Indian War -- The First City Government

This was a stirring year for Columbus. The work of removing the Indians in small bodies to their home west of the Mississippi had been going on for some time, but there was a large and unruly party among them opposed to removal, and the presumption is that the members of this party remained as long as possible and thus acquired greater proportionate strength and influence. They did not bring the difficulty to a crisis by making a positive stand against removal, but they commenced hostilities by aggressions on the whites, some of which are noticed in a previous chapter, and others occurred early this year. Then followed local organization to protect the aggressors or commit other aggressions upon the whites settled in their territory, and finally, raids across the river. There were undoubtedly grievances of which the Indians justly complained. White settlers moved too soon into the territory, and Indian reservations were often obtained for a mere song, sometimes, doubtless, by fraud. The General Govern ment at first endeavored to check these aggressions by the whites, to restrain their settlement in the Indian Territory before the expiration of the time allowed for the full removal of the Indians, and to remove the most conspicuous offenders. This condition of affairs on the border crowded Columbus with transient residents and visitors. Being the place of greatest security, as well as the most accessible point along the line, people congregated here for safety, for temporary residence until the troubles were over, and for speculating purposes during the continuance of hostilities, as well as for facilities for rushing into the Indian territory as soon as the Government would permit and securing good land locations.

As our files of the Columbus Enquirer for the year 1836 are missing, this chapter must of course be lacking in person al news and minor local incidents. But we have the file of the Macon Messenger for this year, and from it we glean much information concerning the striking events of that period.

The first newspaper mention of actual Indian hostilities during this year, which we have been able to find, is in the Messenger of February 4th. We copy it entire:

"There has been considerable excitement for a week or two past at Columbus, and in the vicinity, from apprehension of hostile intentions on the part of the Indians of that neighborhood, and rumor has thrown in its usual contribution in making up all that was lacking in fact. On Thursday of last week it was understood that 500 Indians had crossed the Chattahoochee at Bryant's ferry, fifteen miles below Columbus. A detachment of twenty-two men headed by Mr. John Watson, proceeded to the place to ascertain particulars. They there found forty armed Indians, who were returning to the ferry, who took cover and commenced firing. After some firing on both sides, two white men, Mr. Josiah Johnson and Mr. _____ McBride, were killed, and two wounded, and the whites then left the field, and the Indians probably returned home.*

"From all that we can learn from people well acquainted with the Indians, we should not judge that there was a hostile disposition on the part of those Indians generally, but that there are outlaws and marauders who are ready to rob and plunder principally for provisions, and to fight whenever it becomes necessary. This we believe to be the fact, both with regard to these Indians and those residing below."

The above was the fight sometimes called the "battle of Hitchity." The commander of the whites was Col. J. H. Watson, formerly of Columbus.

This affair greatly excited the people of Columbus, and two companies were formed, under the command of Alexander McDougald and J. H. P. Campbell, who left Columbus during intensely cold weather and repaired to the scene of hostilities; but they found no Indians.

* We learn verbally from an old citizen that the Indians were retreating when the whites came up and rashly fired upon them. The Indians took cover under a bluff, and being thus protected fought with great advantage on their side.

The Columbus Guards, organized previous to this outbreak, J. A. Urquhart, Captain, were actively engaged in service during these hostilities, and other companies were formed for the occasion. One was an artillery company under Captain Hoxey; another, the Cadet Rifles, under Capt. T. C. Evans; and another, the Muscogee Blues, under Capt. P. T. Schley. All these companies performed good service, and were honorably discharged when hostilities ceased.

On the 14th of April, the Macon Messenger said: "The Creek Indians, below Columbus, are said to be almost without provisions, and in a sullen, discontented mood. They are very much dissatisfied at not being permitted to hunt in Georgia (where game is much plentier than in Alabama,) and declare their intention to do so at any risk as soon as the leaves put out."

From the same paper, May 12th: "Our accounts from Columbus are of a most alarming character. A war has already been commenced, and a number of citizens killed. The Creek Indians, below the Federal Road, are all in arms and killing every white person they have fallen in with. There has been less known of the hostility of those above, but it is most probable that all are combined, and that the movements are simultaneous through the whole Nation. They commenced their general work of slaughter on Monday, the 10th inst. Previous to this, on the 5th of May, Major Wm. B. Flournoy, late of Putnam County, in this State, was killed and scalped a few miles below Fort Mitchell. A letter from Col. Crowell, the Agent at Fort Mitchell, dated the 9th, says that four persons have been killed and many Negroes taken off within a few days; that he had sent a messenger to some of the principal chiefs, who had returned him word that their young men were bent on war, and have assembled in the swamp near the Federal Road to attack any troops that might march into the Nation.

"The Indians have taken possession of Hardaway's Ferry, eight miles above Columbus. Word was sent into Columbus by Ben Marshall, a half breed that the Indians intended to burn that place on Tuesday night. Dr. Ingersoll, an enroll ing agent, who was in the Nation, at or near Talladega (not the present town of that name), found them to exhibit so much hostility that he was compelled to leave and come into Columbus. Great numbers of people, supposed to be about 2,000, who reside west of the Chattahoochee, had come to Columbus for protection. A company of about twenty men, who went out of Columbus on Monday a few miles, to protect and bring in some families, returned in safety and affected their purpose. Another company of about one hundred men, on Tuesday, went into the Nation eight miles to the Uchee Bridge, on the Federal Road, and brought in some straggling settlers, but did not see any Indians. Fifteen dead bodies were seen by the flying inhabitants, who had been shot by the Indians and were lying in the road, five of which were brought into Columbus. Of course, all is confusion and dismay."

