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.
An interesting discussion on our Seminole Wars facebook group got me thinking. And it quickly turned into something that I can’t really type in those little boxes on the screen, but must direct a long epistle on my blog.
It started out by a couple posts:
“I appreciate and enjoy your posts as well. I wish that you or someone as knowledgeable as you would write a book about the Seminole chiefs and sub chiefs. Their names are confusing to me. Maybe a list with their English meaning and a page or two biography. Even just a post on Facebook. Maybe like a chief of the day. Have a different chief every day, give his name, its English meaning and a biography. We as lovers of Florida history need to keep their memories alive.”
That is a pretty intimidating task that would be taken on.
The only thing that I have ever seen that came close, was a small publication that I found many years ago, when Mickler's Floridiana bookstore in Oviedo would be an interesting place to make a pilgrimage to hoard Florida books. (Unfortunately, long since gone.) This is where I got a large part of my library on Seminole and Florida books.
I found a book that I don’t know if you can call it such. Printed off a photocopy machine and bound in a school report folder, like a high school student’s report, about 50 pages. But sometimes, the most obscure references have the best nuggets of information. And this one is a whole smorgasbord. By Tom Knotts. (Never saw anything else written by him.) "Names Significant & Insignificant of Florida Seminole Indians and Negroes 1750-1860." He was apparently from Yankeetown where the Withlacoochee runs into the Gulf of Mexico around the area of Citrus and Levy County. But the book lists his press printed in the Miami area. He must have been an excellent researcher with his extensive bibliography before the age of internet. He lists about every name he could find reference to, and there are hundreds. A monumental task that he probably worked on for several years.
Reading over his notes, this is not a simple task because there are misunderstandings and mis-identifications of the names.
As my Seminole friend Pedro wonderfully said something of the sort, “We don’t want to record the language, we want to have it spoken.”
In other words, keep the language alive.
With a language, carries the culture. The spoken language is also the living breath of the people. The indigenous language is the people’s perception of all they were and all that they are. Their perception of Creator and the natural world they are within, and interact with. And in Seminole culture, women would have one name, and men might have four; most not willing to let outsiders know what those names are.
Many of the names can be confusing. This is because the people who wrote them down 200 or 175 years ago did not have an understanding of the language or the culture of the people, and not always appreciated them. Thus, are many mistranslations and mis-identifications. For the Creek and Seminoles, as probably the other southeastern Tribes, names were not just something like Bob or Betty. They would be a title, a ceremonial function or status, or an event that happened in their life. It would also, probably, be connected to family or clans, of a matriarchal system that was often not understood in white society.
Tom Knotts goes on to write back in 1992, that the Seminoles were also a mixture of people and cultures that further mixed up things. The Seminoles were remnants of refugees. Muscogee, Miccosukee, Yuchi, runaway African slaves for the Spanish, British, or Americans. There was a letter in the late war where the commanding general heard of Choctaw refugees among the Seminoles, and wants to know who they were, and how did they get among the Seminoles in Florida? Within these main groups, you have remnants of small groups and sub-tribes. Apalachicolas, Tallahassees, Eufaula, who were never recognized separate from the main tribe but a significant minority within that might have their own significant, special words or cultural practices as well.
Many names are easily identified as animals. Alligator—Hal-ah-pat-ter. Bear—No-go-see. Bird—Fus-wah. Snake—Chit-to. But not as straight forward as one would think. The animal might also be clan affiliation. Taking on an animal name might also be taking on characteristics identified with that animal.
But when we have animal names given, the name from the Seminole language might be translated to something entirely different. Here are a few examples:
Tiger Tail, and there are many using this name, is also called Thlocco Tustennuggee, which translates to “Big Warrior.” We obviously don’t have tigers in Florida, but many people believe it to be a mistranslation from the Florida panther, a subspecies of the cougar or mountain lion. One story is that the Seminole warrior was called Tiger Tail from wearing a panther’s trail from his waist during a stickball game. This certainly has greater cultural meaning behind it. But Seminoles have said that there once were lions and tigers in Florida. Could this be a remnant knowledge of the saber toothed tiger? (Which I know that particular story also survives, of “the long toothed cat.”) Then there is the story of when rabbit tricked the lion to go onto an island which drifted away. So besides the Seminole name Thlocco Tustennugee translating into something complete different than Tiger Tail, the meaning behind the Tiger Tail may not be as simple as we first thought.
Another chief is called Blue Snake or Holatta Emathla. Holattee is the word for the color blue, but Emathla is the title for a sub-chief. We don’t have recorded why he was called snake, or where the snake came from. Was it clan affiliation?
