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Brig. Gen. Ferdinand L. Claiborne of the Mississippi territorial militia was in charge of military affairs in the region and divided his forces to garrison the frontier outposts. He sent Maj. Daniel Beasley and 170 men of the 1st Mississippi Volunteers to defend the Fort Mims area. Maj. Beasley posted 120 men, mostly Louisianians, in Fort Mims and scattered the balance among other smaller area posts including 40 soldiers stationed at Fort Pierce located on Pine Log Creek about two miles south of Fort Mims.

On the morning of August 30, 1813, few of Fort Mims' defenders stirred in the steaming heat. In the forested shade, the Creeks watched and waited. The fort's main gate, located on the east side of the stockade, had not been closed by the garrison troops and was lodged open by a shifting bank of sand. Some historians believe Weatherford and his night scouts may have piled the dirt to hold the gate ajar. No sentries occupied the blockhouse.

During the morning, Maj. Beasley dispatched a message to Gen. Claiborne, unaware that he had only a few hours left to live. Beasley described the "false alarm" spread by the slaves. He added that while he had been initially concerned because other slaves sent to a nearby plantation to gather corn had reported seeing Indians "committing every kind of Havoc" he now doubted the truth of that report.

"I was much pleased at the appearance of the Soldiers here at the time of the Alarm yesterday when it was expected that the Indians would appear in Sight, the Soldiers very generally appeared anxious to see them", Beasley wrote in his last dispatch. "I Have improved the fort at this place and have it much Stronger that when you were here," Beasley continued. With more that a hint of frustration, he noted that his initial force had been so divided among the other outposts that he would be relegated to defense if attacked and "utterly unable to leave the fort and meet any number of the enemy."

Before noon, Maj. Beasley received one last warning, but also ignored it. James Cornells, a scout, galloped into the fort and shouted to Beasley on the parade ground that he had seen hostile Creeks approaching. Beasley told him that he had only seen a few red cattle and mistaken them for Indians. Witnesses stated that Cornells yelled to Beasley that the red cattle would "give him a hell of a kick before night". Beasley ordered Cornells arrested, but the scout galloped away, leaving the outpost and its occupants to its fate.

At noon, a drummer sounded the call to mess, and the soldiers and settlers headed for their midday meal. Some of the girls and young men were dancing, and the soldiers were playing cards as they waited for their food. The rattle of the drum was the Creek's signal to attack and the death knell for most of settlers and militia. Hundreds of Red Stick warriors, hidden in a ravine only 400 yards from the fort, stormed across the open field and crowded through the open gate, their war whoops mingling with scattered musket shots from the soldiers and screams of terror from the pioneer women and children.

Before the attack, the prophet Welsh had performed a magical ceremony to make four braves impervious to bullets. These warriors were to lead the attack through the gate and divert the defender's attention long enough for other Red Sticks to occupy the stockade's loopholes and fire into the fort from outside the walls. The "bullet-proof" braves were the first to rush into the gate, and three were immediately shot down. Despite the failure of the magic, the militiamen were occupied long enough for the Red Sticks to take many of the loopholes and open fire on the whites running for cover inside the fort. Within minutes of the initial attack, the Creeks had also seized the unoccupied blockhouse.

Maj. Beasley, who according to some accounts was drunk at the time of the attack, drew his sword and vainly fought to close the gate, but was quickly clubbed to death in the Creek's initial onslaught. Dixon Bailey, a half-breed who had been elected captain of the fort's volunteers, took command and led a group of riflemen who fired at the attackers from the loopholes not occupied by the Indians. Other militiamen set-up a hasty defense behind the inner wall and among the fort's buildings. By surprise and sheer numbers, the Indians quickly established a foothold inside the palisade, and slowly pushed all of the frontiersmen back behind the secondary defenses. The militiamen and pioneer riflemen poured fire into the Creeks, but were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of screaming warriors rushing into the stockade.

Despite their manpower advantage, the Red Sticks, most of who were armed with only tomahawks, clubs, knives, and bows and arrows, suffered heavy losses. Many of the fort's defenders, however, were killed by Indians firing into the fort through loopholes behind the defender's positions. The Creeks set fire to most of the fort's buildings using flaming arrows. Many settlers, including numerous women and children were burned alive. The fort's powder magazine, located in one of the cabins, exploded, ignited by the raging flames.

