Remembering the Battle of Talladega
by Laura Nation-Atchison
It’s a huge project, but one artist Tommy Moorehead’s had his mind on for a while.

The 200th anniversary of The Battle of Talladega is Nov. 9, and Moorehead is working on completing a collection of 299 Native American “head” paintings that will be displayed at Talladega’s North Street Bar on that date to commemorate the lives of the Native Americans who were killed.

“I think of it as like a funeral they never had,” Moorehead said.

Some other special events are in the works for that day at North Street Bar, and will be forthcoming, he said.

It’s not a celebration of anything, but more a remembrance of the early residents of Talladega, the Creek Indians, who came from Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma to inhabit the area after much of the earlier Native American population dropped after Spanish explorers arrived in the 15th century.

They died from disease they had no resistance to and from the hands of some of the explorers.

The Creeks started coming to what is now Talladega County about 100 years after DeSoto’s visit, he said.

The Battle of Talladega took place at the foot of the mountain that borders Oak Hill Cemetery Nov. 9, 1813.

There were 299 bodies counted on the actual battlefield, Moorehead said.

The invading army of The Tennessee Volunteers led by Andrew Jackson took count of the dead by cutting off one ear of each body they found, he said.

“Most historians agree that about 150 more Native Americans died away from the battlefield,” Moorehead said. “They apparently wandered off into the woods injured and died.”

To complete the project in time, Moorehead is recruiting the help of members of his longtime Tuesday Night Art Class, students at Munford Elementary School and art students of Beth Payne at the Alabama School for the Deaf.

He’ll also call on his colleagues, professional artists from throughout the region, who want to have a hand in the project.

He’s already completed close to a dozen of the larger pieces, done on canvases ranging from about three by four feet to a little larger.

The paintings are bold and done with vivid color and are done true to the dress and ways of the tribe.

Slashes of bright color show the intricate face paint the tribe used and the head wraps they learned to use for protection from the European newcomers.

The schoolchildren in the project will create the smaller pieces for the exhibit, and will be displayed along the smaller wall spaces at North Street Bar, Moorehead said.

Not only will they learn more in the way of creating art, but also about the history of the place they live.

Moorehead is sympathetic for the Native Americans killed in the battle.

“All they did was try and defend what they thought were their homes,” he said. “This is just a flash I had to try and utilize art to remember them. I want to pay tribute to them because it happened here.”

© 2013