Indian Wars in the Colonial Southeast

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Largely due to Hollywood films, when Americans think of “Indian wars”, they think of what we now call the West, particularly the Great Plains, or the “new” Southwest.  Really, though, the wars of the Europeans against the Native Americans/American Indians east of the Mississippi lasted longer, involved greater numbers in combat, and saw far more brutality.

The first wars of Europeans and American Indians occurred during the century of Spanish occupation which preceded that of the rest of that Continent.

Battle of Mabila, 1540

Though De Soto’s conquistadors fought many battles in their three-year trek (1539-1542), the one fought at Mabila in central Alabama against by the coalition under the paramount mico Tuskaloosa was by far the worst of them all.

 Napochi War, 1560

 In 1560, Spaniards under Tristan de Luna left their recently-founded home at Nanipanca, or Santa Cruz, on the Alabama River in search of trade with the town of Coosa, at Coosawattee, Georgia, the dominant chiefdom inland.  Once there, they were “invited” on a war expedition against the “Napochi”, living in what is now the Chattanooga area. 

 After burning the town of Opelika at Audobon Acres, the combined army moved on the village of Tasqui near the mouth of Citico Creek and crossed the river, where they met a force from the large town of Tasquiqui at the Hampton Place site on Moccasin Point.  After a parlay, the locals, ancestors of the Tuskegee, agreed to resume tribute to Coosa.

 Carolina Revolt of 1569

 The tribes of the Spanish province of Carolina (named for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), which stretched from the seacoast of South Carolina into East Tennessee, in La Florida rose up and destroyed all the inland forts of the Spanish and massacred the garrisons, save for one lone survivor. The then capital of La Florida on Parris Island, Santa Elena, was the only settlement and fort untouched.

 Escamacu War, 1576-1579

 The Orista (Edisto) and the Escamacu (Ahoya) in Carolina and the Guale on the seacoast  between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers rose up to expel the Spanish, especially their hated missions.  It ended with Santa Elena to the ground.

 Guale Revolt of 1582-1583

 The Guale again rising up against the Spanish, until the peace treaty the next year.

 Guale Revolt of 1584-1585

 The treaty of 1583 didn’t last very long.  By now you’re getting the idea that the Guale did not like the Spanish very much.  There’s more.

 Juanillo’s Revolt, 1597-1601

 Another uprising by the Guale, after they became an organized province of La Florida.  It began over denunciation of polygamy by a Spanish friar.

 Guale Revolt of 1608

 Five micos of the Guale rose up against the Spanish colonial and Church mission systems.  The short-lived revolt led to the reintroduction of slavery.

 First Powhatan War, 1610-1614

 Essentially a war of conquest by the colony of Virginia against the Powhatan Confederation, it ended with much of the confederacy’s territory in English hands.

 Calusa War, 1614

 After the Calusa, who dominated all of South Florida, killed five hundred of the Mocoso on Tampa Bay in retaliation for Spanish incursions, the Spanish responded with a punitive expedition against them.

 Second Powhatan War, 1622-1632

 Begun when the Powhatan massacred a third of the colony in a surprise attack.  The war lasted for ten years, with two tribes of the Confederation, the Accomac and the Patawomeck, fighting on the English side.

 First Susquehannock War, 1642-1652

 The colony of Maryland declared war on the Susquehannock of the Susquehanna Valley over trade issues.  With help from the colonies of New Netherlands and of New Sweden, the Susquehannock emerged victorious.

 Third Powhatan War, 1644-1646

 This war essentially ended the confederation and made the Pamunkey the leading tribe among the remaining groups.

 Guale Revolt of 1645

 More of a labor strike than an armed revolt, the Guale Indian workers on Spanish missions and plantations walked off their jobs to their towns in the backcountry in defiance of the friars and their own chiefs when the colonial government ran out of money to pay them.

 Apalachee Civil War, 1647

 The Apalachee occupied South Georgia between the Altamaha River on the east and the Flint River on the west.  In 1647, traditionalist chiefs rose up against Christianized chiefs and the intrusion of Spanish spiritual beliefs and mores into their daily lives.  As allies, the rebels had a band of the Chisca, the name by which the Spanish knew the Yuchi as far back as De Soto.

