Biographies & Memoirs

Hardened to Hickory: The Missing Chapter in Andrew Jackson's Life

By Tony Turnbow

This book will launch on Dec 27, 2019. Currently, only those with the link can see it. đź”’
Synopsis

Unpublished documents reveal an Andrew Jackson who committed mutiny and shed tears as he thought his mistakes would lead to the deaths of teenagers under his command. Indians saved him. The backwoods Jackson, who had never commanded a battle, presumed to take on the mantle of General George Washington.
Before Jackson became the next general to drive the British Army from American soil, he first had to defeat the commander of the U.S. Army, General James Wilkinson. Wilkinson embodied a privileged and unproductive establishment, and worse, he had sold his loyalty to work as a spy known as "Agent 13" on the payroll of a European enemy. It was a battle of wits and wills between two American titans. The missing piece of Jackson's biography is how he was transformed into "Old Hickory" by challenges that would have crushed almost anyone else, an intense will to succeed, and an ability to recover from his own mistakes.

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

“We had taken the field raw and undisciplined with the intention of fighting the Battles of our country and experience had taught me to know that without discipline, courage alone would not do.”

 —Andrew Jackson to John Armstrong, April 24, 1813


On December 10, 1812, the Tennessee Volunteers met up with neighboring companies and formed increasingly larger groups along the primitive roads and trails to Nashville. By late morning, the paths were sometimes barely discernible through the snow. Citizen soldiers assured each other that no self-respecting man could rest comfortably in front of his hearth while their homes were threatened with destruction. Many recruits had already risked everything, including the lives of their families, to stake their claims to Tennessee land. They would not give them up without a fight.

Nashville had been designated only as the rendezvous point. A long march on the Natchez Trace lay ahead for the cavalry. Stories of its dangers were legendary. The new federal military wagon road ran a challenging 450 miles through the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations that settlers called the “Wilderness.” Most Volunteers were yet unable to distinguish between friendly Indian nations and those they claimed to “thirst after American blood.”[i] Soldiers were certain that in the long, forested expanse between settlements in Tennessee and Natchez, they would be vulnerable to attacks by tribes whose reputation for brutality had been embellished in newspapers and around campfires.

Volunteers’ parents and grandparents could testify that life on the frontier could be brutal. Women and children were frequently shot, stabbed, clubbed, tortured, and hacked to death with whatever weapons were within an attacker’s reach. Victims on both sides were often scalped as a final act of removing an enemy’s dignity. Beyond the human threats, the infantry would travel an equally dangerous course down the untamed Mississippi River. While that route also presented hazards from Indians and pirates, the river itself was a greater danger. Unseen currents and below-the-surface snags could sink a boat loaded with soldiers in minutes.

As the Volunteers marched toward Nashville, cavalry officers hurriedly rode their horses past whole companies of infantry. Foot soldiers often grumbled that despite their fancy uniforms from Europe, officers were not professional soldiers. Except on muster days, cavalry commanders worked as storeowners, doctors, lawyers, and planters. Their incomes gave them the advantage of the ability to buy the horses, arms, uniforms, and accoutrements officers needed to command their units. Common militiamen sometimes thought that the sole function of some officers was to dress in embroidered uniforms and parade through town barking out orders to the common folk.[ii] Lower ranks performed the real work. Rank-and-file perceptions were reinforced when someone noticed that a few officers were bringing along their own slaves to wash their clothes and cook their meals.

Unlike cavalry, the typical Volunteer infantryman trudged through the snow in his homemade farm shoes and homespun dark blue or brown hunting shirt. To the average man, hunting shirts were a military tradition that honored their ancestors who fought the Revolution wearing similar uniforms.[iii] The outer shirts or frocks were often highlighted with white, yellow, or red fringe to distinguish companies from each other. Despite the homespun cloth that almost any man could afford, these company-specific details gave the troops a crisp military appearance that encouraged a sense of professionalism.

 Most common soldiers’ shoes and uniforms would wear out even before they had begun the return march. To travel light, the men would be able to carry no more than one change of clothes, including white vests and white pants for parade. If winter rains soaked through soldiers’ knapsacks as well as their uniforms, Volunteers would have no choice but wear the wet clothing even if it froze on their backs. If the cloth tore beyond what could be mended in the field, the soldier would be fully exposed to the elements. Sleeping blankets rolled up to be carried on the soldiers’ backs could be unrolled and worn around the shoulders for warmth, but winter coats were not part of the uniform.

In addition to a blanket, some Volunteers carried a rifle or musket and a small amount of food in their knapsacks. Others did not even own a firearm or a change of clothes, but their relative poverty did not deter them from service. They left home carrying what little food or equipment they could spare and found that other Volunteers were willing to share.

 Many Volunteers were teenagers. Drummers could be as young as twelve. Younger soldiers compensated for their lack of experience with optimism and energy. Despite the hazards that lay ahead, the boys could imagine themselves setting out on a grand adventure into the Indian territory settlers called the “Wilderness,” an adventure that they would share with future generations, just as their grandfathers had entertained them with stories of the Revolution.[iv] In addition to giving the boys a good reason to avoid daily chores at home, this war would provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove their mettle.

Nashville citizens anxiously awaited the arrivals. The fledgling town bordered the United States southwestern frontier, a vast area that largely was still unknown and over which the young republic had little control. Only decades earlier, a hardy few had built a town of temporary log homes for families looking to start anew. Now, brick and stone buildings demonstrated that investors thought the frontier town would become permanent.[v] The state legislature had recently voted to move the state capital to Nashville from Knoxville, and plans were underway to construct the first bridge across the Cumberland River. There was talk that the first sidewalks would soon be built. A library was being organized for subscribers who could afford to pay a dollar.[vi] For the few who had leisure time, a wax museum displayed figures of Washington, Jefferson, and Napoleon, as well as terrifying Indian warriors poised to attack.

 The town of 1,200 extended westward only about seven streets. The small rise on the west side of the settlement at the edge of the forest was referred to as “the hills.”[vii] To the south, the long flat public field just north of the Davidson Academy property was called “the Green.” The Green was where large public gatherings were held and troops were mustered.[viii] A portion of the hills and the Green would become home to Jackson’s new military family that winter. Just north of the town, David McGavock’s more-than-mile-square plantation spread out north to the Cumberland River, and his bare corn fields would provide additional campsites.[ix]

 Weeks prior to the rendezvous, Jackson had ordered Nashville store owner William Carroll to study the best locations for campsites near Nashville and to lay out a plan for the temporary military cantonment.[x] Teams of oxen had pulled wagons loaded with rations for the men and forage for the horses into future campsites for days. One-thousand ricks of firewood would be waiting when the men arrived, but it would not last beyond a day in the extreme cold. Fortunately, chopping new supplies from nearby woods and hauling it to the camps would keep restless soldiers busy and out of trouble. Business leaders also knew that clearing the woods so near to the town would help improve the value of Nashville land for settlement. The work of hundreds of soldiers, even during a brief encampment, would make a lasting contribution to the development of the town.

