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October 24, 2013

Fort Mims Massacre

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — OTSEGO HERALD

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Oct. 23, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Disaster on the Mobile

From Gen. Ferdinand L. Claiborne to Gen. Flourney...3d Sept. 1813.... The attack on Maj. Beasley was made at about 11 o’clock A.M. on the 30th [August]. It was unexpected at the moment it occurred, but the whole garrison was immediately under arms. The front gate was open, and the enemy ran in great numbers to possess themselves of it. In the contest for the gate, many fell on both sides; soon, however, the action became general, the enemy fighting on all sides in the open field, and as near the stockade as they could get.

The port holes were taken and retaken several times. A block house was contended for by Capt. Jack, at the head of his brave riflemen...for the space of an hour before the enemy set fire to the roofs, and an attempt to extinguish the flames proved unsuccessful.

The few who remained now attempted to retreat under the direction of Capt. Bayley of the militia, and Ensign Chamberlise of the rifle company, both of whom had been badly wounded. Previously to their retreat, they threw into the flames many of the guns of the dead men. Few of them succeeded in escaping. Both the officers are missing and presumed dead. Nine of the volunteers and three of the volunteer militia have reached this [place], several of them wounded. A few citizens who fought in the stockade, but not enrolled in any company, also escaped, one of them leaving a wife and six children, who were probably burnt to death.

Major Beasley fell gallantly fighting at the head of his command near the gate, at the commencement of the action.; Capts Jack and Middleton were killed about the close of the scene, having each previously received many wounds. The latter was active and fought bravely from the commencement of the action until he died. Lieut. S. M. Osborn, of Milkinson county after receiving two wounds was taken into a house, but requested to die on the ground, that he might as long as possible see his men fight. The other officers fell nobly doing their duty; and the non-commissioned officers & privates deserve equally well. The action continued until five o’clock in the evening.

Our loss is great; sixty-five including officers and men killed belonging to the 1st Regiment of Mississippi Territory volunteers, and 27 volunteer militia, officers included. Many respectable citizens, with numerous families who had abandoned their farms for security, were also killed or burnt in the houses into which they had fled.

The loss of the enemy must have been from 150 to 200 killed and wounded. Their force is supposed to have been from five to seven hundred....

COMMENT: If the War of 1812 is largely forgotten today, the fighting between Creek Indians and American troops (and civilian volunteers) in the American southeast is almost totally so. The Fort Mims Massacre of Aug. 30th, 1813, described above, was one of the most horrific events of this campaign. Fort Mims was a stockade and blockhouse surrounding the home of Samuel Mims, some 35 miles north of today’s Mobile, Ala.

Not mentioned in this “heroic” account is that Major Daniel Beasley, the American commander, is said to have been drunk and to have ignored warnings of an imminent attack. His force, totaling some 526 men including militia and volunteers, was attacked by almost 1,000 Indians (who had been given arms by the Spanish authorities in Florida). Some 517 of the American force were killed or captured.

The “Fort Mims Massacre” spread panic throughout the Southeast, which ended only on March 27, 1814, when American and allied Indians under Major General (and later President) Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend near Tohopeka, Ala.

Wedding

Married, on Thursday last, Mr. John Williams to Miss Sophia Stephens, both of this town.

COMMENT: This was the second of three wives for John Williams (1790-1879); they were (1) Julia Tanner (1793-1812); Sophia Stephens (1796-1826); and Mary Polly Metcalf (1799-1869). He had a total of three children, of which Julia, born in 1816, lived until 1903. John came from Connecticut and was a farmer.

NOTICE.

DR. J. JACKSON, presents his warmest thanks to the inhabitants of the town of Westford and its vicinity, for the truly liberal patronage they have bestowed upon him, in his practice of Physic & Surgery.

He would, however, remind his more negligent employers, that to carry on a successful contest with the numerous diseases incident to the human frame, it is necessary that he should be provided with the “sinews of war,” and to that end a more general payment of his demands is absolutely necessary, and will ere long be rigidly enforced, unless timely prevented.

He still holds himself in readiness to attend to all calls in his profession, and no exertions will be wanting to give satisfaction to all those who may please to bestow on him their patronage.

*** Wheat, Rye, Corn and Oats will be taken in payment.

Westford, Oct. 23, 1813.

COMMENT: Dr. John Jackson and his brother Dr. Elhanan W. Jackson practiced in Westford, beginning at least as early as 1811. After about 1820 they and two fellow doctors used the tiny doctor’s office now at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. John died about 1830; his brother continued there until 1856. John’s “plea” that his customers pay their bills is one of the more picturesque that we have seen.

Fort George Captured

The enemy have left the vicinity of Fort George; Gen. M’Clure is closely pursuing them, with about 2000 men volunteers, militia and Indians. It is believed he will pursue them at least to the Forty Mile Creek.

COMMENT: Ft. George was the major British fort on the Niagara Peninsula.