Confederate Military History, Vol. 7: Alabama

Confederate Military History, Vol. 7: Alabama.

This work spanning fifteen extensive volumes is the result of contributions by many Southern men to the literature of the United States that treats of the eventful years in which occurred the momentous struggle called by Mr. A. H. Stephens “the war between the States.” These contributions were made on a well-considered plan, to be wrought out by able writers of unquestionable Confederate record who were thoroughly united in general sentiment and whose generous labors upon separate topics would, when combined, constitute a library of Confederate military history and biography. According to the great principle in the government of the United States that one may result from and be composed of many – the doctrine of E pluribus unum–it was considered that intelligent men from all parts of the South would so write upon the subjects committed to them as to produce a harmonious work which would truly portray the times and issues of the Confederacy and by illustration in various forms describe the soldiery which fought its battles. Upon this plan two volumes – the first and the last-comprise such subjects as the justification of the Southern States in seceding from the Union and the honorable conduct of the war by the Confederate States government; the history of the actions and concessions of the South in the formation of the Union and its policy in securing the existing magnificent territorial dominion of the United States; the civil history of the Confederate States, supplemented with sketches of the President, Vice-President, cabinet officers and other officials of the government; Confederate naval history; the morale of the armies; the South since the war, and a connected outline of events from the beginning of the struggle to its close. The two volumes containing these general subjects are sustained by the other volumes of Confederate military history of the States of the South involved in the war. Each State being treated in separate history permits of details concerning its peculiar story, its own devotion, its heroes and its battlefields. The authors of the State histories, like those of the volumes of general topics, are men of unchallenged devotion to the Confederate cause and of recognized fitness to perform the task assigned them. It is just to say that this work has been done in hours taken from busy professional life, and it should be further commemorated that devotion to the South and its heroic memories has been their chief incentive. This volume seven out of fifteen, covering the Civil War in Alabama.

Confederate Military History, Vol. 7: Alabama

Confederate Military History, Vol. 7: Alabama.

Format: eBook.

Confederate Military History, Vol. 7: Alabama.

ISBN: 9783849662707.


Excerpt from the text:


Chapter 1


It was Easter Sunday, March 27, 1513. The Southern sun was shining brightly over the placid bay of St. Augustine. Blooming flowers in the rich profusion characteristic of that soil and climate delighted the eye with their beauty and filled the air with their fragrance. The natives gathering on the beach gazed out upon the waters with awe and wonder at the white-winged ships slowly but surely approaching their shores. It was the fleet of Spain, commanded by John Ponce de Leon, who had been one of the companions of Columbus in his second voyage. He came now furnished with a royal charter to explore and conquer.

This expedition and others, dispatched in rapid succession during the century following the first voyage of Columbus, resulted in confirming the dominion of Spain in all of South and Central America, Mexico, and much of what is now the southern portion of the United States. In 1535, a French expedition under Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence and gave the name of New France to the territory along its shores. As early as 1497 the Cabots received patents from the English crown to set up the royal standard in any of the newly-discovered lands, but with the exception of the expedition under the ill-starred Lord Raleigh, the first attempt to plant an English colony in America was that at Jamestown in 1607. So the Saxon or English-speaking people were nearly a century behind the Latin race in their attempt to assert jurisdiction over, take possession of and occupy territory upon the new continent. But, with the exception of Napoleon’s momentary control in Louisiana, the rule of France in this country was effectually terminated by the treaty of Paris on February 7, 1763; and the Spanish crown, which once exercised dominion over all explored parts of America, and claimed the right to all by virtue of discovery, is now left without sovereignty in the Western hemisphere.

In April, 1528, Pamfilo de Narvaez landed with 300 men on the shore of Tampa bay. He marched northward, believing that in the interior he would find a wealthy empire similar to those of Mexico and Peru. The greater number of this expedition perished, but Alvar Nuflez and four companions made their way westward, passed through south Alabama, and finally reached the Spanish settlement of Mexico. These were the first white men who ever trod the soil of Alabama. In May, 1539, Hernando de Soto, with 1,000 chosen cavaliers, most of them from the best blood of Spain and Portugal, sailed into Tampa bay and disembarked at about the same spot where Narvaez landed eleven years before. Many months were spent in exploring eastern Florida, and then he turned northwardly into Georgia, at every turn confronted by a trackless wilderness and often surrounded by hostile tribes of Indians. In one of his earliest conflicts with natives he rescued Jean Ortiz, one of the Spanish followers of Narvaez, who for eleven years had been held as a prisoner by the Indians. The knowledge of the Indian customs and language acquired by Ortiz during captivity was of invaluable use to De Soto.