There is a chief that John Lee Williams in 1832 calls Bacca, or Chief of the Old Fields. There is no B in the Muscogee language. It usually morphs into a P or W. So Bacca could be from the word Waca, which is the Seminole word taken from the Spanish word Vaca, or cow/cattle. Or it could be dirt from the word Fakke/Fah-gee, since he did have fields and evidently farming. Or pvkacv/paka-jah which can be a captain or military type designation. Or maybe the white men called him Baccus from the Greek/Roman origin for growing things?
Then you have Chief John Hicks, who was designated as the head chief of the Seminoles and Miccosukee by coercion by the US government, with ceremony at the Indian Agency (before Fort King was built nearby) in 1826, until his death around 1833. He is also called Toksee Emathla or Tukose Mathla. One source also calls him Mole Chief as a possible clan designation, but you don’t hear of that as a clan. It could be that there once was a Mole Clan, that has long since disappeared. He is also called Ant Chief as a translation, from the word Tokoca/Too-go-jah. But further, I was told by a very knowledgeable elder of Miccosukee/Seminole, that the name has an entirely different origin that has nothing to do with mole or ants. For some reason, a lot of people who go by the name of Hicks claim to be related, but I am very skeptical about this.
So often, the name of one person is not as simple as it may seem. See how much writing I had to do for just these three names, and not even started on them? I presently do not have the time for such a project, even if I do have an extensive library and most all of the sources that Tom Knotts used. And a few that he doesn’t have.
Also, I would hope that everyone would also seek knowledge of the language and culture. I am still learning myself, and feel that I am still only scratched the surface in 30 years of intense study of the history and culture.
This Sunday, November 9th, 2014, we are having a dedication of a historical marker at Chattahoochee, Florida, along the Apalachicola River. Below is a photo that Dale Cox has provided me of the beautiful, new marker. Come see us at 3 pm Eastern time, or 2 pm Central time. It is at Chattahoochee Landing park and boat ramp, along the Apalachicola River, by the Indian Mound with the picnic shelter on top. Take the driveway next to the Hardee’s resturaunt just east of the Highway 90 bridge over the Apalachicola River.
In the Fall of 1814, British Marine Col. Edward Nicholls was preparing a force to raid Georgia, and continue the campaign against the United States. This was eventually ended by the Battle of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent.
But part of the plan was to block off the Apalachicola River from American traffic and commerce. Control of the river would have significant impact to the Americans who needed to ship the cotton down river from Georgia and Mississippi territory (Alabama.)
So we know about Negro Fort built at the southern end of the river. Few people know about the fort at the other end of the Apalachicola River, and the northern boundary of Spanish Florida. Beyond here was Georgia, and the river branched off into the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
Nicholls met here with Josiah Francis, and had a contingent of 180 Crown soldiers recruited from Freed Slaves, and was gathering a force of 500 Red Stick and Seminole/Miccosukee warriors.
The fort was eventually abandoned after March 1815, but it is written that remains of the fort could be seen from the river for years afterwards.
Below, is a map from the Florida state archives/library. (You can download a better map from their catalog.) "Sketch of the Country East of the Suwannee..." Believed to have been sketched in 1841, from the area between Fort Fanning and Newnansville. Northwest of Newnansville is "Natural Bridge" on the Santa Fe River, now part of O'Leno State Park. The tiny black square above the natural bridge is Cantonment Winfield Scott. It is not named on this map, but this is one of the few maps that includes the post.
Of the many, temporary, forts and posts during the 2nd Seminole War, was Cantonment Winfield Scott. Near the land bridge on the Santa Fe River near High Springs, which is now the area of O’Leno State Park. We have been researching this site with encouragement from the park manager, who recently inquired to me about some inconsistent information on the death of the First Sergeant there, which subsequent research revealed the details of the incident.
The only death listed at Camp W. Scott, is 1st Sgt. Philip Rohrback, listed in Sprague as died from the all too common, “Disease unknown.” Our research has told of a much different fate.
Cantonment, or Camp Winfield Scott, was only in existence for about 9 months, from August 1841 to May 1842. Named after General Scott, who assumed the position as Commanding General of the U.S. Army following the death of Gen. Alexander Macomb. The orders of the command ascension of Scott were received just a few days before the order was given from Fort Brooke to establish this new camp that became Cantonment Winfield Scott. It was established by 2nd Dragoon soldiers from Fort Wacahoota, and garrisoned first by the 2nd Dragoons, and then the 7th Infantry. At the time of our incident in 1842, it was garrisoned by Company G, 7th Infantry. The 7th was headquartered at Fort Micanopy, and seems to share the misfortune, as did the 2nd Dragoons, of seeing a lot of fighting and bloodshed in this part of Florida.
