I am reprinting this from my former web page, with a few edits.
I came across this interesting source: "Autobiography of an English Soldier in the United States Army Comprising Observations and Adventures in the States and Mexico" by George Ballentine, printed in New York by Stringer and Townsend, 1853. This autobiography is by a soldier in the War in Mexico in the 1840's. In the summer of 1846, he spent several months at Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay. His observations on the Seminoles are particularly interesting. Since most libraries probably don't have this in their collection, and I thought that you would enjoy seeing how life in the fort was when there was peace between the whites and Seminoles. The most interesting part is the friendly interaction between the Seminoles and the soldiers.
The 2nd Seminole War was over, and the Seminoles were allowed to come into Fort Brooke to trade. This led to some interested incidents!
Fort Brooke, 1838, from the Florida archives.
It looks like an officer, a militia soldier watching over three Indians, and some other people scattered about. Fort Brooke was at one time one of the largest military reservations in the United States & territories.
Finally after describing the Seminoles, the author goes on to tell about the rich country that makes up Florida and remarks, "Still, as long as the Indians remain in its borders, its resources will never have a fair chance of development, as the distant settlers can have no security for life or property while they are in the vicinity."
Without any more comment, I will let this eyewitness account speak for itself:
"On arriving at Tampa Bay we found another company of our regiment stationed there, two companies being considered requisite for the protection of the inhabitants against any sudden outbreak of the Indians. These, to the amount of several hundred warriors, beside squaws and children, still occupy a large tract of Florida called the Everglades; where they live in the same state of rude savage life to which they were accustomed ere the first of the pale faces left a footprint on their sandy shores."
"They have game in abundance, herds of deer roam through the plains and glades, and crop their luxuriant herbage; numerous flocks of wild turkeys roost in the hammocks at night, and feed in the openings and pine barrens by day; and in the creeks and bays of the sea coast, or in the large fresh water lakes of the interior, incredible quantities of delicious fish are easily caught."
"Round their villages, in the selection of a site for which they display excellent taste and judgment, they usually cultivate a small portion of the soil in raising maize, or edible roots; and the little labour which this requires is performed by the women and children. In this delicious climate, where there is perpetual verdure, and where the existence of cold or winter is scarcely known or felt, the mode of living of these savages seems not so very disagreeable, and with their ideas of comfort they must find Florida a complete Indian paradise."
"It is not much to be wondered at, therefore, to find them so reluctant to leave for a new home among the tribes of the Indian Territory. Sooner than submit to this, about fifteen years ago they waged an unequal war with the United States; which lasted several years, and cost America nearly as much, it is said, as the late war in Mexico. At the present time there are not in Florida more than a fourth, it is supposed, of the number who were there at commencement of the war; as a great many of them at various times accepted the terms offered by the government of the United States, and were transported to a tract of land called the Indian Territory, lying between Arkansas and the Rocky Mountains. Those who refused to leave, and who were finally permitted to remain in a portion of Florida defined by certain boundaries, have been variously estimated at from three to five hundred warriors. But as they have almost no intercourse with the inhabitants, white men not being suffered to approach their villages, it is very difficult to form anything like a correct estimate of their numbers. The government agent, stationed at Fort Charlotte, a small settlement near their boundary line, for the purpose of trading with them, and who has been desired by the government to endeavor without exciting their suspicions to ascertain their numbers, reckons them at five hundred, exclusive of women and children."
"Those who remain are part of the tribe or nation of Seminoles; they were as tall on an average as the men of our regiment, and though not near so athletic or muscular, generally more graceful in personal appearance. They have more yellow than copper in their complexion, and have the high prominent cheekbones, and that quick, furtive, and suspicious glance of the Indian race, which seems watching every moment to make a sudden spring in the event of any appearance of treachery. Some of their young squaws have a very pleasing expression of countenance, and I have seen one or two of these who I believe would be pronounced beautiful if compared with the prouder belles of European cities. The men, or warriors, walk with a most dignified and majestic carriage, and an air of stoic composure highly imposing."
"They wear moccasins made of deer-skin, and of their own manufacture; and go bare-legged in a short sleeved sort of tunic, confined at the waist and falling down nearly to the knees in the manner of a Highlander's kilt, to whose ancient costume that of the Florida Indians of the present day bears a considerable resemblance, especially when seen at a short distance. Some of them ornament their dress with beads and shells, which they sometimes wear in their hair also, and both men and women are fond of wearing large silver rings in their ears and through their nostrils."
[Ballentine is probably correct in his comparison to the Highlander's dress, because that is what is generally believed that the southeastern Tribes copied their clothing from, the Scottish tradesmen in the 18th century.]
"Parties of twenty or thirty of these strange-looking visitors frequently came into the village of Tampa Bay while we lay there. They were always accompanied by a sub-chief, a sort of lieutenant, who had charge of the party, and their object was to exchange deerskins for powder and other necessary articles. They frequently brought a few turkeys or a few pieces of venison, part of the game they had shot as they came along; these they sold cheap enough, a turkey fetching a quarter, and a piece of venison of fifteen or twenty pounds weight, half a dollar."
Fort Brooke in 1837, from the Florida Memory/Florida Archives.
"They always visited the barracks when they came to the village, walking through the rooms and shaking hands with the soldiers in a perfectly friendly manner. None of them, however, understood English, and we were all equally ignorant of the Seminole, so that our discourse was necessarily limited to the language of pantomime, at which they seemed a vast deal more apt than our men. They showed us marks of gunshot wounds they had received in the Florida war on various parts of their bodies, pointing to our muskets at the same time and shaking their heads; and they seemed highly delighted when one or two of our soldiers, who had been in the Florida war, showed them similar marks, making signs that they had received them from the Indians. They laughed and talked to one another with great animation and glee at this circumstance. But the great attraction for them was two six-pounder pieces, which stood in front of the quarters; they always approached these with looks of the greatest curiosity, and apparent awe, cautiously patting them as if to propitiate them. They have the most exaggerated ideas of the destructive effects of artillery, of which they stand in horrible dread; and some of our men who were in the Florida war asserted that a chief cause of so many Indians having surrendered towards the close of the war, was owing to the Americans having procured two or three light field-pieces, though, owing to the swampy nature of the country, they could not have used them. As they always behaved quietly in the garrison, they were never hindered from strolling round any part of it, strict orders being given to the soldiers not to molest them. They used no more ceremony with the officers than with the men, frequently walking up to them on the parade, or into their quarters, and offering to shake hands with them with the most perfect nonchalance."