In the month of May following these events, as the steamer Hyperion was heading for Columbus, she was fired upon by a party of Indians from the Alabama shore, opposite Woolfolk's Bend, some eight miles below the city. During this fire the pilot at the wheel, a brother of Capt. Brockway, was shot dead at his post, and the engineer and one or two others were wounded. Fortunately the boat drifted to the Georgia shore and thus escaped capture. The surviving officers and crew came up on the Georgia side to town, and reached here shortly after dark on Sunday night. The news spread rapidly and created a big sensation and terrible scare in Columbus. Rev. Mr. Few received the news while preaching at the Methodist Church. He came quietly out of the pulpit, broke the tidings gently to his congregation and advised all to remain cool and self-possessed. A volunteer company was formed in the church, and the preacher was elected captain. This company was detailed for a special guard of the town during the night, and arrangements were perfected on the spot for stations, posting guards, relief of sentinels, &c. W. B. Mitchell was made night officer. This company remained in this service four or five days and were then disbanded.

In May, also, occurred the attack on the stages, which created a greater sensation throughout the country than any previous act of Indian hostility. Two stages carrying the United States mail, going from Columbus to Tuskegee, Ala., were attacked about eighteen miles from Columbus. The Indians killed Mr, Green, one of the drivers, and two horses, and robbed the mail. The next day a party of fifteen men started to come through to Columbus with two stages. Some of these men were passengers and others volunteers who accompanied the stages to assist in their protection. Among the latter, was young Samuel G. Hardaway, late of Montgomery, Ala. At the same place where the stages had been attacked the day previous, this party was also attacked by a body of Indians who had been following for some distance. The horses took fright at this place, ran out of the road and got entangled, and then the Indians came up and commenced the attack. Two of the men were riding on horseback and kept on. The others got out of the stages to fight the Indians, but most of them unhitched and mounted the stage horses and ran off. Hardaway and two others, on foot, followed behind. The Indians got ahead of them and fired, killing, McKay and another man, a New Yorker. Hardaway was not hurt, but ran towards a swamp, two Indians following. He shot one and reached the swamp. The other Indian followed, and Hardaway shot and killed him. He remained in the swamp, with the dead Indian, three days, eating only young and green whortleberries. When the buzzards began to swarm around the dead Indian he left the swamp and struck the road where the two white men lay dead. The Indians soon pursued him into the swamp again. The next night he went back into the road, where the two men were lying, scalped, and took the road for Tuskegee. On the outskirts of Tuskegee he was hailed by Gen. Thomas S. Woodward, and hospitably received. The party on horseback came through to Columbus safe.

Sam Hardaway served in the Texan army under Gen. Sam Houston, in the fight for the independence of Texas, and had a number of hair-breadth escapes from Mexicans. He was more recently an officer of the Confederate army and commanded a company at the first battle of Manassas. He died in Montgomery about two years ago.

The Columbus Herald of "the 22d of May said that there were in Columbus, on the 20th of that month, about 1,200 troops; also that the Indians had destroyed the property of Paddy Carr and taken away his Negroes, seventy-seven in number. It is also stated that Gen. Woodward came through the Creek Nation from Tuskegee to Columbus on the 23d, with only eight Indians and eleven white men, and reported that there were 700 friendly Indians at that place, who were ready to take up arms. Gen. Woodward afterwards returned through the Nation to Tuskegee, with only eight men.

The Oglethorpe House, then not quite finished and not yet opened for a Hotel, was taken possession of, and used as a military headquarters and barracks. In case of an alarm or an attack upon the city, the citizens were requested to repair immediately to the Barracks for safety and protection. A number of families (ladies with their children) would go to the Oglethorpe House and stay at night and return home next morning. This was done for some two weeks.

When the Indians commenced their indiscriminate murder and slaughter of the citizens of Alabama, there was a perfect stampede of the citizens for thirty to forty miles out in that State and some very distressing and exciting scenes. Some neighborhoods hearing of the depredations of the Indians would unite together and take such as they could of their most valuable effects and start for Columbus. Some of these parties would be attacked on the road, and some of them killed; mothers and children scattered and separated, not knowing who was killed or where they were for days in some cases; and for one day and night, the bridge at Columbus was crowded with the refugees from Alabama, coming in all sorts of style; some in wagons, some on horseback, some on foot, mothers calling for their children, husbands for their wives, and no response to their cries. They were met and cared, for by the citizens of Columbus and every assistance rendered that could be under the circumstances.

On the l3th of May, the Enquirer gave this account of the situation at that time:

"A large body of Indians, variously estimated at from 500 to 1,500 warriors, have congregated about twenty-five miles southeast from this city, and are scouring the country in all directions from their hiding place, or headquarters, indiscriminately butchering our neighbors, men, women and children, plundering their houses, destroying their stock, and laying waste their farms. On Monday last this city presented a scene of confusion and distress, such as we never before witnessed. Our streets were crowded with wagons, carts, horses and footmen, flying for safety from the rifle and tomahawk of the Indians, many of them having left behind their allot earthly possessions, and some their protectors and friends, husbands, wives and children, who had fallen before the murderous savage. We have been unable to ascertain with any certainty the number of those who have been murdered by these lawless savages. Wm. Flournoy, Hammond, McKissack, wife and overseer, Davis, Hobbs, several Negroes, and in all probably many others (we fear Doct. Welborn among them) have been killed, and the Indians are yet pursuing their bloody work."

