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Jefferson County MS GenWeb

    

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 THE JEFFERSON TROOP AND THOMAS HINDS

 

Contributor's note:

In 1813, men from Jefferson and surrounding counties were called upon to volunteer to train for service on the “eastern frontier” of the Mississippi Territory which includes the present State of Alabama.  After mustering in Baton Rouge, the men, under Brigadier General Ferdinand L. Claiborne, marched to that sparsely settled area of the Alabama, Tombigbee, and Tensaw which was in fear of a general  attack from about 3,000  Red Sticks, the war party of the Creek Indians, after the initial encounter at Burnt Corn in which the Americans were put to flight by the Indians after a short-lived, early success.  General Flournoy was in charge of the U. S. troops in Mobile, but delayed implementing use of Claiborne’s volunteer force, for reasons unknown.  Eventually, the “vols” aided in  building  and manning stockades around settlements and some of the larger plantations.  On August 30, 1813, a huge war party, led by William Weatherford, the renowned Red Eagle, attacked Fort Mims, the stockade that surrounded the home of Samuel Mims.  The commandant at the fort, Major Daniel Beasley, formerly a lawyer and sheriff of Jefferson County, Mississippi, brave, though not vigilant as he should have been, had neglected early warnings.  The result was the death about 350 of the inhabitants – men, women and children – volunteers and settlers – making this the biggest Indian massacre in the history of the United States. As word spread throughout the nation, Thomas Hinds gathered his mounted Jefferson Troop to go to the aid of his fellow Mississippians.  Again, these Mississippi volunteers were prevented by Flournoy from achieving their objectives, but the troops  were eventually successful in several encounters in the Creek War of 1813-1814 and the larger War of 1812 which was ongoing during this time.  The Jefferson Troop and Thomas Hinds attained its most memorable victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

 


Reminiscences of the Jefferson Troop

by OPA

 

When I first contemplated publishing the names of the “Jefferson Troop,” that served in the war of 1813-14, I only intended to give those of which I had a personal recollection; but on more mature reflection, it seemed to me that it would be doing injustice to others who participated in the perils and achieved equal distinction, with the few, whose names I remember, I therefore applied to the Department at Washington, and now have the names of all the members of  the two Battalions that entered the service of the United States, in September 1814 and 1814, respectively.  The Auditor writes that the report “contains everything in reference to the Dragoons, except as to the amount of money paid to each soldier for his service.”

As I have no special interest in any member of the Battalion beyond the limits of Jefferson, I shall give only the names of those from that county, as a further enumeration would extend this article beyond prudential limits.

The Battalion consisted of four companies, one from each of the counties of Jefferson, Adams, Amite and Wilkinson, and numbered 189 men, officers, and included the whole being commanded by Major Thomas Hinds, who subsequently won the distinctive title of “Old Pine Knot.”  The names of the officers and privates from Jefferson were:

 

John Doughtery, Captain;

Jno. W. Ross, 1st Lieutenant;

Isaac Dunbar, 2nd       “

James Spain, Cornet;

Philip B. Harrison, Sergeant;

Jno. G. Grady,            “

Jno. L. Irwin,              “

Daniel Fairbanks       “

Thos. O. McDonald, Corporal

Richard Harrison       “

John H. Truly             “

Jno. Ferguson             “

 

PRIVATES

Seth Cocks                             Jno. Barnett

Chas. Cocks                           Joseph Braddon

Jas. L. Norris                         Jno. Odom

Sam’l Calvit                            Jno. G. T. Prince

Jno. Wilson                             Wm. Roach

Chas. Donohue                       Wm. Selman

Geo. Down                              Wm. Smith

Joseph E. Davis                     Robert Green

Claudius Gibson                     Jas. B. Truly

Barton Gardner                      Wm. Terry

Tacitus Calvit             Peter Tiernan

Geo. Given                             David Vaughn

Peter Glasscock                     Thos. West

Jas. Hynum                            Chas. West

Robert Burns                         Jas. Whitacker

Reason W. Irwin                    Eli Scurry

Wm. N. Johnson                     Thos. Grafton

Isaac Kirkland                       Marston Clay

Joseph D. Lewis                     Thos. N. Green

Benj. Miller                            Jas. Norris

Total officers and privates 52

           

