Monday, February 25, 2008

The Yamasee War (1715-1717)

The Yamasee War was a conflict between colonial South Carolina and various Indian tribes including the Yamasee, Creek, Catawba, Apalachee, Apalachicola, Yuchi, Savannah River Shawnee, Congaree, Waxhaws, Pee Dee, Cheraw, and others. Some tribes played minor roles while others launched attacks throughout South Carolina. Hundreds of colonists were killed and many settlements were destroyed.
Causes of the war were multiple, and differed between the many Indian tribes that participated. Commitment differed as well; some groups fought for the duration, others only briefly. Some were divided; some changed sides. Contributing factors included: the trading system, trader abuses, Indian slave trade, depletion of the deer population (for deerskin trade), increasing Indian debts (coupled with increasing colonial wealth), land encroachment, the spread of rice plantation agriculture, growth of French trading power (as an alternative to British trade), established Indian links to Spanish Florida, power struggles between Indian tribes, an increasingly robust inter-tribal communication network, and recent military collaborations among previously distant tribes.
Traders "in the field" were killed throughout the American southeast. Much of South Carolina's settled territory was abandoned as people fled to Charles Town, where starvation set in as supplies ran low. The survival of South Carolina itself was in question during 1715. About 6-7% of the colony's white citizenry was killed, resulting in casualties more severe than King Philip's War, which is often cited as America's bloodiest. The tide turned in early 1716, when the Cherokee sided with South Carolina and began to attack the Creek Indians. The last of South Carolina's major foes withdrew from the conflict in 1717, bringing a fragile peace to a traumatized colony.

(Source: Wikipedia)