. Weatherford is nearly universally called Red Eagle by writers. The sobriquet has no basis in fact. According to a family friend, Thomas Woodward, Weatherford was known by two Creek names, Hoponika Fulsahi (Truth Maker) and Billy Larney, which translates as Yellow Billy. The name "Red Eagle" did not appear in print until the 1855 publication of A. B. Meek's poem "The Red Eagle: A Poem of the South," a lengthy romanticized tale based loosely on Weatherford and his exploits. -- Encyclopedia of Alabama
2. Taken prisoner. The following comes from Charles Weatherford, Jr., grandson of William Weatherford: "According to the most authentic information, Weatherford did not desire the massacre at Fort Mims. About the middle of the afternoon on that sadly memorable day, Weatherford met his half brother, David Tate, about twelve miles above Fort Mims, and told him of the massacre and spoke of it with much regret. He told Tate that he tried to prevent it; but under the excitement, his warriors threatened his life if he interfered. Tate did not belong to this hostile party.
"Now as to Weatherford's being mounted at the time the engagement began, circumstances prove he was not. I had an aunt who was a refugee in Fort Mims. I have often heard her say that she saw Billy Weatherford as he came in the gate at full run, at the head of his warriors, jump a pile of logs almost as high as his head. (Weatherford stood six feet two inches) She said, as he sprang over the logs he saw Captain Dixon Bailey, who was a bitter enemy, to whom he shouted, 'Dixon Bailey, to-day one or both of us must die.' So I judge by this that he was not mounted at the time of the engagement. But in the evening when he met Tate, Weatherford was mounted on the veritable black horse. I believe it is a recognized fact that all warriors of note ride either a milk-white or raven black steed. Now, sir, I, being a man of peace, and alltogether unlike my grand sire, ride an old sorrel mare.
"The aunt of whom I have spoken as being a refugee, in Fort Mims at the time of the massacre was Mrs. Susan Hatterway (nee Stiggins) who hated Billy Weatherford with a thorough hatred. My aunt's husband was killed early in the fight. She had no children. And when she saw the Fort would be reduced to ashes, she took hold of a little white girl, Elizabeth Randon, with one hand, and a negro girl named Lizzie, with the other, and said to them,'Let us go out and be killed together.' But to her surprise she saw one of the busy and bloody warriors beckon her to him. On approaching she recognized him. It was Iffa Tustunnaga, meaning Dog Warrior. He took her prisoner with the two children. He took them to Pensacola, and gave them over to some of their friends, where they remained until the war closed, when they returned to their homes in Alabama.
... it would not have surprised me if he had done so. All great warriors do such things.
A letter from Charles Weatherford, Jr., grandson of William Weatherford, of Mount Pleasant, Monroe County, Alabama, to Mr. T. H. Ball, October 7, 1890
Tennessee militia commander Andy Jackson, with ex-BFF Jesse Benton's bullet still lodged in his body and his arm in a sling from a street brawl, was helped onto his horse and headed south with the West Tennessee militia.¹
NoteEnter the Hammontrees. In August of 1813, a month after Ft. Mims, as the word spread across the frontier, Jacob Hammontree enlisted in Capt. James Gillespie's Company of the Regiment of Col. Samuel Wear. The payroll period for this Company was from 23 Sep. 1813 to 31 Dec. 1813. The East Tennessee Volunteers were gathered by Gen. John Cocke as part of a grand scheme by Andrew Jackson, at this point a Major General of Militia
1. West Tennessee. Well, technically it was what we'd call Middle Tennessee today. Nashville, not Memphis.
|from James Madison State of the Union address|
General Jackson himself was dismayed by the lopsided American victory and was moved by one of the Creek children orphaned by the battle. He sent the boy to Huntsville where he paid for his immediate care and later adopted him into the Jackson family. The boy lived with him in Jackson's Tennessee home.
The victory encouraged White Stick resistance against Red Stick attacks on their towns.
1. center feint and flanks. This was the Zulu tactic called "the horns of the buffalo." It was also the tactic used by Hannibal at Cannae. The Creeks were canny fighters, but they had not read their Livy. Hannibal, Coffee, and Chaka Zulu seem cut from the same cloth.
Leaving a small garrison at Ft. Strother, Jackson struck south with 1200 foot and 800 horse, where he found Weatherford encircling Talladega. On 9 November, 1813, Jackson encircled the encirclers and tried the same tactics that Coffee had employed earlier. It mostly worked, but some of the militia gave way and Weatherford and 700 of his warriors escaped. Still, Talladega was saved.
Since their enlistments were going to expire in December, the regiment returned home in late November 1813 by way of Ft. Armstrong, in Cherokee land. There was much protest by the Cherokees concerning property destroyed by the Tennessee troops as they were marching home. They claimed that their livestock was "wantonly destroyed for sport" by the Tennesseans. This was a consistent problem with all pre-industrial armies. The militia especially could not carry sufficient supplies for the march. Even Jackson's troops often went hungry. In fact, it was only about this time that Napoleon's peeps solved the problem with the invention of vacuum-packed food!