But the one soldiers listed as dying at Camp Scott did not die in battle, and did not die from “disease unknown” as listed in Sprague. He was killed by one of his own soldiers.
Despite all the killings and bloodshed in the territory, it is said that it was safer at Fort Micanopy outside the fort, taking your chances with the Indians, than inside the fort. It seems that it was no different here. Probably a cause of the troubles was the constant whiskey peddlers, who are sometimes said to have surrounded these frontier posts and outnumbered the garrison by at least two to one. From other various letters I have read from the officers who wrote about the death of Rohrback, Lt. Hopson of the Dragoons, and Capt. Seawell of the 7th, they must have been very glad to leave Florida and never look back.
On February 25, 1842, Musician Chandler Hastings, was about 450 yards outside the pickets of Camp Scott, supposedly hunting for some game to add to the menu. He was armed with a fowling piece (small shotgun), a powder horn, shot pouch, and had a haversack around his neck. Apparently he also took a side trip to the local peddler of spirituous liquors.
First Sergeant Philip Rohrback approached Hastings, and asked, what was in his haversack? It was apparently hanging low, with bulky contents.
“Squirrels,” replied Hastings.
Sgt. Rohrback examined the haversack, and pulled out two bottles of spirituous liquors. Most likely followed by a rebuke in typical First Sergeant-fashion. Hastings was ordered to return to the garrison, while the Sergeant was holding the two bottles of liquor.
Hastings demanded his bottles back, to which the Sergeant said, “No.”
Wherein, Hastings cocked his fowling piece, and shot the First Sergeant point-blank in the chest. The surgeon’s report said it probably killed him instantly. But Hastings didn’t stop there, and started pounding on Rohrback’s head with the butt of his gun; extensively fracturing his skull.
About 50 yards away, this was all observed by Private James McFadden, who yelled for Hastings to please stop, but to no avail. McFadden ran back to the garrison and told the commander what happened.
Now, during this time, the Army did not have a Judge Advocate Corp. And trials held were “Courts of Inquiry,” composed of officers. The only serious crime that the Army could execute anyone for, was for mutiny--where lawful orders were opposed. For many violations of conduct, the guilty service members would be discharged from the service. The United States was very careful at this time not to have the military like it was in other countries and empires, where the military was judge, jury, and executioner for legal matters. For a case of murder like this one, the guilty member was discharged from the service to face the magistrate of the civil court.
So Hastings was discharged from the service and turned over to the Alachua County Court. Private James McFadden who had witnessed the affair, was called to testify in court in Newnansville.
Hastings was found guilty of murder by the Alachuca County Court, and transferred up to Duval County, where he was hanged on June 1st, 1842.
So it is a very serious matter when one is lying about squirrels!
I am a bit behind on updating my blog. But I wanted to write about Fort Bowyer.
200 years ago, on September 15, 1814, a battle at Fort Bowyer had a significant impact in the Battle of New Orleans a few months later. It also involved several hundred Creeks / Seminoles. We reenacted this event last month on the same site where the fort once stood. Now in its place is Fort Morgan, finished in 1834.
Below, your cruise to commemorate the Battle of Fort Bowyer last month, around Mobile Point and throwing a wreath in the water near where the HMS Hermes was destroyed.
With the War of 1812, we need to get a look at the overall strategy and campaigns to get an idea what was happening. There was a humorous video on Youtube a few years ago where it is asked, “What happened during this time? Wikipedia had nothing!”
Well, I will explain part of it. Just a small part. There is a lot that went on, so I will just stick with the Gulf campaign.
For the southern part of the United States, the British wanted to secure the borders and push back the Americans from the western territory. They did not recognize the legitimacy of the Louisiana Purchase, which was an illegal sale by Napoleon, who the British just defeated and ended the French empire in Europe. If they captured New Orleans, they could essentially control the Mississippi and force the Americans into concessions, or even back into British control. NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) was a city with multiple ethnic groups, political factions, and nationalities, the weakest being the Americans; so the British believed that once in the city, they could easily control it.
Getting into New Orleans was the difficult part, because it was not conveniently on the gulf coast, but about 60 miles upriver, past narrow waterways and swamps. This created a natural defense for the city that prevented a large naval attack. So the British Plan A was to surround the city by land, and bring up the naval force from the Gulf.
