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Site of Fort Sinquefield & the Kimbell-James Massacre near Whatley, AL (Clarke County)

Fort Sinquefield was a wooden stockade fortification in Clarke County near the present-day community of Whatley, AL.  It was one of the many forts built by early Clarke County pioneers for protection during the Creek Indian War.  Fort Sinquefield was attacked by Creek Red Sticks warriors and this battle became famous because of Isaac Hayden and his barking dogs.  A marker was erected at the site of the fort by Clarke County school children in 1931, and this site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1974.

Pioneer settlement in Clarke County was tumultuous.  Clarke County was a newly formed county in the Mississippi Territory at the time of the Creek Indian War. The Creek Indians had joined in a loose agreement with the British during the War of 1812 where they would recover their lost land and drive out the whites settlers if the British were victorious.  The first encounter of the Creek War occurred near Clarke County at the Battle of Burnt Corn, where white settlers attacked Creek Red Sticks on July 27, 1813. The Red Sticks retaliated on August 30, 1813, with the Fort Mims massacre, in which several hundred people inside Fort Mims were killed.

Following the attack on Fort Mims, settlers all around the area were nervous and began to take refuge in the forts that were scattered throughout Clarke County.  On September 1, 1813, Red Sticks warriors led by Josiah Francis, a.k.a. Prophet Francis, attacked the Ransom Kimbell and Abner James families, who had left the crowed Fort Sinquefield and were at Ransom Kimbell’s cabin located nearby. Twelve of fourteen women and children at the cabin were killed and scalped and two were left for dead.  This incident became known as the Kimbell-James Massacre.  The bodies were retrieved for burial outside of the fort the next day. After the burials, several women were washing clothes at a spring near the fort when the Red Sticks attacked a second time. These women and others outside the fort would have probably lost their lives had it not been for quick action taken by Isaac Hayden, a young soldier from the nearby Fort Madison.  He turned loose all 60 dogs that were inside the fort, jumped on his horse and then led a charge outside the fort with the pack of barking dogs.  Hayden and the dogs distracted the Creeks long enough for all except for one of the settlers to get safely back into the fort.

With everyone inside the fort, the gate was hastily closed, and gun fire erupted from all sides.  During this exchange of fire, several Creek warriors were killed and one additional settler. The attack lasted two hours before the Red Sticks retreated. The fort was abandoned afterwards, with the survivors moving to the larger Fort Madison, located a few miles south of Fort Sinquefield.

Nothing remains of Fort Sinquefield.  There is only the site marker that is located just south of Highway 84 on Fort Sinquefield road near Whatley, AL (GPS coordinates N31.657722,W87.727528).  These are the GPS coordinates that are plotted on the map that is shown.

Located nearby on Highway 84 at the intersection of Highway 84 and CR 14 is a Historical Marker that provides details about the Kimbell-James Massacre (GPS coordinates N31.654750,W87.719500).

Sources: (1) http://www.clarkemuseum.com; (2) Wikipedia; (3) Creek War of 1813-1814 by Halbert & Ball

 

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