This company was familiarly known as the “Jefferson Troop.” though designated in the War Department as “Dragoons.”  With the other three companies, they reported for duty about the 1st of October at Mount Vernon (note: Mississippi Territory, the Alabama frontier, at that time engaged in war with the Creek Indians), but the officers objected to the conditions imposed upon them, which gave rise to a very angry correspondence that resulted in the refusal of Gen’l Flournoy  to recognize them as U. S. soldiers.  He directed that their “arms should be taken from them, as they would have no use for them where they were going, and they would be wanted by men who were willing to remain on the frontier and defend the inhabitants.”  This was a severe and undeserved reprimand to as brave a corps of men as ever won distinction on the field of battle. I am at a loss to know how this affair terminated, as no allusion is made to it by the historian of Mississippi.  It is certain that they were engaged in the little fight at Weatherford’s Bluff and marched with Gen’l Claiborne to the “Holy Ground.”  Here, on the 23rd of December, a very decisive battle was fought and won by the Mississippi Volunteers before the other two divisions of the army had fairly come on the field.  Had other forces advanced and made simultaneous attack. a victory so complete would have been obtained, that the enemy could not again have rallied a sufficient force to continue the conflict.  If Weatherford (note: William Weatherford, “Red Eagle”), who was in command, had been either killed or captured, it would have put an end to the war; as it was, he made a most wonderful escape as is graphically described by Col. Driesback: “Finding himself hedged in above and below, he determined to cross the Alabama.  He was mounted on a horse of almost matchless strength and fleetness; he turned down a long hollow that led to the river.  On arrival, he found the bluff about twelve feet high; he took a rapid glance at the situation and determined to take the leap; he rode back about thirty paces, turned his horse’s head toward the bluff, and then with a touch of the spur, and the sharp ‘yo ha’ of his voice, he put the noble animal to the top of his speed, and dashed over the bluff, full twenty feet into the flashing water below.  Though the horse and the lower part of his body went entirely under the water, he did not lose his seat, but holding his rifle high above his head, reached the opposite shore in safety.  Before he had left the shore thirty yards, the balls from the guns of the trooper, who were above and below him, began to fall around him like hail, but it appeared that he was under the protection of the ‘Great Spirit,’ for not a shot struck either man or horse, though a small piece of the mane was cut away, just in front of the saddle.” – Finding “Arrow,” the name of his horse, unhurt, he sent back a note of defiance to his enemies, and then struck through the woods for the residence of his half-brother David Tate.  The signal defeat of the Indians at the ‘Holy Grounds,’ instead of being a warning, seemed to inspire them with the courage of desperation which was checked on other sanguinary fields, and wholly extinguished at the ‘Horse Shoe,’ where their power to continue the struggle was completely broken and crushed.

            After the affair of the “Holy Ground,” the name of the Jefferson Troop does not appear in history during that campaign, tho’ I am confident that they performed other services, notably keeping an eye on the Spaniards at Pensacola who were supplying the British a harbor for their ships, and the Indians with the munitions of war, to aid in their struggles against the Americans.  We, however, see that the initiatory blow was struck by the “Troop,” and other volunteers from Mississippi at the “Holy Grounds,” and if they did not follow up this success by other achievements equally brilliant, it was because they were on detached duty, which gave them no opportunity to achieve distinction.  While they may not have recklessly rushed into danger, they were always prepared to meet it.

