Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

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Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is the location of a major battle with the Red Stick Creek Indians and General Andrew Jackson’s army along the Tallapoosa River in Alabama, which ended the Creek Indian Wars.

In March 1814, General Jackson’s army left Fort Williams on the Coosa, cut a 52-mile trail through the forest in three days, and on the 26th made camp six miles north of Horseshoe Bend.

Location: Alabama
Hours of Operation:
Visitor Center: 9am to 4:30pm Central Standard Time .
Tour Road: 8am to 5pm Central Standard Time.
Horseshoe Bend NMP is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. The park boat ramp is open from dawn to dusk daily.

History:

Horseshoe Bend Military Park boat ramp, Alabama

The next morning, Jackson sent General John Coffee and 700 mounted infantry and 600 Cherokee and Creek allies three miles down-stream to cross the Tallapoosa and surround the bend.

He took the rest of the army – about 2000 men, consisting of East and West Tennessee militia and the Thirty-ninth U.S. Infantry – into the peninsula and at 10:30 a.m. began an ineffectual two-hour artillery bombardment of the Red Sticks’ log barricade.

At noon, Coffee’s Cherokee allies crossed the river and assaulted the Red Sticks from the rear. Jackson quickly ordered a frontal bayonet charge, which poured over the barricade.

Fighting ranged over the south end of the peninsula throughout the afternoon. By dark at least 800 of Chief Menawa’s 1,000 Red Sticks were dead (557 slain on the field and 200-300 in the river). Menawa himself, although severely wounded, managed to escape.

Jackson’s losses in the battle were 49 killed and 154 wounded, many mortally.

Though the Red Sticks had been crushed at Tohopeka, remnants of the war party held out for several months. In August 1814, a treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation was signed at Fort Jackson near the present day city of Wetumpka, Alabama.

The Treaty of Fort Jackson ended the conflict and required the Creeks to cede 23 million acres of land to the United States. The state of Alabama was carved out of this domain and admitted to the Union in 1819.

In 1828, partly as a result of his fame from the battles of Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans, Andrew Jackson was elected the seventh President of the United States.

Things to Do:

Visitor Center – The best place to start your visit is at the Visitor Center, open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Restrooms, water fountains, exhibits, and bookstore are all located here. The park’s official orientation film is shown on request in the auditorium. The Battle of Horseshoe Bend is a 22 minute exploration of the events leading up to as well as the tragic day of March 27, 1813 when over 600 people died on the green fields just outside the Visitor Center.

Two cannon are outdoors on the park grounds. Do not climb on them. Additionally, two outdoor education pavilions are located along the Battlefield. Do not attempt to climb these structures. They should not be used as picnic sites. Be respectful of the gravesite and historic markers found around the Battlefield.

Explosives, fireworks, firearms, and other weapons are not permitted at any time. Park staff includes commissioned law enforcement rangers who may wear sidearms. Park interpreters are certified as black powder demonstrators.

All park resources – natural, cultural, and historical – are protected by federal law. It is illegal to remove, damage, or destroy any park resources. Activities such as metal detecting and relic hunting are serious offenses under the law.

Tour Road  – This 3 mile road includes a one-way loop and skirts the edge of the battlefield and winds along the bend of the Tallapoosa River for which the park is named. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour and is strictly enforced.

Take the time to stop at the five tour stops and get out of your car, rather than attempting to experience Horseshoe Bend from your vehicle.

Most of the area available from the Tour Road is designated a commemorative area with recreational activities prohibited except exploration by foot. 557 Creek warriors and 49 U.S. soldiers died on this ground, making it a solemn experience.

Hiking  – A 2.8 mile long nature trail winds its way around the Battlefield and near Tohopeka Village, the site of a Creek Indian camp in the early 1800s. Those using the trail should wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat, a jacket, and sunscreen. Bring water and a snack. The trail is mildly rigorous.

Picnicking – Horseshoe Bend NMP offers two picnic areas. The larger is located near the Visitor Center and includes two covered shelters. The smaller offers uncovered picnic tables near the Miller Bridge Boat Ramp on Highway 49. Picnicking is not permitted on the battlefield or in Tohopeka Village site. Tables and shelters are available on a first come, first served basis only.

Boating –  Over 15,000 people launch vessels at the Miller Bridge Boat Ramp each year to explore the winding Tallapoosa River. Primarily used by canoeists, the area near this boat ramp is extremely rocky with depths and currents dependent on adjacent Lake Martin. Information is available on canoe routes and access points. Camping is not permitted along the Tallapoosa River within the park.

Fishing – Shore fishing is allowed at the Miller Bridge Boat Ramp only. An Alabama State Fishing License is required.

Bicycling –  Bicycling is permitted on the 3 mile paved Tour Road. Cycling is not permitted on the nature trail, the Battlefield, Tohopeka Village, or any cross country locations. Bike racks are provided at the Visitor Center. Children under the age of 16 should be accompanied by a responsible adult when cycling in the park.

Horseback Riding – Horseback riding is not permitted on the battlefield or in Tohopeka Village. Check at the information desk for the status of unpaved access roads in the park.

Hunting and Trapping – Neither activity is permitted within Horseshoe Bend NMP. All park resources – plants, animals, relics, and artifacts – are all equally protected by federal law. Firearms are prohibited in the park.

Nature Study – Horseshoe Bend NMP is home to 354 wildlife species and 901 plant species. The bulk of the park’s natural resources are native to the area. Park resource specialists are actively working toward eliminating non-native species to help restore the area to its natural community at the time of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1813.

ORV Use – Off road vehicles are not permitted in anywhere in the park at this time except by park staff for administrative use. This includes all unpaved access roads.