"On paying one of these visits to the village it was customary for them to have a bout of drinking and dancing; a sort of Indian ball, which they held in a yard behind a house in the village appropriated exclusively to their use. The entertainments of the evening, on these occasions, usually consisted in smoking and drinking whiskey until pretty late, a few of them dancing at intervals in the most ungraceful and even ludicrous attitudes imaginable. They wound up the evening generally with a war dance, in which all who were not too drunk joined. This dance commences slow at first to a low monotonous chant, and increases in rapidity of time and movement until, like the witches' dance in Tam o' Shanter, "the mirth and fun grow fast and furious," and they yell and whoop like a set of demons or incarnate fiends. On these occasions, they sometimes quarreled among themselves, and ended the night with a general squabble; yet as care was always taken, on their arrival, to have their arms taken from them and locked up, until they were ready to return home, there was no danger or any serious accident occurring."
Some of the most eloquent speeches made during the Second Seminole War are recorded by Captain John T. Sprague in 1841, in his book "The Origin, Progress and Conclusion of the Florida War."
Coacoochee, also known as Wildcat, was Miccosukee and one of the most resistant war leaders during the war. (He is often referred to as Seminole, but it is more correct to call him Miccosukee. During that time, most all of the Florida Indians were called Seminoles.) He had made a daring escape from Fort Marion, the former Spanish fortress in St. Augustine, in November 1837, and continued the Seminole resistance to remain in Florida. In 1841 he was finally captured and put in chains. He was forced to send a message to his people to come in and surrender, or he would be hanged. During this series of "peace talks," are recorded some of the most emotional speeches that we have of this war. Let us start after Col. Worth had finished speaking to a Seminole / Miccosukee delegation. This speech is found on pages 288-292 of Sprague's book, as well as in, "Coacoochee, Made of the Sands of Florida," by Arthur E. Francke, Jr. This talk took place, ironically, on July 4th, 1841, and means the end of independence for these brave warriors. Grammar and punctuation are the same as in the original book, published in 1848.
Coacoochee (Wildcat) by John T. Sprague
Colonel William J. Worth finished speaking. Silence pervaded the company as the speaker closed. The harsh grating of the handcuffs broke the spell, as each warrior raised his hand to wipe away the tear which never before stole down his rugged cheek. Coacoochee rose, evidently struggling to suppress a feeling which made his manly form quiver with excitement:
"I was once a boy, " said he, in a subdued tone, "then I saw the White man afar off. I hunted in these woods, first with a bow and arrow; then with a rifle. I saw the white man, and was told he was my enemy. I could not shoot him as I would a wolf or a bear; yet like these he came upon me; horses, cattle, and fields, he took from me. He said he was my friend; he abused our women and children, and told us to go from the land. Still he gave me his hand in friendship; we took it; whilst taking it, he had a snake in the other; his tongue was forked; he lied, and stung us. I asked but for a small piece of these lands, enough to plant and to live upon, far south, a spot where I could place the ashes of my kindred, as spot only sufficient upon which I could lay my wife and child. This was not granted me. I was put in prison; I escaped. I have been again taken; you have brought me back; I am here; I feel the irons in my heart. I have listened to your talk; you and your officers have taken us by the hand in friendship. I thank you for bringing me back; I can now see my warriors, my women and children; the Great Spirit thanks you; the heart of the poor Indian thanks you. We know but little; we have no books which tell all things; but we have the Great Spirit, moon, and stars; these told me, last night, you would be our friend. I gave you my word; it is the word of a warrior, a chief, a brave, it is the word of Coacoochee. It is true I have fought like a man, so have my warriors; but the whites are too strong for us. I wish now to have my band around me and go to Arkansas. You say I must end the war! Look at these irons! Can I go to my warriors? Coacoochee chained! No; do not ask me to see them. I never wish to tread upon my land unless I am free. If I can go to them unchained, they will follow me in; but I fear they will not obey me when I talk to them in irons. They will say my heart is weak, I am afraid. Could I go free, they will surrender and emigrate."
The commander, [Col. Worth] in reply, told him, with firmness and without disguise, that he could not go, nor would his irons be taken off until his entire band had surrendered; but that he might select three or five of the prisoners, who should be liberated, and permitted to carry his talk; they should be granted thirty, forty, or fifty days, if necessary.
Worth said, "I say to you again, and for the last time, that unless the band acquiesce promptly with your wishes, to your last wish, the sun, as it goes down on the last day appointed for their appearance, will shine upon the bodies of each of you hanging in the wind."
"This injunction was given in such a manner as to impress the prisoners with the firm belief that it would be literally fulfilled. It was manifest in the convulsive expression of their stern and rugged faces. To escape, was beyond all hope. The vessel lay moored in deep water, two miles from shore. Firmly ironed, and surrounded night and day be sentinels, their fate was inevitable; and as the reality rose upon them they were sad and depressed. Here was a chief, a man whose only offense was defending his home, his fireside, the graves of kindred, stipulating, on the Fourth of July, for his freedom and his life."
An incident occurred, when Coacoochee was most excited, which carried forcibly to the minds of all present the import of the day, and impressed in a manner not to be forgotten, the scene in which all were participating. A government schooner lay moored in the immediate neighborhood; at 12 Noon., as is customary, she opened [fired] her batteries. Coacoochee, hearing the repeated discharge, and seeing the interest manifested, ceased speaking, and asked, "What is that for?" Again he inquired, but silence was the only response. The Indian instinctively seemed to think it the jubilee of freedom. Well might the white man deny the natal day of his country. That flag, waving from the masthead of Coacoochee's prison-ship, symbolical of freedom, was saluted by the roar of artillery, announcing to the world the liberty of twenty millions of people, free, independent, intelligent, and happy.
