The next blow was struck at Talladega, thirty miles below Fort Strother, where a body of friendly Indians were besieged by a larger body of Red Sticks. Relying on General White, who was in the neighborhood with a force of Cocke's East Tennes-seans, to protect Fort Strother, Jackson marched by night to Talladega. There, however, a dispatch reached him from White, who announced that he must return to Cocke. So at sunrise Jackson threw himself on the enemy, routed him with great loss, relieved the friendly Indians, and then marched back to camp, to find no provisions, and the sick and wounded as hungry as the rest. From that time the struggle with famine was for weeks his principal business. Ill as he was, he and his officers would have nothing the men could not have. A soldier coming to him to beg for food, he thrust his hand into his pocket, drew out some acorns, and courteously invited the man to share his dinner.
Jackson was disposed to blame General Cocke for the trouble about supplies, because Cocke had undertaken to obtain supplies in Knoxville for both commands; but it seems clear now that Cocke was not to blame. Soon after the battle of Talladega Jackson's feeling against Cocke was strengthened. The warriors of the Hillabee towns, a part of the Creek Confederacy, sent a messenger to Jackson to sue for peace. He gave them his terms, and the messenger was returning to the Hillabees when General White, of Cocke's command, ignorant of what was going on, marched upon a Hillabee town, killed many of the warriors, and captured the women and children. Jackson, grieved and enraged at a blunder which probably prolonged the war and certainly made it fiercer, was easily persuaded that Cocke, his inferior officer, was trying to win laurels for himself, and in the end his anger led him to do grave injustice to a man who appears to have been faithful and honorable.
And now for ten weeks the will of Andrew Jackson was tried to the uttermost. His starving troops were constantly on the verge of mutiny. The command was made up of two classes, - the militia, called into service against the Indians, and the volunteers, who had first enlisted for the expedition down the Mississippi. The militia, disheartened, started for Tennessee. Jackson drew up the volunteers across their pathway, and drove them back to camp. Then the volunteers, in their turn, prepared to move northward, and he stopped them with the militia. The mounted men were permitted to go to Huntsville to get food for their horses, and most of them went on to their homes. The infantry, sullen and distrustful, were kept in camp only by the promise that in two days supplies would come from Nashville, whither Jackson was sending letter after letter to stir up the authorities. At the end of two days nothing had come. A few brave men volunteered to defend the camp while with the rest the general marched northward in search of food. The supplies soon came in sight, and the men were fed; but now they refused to go back to camp, and again turned northward. Jackson, with Coffee and a handful of others, threw himself in front of them, and with blazing eyes and dreadful oaths cowed them into obedience. Again they threatened mutiny, and once more, alone, on horseback, a musket in his hand, his disabled arm in its sling, he faced them, and swore he would shoot the first man who stirred. They hesitated, wavered, yielded.
Seeing, however, that nothing could be done with the volunteers, Jackson finally permitted them to go, keeping with him the niilitia and a small body of Cocke's men. The militia claimed that their term would expire January 4, 1814; the term of Cocke's men would expire a week later. Anxiously awaiting reinforcements, Jackson got, instead, a letter from Governor Blount advising him to give up the struggle. But he would not give up; his magnificent spirit rose higher with every blow. He wrote the governor a letter that taught him his duty. Through the governor, in fact, that letter roused the whole State, and soon a new army was on the way from West Tennessee, while Cocke was marching another force southward from East Tennessee. With some five hundred raw recruits that reached him before Cocke's first command left, Jackson held Fort Strother. He even ventured to make a raid into the enemy's country, aiming at the town of Emuckfau. The Indians attacked him. He repulsed them, but soon made up his mind to return. On his way back, he was again attacked while crossing a creek, his rear guard was driven in, and for a moment a panic and rout was imminent. But the valor of a few men saved the army, and he got safely back to Fort Strother.
He did not move again until the middle of March, and then he had five thousand men. Cocke, for a speech addressed to his troops when they threatened mutiny, was sent to Nashville under arrest. To stamp out insubordination among the men from West Tennessee, a youth named Woods, who had been found guilty of mutiny, was shot before the whole army. The thirty-ninth regiment of regulars was now a part of the command, and the general proposed to use them, whenever occasion offered, to suppress insubordination among the volunteers. But from this time he had little of that to deal with, and was free to grapple with the Creeks, who had so far held their own against the Georgians and Mississip-pians.
The centre of their resistance was the Hickory Ground, near the fork of the Coosa and Tallapoosa; but the final blow was struck at a bend in the Tallapoosa midway between its source and mouth. The spot was called by the Indians Tohopeka; by the whites, The Horseshoe. Across the neck of a small peninsula the hostiles had thrown up a rough line of breastworks. On the banks of the river they had gathered a number of canoes. Within the defences was a force of Red Sticks estimated at nine hundred, and several hundred women and children.
Jackson moved down the Coosa to a point nearly even with Tohopeka, established a new camp, and by the evening of March 28 he was in front of the enemy with about three thousand men, including a considerable body of friendly Indians. Resolving to make thorough work of it, he dispatched Coffee, with the friendly Indians and the cavalry, to surround the bend on the opposite bank. The next morning, with the artillery, he opened fire on the breastworks. Coffee, meantime, threw a force across the river and attacked the enemy from the rear. The line of breastworks was carried by assault. The slaughter of Creeks was dreadful. As usual, they fought to the last. Five hundred and fifty-seven bodies were found in the bend, and many perished trying to escape across the river. Jackson's loss was about two hundred killed and wounded.