Yet, by 3 p.m., the battle was far from decided. The Creeks were exhausted and many were ready to quit the fight. Most of the surviving settlers and militiamen had sought refuge in a loomhouse and another log building against the fort's north wall and were grimly holding out. The Creek leaders rallied their braves, who now set these last two structures ablaze. Some settlers died in the flames, but others were forced out and immediately killed by the warriors. Bailey was mortally wounded in these closing moments of the battle. Some settlers, mostly men, were able to hack their way through the northern stockade wall and make their escape. A few found a flatboat and floated down the river to Fort Stoddert near Mobile.

The Creeks apparently spared most of the slaves to serve them, but this reprieve was to be short lived. During the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama fought on March 27, 1814, the Indians vainly used these slaves as a human shield, but the attacking soldiers under Gen. Jackson quickly killed them. While the slaves were spared during the massacre, the Indians showed no mercy to the whites. By some accounts, the Creeks slaughtered the settlers including brutalizing women, some of whom were pregnant, and children. Some of the wounded and dead bodies were thrown into fires.

Weatherford apparently was horrified by the gruesome spectacle and vainly tried to stop the slaughter, but the Red Sticks, angered by the deaths of many comrades and in a killing frenzy, could not be stopped. The Creeks also believed a false rumor that British officials in Pensacola offered 5 dollars for every white scalp. Many of the victims at Fort Mims were scalped before they were killed. However, not all of the Creeks participated in the slaughter. One survivor told of a friendly Creek named Johomobtee, who shot three Red Sticks who were killing women.

Another survivor, as she watched her husband being killed, decided to bravely meet her own fate. Taking two children by their hands, she walked into the middle of the carnage, expecting to die at any moment. She was startled to see a blood stained Creek calling to her. She recognized him as Dog Warrior, an Indian she had known when he was a child. Dog Warrior led her and the children to safety out of the fort. However, these actions were the exception.

A slave who escaped told authorities he and others including Dixon Bailey's sister were in Mims' house when the hostile Creeks entered. A warrior asked the woman if she was related to anyone in the fort. The woman pointed to the body of her brother and said I am the sister of that great man you have murdered there, whereupon the warrior knocked her down and mutilated her.

About 3 miles away, the 40 soldiers and about 150 settlers at Fort Pierce listened to the sounds of the chaos through the day and nervously waited for an attack. "The firing and yells of the Indians were heard at this post until after four o'clock in the afternoon when the firing ceased", wrote militiaman Lieutenant Andrew Montgomery, who commanded Fort Pierce. "It was impossible to render them any assistance with my small force."

By 5 p.m., the battle was over, and the Creeks and their captives left the blazing ruins and dead behind.

A soldier who had served under Major General Wayne along the northern frontier, was wounded but escaped from the fort and gave an account of the massacre. He ran into the forest and shot a brave who confronted him then hid beneath the lake bank as darkness settled over the fort. To the soldier's horror, some of the Creeks from the war party camped near his hiding place. The next morning, the Red Sticks threw the bodies of three people into the lake and departed. In the abandoned camp, he said he found a young boy's body sprawled on an animal hide.

The fort's assistant surgeon, Dr. Thomas G. Holmes, escaped from the burning fort and hid in a hole by the roots of a fallen tree. He wandered through the wilderness for nine days before being found by a friendly settler.

The frightened defenders of Fort Pierce remained on the alert through the night of 30 Aug. and saw bands of warriors in the distance, but the expected attack never came. About noon on 31 Aug., Lieutenant Montgomery sent out a mounted patrol that reported that Fort Mims had fallen and the river swamp was full of Indians. Believing he could not defend Fort Pierce with his small force; Montgomery made plans to abandoned the outpost. Thwarted in an attempt to find a boat to help evacuate the fort, Montgomery waited until dark and led the militia and refugees out of the fort headed for Mobile, about 35 miles to the south. In a grueling March through the wilderness, Montgomery's party reached Mobile early on the morning of September 4 with no losses.