Sunday, July 13, 2008

More, re: Jack's Creek

From Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends, by Lucian Lamar Knight, published 1913, Byrd Printing Company, State Printers, Georgia:

    The Battle of Jack's Creek. On September 21, 1787, there was fought in a thick cane-brake, near the site of the present town of Monroe, a famous engagement between a party of Creek Indians and a band of pioneer settlers. The principal actors in the drama, on the side of the whites, were distinguished veterans of the Revolution, one of whom afterwards became Governor of the State. The attack upon the enemy was made in three divisions. General Elijah Clarke, the illustrious old hero of Kettle Creek, commanded the center, his son, Major John Clarke, led the left wing, while Colonel John Freeman commanded the right. The story is best told in the language of the elder Clarke. Says he, in his report of the battle, dated Long Cane, Sept. 24, 1787: "I had certain information that a man was killed on the 17th of this month by a party of six or seven Indians and that on the day before, Colonel Barber, with a small party was waylaid by fifty or sixty Indians and wounded, and three of his party killed. This determined me to raise what men I could in the course of twenty-four hours and march with them to protect the frontiers; in which space of time I collected 160 men, chiefly volunteers, and proceeded to the place where Colonel Barber had been attacked. There I found the bodies of the three men mentioned above, mangled in a shocking manner, and after burying them I proceeded on the trail of the murderers as far as the south fork of the Ocmulgee where, finding that I had no chance of overtaking them, I left it and went up the river till I met with a fresh trail of Indians, coming toward our frontier settlement. I immediately turned and followed the trail until the morning of the 21st, between 11 and 12 o'clock, when I came up with them. They had just crossed a branch called Jack's Creek, through a thick cane-brake, and were encamped and cooking upon an eminence. My force then consisted of 130 men, 30 having been sent back on account of horses being tired or stolen. I drew up my men in three divisions: the right commanded by Colonel Freeman, the left by Major Clarke, and the middle by myself. Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke were ordered to surround and charge the Indians, which they did with such dexterity and spirit that they immediately drove them from the encampment into the cane-brake, where finding it impossible for them to escape they obstinately returned our fire until half past four o'clock, when they ceased, except now and then a shot. During the latter part of the action, they seized every opportunity of escaping in small parties, leaving the rest to shift for themselves." White states that in this engagement there were not less than 800 Indians. They were commanded by Alexander McGillivray, a famous half-breed.
    Colonel Absalom H. Chappell, in discussing General Clarke's account of the battle, makes this comment. Says he: "It is striking to read his report of this battle to Gov. Mathews. No mention is made in it of his having a son in the battle, though with a just paternal pride, commingled with a proper delicacy, he emphasizes together the gallant conduct of Colonel Freeman and Major Clarke, and baptizes the hitherto nameless stream on which the battle was fought, by simply saying that it was called Jack's Creek — a name then but justly bestowed by admiring comrades in arms in compliment to the General's youthful son on this occasion. Long after the youth had ceased to be young and the frosts of winter had gathered upon his warlike and lofty brow, thousands and thousands of Georgians used still to repeat the name of Jack Clarke, without prefix of either Governor or General and to remember him too as the hero of the well- fought battle of Jack's Creek."