For the British to surround NOLA by land, they would first have to control and occupy Mobile, and then go over land to New Orleans. Originally under Spanish West Florida, the Americans considered Mobile part of the Louisiana Purchase, and just walked in and forced the Spanish authorities to leave about a year and a half earlier, in 1813.
The Americans had a small earthwork fort to defend the entrance of Mobile Bay, Fort Bowyer. After General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend forced the Creeks into the Treaty of Fort Jackson, he came to Mobile and had Fort Bowyer reinforced under the command of Colonel William Lawrence of the 2nd Artillery.
So the British came to take Mobile, but with a plan that was totally unrealistic. They underestimated the ships that they would need, and were working with poor intelligence of the situation that they would face. Included with the British force was 4 ships, several hundred British Marines, and about 180 disgruntled Red Stick Creeks, or as other accounts say, Seminole and Miccosukee Indians.
The Two cannons on the back side of the fort kept the Marines and their Creek warrior allies behind the sand dunes and away from the Fort.
British intelligence of the depth of the entrance around Mobile Point and into Mobile Bay did not know how shallow it actually was around the point. So the ship HMS Hermes ran aground and got stuck right under the American guns of the fort, who fired on the ship and lit it on fire, which burned down to the gunpowder magazine and exploded, destroying the ship. Wounded on the Hermes was Col. Nicholls, who was head of the British efforts to recruit the southern Indians, and who lost and eye on the ship. The burning ship also prevent the other three ships from entering Mobile Bay. So the British were pinned down and could not proceed to Mobile. The Brits returned to Spanish Pensacola, which they were using as a base of operations.
General Jackson soon followed the Brits back to Spanish Pensacola and took the town, driving out the Native American allies and the British garrison. The Spanish protested, but offered almost no resistance, and seemed a little relieved. As occupiers, the Brits had looted Pensacola and taken away all the Spanish slaves for their soldiers. The Spaniards were much relieved when Jackson ordered that no looting occur, and seemed a more benevolent occupier.
Because of this small American victory of the Battle of Fort Bowyer at Mobile Point, the British were denied a land route to New Orleans, and went to Plan B, which was a total amphibious operation to attack NOLA. That is the campaign and battles of December 23rd, 1814 to the final battle on January 8, 1815, which we are getting ready to reenact as part of the Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial celebration.
But because the British lost their chance at Fort Bowyer, it led to their downfall at New Orleans three and a half months later.
Although the British were defeated by Jackson on January 8th, they were not finished, and were going to try again, but this time back to Plan A. This time with 33 ships and thousands of soldiers, they forced Fort Bowyer to surrender in February 1815. Then they heard that the Treaty of Ghent had been signed, all forces stood down until they received further orders and directions what to do. So the beginning and ending of the New Orleans campaign happened at Fort Bowyer, between September 1814 to February 1815.
One important result of the September 1814 battle at Fort Bowyer, was a change in attitude towards the British and their Native American allies. The Creeks/Seminoles/Miccosukees were not so willing to throw themselves against the American cannons and fort, and give away their lives so easily in the cause for the Crown. The Brits recognized this and realized the Native Americans would not be as reliable, expendable allies as they had hoped. After this point, the Brits ended serious support to the tribes. The British did leave behind about 3,000 arms and a large amount of gunpowder supply at Negro Fort at Prospect Bluff, but withdrew their British soldiers from there and at a small fort south on the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers that forms the Apalachicola, known as Nicholls Fort, or Fort Apalachicola. Just as they pretty much abandoned Tecumseh and the Shawnee the previous year.
These actions also led to later events like the destruction of Negro Fort in 1816, which I will cover more of in the future.
Several of you have expressed interest about going to the 200th anniversary, bicentennial celebration of the Battle of New Orleans, the second week of January, 2015. That is great!
Here are some things you need to know:
This is a wholly unique event, and there will never be another event like it. This is THE GRAND EVENT for those of us who do 1812 living history! A special event encampment ground is being constructed for the event, and for future events. It is not the same location as the national park, but property purchased by the Louisiana Living History Society, St. Bernard Parish and the Meraux Foundation.
Here is the official event web page:
New Orleans 1815, hosted by the 7th U.S. Infantry Living History Association.
