Battle of Horseshoe Bend Reflections

February 4, 2017

Dear Friend,

We visited the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park to break up our trip to the next campsite in middle Alabama. Here, we learned about the place known as the last battle of the Creek Indian War.

The Creeks were a loose confederation of several indian tribes. They signed a treaty to give the young United States land to ensure the rest of the land was theirs perpetually. American squatters came in and were taking over the Creek’s land regardless. The Creek nation disputed over how to deal with this. The Upper Creek, otherwise known as the Red Sticks, wanted to kill the violating squatters, but the Lower Creeks wanted to continue to try and negotiate with the United States to solve the problem. This divided the Creeks and they started having a civil war amongst themselves. The United States authorized Major General Andrew Jackson to put an end to this unrest after some Red Sticks stole guns from Spanish Florida and later killed 250 settlers at Fort Mims. Most of these settlers were of mixed marriages and embraced the assimilation ways of the “white man”, which the Red Sticks opposed.

Long story short, after several previous clashes Menawa, the Red Stick leader, made a temporary village in the bend of the Tallapoosa River. During the fateful day, Jackson along with Cherokee and Lower Creek allies invaded and was prevailing. He gave the Red Sticks a chance to surrender, but they decided to fight to the death. At least 800 of the 1,000 Red Stick warriors perished that day. Jackson lost 49 and had 154 others wounded, many of whom died later on.

The most important questions I ask and think about when reflecting upon historic actions are “How did this end up happening?” and “What could have been done differently to prevent this?” My thoughts drifted to the question, “What if the U.S. government would have upheld their side of the treaty, their own laws?” If the United States stopped the law breakers, the squatters, would history have been different? I would like to think perhaps no Creek civil war would have happened.

I then ask the question, “What can we learn from this situation to prevent history from repeating itself?” I started thinking of how lightly people hold to the current laws of our land. When is it okay to block highways preventing those with medical needs to get through? When is it okay to break windows and burn places? When is it okay to beat up people who have a differing viewpoint, all in the name of “freedom of speech”? These violators no longer regard the responsibility that comes with the freedoms we currently have. I fear when people are not arrested for their violent unlawful protesting, it will lead to much greater civil unrest. So speak your voice, but do so lawfully.

Likewise, the government has the responsibility to crack down on those who do not abide by the current laws. If it doesn’t act soon, then other people, tired of looking on, will become like the Red Sticks and take matters in their own hands. When government ceases to uphold their own laws, they cease to be a government. Anarchy will rule and lives will be lost. We have the chance to stop history from repeating itself.

Until we meet again,

p.s. As a side note, rather than focusing on traditional “names and dates” approach to history, we focus on the above mentioned questions during homeschool. Reflecting on those questions are the true purpose for history class.


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