Caller takes charge of camp

Published 4:07 am Wednesday, September 23, 2009

By Staff
Lydia Grimes
Forgotten Trails
I am continuing with Ethel Hoomes’ history of Escambia County. I am sure it contains material that you may not have seen before.
It came as a complete surprise and immediately the ponies were put to rout and the Indians fled in all directions. Thereupon Col. Caller and his forces took charge of the camp and the supplies of the Indians and were eating the meal prepared by the squaws, when the Indians who had gathered themselves together, attacked the white men and would have completely annihilated them had it not been that Captain Sam Dale covered Colonel Caller’s retreat with a large body of men.
Further fighting of importance took place in the same territory between a Captain Shome, with a party of white settlers and a group of Indians, the details of which are unavailable.
The Indians never had sway for any length of time in Escambia County after the Battle of Burnt Corn. There were disputes with reference to the territory along Murder Creek but by a treaty made in 1800 it was agreed that the Indians occupy the territory east of the creek and the whites the part on the west side. However, shortly after 1818 the Indians were compelled to abandon all their territory.
The first white men to set foot in Escambia County were the Spaniards who were endeavoring to reach Mexico. They landed in Florida, of which this county was then a part, some time after 1528. The early settlers designated their claims by girdling or cutting the bark from around the trees on the edge of their claims and this was thoroughly respected as a monument of possession by the early settlers.
The first white settlement in Escambia County was Fort Crawford, which is just across the Murder Creek from the present site of Brewton. This fort derived its name from a lieutenant in General Jackson’s command, for an act of strategy in repelling an Indian attack against overwhelming odds. It was located on a trail that ran past Fort Mims on the Alabama River to a fort on the Chattahoochee River.
A small number of Jackson’s men under command of Lieutenant Crawford were going from the Alabama River to the Chattahoochee by this trail and were caught on the west side of Murder Creek in time of high water and could not move forward. When the Indians learned of this, they tried to exterminate them. Upon hearing this news and knowing that the Indians far outnumbered the whites, Lieutenant Crawford ordered his men to gather a quantity of straw, brush and plenty of wood. After supper he ordered them to build a big camp fire and out of this brush and straw to form the outlines of as many men as were in his party and to cover each outline with a blanket and put a hat on each head. The men then concealed themselves in the bushes a short distance away. The Indians were fooled by the blankets and hats, crept in and tried to massacre them in their sleep. Just as the Indians made their attack Lieutenant Crawford gave the order to fire and the Indians were completely destroyed.
I will continue with this next week. Stay with me on this because it is a long story, but you might want to save this.