There is another guy with an almost identical web page out there, saying that he is making a documentary and soliciting donations. He is not with us. This is a private individual not connected with our event. We are making our own documentary, and are not asking for money, and it will be on youtube. We already have about 47 minutes of footage. You will see some of it on youtube already. It is the best damn quality that anyone will ever be able to make because it is being made by us, who know this event like we were there.
If you are a reenactor / historical interpreter coming here for the event, we are not asking to charge you for the event. There are other programs outside of the event, and banquets that do charge money, but those are optional. If you are coming to the encampment, that is fine. And we do have an optional donation page, which I will give you the link at the end.
First, and very important, is to register. It does not cost you anything to register, but register, you must do! Not registered, and you are not considered as going. NOTE THAT IT SAYS, “WALK-ONS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.” Myself, and the illustrious Colonel Abolt have registered ourselves. We will not register you; you need to do that yourselves by going here:
Official Registration for the Bicentennial: The Battle of New Orleans, 2015
If you said on Facebook that you want to go, then that's just dandy; you still need to register at the link above. Saying it on facebook does not automatically register you.
This is different from the National Park event. If you participate at the national park, you have to register with them.
Second, keep up to date with the events that are going on. You can do this by either our facebook page here:
New Orleans 1815 Official Events Page
Or, our yahoo group for the 7th infantry at
Post a message at the above webpages if you want to ask about hotel accommodations. Book early, and expect to pay a lot! I made my reservations before the 199th this past year. There are a few places that still offer the reenactor / participant discounts. Every January I have been to New Orleans, it is usually cold and rainy. Last year included some scary lightning. So be prepared for adverse weather!
Camping on the site should be free. Some have relatives locally.
For the activities, here is what the Colonel has planned. (I’ve truncated some.)
From the Colonel:
To help you in your planning for New Orleans here is a brief outline. We will be publishing a more formalized schedule soon. You are 4 months out. Get organized now.
This is a huge deal. We have been doing the lions share to make this happen. If you are a member of this unit you need to be here. This is our story.
MON Jan 5. First day of prep at site. Camp Set up.
TUES. Jan 6. Day two of site work. Camps open for general participants.
Beginning of Carnival
Evening: British Mess Pakenham's Final Supper. Tickets $149.00
WED Jan 7. Day 3 of site work
11 a.m. Livingston's speech to the embodied militia sponsored by NPS. Location Jackson Square.
8 pm. Danny O'Flaherty Concert sponsored by 7th USILHA. FREE Location Audubon Room in the Hotel St. Marie French Quarter.
THURS JAN 8. 7th INF trooping of the Colors Chalmette Battlefield site in the morning.
Noon Daughters of 1812 memorial Jackson Square.
1:30 p.m Jordan Noble Memorial sponsored by 7th USILHA and Historic Treme. Jordan Noble was a musician in the 7th INF known as the Drummer Boy of New Orleans. He was 14 at the time of the battle. He was also the only person of Color in the regiment being a former slave from GA. Location Methodist Church in Treme about 1 mile north of French Quarter.
2 p.m Step off from Church led by Colors and Music of the 7th INF. March to St. Louis Cemetery #2 for graveside memorial. Done by 3 pm.
8 pm. Soiree at the Napoleon House sponsored by 7th USILHA SOLD OUT
FRI Jan 9.
School day at Park if anyone is interested. Grant and Tom to be at Park.
Final Set up at our battle site and camp.
Open for the public all day. Drill, Drill and more drill to prepare for:
7 p.m. Battle of DEC 23rd.
9:30 p.m. Second Line Parade through the French Quarter FREE. Sponsored by Tim Strain and Ricardo delos Reyes. Starts in front of St. Louis Cathedral and ending at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop.
SAT Jan 10
This is battle schedule only.
11 a.m. British Recon in Force of Dec 28.
1 p.m Artillery duel of Jan 1.
4 pm. British Victory on the west bank.
5:30 pm site closes.
7 p.m Grand Ball Presbytere. Located next to the Cathedral. Ticketed event sponsored by the Regency Assembly of North Carolina. Price being determined.
ALL NIGHT 11 pm to dawn Total immersion experience for all interested behind Line Jackson. Forward outposts, guard, patrols, rotating troops at the rampart etc.
SUN Jan 11
Morning TBA American Victory on the East bank.
Battle events over.
Camps can be torn down or left until Monday.
6:30 pm to? GRAND FINALE Andrew Jackson's Victory Dinner and Country Dance sponsored by 7th USILHA and Antoine's Restaurant. Tickets are $100. Five course meal with dessert. Tax and tip included. Beverages separate.