Coacoochee then consulted with his warriors who were chosen to talk with his people:
"Has not Coacooche," he said, "sat with you by the council-fire at midnight, when the wolf and white man were around us? Have I not led the war dance, and sung the song of the Seminole? Did not the spirits of our mothers, our wives, and our children stand around us? Has not my scalping-knife been red with blood, and the scalps of our enemy been drying in our camps? Have I not made the warpath red with blood, and has not the Seminole always found a home in my camp? Then, will the warriors of Coacooche desert him? No! If your hearts are bad, let me see them now; take them in your hands, and let me know they are dark with bad blood; but do not, like a dog, bite me, so soon as you turn your backs. If Coacoochee is to die, he can die like a man. It is not my heart that shakes; no, it never trembles; but I feel for those now in the woods, pursued night and day by the soldiers; for those who fought with us, until we were weak. The sun shines bright to day, the day is clear; so let your hearts be: the Great Spirit will guide you. At night, when you camp, take these pipes and tobacco, build a fire when the moon is up and bright, dance around it, then let the fire go out, and just before the break of day, when the deer sleeps, and the moon whispers to the dead, you will hear the voices of those who have gone to the Great Spirit; they will give you strong hearts and head to carry the talk of Coacoochee. Say to my band that my feet are chained. I cannot walk, yet I send them my word as true from the heart, as if I as on the warpath or in the deer-hunt. I am not a boy; Coacoochee can die, not with a shivering hand, but as when grasping the rifle with my warriors around me."
"My feet are chained, but the head and heart of Coacoochee reaches you. The great white chief (Po-car-ger) will be kind to us. He Says, when my band comes in I shall again walk my land free, with my band around me. He has given you forty days to do this business in; if you want more, say so; I will ask for more; if not, be true to the time. Take these sticks; here are thirty-nine, one for each day; this, much larger than the rest, with blood upon it, is the fortieth. When the others are thrown away, and this only remains, say to my people, that with the setting sun Coacoochee hangs like a dog, with none but the white men to hear his last words. Come then; come by the stars, as I have led you to battle! Come, for the voice of Coacoochee speaks to you!"
"Say this to my wife and child --"
Here the chieftain, who had struggled during these remarks with feelings almost over-powering, paused, and turned away his head, to hide the tears flowing profusely down his melancholy, but youthful and manly countenance. Deep Silence pervaded the entire company. The experienced soldier, to whom carnage had been familiar, the hardy sailor, acquainted with privation and danger, the savage, whose stoical heart is seldom warmed by felling, now stood around, giving evidence of their sympathy in these last injunctions of a captive, by a participation in the gloom and silence, which none was so bold as to break. Without confusion, and without the utterance of a word, the irons were taken off the five messengers, when preparations were made for them to proceed to the shore. Coacoochee shook each by the hand as the passed over the side of the vessel. To the last he gave a silk handkerchief and a breast-pin;
"Give these," said he, "to my wife and child."
Picture: "Sorrow of the Seminoles" as they are removed from their homes, by John T. Sprague.
Coacoochee and his band were taken into exile to the western Indian Territory. Had he remained in Florida, he would have been hereditary chief after Micanopy. After many hardships, Coacoochee led his people and many of the Black Seminoles to freedom in Mexico in 1850, where he received an appointment as a Colonel in the Mexican Army. He died in 1857 of small pox; free but still exiled from Florida.
Sorry for the long period of long inactivity. I have had some serious issues that has required my attention. No, they have not been resolved. I just have a weekend where I am stuck at home with no money.
I have a few change for my website and blog.
This is my blog, and I had a web page on Florida and Seminole War history.
First, if you tried to access my web page, you may have noticed that it is missing. I have decided to retire it after 19 years. It was difficult to update through ftp , and I had not done so in eight years. I have not gotten any feedback from anyone in recent years, and when I did a search on the regular search engines, it would be at the bottom of the list for Seminole War searches, or not show up at all. So this really didn’t justify the large amount of money that I was paying each year to keep it around.
Another reason that I let it retire is that the Seminole Wars Heritage Trail booklet is coming out in August, with a companion website, hosted by the Florida Department of State. The trail booklet is almost identical to my website, but updated. I’ve had a contribution to the project as well as many other authors on the Seminole War. So I feel this will be a replacement to my website.
Second, is that my former website had a few miscellaneous articles that were separate from the sites and the museums. I will re-post those, here on my blog, as well as updated county information. So some of the same information from my old website will be here on my blog, which I can edit and change. I could not easily edit and change the old website.
I will start out with information on the 4th of July in 1841, and Fort Brooke in Tampa Bay, because I will be at the Tampa Bay History Center for their living history day, coming up next Saturday on July 4th. Come see me there; it’s free that day, so spend a lot in the gift shop!
Then I will talk about St. Francis Barracks and St. Augustine. We have a special event there, coming up on August 15th. That one will be worth attending as well. We have been finding out some interesting things about the burial grounds were Dade’s men are buried.
Also, an artifact will be on loan from West Point for the event, which you will want to see. This will be an artifact from Dade’s command that is not normally displayed in public.
And final, this is in the category of Florida news of the weird. This is like one of those stories where a guy named Lincoln kills a guy named Booth, or a guy named Kennedy kills a guy named Oswald.
In a sad news story this weekend in the Tallahassee newspaper, the former FSU Osceola rider (2004-2007) Caleb Joshua Halley, was killed by a coworker named Orlando Thompson in a dispute over the ingredients of cooking gumbo. So a guy named Thompson killed a former FSU Osceola. Some of you may know, that the original Osceola, killed Indian Agent Wiley Thompson, near Fort King on December 28, 1835.
I didn’t know Josh Halley, but still want to give a tribute, with the following photo of him as he portrayed FSU’s Osceola, and an accompanying article from the St. Pete Times:
This past March during the annual reenactment at Fort Cooper State Park, there was also the inauguration of the four Seminole War Heritage trail Kiosks in the park.
We have seen the first, previous one that was finished a couple years ago. Now, the other three are up and completed. This is wonderful, because not only are they beautiful interpretive panels, but there are four of them.
The artwork is done by both Guy LaBree, who unfortunately past away last January 1st, and Jackson Walker.
The first kiosk starts off at the pathway to the restroom and far picnic area. You can still donate funds for a brick for your name on it, from the Friends of Fort Cooper. This is a three panel kiosk with a roof, and from what I have heard, this has become a model for interpretive kiosks in the entire state park system.