At this point, the short-term enlistments of militias and their need to hustle back home to their farms left Jackson very nearly alone in the wilderness surrounded by a passel of very angry Red Sticks. He said, Where, oh where, can I get more Hammontrees?
Well, maybe not exactly that. But he did allegedly pull a gun on his few remaining troops and threaten to shoot them if they went back to Tennessee. He probably meant it, too; though he did relent when their enlistments finally ran out. (They felt they should leave in enough time to reach Tennessee before their time expired. He felt they should not leave until their time expired and they should make their way home on their own time. Tough boss.) He fought and almost lost another battle in that time.
Then he got another batch of East Tennessee volunteers.
James and William Hammontree
Emuckfaw Creek. On 14 January, 800 raw recruits from West Tennessee arrived at Ft. Strother to augment Jackson's remaining troops. Old Hickory wasted no time and marched immediately toward a Red Stick encampment called Tohopeka, or Horseshoe Bend. He was encamped enroute on Emuckfaw Creek when the Red Sticks struck in a three-pronged attack. Alas, only two of the prongs engaged and Jackson beat them off; but he retreated with newfound respect for his opponent and the certainty that he would need more than 900 troops to take the stronghold awaiting him at Horseshoe Bend.
Enotachopco Creek. During the retreat, Jackson was ambushed again while crossing Enotachopco Creek. The attack was furious, but Jackson managed to rally his raw recruits and kept his force intact. Neither battle was exactly a great strategic victory, but Jackson fared better than other American commanders had so far in the war (e.g., Ft. Detroit, Ft. Dearborn, Queenston Heights, River Raisin, et al.)
A few weeks later, 2500 East Tennessean volunteers -- including two Hammontrees -- arrived, as did the 39th Regiment of Regulars under Major Lemuel Montgomery, a descendant of Richard Montgomery who had died in Benedict Arnold's 1775 attack on Montreal. Also among the officers of the 39th was a young ensign (3rd lieutenant) named Sam Houston, a neighbor of the Hammontrees who had lived with the Cherokees. Junaluska, a Cherokee chief, brought five hundred of his warriors, and a hundred Lower Creeks under William McIntosh showed up. A contingent of Choctaws also joined them. Jackson finally had a force sufficient to attack the stronghold at Horseshoe Bend. He set about forming them into a cohesive fighting force, combining Indians from three nations¹, and regulars, volunteers, and militia with varying enlistment terms. At one point, Jackson had John Cocke arrested and court-martialed when his volunteers, envious of the shorter three-month commitments offered by Governor Blount to the militia, refused to honor their six-month commitments.
1. The Creeks and Choctaws spoke related Muskogee languages, but the Cherokees' closest relatives were the Iroquois way off to the north. They had been immigrant settlers from the Macro-Siouian region west of the Mississippi back around the 8th century.
Tohopeka, or Horseshoe BendThis new army moved south along the Coosa River hauling two two cannon: a 6-pounder and a 3-pounder. The 39th Infantry followed the bank of the river, guarding the supply barges. Jackson sent Colonel Williams south to establish an outpost about sixty miles from Fort Strother, which was named, naturally enough Fort Williams. This was to act as a supply depot for the army. Jackson left some companies of Bunch's Regiment to guard the supply depot and proceeded toward the Red Stick town of Tohopeka. After a three-day march, they arrived there on 24 March.
What Jackson found impressed him. "It is difficult to conceive a situation more eligible for defense than the one they had chosen," he observed. At the large arc of the Tallapoosa River called the Horseshoe Bend, the Red Sticks had built across the peninsula a zigzag wall of logs and rammed earth, five to eight feet high. This wall had loopholes or firing ports in it so that the defenders could fire without exposing themselves and attackers against one of the zigs could be enfiladed by defenders at the opposing zag.
Estimates placed the Red Sticks’ strength at 1,000 warriors, with another 300 women and children living among them. Menewa, "the Great Warrior," acted as overall Red Stick commander at Horseshoe Bend.
It was the most complex defensive works ever built by native Americans. Jackson was led to believe it had been built with the help of white advisors, but Weatherford at least was a widely-experienced man and had no doubt seen Spanish and British forts in Pensecola, Mobile, and elsewhere.
Provision returns indicate that there were 283 men from Bunch's regiment at Fort Williams at the time of the battle to guard the supplies. But Jackson's official report of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814) mentions that "a few companies" of Colonel Bunch were part of the right of the battle line. This would be on the left as we view the map, where the first line of rectangles cross the peninsula. Muster rolls show some casualties from this battle in the companies led by Captain Joseph Duncan as well as others, so that would place the Hammontree brothers facing the breastworks.