            The battle of  Tohopecka, or the “Horse Shoe,” was fought on the 27th of March, 1814, and was followed by a cessation of hostilities, the surrender of Weatherford, and in the following summer, to a treaty of peace, and cession of nearly all their land to the United States.  This treaty was conducted by Gen’l Jackson, who, on the 13th of May had been appointed Major General and assigned to duty in the south-west.  While negotiating the treaty he had an opportunity to learn of the intrigues carried on by the British, with the Indians, aided by the Spanish Governor of Pensacola; and further, that an attack was contemplated on Mobile, and eventually might be extended to New Orleans.  Rapid in his conclusions, and prompt in action, he at once called for volunteers.  The call was so promptly responded to, that before the end of October, his army numbered 5,000 men of a fighting quality that was never surpassed.  On the 19th of September, 1814, the organization of Hinds’ second battalion was complete, and toward the close of October, reported for duty at Pensacola.  This battalion of “Dragoons” – so designated at the war Department – consisted of four companies, one each from the counties of  Jefferson, Adams, Amite and Wilkinson, numbered 238 men, including officers, and was commanded by Col. Thomas Hinds.

            In giving the name of the company, the reader will find that several of them served under Dougherty in the Campaign of 1813-14.  Their term of enlistment expired from the 15th to the 19th of December, but from the report before me, it does not appear that any of them left the ranks until the 16th of March, 1815, when a general order from Jackson, issued on the 13th, directed their discharge after being paid and furnished with rations for 8 days.  They returned home with the Tennesseans who bivouacked one night at Fort Shaw, near Hays’ station.  I saw a few of the laggards next morning. 

            The following are the names of officers and privates of the “Jefferson Troop” that volunteered in September, 1814:

 

            Jno. I. W. Ross, Captain;

            Isaac Dunbar, 1st Lieutenant;

            John L. Irwin, 2nd       “

            H. B. Harrison, Coroner;

            Marston Clay, Trumpeter;

            John H. Shanks, Sergeant;

            Jno. Ferguson,            “

            Reason W. Irwin,       “

            Jas. B. Truly,              “

            Elam H. McDonald, Corporal

            Claudius Gibson,        “

            Michael W. Trimble, “

            Jno. K. Moore,           “

                                                PRIVATES

            Abraham Forman                   Sam’l Ferguson

            Henry Fake                            Shadrack Foster

            Philip A. Gilbert                     Sam’l Guest

            Robert Ferguson                    Jno. G. Grady

            Thos. Grafton             Geo. Gilmore

            Stephen Griffin                       Wm. Henson

            Isaac Bland                            Thomas Berry

            Nathaniel Coleman                Malcom Curry

            Henry Corky                          William Carson

            Isaiah Coleman                      James Cessna

            Dan’l Elmore                          Alex Findley

            Thomas Fake                         John Fort

            William Fulks             John Odum

            W. B. Prince                           Henry Palmer

            Eli Scurry                                Thomas Scott

            Dixon Stroud                          Joel Selman

            Thomas Spain             Richard Spain            

            George Hancock                    Rich’d C. Hawkins

            George Haynes                      Jacob Hays

            George Given                         Richard Harrison

            Daniel Huey                           Chas. H. Jordan

            Zachariah B. Jones                Abraham Lambert

            Thos. McAlister                     Joseph Moore

            Thomas C. Vaughn                John Heill      

            Jas. Robinson                         Wm. Tredwell

            John H. Truly             James Terry

            Sam’l Watkins                        James Whitacker

            Jacob White                           Wm. A. Johnson

            David Fairbanks

                        Total, 70 officers and privates –

 

This company, as previously stated, reported for duty at Pensacola early in November. and during the brief siege, was detailed to watch the movements of the Indians and their allies, who were carrying on an extensive trade in the munitions of war and other articles of traffic which could be made available should hostilities once more be decided upon by those who opposed the late treaty with the United States.  On the morning of the 6th of November, they were formed in full view of the Spanish battery, with orders to watch the movements of the Indians, many of whom were hovering in the vicinity, and tho’ they had made no hostile demonstration, it was well known they would, if a favorable opportunity presented itself – strike one more blow to revenge their slaughtered warriors, and the sacrifice of their lands which had been demanded as a condition of peace.  While before Pensacola, they had no opportunity to win distinction as none of the same arm of the service was there to oppose them.

