The War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813-14

The hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812 is finally coming to an end. In the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of families across North America will celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Ghent with turkey dinners, presents, and decorated evergreen trees, under the impression that December 24th is some other important holiday. Fewer, no doubt, will remember the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans on January 8th, the last major battle of the war.

Appropriately enough, the US Army’s Center for Military History has done some interesting with its latest historical pamphlet on the War of 1812, one which covers the Creek War of 1813–14. I’d never seen the Creek War (of which I admittedly knew almost nothing) treated as a theatre of the war, but it’s a logical addition: the Creek Nation (in what is now Alabama and Georgia) was visited by Tecumseh in late 1811, during his attempt to create a pan-First Nations alliance. Pro-Tecumseh Creeks helped instigate the crisis that led the war. Andrew Jackson, who led the Tennessee state militia during the conflict, went almost directly from signing the Treaty of Fort Jackson in August 1814 to defending the Gulf Coast against British attacks – the campaign which ended with the Battle of New Orleans.

The inclusion of the Creek War in the War of 1812 also goes against the old distinction in army lineages between the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars. You can see that history acknowledged on the back on the pamphlet. Most of the volumes in the The U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812 series have a red ribbon with two white stripes on the back cover, matching the War of 1812 campaign streamer that is issued to units involved in that campaign (for a brief history of the streamer system, check out this PDF from the Association of the US Army). On The Creek War, 1813–14, the ribbon is a dark red, with two black stripes; the colours of the Indian Wars campaign streamer. (The same is true of first volume of The U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812, since it covers the Tecumseh’s campaigns in the Old Northwest, “Tippecanoe, 1812” in the campaign streamer system).

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