Monday, June 29, 2020

Invading Oklahoma

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

I really enjoyed my recent trip to Oklahoma.  Our book America Invaded ( discussed Invasions of Oklahoma from the first arrival of the Europeans to the present day...

"The Wichita tribe, far less nomadic than other Native Americans, were farming in Oklahoma long before the arrival of Europeans.

De Soto
C 1500 - 1542

The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, Oklahoma’s first European visitor, came to the region in 1540 searching for gold.  The conquistador Coronado arrived the following year.

In 1594 or 1595, two other Spanish explorers, Umana and Leyba, led an expedition into what is Oklahoma today, also searching for gold. Neither would survive. Many years later, an Oklahoma farmer would uncover part of a steel breastplate, presumably from a conquistador.

As the Spanish moved north to Oklahoma, the French moved south from New France. In 1682, Robert de La Salle explored the Mississippi region and claimed this area, including Oklahoma, for the French king. Bérnard de La Harpe led two French expeditions into Oklahoma, in 1719 and 1721.  e French trappers left a legacy in Oklahoma in terms of geographic names, such as the Poteau and Grand Rivers.

In 1759, Diego Ortiz Parrilla organized a punitive expedition against Native Americans in Texas and Oklahoma. On October 7, the Battle of the Twin Villages was fought near what is today the Texas-Oklahoma border.  The Spanish were defeated by warriors from the Wichita and Comanche tribes.
France regained control (on paper) of the Louisiana territory, including Oklahoma, in 1800 from Spain. In 1803, the Jefferson administration negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon for the sum of $15 million. Most of the present state of Oklahoma was included in that deal.

The US Constitution specifically calls out Native Americans, declaring that Congress shall have power “to regulate Commerce ... with the Indian Tribes.” In 1825, the US government saw the Oklahoma Territory as the solution to their “Indian problem.” James Barbour, the Secretary of War, declared the establishment of Indian Country in order that “the future residence of these peoples will be forever undisturbed.”

Trying to put all Native Americans into one basket, though, created problems of its own. Numerous wars and skirmishes were fought in Oklahoma among Native Americans. In 1833, for example, the Osage tribe fell upon an undefended group of Kiowa in what became known as the Cutthroat Gap Massacre. Over 150 were killed, including many women and children.

Between the 1830s and 1850s, many of the defeated tribes of the Southeast, such as the Choctaw and Creek, were forcibly relocated to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma.  This became known as the Trail of Tears.

In 1842 at Webbers Falls, about twenty-five slaves rebelled in Cherokee territory and headed south toward Mexico. They were joined by more slaves escaping from Creek land.  The Cherokee militia were sent after them and recaptured them. Five were executed.

President James K Polk
Architect of Mexican-American War
Polk House, Columbia TN

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 that ended the Mexican-American War added the Oklahoma Panhandle, previously claimed by the Republic of Texas, to United States Territory.  is land remained an untamed no-man’s-land for many years until finally becoming part of Oklahoma.

In 1858, John “Rip” Ford led a party of Texas Rangers across the Red River and into Oklahoma Indian Territory. He earned his nickname during the Mexican-American War, after writing numerous death notifications with the words Rest in Peace at the top.  His “invasion” was a response to attacks against settlers. Ford’s men fought the Battle of Antelope Hills against two separate groups of Comanche on May 12, 1858.  The Rangers were armed with .45 caliber six shooters, which outclassed the bows and single-shot muskets of the Comanche.  Only two Rangers were killed versus over seventy-five Comanche, with many more Comanche taken prisoner.

In October 1858, troops of the 2nd Cavalry looking for Penateka Comanche chief Buffalo Hump clashed with Comanche warriors at the Battle of the Wichita Village.  The Comanche were defeated, but Buffalo Hump escaped.

But a much bigger war was coming.