Those who were acquainted with James B. Truly, of Jefferson, cannot fail to remember his laugh.  It was not loud, but was peculiar, and highly contagious.  He laughed all over, while his face wore an expression so ludicrous that none who saw or heard him could restrain an obstreperous outburst of hilarity.  I have on several occasions heard him tell that while drawn up at a comparatively safe distance from a Spanish battery, one of the “Troopers” when he saw the flash or smoke of a gun instinctively dodged, which called forth the jeers and laughter of those who witnessed the exhibition.  At length , a ball, better aimed than its predecessors, struck the sand directly under his horse, which so frightened the animal that he made a sudden plunge that carried the rider over his head and landed him on a soft bed of sand, without doing any bodily injury.  His first exclamation on regaining his feet was: - “You are a pack of d----d fools, for if my horse had not dodged, - I might have been killed .- What would ‘Old Pine Knot’ say to that?”

After the fall of Pensacola, the designs of the British ceased to be a secret, especially as they made no demonstration against Mobile, where they had been so roughly handled at Fort Boyer, on the 15th of September.  Their destination was New Orleans to the defense of which Jackson directed all his energies.  He left Mobile for New Orleans with all his available forces, and called on Kentucky, Tennessee, and other states bordering on the Mississippi for volunteers.  Hinds, with his command, was ordered to proceed to that City.  On arriving at Meadville, they were allowed three days to visit their families and obtain fresh horses and clothes.  Such was the rapidity of their movements,  that they reached New Orleans on the evening of December 23rd, but too late to participate in the attack which was made that night on the British lines.  As the enemy had no cavalry to encounter the “Troops” were engaged from the 23rd of December till the 8th of January, watching the motions of the British and occasionally thwarting their designs, by a headlong and unexpected charge. – The danger of an enterprise was never estimated. Wherever they were ordered to go, they went, regardless of the peril to be encountered.  Such was the confidence of Jackson in the intrepidity of  Hinds, that he was frequently permitted to exercise his own discretion in making a reconnaissance – to learn any new movements for the advance of their line – the erection of a battery – the number and caliber of their guns.  To make his observations, on more than one occasion, he charged to the mouth of their cannon, and what is most extraordinary, there was never a casualty in their ranks till the celebrated charge of  December the 30th.  In this way, they found employment, which, if it was not of a congenial character, proved most conclusively what they would have done, had an opportunity been afforded, to gain distinction, where valor could contest for glory, against opponents belonging to the same arm of the service.

On the morning of December 30th, it was evident to Hinds that a detachment of the enemy , under cover of the chaparral, was advancing along a ditch, which was on the left and perpendicular to Jackson’s line, with a view to making a demonstration in that quarter, while the main attack could be made up front.  Permission being given, Hinds formed his troops and ordered them to advance at a trot to within two hundred yards of where he supposed the British lay concealed, then in a gallop within fifty yards, here they were to fire off their pistols, wheel and get out of the way as fast as their horses would carry.  The order was obeyed to the letter, but when the Troopers fired their pistols, they were greeted by return fire of musketry which wounded Harris and Jordan, and did very serious injury to many of the horses.

