Once again the British and the newly independent American's were at war with one another. There were many reasons for the War of 1812 which lasted nearly three years, but the most important when it came to Georgia's involvement was “the perception by Americans of a British plot to perpetuate continual Native American menace on America's frontiers. It was inevitable that Georgia, with its long coastline and extensive Indian frontier, would become embroiled in the conflict, and yet Georgia's role in the war has been largely overshadowed.”
The Legislature of Georgia appropriated $30,000 for the equipment of troops and protection. Governor Mitchell was appointed by the President to settle the difficulties arising from the Indians. The Seminole Indians in East Florida, urged by the Spanish and British, commenced hostilities upon Georgia. Adjutant-General Newman planned an expedition against them. Many volunteers came forward and the war began. After hard fighting and many hardships endured by the soldiers in the forests, these Indians were subdued.
The Creek Indians on the Southern frontier, influenced by the Spanish and British, now commenced hostilities. Governor Mitchell, for better protection, erected ten forts in Twiggs, Telfair and Pulaski counties. They were hardly finished when 700 Creeks surprised Fort Mims and massacred 300 men, women and children. The troops of Georgia and Tennessee were ordered out, and General John Floyd put in command. He divided his men, and attacking the two principal towns of the Creeks at the same time, drove the Indians from their towns and burned their homes. This was on November 29, 1813. Floyd now returned to the forts. No other assault was made until 1814. The Upper Creeks had gathered in great numbers at Hotle Craulee. Floyd attacked this place, and the battle of Challibbee was fought, in which the whites were victorious.
The Creeks were now desirous of peace, and a treaty was made August 9, 1814. The Indians ceded an immense tract of land, and the counties of Early, Baker, Irwin, Appling and Ware, were added to Georgia.
The war with the British still continued in the United States. The last battle was fought in Georgia, January 11, 1815. Nineteen vessels of the British landed their men on Cumberland Island. They were met in a narrow defile by Captain Messias and a few men and driven back. Before the battle was renewed the news of the treaty of peace between the two countries, which was signed at Paris, reached them, and the British departed these coasts.
In 1814, Samuel Howard succeeded in placing steam navigation on the rivers of Georgia. In 1815, David B. Mitchell was elected governor. In 1816, an act for the maintenance and protection of aged slaves passed the Legislature. The Legislature also passes an act to care for the convicts. This was called the penal act. A part of this code prohibited the introduction of slaves by traders for speculation.
Out of the land Georgia had ceded to the United States two new states had been formed, and in 1817 Mississippi joined the Union. Alabama came in two years later. Governor Mitchell was now appointed by the new President, James Monroe, as agent for Indian affairs in the South. He resigned the governorship and William Rabun filled his place and in due time was elected governor. Mitchell soon acquired a wonderful influence over the Creeks and gained a cession of more land. This was divided into the counties of Newton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Walton, Hall and Habersham. Governor Rabun spent the money in the treasury for the improvement of navigation of rivers and to promote education and free schools.
The Seminoles on the frontier now began hostilities again. Governor Rabun sent to the war department for aid. Major General Gaines was put in command and his troops were joined at Fort Montgomery by 600 Creek warriors. Three battles were fought and the Indian war was over and the Indians driven away. In 1818, the boundary line between Georgia and Tennessee was drawn by commissioners. The chiefs of some of the Cherokee nations held a conference with the Indian agent of the United States to arrange for an exchange of their lands in Georgia for lands beyond the Mississippi, so they might have more room.
In this year a Savannah company had a ship built in New York called the Savannah. This ship left the port of Savannah for England, and was the first steamer to cross the Atlantic. 1819, Florida and all the lands owned by the Spanish were ceded to the United States. And so Georgia was protected from her foes. Another treaty between the Cherokees and the United States was made, and the lands gained by Georgia were divided between Habersham and Hall Counties and Rabun County was added to the state.