The Enquirer of the next day, (in an extra, we suppose,) contained the following article:

"Previous to our last publication all the settlers below the Federal Road had come in. Since that time the Indians have destroyed a family (Mr. Davis', consisting of seven persons,) a few miles above the Federal Road, and many of the settlers in that neighborhood have fled to town. The plantations below Fort Mitchell have been burned mul a few Negroes are missing. Several large buildings on these plantations were burned to the ground on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The bridges also on Big Uchee and Little Uchee have been burned. The furniture of all the deserted houses, which have been visited, is destroyed and cattle killed.

"A scouting party of fifty men went out yesterday, but returned without finding Indians, except a small party of friendly Indians, who wore coming in for protection. Last night it was expected that the plantations in Broken Arrow Bend, from three to seven miles below this, would be burned. A party of forty whites and fifteen friendly Indians, repaired to the place, to defend the plantations. They returned this morning. The Indians did not show themselves. This morning a letter was received from Marshall's settlement, fifteen miles above this, containing information that the neighborhood had yesterday embodied themselves, (thirty in number); they had a small brush with about fifty Indians, killed one and wounded several others. So that it is certain that they are hostile above the Federal Road also. From all that we can learn, the Hitchetees, Uchees and Tallassees, are all hostile. This is the opinion of Nea-Micco, the head chief.

The Macon Messenger of the 19th of May, (whose editor had just returned from a visit to Columbus) said of the scene here presented:

The city and vicinity of Columbus presents a truly distressing scene. Hundreds, probably a thousand, are encamped, some occupying ware houses and every description of building that could be furnished and many others with scarcely any protection from the elements. Most who had the means, or friends within reach, have retired to the country. The corporate authority of Columbus has furnished assistance for the destitute; but this source is precarious, as a scarcity of provisions must ensue, as forces accumulate to carry on the war.

At that time about three hundred friendly Indians had come in, and were camped on the property of Ben Marshall, on the west bank of the river. Two hundred were at Tuskegee, and fifty at Fort Mitchell.

Gen. Scott was in chief command of the United States troops, and controlled all military operations, with his head quarters at Columbus. Gen. Jessup was also here, second in command to Gen. Scott. Early in June, Gen. Jessup left Columbus with an escort of about 200 men, for Tuskegee, where he was to take command of the Alabama troops. The Georgia troops were then encamped on the west bank of the Chattahoochee. The number of Indian warriors professing to be friendly was estimated at about 1,000, and the hostiles at about 6,000.

The Columbus Sentinel at this time published the following list of Georgia companies that had arrived:

Corps Captains No. Men
Harris Drafted Men Vardeman 62
Talbot Drafted Men Miller 50
Pike Volunteers (cavalry) Lynch 39
Monroe Drafted (cavalry) Stewart 80
Monroe Volunteers Flewellen 74
Houston Volunteers Dennard 54
Jasper Drafted Roe 54
Jasper Drafted Lane 48
Jasper Drafted Hardeman 80
Talbot Volunteers Rush 99
LaFayette Cavalry Stinson 53
Gwinnett Cavalry Garmany 76
Houston Drafted Smith 101
Upson Drafted Crate 76
Monroe Infantry Russell 48
Bibb Volunteer's (cavalry) McCall 41
Heard Infantry Dent 44
Columbus Guards Urquhart 62
Muscogee Drafted Coleman 67
Muscogee Cadet Riflemen Evans 70
Muscogee Artillery Hoxey 52
Troup Drafted Hardin 95
Morgan Volunteers Porter 61
Taliafarro Volunteers Sauford 78
Laurens Volunteers Troup 56
Marion Drafted Berry 50
Meriwether Drafted Sloan 84
Troup Cavalry Kendrick 73
Gwinnett Cavalry Read 61
Upson Drafted Bell 67
Baldwin Cavalry Gaither 54
Henry Cavalry Love 66
Henry Infantry Dobson 71
Butts' Drafted Hendricks 73
Oglethorpe Volunteers Hill 102
Coweta Volunteers Anderson 87
Pulaski Drafted Hodges 32
Greene Volunteers Dawson 102
Wilkes Volunteers Toombs 60
Clarke Volunteers Ligon 100
Twiggs Volunteers Pearson 88
Covington Blues Floyd 84
Newton Greys Loyd 100
Wilkinson Greys Barney 65

The Enquirer of June gives the following account of an attack on the steamer Metamora early in that month:

On Saturday an attack was made on the steamer Metamora, Loyd, Captain, which at that time contained the following companies, viz: Captain Booth's company, Pike Guards, from Alabama; Captain Adair's company of Randolph Blues, and Capt. Snelgrove's company from Randolph Co., Georgia. In consequence of the Indians having made frequent attacks on the boat passing up and down the river, these troops, who were at that time in Irwinton, determined to pass up in order to obtain a brush with them. The entire company were not ordered on this duty, but those who came volunteered their services for the purpose. The Pike Guards are a mounted company, but so strong was the belief that the boat would be attacked, that they left their horses in Irwinton, to which place they returned on Wednesday. These troops were marched on board the boat about two o'clock on Saturday morning, during a heavy rain, to the amount in numbers of about one hundred and fifty men.

