Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scotts Massacre of 1817 - Part Two

This is a view of the site of Scott's Massacre from Chattahoochee Landing in Gadsden County.
The battle took place on November 30, 1817, and resulted in the deaths of 34 U.S. soldiers, 6 women and four children. Native American casualties are not know.
The following excerpt is from my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County:
(Begin Excerpt) At the time of the Fowltown raids, a small convoy of supply boats was slowly making its way up the Apalachicola River from the Gulf of Mexico. Filled with soldiers and supplies for Fort Scott, the vessels were having great difficulty because water was running high and the current was strong. Major Peter Muhlenburg of the 4th U.S. Infantry commanded the little flotilla and sent a messenger up to Fort Scott with news of his difficulties. General Gaines immediately ordered a detachment of 40 soldiers to head downstream under Lieutenant Richard W. Scott. Their orders were to do what they could to expedite Muhlenburg’s arrival at the fort.

Scott and his men made contact with Muhlenburg somewhere below present-day Bristol. While Gaines’ intention appears to have been for the entire force to remain together, he was not clear about this in his instructions to the flotilla commander. Major Muhlenburg instead took 20 of Scott’s able-bodied men to replace 20 of his own men that had fallen sick with fever. The sick soldiers were then loaded into the lieutenant’s boat, along with 7 women (the wives of soldiers) and 4 children and Scott was ordered to take them upriver to Fort Scott.

Following his orders, the lieutenant started back upstream. By November 28, 1817, just five days after the second attack on Fowltown, he had reached the Spanish Bluff near present-day Blountstown. Here was located the original “Blunt’s Town,” a Native American village led by the chief John Blunt. Blunt had opposed the Red Sticks during the Creek War and had been driven by them from his home in Alabama. He relocated to the Apalachicola River and settled on land adjacent to a large plantation operated by the traders Edmund Doyle and William Hambly.

Hambly and Doyle warned Scott that he was in danger. A large force of Native Americans was assembling higher up the river, they cautioned, evidently with the intention of intercepting the supply boats as they came upstream.
The news alarmed the lieutenant and he immediately sent a courier overland to Fort Scott with a request for help:

…Mr. Hambly informs me that Indians are assembling at the junction of the river, where they intend to make a stand against those vessels coming up the river; should this be the case, I am not able to make a stand against them. My command does not exceed forty men, and one half sick, and without arms. I leave this immediately.

Despite the warning and his own recognition that his force was insufficient to withstand an attack, Scott then cast off from Spanish Bluff and continued his journey up the Apalachicola. Why he did this is difficult to understand. He may have underestimated the time it would take for his written message to reach General Gaines or he may have questioned the validity of the intelligence provided to him by Hambly and Doyle. Whatever his reason, the decision to continue up the Apalachicola River proved disastrous. (End of Excerpt)
I will continue to post more of this story over coming days. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Early History of Gadsden County, it is available for order online by clicking here. It is also available for pick up in Gadsden County through the West Gadsden Historical Society (www.gadsdenhistory.com for phone and address information) and is carried by Chipola River Book and Tea in downtown Marianna (across Lafayette Street from the Battle of Marianna monument).

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