During the American Civil War, Native Americans in the Indian territory of Oklahoma at first attempted to remain neutral. Ultimately, Oklahoma fought a mini-Civil War of its own. Four regiments of Indian Home Guard were raised to fight on the Union side. Many Creek warriors from Oklahoma would fight in Union blue. Nearly 8,000 Indians, mainly of the Five Civilized Tribes, would instead fight under the flag of the Stars and Bars.

Stand Watie
1806 -1871
In the bitter winter of 1861, Unionist Native Americans, under attack from Confederate forces, withdrew to Kansas, fighting a series of engagements en route, including the Battle of Round Mountain and the Battle of Chustenahlah. Among the pursuing forces was Stand Watie.
Stand Watie, a Cherokee leader who was born in Georgia, relocated to the Oklahoma Territory. In August of 1861, he chose to align his tribe with the Confederate cause. He led a force of irregular cavalry that conducted a number of hit-and-run raids on Union targets. Watie rose to become a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. He was, in fact, the last Confederate general to surrender, on June 23, 1865, more than two months after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. After the war, he returned to farming in Delaware County, Oklahoma.

Stand Watie’s forces took part in a number of other Civil War clashes in what is now Oklahoma, including the Battle of Old Fort Wayne in October 1862.

The most significant battle of the Civil War fought in Oklahoma was the Battle of Honey Springs on July 17, 1863. Major General James Blunt of Maine, armed with superior artillery, defeated a Confederate force that outnumbered him two to one.  The battle was notable for the courageous performance of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.  This Union victory secured most of the Oklahoma Indian Territory for the duration of the Civil War.

Less a battle than a Massacre
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
Cheyenne, OK

After the Civil War, tensions between American settlers and Native Americans continued. Most of Oklahoma was occupied by the Five Civilized Tribes—Cheyenne, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. Pressure was mounting for the construction of railroads through Indian lands. Perhaps the most notorious battle to ever be fought in Oklahoma took place on November 27, 1868, on the banks of the Washita River. US Army forces led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer attacked a Cheyenne encampment led by Black Kettle. Black Kettle had been a signatory of the Medicine Lodge Treaties of 1867, which granted money and equipment in exchange for relocation onto two reservations in western Oklahoma and access for the railroad workers.

Massacre at Washita
Washita Battlefield Historic Site
Cheyenne, OK

In the early morning hours of November 27, Custer’s 7th Cavalry attacked the sleeping Cheyenne camp from four directions.  The engagement remains controversial to this day, with some historians terming it a massacre while others argue that it was a one-sided battle. Twenty-one American soldiers were killed and probably over one hundred Indians, including many women and children. Black Kettle and his wife were among the slain.

Some further clashes between Native Americans and US forces would occur, and 1882 also saw the Green Peach War as Cherokee clashed with Cherokee.

In addition to the land occupied by the Five Civilized Tribes, there was also a section of Oklahoma that was designated Unassigned Territory by the federal government.  These areas, including the Panhandle, became subject to a series of land runs starting in 1893.  The “Sooners” were the settlers who moved most expeditiously to take advantage of the federal government’s largesse.

Teddy Roosevelt
Added Oklahoma to the Union
Museum of the Panama Canal, Panama City, Panama

In 1905, Indian tribes in Oklahoma held a constitutional convention that proposed the admission of an Indian state called Sequoyah.  at same year, President Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed a wolf hunt in the Oklahoma Territory with Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. In 1907, Oklahoma became the forty-sixth state to join the Union, utilizing the Sequoyah constitution.

In April of 1917, Woodrow Wilson led the United States into World War I on the side of the Allies against the Central Powers. Conscription soon followed. Opposition to conscription broke out in Oklahoma with the Green Corn Rebellion in Pontotoc County. Tenant farmers, along with Creeks, Seminoles, and some African Americans, rioted, and three people were killed.  A manifesto issued by the rebels declared that World War I was a “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.”  This rhetoric could, of course, be applied to many American wars.