In a letter fro  President (Jefferson) Davis, replying to my inquiry as to his recollection of the “Jefferson Troop, ”he says; - “My boyhood’s memory recalls the fact of seeing the wound of my brother Joseph’s horse, received in the charge which Hinds made upon the British battery at Chalmette.”  The two wounded Troopers were cousins and rode side by side.  Just as they were in the act of turning, Jordan remarked, “Levi, I am wounded;” the words had barely passed his lips when Harris replied, “Charles, so am I.”  Each had received a musket ball in the right shoulder, the first in the advance and the other in the retreat.  I have seen the ball taken from Harris’ shoulder.  He never recovered the free use of his arm, and from him and Michael W. Trimble, I had the details of this headlong charge.  On returning to the lines, Jackson addressed to them that short speech, which is part of history and will invest the Troop with unfading glory; - “You have this day been the admiration of one army, and the astonishment of the other.”

In giving the order to Hinds, Jackson knew his men, - and Hinds knew the indomitable courage of his command – that they would charge a battery, if ordered to take it.  How strangely are men constituted!  At home, quiet and peaceable citizens; on the battlefield they rush to the encounter, apparently without any apprehension of danger.

After the 8th of January, the duty of the Troop was only nominal.  They had no charges to make – no detachments of enemies to unmask – no reconnaissance in advance of the lines.  With the infantry, they remained in the City until Jackson’s general order was issued on the 14th of March, 1815, directing that they should be paid, discharged, furnished with 8 days rations, and sent home.  This order included all the volunteers and militia.  They at once returned to their homes, and settled down in their usual avocations.  The soldiers of that day were not unlike those of other times.  I have heard them tell of the havoc made with the cakes and fruits of the old Negro woman, who vended these articles either in camp, or on the street corners.  Nothing was more common than to run a bayonet though a pile of cakes and bear them off in triumph.  Many articles were treated as contraband of war, and appropriated to private use.

Fayette Chronicle (Fayette, MS), Vol. XXII, No. 39, Friday, June 28, 1889, pg. 2

           

           

Thomas Hinds

 

After the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson said of Jefferson Troop of cavalry and its commanding officer Thomas Hinds, “the cavalry excited the imagination of one army and the astonishment of the other.”

 

“Major Thomas Hinds, born in Berkley County, Virginia, January 19, 1780; died August 23, 1840; had an illustrious career. In 1806, he organized for the defense of Mississippi a company of dragoons, his first known act of public service; later, at the Battle of New Orleans (War of 1812) he covered himself with immortal fame by his marvelously brave attacks on the British while leading as Major his Mississippi cavalry company, so much so that his company, with personal mention of him, was made subject of a laudatory order issued by Major General Andrew Jackson, there in command, on January 21, 1815.  Major Hinds (referred to as General Hinds) was defeated by George Poindexter for Governor of Mississippi in 1819, but the next year(1820) he and General Jackson were appointed commissioners to negotiate a purchase from the Choctaw Indians of a part of their territory, and in 1821 Hinds County was named for him, and in the same year he with Governor James Patton and Dr. William Lattimore, were appointed by the Mississippi Legislature as commissioners to select a proper site for the seat of government, which they did, choosing the present city of Jackson, naming it for General Jackson.  As further recognition of Major Hind’s popularity and influence, it may be noted that he was elected to Congress in 1827.”

 

Children of Thomas and Leminda (Green) Hinds

John – died in infancy

Howell – born Sept. 1, 1809, Jefferson County, MS, died April 9, 1841, married (1) Drucilla Cocks -  Issue: Thomas, Wilkin, and Leminda

(2) Mrs. Mary Ann (Coleman) Lape – Issue: Alice, John, and Howell

 

Thomas Hind’s wife, Leminda, was of the prominent Green family of Jefferson County, and daughter of Thomas Marston Green, Jr.  She was born July 5, 1761 and died January 29, 1819.

 from THE EWING GENEALOGY  by Presley K. and Mary E. Ewing, Hercules Book Co: Houston, 1919

 

 

THOMAS HINDS -  a Representative from Mississippi; born in Berkeley County, Va., January 9, 1780; moved to Greenville, Miss.; served in the War of 1812 as major of Cavalry; distinguished himself at the Battle of New Orleans and was brevetted brigadier general for gallantry; unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1820; elected as a Democrat to the Twentieth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Haile; reelected to the Twenty-first Congress and served from October 21, 1828, to March 3, 1831; died in Greenville, Miss., August 23, 1840.