Going past the end of the main parking area where the fort trail starts, is kiosk number two. This covers Seminole life in the Cove of the Withlacoochee. The path is paved from here to the third kiosk.
Once you reach the third kiosk, there are the intersection of trails. The old military road is still visable, and we will take that path down to the final kiosk and fort site. There is also access to the Withlacoochee Trail from here, and 50-mile rail-to-trails pathway that is close by. Or you can be more adventuresome and take a park trail that meanders around the park from here.
But at this point, is the third kiosk. It talks about warfare in the Cove of the Withlacoochee. This was thought of as the stronghold of the Seminoles in the beginning of the war. The first year of the war had four campaigns that attempted to rout the Seminoles/Miccosukee, and their Black Seminole allies out of here, without success. And it was here the Fort Cooper was established to observe the area.
From kiosk number three, we will turn and walk down the dirt path, which is also the remnant of the military road. This is also where I have had the most wildlife sightings in the park, which would include animals like flying squirrels and woodpeckers.
We reach kiosk number four right before we arrive at the fort site on the lake shore. This kiosk is about the fort, and life of the soldiers here. The Georgia battalion was tasked with observing the Seminoles, which they did their observations for two week while under siege by the Seminoles, until relieved and evacuated by General Clinch.
As far as Seminole War interpretive panels, these are the best outside panels at any of the state parks, in my opinion. Great job to the Friends group for having these created. And to Ken and Kate Hughes, who were instrumental in getting it done.
I have made a video of the panels:
I recently finished making a Seminole coat for the Florida Museum of History in Tallahassee. It is a reproduction of an actual coat that exists in the collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Although it was once on display, not anymore due to deterioration over the past 175 years. So to better understand what I was recreating, the museum arranged for me to have one of their curators do a white glove inspection of the original.
Under agreement with the museum in Gainesville, I am not allowed to post any photos of that original coat. But, I do have some photos of it from about 1990 that are not under that agreement, so here they are:
Notice that knee ties / beaded garters were placed on the coat wrists.
This is an interesting coat because it was different from almost any rules of coat making that we have held fast to previously. The edges are hemmed instead of loose. The applique is fringed on the side. The applique looks red and brown, but since it used blue thread, I am confident that it was originally indigo blue but oxidized over the years, which we have seen happen to Civil War uniforms.
The ruffles and the applique on the shoulders have the appearance of trying to mimic military officer epaulets. And the braided applique on the narrow cape reminds me of military braid. It also reminds me of ric rac.
At first I thought this was a modified coat, or adjusted as the person grew, but not so. The basic coat was made, then all the decoration, ruffles, applique, and braiding were sewn on top. It was not sewn into the garment as it was made, but sewn on top. This makes sense if the garment is being made while on the move, so you don’t have a lot of loose material pieces to sew together.
For the ruffles I found prints that were very similar to the original print. But the main basic material has a leaf block stamp on it, that I have not found a similar pattern searching reproduction fabrics. So the museum may attempt to stamp that print on it, but that is something that I never tried to do.
And the entire coat is hand sewn. Simple running stitch, whip stitch, and French seams, but whoever made the original was an expert seamstress.
Below: Final, finished reproduction complete.
Now, how the museum came into possession of the coat, and the history of it, was another interesting research project that I did concurrently. I worked on the coat and sewing in the evenings and weekends. During my lunch break, I went down to the library to do research.
The story behind the coat, was that it was in the possession of Private William Goulding, Company F, 2d Dragoon Regiment. Being a personal item of a private soldier is extremely rare, and unique. Why did a Private soldier have a Seminole coat as a souvenir? Goulding died of dysentery at Cedar Key in December 1841, and never left Florida. His surviving family came in possession of his items, and in the 1970s, it went on auction in Vancouver. It was purchased by a museum, which did a collection swap with the museum in Gainesville, which is not uncommon for museums to do.
The story was that this coat was originally from a Creek or Seminole named “Black Beaver.” I have not found reference to this “Black Beaver,” but that does not mean he didn’t exist. I must also keep in mind, is that this information is from third-hand sources and highly suspect. But the coat definitely has the appearance as Seminole, with characteristics that we see in the coats of the same era in the collection of the Museum fur Volkskunde, in Berlin.
So, the Black Beaver story is highly suspect. Instead, let us look where Pvt. Goulding’s company was, and maybe we can determine where he may have picked it up? We may not have a month-to-month record of Goulding, but we do have a monthly description of his company, and the officers who commanded it from the post returns.
I do not know when Goulding enlisted, but the regiment had a large turnover in September 1839, when the three-year enlistment ended with most all the soldiers in the regiment. Most did not reenlist.
There is a good description of the 2d Dragoon Regiment from Private Bartholomew Lynch’s journal that was published as a master’s thesis by a student at FSU in 1965, called, “The Squaw Kissing War.” Pvt. Lynch was in the 2d Dragoons, Company H, and was at some of the same posts as Pvt. Goulding, but maybe not at the same time. He describes many of the officers in the regiment, including those who served as officers of Goulding’s company. Most all the officers of the regiment are characterized as incompetent and disinterested in the life of their subordinate soldiers. Lynch describes the treatment of the soldiers as worse than slaves. Thievery, drunkenness, and brutality were commonplace, and that was from the officers. The common soldiers suffered from these abuses, and there was no redress or justice for these wrongs. So to keep it short, morale was low and life was difficult in the regiment. Not something that would cause the soldiers to keep any souvenirs other than mental scars of the abuse if they survived. Lynch says, "Why sue the devil if the court is held in hell?"
Goulding’s company had a constant rotation of officers as they were given detached service elsewhere, or that they resigned or were kicked out of the Army. His company commander, Capt. Townshend Dade (a distant relative of Maj. Francis Dade) was cashiered out of the Army for unspecified behavior in February 1840, and at the same time, his lieutenant, 1st Lt. William Hardia, was also kicked out for being constantly drunk. Dade died a year later, and Hardia survived the next two years as a school teacher before he died of drunkenness as well. Following, the company was commanded by Capt. Nathaniel or Nathan Hunter, and he was actually pretty good. But his successors were more of the same drunken or incompetent officers as Dade.