One third of the Georgia troops at least were without arms or ammunition. The boat got under way from Irwinton about daylight the same morning, and passed on without interruption about five miles above Roanoke, when a fire was opened upon her from the Alabama side of the river. The firing was warm and lasted about ten minutes. It was returned with equal warmth and spirit from the boat, and the boat as soon as practicable run ashore, when the troops embarked and formed upon the bluff above. After the boat landed the firing ceased; it was then determined to march back to the place where we were first assailed, and drive back the Indians; but it was found that the creek would have to be passed before the enemy could be come up with. To pass this creek, covered as it was with thick undergrowths, was deemed to be imprudent. The troops were accordingly again embarked, and the boat again got under way. In this attack a man by the name of Samuel Butler, belonging to the Pike Guards, and one of the boat hands, (name unknown) were severely wounded. The number of Indians killed has not been ascertained with any certainty, but it is believed they lost at least three, who were seen to fall. Report says that fourteen dead bodies were found at the place of the attack. Some five miles above, the boat was again attacked, and a running fire kept up for several miles. The Indians, in this attack, did not appear to be numerous at any one place, but only showed one or two at a time, when they were immediately fired upon from the boat. It is believed that more damage was done the Indians in this attack than in the former. One man, Benj. Owens, of the Pike Guards, was wounded; it is feared mortally, in this engagement. He was shot while standing in the after part of the boat aft of the ladies' cabin.

After this engagement, the boat met no further interruption until she arrived at this place, which she did about 12 o'clock Sunday. The wounded have been removed from the boat to a comfortable room, and every attention necessary has been paid them.

Capt. Booth, in behalf of himself and the company he commands, has desired us to return to the citizens of Columbus his warmest thanks for the attention bestowed by them, and particularly the ladies, upon his wounded.

There were two or three attacks made on the steamers Metamora and Hyperion, during their trips up and down the river, but they resulted in no material advantage to either party.

Some of the acts of Governor Schley, of Georgia, and of Governor Clay, of Alabama, in reference to these Indian depredations, were much condemned in Columbus. The people of Columbus wanted Gen. McDougald in chief command of the troops raised for the defense of the frontier, and Gov. Schley, disregarding their wishes, appointed Gen. Sanford to the command. It was also said that Gov. Schley declared that if Gen. McDougald had crossed the Chattahoochee while he was in temporary command, he (Gov. S.) would have had him arrested. Fault was found with Gov. Clay for restraining the Alabama troops from marching into the Indian Nation, and for proclaiming the war over and the Indians peaceable while they were committing some of their worst acts. Both these Governors, it would appear, had to perform the difficult task of sustaining the policy of the Federal Administration (of which both were supporters) and at the same time satisfying the demands of the settlers on their frontier. The Administration at Washington was desirous of avoiding harsh proceedings against the Indians, and the excited white settlers wanted summary and rigorous measures adopted.

One of the most troublesome and active of the hostile Indians in the neighborhood of Columbus was a half-breed named Jim Henry, who, it was said, pushed his reconnaissance's and raids into the immediate vicinity of the town. We find the following notice of him in the Columbus Herald of the 31st of May:

"A half-breed, by the name of Jim Henry, at the head of 150, all like himself choking for the blood of white men, has been prowling the nation like a hungry wolf, and committing depredations wherever he went. On Saturday last a rumor reached the city, that himself and band were within twelve or fifteen miles of the river. Gen. McDougald promptly called for volunteers to cross the river, at 11 o'clock at night, and they came forward with alacrity from the Columbus Guards, and Capt. Evans' Rifle corps, to the amount of eighty or one hundred men, who marched into the nation at the hour of midnight in search of the savage foe, and after having traveled all night without being able to discover the enemy, returned to their encampments the next morning. The following night Jim Henry and his gang approached within six miles of town and burned the Uchee Bridge, crossed to the Georgia side of the river, and committed depredations by killing and destroying the horses and property of Mr. John Victory, whose plantation is about twenty miles below Columbus."

It early became apparent that it was the purpose of a portion of the Indians, who were opposed to removal west of the Mississippi, to cross the Chattahoochee below Columbus, ravage the Georgia counties, along their route, and cut their way through into Florida, there to join the hostile Seminoles. Others contemplated a similar march across the lower counties of Alabama into Florida. An expedition, under command of Major Thomas Hoxey, was organized at Columbus to join other forces and follow or intercept one of these Indian parties and, after going as far as Fort Gaines by steamer, struck across the country towards Flint River, following the Indian trail as far as Baker County, where it was lost in a swamp. The expedition returned without encountering the Indians. The party of Indians which they were following was supposed to number about two hundred. They committed great depredations arid killed a number of whites on their march,

From the Columbus Enquirer, June 4th:

"Since our last publication nothing of much importance has transpired worthy the attention of our readers. Troops are arriving daily, and every preparation seems to be making for an active and vigorous campaign, and we indulge the hope that in a few weeks our savage foe will either be exterminated or made to succumb to the brave and patriotic troops who are anxious to be the avengers, of the murdered women and children who have fallen victims to savage barbarity. We have understood that orders have been received to make no treaty with them that does not have for its basis their immediate emigration to their destined homes in the West. We subjoin below such items of intelligence as have come to hand.

"On Thursday morning last Scipio, a Negro fellow well known to the citizens, arrived in town having made his escape from the Indians the night previous, he stated that the Indians to the amount of about three hundred were assembled between the Big and Little Uchee, under the notorious Jim Henry, a half-breed, known to have been the leader of the party who attacked and burned Roanoke. They have with them a large quantity of plunder, Negroes, money, &c., which they have stolen from the whites. Having glutted their appetite for plunder and burned and destroyed everything that came within their reach, their intention was to leave for Florida as soon as practicable.

