Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 73 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 73 of 131)
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seem to have occurred in the region of East Florida, so long as there was
a place left, which was not strong enough to withstand an attack.

About the 18 of December, Colonel Warren, at the head of a small detach-
ment of his regiment, was ordered to convoy a train of wagons loaded with
provisions and munitions from St. Augustine to the main body, which was
encamped at Fort Croom, near Micanopy's town. While on their marrh they
\\cre attacked by a superior force of Indians, who killed 8 or 10 of them, and
put the rest to flight, almost in sight of the force they were sent to relieve.
All the wagons fell into the hands of the Indians, which, after taking from
them what they desired, broke them up and burnt them.

On the 20 of December, as General Call, with the Middle Florida troops,
was inarching for Fort Draine, his advanced guard discovered a house on fire
near Micanopy, and a trail of Indians was discovered leading to a pond, which
was full of bushes and logs. This pond the whites nearly encircled, and
although at first no Indians were seen, yet the flashes of their guns soon
pointed out their hiding-places, and considerable firing ensued on both sides ;
but the fire of the Indians was soon silenced, and on searching the bog four
Indians were found dead, but all the others, if there were any more, had
effected their escape. In this swamp fight, three whites were badly wounded,
and one killed.

On the 26 of December, a band of about 100 Indians, under a chief named
PHILIP, and a number of Indian negroes, made an attack on New Smyrna, to
the south of Mosquito Inlet, on the east side of the Peninsula, where they
found nothing to obstruct their ravages. They began with the house of Mr.
Dunham, which when they had plundered, "parties of them scattered about
the neighboring plantations of Cruger, Depeyster, and Hunter. The Indian
negro, John Catsar, endeavored to decoy Mr. Hunter from his house, on pre-
tence of selling him cattle and horses; he, however, having heard by his
negroes that large numbers of Indians were about, and in the afternoon he
crossed the river to Colonel Dummefs. The Indians held possession of Dun-
'"Miris house all day, and about one the next morning set it on fire, together
with all the out-buildings. In the course of the 27, they burned and destroyed
all the buildings on Cruger's and Depeyster's plantations except a corn-house,
and, on Hunter's, all except a corn-house. They now crossed over the river
to Colonel Dummet's house, and after destroying every thing in it, set that on
fire, but from some cause the fire did not burn it. They next burnt the house
of Mr. Ratdiff, a little to the north of Colonel Dummefs, and broke and
destroyed the lantern and every thing belonging to the light-house."

The war having now become serious, and the Indians no longer looked
upon as* a despicable foe, the most melancholy forebodings were entertained
for the very existence of the strongest places in Florida, and the call for
protection from that quarter had become loud and frequent ; but notwith-
standing war had been expected all the preceding autumn, no effectual meas-
ures had been taken by the proper authorities to check the Indians in such an
event. There had, however, late in December, arrived at Fort Brooke a small
number of United States' troops under Major Dade, of the 4th regiment of
infantry, the official account of whose operations and defeat, I give as follows,
in the language of Major Belton. It should be observed, that Major Dade was
detached for the relief of General Clinch at Camp King, who was supposed
to be in the most imminent danger from the Indians, and also in great want
of supplies.

His despatch was dated at Fort Brooke, 1 January, 1836, and proceeds as
f>llows: "The schooner Motto arrived on the 21 December from Key West,
\vith brevet Major Dade and his company, A infantry, 39 strong, w r ith a small
supply of musket-ball cartridges, after looking in at several points between
the Key and this place. Being thus reinforced, I hesitated no longer to put
Gardiner's company, C 2d artillery, and Frazcr's company, B 3d infantry, in
motion for Fort King, pursuant to General Clinch's orders ; which movement
had been ordered on the 16th, and suspended the same day, on account of
intelligence 1 had received of the force of the Mickasukies, and their strong
position, near the forks of the Wythlacoochee. I despatched the public
achooner Motto on 23d, with Lieutenant Duncan, 2d artillery, to Kev West


for a battery of two twelve-pounders, and such stores as could be serviceable ;
and at 6 o'clock, on 24th, the companies, Gardiner's and Frazier's, made fifty
bayonets each, by details from those companies remaining here, and with one
of the two six-pounders of this post with four oxen, I had ordered to be
purchased, one light wagon and ten days' provisions were put in march.

