—Creek Heritage Trail —
The Second Creek War came about as a result of the frustration of local Creeks at their treatment following the signing of the Treaty of Washington (1832). That compact called for the Creeks to be given allotments of land which they could keep or sell after a period of five years. Those that remained could become citizens of Alabama, while those that sold their holdings were to move west. Speculators began to swindle the Creeks out of their lands as soon as the treaty was signed, however, and illegal settlement on Creek lands became rampant. A portion of the angry and desperate Creeks ultimately struck out against American settlements in an effort to resist the certain loss of their homeland. The resulting war ended in American acquisition of all remaining Creek territory.
The first altercations of the war in Russell County took place along the road connecting Columbus and Tuskegee, as rebel Creeks attacked stagecoaches and burned bridges and houses along the route. In the southern portion of the county, Creeks attacked residents of the community of Glennville (now in Barbour County), and burned plantations in eastern Russell County. Responding to the frantic appeals of local settlers, Alabama Governor Clement C. Clay sent militia under General John W. Moore into the area. U.S. Secretary of War Lewis Cass also sent troops
under the command of Generals Winfield Scott and Thomas S. Jesup to the region to end the violence. Failing to coordinate their activities, these armies conducted a series of independent raids through Russell County. General Moore destroyed the village of High Log on June 16, 1836. Meanwhile General Jesup marching with a large force of Upper Creek allies, forced the surrender of over 1,250 Creeks and captured the noted leader Neah Emathla and his well-fortified camp. Realizing the futility of further resistance, hundreds of other Creeks surrendered to Jesup's forces. Simultaneously, General Scott marched north from near Irwinton (present-day Eufaula). Finding almost no resistance, he declared the war over in early July 1836. While fighting would continue to the south, the process of Removal soon began.
Russell County was the scene of a notorious confrontation when Federal officials attempted to stop the illegal intrusion on Creek lands. Federal authorities sent Deputy Marshal Jeremiah Austill, a veteran of the Creek War of 1813-14, here in the summer of 1833. Finding many illegal white squatters, he ordered some of the worst violators to leave immediately. A local man named Hardeman Owens refused to go, even after being arrested by troops under Austill's command. Escaping, he later attempted to lure the deputy into a house he had rigged with explosives.
Creeks tipped off Austill to the danger, and federal soldiers shot and killed Owens as he attempted to escape yet again. The affair made headlines across the state and drew attention to the volatile situation in eastern Alabama.
Creek Society Divided
Creek society divided over what course to take in the Second Creek War. While all Creeks were alarmed at their precarious situation in the 1830s, only a portion viewed military action as the solution. A faction of warriors from the Russell County towns of Apalachicola, Sawokli, Yuchi Town, Hitchiti, and Chehaw are believed to have been the key players in the rebellion. Most other Creeks either attempted to stay out of the fighting or fought alongside American forces.
Neah Micco, Neah Emathla, and Tuskena were three of the most well-known leaders of the Creek rebellion.
Left portraits: U.S. Secretary of War Lewis Cass, General Winfield Scott, and General Thomas S. Jesup
Map: Russell County during the Second Creek War
Center bottom portrait: Deputy Marshal Jeremiah Austill
Right bottom: Prominent Creek leaders Opothle Yoholo, Menawa and Paddy Carr all fought alongside American forces during the Second Creek War.
Far right portrait: Neah Emathla