John Sugden


It has been conventional to equate the conflict between the southern Indians and the United States during the War of 1812 with the Creek war of 1813-1814. More correctly, however, there were three stages of the fighting, each emanating from standing grievances against the Americans nursed by Creek and Seminole bands, but receiving their initial impetus from separate sources. In 1812 and 1813, the Seminoles and their Negro allies, rallied by the Spanish who were concerned to protect their possessions in the south from American filibusters, participated in a number of skirmishes. A second phase of Indian hostility to the Americans, and that most widely known, was ignited primarily by the admonitions of Tecumseh and his followers from 1811 to 1814. The fighting of the so-called Creek War commenced with an engagement at Burnt Corn in the summer of 1813, and lasted until the American victory at Horseshoe Bend in March 1814. Within a few months of their defeat, however, the Indians were reinvigorated by the arrival of British forces in Florida, and the cooperation of the dissident natives with the British forms the closing stage of the conflict. To the collapse of this relationship, consummated by a British failure to uphold those clauses in the Treaty of Ghent which protected the Indians, a subsequent exchange between Indians and Americans, the Seminole war of 1818 acted as a finale, but this last lies outside the scope of the present article.