By: Gregory A. Waselko
Reviewed by: James W. Parker
The University of Alabama Press, 2006
Near midday on August 30, 1813, hundreds of Indians attacked a small wooden fort that had been hastily erected around the residence of Samuel Mims. The ensuing events here and at other sites near the juncture of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers began a large scale war that changed the face of the Old Southwest forever.
The events and persons associated with the Redstick War, Creek War, and War of 1812 in Alabama have long been the subjects of myths, legends, misinformation, and ethnocentric views. No single event of the era has had a more mystic attraction than the attack upon Fort Mims and subsequent annihilation of hundreds of men, women, and children.
A Conquering Spirit contains a concise presentation of the complex causes of the conflict. In-depth studies of key individuals provide the reader with a background well beyond simple Indian vs. white conflicts. The studies also include details about survivors, participants, and the known dead.
Gregory Waselkov puts the tragic event of August 30, 1813, in its proper historical and anthropological perspectives. Waselkov, a professor at the University of South Alabama, has been researching the various groups that comprise the Creek Nation for more than two decades. Aware of the most current research, he has availed himself of information from several academic disciplines.
Waselkov is well versed in the complex nature of the culture of the Indian inhabitants of the Alabama River basin during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He was the lead author and driving force in getting the archaeological report for the many phases of the archaeology at the Fort Mims site completed and available to the public. I cannot think anyone more qualified to have written this study.
James W. Parker is the director of Ft. Toulouse/Ft. Jackson State Historic Site and has researched, written about, and spoken on the War of 1812/Creek War period.