For the Grand Finale, we have been given the entire two story establishment. This is a once in a lifetime event. Find info and purchase tickets by clicking Grand Finale page at www.neworleans1815.cottonbaler.com
MON Jan 12. Final tear down of Camps.
COL A and staff collapse.
And finally, we are still in need of donations to finish the event grounds. Please see our donation page and consider donating.
New Orleans 1815 – This short and decisive campaign!
And a last word from myself: (from Chris, again.)
I have been doing living history since 1986, right after the 150th anniversary of Dade’s Battle, which got me started with it. Because of health problems I have been afflicted with these past five years, I am not planning on doing any more reenactment events after this. The past two years, I have had to cancel out of events at the last minute, because I really could not walk. So I am making my maximum effort for what may be my final event. I will not say that this will be my last event. Just that this is the last one I have planned to participate with.
The Army and Navy Chronicle, has a plethora of information on the Seminole War. The ANC was a weekly journal printed from 1835-1842. Since the big event at the time was happening in Florida, then the Florida Seminole War gets a lot of attention.
I found much information on Major Dade and his defeat. Then I found more, which led me to search elsewhere and to look up Dade’s genealogy, with some surprises.
Major Francis Langhorne Dade is the Florida version of George Armstrong Custer. He is better known for his death than anything he did with his stagnant military career. Forty years before Custer's disastrous campaign and defeat in 1876, Major Dade held the honor of most recent ambush and sound defeat by Native American Tribes.
Soldiers being defeated by Native Americans was nothing new. St. Claire's defeat in 1791 killed a thousand soldiers, and Dudley's Defeat during the War of 1812 at Fort Meigs also killed hundreds, as did the River Raisin Massacre, also during the War of 1812. Look up those incidents if you never knew about them; it's great reading!
After the War of 1812, things had changed. The Army became better disciplined regulars. Now when they were defeated and obliterated, people took notice. Which is why Major Dade's battle was news, because it was all trained regulars. And ironically 10 years earlier, Captain Dade had taken a small force and built the Fort King - Fort Brooke Road that he was later killed upon, but did not face any trouble that first time.
So with Dade's disastrous ambush and defeat, he has forever become the one we like to ridicule and mock. Seminole Tribe's Moses Jumper, Jr., has written a book of poetry, which has a poem about Dade, which basically says, "We're glad that you died!"
But, you know all of this.
What I learned in the Army & Navy Chronicle, was that there was another officer named Dade who also had an inglorious end to his military career during the 2nd Seminole War. In February 1840, Captain Townshend Dade of the 2d Dragoons, was court marshaled and separated from the service. The reason was not given, so it was most likely some juicy moral sin of a night of drinking and debauchery in St. Augustine. Townshend died the next year at age 30 and is buried in the Congressional cemetery in Washington.
I thought that this was worth investigating, because the name Townshend is a name common in the Dade family genealogy. I found the Dade Genealogy several years back in the Orlando library. They were a famous Virginia plantation family with connections to George Washington. And as most elite families of the upper class, had incestuous relationships where first cousins marrying was not uncommon.
So I wanted to find out how Captain Townshend Dade was related to the better known Major Francis Dade. What I found out was more than I bargained!
The Dade families are descended from the first Dade who came over the big pond and purchased land in Virginia known as the "Townshend Patent." Coincidentally (or not), this first Dade was also known as Major Francis Dade (1621-1663). His son, also named Francis Dade (II), (1659-1694) married Frances Townshend. So these names are common in the family.
Below: Major Dade's first cousin, General Lawrence Taliaferro Dade; a veteran of the War of 1812 and later general in the Kentucky Militia. We don't have any portrait of Major Dade, so this is the nearest I was able to find, on Wikipedia. Lawrence and Francis L. Dade were very close, went to school together, and practiced law together in Virginia briefly before the War of 1812.
Our well-known Major Francis Langhorne Dade (1792-1835) is fifth generation Dade, or the great-great-grandson of the family progenitor. First arrival, Major Francis Dade (1621-1663), had a son who was also named Francis, who had a wife named Frances. Isn't that a little confusing? But it doesn't get any better. Francis II had a son Cadwallader Dade (1693-1761), who then had a son named Townshend Dade (1760-1808), who was the father of Maj. Francis Langhorne Dade (1792-1835).
Our sinner who was court marshaled out of the Army in 1840, Capt. Townshend Dade (1810-1841) is seventh generation from the original Francis Dade, so the easiest way to say it, is that he is a distant cousin of our forlorn Maj. F.L. Dade. We do not know if he closely knew his distant grand uncle. It's a confusing line, so easier if I skip the details.