 Despite the lack of equipment for a permanent army, the state had tents ready. Militia Deputy Quartermaster William B. Lewis had been at work for two weeks procuring 8,000 yards of cotton fabric from the Cairo Manufactory in neighboring Sumner County. There had been little time for contractors to sew the cotton into tents for 1,500 men.[xi]

Tennessee Governor Willie Blount had traveled to Nashville to be present when the soldiers assembled. His reputation was at stake. Against the less-than-subtle suggestion of the War Department, Blount had responded to the directive to muster 1,500 troops under the command of a brigadier general by appointing his friend Andrew Jackson, a higher-ranking major general, to lead the expedition.

Jackson’s political enemy Governor John Sevier had denied him the opportunity to lead the last military expedition down the Natchez Trace in 1803. Since then, Jackson had carefully positioned himself for this moment, when he could show the hapless professional generals and federal politicians what a leader with a little spine could accomplish.

Jackson had achieved part of his goal by winning the election to serve as major general of the Tennessee Militia, but that rank did not give him command of the entire state.[xii] The election had been a tie between Jackson and Sevier, and prior governor Roane had no choice politically but to divide the Tennessee regiment in half. Jackson was forced for the time being to be satisfied with the command of the Western Division in what is now called “Middle Tennessee,” and his opponent Sevier led the Eastern Division.

Because Jackson was one of the two ranking generals in the state, Blount assumed that he had authority to choose Jackson to lead the expedition. The appointment empowered Jackson for the first time to call on the resources of the federal War Department—or, at least, that was the assumption Jackson drew from the federal order authorizing the muster of volunteer troops and from the governor’s written assurances based upon that order.

 As Governor Blount and General Jackson met at the inn on the Public Square to discuss plans for the march, Jackson was feeling pressure to move with speed. A letter had arrived from East Tennessee with news that East Tennessee Militia Colonel John Williams had already marched for the Georgia southern border with 150 Volunteers.[xiii] That news meant that East Florida planters who called themselves “Patriots” were preparing to attack Spanish forces at Amelia Island and St. Augustine. Williams would be well-positioned to provide support to assure the transfer of the Florida peninsula to the United States, and his major general Sevier would, by implication, oversee the campaign and gain credit for the acquisition of new territory. If the real purpose of President Madison’s call-up of Tennessee forces was to march troops to East Florida, Jackson had little time to waste in Nashville. This was an historic moment, and Jackson did not want public perception or history to relegate him to a support position for Sevier. Jackson’s men would need to be assembled, supplied, and trained without delay.

But Jackson faced a more immediate crisis. He might first have to quell a mutiny of deserting Volunteers even before his regiments fully assembled. The War Department had not provided money to pay the men, and the young state government had none to spare. Ready currency in the U.S., particularly in the West, generally was still held in the form of European gold and silver pieces, and President Jefferson’s embargo had virtually extinguished the supply of European currency on the frontier. The federal government could issue notes to be paid in currency on a later date, but there was not enough hard currency in Nashville to cash them. Under the terms of service customary for the time, Volunteers mustered in as they arrived in camp by signing a muster roll and accepting wages in advance. The newspaper advertisement announcing the call-up of troops had promised two-months’ advance pay for privates and six for officers. Acceptance of those funds bound Volunteer soldiers to service. If soldiers deserted after accepting advance pay, the breach of their agreement subjected them to military discipline—even possible execution. However, if no funds were available to pay the men when they arrived, Volunteers could choose to return home without facing any penalty. The War Department’s failure to supply funds in time for the troops’ arrival undercut Jackson’s authority for the first time he faced his troops as a federal Volunteer major general. It would not have been unreasonable to expect the lack of pay to turn Jackson’s first significant attempt at military leadership into a career-ending failure before it even began.

Newly mustered soldiers also expected to receive equipment to begin training for the mission, but Jackson had only enough federal muskets for about half the men. One goal of the American militia system was that each citizen soldier would outfit and arm himself. Each Volunteer had been requested to bring his own rifle if he had one, but most frontiersmen could not afford a gun. Those who could were reluctant to leave their families back home without the protection of a firearm. Cavalry members generally were the only frontiersmen who had arms to spare. In fact, the prospect of receiving a rifle or musket was part of the incentive for enlistment. The lack of government weapons planted a seed of doubt in the Volunteers’ minds as to the significance of their mission and the importance of their commander.

 Few frontiersmen understood how unprepared the young, loosely organized nation had been for a declaration of war. The United States was almost half a year into the conflict, but their armed forces were still in tatters. If Tennesseans were needed to face the powerful British military, why had the War Department not followed through in fulfilling Jackson’s anticipated requisitions? An overly cautious commander like those that filled the ranks of the professional army would sense impending disaster. Jackson did not allow room for doubt, and he was determined not to lose this opportunity to command.

 The historic blizzard compounded the uncertainty. Jackson had no means of knowing how many men would answer the call to rendezvous. Tennessee had 40,000 men of fighting age in 1812, but large numbers were exempt from military service.[xiv] On lesser occasions, excuses of high waters and muddy roads had prevented companies from assembling for routine musters. And some men like militia colonel James K. Polk were too ill or had other justifiable reasons not to answer the Call to Arms. As Jackson and Blount paced at the inn, the snowstorm produced a justifiable anxiety that there would be not even enough Volunteers to stage a mutiny.

 Those early apprehensions may have heightened everyone’s exuberance as companies of Volunteers began appearing from sheets of snow in numbers that overwhelmed even the most optimistic estimates. News of the Volunteers’ arrival spread through the taverns, and patrons rushed out to see the arriving horde. Out-of-state guests were heard to comment that they had “often been where Volunteers turned out, but they had never seen such a turning out as that.”[xv] The editor of the Clarion Benjamin J. Bradford added that he had never seen anything like it himself. It convinced him to “turn out” as they called it, or volunteer to join their ranks. He wrote an article preparing his readers for his absence over the next few months.

Not every able-bodied soldier volunteered, but Tennesseans took pride in their patriotic sacrifice. Within a few weeks, Franklin resident Andrew Goff would pause in the middle of his letter to Virginian Robert Preston to brag about the number of Tennessee men who voluntarily turned out in defense of their nation.[xvi]

Years later, after Jackson had become a national hero, it would be suggested that it was only the power of Andrew Jackson’s leadership that persuaded over 2,000 men voluntarily to rendezvous miles from their homes during a blizzard. Jackson had stated publicly that he thought he could raise 2,500 volunteers in what was then West Tennessee. Ultimately, Jackson did not achieve his goal, but it hardly mattered. As accounts of the war would later be written in the West, General Jackson would become the focal point, overshadowing the fact that comparable numbers of volunteers turned out during the war in Kentucky and in the southern Mississippi Territory.

