Horseshoe Bend Nature Trail located just outside (or inside?) New Site Alabama. I’ve never actually made it to New Site, or have I? New Site is a tiny place and I can’t remember. This trail is located inside Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, the site of the last battle of the Creek Indian Wars. I’ve been here several times. This park was a frequent field trip location when I was in grade school, but have I ever really been here? I always took it as day away from school with friends and only half listened to any education that was provided.
This site was the last significant camp of the Red Sticks (Upper Creeks). The history is that the Creek nation had split into two groups over how to handle settlers moving into their territory. Upon hearing a false rumor that war had been declared between the U.S. and the Creeks, Red Stick warriors attacked and killed several groups of settlers thereby assuring a conflict that was likely coming regardless. Andrew Jackson was in charge of U.S forces. The war raged for two years without a decisive victory. The Red Sticks, seeking shelter, made a temporary camp at the base of a large bend in the Tallapoosa River. The roughly 1000 warriors built a large fortification at the middle of the horseshoe to defend their families in the camp. Andrew Jackson, with 2000 Tennessee militia and 600 Creek and Cherokee allies made their way to the camp.
The Red Stick’s plan was to defeat the U.S. forces directly or at least delay them long enough for the women, children and elderly to slip across the river to their escape. Jackson decided to split his forces moving some units to the mouth of the bend for a frontal assault and others crossed the river and slipped quietly behind the base of the bend thereby effectively surrounding the Red Sticks. After breaching the fortification with cannon fire, Jackson’s men moved forward while any escaping Red Sticks attempting to cross the river were attacked by the surrounding forces. In the end, 850 Red Sticks and 49 Tennessee militia made the ultimate sacrifice. Jackson was elected President while the captured families were made prisoner’s of war and given to the allied indian groups. Eventually, Creek lands, mostly Mississippi and Alabama, were ceded to the U.S. and the Creeks were relocated west of the Mississippi River.
As a child, I think I missed the fact that this is hallowed ground. In a very real sense, this was the ending point of one culture and the beginning of another. It is one thing to send a country’s youth to war, but another thing altogether when that war comes to you, amongst your family – women, children and grandparents. That is what the Creeks faced that day, March 27th, 1814. Ironically that is our anniversary, not 1814 mind you, but 1993.
The hike today was an easy 2.5 mile loop according to my guidebook. It had more incline than I was expecting. What was listed as “rolling hills” was made significantly harder by carrying my pack. As a reference point, my iPhone gave me credit for 21 flights of stairs. My pack weighted in at 26 pounds and contained almost everything I would need for a weekend overnight trip. It was a challenge but the point was to start tuning up for longer trips. I’ve not carried a pack of any significance since 1994. When I discharged from the Army National Guard, I promised myself that I would never put a pack on my back again. I kept that promise except for two small packs. The first is a small book backpack that I use while traveling. The other is a small pack I fill with comfort items to take to East Alabama Medical Center when a disaster is called, weather or otherwise. There is nothing worse than spending the night away from home without a toothbrush. The woods in the park were as beautiful as they can be in January. The river seemed high and the moss plentiful from the rain we’ve had lately. The trail itself was about four feet wide, well drained and graveled almost entirely making for steady footing. There were several bridges along the trail that all seemed like new construction. It was nice to be outside with my family.
As for my March for Babies campaign, we have received 1510.00 plus a major pledge of 30.00 per hike. My goal each year is 15,000, so we have a long way to go. I will keep my toes painted purple until the event on April 16th. You can donate by cash, check, credit card or paypal at http://www.marchforbabies.org/youdaman10 by simply clicking on the “donate” button. You can also click the “walk with me” button to join our team. Everyone is invited to do all three things. Donate, join our team or participate in the #purplepedichallenge. You can go to my Facebook page to see my video (Dennis Thrasher in Auburn Alabama) or search #purplepedichallenge on youtube. Feel free to friend me on Facebook as one can never have enough friends.
Up next, Smith Mountain Loop, a place I’ve never visited . . .