"Two other Negroes attempted to make their escape with Scipio, one of whom came in with him, the other separated from them, and was probably shot by the Indians who pursued them.

"On Saturday night the Guards and Riflemen, under Col. Bates, crossed the river about 11 o'clock, and proceeded about two miles west of Girard, on the new road. The object of the expedition was to arrest any Indian spies that might attempt to come near Columbus. They were so stationed as to command every pass to this city; but returned on Sunday morning without seeing the least sign of an Indian.

"An express reached here on Sunday morning, that the Indians had crossed the river about one mile of Ft. McCreary, and burned and destroyed the plantations of Mr. Quarles and Mrs. Brewer and murdered the overseer of the former. The express stated that it was evidently their intention to retreat into Florida, and that they could be traced on their march for some distance in that direction. The Upson Cavalry were ordered immediately to march to their assistance, and unite with the troops already there under Major Howard, who will scour the country in all directions.

"Sunday morning three Indians were brought in by a small party of white men, who assisted them on their way to Neah Micco's camp. They professed friendship, and showed a pass given them by Tom Car, but were very properly detained and put under guard. Two Cusseta chiefs and one white man arrived in town the same evening, from the camp of Neah Micco. They state that Neah-ah-Mathla arrived at Neah Micco's just previous to their leaving, and said that he was friendly to the whites, that he left his own camp to prevent his people from killing him, that they were mostly hostile and disposed to fight, but that he was bent on peace. He denies ever having received any message to come in, and said it never was his intention to be hostile. They were examined on Monday by Gen. Sanford and stated that they were sent by the two chiefs as ambassadors, to learn in what manner they would be treated should they wish to come in and be friendly. They were sent back with instructions to inform the two chiefs that they must come in immediately, that if they remained where they now are they would be considered as hostile and treated as such.

"We learn from a gentleman, recently from Chambers County, Ala., that most of the Indians in that part of the Nation have come in as friendly. All that are disposed to be hostile have left there and have probably joined Neah-ah-Mathla, or some other hostile chiefs. He states that parties of volunteers, made up from the settlers, and from Meriwether, Troup, &c., have made frequent incursions into the enemy's country, killed a dozen Indians, in all, given protection to those disposed to be friendly, and driven the hostiles down into the counties below. A letter published in another column, gives a brief account of the different expeditions against the savage marauders. They have been promptly and gallantly met and driven from their strongholds by the whites, who have since returned to their homes, where we trust they may enjoy the peace and security so well earned, by their bravery.

"The Indians near this place and Fort Mitchell have destroyed the bridges over all the water courses, and are endeavoring in every way in their power to obstruct the passage of the troops who may be sent to subdue them. On Sunday night they advanced within six miles of Columbus and burned the Uchee Bridge."

A spirited and hotly contested engagement, fought on the 9th of June, is thus reported by the Enquirer:

"One of the most serious and desperate engagements that has ever happened since the commencement of the present war took place about three miles above Fort Jones, on Thursday last. About forty of the Gwinnett cavalry, under Capt. Garmany, were stationed at the house of Mr. Shepherd, the balance of the company having been detailed for some other service. Capt. G. in the forenoon of that day had promised Col. Jernigan, who was then out on a scouting party, to assist him in case he was attacked. At three o'clock in the evening firing was heard at a distance, which was supposed to be an engagement between the aforementioned scouting party and the Indians. Capt. Garmany immediately set off on foot with his forty men, who, after proceeding about half a mile, discovered several Indians, who retreated towards a branch to their main body, consisting of about 250.

"The whites advanced and attacked them, when a battle of more than two hours ensued. It was evident from the movements of the enemy that their object was to out flank and surround the command of Capt. Garmany, who ordered a retreat back to the house. The Indians pressed upon his men, keeping up a constant fire, which was returned with the desperate courage of those who were determined to sell their lives as dear as possible., Nothing could have exceeded the bravery of this little band, who though compelled to retreat, disputed every inch of ground, and sent many a tawny savage to his last account. Capt. Garmany, whose name will be remembered for his in trepid and dauntless conduct, slew three of his merciless assailants, after he had retreated to the house, one of them after he himself had been shot down. His men, too, no less brave than himself, kept up a constant fire upon their pursuers, until the arrival of a reinforce ment of about twenty men from Fort Jones, who charged the Indians and relieved for the time the exhausted troops that had fought the first hard battle. This reinforcement being, however, too small to contend with the overwhelming force of the enemy, were compelled to retreat, after fighting ten to one for almost half an hour. In these engagements some twenty-five or thirty Indians are said to have been killed. Those who have since visited the battle ground suppose from the sign that was left, that the number slain was much greater. Whatever rumor may say of this fight, there can be no question of one thing, that every man engaged in it did his duty, and fought with a courage rarely equaled and never surpassed, by inexperienced volunteers. Gwinnett and Stewart Counties have a right to be proud of their sons, who in the hour of trial, have nobly done and nobly died:
J. V. Tate
James H. Holland
Wm. Simms
James M. Alien
Robert Holland
James C. Martin
Henry W. Peden, Gwinnett Cavalry
Isaac Lacy, Gwinnett Cavalry
Capt. Garmany, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Hunt and Mr. Step were wounded.
Of the reinforcement from Fort Jones, killed
Robert Billups,
David Delk, Esq.,
Mr. Irwin,
Mr. Hunter