" The h'rst halt of this command was at Little Hillsboro' River, seven
miles from this post, the bridge of which I had reconnoitred by Indians of
Emaihla's band the day before. From this I heard from Maj. Dade pressing
me to forward the six-pounder, by all means, it having been left by the failure
of the team four miles out. I accordingly ordered the purchase of three
horses and harness, and it joined the column at nine that night. On the
night of the 24th, I heard that the transport with Maj. Mountford and com-
pany, long and anxiously expected, was in the bay. I sent at one o'clock a
letter to him, (received at day-light) by an Indian express, urging him on.
He landed with his strong company on the 25th about noon, and informed
me that Legate's company, under Lieut. Grayson, nearly full, must be
near at hand. Of this Maj. Dade was informed by a gallant volunteer,
Jewell, C company, 2d artillery, who had left the detachment with the news
of the burning of Big Hillsboro' bridge, near which Maj. D. had halted the
second day, 25th. I also informed him that I was using every exertion to
push on about thirteen hundred rations on pack-horses, with what ammuni-
tion could be spared. A duplicate of this was sent the next day by a young
Indian, who became lame and could not overtake the column, and returned
with his letters. Pr. Jewell joined Maj. Dade about 11 o'clock on the night of
the 25th.

" In the chain of events, it is proper that 1 should mention, that three
Tallahassee Indians came in on the evening of the 22d, and caused great
excitement in Jtolase Emathla's camp. They brought a talk of Inicanopas
of a pacific or neutral character, or they affected it; but I believe not dis-
tinctly, until after I had made them prisoners, while in full council with
Emathla's warriors, which step I considered imperative, if they were spies,
;uid as much so if they were charged with any propositions likely to detach the
chiefs from the treaty; or indeed by an act of self-devotion, to take the scalps
of Emathla, Black Dirt, and Big Warrior, faithful chiefs, who have been
hunted in this way since the scalping of Charles Emathla. In a council with
Emathla that night, Maj. Dade expressed every confidence in Indian charac-
ter ; and particularly upon the salutary influence of Abraham upon Micanopn.
On reflection I detained two of the imprisoned Tallahassees, as hostages, and
sent the youngest and best runner with letters to General Clinch, and Genera!
Thompson, via Inicanopa, as I could do no better, and of course, through
Abraham's lands.

"These letters of course involved many details; but numbers and other
tacts, to guard against treachery, were stated in French. The runner returned
two days beyond his time, with a message from Abraham and Broken Sticks,
stating my talk was good, and that I might expect him on the 30th. This we
freely rendered that he would be at the attack fixed for Christmas week.
A negro, his intimate, named Harry, controls the Pea Creek band of about a
hundred warriors, forty miles south-east of us, who have done most of the
mischief, and keep this post constantly observed, and communicate with the
Mickasukians at Wythlacoochee by means of powerful bands of Eufollahs
and Alafiers, under Little Cloud, and the Alligator. In tracing Maj. Dude's
movements, I have every reason to believe that he made on the 26th six
miJes, 27th to Big Wythlacoochee ; on the fifth day, 28th, to the battle-ground,
sixty-five miles.

"Here it may be proper to state that Maj. Mountford's command was ready
^0 move on the 26th, but the transport, in which was a company of the 2d
artillery under Lieut. Grayson, unfortunately entered the w r rong bay, and
got into shoal water, and was not seen, or certainly heard of, till the morning
of the 28th of December, when, by sending a party with a flag as a signal,
Lieut. Grayson was put in possession of instructions, and landed his
company at a point four miles west of us, on the east side of Tampa Bay
(proper) and joined at sunset that evening; his transport did not get round to



land his baggage till the 30th ; so long an interval as to put all hope of junc-
tion out of the <|iiesti<in. and Maj. Mountford?8 baggage was unladed.

