Historical Markers in J. D. Chason Park
West Jackson St/Donalson Street, Bainbridge, GA (30.90825 -84.57928333)
Decatur County During the Creek and Seminole Wars Era
Decatur County was once a frontier region shared by the Creek and the Seminole Nations. The Creeks, comprised of dozens of loosely associate groups, lived primarily along the southern reaches of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in Alabama and Georgia. The closely-related Seminoles came together through similar alliances in Florida. Many of these people originally migrated to the region in the late 1700s and early 1800s to escape the pressures of American encroachment.
In the early 1800s, several Native American towns with historic ties to both the Creeks and Seminoles occupied this region. Prominent among these were the town of Pucknawhitla and Fowltown. Pucknawhitla stood within the city limits of what is now Bainbridge, while Fowltown, or Tutalosi Talofa in the Muskogee language, actually moved to multiple locations over a period of years. At the time of the First Seminole War (1817), it was located about four miles to the south. Other towns in the immediate area included Tamathli, Attapulgus, Wekiva, and Mikasuki.
The J. D. Chason Memorial Park(side 1)The J.D. Chason Memorial Park stands a permanent honor in memory of Doctor J.D. Chason. Members of his immediate family graciously presented it on December 29, 1921 to the city of Bainbridge. It is an historic location and is about two acres in size. The use of it is restricted to park purposes.
The J. D. Chason Memorial Park History(side 2) The J.D. Chason Memorial Park is an historic location. It was here that DeSoto and his men crossed the Flint River over three centuries ago. The El Camino Real, the King`s Highway, also crossed the grounds. Located within the Park is the site of Fort Hughes, built in 1817 by U.S. Soldiers under command of Capt. John M. McIntosh, and the grave of the first soldier, Bugler Hughes, killed in the Seminole Indian War.
The Battle of FowltownThe Battle of Fowltown, fought just a few miles to the south of this spot, marked the beginning of the First Seminole War. Fowltown was a Seminole village led by Chief Neamathla which had been allied with the British during the War of 1812. It lay on land ceded to the United States by the defeated Creeks in the Treaty of Fort Jackson ending the Creek War. American officials demanded Fowltown's residents leave the area. Neamathla refused, asserting that his people had not participated in the Creek War and were not subject to the treaty. On November 21, 1817, General Edmund P. Gaines ordered Major David E. Twiggs, commander at nearby Fort Scott, to march on Fowltown with 250 men and capture Neamathla. A brief skirmish resulting in perhaps five Seminole casualties ensued, but Twiggs failed to capture the leader.
Gaines sent another, larger force to Fowltown under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Arbuckle's men found the town abandoned upon their arrival. As they entered the village, though, Neamathla and a few dozen warriors suddenly emerged from hiding in the nearby woods. A pitched fight raged for about twenty minutes before the outnumbered warriors were forced to retreat. Seminole losses are believed to have been about ten killed, while American forces suffered only one killed and perhaps three wounded.
A week later, on November 30, 1817, a force of several hundred Creek and Seminole warriors in reprisal attacked a U.S. supply boat headed by Lt. Richard W. Scott. In what became known as the "Scott Massacre," nearly forty men and women were killed. Federal officials ordered General Andrew Jackson to the area in the aftermath.
First Seminole War TrailHere passed the trail used by General Andrew Jackson and his troops on his way to Fort Hughes (now Bainbridge) and Fort Scott fourteen miles southwest during the First Seminole Indian War, March 8, 1818.
The First Seminole War in Decatur CountyThe area that became Decatur County played a major role in the First Seminole War. Located on the border with Spanish Florida, the region witnessed persistent violence and raiding between American settlers, Creeks and Seminoles in the early nineteenth century. Central to the unsettled situation was the existence of a military outpost to the south, originally built by the British during the War of 1812, which had been abandoned to Seminoles and escaped slaves. Americans referred to it derisively as the "Negro Fort."
United States military forces entered the area in 1816 desiring to extend American control over the region. They sought to remove the Seminoles from Georgia and secure the border while simultaneously pressuring Spain to relinquish control of Florida. They first moved on the "Negro Fort," destroying the post on July 27, 1816. The First Seminole War officially began the next year, after U.S. forces fought Seminole warriors at the prominent village of Fowltown and Seminoles counterattacked a short time later.
Gen. Andrew Jackson commanded the American and allied Creek army sent to the area in the wake of the violence. Departing nearby Fort Scott in March of 1818, Jackson entered Spanish territory. In a rapid three-month campaign he conducted without official permission, he destroyed several Seminole towns and captured Spanish forts at St. Marks and Pensacola. The Spanish protested but soon ceded Florida to the United States.
First Seminole War Fortifications Located in Decatur County
Fort HughesAmerican forces built Fort Hughes on this spot shortly after the Battle of Fowltown. They named it in honor of Pvt. Aaron Hughes, who was killed in the battle. After Creek and Seminole warriors attacked the outpost in December of 1817, the fort's garrison evacuated to the more substantial Fort Scott.
Fort ScottOriginally known as Camp Crawford in honor of Secretary of War William Crawford of Georgia, Fort Scott was located on a bluff about fifteen miles downriver. Lt. Col. Duncan Clinch built the fortification in 1816 to use as a base of operations for patrolling the U.S.-Spanish border. In 1817 he rebuilt and strengthened Camp Crawford and named the new fortification in honor of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott. The fort became the launching point for American operations during the First Seminole War. It was garrisoned until 1821.
The Second Creek War and Removal in the Decatur County AreaConflict between Creeks, Seminoles and Americans continued in the years after the First Seminole War. Beginning in the 1820s in Florida, the United States pressured the Seminoles to relocate to the West. At the same time in Georgia and Alabama, the Creeks witnessed the last portions of their homelands come under American control through treaties, fraud, and illegal settlement. Natives eventually resist in all three states, resulting in what would become known as the Second Seminole War and the Second Creek War.
Fighting in the Second Creek War began in 1836 after desperate Creeks struck against those who had taken their lands. After several sharp engagements in May and June of 1836, American military leaders prematurely pronounced the war over. Many rebel Creeks resisting removal remained in the area, however. A new phase of the fighting began in the summer of 1836 as these scattered groups attempted to escape to join the Seminoles in Florida with the Georgia militia in pursuit.
East of here, militiamen and Creek forces met in several small engagements. A company of cavalry from the Bainbridge area under the command of Captain Jonathan C. Hawthorn participated in some of them. The largest fight took place at the Battle of Cow Creek on August 27, 1836. Despite the militia's efforts, most of the fugitive Creeks managed to make their way to join their Seminole cousins in Florida. Many would continue to resist American forces alongside them until the close of the Second Seminole War in 1842.
The Second Creek War ended in 1837, and defeated Creeks who had not migrated to Florida were forced to remove to the West in the "Creek Trail of Tears." These removal efforts in Georgia and Alabama continued until the 1840s. Although it was technically illegal for them to reside in Georgia, a small number of Creeks managed to evade removal by hiding, being sheltered by white friends, or otherwise assimilating into American society. Many people in southwest Georgia trace their ancestry to these survivors.
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