Oil was first discovered in Oklahoma in 1859.  The state was a crucial producer of oil in both world wars, which brought increased wealth to the state. Today it remains the fifth largest oil-producing state in the United States.

In 1931, the Red River Bridge War erupted. Well, sort of. Briefly. An argument over a bridge jointly built by Texas and Oklahoma led to Texas building barricades on the bridge and Oklahoma tearing them down, and the governor of Oklahoma declaring martial law before the problem was resolved.

Battleship Oklahoma

The Battleship Oklahoma, nicknamed Okie, was torpedoed by Japanese aircraft and sunk on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor. Over 420 of her crew were killed.  She was later refloated and repaired, serving in the war until 1944. Oklahoma, unlike many of its neighboring states, was not apparently struck by Japanese balloon bombs. Astonishingly, Oklahoma did not escape bombing during World War II. On July 5, 1943, a B-17 squadron operating out of Dalhart Air Base in Texas accidentally dropped about four practice bombs on Boise City in the Oklahoma Panhandle. One bomb struck the local Baptist church. No one was killed or injured in the only World War II bombing of a city in the continental US. One of the B-17 crew members returned after the war and married a woman from Boise City."  (Source: Oklahoma chapter of America


Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
Cheyenne, OK

Washita Battlefield Historic Site (, Cheyenne, OK.  This is hallowed ground for all Americans.  Great film on what happened at Washita in 1868.  Friendly helpful staff
Tom Stafford
Stafford Air and Space Museum
Weatherford, OK
Stafford Air and Space Museum (, Weatherford, OK.  This museum, named in honor of the American astronaut Tom Stafford who grew up in Weatherford, offers a glimpse into the US Space program and much more.

Mahogany Steakhouse (, Tulsa, OK.  Absolutely nothing to do with Invasions or Military History but an excellent place to restore the tissues after seeing the sites in Oklahoma!  Great steaks and wine selections.

Bread Pudding at Mahogany Steakhouse
Tulsa, OK

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Splendid and The Vile

Rare Moral Clarity

We read that a statue of Winston Churchill in London's Parliament Square was recently attacked and defaced with Black Lives Matter graffiti (  About a month ago my own personal book van was defaced with red paint by protesters in Austin Texas!
Uncle Sam sees Red!
But Erik Larson's latest book offers a more informed and uplifting account of the man widely acknowledged to be the greatest Briton of all time.
Erik Larson

The Splendid and the Vile is Erik Larson's account of Winston Churchill and his family during the Blitz of London in World War II (  Erik Larson is a best selling author whose historical accounts have sold over 9 million copies.  He is the author of Dead Wake about the final voyage of the Lusitania (

Another book about Churchill?  Is this really necessary when the ground has been thoroughly covered by so many fine authors from Andrew Roberts ( to Boris Johnson (  Fortunately the answer is a resounding yes!

Erik Larson brings a fresh set of eyes to this world historic period of World War II.  From the spring of 1940 until Hitler's invasion of Russia which began on June 22, 1941 Britain stood alone against the Nazi menace.  This was a period of immense danger when the whole world stood on the brink of a yawning precipice.  It seemed for a while that Nazi Germany would win the war and dominate the continent of Europe.  The Germans' Blitzkrieg tactics had vanquished Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and even France.  Britain made a hasty exit from the continent with the evacuation at Dunkirk.  The Luftwaffe seemed unstoppable.  America was mired in isolationism.  Stalin's Soviet Union had already done a dirty deal with Hitler to carve up Poland.

Larson has a unique narrative gift for the telling detail.  In this volume he focusses not merely on Churchill but also on his intriguing family.  His wife Clementine was the rocky bulwark upon which Winston Churchill built his extraordinary life.  She was steady and compassionate when she went out with her husband to visit the bomb-damaged neighborhoods throughout Britain.  Churchill himself was noted to cry amid the rubble of London.  Randolph, their only son, was a wastrel, a gambler, a drunk and a cad.  Their daughter Mary (later Mary Soames) was a vivacious ingenue in 1940 who eventually took charge of an anti-aircraft battery.  His daughter in law Pamela (née Digby) was a beautiful young woman, unfortunately wed to the the ne'er do well Randolph.  During this fateful year Pamela will give birth to Winston Churchill jr. and begin an affair with the American millionaire and diplomat Averell Harriman.

