John Floyd The Battle of Calabee Creek (also spelled Calebee), part of the Creek War of 1813-14, took place near present-day Tuskegee, Macon County, on January 27, 1814. The action was the last of the major battles associated with the campaigns of the Georgia militia in the war.
After the Red Stick attack on Fort Mims in August of 1813, the Georgia, Tennessee, and the Mississippi territories mobilized troops to put down the Red Stick “rebellion.” Gen. John Floyd, in command of the main Georgia army raised in response to the threat, subsequently launched two offensives into Creek territory, in present-day eastern Alabama, from Fort Mitchell on the Chattahoochee River. The first encounter resulted in the November 29, 1813, Battle of Autossee, in which Floyd’s men destroyed much of a major Red Stick stronghold and killed about 200 enemy warriors. A shortage of supplies forced the militia to return without further action to Fort Mitchell to regroup.
Floyd took the field again in January 1814 with an army of approximately 1,700 militia and allied Creek warriors. Targeting the politically important Tuckabatchee and other Red Stick towns on the Tallapoosa River, the army built Fort Hull about 40 miles west of Fort Mitchell to serve as a supply base. Nearing Calabee Creek, a tributary of the Tallapoosa, the army paused to camp.
Unbeknownst to Floyd, Red Stick leaders, including William Weatherford and Paddy Walsh, were aware of his approach and, although low on ammunition and firearms, plotted a surprise attack. In perhaps the best-planned Red Stick attack of the war, an estimated 1,300 warriors fell upon Floyd’s men just before dawn. Weatherford did not, however, participate in the battle because of a disagreement over strategy. Although the troops had built campfires on the perimeter of the camp to defend against a surprise attack, the Red Sticks’ approach went undetected until they were mere yards from the American line. The assault nearly overwhelmed Floyd’s army and might have turned into a rout had it not been for the quick action of a band of allied Indian warriors under the Yuchi captain Timpoochee Barnard that rescued a group that had been cut off from the main force. Furthermore, the militia fiercely defended its artillery from the Red Sticks, who were determined to capture the cannons. When Floyd’s forces slowed the onslaught, they countercharged the Red Sticks and forced them to flee in disorder. The entire incident lasted perhaps 45 minutes.
The battle left approximately 50 Red Sticks dead, with Floyd’s casualties consisting of about 25 militiamen and allied Creeks killed and about 150 wounded. Unsure if another attack might be coming, the army remained in the camp nearly a week, occasionally harassed by Red Sticks, before moving back toward Fort Hull and later on to Fort Mitchell. With his army weakened and his troops’ terms of enlistment about to expire, Floyd marched the majority of his men back home for discharge and effectively ended Georgia’s role in the Creek War.
- Brannon, Peter A., ed. “Journal of James Tait for the Year 1813.” Alabama Historical Quarterly 2 (Winter, 1940): 431-440.
- Bunn, Mike, and Clay Williams. Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812. Charleston: The History Press, 2008.
- Griffith, Benjamin, Jr. McIntosh and Weatherford McIntosh and Weatherford: Creek Indian Leaders. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988.
- Owsley, Frank, Jr. Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1981.