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A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814 (Fire Ant Books) 1st Edition Edition

13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0817355739
ISBN-10: 0817355731
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Editorial Reviews


"A fine-grained analysis of an almost-forgotten event and place [that] illuminates the social processes at work in a given era. . . . Waselkov is at his most impressive when narrating the ‘Many Paths to the Tensaw’ and describing the community that developed there. . . . The vignettes about these people demonstrate his mastery of the relevant sources." 

Journal of Southern History 

“Blending the diverse and complex but complementary skills of the historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, and ethnographer, Waselkov has plowed new ground and authored a tour de force, a must-read for those interested in the vital but tragic early history of our nation, as well as those who savor heritage tourism.”

—Ed Bearrs, Chief Historian Emeritus, National Park Service

"By far the most levelheaded and detailed description of the events that surrounded the assault on Fort Mims. . . . Carefully written and persuasive in its central claims, A Conquering Spirit will certainly remain the standard reference for the event for many years to come.”

American Historical Review

Book Description

Nationwide repercussions to a bloody battle on the southern frontier.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Fire Ant Books
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1st Edition edition (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817355731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817355739
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brother Dave on December 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Finally someone has written a modern study of the "Creek War" and my favorite history period in one complete package.

The early history of the migration of Americans into the Mississippi Territory and the conflicts this created is covered. Wonderfully detailed with illustrations, pictures of artifacts, notes and additional details not normally covered in this period of history. Mr. Waselkov includes the only detailed account of every known participant of the attack on Fort Mims. Great for those tracing their genealogical history in this area and period of time.

This book covers the periods leading up to the attack, the details of the attack, the expanded war it created and the political outcomes in more detail than has ever been published. This is the best detail and depth of information on the Creek culture and its relation to the causes of the "Creek War" I've ever read. Outstanding!

If you grew up loving movies and books about Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and fiction like the "Last of the Mohicans" then this true history of the conflict between Southern Indian tribes and the American Pioneers is for you. The many personalities involved in this terrible tragedy that can be described as "heroes" on both sides. It is a wonder that noone has made a movie of this history.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Welch on June 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A CONQUERING SPIRIT, Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1813, by Gregory A. Waselkov, The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa (2006), 414 pages.

This must be lucidly the ne plus ultra for this fascinating conflict. The research is indefatigable, thorough, and multi-faceted. The author has utilized the skills of historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, and genealogist. It is only after his melding these elements all together that the trees become clearly delineated from the woods. His explication of family relationships and interactions sheds light on otherwise difficult to understand actions by the participants. His explanation of the clan and kinship systems used by the Creeks and the inevitable cultural conflicts that arose with the Americans are invaluable.

Probably few Americans grasp that the Ft. Mims Massacre of 30 August 1813 was presumably the greatest massacre of cultural non-Indians of the many Indian Wars in our four hundred years of history. Even fewer grasp that of the hundreds killed, many were not white but included large numbers of cross-breeds of Indian and white (the author interestingly refers to them as métis which is a French derived word for "mixed" similar to the Spanish mestizo) and blacks - not to mention that these included numerous women and children. Ultimately the fight descended into a massacre of civilians by the Creek Indians many of whom themselves were métis and therefore related to those whom they were killing. There is great academic debate on exactly how many were killed but most historians agree that the number is between 350 and 530. It was not pretty.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Fisher VINE VOICE on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The War of 1812 is a fascinating period that has long been neglected in American history courses. I suspect this is partly due to the disconnected or isolated nature of the conflicts that together encompass what we call the "War of 1812." From naval battles on Lake Erie against the British to the Redstick War against the Creek Indians in Alabama, the War of 1812 just does not lend itself to a simple linear presentation.

There is, however, opportunity to study the components of the war, each with unique causes, combatants and historical implications. And with that in mind, Gregory Waselkov has done a masterful job presenting the Redstick War of 1813-1814.

The passages dealing with the mixed race metis on the Tensaw and their role in the start of the Redstick civil war have never been so clearly explained. The details about the Battle at Fort Mims that emerged from the authors' research made reading "A Conquering Spirit" worth while even if you have read other accounts.

Waselkov goes well beyond dates and names and brings this story alive with archaeological details and the personal and sociological motivations of groups and individuals involved. From the Weatherford brothers on opposite sides of the battle to the fascinating way the Creek metis and whites of the Tesnaw lived in peace in the decade before the war, the story telling is lively and engaging throughout.

Fort Mims was a stand alone cultural reference point and defining moment of early American history. Without Mims, the resulting Trail of Tears may not have happened. Through the Redstick War we see the early literary and cultural romanticization and transfiguration of the this once hated foe.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. phillips on September 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for many reasons.

The Fort Mims experience was a pivotal point in pre-Alabama history which leads directly to the destruction of the Creek Nation in both Alabama and Georgia.Waselkov delivers this story in a powerful way.

This will be the "go to " book on the events at Forts Mims and the people and families involved. Waselkov personalizes this book and introduces us to the "real people". He debunks myths and cuts through the haze of romanticized accounts . He goes for the facts, the real names, real traits and motivations.
This book will be known for its very finely detailed footnotes and graphics which far exceeds any previous work done on Fort Mims.His references often involve 6 or 7 sources to document his point.
Let me address the structural features of this impressive book:

The total number of pages is 414 however the ten chapters (the main storyline ) are only 212 pages, meaning the balance is involved in notes, charts and maps and lists to further document and illustrate his points.
There are 30 so-called figures or images to display artifacts, 8 plates to show mostly maps (some in very rich color) and 5 genealogy charts of families involved in the Creek Wars and Fort Mims. One of the most impressive things in the book is the 29 page list of participants at Fort Mims. This goes way beyond any prior studies. This is not just a list of names but gives some history on each person. This is ground breaking. He admits it will be impossible to ever know an exact number of people present or killed on both sides. Early numbers reported in newspapers were around 500 killed but we know that is not correct. Waselkov gives 250-300 people.
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