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Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

In March 1814, General Jackson’s army left Fort Williams on the Coosa, cut a 52-mile trail through the forest in three days, and on the 26th made camp six miles north of Horseshoe Bend. The next morning, Jackson sent General John Coffee and 700 mounted infantry and 600 Cherokee and Creek allies three miles down-stream to cross the Tallapoosa and surround the bend. He took the rest of the army – about 2000 men, consisting of East and West Tennessee militia and the Thirty-ninth U.S. Infantry – into the peninsula and at 10:30 a.m. began an ineffectual two-hour artillery bombardment of the Red Sticks’ log barricade. At noon, Coffee’s Cherokee allies crossed the river and assaulted the Red Sticks from the rear. Jackson quickly ordered a frontal bayonet charge, which poured over the barricade. Fighting ranged over the south end of the peninsula throughout the afternoon. By dark at least 800 of Chief Menawa’s 1,000 Red Sticks were dead (557 slain on the field and 200-300 in the river). Menawa himself, although severely wounded, managed to escape. Jackson’s losses in the battle were 49 killed and 154 wounded, many mortally.

Though the Red Sticks had been crushed at Tohopeka, remnants of the war party held out for several months. In August 1814, a treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation was signed at Fort Jackson near the present day city of Wetumpka, Alabama. The Treaty of Fort Jackson ended the conflict and required the Creeks to cede 23 million acres of land to the United States. The state of Alabama was carved out of this domain and admitted to the Union in 1819.

In 1828, partly as a result of his fame from the battles of Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans, Andrew Jackson was elected the seventh President of the United States.

In addition to being an important historical site, Horseshoe Bend is an excellent location for birding. A paved loop road circumnavigates the park, which consists of mixed mature pine-hardwood forest and open field habitat, bordered by the Tallapoosa River. Walking trails crisscross the property, often paralleling the paved road. The bluffs overlooking the river offer stands of River birches, with the nearby understory featuring multitudes of bird-attracting American beautyberry bushes. Birds found in good numbers include Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated, Hooded, and Pine warblers; American Redstarts; Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated vireos.

You’ll also see numerous Wood Thrushes, Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Eastern Wood Pewees, Orchard Orioles, Brown-headed and White-breasted nuthatches, as well as Downy, Red-bellied, Red-headed, and Pileated woodpeckers.

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