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Chief William McKintosh


Called Tustunnugee Hutkee (White Warrior), William McIntosh was the son of Captain William McIntosh, a member of a prominent Savannah, Georgia family sent into the Creek Nation to recruit them to fight for the British during the Revolutionary War. His mother, a Creek named Senoya, was a member of the prominent Wind Clan. Raised as an Indian, he never knew his Tory father who, after fathering a second son by another Creek woman, returned to Savannah. Because among the Creeks, descent was determined through one's mother; the fact that his father was white was of little importance to the Creeks.

A cousin of Georgia Governor George M. Troup, he gained the enmity of Alabama's Upper Creek Indians by leading General Andrew Jackson's Indian troops during the Creek Indian War of 1813 - 1814, during which the Upper Creeks were defeated. For his services at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and elsewhere, he was commissioned a brigadier general in the United States Army.

During the War of 1812, a civil war between the Upper and Lower Creeks broke out, and McIntosh was selected to head a kind of national police force established by Benjamin Hawkins, an Indian agent, to deal with nativistic Creeks, who were led by another half-Scottish Creek, Peter McQueen.

"Now increasingly evident was the impending estrangement between the nativistic Upper Creeks and the Lower Creeks, who were increasingly swayed by Hawkin's policy of acculturation, his political system, and his argument for the necessity of the law menders [like McIntosh] to see justice done." ["McIntosh and Weatherford, Creek Indian Leaders" by Benjamin W. Griffith, Jr.]

In an 1817 letter written to President Madison and signed by McIntosh, Madison was told that, while the more influential Cherokees of mixed blood wanted to swap their land, the "not so much civilized" pure bloods feared the mixed-bloods would--as they did--swap all their land, leaving them "without any land to walk on." The Creeks feared that these Cherokees might--as they already had--take land from the Creeks.

After the Creek Indian War, McIntosh built a plantation on the Chattahoochee River in Carroll County called Lockchau Talofau (Acorn Bluff) that was worked by 72 slaves. (It is near Whitesburg and is today maintained as a park by Carroll County.)

McIntosh also fought for the United States in the First Seminole War. He gained fame during this war by playing a major role in the capture of a "Negro Fort" located on the lower Apalachicola. (Georgia slaves escaped and took refuge with the Seminoles in British-held Florida.) This fort was occupied by about 300 black men, women, and children, 20 renegade Choctaws, and a few Seminole warriors. Its defenders were led by a black named Garcon. The downfall of the fort was brought about by an American cannon ball heated red hot setting off a tremendous explosion when it landed in the fort's magazine. (A magazine is where black gun powder is stored.)

Despite the fact the Upper Creeks had vowed to kill anyone who signed away any more Indian land, McIntosh, along with eight other chiefs, on February 12, 1825 signed the Treaty of Indian Springs; thus relinquishing all the Creeks' land in Georgia in exchange for $400,000, which was then worth vastly more than it is today. Whether he signed the treaty for personal gain or because he believed signing it was in the best interests of the Creek Nation is still argued.

Despite Governor Troup's promise to protect him, on April 30th about 200 Creeks set fire to McIntosh's plantation and killed him. If his enemies had waited much longer, McIntosh wouldn't have been there, as he was planning to leave soon to look over land promised him along the Arkansas River.

McIntosh's home served as an inn and tavern on the Federal Road where it crossed the Chattahoochee, and because the River was then above its banks, some travelers had decided to spend the night there, hoping the waters would recede. Thus, there were several witness to the terrible events that took place there besides McIntosh's family.

Just before daybreak, a party of Upper Creeks set fire to an outbuilding in order to light up the yard so as to prevent anyone from escaping. They called to the white guests and women to come out, saying they would come to no harm. McIntosh's son Chilly and another mixed-blood escaped from an outbuilding they were sleeping in because there wasn't room for everybody in the main house.

Shot in the front doorway of his home, McIntosh managed to climb the stairs to the second floor, from which he began shooting at his assailants. Forced to leave when they set fire to the house, he was shot and dragged some distance from the house. Raising himself on an elbow, he gave them a defiant look as he was stabbed in the heart. An eyewitness estimated that his corpse was shot about 50 times. After destroying what they could not carry off--slaves, horses, and cattle--the assassins left

After his death, his wife Peggy complained in the Cherokee Advocate that, "I do not blame the Creeks, the Creeks treat me well, the Cherokees treat me well--it was by Government my husband lost his life--Government say to my husband 'Go Arkansas, go to Arkansas, and you will be better off.' My husband wished to please the Government--my house is burned, myself and my children run--my children naked--no bread--one blanket, is all--like some stray dog, I suffer; with one blanket I cover my three children and myself--the Government say 'Go!' The Indians kill him; between two fires my husband dies; I wander--Government does not feed me--Creek does not feed me--no home, no bread, nothing! nothing! Till Gen. Ware gives me a home, I suffer like some stray Indian dog."


 

 


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