Gen. Jessup after going through the nation, with his escort, to Tuskegee, organized an expedition there to scour the Indian country for the purpose of intimidating the Indians and capturing their hostile leaders. Gen. Scott, with the Georgia troops, was then on their eastern borders, near Columbus. Gen. Jessup took up his line of March from Tuskegee on the 12th of June, with about 800 effective men and two field pieces. In the evening of the same day Gen. Woodward followed the white troops with between 300 and 400 friendly Indians under the chiefs Jim Boy and Tuckabatchee Harjo. The friendly Indians were so impetuous that they had to be allowed to take the lead. On the 15th, at a place known as the Big Spring, they captured the noted hostile chief Neah Emarthla and his son, and Gen. Jessup sent them to Fort Mitchell. The next day Jim Boy and some of his warriors penetrated to Neah-Micco's camp on the Big Uchee. They found it extending along the swamp for two miles or more, and richly stored with plunder. (Neah-Micco had previously gone in and declared himself friendly, but the camp was occupied by hostiles.) One hostile Uchee Indian was killed here and twelve taken prisoners. "That night Opothlayoholo, with 1,100 friendly Indians and a few whites, joined Gen. Jessup's forces. The next day, Neah-Emarthla's camp, in Hatchechubbee swamp, was entered, but that chief had been captured. Here Gen. Jessup encamped. The Georgia troops under command of Major General Sanford, numbering about 2,500 men, took up their march down the river on the 20th of June, to cooperate with the troops under Gen. Jessup advancing from the west, it being evidently Gen. Scott's plan to penin the Indians between the two armies, and by scouring the intervening country capture the whole of them.

After these operations and movements of Gen. Jessup, the white troops and friendly Indians had only fugitive (but in some instances still predatory) parties of hostiles to pursue. From the 15th to the 25th of June, about 2,000 Indians had come in and surrendered. At that time it was estimated that only about 200 remained out, chief among whom was Jim Henry. On the 1st of July an express arrived at Columbus stating that Jim Henry and about 150 hostile Indians had been captured near Fort Mitchell. The Governor of Georgia quickly sent a demand on Gen. Jessup for the delivery of Jim Henry to the State authorities, but the reply was that he had already been surrendered upon a similar demand to the civil authorities of Alabama.

Jim Henry was committed to jail in Girard, to await his trial in Russell County. A number of Indians were given up to the Governor of Georgia for trial for murder, &c.

On the 6th of July Gen. Scott, from his headquarters at Columbus, issued an order through Seymour R. Bonner, Aid-de-camp, to the effect that such Indians as could be fully identified as murderers or depredators, should be surrendered to the proper authorities, and that a demand would be made on the agents conducting the emigration to detain all hostile warriors a sufficient length of time for identification.

Capt. John A. Urquhart, the agent appointed by Gov. Schley for the purpose, demanded and received from the emigration agents a number of Indians charged with the commission of capital offences, within the jurisdiction of Georgia. These Indians were reluctantly given up, and were brought to Columbus, lodged in jail and tried by the courts; but the evidence not being deemed sufficient to convict them, they were released and removed to the West. Jim Henry was confined in the jail of Russell County, at Girard, but by change of venue moved his trial to Chambers County.

Early in July Gen. Scott left Columbus for Washington, leaving Gen. Jessup in command. Gen. Scott left to demand an inquiry concerning his management of the war, a matter outside of the scope of this publication.

After the operations of Gen. Jessup and the friendly Indians reported above, the work of collecting and sending off the Indians to their territory west of the Mississippi progressed rapidly, and they were removed from Alabama more expeditiously than they would have been had no hostilities occurred.

Notwithstanding the opinion that with the, capture of Jim Henry the war in the nation was ended, there was a sharp brush with a party of hostile Indians, on the 24th of July, at Quarles' plantation, some twenty-two miles below Columbus. The Indians were supposed to number about 200 men. The white force was ninety-eight men of Major Alford's command. The whites lost six killed and fifteen to twenty wounded; the Indians twelve to fifteen killed and a number wounded. The whites stood their ground until their ammunition was exhausted, and then retreated. This Indian force was believed to be a party making their way to the fugitives in Chickasawhachee swamp in Georgia.

The party of Indians that crossed the river in the neighborhood of Roanoke, and made their way into the interior of Georgia, continued to excite uneasiness and anxiety, committing depredations on numbers of the inhabitants of the country, murdering some, and terrifying many more.

The escape of these Indians constituted the chief fault found with the military plan of operations against the Indians. Col. Thomas Beall, commanding a detachment of cavalry, was sent in pursuit, and about the 10th of July a battalion of volunteers, composed of the Artillery, Guards and Cadet Rifle men of Columbus, was sent forward to reinforce him. Of the operations of this force we find the following accounts in the Macon Messenger:

Columbus, July 16.

"About three miles below Roanoke we struck the trail of the Indians, and pressed them over hill and dale, through swamp and quagmires, through the lower part of Stewart, Randolph and Lee, and finally to Chickasawhachee swamp in Baker County, where, after ascertaining their position as well as we could with the aid of our guides, we prepared for the attack the next morning, and leaving a sufficient guard to protect our horses, we dismounted, hauled off our coats, tied up our heads with handkerchiefs, and into the swamp we rushed. After proceeding three or four miles through briers, mud and water, sometimes up to the neck, we came in view of their encampment, situated on an island two hundred yards off, which they occupied as a depot for their goods, wares and merchandise, which they had taken from Roanoke. We commenced the attack by charging through mud and water, and notwithstanding they had the decided advantage of us in point of position, we continued the charge with such spirit and de termination that we could not be successfully resisted, and after kill ing and wounding a number, they dispersed, leaving behind all their ill-gotten plunder. Seven of our small army were wounded, some severely, but one mortally.

