On November 4, 1813, Jackson wrote to Tennessee governor Willie Blount, informing him of the opening salvos of the American war on the Creeks. “Sir,—We have retaliated for the destruction of Ft. Mims,” Jackson said plainly in a letter published in the Boston Daily Advertiser on November 29, 1813. “On the 2d [of November 1813], I detached Gen. Coffee with a portion of this brigade of cavalry and mounted riflemen, to destroy Tallushatchee, where a considerable force of the hostile Creeks were concentrated.” Jackson wanted a smashing victory with relatively few casualties, and he hoped to send a message to the Creek people. Put simply, he wanted to demonstrate that to resist Andrew Jackson was fatal.
Coffee achieved these ends with brutal pragmatism and efficiency. Indeed, Jackson was so pleased with his lieutenant that he made certain Blount understood that “General [Coffee] executed this [plan] in style.” Coffee conceded the implacable will of his Red Stick enemies and the bravery with which they fought, though his words were later misattributed to Davy Crockett. “The enemy fought with savage fury,” explained to Jackson in his official report, and met death with all its horrors, without shrinking or complaining, not one asked to be spared, but fought as long as they could sit or stand.” Creeks beat the drums of war as Coffee and his men approached. They understood it would not be fought on distant fields but among their families, including the aged, infirm, women, and children. And they would not run. If Andrew Jackson and white Americans wanted to take by force what ten generations of Creek men, women, and children had struggled, sacrificed, and died to build, then he, his armies, and those who followed in their wake to develop the lands they won would find only the tomahawk and the rifle as their reply. Let Jackson come, many argued. Alabama’s Creeks would die before they would kneel.