Larson writes his account with full moral clarity about a time which really offers up astonishing moral clarity.  On the one hand, there are the vile...Adolph Hitler, who launched the bloodiest war in human history.   There is Joseph Goebbels his propaganda minister who wound up killing all of his six children before committing suicide in the Fuhrer bunker. There is Hermann Göring, the World War I flying ace who became the immensely fat and greedy head of the Luftwaffe who looted the museums of Nazi occupied Europe.

Nor were the vile exclusively German.  By no means.  Randolph Churchill's philandering during the birth of his son was pretty vile.  Joseph Kennedy, the US ambassador to the Court of St James at the start of World War II, was defeatist and pro-German.  Larson relates a Foreign Office joke of the time which circulated at the time: "I always thought that my daffodils were yellow until I met Joe Kennedy." 

On the other hand, there is Winston Churchill, his family and a growing entourage of admirers.  There is the splendid oratory of the great man himself in delivering what are perhaps the finest pieces of political rhetoric ever uttered by any wartime leader.  "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat" and so on.  Jock Colville rendered splendid assistance as Churchill's private secretary while keeping an illicit private diary that would become immensely important to future historians.  Colville heroically volunteered to leave his desk job to serve in the RAF.  Larson recounts his various amorous wartime adventures.  This work's title is derived from one of Colville's remarkable diary entries.

In Harry Hopkins Churchill found a very different kind of American than JFK's dad.  After fulsome dinner at Ditchley Park in 1941 Churchill delivered a high-toned peroration in defense of Western values.  Churchill paused to ask Hopkins what FDR would make of all this.  Hopkins replied, "Well, Mr Prime Minister, I don't think the President will give a dam' for all that."  After a very long pause for effect Hopkins explained, "You see we're only interested in seeing that God dam sonofabith Hitler gets licked."   Harry Hopkins was in that moment a splendid American!

Kenrick 'Snakehips' Johnson
1914 -1941
His Life Mattered
Finally, there are the victims.  Nearly 29,000 were killed during the blitz which lasted from May of 1940 until June of 1941.  These included 5,626 children.  Many more would be killed by the rocket attacks launched late in the war.  Around 10 percent of all buildings in London were destroyed during the course of the war.  Larson relates the tragic bombing of the Café de Paris in Piccadilly on the evening of March 8, 1941 which killed at least 34 people including 'Snakehips' Johnson, a twenty six year old dancer and bandleader from British Guiana, who was decapitated by a German bomb.  The protestors of 2020 who attack the statue of Churchill seem not really to care much about his black life...?

A minor quibble about this book is the sad absence of photography.

I will stand with Churchill!

History is freighted with irony.  Churchill himself might appreciate the irony inherent in the fact that elements of the radical Left are now attacking the greatest Anti-Fascist of all time!  I, for one, will stand with Churchill.

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Sergeant York: Fighting Celt

Commander Kelly and Sergeant York
Pall Mall, TN

Alvin York

Argonne's dead are all
gone now, but the Sergeant's fame
marches boldly on.

(Haiku by Stuart Laycock)

Alvin C. York Bust
Alvin C. York State Park
Pall Mall, TN

Alvin York, of partly Celtic descent, became the most celebrated American enlisted soldier of the Great War.

Alvin Cullum York was born in 1887 in Pall Mall, Tennessee. York was of mixed English and Scottish heritage and had the classic Celtic look of red hair and freckles. His father worked as a blacksmith. He grew up in a log cabin in the Cumberland Mountains and learned to shoot a rifle at an early age.

