Skirmish at Troublesome Ford

In the summer of 1836 squads of Creek Indians fleeing the prospect of forced relocation to western territories were moving from the Georgia-Alabama line through south Georgia to rendezvous in the Okefenokee Swamp. In their flight, some of these Indians were raiding the homes and livestock of the pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia.   Two actions against Indians which occurred in this immediate area included the Skirmish at William Parker’s Place and the Battle of Brushy Creek, which occurred July 12-15th, 1836  in what was then Lowndes County (now Berrien and Cook counties,) Georgia. Captains Levi J. Knight, Hamilton Sharpe, and John Pike led the Lowndes County Militia companies that participated in these engagements.

About that same time , Captain Samuel E. Swilley of Lowndes County was in the field in the southeastern part of the county.  With a company of about sixteen militia men, Captain Swilley engaged a squad of Indians on the Alapaha River near Troublesome Ford (now known as Statenville, GA), killing ten Indians and taking three prisoners. 

Skirmish Near Statenville

The late Hon. James P. Prescott of Echols County, prompted by Mr. [Lasa] Adams‘ communication wrote some of his recollections in The Valdosta Times which were published in the issue of Dec. 1, 1895. We quote from his letter:

“About the time the Brushy Creek battle was fought, a squad of about twenty Indians and Negroes came through Lowndes and crossed the Grand Bay near where Fry’s bridge now stands on the Valdosta-Statenville road.

Soon after crossing the bay they stole two horses from Jesse Carter better know as “Uncle Tigue” Carter, who lived there on the same land now owned and occupied by George A. and Paul Carter of Echols.  This was done in the first part of the night.  Uncle Tigue made great haste to Capt. Samuel E. Swilley’s place, who lived at what is now known as the Capt. Bevill old home place.  Capt. Swilley started runners in all directions and by 12 o’clock next day he with eighteen men was at the Carter place.  They took the trail and about 8 pm overtook them in the bend of the Alapaha River one mile below where Statenville now is, then known as “Troublesome Ford,” making rafts to cross the river.  Soon the ro– were seen in a little scrub to the right.  “Capt. Swilley ordered the men to dismount and tie their horses.  Before the horses were made fast the sharpe rifle and war-whoop were heard all around in the bend of the river.  Capt. Swilley ordered the men to get behind the trees which was done in great haste.  As soon as the firing ceased Capt. Swilley with his men made a charge on the Indians who were in a halfmoon circle under the  banks of the river.  The two Negroes made their escape by swimming the river as soon as the battle commenced.

“Ten warriors were killed on the ground, and three women and four children were taken prisoner; one Indian made his escape down the river.  Levi Arnold was mortally wounded and Wiley Swilley slightly. The wounded men with the Indians captured and the stolen goods in the Indian’s possession (identified as being taken from Roanoke) were all brought to my father’s house.  The wounded remained with us until able to get home. The goods were sold and proceeds of sale divided among the company.

“The women and children were placed under a guard and were started for Thomasville.  One night the mother of the children made a cup of tea and asked permission to step out, which was granted.  As was the custom, the guard after waiting a few minutes, went out to see after them. Failing to find them he made a thorough search but the three women had made their escape in the dark.  Returning to the house they found the children all dead having been poisoned by the mother.

“Capt. Swilley was a brave and considerate man and managed the expedition with great skill and ability.”

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