"Now it becomes my melancholy duty to proceed to the catastrophe of this
fated band, an elite of energy, patriotism, military skill, and courage. On the
&>th, in the afternoon, a man of my company, John Thomas, and temporarily
transferred to C company, second artillery, came in, and yesterday IV. Ransom
Clark, of same company, with four wounds very severe, and stated, that an
action took place on the 26th, commencing about 10 o'clock, in which every
officer fell, and nearly every man. The command entrenched every night,
and about four miles from the halt, were attacked, and received at least liiie n
rounds before an Indian was seen. Maj. Dade and his horse were both killed
on the first onset, and the interpreter, 'Louis. 1 Lieut. Mudge, third artillery,
received his mortal wound the iirst fire, and afterwards received several other
wounds. Lieut. Basenger, third artillery, was not wounded till after the
second attack; and, at the latter part of that, he was wounded several times
before he was tomahawked. Capt. Gardiner, second artillery, was not
wounded until the second attack, and at the last part of it. Mr. Basenger,
after Capt. Gardiner was killed, remarked, "I am the only officer left ; and,
boys, we will do the best we can." Lieut. Keays, third artillery, had both
arms broken the first shot ; was unable to act, and was tomahawked the latter
part of the second attack, by a negro. Lieut. Henderson had his left arm
broken the first fire, and after that, with a musket, fired at least thirty or forty
shot. Dr. Gatlin was not killed until after the second attack, nor was he
wounded; he placed himself behind the breastwork, and with two double-
barrelled guns, said, "he had four barrels for them." Capt. Frazier fell early
in the action with the advanced guard, as a man of his company, B third
artillery, who came in this morning, wounded, reports.

"On the attack they were in column of route, and after receiving a heavy
fire from the unseen enemy, they then rose up in such a swarm, that the
ground, covered, as was thought, by light infantry extension, showed the
Indians between the files. Muskets were clubbed, knives and bayonets used,
and parties were clenched ; in the second attack, our own men's muskets
from the dead and wounded, were used against them ; a cross-fire cut down
a succession of artillerists at the fence, from which forty-nine rounds were
fired ; the gun-carriages were burnt, and the guns sunk in a pond ; a war-
dance was held on the ground. Many negroes were in the field, but no scalps
were taken by the Indians ; but the negroes, with hellish cruelty, pierced the
throats of all, whose loud cries and groans showed the power of life to be
yet strong. The survivors were preserved by imitating death, excepting
'Thomas, who was partly stifled, and bought his life for six dollars, and in his
enemy recognized an Indian whose axe he had helved a few days before at
this post. About one hundred Indians were well mounted, naked, and
painted. The last man who came in brought a note from Capt. Frazier,
addressed to Maj. Mountford, which \vas fastened in a cleft stick, and stuck in
a creek, dated, as is supposed, on 27th, stating that they were beset every
night, and pushing on.

F. S. BELTO> T , Capt. 2d Artillery?

Such was the fate of Major Dale and his gallant companions. Osceola was
present, as was the old chief Micanopy. Of the latter, it is said, he had, in
the beginning of the troubles, avowed that he would neither leave his country,
nor would he jigld ; but when the force under Major Dade approached his
town, he altered his resolution, seized his rifle, and shot that officer.

The situation of affairs, at this period cannot better be described than in the
language of a gentleman attached to Major Mountford>s command, stationed at
Fort Brooke, and is contained in a letter, dated on the first day of the year :
" We are," says he, " really in the theatre of war of the most horrible kind.
We arrived here on Christmas day, and found the inhabitants flying in from all
quarters to camp. Major Dade, with seven officers and 110 men, started, the
day before we arrived, for Fort King. We were all prepared to overtake
them the next day, and were upon the eve of departure, when an intervention
of circumstances deferred it for one day ; and, in \he course of that day, three


soldiers, horribly mangled, came into camp, and brought the melancholy tid-
ings that Major Dade and every officer and man, except themselves, were
murdered and terribly mangled. We are at work, night and day, entrenching
ourselves in every possible manner. We expect every moment to be attacked,
as the savages have sworn we should all be massacred before the 6th of Jan-
uary. We are only about 200 strong, with officers and men, and about 50
citizens, and 100 friendly Indians, under their chief, Black Dirt. The savages
are said to number 4000."