York was a deeply religious Christian who, upon being drafted, initially sought deferment as a conscientious objector. However, his commanding officers in the 328th Regiment of the 82nd Division eventually convinced him of the justice of the American cause and of the urgency for fighting. The 82nd was known as the All American Division, and York had an AA on his shoulder patch. So, York was among over two million doughboys that went “Over There” in the American Expeditionary Force to fight on the Western front in World War I. Most American soldiers trained for about six months prior to embarking for France. York trained for five months at Camp Gordon in Georgia, which remains today the headquarters for the US Army Signal Corps. At Camp Gordon, York’s expert marksmanship was recognized, and he was promoted to corporal. It was a sign of what was to come.

During the war, a German salient had developed at Saint-Mihiel near Verdun in France. The newly arrived Yanks were sent in to break the salient. York saw his first fighting in June of 1918 at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. The offensive was an American success, liberating two hundred square miles of French territory and causing around seven thousand German casualties.  However, this success came at a heavy price. Today Saint-Mihiel is notable for the American cemetery located there, which contains the graves of over 4,100 Americans.

Alvin York earns his Medal of Honor
Meuse Argonne
Alvin C. York Home
Pall Mall, TN

It was in Meuse-Argonne Offensive of the fall of 1918 that York won international fame. On October 8, 1918, Corporal York eliminated a German machine gun nest, fought off a bayonet attack, and picked off twenty-five enemy soldiers. His actions resulted in the capture of 128 German soldiers and four officers from the Kaiser’s Army. York was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, which was subsequently upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In the spring of 1919, Marshal Foch himself pinned the French Croix de Guerre on York’s chest. York was also promoted to the rank for which he will always be remembered—Sergeant.
AEF meets...
An Adventure in 1914

After the action, York recalled in his diary:

"… those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush … I was sharp shooting … All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had."

On November 11, 1918, the guns on the Western Front at last fell silent. On his return to America, York received a hero’s welcome, including a ticker tape parade in New York City and a standing ovation from the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. He married his hometown sweetheart, Gracie Williams, about a week after his return to Tennessee and started a large family. Among their eight children were the patriotically named Andrew Jackson York and Betsy Ross York.
York remained deeply committed to his faith, declaring: “It was the hand of God that guided us in all and brought about the victory … I feel it was through Him that I accomplished what I did.

After the chaos and carnage of France, York returned to the peace of farming. He also campaigned tirelessly for improved roads in rural Tennessee and devoted himself to charitable, civic, and educational projects in his home state.

York was already a legend, and that legend grew even bigger. In 1941, Howard Hawks directed a film titled Sergeant York that was released in September of that year. Gary Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Actor in the blockbuster film. A young Texan named Audie Murphy saw the film twice that year and was inspired to enlist in the US Army (See earlier blog on Audie Murphy...

After Pearl Harbor, York, answering his nation's call once again, attempted to reenlist in the army. He was denied a combat role because of his age and physical condition, but he did serve as a major in the US Army Signal Corps and on bond drives.

York was a staunch hawk during the Cold War, and he was frustrated by the stalemate that developed in the Korean War. At one point, he declared, “If they can't find anyone else to push the button, I will.”
Alvin & Gracie York
Wolf River Cemetery, TN
Alvin York died in 1964 and was buried at Wolf River Cemetery near his home in Pall Mall. The Alvin C. York highway in Tennessee is named after him.

In the twenty-first century, using rigorous forensic methods, the exact location where York earned his somewhat controversial Medal of Honor was determined, largely through the efforts of Colonel Douglas Mastriano. Mastriano later wrote a biography titled Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne (  Even shell casings from York’s .45 automatic Colt pistol were recovered at the battle site. In Chatel-Chéhéry in 2008, a Circuit du Sergeant York (a walking trail) was dedicated by French and American officials on the ninetieth anniversary of his battle in the Argonne.

