National Guard February 2012 : Page 38

G UARD R OOTS : A NDREW J ACKSON T OUGH K ID An 1878 lithograph published in a New York newspaper depicts 13-year-old Andrew Jackson defying the order of a British officer to clean his boots in 1780. 11 wagons to transport them, Jackson ordered all of his of-ficers to give up their horses for the sick. He did the same and marched alongside his soldiers every day, cheering them on. The soldiers were awed at Jackson’s strength. As the march wore on, Jackson’s men said he was “tough as hickory.” Soon the soldiers just called him “Hickory,” and later added the prefix “Old,” giving Jackson the nickname he would carry for the rest of his life. Within a month, the troops reached Nashville. Stories of Jackson’s conduct circulated rapidly and soon all of Ten-nessee knew his nickname. Jackson sent his soldiers home. At age 46, he became a proud father figure to those in the militia and the public. In August 1813, a militant group of Creek Indians called Red Sticks attacked and killed hundreds of settlers at Fort Mims. Tennesseans were infuriated and the gov-ernor ordered Jackson to call out the militia, giving him a chance for “vengeance and atonement” for the Duck River massacre the year before. With his arm in a sling after being shot in a recent duel, Jackson led his troops south. They soon attacked the Creek village of Tallushatchee which held 200 hostile warriors. They surrounded the village and slaughtered all the in-habitants. Private David Crockett said, “We shot them like dogs.” Jackson then attacked the town of Talladega and killed 300 Creek warriors. But over the next month and a half, Jackson’s army met with disaster. Enlistments expired, soldiers went home, 38 and supplies were scarce. Jackson didn’t have the men or food to continue fighting. His army almost completely dissolved until 800 raw re-cruits arrived. Jackson then went back on the offensive and fought the battles of Emuckfaw and Enotachopco Creek. Jackson then gathered more reinforcements and contin-ued training. By March 1814, he had 5,000 troops under his command. On March 27, Jackson attacked 1,000 Red Stick warriors at Horseshoe Bend. Jackson wrote, “The carnage was awful.” His forces killed roughly 900 Red Sticks and crushed the Creek Na-tion. Nashville gave Jackson a hero’s welcome and he was soon offered the rank of major general in the U.S. Army, which he accepted. Jackson turned his attention to defending the southeast from a British invasion. First, he strengthened the defenses at Mobile, Ala., and then he attacked Spanish-controlled Pensacola to drive out British soldiers. He then learned the British were about to launch a full-scale invasion of New Orleans, so he hurriedly moved there to set up defenses. By mid-December the British started deploying troops below New Orleans and launched a series of strikes against the city. On Jan. 8, 1815, the British attempted a frontal assault on Jackson’s lines. The British suffered 2,000 casualties compared to 16 for the Americans. F INAL M ILITARY C AMPAIGN Overnight, Jackson became a national symbol as the “Hero of New Orleans.” After the war, the Army downsized and Jackson now commanded the entire southern division. Jackson’s final military campaign was into Florida. First, he destroyed a runaway slave fort close to the Gulf of Mexico. Next, during an attempt to arrest hostile Indians, a battle erupted at the village of Fowltown. The warriors were driven off and the town burned, thus starting the First Seminole War. In March 1818, Jackson led a force into Florida destroy-ing the town of Tallahassee and Miccosukee and seizing the Spanish fort at St. Marks. After the war, Jackson was offered the position of mili-tary governor of Florida. He accepted and, in June 1821, Jackson resigned his commission. His military career may have ended, but his political one was beginning. He would become the seventh president of the United States, a position he probably would never have attained without his militia experience and fame. Capt. Darrin Haas is deputy director of the Tennessee National Guard’s joint public affairs office. | Na tional Guard

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