from THE BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS

 

 

Major Thomas Hinds in the Creek War and the War of 1812

In 1814 the most dangerous circuit was that of Peter James and Ira Byrd, with most of the people still at the forts.  A much stronger military was now present.  Col. Pushmatah, with about 400 friendly Choctaws, was marching upon the Creeks.  General Claiborne was getting ready to leave Pine Level, near St. Stephens and move east toward the Alabama River. General Jackson with his Tennessee troops was advancing down the Coosa, and the general outlook became encouraging.

When news of the downfall of Major Beasley and his troops of Jefferson County reached Major-General Thomas Hinds, the lion-hearted man reached a  frenzy.  He called on his fellow citizens to unite with him to avenge the blood of their slain neighbors, and was soon at the head of a mounted battalion on the way to the seat of the war.  He reported to an embarrassed Gen. Claiborne at St. Stephens, who told Hinds he had no room for his command in the fort, that he was required to keep all of his supplies at the fort for his auxiliary Choctaw who were soon to join him under the order of Col. Pushmataha, and the had no authority to issue orders to Hind's troops, as they were not placed under his command.  Hinds replied that he need feel no embarrassment on his account, that he had not come to Alabama to fort-up and wait for the Indians to find him; he planned to find them.  He would get his horses and supplies where they were to be found, and he wanted no formality of regular orders.

Hinds and his troops camped outside the fort that night, while he directed his troops to prepare several day's rations and be ready to start for the Alabama River at dawn on a regular "Indian hunt."  His little battalion embraced a fair proportion of the elite and chivalry of Jefferson County, but also included some recreants who protested the Indian hunt.  Major Hinds immediately gave permission for any to leave who were unwilling to follow him the next morning.  They would not be punished.  A number of men were missing at roll call.

With the remaining force, Hinds marched in the direction of Lower Peach Tree on the Alabama River, in regular military order.   Hinds learned from his scouts that a number of Creeks were on a plantation on the west bank of the river, shelling corn and conveying it in their canoes across the river.  Quietly his force descended like an avalanche on the unsuspecting savages, who were terrified and made faint resistance.  Most of the Indians were slain on the ground, and others shot in the river trying to escape.  It looked savage for the Jefferson County troops to kill the women and children, but they thought of the butchery of helpless women and children at the Fort Mims massacre, and thought of revenge as, "paying the savages in their own currency."

This little known act of the Jefferson County troops struck such terror in the hostile Creeks in the area, that few were ever seen there by the white inhabitants of the Tombigbee again. Major Hinds was known as a prudent but brave and dashing military leader.  His small troop soon became the Mississippi Dragoons, then a regiment, and finally a brigade which he commanded in the vicinity of New Orleans.

In the meantime, General Claiborne advanced to the east bank of the Alabama River opposite Weatherford's Bluff where he erected a large stockade fort called Fort Claiborne. In November, at the head of nearly a thousand Georgians and about 400 friendly Indians, Gen. Floyd crossed the Chatahooche and advanced on the Creeks at the Tallapoosa. In December, Gen. Claiborne marched with a strong force including the friendly Choctaws under Pushmataha, above the mouth of the Cahaba River, where he was effective against the enemy.  The Creeks, surrounded and invaded on three sides were conquered, and almost exterminated by the last of April, 1814, and on the 9th of the following August a treaty of peace was concluded and signed by the United States and the remaining chiefs.

from A Complete History of Methodism As Connected With the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South Written at the Unanimous Request of the Conference by Rev. John Griffing Jones ,Nashville, Tenn., Southern Methodist Publishing House, Printed for the author, 1887. 

submitted by Sue B. Moore sbmoore@swbell.net

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