"Our friend Major John H. Howard was with us, and was among the first, if not the first, who planted his foot upon the island, and acted with great bravery, as I was certain he would whenever an opportunity presented."

The writer further states it as his impression that the Indians have separated in small parties and fled to Florida.

Another account says:

"After the battle in the swamp, very few Indians have been seen, not more than two or three at a time. It was believed they had left the swamp, and had broken up into small parties of three to five, and that they were endeavoring to make their way to Florida. The swamp was scoured for five days, but 110 Indians found in it. Several small trails have been traced to the Flint River and it was believed that the Indians traveled principally in the night. They committed no further mischief after the battle. They must be in an entirely destitute condition, as they were driven from their camp naked, and left all their provisions, plunder and spare ammunition. Maj. Alford's detachment arriving with the three Columbus companies, and thirty or forty Indians under Paddy Carr, Col. Beall's command returned to Columbus. All the drafted and volunteer infantry (except the Columbus companies,) have been discharged. It is believed, according to the calculations of the best informed, that there are about two hundred hostile Indians who have not yet surrendered."

The following official dispatch in reference to this party of Indians gives some more particulars in regard to this expedition:

"Headquarters, Near Chickasawhachee Swamp,
Baker County.

Sir:--In obedience to orders I have pursued the Indians to this place, where I find them encompassed in a swamp, said to be twenty-five miles long, and varying from one to four in width. At 12 o'clock A. M., the first instant, I learned that the Indians were encamped within four miles of this place, but was unable to reach them short of sixteen miles march. On yesterday, about 10 o'clock A. M. I made an attack upon the enemy, succeeded in driving them from their camp, with the loss of nine that were left dead, and from the sign of blood, I suppose twenty to thirty killed and wounded. The Indians fled precipitately in every direction, but I was unable to pursue them in consequence of the denseness of the bushes through which they retreated, the exhaustion of our men, and the state of our wounded, having seven of them, and two I fear mortally. I think there is no doubt that the Indians are still in the swamp, and from the most intelligent persons here, I am induced to believe they design remaining.

We need one hundred friendly Indians commanded by Paddy Carr, to pursue the Indians and ferret them out, and shall be gratified to receive them as early as practicable. In consequence of the incessant rains we have had, and having fought in water, we need 3,000 cartridges.

In the meantime I may take the liberty of saying that the expedition will be brought to a close, and as soon as it is, a full report will be made as early as practicable.


Thomas Beall,
Col. Com. 1st Brig.
Mounted Volunteers,

To Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott.

The First City Government

In accordance with an act of the Legislature amending the charter of the town so as to make it a city, and change the title of its representatives to Mayor and Aldermen, an election was held on Saturday the 2d day of January, 1836, for a Mayor and six Aldermen, which resulted in the choice of John Fontaine as Mayor; and Thomas G. Gordon, George W. Dillard, Hampton S. Smith, E. Sigourney Norton, Thos. O. Evans and Earnest L. Wittich, as Aldermen.

On the 4th of the same month, the Mayor and Aldermen elected the following city officers:
Nath. M. C. Robinson, Marshal
John Bethune, Treasurer
Henry C. Phelps, Clerk
Richard Gray, Bridge Keeper
Alex Calhoun, Clerk of the Market
Samuel Paxon, Sexton
Wm. McGehee, Deputy Marshal

In January the Mayor and Council made a contract for the erection of a guardhouse, appointed a committee to order from the North two fire engines, and another to contract for lighting the streets by means of oil-burning lamps. A city watch was also organized, consisting of a captain, lieutenant, and twenty privates-the captain to receive $30 per month, the lieutenant $25, and the privates $20 per month each. Michael N. Clark was elected Captain, Lem. Jepson, Lieutenant, and the following persons enrolled themselves as privates:
James D. Bryant
Morgan Brown
Wm. Terry
Hugh McDaniel,
John Williams
John McGehee
David Moore
Giles Ivey
Francis Bosworth
James Calhoun
Richard McCarey
C. Hightower
Wm. Monghon
Jona. Hightower
Jordan Kilgore
Miles M. Vance
Jacob C. Porter
Robt. Patterson
James Bloodworth
Francis B. Kilgore

Afterwards, the number of Guards was reduced to twelve and new officers as well as privates appointed.

Later in the year, a committee of the Council was appointed to petition the Legislature for authority to sell a portion of the square set apart for town houses and offices, and with the proceeds to build, in conjunction with the county of Muscogee, a Courthouse, City Hall, &c.

A contract was made with Geo. W. Pinhorn for painting and putting up seventy boards designating the names of the streets, at $1 per board.

Thus the dignity of a city government was gracefully assumed, and city "style" at once adopted.

In consequence of the report of several cases of small pox, the Board resolved to elect a physician, to be known as the Health officer, whose duty it should be to examine every case of disease brought to the city, to attend cases sent to the hospital, and the paupers of the city. Dr. Boswell was elected; salary $200.

Early in April, Dr. Boswell reported that there had then been fourteen cases of small pox in the city, only three of which had died.

A contract was this year made with Wm. L. Wynn, by which the city leased to him, for the term of six years, the larger portion of the south common, at the rate of $3 per acre per annum. Another portion was occupied as the race course, having been leased to M. W. Thweatt, Wm. L. Wynn and T. B. Howard for the term of six years, at $700 per annum.