After the arrival of General Gaines in Florida, he ordered a detachment,
under Captain Hitchcock, to visit the battle-ground of Major Dade. And when
he had performed his orders, he gave the following report of that distressing
spectacle. His report is dated " Fort King, Florida, Feb. 22, 1836," and is
addressed to General Gaines, as follows : " Agreeably to your directions, I
observed the battle-ground, six or seven miles north of the Ouithlecooche river,
where Major Dade and his command were destroyed by the Seminole Indians,
on the 28 Dec. last, and have the honor to submit the following report :

" The force under your command, which arrived at this post to-day from
Tampa Bay, encamped, on the night of the 19th inst, on the ground occupied
by Major Dade on the night of the 27th of December. He and his party were
destroyed on the morning of the 28th December, about four miles in advance
of that position. He was advancing towards this post, and was attacked from
the north, so that on the 20th instant we came on the rear of his battle-ground,
about nine o'clock in the morning. Our advanced guard had passed the
ground without halting, when the General and his staff came upon one of the
most appalling scenes that can be imagined. We first saw some broken and
scattered boxes ; then a cart, the two oxen of which were lying dead, as if
they had fallen asleep, their yokes still on them ; a little to the right, one or
two horses were seen. We then came to a small enclosure, made by felling
trees in such a manner as to form a triangular breastwork for defence. With-
in the triangle, along the north and west faces of it, were about thirty bodies,
mostly mere skeletons, although much of the clothing was left upon them.
These were lying, almost every one of them, in precisely the position they
must have occupied during the fight, their heads next to the logs over which
they had delivered their fire, and their bodies stretched, with striking regular-
ity, parallel to each other. They had evidently been shot dead at their posts,
and the Indians had not disturbed them, except by taking the scalps of most
of them. Passing this little breastwork, we found other bodies along the
road, and by the side of the road, generally behind trees, which had been
resorted to lor covers from the enemy's fire. Advancing about two hundred
vards further, we found a cluster of bodies in the middle of the road. These


were evidently the advanced guard, in the rear of which was the body of
Major Dade, and, to the right, that of Capt. Fraser.

" These were all doubtless shot down on the first fire of the Indians, except,
perhaps, Capt. Fraser, who must, however, have fallen very early in the fight.
Those in the road, and by the trees, fell during the first attack. It was during
a cessation of the fire, that the little band still remaining, about thirty in num-
ber, threw up the triangular breastwork, which, from the haste with which it
was constructed, was necessarily defective, and could not protect the men in
the second attack.

" We had with us many of the personal friends of the officers of Major
Dade's command ; and it is gratifying to be able to state, that every officer was
identified by undoubted evidence. They were buried, and the cannon, a sLx-
pounder, that the Indians had thrown into a swamp, was recovered, and placed
vertically at the head of the grave, where, it is to be hoped, it will long remain.
The bodies of the non-commissioned officers and privates were buried in two
graves ; and it was found that every man was accounted for. The command
was composed of eight officers, and one hundred and two non-commissioned
officers and privates. The bodies of eight officers and ninety-eight men were
interred, four men having escaped, three of whom reached Tampa Bay ; the
fourth wns killed the day after the battle.

" It may be proper to observe, that the attack was not made from a ham-
mock, but in a thinly-wooded country ; the Indians being concealed by palmetto
arid grass, which lias since been burned.


"The two companies were Capt. Frascr's, of the 3d artillery, and Capt,
Gardiner's, of the 2d artillery. The officers were Major Dade, of the 4th
infantry, Capts. Frazer and Gardiner, second Lieutenant Basinger, hrevet second
Lieut. R. Henderson, Mudge [late of Boston] and Keais, of the artillery, and
Dr. /. Gatlin."

From a comparison of the above report with the official account before
given, of Captain Belton, nearly every thing concerning this signally great
disaster is learned ; but from the report of the three men that had the singular
fortune to escape, many incidents have, from time to time, been gathered, and
communicated through the newspapers. In fact, until the late visit to the
battle-ground, no other account, but such as could be gathered from the three
poor half-murdered soldiers, could be obtained ; and yet it appears that they
gave the facts as they really were. They all came in separately, sorely
wounded, one of them with no less than eight wounds. He was supposed to
be dead, and was thrown promiscuously into a heap of the slain, about which a
dance was held by the Indians, before leaving the ground. This man crawled
away in the following night, and thus effected his escape.