The company was stationed at Fort Shannon at Palatka, St. Augustine, Fort Hunter on the St. Johns near Palatka, Fort Reid in what is now Sanford, Fort Heileman at Black Creek, and later Fort Brooke at Tampa Bay. At times, Lt.Col. William Harney was also there, to lead the regiment but maybe also to maintain discipline. But, I find no record of Company F, from November 1840 to January 1841. That means they are most likely on the move. And much of the time, the company would be split up doing detached service in the territory.
So before the company disappears in November 1840, they are with Col. Harney at Ft. Reid. Then, Harney goes on his famous Everglades campaign where he finds the Spanish Indian leader Chekiaka, who is killed and hanged by Harney. On this expedition is Capt. Hunter and Hunter’s subordinate officer, so it is highly likely that the men of Co. F are also along. During this campaign, it is one of the first special forces operations, where the soldiers dress in Seminole clothing and travel in dugout canoes, to be able to sneak up on the Indians.
I propose that this original Seminole coat was a souvenir from that mission, and would suggest that maybe Pvt. Goulding wore this coat on the campaign. That is why he had it as a souvenir. The following August, Goulding shows up on the hospital list, and never recovers. In December he dies of dysentery, never to leave Florida.
There is probably no way to prove conclusively that this coat was used on that Everglades expedition, but I think that if it could be proven, then this is huge! Being able to connect it to this actually event, which was significant, would be amazing.
Seeing the movement and actions of Goulding’s company the two years before his death, there are not many other events where he could have obtained the coat. The company was involved in several actions and battles in 1837 and 1838, but I don’t know if Goulding was with the company at that time, and it was not known for private soldiers to take Seminole clothing off the clothes line when they raided camp. Usually seized items would be turned into the quartermaster or burned on the spot. The best explanation to me, is that the coat was worn by him in the Everglades campaign, and afterwards because a curious souvenir.
With New Orleans out of the way, I am doing several Seminole War related projects. I am now on the board for the Seminole War Foundation. We have a few exciting things that are coming up.
This April or May, we will publish the Florida Seminole War Heritage Trails booklet. This is being produced by a grant from the Dept. of State, and will be a free publication available in museums and welcome areas across the state. It will be 40 pages, full sized 8.5" x 11" booklet, with about 40 or 50 sites you can visit all over Florida. Museums, historic battle sites, or some very interesting places you might not have known about. Plus, we have listed what must be about 100 historical markers. And to make it look really nice, Jackson Walker is doing the artwork for the book.
You cannot believe how excited I am over this project. I have wanted to have something like this made for 20 years. But instead of just myself, and I am one of the writers, we also have contributions by Dr. Joe Knetsch, Frank Laumer, Patsy West, and Pedro Zepeda. John and Mary Lou Missall get the credit for most of the work, and have logged 5,000 miles on their car visiting all these places.
Here is one place I photographed a week ago: The town of Volusia along highway 40, along the St. Johns River, bordering Lake and Volusia County.
This magnificent oak has a marker under it, telling of the history of the community of Volusia, which dates back to Spanish settlement, possibly before St. Augustine. At one time, local resident Lillian Gibson, had a museum in her house full of local artifacts and interesting objects, known as the Volusia Museum. She passed away about a dozen years ago, and I was pleased to see a small marker remembering her next to the Volusia Marker. Of course, you notice the William Bartram marker here as well.
Volusia was an important crossing during Seminole War times, and there were several forts here. Forts Volusia, Call, Butler, Barnwell, are what come to mind. Nearby across the river on the Lake County side, is this historical marker for Fort Butler.
So this is just one place for the booklet. Now, with 40 pages and about 150 places mentioned, we don't have a lot of room for photos, and we want enough space for Jackson Walker to make it look good. So what John Missall is planning, is to make a slide show of all the places John and Mary visited. That will be a program that I will be interested in seeing!
We are just about finished on the book, and expect publication in April, or May at the latest. I think that we have visited all the sites and almost everything is written up. We are busy proofreading each other.
But also stop by and listen to the stories. It was an adventure just finding some of these places. Historical markers, especially. Those rascals have a habit of moving around, or even disappearing. Or hiding. One of the more interesting examples was finding the marker for Fort Peyton southwest of St. Augustine. You will have to ask John and Mary about that story!
For upcoming events for the Seminole Wars Foundation, I believe that John and Mary Lou will be at the Battle of Okeechobee. Then with myself at Fort Cooper.
This was the biggest event that I have ever participated with. 1500 reenactors from all over the world. Many from Canada, France, and Germany. A huge event that took 16 months of planning and work, and it paid off. This was the biggest event to commemorate the War of 1812 since the War of 1812, and there will probably not be another like it in my lifetime. Pretty good for a war that is little understood, and a major battle that is misunderstood!
No, it did not matter that the Treaty of Ghent was signed before the final battle of New Orleans. And the Battle was not one fight, but a six month campaign for control of the Gulf and Mississippi. The treaty had not been ratified, and the governments would have to exchange signed copies of the ratified treaty to make it official. That would not happen until over a month later, in February 1815. If the US had lost New Orleans, it is very possible that the Treaty would not have been ratified, and the US would not get back the Louisiana Purchase territory.
This event had something for everyone. Portrayals were of British infantry, Highlanders, Riflemen, and mounted officers. US infantry, Artillery, and state soldiers who joined the 7th Infantry. State militias from Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, all with their interesting and varied outfits; especially the French from New Orleans. The Baratarian pirates, the Choctaw scouts, and the Free Men of Color. And it was a family affair because the woman and children were also well occupied.
The weather was cold the first few days, with mornings in the 20s. But the rain held off until Sunday afternoon and did not dampen the event, and especially not the battle reenactments, which we gave a big sigh of relief! The field had only been cleared before our event. (Not our fault; we would have preferred it done months earlier.) It would have gotten really ugly if we got another gully washer of a rainstorm that cancelled the last day of the event the previous year.
You would think that this even would include much revelry in the French Quarter. During the week, I went to two formal dinners and one informal gathering along the immoral fester known as Bourbon Street, and that was it. Most of the time, by the end of the day, my feet were killing me and sore from the arthritis, so I had to get rejuvenated by a soak in the tub in the hotel. I would not have survived otherwise.
