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
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
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."
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.