Ep. 32 - Tony Turnbow - Hardened to Hickory
Hardened to Hickory
Tennessee historian Tony Turnbow joins us to recount the Natchez Expedition during the War of 1812, in which Andrew Jackson’s troops marched from Natchez to Nashville, and the militia general’s fierce, long-standing rivalry with an army brigadier general that earned the profoundly stubborn soldier the moniker “Old Hickory.” The middle-aged, militarily inexperienced Jackson promised the farmers and other Tennessee volunteers he recruited that he would protect them in the midst of complex relationships with various Native American nations on a freezing winter trek to engage the British. Turnbow uses newly uncovered documents to show that Jackson’s intense competition with Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson for control of the soldiers and of necessary supplies plagued Jackson more than the British troops he intended to drive out of the South. Wilkinson, who envied Jackson’s rapport with his fighters, sought to transfer them to his own command, including by withholding needed ammunition, medicine and food; Jackson’s men died while the army failed to intervene, causing the “hardening” of the title, a transformation into an aggressively self-reliant and antibureaucratic leader. Jackson personifies a nearly Christ-like sacrificial figure who would rather die himself than leave any of his Tennessee Volunteer sons behind.