 Timucua Rebellion, 1656

 The Timucua were a native people that at the time of Spanish first contact made up between ten and twelve nations that occupied all of North Florida.  Like the Guale before them, they revolted against the forced labor system in 1656.

 Second Susquehannock War, 1655-1657

 Fought between the province of Maryland and the Susquehannock, now at the head of Chesapeake Bay and without their Dutch and Swedish allies.  Its events ended up getting entangled with Bacon’s Rebellion and Virginia as a co-belligerent with Maryland.  The Susquehannock moved north to merge into the Haudenosaunee after the war.

 Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676

 Both a rebellion against the colonial government at Jamestown and a war of eradication and/or expulsion against local Indians, its leader was Nathaniel Bacon.  Afterwards, the Occaneechi joined the Saponi, the Nanticoke became part of the Nanzatico, and the Pamunkey gained the Rappahannock and the Chickahominy as tributaries in compensation for Bacon’s unprovoked attack upon them.

 Guale War, 1675-1680

 In 1675, the English colony of Carolina (named for Charles I of England) began a campaign to eradicate the Spanish missions on the Atlantic coast of what is now Georgia.  The Guale were north of the Altamaha, the Mocama south of it; both were targets.  Carolina primarily used proxies, the Westo on the Savannah River and some of the Lower Muscogee.  The remnants formed the core of the Yamasee.

 Westo War, 1680

 English Carolina and the Hathawekela band of Shawnee (on the Savannah River since 1674) joined forces to eradicate the Westo.  After the destruction of their town, the Westo moved to the Chattahoochee, the Shawnee took their place as trading partners, and the Cherokee replaced them in the slave trade.

 Apalachee War, 1702-1704

 English Carolina turned its attention to the west of the coast and began attacking the Apalachee and their Spanish missions.  In addition to their own militia, they used Yamasee and Lower Muscogee warriors.

 Timucua War, 1706

 Using the same allies, English Carolina penetrated into northern Florida to eradicate the missions among the Timucua and decimate the dwindling tribe.  Within a short time, the survivors fled to the seat and fort at San Agustin.

 Cumberland Valley war, 1710-1715

 In 1710, the Chickasaw in the west and the Cherokee in the east launched a war of expulsion against the Chillicothe and the Kispoko bands of the Shawnee on the Cumberland River.  The impetus came when part of the Hathawekela band moved from the Savannah to the Cumberland to join their cousins in the early 1700’s.

 Tuscarora War, 1711-1715

 The southern band of Tuscarora joined with several Algonquin tribes to attack the settlements of North Carolina over territorial encroachment and slave raids.  They and their allies faced the militias of North Carolina and South Carolina, the northern Tuscarora, the Apalachee, the Yamasee, the Catawba, the Cherokee, and many others.  After the war, the southern Tuscarora migrated north to become the sixth nation of the Haudenosaunee, where some of their cousins from the northern band later followed.

 Yamasee War, 1715-1717

 The Yamasee opened the war with a massacre on the frontier.  Several other Indian nations joined in, including Cherokee, Catawba (often in conjunction with the former), Lower Muscogee, Apalachee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Yuchi, Shawnee, and others.  Against them were the colonial militias of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.  The Tugaloo Massacre of a number of Muscogee leaders brought the Cherokee over to the side of the colonists.

 There was no decisive victory by either side, but the Yamasee were greatly reduced as were the Apalachee, both moving south, and the Lower Muscogee returning from the Ocmulgee River and Ochese Creeks to the Chattahoochee River.

 First Natchez War, 1716

 Uprising by the Natchez in Mississippi, the last remain vestige of the Mississippian culture which once dominated all the Southeast and much west of the Mississippi, against the French colonists of Louisiana.

 Cheraw War, 1716-1718

 In the midst of the Yamasee War, the province of North Carolina declared war on the Cheraw living on its borders with Virginia, which refused to do likewise.  After the close of the war, they joined the Catawba to escape attacks by the Seneca.

 Cherokee-Muscogee War, 1716-1755

 Begun over the Tugaloo Massacre, hostilities between the two nations lasted until 1755, ending at the Battle of Taliwa in North Georgia.