We had a small contingent of reenactors portraying the Choctaw regiment, numbering from 6 to 12 during the week. My Florida brothers were much impressed with the size of the event, and were probably delightfully surprised by how much activities went on. But glad they did not have to attend all the formations and parades. Pedro and his family, Mike Manzano, Jimmy Sawgrass, Swamp Owl, and Bearheart and his family, all looked great and did a wonderful job. Yes, it was very cold for us Florida boys, but the positive point was that we got to show off our regalia. I think that one morning, Sawgrass had on all his outfits, and was layered up by about six shirts and coats!
I had tea at the British Consulate and enjoyed a number of museums in town before the main event.
Thursday, January 8th, was the actual 200th anniversary of the final Battle of New Orleans. So we had a ceremony at the national park. If we knew that would mean us standing out in freezing weather around 25 degrees and strong wind for several hours in formation, with dull speeches and singing that sounded like someone strangling cats, we would have stayed in the hotel. I don’t think that we will volunteer to do that again. I do these events to interpret, not to be just decoration.
So Friday to Sunday was the main event at our battlefield park. And this was our park, and not a state or national park. Since you cannot have a battle of two opposing forces firing at each other in national parks, we decided to make our own event and reenactment park. A local foundation procured the land along with the Louisiana Living History Foundation, and the Seventh U.S. Infantry Living History Association. So this made it really special, because it was our event, ran how we wanted it, and we did what we wanted. This is the only way living history will survive, because the state and federal parks are failing so badly with living history and interpretation these days. We had the best encampment and the best sutler row I have seen in a long time. We were not forced to just stand there as window dressing like at the national park. People could visit and talk to us, and we had a really fun time. And we had five great battle reenactments from Friday night to Sunday morning. This way, there was something for everyone.
Before and after the event during the week, the local PBS station, WYES, played a documentary they had made with cooperation with the 7th and the Louisiana Living History Foundation; “The Battle of New Orleans: A Meaningful Victory.” This was a very good documentary that was very comprehensive and covered much of the New Orleans campaign, including the Fort Bowyer battles. Since we have been doing this for many years, we know a good film when we see one, and this was good.
There were others who attempted films who are not even worth bothering. And before the event was over, the local paper told of film producers coming out of the woodwork dropping celebrity names. Which is a good indication that you need to ignore those crews. Another bad sign with this group of would-be producers, is that they start right off the bat with the wrong information, which tells me that they have not even looked at the real history.
But finally, we got a good event and did what we wanted. And the local PBS station did a good documentary.
There is much available with the rise of the computer and internet, but it seems that a lot coming out these days is just plain bad research, and recycling of historical mistakes.
“Where did things go wrong?”
Back in 2000, I met Dr. Julian Granberry, who has published an amazing amount on native languages. Besides a very enlightening private dinner with him, his lecture about the languages of the native people in Florida before the Europeans, until the time when the Calusa and Timuquans vanished from the scene, was one of the most memorable anthropology lectures at the Central Florida Anthropological Society that I ever remember. He has still published some memorable works, and in the forward of these books, gives some clues to what went wrong.
Besides Dr. Granberry’s “A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language,” Third edition from 1993, are a couple of his other lesser known works.
“The Americas That Might Have Been, Naïve American Social Systems Through Time” 2005.
“The Calusa Linguistic and Cultural Origins and Relationships” 2011. (Both from The University of Alabama Press.)
In “The Americas That Might Have Been,” Dr. Granberry explains that since his academic work started in the 1940s, he came under the mentoring of several people who are legends in the anthropology field. They influenced him to seek a more holistic approach to anthropology.
And that is, to truly understand a people and culture, you have to seek out Everything you can about them. Leave no stone unturned. That was my epiphany back around 1997; I had to take in the good and the bad. All things need to be examined as a facet of the people. I could not choose what I wanted and ignore other things.
Granberry says that anthropology began as a formal academic discipline with an emphasis on describing human cultural behavior holistically. That methods of ethnography, linguistics, and archaeology were seen as inseparable techniques for gathering and interpreting interlocking data on human behavior present and past. (From “The Americas That Might Have Been,” page 5.)
My Mom was an anthropologist, and I think that is what she tried to impart to me on the subject.
Granberry continues; after WWII, the holistic view gave way to what may be called, compartmentalized anthropology, with increasingly limiting research to gathering and analysis of data on only a single, specialized aspect of culture, weather language, artifacts, religion, economics, politiccs, the arts, warfare, ect. That the aspects of anthropology became separate disciplines, where experts on one facet gradually distanced themselves from the other fields. (Also mostly from Granberry, 2005) This has been the main approach by universities since the 1960s. This has resulted in those trained in this compartmentalized view result in few conversant with all the branches of anthropology and fewer yet with any interest in a holistic examination of human cultures. (Granberry, page 6.)
My Mom lamented this. She was a social, or cultural anthropologist. Sociology was her main focus. I would say her main degree, but she had several! She was a very active member in the FAS and CFAS in Orlando in the 1960s-1990s. When there were a lot of speakers on the subject of archaeology and artifacts, she lamented over this, because she wanted to see more talks on the social or cultural aspects. She said that she wanted to know more about the people when they were alive, not wait until they were dead!
But over the past few years, it seems that things are gradually going to a more holistic approach, but it will probably take as many years to undo the damage that’s already been done by compartmentalization and fragmenting the academic system.
Why have I gone over all this? And believe me, I am trying to give a short, to the point answer.
The reason why, is because this all struck home with me. I have seen the same thing in history and historical research. Much recent published about the Seminole Wars is poorly researched and written. By people who do not even reference original or common sources. So you have a major college professor on a lecture on C-Span who calls General Andrew Jackson, “Stonewall.” That is unforgivable. For those who are reading this, I hope you understand that AJ and Stonewall Jackson were two entirely different people of different times. And this dumbing down of history is probably true with all of historical research in general, not just research in the Seminole Wars.
