George Mayfield (1779−1848) was an interpreter and spy for General Andrew Jackson during the Creek War of 1813 – 1814. He was most notable for his adventurous life and dual existence between the white and Native American nations of North America at a pivotal moment in the history of the United States.
Early life and capture by the Creek
Mayfield's father, Southerland Mayfield lived on a Tennessee homestead on the frontier between the United States and Creek nation. On 10 March 1789, the Mayfield farm was attacked by a party of 10−12 Creek Indians leaving all of the males of the Mayfield family dead with the exception of George's younger brother and 10-year old George who was held captive by the Creek.
For the next 11 years, Mayfield lived among the Creek and became naturalized to their ways. He lost the ability to speak English and purportedly contracted a fondness for their mode of life.
Reintroduction into American society
The attack at Southerland Mayfield's homestead left much of George's family dead, but George's mother and sister survived and resettled in Nashville. Although Mayfield lived contentedly among the Creek, he retained memories and affections for his mother and sister. In 1800, at the age of 21, Mayfield left his adopted people to return to his mother and sister.
Upon his return, Mayfield found himself heir to a sizable estate that was left to him after the death of his father 11 years earlier. He would end up ceding almost all of this property to his mother and sisters. He had little utility gained from land holdings due to Creek influences. He kept only 80 acres (324,000 m²) on the family homestead.
The United States was growing and its need for new lands was pushing colonists west, creating pressure with the Creek residing in the budding empire's path. One outcome was the Creek War of 1813−1814. The president was James Madison, and the general whom Madison put in charge of the war effort was Andrew Jackson, who would parlay his success in removing the Creek from their ancestral homes into two terms of his own presidency.
Mayfield was recommended to Jackson by the commanding general of the Tennessee troops for to his unique knowledge of the Creek language and territory. Mayfield proved to be a very valuable asset to General Jackson. He performed heroically as a guide, interpreter and spy. He was wounded at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
In the treaty of surrender that ended the war, the Creek chiefs recognized not only Mayfield's bravery, but also his integrity in his dealings with them during negotiations. As a result, they stipulated that he be granted 1 square mile (2.6 km2) of the land they forfeited. Unfortunately for Mayfield, the U.S. government refused to allow this, forcing him to petition Congress for the grant. Congress finally complied; however the grant was never enforced by the government.
- The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee, Judge John Haywood, 1823
- Life of Andrew Jackson, James Parton, 1861