Two hundred years ago, America was engaged in the War of 1812. From the “Star Spangled Banner” to Andrew Jackson’s leadership in the Battle of New Orleans, much of America’s proud history occurred during the War of 1812. It was also during this war that Tennessee received the nickname, “the Volunteer State.”
“In Sept. 1813 Tennessee Governor Willie Blount issued a call for 3,500 volunteers,” said Thomas Kanon, of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, in the online Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. “Tennesseans’ enthusiastic response initiated a tradition that gave the state its nickname of the ‘Volunteer State.’”
A war with the Creek Indians became intertwined with the War of 1812, Kanon said.
“Indian aggression along the frontier, encouraged by Britain and Spain, alarmed American settlers,” Kanon said. “Then an attack on whites and friendly Indians at Fort Mims (near Mobile, Alabama) on August 30, 1813, stirred the outraged populace into action.”
It was around this time that Tennessee’s governor called for the 3,500 volunteers. The Tennessee Militia became involved in fighting against the Creek Indians.
Fighting with the Creeks reached a climax at the battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, Kanon said. After this battle, 800 Creeks were dead, along with the threat of invasion, Kanon said.
Andrew Jackson, who led Tennessee Militia against the Creek Indians as a Major General, was made Major General in the United States Regular Army, Kanon said. After securing Pensacola, Jackson defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815.
Tennesseans’ spirit of volunteerism during the war of 1812 contributed to the nations’ victory. Two hundred years later, patriots from the “Volunteer State” continue to don the uniform of the United States Military and take part in conflicts on foreign soil.