The Battle of Hobdy's Bridge was fought on March 24, 1837, in the Pea River swamps along the border of Pike County
and Barbour County, Alabama. To learn more, please click here to visit our main page on the battle.
March 31, 1837
To the Editors of the Columbus Sentinel.
Irwinton, March 25, 1837.
Gentlemen: Information has just reached here of a glorious victory achieved by the persevering Wellborn and a portion of
the brave volunteers under his command, over the Indians in Pea river swamp, yesterday (Friday). I have had a
conversation with several gentlemen, citizens of this place who were in the engagement, and learn the following
particulars: Wellborn had been informed by express a day or two previous, that a large body of Indians were encamped
somewhere in the swamp near Hobdy’s bridge, from which they issued to commit depredations in the neighborhood.
With that promptness that characterizes all his movements, he started in pursued, and on Thursday evening received a
report from his scouts that the encampment had been discovered immediately upon the bank of the Pea river,
completely surrounded by water, and that to get to it an almost impenetrable swamp had to be traversed. He made his
arrangements for an attack early the next morning; he then being on the side opposite the Indians, he divided his troops
into bodies, assigning the command of one, of about one hundred men, to Captain Harrell, ordering him to march up the
river opposite the encampment, for the purpose of cutting off their retreat when driven out and forced to cross. Wellborn
with the balance crossed below at the bridge, and marched up – just before he reached the entrance into the swamp
opposite the camp he heard firing, and thinking Harrell had engaged the enemy, he rushed in, not doubting but that they
would be driven to his side of the river – The difficulties that opposed his progress were almost insurmountable; many
lakes and lagoons, beyond a man’s depth, and no means of crossing but by swimming. But the ardor and determination
of his men were unconquerable. By wading, running and jumping for half an hour, over and through mud, mire and
water, during which time 20 or 25 muskets were rendered useless by being wet, they came in sight of the Indians in full
charge, yelling like so many tigers about pouncing upon their prey. His line was immediately formed, and a well-directed
and incessant fire checked the savage enemy, and completely disappointed their hopes of an easy victory. For three
hours the Indians fought with a courage and desperation excelled only by that of the gallant fellows opposed to them,
and appeared to be determined “to conquer or to die.” Wellborn, finding he could gain nothing by a standing fight,
ordered a charge, which was made in the best manner possible. The Indians fled to the encampment to carry off their
children, and there scattered in every direction, many swimming the river. The fire of our troops after the Indians
commenced retreating was very destructive. Twenty three were found dead from where they commenced running, to
where they crossed the river, and many were killed on the battleground and others in crossing, and it is well ascertained
that from forty to fifty were killed. The loss on the part of our friends was one killed, (Mr. James M. Holloway,) and
Madison Grady mortally wounded, Hartwell Ball, (sheriff of our county,) George Gleason (of the firm of Fulton & Gleason
of this place.) ---- Crowley, and it is thought two of the Georgia volunteers, badly though not dangerously wounded.
The Franklin Volunteers from your State were in the engagement, and nobly and bravely did they bear themselves. They
have won for themselves a reputation that may be envied by the victors of any field. Their deeds of noble daring is the
theme of their associates in arms, and I assure you it is no small commendation to say of them that they were not
behind the rest of the brave fellows, either in the march, the swimming or the charge. An incident that occurred during the
charge is worth of note. One of the Franklin Volunteers was in the hot pursuit of an Indian, who finding that he must fall
into the hands of his pursuer, attempted to save himself by running in the midst of the women, two of whom seized the
volunteer; he used every exertion to disengage himself from them, but they made a furious and deadly assault upon him
with their knives, and in self-defence, he drew his Bowie and with two blows killed them both. One woman was taken
prisoner, who says that the number of warriors in the engagement was about one hundred and twenty-five, and about
sixty women, who fought with as much desperation and courage as the men.
This is certainly the most decisive blow that has been struck since the commencement of hostilities, and Wellborn has
been long seeking an opportunity to strike it. All that skill and valor could accomplish, he has done. The limits of this
communication are too confined to do ample justice to this indefatigable officer, who has thus stopped the murderous
savage in his hitherto unchecked career of devastation and bloodshed, and the brave untiring volunteers under his
command. Suffice it to say, they were not appalled by dangers, nor stayed by difficulties, all obstacles vanished before
their determined spirits.
They stayed not for brake, they stopped not for stone,
They swam the lagoons, where ford there was none.
Their leader had told him the thing must be done, and it has been done, and well done, and could not have been better
done. They went into the field with from seventy to eight effective men, (I forgot to mention before, that the detachment
under Harrell fled, after receiving one fire from the Indians, leaving, it is said, two dead upon the field), against an enemy
who had put more than that number to flight, and who fought under all the advantages which recent victory naturally
secures. But men who had overcome as many difficulties as they had to get their enemy, were not to be defeated; they
accomplished the object they went for in a masterly manner.
Wellborn is still in pursuit of those who escaped, and there is no doubt but that he will soon rid us of the last of these
disturbers of our peace.
In haste, yours,
GEO. L. BARRY.
P.S. I have just learned that Grady is dead.
|Copyright 2017 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: July 29, 2017
(Some contents Copyright 2011)
An 1837 Account of the Battle of Hobdy's Bridge, Alabama