In Bitterness & in Tears
Sean Michael O'Brien
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Buy *In Bitterness & in Tears: Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks & Seminoles* online

In Bitterness & in Tears: Andrew Jackson's Destruction of the Creeks & Seminoles
Sean Michael O'Brien
The Lyons Press
272 pages
April 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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This is an account of the war between the Seminoles, Mucogee (Creek) and the United States, one of the bloodiest and most tragic in our history. On August 13, 1813, a band of Red Sticks Mucogees slaughtered 250 white and bi-racial men, women, and children at Fort Mims. This was a horror not seen before in this country. Prior to this, the same band of Red Sticks had murdered seven families, "one woman cut open, a child taken and stuck on a stake."

One of the factors contributing to the uprising of the Creek was a spiritual shift; on the advice of medicine makers/shamen of the tribe, the Red Sticks believe that the only way to survive was to go back to the old ways and fight acculturation in every way they could. In addition, the so-called five civilized tribes (Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and Chickasaw) believed that the land belonged to the tribe as a whole, that no one individual was able to make treaties to sell land to the United States government. Though leaders of the Red Sticks like Red Eagle tried to persuade leaders such as the Choctaw leader Pushmataha to join in his raids, they refused believing that this would start a war that would destroy them.

Andrew Jackson did his best to make sure that prediction came true. O'Brien is quite fair in giving both white and native views of the ensuring battles, and it is obvious there is enough blood and blame for both to share. In an account given by Davy Crockett, Jackson's first encounter with the Creeks was merciless; no man, woman, or child was to be spared. "We shot them like dogs," Crockett wrote. Ironically, one infant survived, his mother and family members shot and scalped. Soldiers brought him to Jackson's tent. Jackson implored captive native women to raise him; they refused on the grounds his entire family was lost to him. Jackson sent the child home to his wife, Rachel, and they raised him like a son. One has to wonder what Lyncoya, as they called him, was told about his family and how he came to be an adopted son of Old Hickory.

I highly recommend this book; it is scholarly reading but well worth the effort. Four stars for Mr. O'Brien.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Pamela Crossland, 2005

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