The regulars from the 39th were in the center and more Tennesseans were on the left (right side of map). At 10 am, Jackson ordered Coffee to cross the river with his cavalry, Indian allies, and scouts. They made the crossing without the Red Sticks taking notice. Jackson positioned his two artillery pieces 80 yards from the breastwork and opened the dance at 10:30. The cannon weren’t meant for this type of mission, and their balls bounced harmlessly off the wall, prompting the Red Sticks to taunt the attackers. Their prophets danced on the roofs of the huts, proclaiming their invincibility and the impotence of their adversaries.
For two hours, the two sides fought to a stalemate. To the south of the village, across the river, the Cherokee became impatient listening to the artillery fire. Many swam the waters of the Tallapoosa River under a covering fire from their comrades. There, they captured the Red Stick canoes left on the riverbank, cut them free, and used them to ferry the force across. Soon, one hundred fifty to two hundred friendly Creeks under William McIntosh and many of Coffee's volunteers had crossed the river as well, capturing the town and setting it on fire. They then advanced into the wooded hills that lay between the town and the rear of the barricade.
|Sam Houston jumps the shark|
The 39th stormed the breastwork. Major Lemuel Montgomery was the first to make it to the top; he was killed instantly by a shot to the head. Ensign Houston took his place and received a barbed arrow in the thigh for his troubles. It didn’t stop him, and he leapt down into the fortification, establishing a much-needed foothold for the others. The defenders fired through the loopholes at the attackers; and the attackers thrust their own muskets through and fired back, sometimes muzzle to muzzle. Only now, the Red Sticks had to worry about White Sticks and Cherokees in their rear along with Coffee's volunteers. Soon, the 39th and the Tennesseans had mounted the barricade and swarmed through intense hand-to-hand combat inside the encampment.
The Red Sticks fought bravely, but they were overwhelmed. They broke from the breastwork and scattered throughout the peninsula. Many made their way to the Tallapoosa and attempted to cross it, but Coffee's volunteers and Indian allies ensured that few made it to the opposite bank alive. They would not surrender or ask for mercy and the Tallapoosa swelled with corpses. A few barricaded themselves in some brush by the breastwork where, they resisted until nightfall, when the Tennesseans set the brush on fire and picked off the final holdouts as they attempted to escape the flames. It took five hours for the volunteers and regulars to hunt down the surviving enemy warriors. “The carnage was dreadful,” Jackson later wrote to his wife that "it was dark before we finished killing them." The next day, his men counted 557 enemy warriors "left dead upon the peninsula," and another 300 floated in the river. Only about 200 of the 1,000 defenders escaped. Menewa, who had led the defense, sustained seven wounds, but survived and made his way to safety.William Weatherford (Red Eagle) had not been present.
The Tennesseans and friendly Indians lost 65 killed and 206 wounded. Sam Houston, already wounded in his thigh, had suffered two additional gunshot wounds to his right shoulder. So terrible was his appearance that the medic performing triage at the scene classified him as lost. He was placed on a litter and moved 60 miles to Fort Williams, without medical aid. Two months later, when he finally returned to his mother’s house, she could only recognize him by his eyes.
Jackson sent many of the men back to man Ft. Strother and Ft. Williams to guard the supplies there past the expiration date of their service, which was May 1814. Among them was James Hammontree, whose muster rolls show him remaining in the service until 21 July 1814.
During that time, Jackson set up shop just north of present-day Montgomery, rebuilding an old French fort as Ft. Jackson. He sent out word to all the Red Stick leaders to come there and submit; or else.
|Billy Weatherford gots balls|
Weatherford swore off further warfare. Because Weatherford's family was powerful and important and most of them had been loyal to the Americans, Jackson accepted these assurances. In fact, he took Weatherford back to his own plantation as a guest, and to protect him against those who sought revenge for Ft. Mims. Afterward, Weatherford retired to his plantation.
The army disbanded and the Hammontrees went home, where James' widow would later have the usual bureaucratic hassles getting her pension from the government. William Hammontree, his brother, took bounty land in Illinois, and moved there after the war.
Jackson annexed half of the Creek territory, including a portion of the White Stick lands. This seems churlish of him, but it was necessary to secure the rights for cutting a road. The White Sticks didn't like it and insisted that the treaty be amended to make the part of the cession a "gift" from the council to Jackson to show their gratitude for his aid against the rebels. Who knows? Maybe they meant it.
Shortly after hostilities ended, Jackson raised another army that took Mobile and Pensacola from the British and kicked out the hapless Spanish. A British fleet was making its way along the gulf coast and Jackson hurried toward New Orleans, its obvious destination, to organize a defense.
|Jacob Hammontree grave|
|William Hammontree Jr, grave|