Tourist Notes: The Alvin C. York State Park in Pall Mall, Tennessee is a fantastic way to explore the life of this American hero.   You can visit the home where he lived with his wife Gracie and also see the dry goods store that they ran.

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur is coming soon...

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Dead Wake

Why America cannot be Isolationist

Erik Larson is simply a national treasure.  Larson is a master of non-fiction narrative.  He is natural novelist who happens to write history.  His book Devil in the White City explored the strange tale of a serial killer during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.  In the Garden of the Beasts dealt with life of an American ambassador to Hitler's Germany during the lead-up to World War II.  Larson has a strong narrative gift and an eye for the illuminating detail.  His research is meticulous.
Erik Larson
In 2015 he published what is perhaps his most important book to date -- Dead Wake (  This work examines the final voyage of the Lusitania.  This Cunard line luxury ocean liner infamously met her doom on May 7, 1915 in the waters off the south coast of Ireland when she was sunk by a single torpedo launched by U-Boat commanded by Walther Schwieger.  Only 764 passengers and crew out of 1,959 survived the sinking by the Kaiser's submarine.  123 Americans perished in the tragedy along with many children including 27 infants.

There was a revulsion felt across America at the beastly inhumane tactics employed by the German navy. This tragic event helped eventually to propel America into WWI on the Allied side in April of 1917.

Larson is not really a military historian but he embraces his subject with gusto and writes with verve.  Even though the reader knows what generally occurred to the Lusitania, Larson injects poignant details that bring the tragedy fully to life.  One encounters the unfortunate captain William Turner who was scapegoated after the event but who was also fortunate to survive and even to endure a second ship sunk by torpedo in the Mediterranean during the Great War.  Larson treats us to a cavalcade of eccentric passengers from all classes and many nationalities whose lives were interrupted or ended with the sinking of the Lusitania.
From my family to yours...
My own great grandfather, Thomas Tileston Wells was a Lusitania passenger who crossed the Atlantic from New York to Liverpool on an earlier voyage before the war in 1909.  I presented his remarkable story in An Adventure in 1914 (  Wells, New York lawyer, was a sybarite who must have thoroughly enjoyed the luxury that the British ship offered.

As Larson correctly points out, the sinking of the Lusitania did NOT immediately bring the United States into the war.  That did not happen for nearly two years.  But the Kaiser's fateful decision to launch Unrestricted submarine warfare and the infamous Zimmerman telegram gave President Wilson all the ammunition he needed to get a declaration of war from the US Congress in April 1917.

Isolationism had been part of the fabric of American Foreign policy since the time of George Washington ("no entangling alliances").  But the sinking of the Lusitania galvanized public opinion in the USA against the Central Powers.  It convinced many Americans that the Kaiser's Germany was a bad actor on the world stage that needed to be stopped.  Even at the cost of many American lives.  Over 100,000 Americans would be killed on the Western front before it all ended on November 11, 1918 -- the day we remember as Veteran's Day.

America founded and remains a member of the NATO alliance.  Japan is our ally in Asia.  We Americans have fought in nearly half of all the countries on earth (see  We Americans have bases scattered throughout our world.  We have been militarily involved with almost every nation on earth (only three exceptions).  Even today in 2020 it is the presence of bad actors in the world (ISIS, North Korea, Iran, etc.) that necessitates our positive and committed engagement on the world stage.  And it all can be traced back to a German torpedo launched off the Emerald Isle on a beautiful spring day in 1915...

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...


Thursday, June 4, 2020

William Weatherford: Fighting Celt

After the tragic death of George Floyd and the protests which erupted across America in the following days, we in America are currently obsessed with matters of race.  The topic of race arose in our forthcoming book 101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur.  Those of Celtic descent may, at first, seem to be not merely white but even pale white.  But this can be misleading.
Larry Bird
Born 1956
The NBA's Larry Bird is of Celtic ancestry (both Irish and Scottish).  But he also has Native American ancestry too.  He is by no means the only pale Celt with such a background.

