Turkey Creek Longrifles: Andrew Jackson Part I

Since the Turkey Creek Longrifles do a Creek War Tennessee Militia impression, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss General Andrew Jackson.


Once, America had heroes and one of these was Andrew Jackson. The life of Jackson is one of the most remarkable, if not astonishing, stories in the history of the United States. Born in South Carolina in 1767 to immigrant Scots-Irish parents, Jackson had humble beginnings. Jackson’s father died before he was born leaving him, his mother and two brothers. Jackson received a spotty education from his uncles during his childhood.

In 1779 during the American Revolution, Jackson became a courier with the Patriot militia, earning his first military rank at the age of 12. His older brother, Hugh, was killed at the Battle of Stono Ferry. Shortly thereafter, he and his brother Robert were captured by the British, beginning the first legend of Jackson.

Following their muddy footprints on a rainy day, a British patrol had tracked to the two messenger boys to a farmhouse and seized them. When the British officer ordered Andrew to clean the mud from his boots, he protested and defied the order stating he was a Prisoner of War and would not belittle himself by cleaning the officer’s boots. The officer drew his sword and Young Jackson blocked the blow, scarring his hand and forehead, a scar he would carry for the rest of his life.

These physical scars were nothing compared to the emotional ones to come. While in British captivity, both Robert and Andrew contracted Smallpox. Andrew’s mother was allowed to care for the boys and other American prisoners. Robert soon died of Smallpox, followed by his mother Elizabeth Jackson, from Cholera contracted from her tender care of the prisoners.

At 14, Jackson was an orphan with a fierce hatred for the British, who he blamed for the loss of his entire family.

Through the help of his uncles, Jackson, a self taught lawyer, eventually became a circuit judge. He was a protégé of William Blount, the second Governor of The State of Tennessee.  Jackson was elected as the first Representative to Congress when Tennessee gained statehood.

It was during this time that he met and married the love of his life Rachel Donelson Robards. Rachel was in an unhappy, possibly abusive marriage to a Kentuckian named Lewis Robards.  Some say Rachel fled for her life, others say Robards put Rachel on a flatboat boat to Spanish Natchez and boasted publicly he was rid of his wife, divorce by abandonment. Others say Rachel fled to Nashville and she and Jackson, acting as her protector, went to Spanish Natchez where they were married in 1788.  Returning to Nashville, Jackson learned that the Robards divorce was not legal and that Robards had petitioned that Rachel and Andrew were adulterers. The official Kentucky divorce was grated, not due to abuse and abandonment by Robards, but by bigamy and adultery by Rachel, who was shamed by the scandal for the rest of her life. Jackson and Rachel married again in Nashville. Jackson defended his wife’s honor, carrying a pistol ball in his chest from a duel over this matter.

During this time, the state of Tennessee was involved in an on-again/off-again war with the Cherokees who supported Britain in the Revolution.  These Chickamauga Cherokee Wars and smaller skirmishes were to continue until around 1800. Sometimes the Cherokee operated together as allies against the Tennesseans with their traditional enemies to the south, the Creeks.

In 1801 Andrew Jackson received his second military rank, he was elected Commanding General of the Tennessee Militia. This was pretty remarkable considering Jackson’s previous military experience was only as a messenger boy.  Even more astonishing, the title was conferred to Jackson over Col. John Sevier, Tennessee’s first Governor, Governor of the Free State of Franklin, Hero of Kings Mountain and Tennessee’s commander in the field from the American Revolution and all through the Cherokee Wars.

This lowly uneducated orphan would eventually prove himself to be one of the greatest American military commanders of his time, if not all time.  His test would come in the War of 1812.

Look for the conclusion of this story in April.

The Turkey Creek Longrifles open their 1814 camp to the public once a month at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. For more information please visit our events calendar.


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