So recently while visiting David Southall down in Bonita Springs, he gave me something he wrote up, “The Five malpractices of modern history.” It is really exactly the same thing that I was talking about above. David said that he merely compiled this from different sources, and doesn’t want to really take the full credit. But here are the “Five malpractices:”
1. Post Structuralism—to believe that only groups, not individuals give meaning to the whole. This trap makes us consider people not as individuals but as members of a group. They consider everyone on the merits of their group membership. This is coupled with the belief that the Bill of Rights protects the rights of the minority from the rights of the majority, not the rights of individuals from an overreaching government. Poststructuralists avoid “an account of facts,” believing instead that history is subjective and must therefore be individually interpreted based on the way one feels about what happened.
My own add: There are great men, and women, who do great things. Have great people in American history become marginalized? We now have American history school books that do not mention George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln has become the “vampire hunter.” This is probably the result, of why primary sources of research, like letters that the officers wrote during the 2nd Seminole War, or official adjutant reports, seem to be ignored. Would there not be some value at seeing what people wrote who were eyewitnesses to events, even if we don’t really agree with them?
2. Modernism. Modernism is to use a modern context to interpret any events whether fairly recent on in the distant past. For example, Thomas Jefferson attended church in the Capitol building during his presidency. He even ordered the Marine Corps band to play for the worship services. Some would look at this through a modern lens and say he misunderstood the Constitution, but it is more likely to say that he understood it, but we’ve grown to misunderstand it now. Certainly the guy credited with the letter about separation of church and state knew what he was doing here. Modernists sidestep “causes and effects,” by avoiding historical context and substituting modern thought and attitudes to interpret the past.
My own add: This is especially true with Army officers and their view on Seminoles during the 2SW. Many think that it was just bad white guys who were racist, who just wanted to kill all Indians. What the Indian removal did was terrible, which we all agree upon. But if you really read as much as you can on the times from personal journals and accounts; and I encourage everyone to do so; you will find things to be maybe different than what you thought. I find blatant racist attitudes more from people who were less involved in the war. Everyone had their own family, problems, and issues. Few officers were really supportive of the war, and most found it futile to continue with it. Many were very sympathetic to the Seminoles, like John T. Sprague, who wrote the Florida War book. Others exhibited hatred, like Lt. Anderson’s journal in the FHQ about 12 years ago, when he laments of personal friends of his were killed in the war. People will say that the US won the war. Or that the Seminoles did. My answer is that nobody won.
3. Academic collectivism. This trap happens when a series or set of academics agree amongst themselves and reference each other’s works to back up their assertions. They rarely, never, or selectively go back to historical documents for fact-finding. Instead they simply cite one another’s work to support their own theories. This tends to get away from anything based on history and ends up allowing them to support the agenda of their choosing. It is an incestuous relationship.
Academic Collectivism relies on the claims of “experts” rather than original documents as the standard for truth. It promotes an incestuous, complex bureaucratic system of peer review scholarship as the sole measurement for determining whether a historical fact is correct or false. Academic Collectivist avoid “a narration of events,” preferring instead to narrate only what other so-called “experts” have said about those events.
Ever wonder why you keep seeing the same figures? You will see the same academics constantly referred in programs, talks, lectures, conferences, and videos. That’s because these “experts” give each other the grants and money for doing these programs.
They are really lacking when you check their bibliography, and see what is missing of eyewitness accounts or journals. Or they add a book to the bibliography when it is obviously that they have not even opened the cover. An example is a recent much-touted biography about Osceola. The author mentions Dade’s Battle and has the information about it horribly wrong, and then has one of Frank Laumer’s books in the bibliography. Yes, only one of Frank’s books on the subject; but had he even read it, he would not have gotten wrong what he did.
4. Minimalism is the practice of focusing on a tiny subset of what was happening at a time in the past as though that is all that was happening. An example would include saying that we separated from England because of taxation without representation. This is one of the reasons but it is one of several reasons. Unfortunately that is probably the only reason most school children could give today. Minimalists sidestep “causes and effects,” by dismissing, because examining them would make things too complicated.
An example from Seminole war times, is to say that Andrew Jackson was concerned about Indian Removal. Yes he was, but it was not the top priority he faced as president. It was probably about fourth down the list. More pressing issues were nullification and succession; the Bank of the United States and its control over the economy without being elected or answerably to anyone. Then there was the Texas Republic succeeding from Mexico, and Canadian rebellion in the north threatening to drag us into a war with Great Britain. As much as we like to focus on removal, there was a lot of other things happening at the same time.
5. Deconstructionism. A steady stream of negativity designed to tear down the positive image in the minds of people. When the historians and press only focus on negative aspects of the founding era from the Founding Father’s lives, people are not aware of the positive things, or the morality of many of their beliefs and actions. It changes our attitude toward our country and its founding. Deconstructionists avoid telling about events in the way they happened, preferring instead to selectively pick out a few things in order to construct a negative image.
Thus, our image of the founding fathers is as a bunch of randy bastards having illegitimate children with their slaves. We tend to lump them all in one negative category and forget that they were not all like that, if they even were, and that they somehow managed to draft the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and Constitution, that have been the foundation of our government and country for about 240 years. We seem to forget our privileges and freedoms that we enjoy are not common among other nations. Who were these extraordinary minds who created these documents?
So the best advice I can give when exploring history, anthropology, or archaeology, is to leave no stone unturned. Examine and learn everything you can on the subject. Form your own opinions, and not fall in line with others.
At the urging of some friends, have been asked to post this humorous story.
One of the reasons why I moved up here, is that with several universities and colleges, the State Museum, Library, and Archives, and the Archaeology Lab, are the most interesting people. This place is overloaded with smart people, particularly historians and anthropologists/archaeologists. Also many foreign students. And all these people have children of similar persuasions. They are also very environmentally conscience, but that is another story.
If you know about Florida anthropology, you know about Louis Capron, Ripley Bullen, John Goggin, besides Swanton and Sturtevant. Louis Capron was the first, I believe, who mentioned to the anthropology world about the Seminole medicine bundles, and published in 1953. Before then, were unknown even to other Florida anthropologists. Louis Capron had a close relative (son, grandson, or nephew) who worked as a postmaster on the west side of town and recently retired, and can verify this story, as well as several others who were present.
