Witness to the Fort Mims Massacre, 1813

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Normally, I would call this item a hidden gem, but the subject matter is pretty grisly. Two hundred years ago, during the Creek War, the “Red Stick” faction of the local Muskogee Creeks attacked and captured Fort Mims, less than an hour north of what is now Mobile, Alabama. Over 500 people were killed, including both soldiers at the fort and civilians who lived there, including women and children.

W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library has a letter written by Jesse Griffin, who lived near the Fort and bore witness to the attack. Griffin later lost his life fighting in the Creek War, along with his brother David. (Special thanks to Donnelly Walton and Jennifer Matthews Land for the transcription and additional information on Griffin.)


St. Stephens 5th Sept 1813

Beloved parents in great confusion I drop you a line.
The Indians has murdered at the lowest calculation
four hundred souls within five days on our frontiers
and a frontier of one hundred miles have been
visited by them xxxxxxxx at the same time.
I am at this time fifty miles from home with my
family I have lost my crop of corn horses and
Every part of stock and a good part of my
[house]hold furniture our country is compleat
[ly des]troyed. David and myself share the same
[ ] greatest part of the inhabitants have
[ ] Expect


pray back by the first opportunity – I have
not heard from Brother Thos since the 12
of March He was then well no more time
Fairwell your affectionate son

Jesse Griffin

For more on the battle, see this article from the Encyclopedia of Alabama. It really puts the battle in context:

“The Red Sticks’ assault on Fort Mims ranks as one of the great successes of Indian warfare. The massacre of civilians, however, rallied American armies under the cry ‘Remember Fort Mims.’ The resultant Creek War culminated in a decisive victory for U.S. forces in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, and the Creek Nation’s subsequent cession of over 20 million acres of land to the U.S. in the Treaty of Fort Jackson. Continuing outrage surrounding the Fort Mims Massacre contributed to the eventual forced removal of Creeks and other Indians from the Southeast in the 1830s.”

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