As 1815 progressed, so did a trend of desertion that had plagued Andrew Jackson’s troops for months. Tired of mindless drill and stifling military discipline, these men saw little point in their continued service and wished to return home. Crushing boredom, coupled with the December treaty officially ending hostilities and the January victory at the gates of the Crescent City, led many men to believe they no longer needed to stay on duty, and as many as several hundred of them left outright. Andrew Jackson pursued courts martial for many such men, allowing some to pay fees or for their offenses but leaving others imprisoned for long stretches and ordering the execution of six militiamen charged with desertion.
Andrew Jackson gained lasting fame and captured the imaginations of many Americans on January 8, 1815, in his successful defense of New Orleans from British assault. Here the controversial Major General captured widespread and enduring fame. Sharp-eyed yeoman farmers from America’s thriving West, poor but proud, stared down Europe’s fi nest men, so the quickly spreading story went, and cut them down with superior rifle skill. It is perhaps both ironic and appropriate that Jackson’s victory came nearly two weeks after emissaries at Ghent signed a treaty effectively ending the war, and that he owed his triumph to modern artillery and a racially diverse force of various Indian tribes (including some Alabama Creeks), free blacks, and even middle-class whites, not the poor woodsmen of legend. Americans wanted to believe that plain farmers had left their plows to defeat the invading British, much as they believed their parents had done during the Revolutionary War. In fact, the most “legendary” of these yeomen, immortalized in song as the “Hunters of Kentucky,” ran away. “The Kentucky reinforcements,” Jackson noted after the battle, “in whom so much reliance had been placed, ingloriously fled.”
Even with the widespread destruction at Horseshoe Bend and the now-infamous Treaty of Fort Jackson, many Creeks remained either neutral parties or American allies. Big Warrior was perhaps one the more influential “loyal” Creek chiefs. He had fought a losing battle to maintain for his people a middle road between American dominance and open war.