Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Area residents will have the opportunity to become immersed in history as Fayetteville marks the Camp Blount Bicentennial with an impressive celebration to be held here on Sept. 27-28.
Camp Blount, situated on the Elk River just south of the river bridge in Fayetteville, marks the point where Tennessee troops rendezvoused in early October of 1813 during what was known as the War of 1812, a 32-month conflict between the United States and Great Britain. At that same time, the United States was also embroiled in a civil war with the Creek Nation.
The event commemorating the 200th anniversary of Camp Blount will also be held on the historic site and include a significant living history, said key organizers during a planning meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Fayetteville/Lincoln County Museum and Civic Center.
Spearheaded by Dr. Farris Beasley and the Camp Blount Memorial Park Committee, bicentennial activities will feature a living history that will accurately portray what occurred during that historic era. There will also be vendors, sutlers and actual interpreters representing Gen. Andrew Jackson, Ensign Sam Houston, Pvt. David Crockett, Dr. Charles McKinney and Col. John Coffee, all central figures in recognized for their parts in the war.
Up to 100 interpreters – or re-enactors – from Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and other states are expected to participate in the event, and each will be costumed in authentic clothing of the period.
There will also be a few period high-end vendors selling hats and leather items, canteens and clothing pieces, said Myers Brown, archivist for the state museum and state chairman of the War of 1812 Commission, during Wednesday’s meeting.
The Camp Blount Bicentennial Celebration will be held in a section of the Camp Blount muster site located in a strip of meadow in the area behind Hardee’s Restaurant. There will be no admission charge, according to plans.
The first day of the event, Friday, Sept. 27, has been designated as a School Day so that students may learn of the heritage of the community and historical figures who participated locally.
In addition to the rich history presented, the event is expected to also have a positive economic impact on the economy here, benefiting local restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and hotels. Long term goals call for the site to continue drawing people to Fayetteville and for having history shared with future generations.
In addition to its role in the War of 1812, Camp Blount served as the mustering ground for thousands of soldiers at different times in history. Though its recognition is based largely on its connection to Jackson, the location was also used in the Seminole Wars of 1818 and 1836, as well as during the Civil War, when it is likely that both Federal and Confederate soldiers bivouacked there.
In late September 1813, the call for troops to participate in the Creek War prompted the enlistment of over 3,500 Tennessee volunteers. The militant Creek Indians, armed by Great Britain, had attacked Fort Mims and massacred 250 men, women and children. Under the leadership of Jackson, then major general of the Tennessee militia, most of the soldiers from the Middle Tennessee area were ordered by Gov. Willie Blount to gather at the great oaks on the Elk River here.
At that time Fayetteville was a fledgling community just miles north of Tennessee and present-day Alabama border.
“People were fearful,” said Beasley. “This happened four years after Fayetteville was founded.”
Jackson left Fayetteville in October 1813 and met and defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, thus ending the Indian threat on the frontier. Less than a year later, the troops again assembled at Camp Blount and then marched to New Orleans. Under Jackson, they defeated the British and ended the War of 1812 and the final attempt by Great Britain to colonize America.