On July 2, 1540, the army passed from Georgia into Alabama at the site of the Indian village of Costa, which was situated near where the city of Rome, Ga., now stands. De Soto was received kindly by the Indian chieftain, but depredations committed by some of the soldiers precipitated a conflict, which, however, was quelled by the courage and presence of mind of De Soto, and the wrath of the natives appeased. The wily Spaniard then enticed the chief within his lines and held him as hostage until he was ransomed with provisions and slaves. On July 26th, De Soto approached the town of Coosa. The chieftain with 1,000 tall, sprightly and active warriors came out to meet him with the most friendly greetings, but, like the chieftain of Costa, he, too, was held as a prisoner and hostage to enable De Soto to extort ransom and to prevent any hostility on the part of the Indian warriors. De Soto then turned southward to Maubila, the principal city of the Maubilians, which was situated at what is now Choctaw Bluff, Clarke county. Tuskaloosa, the chieftain of that tribe, was a very handsome man about forty years old and of most extraordinary stature; he was entirely undemonstrative, but it soon became evident that he regarded the Spaniards with grave suspicion. Nevertheless, upon entering the city they were received with music, the most graceful dancing of beautiful Indian girls, and other outward signs of hospitality.

The Spaniards soon found that they were in the midst of an armed force of Indians fully ten times their number. A dispute between a native and a Spanish officer was the beginning of a most terrible battle; De Soto succeeded in getting outside of the gates, and deployed his soldiers so as to meet the swarm of Indians that were sweeping down upon them, a large body of which were directing their attack upon the horses of the Spaniards. The Indians used missiles of all kinds. Bows and arrows were used with great skill, while in hand-to-hand conflict the savages fought with wooden cleavers and enormous clubs. After three hours of battle, the Spanish were reinforced by the arrival of their rear guard under Muscoso. Encouraged by this addition of fresh troops, the heavily-armored Spaniards, with their superior weapons, rushed upon their opponents, indiscriminately slaughtering them without regard to age or sex. The Spanish accounts tell us this battle lasted nine hours; that 11,000 Indians were slain, while the Spaniards lost 81 killed and nearly every Spanish warrior was wounded. The killed included Rodriguez, a noble Portuguese of high rank, and two nephews of De Soto—Diego De Soto and Don Carlos Enriquez. Many of the Spanish horses were killed and much of their provisions, clothing and stores of various description were destroyed. The desperate condition of the Spaniards in a hostile wilderness, many of them seriously wounded and with scanty supplies, was more than counterbalanced by the terror which their prodigies of valor had aroused in the savages.

This conflict, one of the most severe in the history of that character of warfare, was very near the site of Fort Mims, where, on August 30, 1813, 273 years afterward, the Creek warrior, Weatherford, with 1000 savage followers, attacked, and during a five hours conflict slaughtered 531 men, women and children, including white soldiers, friendly Indians and negroes.

The original plan of De Soto was to rejoin his ships in Pensacola bay, but fearing that many of his followers would refuse to remain with him for further exploration he turned toward the northwest, passing through the country that now forms the counties of Clarke, Marengo, Greene and Pickens. During the journey he had many conflicts with the Indians, encountering a large force on the Black Warrior with which he had a very serious engagement. He then turned into the Indian village of Chickasaw, near the site of the modern city of Columbus, Miss. De Soto and his followers had occupied five months in passing through what is now the State of Alabama. They were met on the eastern border with the most hospitable and kindly treatment, which they returned with treachery, cruelty, injustice and destruction, leaving ruin and desolation in their path. The story of these five months of bloodshed by De Soto furnishes the first authentic account of warfare within the boundaries of Alabama.