Capron’s postmaster relative knows a man we shall call Nicholas, or Nick. Nick wants to remain anonymous and enjoy retirement in obscurity. Nicholas is a retired professor who is a linguist and anthropologist, and personally knew John Swanton, as was told to me by Dr. Julian Granberry.
Nick has grown a long white beard and put on some weight. (I hope he isn't offended, but he has since thinned up>) One year, two or three days before Christmas, when the post office becomes the hub of all commerce, we had one of those warm Florida Christmas winters. So, Nick was coming out of this post office with a bundle of packages, wearing red shorts, a red flannel plaid shirt, red socks and white tennis shoes, and a red Santa hat.
A Czechoslovakian couple recently moved to town, and their five year old son, were going the other way when their son runs over to Nick, wraps around his legs and hugs him, and says in Czech, “Oh, grandfather! You’re here!” Nick responds back in pretty good Czech (he didn’t need to get too wordy with a five year old), “It’s great to see you! Have you been good? Do you like your new house?” The parent’s eyes were wide as saucers, because they didn’t know Nick was somewhat fluent in Czech, since most Americans are not.
Then a Norwegian couple comes up, with a girl about the same age, who also responds the same. (I recently saw Nick converse in Norwegian with a doctoral student.) Nick responds back in the same way, in Norwegian. It didn’t end there.
Next, a family from Mexico, exiting the Big Lots store next to the post office, with a shopping cart full of gifts, has a son who also comes up to greet Santa with the other children. No problem, because most people in Florida know a little Spanish, as does Nick.
Next a German couple with children arrives. No problem, since German is not hard either.
But wait, there is more! A Chinese couple approaches, who are here at the university studying something extremely scientific, with child in tow, who runs up to Santa; I mean Nick. No problem, since Nick is also conversant in a little bit of Mandarin Chinese. All the pedestrians not familiar with Nick are now flabbergast. Mr. Capron was not surprised; enjoying the show.
So that was Czech, Norwegian, Spanish, German, and Chinese.
Then there was the coup de grace. What totally blew everyone away. Because Nick also speaks Muskogee language, and was known to the Oklahoma Seminoles who were at that time, working at Brighton Reservation, the Raro family. And to keep the language alive, they have had their children to speak only Muskogee at home. So this family from Brighton is stepping out of their car, wearing the traditional Seminole patchwork clothing and skirts, which we all know. Their child walks up and greets Nick in Muskogee. And Nick greets them back! If the pavement wasn’t reinforced, it would have been cracked from all the jaws that dropped down to the ground.
Nick, not wanting to try and top that, apologizes to the crowd, and says, “Sorry, but I must now go. I have to feed my animals.” True, because he does have a lot of critters on the farm. As he leaves, he heard someone exclaim, “He is real!”
I have also seen Nick talk to people in Hungarian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, and Navajo/Dine’. I don’t know how fluent he is in those languages, but he knows enough for greetings.
Once Nick mentioned how he was visiting friends to celebrate Hanukkah with them. Someone asked him why? He isn’t Jewish? Nick replied, that he will celebrate all religious holidays that encourage peace and goodwill, bring the family together, but most importantly, have lots of good food!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
One thing I really enjoy about moving up to Tallahassee is the local anthropology society meetings. Here are the best or most well-known archaeologists in Florida pre-history. So the presentations at the meetings often have the appearance of a dissertation and get very technical, but are full of excellent information. I find it very rewarding.
A few months ago, one of the presentations was of a small, portable new device that can point at an object and tell the chemical make-up. With this, they can trace the source where pottery originated from, knowing the composition of the minerals, elements, and chemicals that make up the object. This is also a helpful tool to quickly determine if an object in a museum was curated by arsenic in the past—a once common practice that often went unrecorded, but very important to know if objects are handled.
This past week was a talk by Michael Faught, former FSU professor, and one of the most knowledgeable people on Clovis and Paleo man in Florida. What he said about Clovis man, was that we need to forget everything that we learned.
The culture of people known as Clovis, were expert flint knappers. Their spear points have what is known as fluting, a groove along the bottom that makes it easier to tie the point to a shaft. It was a highly complex way of flint knapping that is difficult for modern flint knappers. This method of knapping indicates a culture that was taught and passed down, and might even include a common language.
The common theory, was that people who are labeled Clovis Man, named after an archaeological site in Clovis, New Mexico, came down the land bridge from Siberia sometimes around 12,000 to 9,000 years ago, and populated north and south America. What is proving out over the years by archaeology, is that it might have been different.
There is little evidence that Clovis people crossed over Beringia, or the strip of land between the glaciers in Canada. The artifacts have not been found. There are Clovis sites from Canada to Chile, but many more sites in the eastern US than in the west. Wherever they came from, it is probably more likely that they came from the south, than the north. Or, I wonder if we will find out that they originated here in Florida?
There are areas of rich habitation of Clovis people, and Florida is one of them. In fact, the Tampa Bay area is one of the richest areas where Clovis artifacts have been found, more than anywhere else in the country. This is something that artists Hermann Trappman has said for years.
Dr. Faught also said that Clovis people spread very rapidly across the continent, in only about 100-200 years. All people have migrated from one place to another, but this is much quicker than previously believed.
And also, that there were people in Florida before the Clovis culture. Florida was populated at some times more than others, due to environment, weather, and the animals the hunters were following. Florida was never void of people, as long as this strip of land has surfaced out of the sea.
People can be traced by artifacts, and Dr. Faught referenced this as proposed by Dr. Julian Granberry. (I saw Dr. G give this presentation back in 2000.) And we have the flint knapping examples of the Clovis people, and those who were before and after, all in Florida.
Many of these new theories on Clovis man agree with Native American oral history that has been passed down for thousands of years. A few of these stories that I have heard myself. Archaeology has been changing the last few years, and it seems more lively a subject than ever. My Mom was an anthropologist, but a social / cultural anthropologist. She said that she was more interested in what the living people were doing than digging up their bones after they have died. Although artifacts can talk, with new technology they are saying more than ever before. Many old theories of archaeology are being looked at once again. Many archaeologists / anthropologists are saying that the golden age was not C.B. Moore, Goggin, or Bullen in Florida Archaeology, but that the golden age is going on now.