Of the principal chiefs and war leaders of the Scminoles OSCEOI.A MICANOPV
JUMPER Massacre of General Thompson and others at Fort King BATTLE OF
THE OUITHLECOOCHE Fight near Wetumka Great distress of the country Action
of Congress upon it Battle at Musquito Many Creeks join the Seminoles Fight
on the Suanee River.

THERE has been occasion already pretty fully to sketch ue character of the
chief generally called Powell by the whites, but whose real name is OSCEOLA,
<-r Oseola. This chief has shown himself to be, thus far, equal to the desperate
cause in which he is engaged. We, at a distance from the Indians, marvel
that they should be so short-sighted as not to see that to wage a war is only to
hasten their ruin ; but, when we thus reflect, we do not consider the scanty
information which the Indians have of the real strength of the whites. Our
means of getting a knowledge of the Indians, is incalculably greater than theirs
is of getting a knowledge of us. They cannot read, neither can they converse
(or but very few of them) with intelligent white men ; therefore, that they
know much less of us than we do of them, must be very apparent. They
know nothing of geography. If an Indian, in the interior of Florida, should
be told that New England was a great place, without considerable trouble he
could not be made to understand whether it were a great town, as large as a
village of 50 wigwams in his own country, or as large as the whole of Florida.
We learn every thing of this nature by comparison ; and how shall the Indian
comprehend our terms, but by comparing them with his own ? Hence it is
owing, mainly, to the unavoidable ignorance of the Indians of our actual con-
dition, that induces them to hazard a war with us. I know, from the best
authority, that the western Indians, previous to Black Hawk's war, were gen-
s-rally of the opinion that they were far more numerous than the whites ; and
when a trader told them they certainly were not, they laughed at him with
scornful gestures. We have no reason to believe the Florida Indians any
better informed ; and, besides, they are cheated and baffled so often by knaves
who go among them for that purpose, that they imagine all the whites to be
of the same character, and they cannot tell whether a talk really comes from
their great father, the president, or whether some impostor be cheating them
with one of his own, to get their lands for his particular benefit.

With this view of the case before us, it will not appear altogether unac-
countable that a daring chief, like Osceola, should engage in a war. He is said
not to be a chief by birth, but has raised himself by his courage and peculiar
abilities to that station. His father is said to have been an Englishman,


his mother a Creek woman. He belongs to the Red Stick tribe. In person
he is slender, but well formed, muscular, and capable of enduring great
fatigue; is an excellent tactician, and an admirer of order and discipline. He
would frequently practise military manoeuvres with the whites, and none of
them, it was observed, could excel him. His complexion is rather light, deep
restless eyes, clear and shrill voice, and not more than about 35 years of age.
He is said to have conducted in person every important action from the tim<-
of Warren's defeat to the battle of the Ouithlecoochee. General Thompson
imprisoned him, as we have before related, because he would not acknowl-
edge his authority, and for asserting that the country was the Indians', " that
they wanted no agent, and that he had better take care of himself."

Of old Micanopy as well as Osceola I have already had occasion to speak.
He was said to have joined the latter with 500 men : he is a short, thick-set,
"ugly-looking Indian, and much given to intoxication." JUMPER is Micanu-
pyfs chief counsellor, and a warrior of great perseverance, activity, and
courage. We shall now take up the narrative of events in the order of their
occurrence, and the next of importance \vas the massacre near Camp King,
which happened on the same day, but at a later hour than the destruction of
the detachment under Major Dade.

Osceola, it will be remembered, had been roughly treated at this place, not
many months before, and had been by coercion obliged to comply with the
demands of Mr. Agent Thompson, about a removal, &c. He was known
afterwards to declare that Thompson should pay with his life for his conduct.
Accordingly, with a small band of warriors, at noon day, on the 28 of Decem-
ber, he approached Camp King for this avowed purpose. Thompson resided
here, and was in the employ of the United States' government, as agent for
the removal of the Seminole Indians, and other affairs concerning them. He
was a man of considerable consequence, and had formerly, it is believed,
been a member of congress. Whether it was his usual custom to dine out
of the fort, we are not informed, but on this fatal day, it seems, he, with nine
other gentlemen, met at the store house of Mr. Rogers, which was but 250
yards from the fort, and while seated at dinner there, they were attacked bj

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 73 of 131)