Then to my utter surprise and shock, my favorite officer of the war, who was the war historian and eyewitness who published the 800-page history of the Seminole War in 1848, Capt. John T. Sprague (1810-1878), had a daughter Josephine (1863-1939), who married into the Dade family.
Josephine Sprague married General Alexander Lucian Dade (1863-1927). But fortunately, Gen. A.L. Dade is even further removed from Maj. F.L. and Capt. T. Dade. He is Ninth generation from the original Major Francis Dade. So you have to go six or seven generations back for a common ancestor.
But then looking in the Dade genealogy, I found the icing on the cake. When I came across this name, I stopped for the day, put away my notepad, and did not look up anything else historical the rest of the day.
This final Dade that I want to mention is eighth generation from the original Maj. Francis Dade, and has to go back about five or six generations to connect with the other Dade’s. This one was named Osceola B. Dade, born around 1868.
Wow. A Dade family member named after Osceola!
Not one day after I posted the last story, a different team in Jacksonville said that they think they have located the fort. The presentation came with an aerial photo of the area with lines drawn in where they think the shape of the fort was. So it is back in Jax again!
This year we have the commemoration of the establishment of the French colony of Fort Caroline, 450 years ago. It did not last long. After the French wore out their welcome with the local natives, the Spanish got word of the colony, and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés came and wiped them out, while establishing the town of St. Augustine.
Below: Image from the Florida Archives from the LeMoyne/DeBry engravings, of the Spanish destroying Fort Caroline. (And much more dramatic than what actually happened--there was no battle and siege.)
Fort Caroline is a national park that you can visit today in Jacksonville. We do not know where the actual site was, but it was believed that the reconstructed fort is not far from it.
Last December, there was an interesting article in the Florida Anthropologist journal that I mentioned. Here is my earlier blog: http://seminolewar.livejournal.com/1959
It gives compelling evidence that the actual site was wiped out by the Army Corp of Engineers dredging the St. Johns River channel. Examining one of the spill piles from the dredging, they found a single piece of ceramic that is the type the French would have had. It is not much, but the article gives a compelling argument.
Unfortunately the news ignores this, while jumping on the less plausible theory.
Recently at a symposium about the French in Florida, for the 450th anniversary of Ft. Caroline, a paper was submitted giving an alternate theory that Fort Caroline was actually in Georgia.
This is an interesting theory, but no one is holding their breath over this. No artifacts have been found, and the person proposing this theory based conclusions on interpretation of “hidden evidence” from studying the French maps of Fort Caroline. So far, this is just speculation.
Now Menendez marched his men 40 miles in just a couple days during a hurricane to kill the French in Fort Caroline. So with the new theory that it was in Georgia, the Spanish would have to go twice that distance in the same time and ford a couple rivers that would be impossible to do without ships, and in driving rain that was remnants of a hurricane. This seems a lot less possible, unless you also believe the unsubstantiated claim that St. Augustine was also further north. With recent excavations at the Fountain of Youth that show the earliest settlement of St. Augustine was there, this new theory of early St. Augustine being in Georgia does not seem as likely.
Architect Richard Thornton has been promoting this idea of Fort Caroline in Georgia; as well as St. Augustine. Maybe I just need to buy his over-priced book for $80 from his self-publishing website to see the evidence that no one else seems to have.
Thornton was quoted as saying in the Athen Banner-Herald newspaper that, “All evidence points to the French fort being in southeast Georgia, not Jacksonville.” Then the article says that, “Thornton said that he cannot say with absolute certainty that he knows the location of Fort Caroline.” Which one is it? First it says that all the evidence points to there, but then he says he cannot say with absolute certainly. Maybe because the only evidence that has been presented is not evidence at all, but total speculation.
The Guale and Timuquan Indians of the coast were wiped out within 50 years of the French Fort. Not just from disease and slave trade, but a total demographic collapse that destroyed a culture and society. And Thornton indicates he has oral history from people that Fort Caroline was in Georgia? If such stories exists, how reliable can they be from people who suffered demographic collapse and no longer actively kept Guale and Timuquan cultural practices? Unless there is a group claiming they are descendants of Guale and Timuquan tribes who are trying to obtain federal recognition. (Which would not surprise me--while they are selling dream catchers and dressed in odd looking generic Indian outfits.)