 Chickasaw-Choctaw War, 1721-1760

 Provoked by the French colonial authorities at Fort Toulouse, sending their Choctaw allies against the British-allied Chickasaw.

 Second Natchez War, 1722-1724

 Low intensity warfare between the Natchez and the French colonists, particularly the settlers.

 Third Natchez War, 1729-1731

 The final uprising of the Natchez began with the capture of Fort Rosalie and massacre of its garrison.  With Choctaw and Tunica allies, the French destroyed the Natchez as a people, deporting captives to the Caribbean as slaves, most of whom had been pro-French, while the rest fled to the Chickasaw.

 Chickasaw War of 1736

 The French with their Choctaw and Illini allies launched attacks on the Chickasaw at two different points.  They lost badly.  Their goal had been to destroy the Natchez who had taken refuge with the Chickasaw.

 Chickasaw War of 1739-1740

 The French ascended the Mississippi, established a fortified camp at Chickasaw Bluffs (Memphis), but never got around to attacking the towns just to the east, returning south without firing a shot.

 Choctaw Civil War, 1746-1750

 During these years, the Choctaw fought a bloody civil war among themselves between the pro-French Eastern and Six Towns divisions and the pro-British Western division.  It ended with the Choctaw remaining allied to the French.

 Chickasaw War of 1752

 Another would-be campaign by the French against the Chickasaw that came to naught.

 French and Indian War, 1754-1763

 Fought mostly in the north, the war in the Southeast primarily involved Shawnee attacks on the Virginia frontier until they switched sides in 1758 and the Anglo-Cherokee War and Anglo-Muscogee War.

 Chickasaw-Shawnee War of 1756

 The Chickasaw expelled the Piqua band of Shawnee who had been invited by the Cherokee to settle on the Cumberland a decade before.

 South Florida War, 1757

 The Lower Muskogee invaded South Florida out to the Keys, killing and enslaving most of the surviving natives.  Those few who escaped were relocated to the Caribbean by the Spanish, and those Lower Muskogee who stayed became the nucleus of the Seminole.

 Anglo-Cherokee War, 1759-1761

 Though it started over dissatisfaction over their treatment by the British army while on the campaign to take Fort Dusquene (Fort Pitt), the Cherokee had a pro-French faction based in Great Tellico, supported by a forward post at Long-Island-on-the-Tennessee between the Coushatta at the head and the Kaskinampo at the foot.  Small raids on the Virginian frontier began in 1758, but the war did not fully break out until the next year. 

 The Cherokee involved primarily came from the Lower Towns on the headwaters of the Savannah and Coosa and the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River against the provinces of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.  It ended with the Treaty of Long-Island-on-the-Holston with Virginia and the Treaty of Keowee with the two Carolinas.

 Anglo-Muscogee War, 1759-1763

 Sparked by the smallpox deaths of a number of micos at Fort Prince George near Keowee, the pro-French faction within the Creek Confederacy declared war against the provinces South Carolina and Georgia.  The faction, led by Great Mortar, had already returned to the former home of the Coosa at Coosawattee, in support of the pro-French Cherokee.  They were opposed, though not with arms, within the Confederacy by a pro-British faction led by Emistisigua.  It ended with the Treaty of Augusta (1763) with Georgia and the cession of coastal land.

 Chickasaw-Cherokee War, 1758-1769

 Begun because of an attack by the Cherokee upon the Lower Chickasaw on the Savannah River (where they lived from 1730 to 1775), the tensions had built since the settlement of the Piqua band of Shawnee on the Cumberland.  The final battle at Chickasaw Old Fields in Alabama was a bad loss for the Cherokee.

 End of an era, beginning of a transition

 In the Treaty of Paris (1763) at the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain gained all of New France east of the Mississippi went to Britain (east Louisiana, Canada, and Bermuda), plus Florida in exchange for Louisiana west of the Mississippi and the return of Cuba and the Philippines to the Kingdom of Spain.  The disposition of its new territory, especially in the case of the former east Louisiana, contributed much of the rancor and dissatisfaction that led to the rebellion of thirteen of Britain’s sixteen North American colonies as well as to the same sentiments of the Indian tribes and nations there toward those same colonies.

 Chuck Hamilton

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