 Jackson would prove to be one of those commanders who seem willing to push his men to the limits and beyond to achieve victory. Such leaders often take their enemies by surprise. Their lives and decisions become key factors in victory or defeat, and if victorious, their own personal victories shape the public recollections of the war.

Any political enemy who had hoped for a sudden end to Jackson’s potential rise in military leadership at the first rendezvous in Nashville was disappointed. By 4:00 p.m., Nashville streets were crowded with hundreds of citizen soldiers who seemed to have overtaken the entire town. It was no aberration of good fortune; Jackson had labored for years laying the foundation for this moment. Jackson positioned William Carroll and muster master Robert Hayes on the Public Square throughout the day as the designated officers to sign in Volunteers as they arrived.[xvii] After company captains met with the quartermaster, Carroll then directed companies to their campsites north on McGavock’s plantation, west to the hills, or south to the Green.[xviii]

 Jackson called his sprawling infantry encampments “Camp of Volunteers.” Officers named them “Camp Necessity.” Some wisecracking soldiers dubbed them “Camp Extortion.”[xix]

 Spades and other tools were in short supply, and troops anxious to establish shelter from the cold resorted to using their feet to shovel snow to set their tent posts. Those not busy with setting up tents were assigned to chop trees for firewood or to bring buckets of water for camp sites. Nashville citizens watched in amazement as the Green and the hills suddenly came to life with acres of human activity, the sights and sounds all enhanced in the reflection of a foot of snow.[xx]

Despite frigid temperatures after sundown, General Jackson, the man who had orchestrated this first vast assembly of Tennesseans, walked through the camps accompanied by Governor Blount. Tension from months of what seemed intolerable handwringing was behind them; the time for action had finally arrived. Families no longer had to wait defenseless on their isolated farms for a surprise attack from British proxies. More than 200 tents and campfires lined the hills and extended beyond, and for the first time in Nashville, the music of many fiddles and laughter filled the cold night air.

Companies assembled at Nashville took comfort in the fact that they were part of a larger call-up of troops. The War Department had placed Jackson’s former militia aide-de-camp Colonel William P. Anderson in charge of raising the U.S. 24th Regiment from Tennessee and Kentucky. Over 800 men enlisted and mustered in at a temporary cantonment near Nashville, probably one of the old fortifications built when Timothy Pickering had been Secretary of War and when settlers battled Creek Indians for territory. Another 1,100 militia in East Tennessee awaited orders to march south.[xxi]

As in every other encampment, soldiers waiting for orders to march speculated about their destination. The official call to rendezvous mentioned the march to New Orleans for defense of the Lower Country in general, but The Nashville Whig had already named the mission the “New Orleans Expedition.”[xxii] Soldiers were needed to reinforce General Wilkinson’s defense of the port city against a British attack.

 News spread through the camps from the letter reporting that 150 infantry Volunteers from East Tennessee had marched for Georgia at their own expense, and it appeared that the Eastern Division’s ultimate destination might be Pensacola. It was rumored that President Madison’s true objective was to take preemptive action by invading East Florida, where the weakened Spanish government was thought to be at the point of collapse, opening the possibility for a British takeover of the peninsula. More troubling for Tennesseans, the Spanish were suspected of allowing British agents to arm Creek Indians from the ports at Pensacola or Mobile. One edition of the newspaper later seemed to confirm the talk that soldiers would march to Mobile, where it was said there stood a fort “garrisoned by black troops who have waded through blood for 20 years in the islands.”[xxiii]

Arguments could be made for immediate action to prevent Creek Indians from gaining superiority in arms. Soldiers could not help speculating whether they would face an alliance of Indian tribes on the upcoming march. Shawnee warrior Tecumseh and his spiritual prophet had stirred the Indian nations to unite against the settlers. The Tennesseans’ march through the Wilderness would be their chance.

 Other talk centered on how much better Tennessee had responded to a call to defend the Union than had New York. There, a debate over whether the relatively new and untested federal Constitution gave the federal government authority to call-up a state militia had resulted in a hesitation to provide a defense that produced disaster.[xxiv] Tennesseans considered themselves more practical and less restrained on the frontier by the regulations that Easterners and Federalists embraced.

 Some older teens no doubt also began to paint harrowing pictures to the younger boys of all the dangers they would face on the Natchez Trace. Storytelling was a chief form of entertainment at home. At bedtime, in particular, as one Tennessean recalled, adults commonly excited or frightened children with stories of ghosts, witches, wild animals, and Indians.[xxv]

Late-night campfire talk reinforced the fear that young Volunteers stood a good chance of being scalped or burned at the stake like French soldiers in the last military expedition on the Trace led by General D’Artiguette. Boys could imagine themselves as D’Artiguette’s soldiers when hundreds of screaming Chickasaw women ran from the hills waving hatchets and knives as they trapped the invaders to torture them into slow, agonizing deaths.

Creek Indian hostiles were the men’s greatest fear. Early Nashville settlers had described the sound of Creek war whoops as the sound of a “thousand devils.” Veterans of Indian campaigns had told their sons about going into houses of Indian warriors and seeing scalps of their Nashville friends hanging throughout. The remainder of their friends’ bodies had been chopped into mincemeat as food for wolves.

Indian warriors were not the only threat. Sixteen-year-old Volunteer William Campbell Love could attest to dangers from white bandits on the Natchez Trace. His father had been killed by members of the Harpe gang, cousins Big Bill and Little Mike, who ransacked the tavern in Kentucky where they were spending the evening.[xxvi] Big Bill, or “Big Harpe” was captured. His head was cut off and impaled on a pole on the road that became known as “Harpe’s Head Road” as a warning to other bandits who would think of entering the area. Little Harpe escaped to the Natchez Trace where he preyed on travelers. Though Little Harpe had been hanged near Natchez, and like his brother, his head had been impaled on a pole by the road, the gang’s legend lived on. Travel on the Natchez Trace remained dangerous as other land pirates would follow their examples until after the War of 1812.

The Scots-Irish had no qualms spicing their stories with supernatural exaggerations so vivid that teens and even adults could almost picture scenes with their imaginations that their eyes would never see. Other campfire stories told of haunted places along the Natchez Trace, such as the field near Choate’s Stand in the Choctaw Nation. Nighttime travelers were said to be met by horsemen without heads or find themselves being escorted through Choate’s Old Field by hairy box-like creatures. If a traveler was riding on a horse, a creature might jump on the horseman’s back and wrestle him until he had passed through the field. Those stories served a practical purpose for the locals, helping to deter the superstitious from searching for the gold that Choate was said to have buried in his field.[xxvii]

More realistic and threatening were stories of a disease like the Black Death that rose from swamps of the Lower Country and claimed soldiers as they slept, taking them to graves in the wild area, never to see their families again. General Wilkinson had recently lost over 800 men to disease in the Lower Country, at least a tenth of the standing army at the time.[xxviii]

After wide-eyed young teens listened to the older boys’ hair-raising stories, only weariness from the day’s march into Nashville would put them to sleep. Even Nashville town watchman Old Mr. Cruff’s hourly crying of the time and weather conditions throughout the night would not wake them.[xxix]

For older Volunteers, a day that had begun with isolated marches into a blustery north wind ended in the warmth of fraternal and patriotic celebration. Men celebrated their loyalty to the cause for which their fathers had fought the Revolution. They celebrated their own willingness to surrender to the cause and drew courage from each other and their common mission, whatever it would turn out to be.

