James Carrell was born in Granville County, N. C., around 1787.
His birthdate is estimated from information contained in the 1850 Census of
Giles County, Tenn. In later years his daughter, Mary Carrell Owen, answered
the 1880 Census for Giles County that her father was born in North Carolina.
On March 14, 1813, in
Williamson County, Tenn., a James Carrell was brought before the court because
he beat and wounded John Roberts. Robert Sammons helped him. James put up bail,
but Sammons spent 52 days in jail and was ordered to pay a $13.50 fine.
On Sept. 26, 1813, James
Carrell enlisted for service in the War of 1812. His affidavit for 160 acres of
Bounty Land stated that he was a substitute for William J. Mayberry, mustering
out at Fayetteville, Tenn. He was a member of 2nd Regiment Tennessee Volunteer
Infantry, serving under the command of Col. William Pillow. His captain was
C.E. McEwen, who later swore upon affidavit that Carrell served under his
The regiment to which
Carrell belonged was composed of about 400 men who participated in Jackson's
first campaign into Creek territory along with the regiment under Col. Bradley.
Both these regiments fought at the Battle of Talladega on Nov. 9, 1813, where
Col. Pillow was wounded. An anecdote concerning Pillow at Talladega claimed
that Jackson ordered the colonel to fall back once the Creeks attacked, but
Pillow refused on the grounds that he would not let his wounded men be
"scalped by the demons." Lt. Col. William Martin, who took over the
regiment after Pillow was wounded at Talladega, was later at the center of a
dispute with Andrew Jackson over the enlistment terms of the regiment. Basil
Berry, who served with Carrell, swore in an affidavit that Carrell was at the
Battle of Talladega with him, after which time Carrell was promoted to Major, though
there is no official record of this promotion.
The line of march would
have taken these men from Fayetteville to Huntsville and on to Fort Strother,
where the regiment was stationed after the Battle of Talladega.
Less than 15 miles from
Fort Strother lay the Creek village of Tallushatchee, where a large body of Red
Sticks had assembled. Jackson ordered Gen. John Coffee, along with a thousand
mounted men, to destroy the town. On the morning of Nov. 3, 1813, Coffee
approached the village and divided his detachment into two columns: the right
composed of cavalry under Col. John Alcorn and the left under the command of
Col. Newton Cannon. The columns encircled the town and the companies of Capt.
Eli Hammond and Lt. James Patterson went inside the circle to draw the Creeks
into the open.
The ruse worked. The
Creek warriors charged the right column of Coffee’s brigade, only to retreat to
their village where they were forced to make a desperate stand. Coffee’s army
overpowered the Creeks and quickly eliminated them. Coffee commented that
"the enemy fought with savage fury, and met death with all its horrors,
without shrinking or complaining: no one asked to be spared, but fought as long
as they could stand or sit." One of the Tennessee soldiers, the legendary
David Crockett, simply said: "We shot them like dogs." The carnage
ended in about thirty minutes. At least 200 Creek warriors (and some women) lay
dead, and nearly 100 prisoners, mostly women and children, were taken. American
losses amounted to five killed and about 40 wounded.
Shortly after Coffee’s
detachment returned to Fort Strother, Jackson received a plea for help from a
tribe of allied Creeks at Talladega, who were besieged by a contingency of Red
Sticks. Jackson responded to the call by mobilizing an army of 1,200 infantry
and 800 cavalry and set out for the Creek fort at Talladega, arriving there in
the early morning of Nov. 9. Using the same tactics that had worked at
Tallushatchee, Jackson surrounded the town with a brigade of militia under
General Isaac Roberts on the left and a brigade of volunteers led by General
William Hall on the right. A cavalry detachment, under Colonel Robert Dyer, was
held in reserve and an advance unit, led by Colonel William Carroll, was sent
in to lure the Red Sticks out into the open. When the Creeks attacked the
section of the line held by Roberts’ brigade, the militia retreated allowing
hundreds of warriors to escape. The gap was quickly filled by Dyer’s reserves
and Roberts’ men soon regained their position. Within 15 minutes the battle was
over. At least 300 Creeks perished on the battlefield while American losses
amounted to 15 killed and 86 wounded. Jackson marched his troops back to Fort
Strother to attend to his wounded and obtain desperately needed supplies.
Prior to the Battle of
Talladega, Jackson had expected to rendezvous with an army from East Tennessee
under the command of Major Gen. John Cocke. However, jealousy and rivalry
between the two divisions of the state prevented the hoped-for junction of the
two forces. Cocke, in need of supplies for his own army, felt that joining
Jackson would only make the supply situation worse (supply problems plagued the
Tennesseans throughout the Creek War). Cocke insisted that his army seek its
own "glories in the field."
James was honorably
discharged on Jan. 15, 1814, at Franklin, Tenn.