Maps of the Lower Trading Path and the War Road by Glenn Drummond, Historian & Managing Director 

THE WAR ROAD


The port was ​​acquired by the U.S. with the Louisiana Purchase.  With this purchase, President Thomas Jefferson acquired about 828,000 acres which significantly added to the size of the western United States.  The New Orleans port was a key player in the growing economy of the United States via the ever increasing amount of high dollar exports.  The Natchez Trace was already in use as the last portion of the postal horseback ride from Washington

to New Orleans, but the route was not the one a present day GPS would select for the shortest distance between these two points.  Several alternative routes were considered, but the Lower Trading path was eventually selected.

 

The years of contact with whites took its toll on Native American traditions.  The English expected to colonize the Native Americans and have them to assimilate into the European culture.  This forced effort  undermined the traditions and lifestyle of Native American society.  In addition, whites encroached more and more on the land that the Native Americans had possessed since pre-historic times.  This encroachment upset the balance of life and ultimately affected the Creeks’s ability to hunt for and grow food.  Hostilities between the Creeks and whites escalated.  Ironically, the greatest obstacle to the plan for the postal road was the hostility of the Creek Indians.  Fortunately for the United States government, groundwork to bolster positive relations between whites and the Creeks had been underway in the region for some years prior.  The 1805 treaty of Washington was the culmination of this groundwork in regards to the construction of the proposed postal road.  On March 3, 1805, a congressional act was passed for the construction of a post road from Washington   City, Georgia through to New Orleans. By 1806, the route, which began in Milledgeville, Georgia, was opened for business and this era in the “life” of the Federal Road lasted from 1806 until 1811.  

The Ridge.

By 1811, the British and the Spanish still wanted to upset the U.S. balance of power. To maintain national security, the government transformed the postal road into a military road. This allowed for an increased presence of whites and the Native Americans were not pleased. The British took advantage of this rift and allied with the Native Americans by providing arms and ammunition to use against American “intruders.”  The path of the military road coincided very much with that of the original federal postal road from the Chattahoochee River to Mobile Bay.  This road was made wider and in many ways sturdier, and became an indelible symbol of the encroachment of the white man in the territory of the Creeks.  Military forts and supply depots were built along the road as shown in the illustration to the left. 

​The construction of the military road increased tension between whites and the Creek Indians. The completed road not only served its intended military purpose, it also was conducive for stage coach and covered wagon travel. White settlers began pouring in to the territory in greater and greater numbers to claim the land that had already been noted by others as fertile and rich.

THE LOWER TRADING PATH

Tallapoosa Towns

The Ridge

Long before the first and second wave of contact with whites, the Native Americans established a prominent footpath along a scenic ridge that wound through present day southeast Macon County Alabama (The Ridge).  The Native Americans traveled and camped along the path during their hunting excursions.  As the Creek/European deer skin trade escalated during the 17th century, so did the use of the footpath.  The path came to be called the Lower Trading Path.  It connected the Tallapoosa Towns (in present-day Alabama) with Charles Town (present day Charleston, South Carolina) and Savannah, Georgia and was used extensively by both Native Americans and European traders.   The Lower Trading Path caught the eye of the U.S. government in 1806 as a route to transport mail from Washington to New Orleans.  The Natchez Trace was already in existence, but the United States government sought a shorter route to facilitate swift communication of military and national security information between the two locations. Maintaining the security of the port of New Orleans, was particularly important.