As the talk grew louder and the tales grew taller, jugs were uncorked and whiskey flowed. New soldiers became impervious to cold wind whipping through their tents. Young men freed from parental supervision for the first time drank too much. Fearing that several of his inebriated troops would freeze to death the first evening, Jackson and his quartermaster spent much of the night walking from tent to tent to make certain that all the men were safely inside, that their hands and feet were covered to prevent frostbite, and that campfires were kept burning to provide heat.[xxx]

Those awake and sober enough to see the apparition found it difficult to believe that the general whose anger was so legendary showed such personal compassion for low-ranking troops. Some young men soon began comparing Jackson to their own fathers, and it would become the first of many actions that would engender a devoted loyalty.[xxxi] Often, people who had an opportunity to travel to Jackson’s Hermitage to meet the man who was said to be “mad upon his enemies” were shocked to find that to the opposite extreme, Jackson was the “gentlest” and “tenderest” around his own family.[xxxii] Jackson considered these soldier wards his new military family.

 Jackson’s father had died just months before his namesake Andrew, Jr. was born. The General understood what it was like to grow up without a father’s support, protection, and guidance. In Jackson’s formative early teen years, Revolutionary War military commanders had served as surrogate fathers to teach Jackson lessons in manhood that his own father would have taught him. They also gave him a sense of appreciation and affirmation that he needed to develop. Jackson’s determination to demonstrate his skills as a military commander derived not just from the fact that military command was one of the primary ways men rose to political leadership; the Revolution-era military had served briefly to provide Jackson a nurturing family. Jackson could empathize with these young men now separated from home and dependent on him. He would see to it that they would never have reason to doubt his concern. Jackson may even have surprised himself when he assured the soldiers publicly that he would act as a father to them.[xxxiii]

 Many of the boys were sons of Jackson’s neighbors and other supporters, and Jackson knew that his friends were looking to him to protect their sons’ safety. Jackson had always taken care of family and friends who supported him with the same concern or intensity that he attacked enemies who opposed him.[xxxiv] Though the General recently had adopted a young nephew as a son and had taken in orphans to raise, the responsibility for the daily welfare of hundreds of men was a new challenge, and Jackson showed increasing maturity in his response. A death in the heat of battle could be accepted; however, at a minimum, a commander whose negligence caused an avoidable death or loss of limb faced public humiliation.

Jackson’s cavalry set up camp separate from the infantry.[xxxv] For obvious reasons, large numbers of horses needed additional space, and caring for them required different facilities. The young state could not afford to maintain a supply of its own horses for use of the militia, and no local source was large enough to sell the number needed. Cavalry Volunteers were asked to bring their own horses and accoutrements into camp along with enough forage for the horses until the march.[xxxvi]

The federal government allotted stands of arms for each state; however, Tennessee had grown so rapidly that the population had outgrown its allocation. Tennessee was apportioned a stock of 1,500 stands of arms,[xxxvii] and the War Department had provided an additional 1,000 stands in May 1812.[xxxviii] Because the state lacked firearms for many of the soldiers, Volunteers who brought their own rifles were asked to surrender them to the cause and accept muskets in exchange. An earlier tally had revealed that there were only enough firearms for one out of three militiamen.

Unaware of the advantage of loading muskets quicker than rifles in battle, officers assumed that rifles were superior battle weapons because of their aim. Soldiers who demonstrated the best marksmanship were chosen for a select group of mounted gunmen, and they would earn the right to carry rifles. General Jackson shared this assessment and praised the men for their willingness to cooperate in the swap. On the frontier, a man who owned a firearm depended upon it for survival. The weapon became part of his identity, and it was a significant sacrifice for a frontiersman to see another man carry his prized rifle.

Near daybreak, Jackson entered an inn to warm by the fire. A guest spotted the General and criticized him for hiding out in the warm building while his troops froze outdoors. Jackson angrily defended that he had not slept at all the prior evening while trying to keep the fires going to provide some heat for the men. Revealing his weary exasperation, Jackson then threatened to take the hot fireplace andiron and ram it down the man’s throat if he said more.[xxxix] The critic was a reminder that every decision the General took would be subject to second-guessing from people who did not know the facts and who would never have to see the human consequences of their suggestions.

 Jackson faced more duties before he slept. A dispatch arrived early to inform him that an additional 500 men were making their way to Nashville, adding numbers to his command and placing more strain on limited resources. Because more men turned out than had been expected, groups of nine or ten were assigned to the four-foot-by-eight-foot tents designed for six. Three were required to share a blanket meant for one.[xl]

The forced sharing of space was by design. It was common in the military at the time for a tent of six men to form a type of family unit that remained intact throughout the war. One person in each tent was responsible for cooking meals. That duty could be rotated unless one man showed a talent. Other duties were divided among the unit, known as a “mess.” Not only did the arrangement lower the cost of providing housing and equipment for soldiers and allow them to travel lighter, it forced soldiers to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they would their own families. Camaraderie generated by the confined space and overcoming a common challenge produced an effective team that acted as a single unit in the field.

 The bitter cold at the camp persisted for three days, covering the exterior of the tents with a heavy frost at dusk. Men awoke to find frost on the canvas inside the tents and on their blankets from a crystallization of vapor from their breaths in the cold. Smoke from campfires hugged the ground and sometimes created a fog. Any activity that required walking was difficult. As troops oriented themselves to their outdoor winter quarters, additional companies continued to pour in.

In the excitement of the arrivals, no malcontent succeeded in spreading concern about the breach of protocol due to the lack of advance pay. The Volunteers understood that under their new experiment of self-government, citizens bore the burden of protecting their own homes. No large standing army shielded their families from the British or Indians who wanted to drive them from Tennessee. At first, the men bound themselves to service by their own collective honor and sense of duty. The Nashville Whig noted, “Every man feels that his country has been most viley insulted and abused by unprincipled British and Indian savages; and every man is fixed with an holy enthusiasm to spend to the last drop of his blood in maintaining the precious inheritance of his fathers!”[xli] Tennesseans were ready to go to war, and they gladly endured the momentary hardships. Soldiers also understood that the federal War Department rather than Jackson bore the responsibility to provide funds to pay Volunteers and weapons to outfit them. The young republic’s bureaucratic inefficiencies were well known, even if not fully appreciated.

