Battle of the Upper Chipola - Jackson County, Florida
|Battle of the Upper Chipola
The encounter took place on the Chipola River in
the Florida Panhandle. Gen. William McIntosh and
his U.S. Creek brigade attacked Econchattimico's
band of Red Stick Creeks.
Battle of the Upper Chipola
Fought near Bellamy Bridge
on the Chipola River, the
battle was an important part
of the First Seminole War.
Three varieties of palmetto
grow along the Chipola River.
used these to built shelters.
Battle of the Upper Chipola - Jackson County, FL
The McIntosh Raid on the Chipola
|Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: December 20, 2013
Seminole War Battlefields
Chipola at Bellamy Bridge
The Chipola River in the
vicinity of the Bellamy Bridge
Heritage Trail is one of the
most beautiful natural places
The Bellamy Bridge Heritage
Trail leads through the woods
and swamps of the Chipola
River floodplain in the vicinity
of the battlefield.
One of the most important battles of the First
Seminole War took place on Florida's upper
Chipola River on March 13, 1818.
The Battle of the Upper Chipola was fought in
the vicinity of today's Bellamy Bridge Heritage
Trail. Located just north of Marianna, Florida,
the trail provides interpretive panels detailing
a variety of historical events, including the
The First Seminole War erupted in November
1817 when a raid by U.S. troops led to the
Battle of Fowltown in Southwest Georgia. An
alliance of Creek, Seminole and African
(Black Seminole) warriors retaliated with the
destruction of a U.S. Army detachment at the
Scott Massacre of 1817.
As the conflict broadened, numerous bands
and villages were drawn into the fighting.
Among these was the prosperous Lower
Creek town of Ekanachatte ("Red Ground").
Warriors from Ekanachatte joined in the fight
against U.S. troops at the Battle of Ocheesee
and took part in other efforts to stop supplies
from reaching the Army's main headquarters
at Fort Scott, Georgia. These efforts proved
successful and the soldiers at the fort were
on starvation rations for much of the winter of
Ekanachatte, however, was located on the
lower Chattahoochee River (today's Lake
Seminole), one of the primary routes by
which reinforcements were expected to reach
Fort Scott. This could lead to an attack on the
town by soldiers - a fact not lost on the village
chief, Econchattimico ("Red Ground King").
As the winter of 1817-1818 deepened into
one of the coldest on record, Econchattimico
and his people evacuated their town on the
lower Chattahoochee and withdrew about 20
miles west to the upper Chipola River. Using
the river and its wide floodplain swamps as a
natural barrier, they established a temporary
camp on its west side.
Econchattimico was correct in his belief that
U.S. forces would strike his town as they
moved to reinforce Fort Scott in the spring of
As they prepared for a spring offensive, U.S.
commanders enrolled a large force of Creek
warriors into the army to fight on the side of
the United States. They were formed into a
brigade of some 2,000 men.
Under the command of Brig. Gen. William
McIntosh, a mestizo chief from Coweta who
had fought alongside Andrew Jackson during
the Creek War of 1813-1814, this brigade
was ordered to sweep down the
Chattahoochee River and destroy any towns
that had raised the red war club. Their main
target was Ekanachatte.
McIntosh divided his force, sending 900 men
down the east side of the Chattahoochee
while he marched with the main body of
1,100 warriors down the west side of the
river. As he advanced his vanguard captured
several prisoners. He learned from these
that Econchattimico had withdrawn to the
As he crossed the line into Spanish Florida,
McIntosh burned the abandoned town of
Ekanachatte and then turned west on the old
Pensacola-St. Augustine Road in search of
Econchattimico and his people.
On March 12, 1818, McIntosh's command
reached the Forks of the Creek swamp in
what is now Jackson County, Florida. The
water was running so high that the "men had
to leave their clothes and provisions, and
swim better than one half of the swamp,
about six miles wide."
Finally reaching dry ground on the west side
of the swamp, the Creek soldiers stopped for
the night. The next morning they marched
south for two miles until they reached
The exact location of the camp has not yet
been found, but based on McIntosh's report it
was somewhere in the vicinity of today's
Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail.
McIntosh and his men moved into position
around the camp during the pre-dawn
darkness. They rushed in at sunrise in an
attack that came so fast Econchattimico's
warriors did not have time to fire a shot in
defense of their families. Fifty-three men and
180 women and children were captured.
As the U.S. Creeks were looting the camp,
however, some of the captured warriors tried
to break out. Gunfire erupted and in a quick
but deadly one-sided battle, 10 of the male
prisoners were shot down and killed.
More fighting took place when McIntosh
discovered that Econchattimico and his
principal warriors were not among the
prisoners. The Creek Indian general ordered
Major Samuel Hawkins to find the missing
Hawkins took a detachment and soon came
up with Econchattimico and about 30 of his
men. Heavy firing erupted, but the U.S.
Creeks were unable to capture their Lower
The 180 women and children captured in the
Battle of the Upper Chipola were sent up to
the Creek Nation in Alabama and Georgia.
The surviving male prisoners were carried to
Fort Scott where they were imprisoned until
the end of the war.
The Battle of the Upper Chipola is among the
events interpreted along the Bellamy Bridge
Heritage Trail. The floodplain forest there has
been restored to its natural appearance and
looks much as it did in 1818. The trail is the
focal point for one of Florida's best known
Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail is located at
4057 Hwy 162, Marianna, Florida. It is open
daily and is free to visit. Please click here to
Informational panels along
the Bellamy Bridge Heritage
Trail detail the Battle of the
Upper Chipola and other