Alabama and The Tennessee Volunteers

Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee volunteers in the War of 1812

As a fan of an SEC team you can find yourself developing a certain myopia toward the other teams in the conference. While the chapter and verse of your own team's lore are etched in your mind, there's a sort of willful ignorance about other teams' traditions and history.

Take for instance the Tennessee Volunteers. I knew, vaguely, the name derived from militia groups formed to fight in the War of 1812 and they had a significant role in the Battle of New Orleans. What I didn't realize until recently was their importance to the State of Alabama.

(Quick disclaimer. I'm actually a native of Louisiana and a lot of Alabama history is not something I am well versed in. I know a hell of a lot more about why LSU are the Tigers than anything about the topic at hand. So if this entry is redundant to you folks, please forgive me.)

The Creek war of 1813-14 began as a civil war within the Creek Indian nation that dominated a huge swath of the south. A key catalyst for this was the New Madrid earthquake that shook a vast part of the continent in December 1811. For many Indian tribes, this event led to an upsurge in prophets who insisted it was a sign to push back against the encroachment of Europeans on their land. These leaders and their followers came to be known as Red Sticks.

The Red Sticks then began battling with other elements within the Creek nation that eventually lead to conflict with white settlers known as The Creek War. This culminated in an attack on Fort Mims near Mobile, Alabama on August 30, 1813. The resulting massacre prompted military action by the United States.

President James Madison, who was leading a country already embroiled in a war against Britain - The War of 1812 being fought mainly along the Canadian-US border - called upon Tennessee to defend "the lower country." Tennessee Governor WIllie Blount complied by authorizing the formation of a 5,000 man militia,the original "volunteers."

Half of these troops were were led by Colonel Andrew Jackson. The rising military leader took his troops south to Huntsville and a month later he met the Creek in the battles of Tallushatchee and Talladega. Jackson was then stymied by supply problems and the relatively short enlistment periods of his volunteers.

This altered substantially in February 1814 with the arrival of the 39th US Infantry. This core group was then bolstered by a second wave of volunteers ordered by Tennessee governor Blount. Jackson then kicked of his campaign against the Creeks that culminated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Jackson's victory in this battle was to have huge implications for the course of American history. Jackson was named a Major General and with the initiative from this victory he went on to lead his troops to New Orleans and decisively defeat the British. This cemented his fame and paved the way for his tenure in the White House.

Sam Houston served under Jackson in the battle and was badly wounded. His association with Jackson would lead him down a circuitous political path that would eventually lead him to the southwest. It would be there he became a key leader in the Texas revolution and, once again, the volunteers from Tennessee (an one Davey Crockett) would play a key role.

For Alabama, though, the most important outcome of the battle was the Treaty of Fort Jackson signed on August 9, 1814. This effectively ended the conflict with the Creek nation and lead to the tribes ceding 23 million acres of land to the United States. This included more than half of what would become the state of Alabama.


The federalization of the Indian land lead to a land boom in the Alabama territory. A massive wave of speculators and settlers descended on the region almost as soon as the treaty was signed. The population of the territory was estimated around 1,250 in 1810. Within a decade it has exploded to almost 128,000 persons - with the bulk of that growth occurring post-1815.

The population grew sufficiently that the territory was granted statehood on Dec. 14, 1819 - just more than five years after Jackson's victory.

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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