Jackson may have used the men’s lack of trust in the federals to tamp down concern over lack of payment, but he was too quick to brush off his own concerns about the War Department’s failure to deliver some of the most important resources he would need for the expedition. He had already ignored an ill omen from the wording of the order that required men who had already enlisted as state militia to re-enlist as federal Volunteers and officers elected under his direction to stand again for election. It made no practical difference. Under either order, Jackson controlled the outcome.

The General had encouraged the election of a staff of officers whose varied talents he needed, but foremost from men he knew and trusted. John Coffee was named as colonel commandant of the cavalry. As Jackson’s business partner, Coffee was the man of fighting age Jackson trusted most. Though business operations had seldom proved profitable for the two, Jackson knew that Coffee understood him.[xlii] Physically and temperamentally opposite from the thin, irascible Jackson, Coffee was described as tall, broad-shouldered, and quiet or gentle.[xliii] At 216 pounds when most men were thin, Coffee was a physical force by his bulky size and quiet determination. The lanky Jackson exuded force by his determined stare and words. Together, Jackson and Coffee’s differences forged a good team. Further binding the two together, Coffee had become family to Jackson, having recently married Mary Donelson, the niece of Jackson’s wife Rachel, in a small ceremony at Jackson’s Hermitage.[xliv]

 Thomas Hart Benton served as first aide-de-camp to Jackson and colonel commandant of the Second Regiment of Infantry. Benton was a thirty-year-old lawyer from Franklin, Tennessee, whose mother had founded the adjoining town on the Natchez Trace known unofficially as “Bentonville” (now Leiper’s Fork). Jackson had befriended Benton’s parents early in his life when Jackson was living in North Carolina. Like many young Nashville men who admired Jackson, Benton had probably been inspired by Jackson’s example to seek political success by first becoming a lawyer and military leader.

 Benton offered a combination of the backwoods toughness required for survival on the frontier and the intellectual brilliance to rise to the highest levels of power. And he shared Jackson’s ambition. When Jackson asked Benton about his interest in serving as an officer in the expedition, the young judge and state legislator replied that he would always be happy to exchange a judge’s robe for a sword. Benton assured Jackson only that he could offer a young man’s ambition to succeed, and if Jackson wanted him to raise a regiment, then he would commit not just to raising a regiment, but he would raise the largest regiment possible.[xlv] In his biography of Benton, Theodore Roosevelt noted Benton’s traits of vanity and boastfulness.[xlvi] But then, in 1812, when even wealthy Americans owned few physical possessions, men attempted to distinguish themselves by their reputations, and boasting was one way to appear to excel.

 Jackson recognized many of his own qualities in the young Benton. However, the two strong personalities were so similar that in just a few months, their friendship would be interrupted in a bloody brawl on the streets of Nashville. Jackson would suffer the effects of the bullet Benton put in his arm during the brawl throughout much of the War of 1812 and into his presidency. After Jackson’s death, Benton attempted to claim credit for the organization of the call-up of troops for the Natchez Expedition as well as other Jackson accomplishments.[xlvii] Senator Benton would overlook the brawl when attempting to revise his role in Jackson’s biography.

At the other end of the spectrum, the slight, fair-haired, well-mannered, and well-dressed William Carroll was elected brigade inspector. The young businessman had moved from Philadelphia to Nashville to open a hardware store.[xlviii] His father had been a partner in a store operation with Albert Gallatin, who became the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Carroll, who impressed Jackson as sober and discrete, won Jackson’s respect in business and demonstrated organizational talents needed for his new position. The Clarion editor saw the future war hero that Carroll would become and bolstered his reputation, stating that he was gallant, highly promising, prompt, and decisive in character, and like Jackson, he “is fond of military life and thirsts after fame.”[xlix] Those characteristics made him one of Jackson’s favorites. Though Carroll commanded a militia company in Nashville, it would take time for the young eastern city man to earn the respect of the Tennessee woodsmen soldiers from outlying areas. They considered Carroll too much of a delicate dandy to give him their full respect.

As in the selection of Coffee, Benton and Carroll, an early test of Jackson’s leadership was his ability to match available talent to the task. John Reid, a young lawyer from Franklin, Tennessee, who was known for his attention to detail and who would later write much of Jackson’s first biography, was named as second aide-de-camp. When Jackson asked Reid to join his military family, Reid replied that he had no military command experience, but he could assure Jackson that if Jackson perished, he would perish with him.[l]

William Hall, a seasoned military leader and sheriff of Robertson County, Tennessee, served as colonel commandant of the First Regiment of Infantry. The older, wiser man would serve as a good counter-balance to Benton.

Jackson’s business associate James Henderson, selected as brigade quartermaster, had the difficult job of supplying Volunteers with provisions and equipment from limited resources. Henderson would travel ahead down the Natchez Trace to make provisions for the men, while his assistant William B. Lewis remained in Nashville to serve as a conduit with the government. Many staff members would later see their service rewarded by the naming of new counties in their honor.[li]

Once Governor Blount had officially approved Jackson’s election of officers, the General was ready to begin training the Volunteers. Through Benton, Jackson warned the men that it would take more than courage to prevail against British disciplined opposition.[lii] Like commanders before him, Jackson’s job was to turn what he called “raw recruits” into soldiers. They would need to be trained to act instinctively as a team when overwhelming force gave them no time to think.

From the first days of encampment, enlisted men who would serve Jackson faithfully throughout the war also began to distinguish themselves. Nineteen-year-old ensign Andrew Jackson Edmonson reflected the talent and lack of experience that many of the boys brought to the effort. Edmonson was said to have been the first child in West Tennessee to be named for Andrew Jackson. His father Robert survived the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolution, only to be seriously wounded by an Indian attack at Neelly’s Bend not far from Jackson’s future Hermitage home. Edmonson, like many in his ranks, wanted to prove to those heroes of the Revolution that their offspring carried the same courage in their blood.

Officers elected Edmonson to serve as sentinel of his company.