Although after this for a century and a half the foot of white man never pressed the soil of this territory, still the inhabitants did not enjoy it in peaceful possession. After the death of Montezuma and the conquest of Mexico by Cortez, the Muscogees, a powerful tribe of Indians from the northwestern part of that country, being unwilling to submit to the control of the Spaniards, sought new homes to the eastward, and we have vague accounts of the battles fought, by which they despoiled weaker and more peaceful tribes and occupied the territory, where they were found by French explorers toward the end of the seventeenth century.

In April, 1682, La Salle took possession of the mouth of the Mississippi river, and the French Canadians were active about this time in founding settlements along that river and upon the Gulf coast. In 1699 the Spaniards made a settlement at Pensacola and also laid claim to Mobile bay. Lords Bienville and Iberville founded the town of Natchez, and in 1702 they built Fort Louis (de la Louisiana) at the mouth of Dog river. The French found large numbers of human bones on Dauphin island and for many years it was called the Island of Massacre. Treaties of peace were made with the Muscogees and Alabama Indians, but these treaties did not secure to the settlers any long-continued freedom from strife; and the early occupancy by the French of South Alabama was constantly disturbed by conflicts with the Indians of greater or less severity. The hostility of the Indians to the French was intensified by the intrigues of the English.

In 1707, France and Spain having united against England, Lord Bienville, with 150 French Canadians, went to the relief of Pensacola; but the English and their Indian allies evacuated the place before the arrival of the French. In 1711 the site of Mobile was permanently settled and three years later Lord Bienville, having succeeded in making treaties with the Indians, sailed up the Alabama river, passed the present location of Montgomery and established Fort Toulouse, at the site of the present town of Wetumpka. Later, a settlement was made at Montgomery, and Fort Tombecbee was established at what is now called Jones’ Bluff. Fort Toulouse contained four bastions, mounted with eight cannon, and was garrisoned by the French till 1763, except for a short period in 1722 when the troops mutinied, killed their commander and deserted the garrison.

In 1719, France was at war with Spain, and on May 4th Lord Bienville attacked Pensacola, captured the garrison and sent the captives to Havana. Later, during the summer, Matamora, the Spanish governor of Cuba, retook Pensacola. The Spaniards landed on Dauphin island and bombarded Fort Filippe, but were repulsed by Sevigny, whose command consisted of 260 soldiers and 200 Indians. The French fleet arrived, Pensacola was again retaken by the French and held by them until 1723, when it was restored to Spain by treaty. It was during this year that the seat of government was transferred from Mobile to New Orleans, which materially lessened the importance of the former city. Ten years later the French, under Bienville and D’Artaguette, returned and established themselves at Mobile. The control of the French over the Indians was now seriously disturbed by the intrigues of the English, who had established strong and permanent settlements in the Carolinas. They sought every opportunity to incite the natives against the French, and in 1736 the irritation and disturbances ripened into warlike outbreaks. The French and their allies, the Choctaws, marched against the Chickasaws, who had joined the English. The principal battle was fought at Ackia, May 26, 1736, in which the French were defeated. Bienville retreated to Mobile with most of his army, but D’Artaguette and a part of the troops were cut off, taken prisoners, cruelly held as hostages for quite a period, and finally they were all murdered. Sixteen years later, in 1752, the French and Choctaws, under De Vaudreuil, again attacked the Chickasaws, only to meet another disaster. The Chickasaws are described as the bravest and most warlike of all the Indian inhabitants of Alabama They finally dwindled away before the advance of civilization, but were never conquered by armed forces.

The aggressive English finally, in 1765, established themselves in Alabama, an agreement being made by which the territory then included under the name of Illinois was extended as far south as 32° 28′, about the latitude of Demopolis. The claim of the Spaniards to Florida was based upon their treaty with England of 783, and for many years there was incessant border warfare between the Spaniards and their Indian allies on one side and the colonists (mostly from Georgia) and their native allies on the other. This subjected our early settlers to almost constant Indian incursions for booty and massacre.

During this period the French were carrying on trade near the site of the present cities of Tuscumbia and Florence, and, mainly due to their influence, the Creeks and Cherokees were active in their hostilities upon the American settlers.

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