Not only is proof needed that the French dropped artifacts in the ground for us to find centuries later, but that they also had a permanent settlement there. Saying there is proof of Spanish settlement is not exactly proof of the French Fort Caroline; either. Remember that the Spanish mission chain extended all the way up to the Carolinas.
Then Thornton goes even further, and makes an absurd claim of iron age bronze artifacts found all over the place, so this is obvious proof that the Spanish were here in the 16th century. Really? So alleged bronze points prove that the Spanish were there 2,000 years later, so therefore Fort Caroline was there. I have yet to see this written up in any archaeology journal. Maybe even a bibliography of sources?
I will certainly entertain a hypothesis that Fort Caroline may be in Georgia. But right now, we have no evidence other than some claims. As yet, there is nothing to indicate the fort was anywhere other than somewhere on the St. Johns in Jacksonville. So why are these fringe theories with no evidence even entertained in the press?
Thornton has made claims that the Mayans built the Ocmulgee Mounds and were the original mound builders. (Even though we have mounds that are a few thousand years earlier than the Mayans.) Now he says alleged bronze artifacts (that nobody else has seen) prove Spanish were there 2,000 years later, which means French Fort Caroline was also there. I am looking forward to see his claims of the lost continent of Atlantis mixed up in all of this as well.
A couple months ago was the opening of the new Fort King Park in Ocala. I could not make the opening, but was able to visit a few week later.
Below, this is one side of the park brochure. Visit the park to see the rest.
The Fort King site has been the most important Seminole War site that we have been able to preserve and open to the public. Fort Brooke was turned into a parking garage. Part of the site for the Battle of Okeechobee was obtained by the state to develop into a park, but it is only open once a year for the annual reenactment, and not much progress of it being developed into a park that is open year-round. The prospect of saving any more Seminole War sites is not going to happen very often. So it is very refreshing that we suddenly have a new Seminole War park to visit.
For Seminole War forts, you can visit Fort Foster or Fort Christmas, and that is it. But Fort King was one of the most important forts in Florida during the 2nd Seminole War. It was the fort with the main Indian Agency in Florida, and removal talks were held here in 1834 to 1835, which did not help make any peace but fanned the flames of warfare that soon came. Once the war had started, the fort was the main military post for forays into the interior of the peninsula in north central Florida.
Below, Fort King as seen in 1839 by Capt. John T. Sprague, who was there with General Alexander Macomb.
Back around 1999, I was driving by the property and there was a large “for sale” sign on the property. We knew it was the fort property, and that Mrs. McCall has lived there for years. Hoping that it could be preserved and not lost, I immediately emailed Dr. John Mahon, Frank Laumer, Brent Weisman, and anyone I could to try and preserve the site.
Long story short, not only was the property saved and now maintained as a park by the city of Ocala, but it also has National Historic Landmark status.
The next step has been to make this park open to the public. So now a trail system has been created with information kiosks, and the old McCall house has been turned into a visitor center. It is a very good start, but it has much further to go.
You can walk about a mile of trails, and there are about two dozen interpretive kiosks along the way. You can listen to the narration on your cell phone or see them on the City of Ocala Parks and Recreation web site here: http://myoncell.mobi/stops.php?acct
Below: The trail map.
The interpretive signs on the trail are very good. Some of the text is good, but others have some glaring errors. And there is no mention of the fort being abandoned for three years from 1829-1832.
Unfortunately the property is covered by exotic plants that will take years to remove. I feel that this would be very important to do, to restore the natural communities. When the fort was active, all the vegetation would have been removed, and I don’t want to see that, but natural native plant communities would be nice.
The museum is just beginning. The exhibits are a few posters and some artifacts. A big screen TV shows the hilariously inaccurate “Seminole” western movie made in the 1950s, starring Anthony Quinn as Osceola. A more appropriate film would be better.
Hopefully the park will keep its mission and purpose in focus, and not try to be a park to cater to every type of recreational activity. It needs to stay as a historic park, and doesn’t need basketball courts or fitness trails. These are things available at nearby parks, and clutter up the park with unnecessary activities and maintenance.
There is talk about rebuilding the fort. If that is done, the other buildings outside the walls should also be recreated, as they are important interpretive tools as well. And also a Seminole area to be interpreted. I would also like the Indian agency to be reconstructed; that was a very nice building. (But very large and will be expensive to recreate.)
Currently the friends group or park support group is strictly local. This is a site that is important for all of Florida history, so the group needs to be expanded beyond just local people in Ocala and Marion County.
But the good news is that the site has been saved and preserved as a park that is open every weekend, so this is just a start. Fort King has the potential to become a major park.