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George_Mayfield

George Mayfield

George Mayfield (1779-1848) was an interpreter and spy for General Andrew Jackson during the Creek War of 1813-1814. He was most notable for his adventurous life and dual existence between the white and Native American nations of North America at a pivotal moment in the history of the United States.

Early life and capture by the Creek

Mayfield's father, Southerland Mayfield lived on a Tennessee homestead on the frontier between the United States and Creek nation. On 10 March 1789, the Mayfield farm was attacked by a party of 10-12 Creek Indians leaving all of the males of the Mayfield family dead with the exception of George's younger brother and 10-year old George who was held captive by the Creek.

For the next 11 years, Mayfield lived among the Creek and soon naturalized to their ways. He lost the ability to speak English and purportedly contracted a fondness for their mode of life.

Reintroduction into American society

The attack at Southerland Mayfield's homestead had left much of George's family dead, but George's mother and sister had survived and resettled in Nashville. Although Mayfield lived contentedly among the Creek, he still had memories and affections for his mother and sister. In 1800, at the age of 21, Mayfield left his adopted people to return to his mother and sister.

Upon his return to his family of origin, Mayfield found himself heir to a sizeable estate left to him after the death of the family patriarch on the Mayfield homestead 11 years earlier. He would end up ceding almost all of this property to his mother and sisters. The influence of the Creeks who adopted him had taught him to put little value in land holdings. Instead, he kept only 80 acres (324,000 m²) on the same spot that he had lived with his father 11 years earlier before being uprooted.

Creek War

The United States was growing and their need for new lands was pushing them west, creating pressure with the Creek residing in the budding empire's path. One outcome was the Creek War of 1813-1814. The president was James Madison, and the general that Madison put in charge of the war effort was Andrew Jackson, who would parlay his success in removing the Creek from their ancestral homes into two terms of his own presidency.

Mayfield was recommended to Jackson, by the commanding general of the Tennessee troops, due to his unique knowledge of the enemy's language and territory. Mayfield proved to be a very valuable asset to General Jackson.

He performed heroically as a guide, interpreter and spy. His duties were perilous and he was wounded at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Later life

In the treaty of surrender that followed the war, the chiefs of the defeated Creek nation recognized not only Mayfield's bravery, but also his integrity in his dealings with the Creek chiefs during negotiations. As a result, they stipulated that he be granted one square mile (2.6 km²) of the land being forfeited.

Unfortunately for Mayfield, the U.S. government refused to allow this, forcing him to petition Congress for the grant. Congress finally complied, however the grant was never enforced by the government.

References

  • The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee, Judge John Haywood, 1823
  • Life of Andrew Jackson, James Parton, 1861

External links

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