Knowing little about sentinel duties, Edmonson devoted time to studying the manual of military tactics, and he learned the routine: “Q. Who goes there? A. Rounds Q. What Rounds? A. Grand Rounds Q. Stand Grand Rounds,” then “Advance Sergeant with the Countersign, Countersign Right, Pass Grand Rounds, and Present Arms.” When Ensign Edmonson felt confident that he was ready for inspection, he presented himself to Benton, who was serving as officer of the day. Benton drilled Edmonson and complimented him on how well he had learned the manual. Benton then offered to show Edmonson the Bonaparte method of presenting arms. Edmonson started to lower the muzzle of his rifle to hand the gun to Benton, when he remembered that contrary to camp orders, he had loaded the weapon in camp. As an excuse not to reveal his mistake, Edmonson also remembered something his father told him about a sentinel never allowing anyone to touch his firearm. The young ensign cited the precedent and refused to surrender his weapon to Benton. Benton protested that Edmonson should know that his superior officer was not an enemy; this command was for practice. Edmonson’s father’s campfire advice trumped. Benton moved on to the next man, shaking his head in disbelief. Edmonson had demonstrated that he could think fast on his feet and hold firm to his convictions, but it occurred to him that he would never learn the Bonaparte method.[liii]

Unlike Edmonson, Private Oliver Bush distinguished himself as one of the first deserters, and one whose punishment would serve as a lesson to the others. Military infractions could be punished severely. Until Congress outlawed the practice in 1812, soldiers were often whipped as punishment like slaves or prisoners. Cattails could be used, and 60 lashes spread out over hours to increase suffering could be followed by fellow soldiers pouring and pounding salt into the wounds. As guards brought Bush forward, the men were ordered to fix their bayonets and surround the private. Each direction Bush looked, he saw only the sharp points held by his former comrades. Fife-drum-music was played as a signal to march Bush to the head of the company to face his sentence. As the prisoner reached Captain Carroll, the music stopped, and Carroll used a long silence to prolong the punishment. Then the sentence was solemnly pronounced, “By this crime, the most infamous which a volunteer could commit, he has rendered himself unworthy of associating with the voluntary defenders of their country.”[liv] He was then marched a mile and a half out of camp and told not to return. The remainder of the Volunteers were ordered never to associate with the deserter to ensure that his shame followed him. 

Jackson may have hoped that similar public embarrassments would to deter future desertions, but it would be the first of several punishments that grew in severity. Citizen soldiers were unaccustomed to taking orders from commanders, who were often their neighbors and whom they had elected. Militia service was normally for short durations, and when the time of service expired, most men simply returned home. Jackson and his officers were challenged in establishing discipline among men who normally took charge of their own military defense of their farms. By nature, tough and independent citizens often judged their own manhood by their unwillingness to submit to the instruction of another man. Jackson was reluctant to approve severe punishment for his military family, but that reluctance lessened each time his attempts to find humane deterrents failed. Compared to men that Jackson later ordered to be shot for mutiny during the Creek campaign, Bush received a light sentence.

To convert this group of independent men into a cohesive unit, Benton decided it was time to deepen the soldiers’ understanding of their roles. Unstated, Benton was attempting to shape Jackson in the image of the revered General George Washington.[lv] Jackson had studied General Washington’s actions through newspaper accounts, but he was not a scholar who pored over dusty military manuals. The studious Benton likely had rendered that service for several months to help Jackson establish a professional command structure that would take him to a higher level as a general.

Though Jackson had worked to train his militia to be as professional as any in the young nation, the civilians were not the battle-hardened professional soldiers they would face soon. Neither was Jackson. But in his unlimited ambition, Jackson was taking the first steps to become the next general who would save his nation from a British invasion.

Benton used terms any soldier could understand. Starting at the top, Benton informed the men that General Jackson’s relationship to his soldiers was to be that of a father to his children.[lvi] Benton reminded Volunteers that they owed their military father the respect of obeying his commands. As Jackson’s sons, the soldiers were to act as a “band of brothers” within their military family. The term “band of brothers’ was probably coined by Shakespeare in Henry V, but Washington often had used the term to describe the bond military service had created in the Revolution and like other American soldiers, Volunteers adopted the name to best describe their own bond. Some of the more educated who had been taught passages from Shakespeare through recitations may have recited it to the others:

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that shed his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us....”.[lvii]

The name also reminded Volunteers that they were part of a long chain of military tradition, and the men would often repeat the term as they sacrificed their own comfort and safety for the welfare of their compatriots. Volunteers accepted their new identities and sometimes referred to each other as “brother,” even when complaining about the actions of another soldier.[lviii] It was now their responsibility to learn their duties as brothers in that family.

Infantry training consisted of teaching men to form, maneuver, and hold lines as they marched shoulder-to-shoulder to create an impenetrable human wall to overwhelm the enemy by force. Those in the front were expected to hold the line even when facing certain injury or death. Parades were held to demonstrate the soldiers’ abilities on the line.

The second objective was to teach the men to fire their muskets or rifles in unison to provide a larger firepower.[lix] After basic instruction for the troops, Jackson determined that it was safe to open the stone storehouse in Nashville being used for its arms magazine. Detachments were to march into town to obtain the supply.[lx] The small number of firearms available was an embarrassment, and it gave Jackson the idea that the U.S. government should place a large arsenal in Nashville to help guard the frontier.[lxi]

Throughout their encampment, the men were instructed to be on their best behavior toward the townspeople. No soldier was to abuse his position to insult a citizen or think that he had any right to take a citizen’s property. To avoid conflicts from either soldiers or civilians, Volunteers carrying loaded weapons were ordered to encircle the camp at all hours, and permission would have to be given to enter or exit. All civilians were to be escorted out of camp at dusk. No woman was to be seen in camp at dark.[lxii]

Jackson re-enforced the need for discipline in his general orders:

“Troops have been seven days encamped and during that period experiencing the unusual rigor of the season. The small proportion of this time to attend to discipline. The orderly and military conduct of both officers and men on all actions is a sure pledge that your General but hopes will be realized that in this detachment will be verified the expectation of the worthy patriots of the Revolution who framed the Constitution, that a well organized militia in the same defense and the grand Bulwark of the nation. Your general expected all officers and soldiers in the detachment to continue their allegiance to discipline and let it ever be kept in mind that the materials conforming the detachment when full disciplined can never ____ _____ equal numbers. That without discipline our valor may be vanquished by superior military skill, tho directed by inferior force.”[lxiii]


The cavalry required separate training and equipment. Cavalry soldiers were ordered to ride their own prized horses into Nashville for appraisers to assign a value to the horses and equipment. The state purchased Volunteers’ horses with only an exchange of government promises of payment. After their arrival at the encampment, Colonel Coffee ordered the cavalry to march into town to train, naming the new camp “Good Exchange.”[lxiv] No doubt the name was chosen to assure the men that there would be a good exchange for their horses and equipment.

By December 16, 60 swords had been located for the cavalry’s use and delivered to Childress’ Inn.[lxv] Unlike the few rifles, muskets, or even the knives that every man carried, swords were not needed by average civilians in their everyday work. Muster days did not provide enough training to make the cavalry proficient swordsmen. They had little time to prepare to face their British counterparts.

Few men openly discussed the fact that General Jackson had never commanded a battle or that he had engaged in few hostile conflicts other than a skirmishes with small Indian parties and duels of his own making. No one challenged his training orders. Many successful professionals including physicians and lawyers were self-taught at the time. Like their commanders, some newly minted military men also thought nothing of teaching themselves military regulations and strategies from books just prior to battle. West Point, the first American academy for training military professionals, was only 10 years old, and graduation from such a program was not a prerequisite for leadership.