Celtic people are notoriously passionate and inclusive.  If a Scottish man marries a Chinese woman she may well dress in a tartan and learn to cook steaming haggis.  Their offspring will be Sino-Celtic.  There is a long historical precedent for the expansion of the Celtic clans through intermarriage.  And one of the best examples is the life of the Fighting Celt William Weatherford whose most notorious battlefield in Alabama -- Fort Mims -- I just visited (see also... This is his chapter from 101 Fighting Celts...

Both American Native 
and Celt, your talons
were sharp and crimson.

(Haiku by Stuart Laycock)

William Weatherford, known by some accounts as Red Eagle, was born in 1781 in Coosada in what is today Alabama. While many with Celtic blood in them, such as Andrew Jackson, fought Native Americans, others like Weatherford were part of Native American culture.

His father, Charles Weatherford, was a red-headed Scot, while his mother, Sehoy III, was of mixed European and Creek origin. His father was a successful trader, and young Red Eagle acquired a plantation and was a slave owner. With a foot in both camps, Weatherford learned to ride and hunt. His accomplishments as a horseman would later save this life. The Creeks were a matrilineal society, and Weatherford became a leader among his tribe.

1768 - 1813
In 1811, the legendary Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief born in present-day Ohio, came down to Alabama in an effort to unite the Indian tribes against the encroachments of American settlers. Most of the tribes ignored Tecumseh, but a portion of the Creek Nation, known as the Upper Creeks, did not. They allowed him to address their general meeting at Tukabatchee in what is today Elmore County. Tecumseh is reputed to have said: “Brush from your eyelids the sleep of slavery; once more strike for vengeance; once more for your country.”

Some Creeks, known as Red Sticks, were moved by Tecumseh’s message, while others sided with the American settlers. Weatherford was, perhaps, radicalized by Tecumseh’s message.

Fort Mims
On August 30, 1813, Weatherford led hundreds of Red Stick warriors against Fort Mims on the Alabama River. Around five hundred men, women, and children were killed that day, with only about thirty of the settlers managing to escape the carnage. The shocking scale of the Fort Mims Massacre aroused American opinion against the Red Sticks. Many frontiersmen from Tennessee and Kentucky mustered to exact revenge for Fort Mims. Andrew Jackson led many militia south to Alabama through the forested Natchez Trace.
Fort Mims (Replica)
Weatherford withdrew to Econochaca, or Holy Ground, where he supervised the Red Sticks’ defense. In December 1813, US militia led an attack on Holy Ground. Recognizing that they were defeated, Weatherford made a daring escape by jumping, with his horse Arrow, off a fifteen-foot bluff.
At the Battle of Calabee Creek, Weatherford engaged a unit of Georgia militia led by General John Floyd. Neither side gained a decisive victory, but Weatherford soon realized that he was facing overwhelmingly superior numbers of American forces.

On November 9, 1813, Jackson won a significant victory at the Battle of Talladega. Over three hundred Red Stick warriors were slain.
Old Hickory meets William Weatherford
"I am in your power"
Andrew Jackson’s final decisive victory over the Red Sticks took place on March 27, 1814, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. It must be noted that around six hundred Native American warriors from the Cherokee and Lower Creek tribes fought alongside Jackson against the Red Sticks. Approximately nine hundred Red Sticks were killed; Jackson’s forces lost fewer than eighty men.

One of the most dramatic incidents in Weatherford’s adventurous life occurred shortly thereafter. Weatherford walked into the American camp and surrendered to his enemy. On being introduced to Andrew Jackson, he declared simply, “I am in your power.” Impressed by the bravery of this Native American and Fighting Celt, Old Hickory chose to pardon Weatherford.

Andrew Jackson Statue
Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Weatherford lived peacefully on his plantation in Alabama until his death in 1824.

Invading Fort Mims, Alabama!

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur is coming soon...!

You can find signed copies of our books at these web sites...