In 1831, Eneah Micco and other leaders of the Lower Creek towns sent a delegation to Washington to petition Secretary of War John Henry Eaton to support their wishes to remain in their home country and to relieve them of the difficulties that beset them. They complained of murders by both Creek and whites. Although the Creek were punished, the whites went free. Their word was not accepted in Alabama courts, whiskey was brought into their country, and their property was confiscated for alleged debts. The Creek received the standard reply that they must remove because the government could not prevent the application of Alabama laws in the Creek country. Later that year they appealed to Secretary Lewis Cass and received the same response. In December 1831, Eneah Micco sent a list of names of some 1,500 intruders in the Lower Creek country to the Creek agent and asked for their removal, but once more he received the standard answer.
By 1832, the Lower and Upper Creek were at odds over Creek removal. In the wake of William McIntosh's assassination for signing the Indian Springs Treaty (1825), significant numbers of Lower Creek had removed to the western lands provided by the treaty. The Lower Creek leadership tried to prevent others from removing by threatening their lives, destroying their crops, killing their livestock, and burning their property. On the other hand, sympathy for removal grew among the Upper Creek.
In early 1832, a delegation from the Upper towns, led by Opothleyohola, signed a treaty at Washington. It provided for a survey of the Creek lands, allotment of land to Creek households, removal of intruders, and voluntary emigration of the Creek to the West. Apparently as a sop to the Lower Creek leaders, the treaty provided an annuity for life for Eneah Micco and two others. Compensation was provided for those who had lost improvements under the Treaty of 1826 or had lost property as a result of being prevented from removing. Although the treaty provided monetary and other incentives for the Creek to remove, those opposed to removal took heart in the language of Article 11: "This article shall not be construed so as to compel any Creek Indian to emigrate, but they shall be free to go or stay, as they please."
Of course, most Creek took the article to mean what its language said and opted to remain in Alabama. But life became intolerable. Individual Creek could not maintain the integrity of the boundaries of their allotments. Intruders squatted on their land, took their property, destroyed their homes, and committed acts of violence. The Creek became demoralized. The Creek country was also beset by an orgy of land speculation that further disrupted Creek life. By theft, intimidation, and fraud, speculators gained control of most Creek land. Secretary Cass finally undertook an investigation in the spring of 1835.
The investigation was destined to go nowhere because Cass appointed J. W. A. Sanford to do it. Sanford, of Columbus, Georgia, was one of the leading speculators, and the Native Americans distrusted him. The speculators used their distrust to prevent the Creek from going to Columbus to deliver their complaints. They circulated word that the request was a ruse to get them into Georgia, where they would be captured and sent to the West. Eneah Micco asked Sanford to meet the Creek in Alabama, but he refused. John B. Hogan, whom the Creek trusted, assumed the investigation and denounced the fraud for what it was.
However, the investigation was dropped when the so-called Creek War of 1836 broke out in May. Dispossessed and harassed by whites, the Lower Creek struck back. Although some Alabamians claimed that the war was merely a sham conjured up by the whites, the government responded with force. Led by Eneah Micco, who was about 60; Jim Henry, who was just past 20; and Eneah Emathla, who was past 80, the Lower Creek were soon subdued by U.S. Army troops under Gen. Thomas S. Jesup and almost 2,000 Upper Creek warriors under Opothleyohola, Tustenuggee Emathla, and others. By mid-July the leaders had been captured along with most of their followers. Eneah Micco was captured in early July and the remnants of his people about two weeks later.
About 2,300 Eufaula, Chiaha, Hitchiti, Kasihta (Cusseta), and Yuchi were rounded up and sent to the West immediately. From staging camps at Fort Mitchell and near Tuskegee, where Eneah Micco was held, about 300 men and boys considered the most "hostile," including Eneah Micco, were handcuffed and chained and marched about 90 miles to Montgomery. Wagons followed with children, old women, and the sick. At Montgomery, the chains were removed as the people were boarding boats, and 15 revolted, resulting in some escaping, one shot by troops, one bayoneted by troops, and one committing suicide. They traveled down to Mobile, where their military escort left them and where they boarded steamboats bound for New Orleans. At New Orleans they were transferred to boats bound for Rock Roe on the White River in Arkansas, which they reached on July 29. Their manacles had been stored in barrels and were unloaded with the provisions at Rock Roe. In one final act of defiance, on the night of their arrival, the Yuchi slipped out of camp and rolled the barrels into the White River.
At Rock Roe, the J. W. A. Sanford Emigrating Company, which was in charge of the party, made arrangements for an overland trek from there to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. Because only 20 wagons could be procured, many of the children, old women, and infirm had to walk, traveling at night because of the intense heat during the day. They arrived at Fort Gibson on September 3.
Eneah Micco died near Fort Gibson in December 1836.
Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr.
Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989; Debo, Angie. The Road to Disappearance: A History of the Creek Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979; Wright, J. Leitch, Jr. Creeks and Seminoles: The Destruction and Regeneration of the Muscogulge People. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.