It was true that Jackson had no command experience to know how to prepare his men to face the British, but the General had never allowed his lack of position or training to cause him one moment of hesitation in pursuing any goal he sought. He had agreed to serve as Tennessee Superior Court Justice even though he could not read or write as well as other lawyers. He had served as U.S. congressman and senator before he had learned political skills and customs of the nation’s capital. Jackson believed that democracy was a great equalizer and that the heroes of the Revolution had produced a nation in which any citizen could go as far as his talents, initiative, and courage would take him.

Jackson’s civilian success had come in the business of training champion racehorses.[lxvi] The trainer’s objective was to instill enough discipline in the horse to keep it under control while maintaining and spurring its competitive spirit. Because non-professional soldiers’ lives were concentrated mainly on civilian affairs, Jackson focused first on creating fighting spirit and confidence. Jackson watched his soldiers closely until he saw that, like racehorses pushing against the fence, they were primed for action.

The drummers began to practice the tune to which the soldiers would march, “Victory or Death:”[lxvii]

“To arms! To arms: ye brave.

The avenging sword unsheath!

March on! March on! All hearts resolved.

On victory or death!”[lxviii]

To show the people of Nashville that citizen companies had been pulled together as one unit, Jackson took advantage of the cavalry’s march into Nashville to their new encampment to organize a grand march of troops through the town. The infantry joined the cavalry’s procession from camp at the home “Bellview” and then all three regiments marched toward the Public Square.[lxix] Governor Blount appeared at the front of Bell’s Tavern to review the troops. The blaring of martial music from fife and drum acted as a siren to announce the procession and a crowd assembled along the route.

Major General Jackson was centered at the head of the march with his aides-de-camp Thomas Hart Benton and John Reid at his side. Colonel Coffee appeared next, leading a procession of mounted cavalry dressed in sharp uniforms and carrying sabers and other military accoutrements. The new cavalry officers were generally better suited to serve as the focal point for small town parades, but the lines of 670 uniformed men and horses produced an image of power that had to impress even the most skeptical.

 Colonel Hall followed with a march of the First Regiment of Infantry. Then Benton’s Second Regiment appeared. The sounds of the synchronized marches, horse hoofs, and the calls of the orders reverberated through the streets. A common pride swelled as it became clear that in just a few days, the average man had been transformed into something more. These were, as one spectator described them, “Sons of the West” bound together in a common cause.[lxx] The only words the awestruck observer could find to describe the effect on the citizenry were that “every heart beat in unison.”[lxxi]

Securing support from the home front is one of the foundations for protracted action. Citizens remaining at home also would be called on to sacrifice in money and supplies, but more importantly to sacrifice the lives of their men of fighting age. Women and children would be left behind. Though Governor Blount politically had assured the soldiers that they could count on civilians at home, it was important for Jackson to secure the full support of Tennesseans and to convince his neighbors of his ability to lead an effective force, so that there be no hesitation when he called for additional men or materials.

The Call to Arms had the effect of pulling together small bands of settlers for the first time as Tennesseans. Tennesseans would now be dedicated to sacrificing their lives not only for their own farms or communities, but for their state. For many citizens, the march of over 2,000 Tennessee soldiers through Nashville to military music was the first time they had witnessed such power from the State of Tennessee.

Jackson had planned to march the Volunteers from Nashville by mid-December, and he had only ordered enough provisions to feed the men in camp until the 20th.[lxxii] The General preferred to end his grand parade by marching his men at their peak of readiness out of town and on down the Natchez Trace and Mississippi River.[lxxiii] Though the State of Tennessee was verbally bound to the effort, the federal bureaucracy had still not provided funds to pay the men or supplied additional weapons needed to mount a respectable defense.

 After convincing the citizens of Nashville and the politicians that he had assembled a fighting force and after stirring his own men to march to the Gulf Coast, Jackson had no choice but to march the men back to their camps to wait in Nashville. Challenges of the Natchez Trace and Mississippi River would grow with each day’s delay.


[i] John Coffee, 29 January 1813, CO.

[ii] John C. Guild, Old Times in Tennessee, Nashville: Tavvel, Eastman & Howell, 1878). Guild, 322. For requirement for cavalry to purchase uniforms from Europe, see petition of citizens, Legislative Petitions, 53-2-1812, MF, Roll 4, TSLA.

[iii] John C. Guild, Old Times in Tennessee, 322.

[iv] Marquis James also used the term “grand adventure” in referencing promises recruiters had made to the young boys in the company. MJ, 158. John Henry Eaton and John Reid mentioned the young ages of the soldiers, The Life of Major General Andrew Jackson, 3d Ed, Philadelphia: McCarthy & Davis, 1828, 15.

[v] Stackhouse Travel Diary, 16 November 1811.

[vi] Clarion, 12 January 1813.                                                  

[vii] Clarion, 15 December 1812. The newspaper stated that soldiers’ tents were pitched in the “hills which overlook the town.”

[viii] Veterans of the War of 1812 reunited as part of militia to camp on the commons or Green as part of Nashville’s celebration of the visit of General Lafayette in 1825. John C. Guild, Old Times in Tennessee, 446.

[ix] David McGavock’s plantation is identified in W.W. Clayton, History of Davidson County, Tennessee. Philadelphia, J.W. Lewis & Co., 1880, 196. Edmonson recorded that his regiment under Benton’s command camped there, Edmonson Journal, 1.

[x] AJ to William Carroll, General Orders, 9 December 1812, LC.

[xi] Clarion, 15 December 1812.

[xii] Commission as Major General, PAJ I:291-292, and n. 1.

[xiii] Clarion, 2 December 1812. As president, Jackson encouraged the government’s reliance on “hard money” that had intrinsic value over paper money or bank notes.

[xiv] AJ to the 2nd Division of Tennessee, 8 September 1812, PAJ II:320. Polk suffered from painful kidney stones, Lorman A. Ratner, Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee Lieutenants, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997, 91.

[xv] Clarion, 15 December 1812.

[xvi] Andrew Goff to Robert Preston, 1 February 1813, Williamson County, Tennessee Archives.

[xvii] AJ to William Carroll, 9 December 1812, LC, Parton, “Statement of Certain Tennessee Volunteers who Served under General Jackson in the Creek War,” 629.

[xviii] Edmonson recorded in his journal that his camp was on David McGavock’s Plantation, Edmonson Journal, 1. Clarion, 15 December 1812, reported that soldiers were camped on the hills overlooking the town. The hills were to the west.

[xix] Camp of Volunteers, Clarion 22 December 1812, Camp Necessity, Edmonson Journal, 2, Camp Extortion, Edmonson Journal, 1.

[xx] The events of the first day of encampment were described in the Clarion, 15 December 1812.

