Another Epic Encounter with the Indians

This encounter took place in the South, at the battle of Autossee Creek, Alabama, November 29, 1813, and was reported in a Milledgeville paper, and reprinted in the Democratic  Press on February 8, 1814.   The hero of the tale was William A. Tennille, who served later as Georgia’s Secretary of State.   The tale is told by an anonymous witness of the battle.

“The signal bravery displayed by the detachment of our army in the battle of Autossee is the theme of general admiration.  In this affair our troops acted more like veterans than militia; and the feat of many officers and privates would do honor to Spartan valor.  We shall particularly notice the conduct of one man, whose sufferings have been equal to his intrepidity.  Quarter master Wm. A. Tennille, the worthy son of an excellent revolutionary soldier, had his horse shot under him while charging the Indians.  The horse falling on him, Mr. Tennille with some difficulty extricated himself–he was alone surrounded by enemies, and had scarcely recovered his feet before his right arm was broken by a musket ball, and he received a wound in his thigh–the Indians rushed forward to tomahawk him–but presenting his pistol they recoiled till they discovered it had missed fire–the savages again advanced–by this time he had drawn his sword, and wielding it in his left hand, kept his assailants at bay until our troops made a second charge, cut the Indians to pieces and rescued this admirable young soldier, who for extraordinary bravery and presence of mind deserves to be ranked with the best heroes of ancient Rome.

“We are sorry to mention that Mr. Tennille’s arm has been amputated near the shoulder.  He is said to be on the recovery.”

According to The Dix Family Archive ( William A. Tennille was born in 1792:  he was twenty-two at the time of the battle.  The site offers these additional details:  “He had lost his right arm in Indian wars and wrote a back hand with his left hand . . . .  Mr. Warthen’s father tells of deer hunting with him when Col. Tennille would handle his horse and shoot a deer at a run as well as those who had both hands.”

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden