The Fort Mims site commemorates the battle and massacre which took place on August 30, 1813. The attack is considered a leading cause of the Creek War of 1813-1814.
In 1813, people on America’s southwestern frontier were fearful. The Red Stick faction of the Creek Indians opposed growing U.S. influence in the area and had voted for war. However, Creeks living in the Tensaw District (present day Baldwin County) had intermarried with European and American settlers and were close allies. Early in the summer, local American militia and allied Creeks attacked a group of Red Sticks at Burnt Corn Creek, escalating the hostility. Tensions grew and many families along the Tensaw, Alabama, and Tombigbee Rivers took refuge in quickly fortified sites. On this site they built a stockade around the home of Samuel Mims. His plantation was located on Lake Tensaw about a mile east of the Alabama River. Some 400 American settlers, U.S.-allied Creeks, and enslaved African Americans had taken refuge in the hastily erected fort. Major Daniel Beasley and about 170 volunteers with the Mississippi Territorial Militia were sent to defend the fortress. About one hundred of these men were sent to other posts and forts.
At noon on August 30, a force of 700 Red Sticks, led by William Weatherford, Far-off Warrior (Hopvyç Tustunuke), and the prophet Paddy Walsh attacked Fort Mims during the midday meal. They rushed through the fort’s open gate and fired into the fort through poorly designed gun ports. Half of the remaining Mississippi Territorial Volunteers died with their commander, Major Daniel Beasley, in the first few minutes of the battle. Captain Dixon Bailey, a Creek, and his American and Creek militiamen held off the attack for four hours. Only when the Red Sticks set fire to the fort’s buildings did the resistance end. More than 300 attackers and defenders died, including most of the women and children at the fort.
News spread quickly throughout the South. Troops from surrounding states and territories joined to crush the “Creek War” by the following summer. The Redstick forces were eventually cornered and defeated by Colonel Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. On August 9, 1814, the Creek leaders met at Fort Jackson near Wetumpka and ceded 23 million acres of their land to the United States. The Red Sticks assault on Fort Mims ranks as one of the greatest successes in Indian warfare. But the bloody battle forever changed the relationship of Americans with Indian nations. Continued outrage over the attack at Fort Mims contributed to the eventual forced removal of Creeks and other Indians from the Southeast in the 1830s, in what is known as the “Trail of Tears.”