[xxi] Clarion, 22 December 1812.

[xxii] The Nashville Whig, 2 December 1812.

[xxiii] Clarion, 19 January 1813. Though published after the rendezvous, it reflected the options that had been discussed.

[xxiv] It was unclear whether the president as commander in chief of the federal government had the authority to call out state militias. In the Battle of Queenston Heights, U.S. forces lacked militia re-enforcements because it was doubted whether the militia could march beyond the U.S. border. That issue was debated in the Volunteer Bill in 1812, J. Roderick Heller, III, Democracy’s Lawyer: Felix Grundy of the Old Southwest, Louisiana State University Press, 2010, 100.

[xxv] James Ross, James, Life and Times of Elder Reuben Ross, https://ia600306.us.archive.org/25/items/lifetimesofelder00ross/lifetimesofelder00ross.pdf., 184.

[xxvi] William Love Journal, Transcribed version in Crittenden County, Arkansas Public Library, 6.

[xxvii] Recited in J. H. Wallace’s History of Kosciusko and Attala County, 1916 Attala-countyhistory-geneaology.org.

[xxviii] AJ to John Armstrong, 1 March 1813, LC. See also Wilkinson Court Martial, 1811.

[xxix] Miss Jane Davis, Old Days in Nashville, Publishing House, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1897, Reprinted by Charles Elder, 44.

[xxx] Parton 3:368. Parton noted that the soldiers were drunken, Parton Condensed, 109.

[xxxi] Parton made this point, Parton Condensed, 113.

[xxxii] Parton Condensed, 105.

[xxxiii] General Orders, 13 December 1812, CAJ II:247-249. Jackson’s model General Washington had used a similar expression.

[xxxiv] John Henry Eaton and John Reid stated that the boys were sons of Jackson’s neighbors and that they were looking to him to protect them, The Life of Major General Andrew Jackson, 15. Parton called Jackson a “protector” of his friends. Parton Condensed, 16. Jackson biographer Robert Remini compared him to a rooster who was tender to the hens who clucked around him but a killer to anyone who would threaten. Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars, 15.

[xxxv]See note 77 below. It is unclear whether the first cavalry camp was located. From the direction of the march, it appears that it may have been west of Nashville.

[xxxvi] Regimental Orders, 24 November 1812, JMP.

[xxxvii] James N. Gibson, A War Without Rifles, 83.

[xxxviii] Eustis to Blount, 21 October 1812, CAJ I:240, n. 5.

[xxxix] Parton 1:368.

[xl] Clarion, 15 December 1812.

[xli] The Nashville Whig, 9 December 1813.

[xlii] PAJ II:6, notes.

[xliii] “Letters of General Coffee to his Wife,” 1813-1815, THM, 265.

[xliv] Parton seems to refer to the Polly in the letter as Coffee’s wife Mary. He may have confused Coffee’s wife Mary Donelson with Mary Polly Donelson, wife of Samuel Donelson.  The letter seems to make clear that the Polly referred to in the letter lived in Columbia, Tennessee. Parton 1:369-370.

[xlv] Thomas Hart Benton to AJ, 30 January 1812, PAJ II:280-281 and CAJ I:225-226.

[xlvi] Theodore Roosevelt, American Statesman: Thomas Hart Benton, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1896, 34.

[xlvii] Parton 1:362-364.

[xlviii] MJ, 160.

[xlix] Clarion, 5 January 1813. Lorman A. Ratner, Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee Lieutenants, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997, 66.

[l] Reid was to serve as lieutenant and second aide-de-camp but supposedly illness prevented him from traveling with Jackson on the Natchez Expedition. CAJ I:247, n. 2. Reid may have thought he was to be given Benton’s position as first aide-de-camp, and he may have chosen to remain behind rather than to serve under Benton. See AJ to John Reid, 11 December 1813 and John Reid to AJ, General Orders, LC. AJ to John Reid, 30 December 1812, C.A.J I:251.

[li] Jackson’s officers are listed in his General Orders, 13 December 1812, CAJ I:247-249.

[lii] General Orders, 13 December 1813, LC.

[liii] Edmonson Journal, 2.

[liv] Clarion, 22 December 1812, The Nashville Whig, 16 December 1812. Clarion, 5 January 1813.

[lv] Jackson revered Washington the general who won the Revolution, but not Washington the politician who opposed westerner’s military actions toward neighboring Indian nations. MJ, 83-84.

[lvi] Order published in Clarion, 22 December 1812.

[lvii] HENRY V, Act IV, Scene iii, 160-66, William Shakespeare, The Complete Works, The Viking Press New York, 1969, Reprinted 1979. For a discussion of the study of military manuals and Washington’s usage of the term “band of brothers,” see, Don Higgenbotham, “Military Education Before West Point,” Robert M. S. McDonald, Ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Military Academy: Founding West Point, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004, 31-34,47.

[lviii] T.W. Linster, Complaint, 6 April 1813, LC.

[lix] Timothy D. Johnson, Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1998, 44.

[lx] General Orders, 14 December 1812, LC.

[lxi] The larger arsenal was established after the war in Columbia, Tennessee, south of Nashville, but it took decades to implement Jackson’s suggestion. The buildings are now part of Columbia Academy.

[lxii] Thomas Hart Benton, Order published in the Clarion, 22 December 1813.

[lxiii] General Orders, 17 December 1812, LC.

[lxiv] 16 December 1812, Andrew Jackson, Order No. 8, CO. Edmonson wrote that the second cavalry camp was a few miles south of Nashville. One source listed the distance as six miles. That distance put it near Henry Compton’s farm near present-day Tyne Boulevard, W. W. Clayton, History of Nashville, 414. According to W.W. Clayton, Compton built flatboats that transported Jackson’s troops to New Orleans, and he served as deputy quartermaster. Ibid., 422. A quartermaster was attached to the cavalry.

[lxv] 16 December 1812, CO.

[lxvi] John C. Guild, Old Times in Tennessee, 255.

[lxvii] The Nashville Whig, 6 January 1813.

[lxviii] Recited in J. H. Wallace’s History of Kosciuko and Attala County, 1916 Attala-countyhistory-geneaology.org.

[lxix] General Orders, John Reid, 16 December 1813, LC. This Bellview was located in the old town center, as distinguished from the Bellevue west of Nashville that gave name to a Nashville suburb.

[lxx] Clarion, 5 January 1813.

[lxxi] Ibid.

[lxxii] General Orders, To Cantrell and Read, LC.

[lxxiii] The Nashville Whig, 25 November 1813.


About the author

Tony L. Turnbow has studied the history of the Natchez Trace for more than 30 years. He practices law in Franklin, Tennessee. Mr. Turnbow has published articles in historical journals, and he wrote a full-lenth play about the mysterious death of explorer Meriwether Lewis. view profile

Published on September 27, 2018

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Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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