In November, contracts for the rent of fisheries on both sides of the river, for the term of three years, were entered into. Six fisheries on the east side of the river were rented to D. Walling, James W. Howard, James & Hamner and M. N. Clark, at prices varying from $4 to $225 per year, and aggregating $374 per year; and four on the west side were rented to James Y. Godfrey, John Townsend, and Wm. Williamson, at prices varying from $4 to $7.50 per year, aggregating $22 per year, showing that the fisheries were then a good source of revenue.


The Columbus Sentinel of Feb. 26th, reports the killing of Mr. James Hill, confectioner of Columbus, by a Mrs. Berry, living a few miles from the city, where Mr. H. and a friend stopped and asked the woman to lend them a tumbler from which to drink some champagne which they had along. She refused, and a quarrel ensued between Hill and her, resulting in his shooting into the upper part of the door, and her shooting him with a shot gun. Hill's body was interred with Masonic honors.

Columbus and Macon were disputing as to which was the best cotton market. The quotations were 15 to 15c. in February, and 18c. in March.

The Farmer's Bank of Chattahoochee was "resuscitated" in .March, the stock having been purchased by J. S. Calhoun, and others; Judge Calhoun, President, Chas. Bass, Cashier.

The steamer Ohioan was burned on the Chattahoochee, eight miles below Ocheesee, early in May. She was freighted with merchandise for Columbus. One servant girl was lost. The boat had fifteen passengers, who escaped. Boat and cargo were valued at $25,000.* She was owned principally in Mobile.

Jim Henry was confined in the jail of Russell County and the grand jury found a true bill against him for Negro stealing, the punishment of which was death. His counsel succeeded in changing the venue to another county. The following Indians were convicted at the fall term of Russell Circuit Court: Chilancha, alias John, for the murder of Fannin, Tuscoona Fixico and four others for the murder of Green, the stage driver. They were sentenced to be hung on the 25th of November. Four others were detained in Russell jail, to be tried at the next term. The six condemned Indians, mentioned above, were hung at the appointed time in Girard.

The first bale of new cotton, this year, was, received at Columbus on the 23d of August, from the plantation of M. R. Evans, and sold by auction at 41 cents per pound. The prevailing price in the "interior" markets at that time was 16 to 17c. The Macon Messenger doubted the fairness of this sale, and suggested that cotton was bought in Columbus as land was sometimes-- "by paying a high price for it, and then receiving part of the money back again."

Early in November of this year, about two-thirds of the town of Girard, opposite Columbus, was sold, and brought, in the aggregate, about $70,000,--a sum showing that the hope of building up a commercial rival to Columbus was then strong. The area of Girard laid out into town lots was about one mile square.


At the October election, Lawhon was elected Senator, and Flournoy and Holland Representatives of Muscogee County.

Judge Eli S. Shorter, one of the most gifted lawyers in Georgia, died in Columbus on the 13th of December.

The Methodist Conference was held in Columbus in December, and the ministers were hospitably entertained by the citizens. George A. Chapell was appointed Presiding Elder of the Columbus District, and L. Pierce stationed minister at Columbus.

The following list of licenses granted by the town authorities for the years 1886-7, gives the names of many of the business men of Columbus at that time:


R. P. Spencer
A. B. Baker
E. L. Wittich
Seaborn Jones
Charles E. Mims
E. W. Starr
Philip T. Schley
A. K. Ayer
Walter T. Colquitt
Elijah Rosson
Joseph Bender
M. R. Evans
John S. Alien
John T. Walker
John Code
T. G. Atwood
Alien J. Mims
E. S. Greenwood
Sam'1 B. Thomas
Edward Featherston
R. S. Hardaway
S. A. Bailey
Geo. W. Ross
Wm. P. Yonge
John Dillingham
Lovick Pierce,
Johnson & Way
Mathew Robertson
Elisha Reid
Albert G. Beckham
George Grieve
James Montgomery
John Southern
Joseph Jefferson
William Helms
W. S. Holstead
8. R. Bonner
Toney & Rutherford
Clarke, Tarver & Co.
J. T. Niles
T. Pitkin
James R. Butts
R. A. Were


John Johnson
Daniel C. Rail
I. B. Milieu
B. Ferguson
A. Calhoun
F. Riba
Welch & Myrich
Thos. McCantz
C. Norman
Andrew Southmayd,
Mims & Ridenhour
G. B. Terry
Geo. Grieve
John N. Copeland
A. P. Jones,
Nathaniel Trotter
Daniel J. Reese
Samuel Lytle
S. J. Herron
J. H. Ware
Jacob Williams
Paul H. Tiller
James Kivlin
Wicks & Bize
A. C. Hill
E. D. Nichols
J. B. McFarland
Wm. Walling
John C. Maugham
John Logan
Western Harwell
J. Rousseau & Co.
John Whitesides
Wm. H. Fields
Sam'l Owens
Turner Williams


Bethune & Holland
Hayward & Ayer
J. T. Niles & Co.
S. K. Hodges & Co.
R. Hooper

The large number of dray licenses is sufficient evidence of a brisk and extensive commercial business.

We suppose that the large number of retail licenses is accounted for by the presence of so many soldiers and other strangers during a portion of the year. Probably it was only during this period that many of the persons named above did business in Columbus.

Source: Columbus, Georgia from its Selection as a Trading town in 1827 to its Partial Destruction by Wilson's Raid in 1865, compiled by John H. Martin, Published by Thos. Gilbert, Book Printer and Binder, Columbus, GA, 1874

Transcribed by Judy White 2014©