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At 5 A.M. on the morning of July 17th, 1816, Sailing Master Jairus Loomis manned a boat with five men, and armed them with a swivel gun and muskets. The ships had patiently waited a week at Apalachicola Bay for word to proceed up river, or assistance from Lt. Col. Duncan Clinch, and were running out of drinking water. In charge of the boat was Midshipman Luffborough, who had just turned in his resignation of enlistment as soon as the cruise had ended, but had volunteered to take the boat out.

At 11 A.M., Sail Master Bassett of Gun Boat 154 found the body of John Burgess, floating at the mouth of the river, who had been shot through the heart. Burgess was one of the crew with Luffborough’s boat. At 4 P.M., they discovered a man on a sand bar, John Lopaz; the only survivor of the Luffborough’s crew.

Below: Interpretive sign at the boat launch at the river at the end of Bloody Bluff Road, which briefly tells about this incident. (Spoilers alert!)

John Lopaz told what had happened. On entering the river, they saw a black man on the shore by a cultivated area. Luffborough ordered the boat to go over and talk with the man to see if there was a source of drinking water nearby. As soon as they touched shore, a volley of muskets fired upon them from Indians and Blacks that had been concealed. Mr. Luffborough, Robert Maitland, and John Burgess were killed instantly. Lopaz escaped by swimming away. The other seaman, Edward Daniels, was captured and carried off; later it was learned that he was tarred and burned alive. Lopaz estimated that forty Indians and Blacks were involved in the ambush.

Below: From the docks at the city of Apalachicola, you can see that the mouth of the river today is all marsh and cat tails. Lopaz might be referring to the area after pinhook curve just up the river, where there are trees and heavier foliage and cover.

On the 20th, Loomis received a canoe of five Indians with dispatches from Lt. Col. Duncan Clinch, saying that he had arrived a mile above the fort, and requested that Loomis ascend the river and join him with the gun vessels. Odd that Clinch would think that Loomis could easily do that without opposition from the fort!

Clinch further informed Loomis that he had captured one of the enemy with a scalp of Luffborough’s party.

Below: Looking down river from the boat landing at Bloody Bluff Road.

On the 22nd of July, Loomis heard heavy cannon fire from the direction of the fort. (So they hear cannons firing 20-25 miles away, but didn’t hear a volley of muskets firing on Luffborough’s men only a couple miles away?)

On the 23rd, Loomis again received another message from Clinch, this time as a verbal message from one white man and two Indians who arrived by canoe, asking him to again ascend the river to join him. Loomis distrusted this form of communication, felt that it was unwise, since he expected that there were many bends and bluffs in the river that would leave him exposed to musket fire, which he could not defend himself against. He suspected it a trap, and retained two of the men, and told one of the Indians to return to Clinch and tell him that the only orders he would receive, had to be in writing from one of Clinch’s officers.

I can only imagine that by this time, Loomis has gotten impatient with Clinch after waiting in the bay for two weeks, and Clinch making suggestions showing his inexperience.

This campaign was the first time that Clinch was in command of a real battle situation during his military career. He had gone through the War of 1812 without any major combat. Now Clinch is in charge and making some obvious blunders, and it really shows. As an infantry officer he cannot think outside the tactics of an infantry soldier. He does not have enough men or weapons to do any harm to the fort, and is asking his naval commander to put himself in harm’s way under the guns of the fort, in a maneuver that obviously shows that Clinch is unfamiliar with the ship’s abilities and naval tactics.

On the 25th, after sailing upriver about twenty miles to Dueling Bluff, four miles below the fort, Loomis meets with Lt. Col. Clinch himself.

Below: Boat launch from Bloody Bluff Road, what I believe was called Dueling Bluff. From the distance given of four miles below the fort, this would have been where Loomis finally met with Clinch face to face, where they made their final preparations to attack the fort.

Today, if you go down highway 65 to visit Fort Gadsden, a few miles south of the forest road that turns off to the fort, you will find another dirt road heading west off the highway known as Bloody Bluff Road. Follow this road all the way down to the river, and there is a boat launch with an interpretive sign, which I have a photo of at the top of this page. In the springtime, the river floods, and it may be impossible to follow the road all the way down. When I visited in March 2016, it was only a day or two since the flood waters subsided and the road was finally passable.

Below: Forestry kiosk at the turn-off from highway 65 at Bloody Bluff Road. It is very nice, but someone has shot some low caliber bullets through the display! (I am finding that a common occurrence in forestry kiosks, unfortunately.)

I do not believe this is the actual location of where the ambush happened, but another site that was already known as Dueling Bluff. The names of Dueling Bluff, and Bloody Bluff, all show up on early maps. Lopaz says in the naval report, “on entering the river, they discovered a negro on the beach, near a plantation that Mr. Luffborough ordered the boat to be pulled directly for him; that on touching the shore he spoke to the negro and directly received a volley of musketry from two divisions of negroes and Indians who lay concealed in the bushes on the margin of the river.” This places the ambush spot down near the mouth of the river from the description.

Sailing Master Loomis says, “On the 25th, I arrived with the convoy at Duelling Bluff, about four miles below the fort, where I was met by colonel Clinch.” That is exactly where the boat launch is today at the end of Bloody Bluff Road.

I have found one map that marks Dueling Bluff, and a later map by John Forbes in 1821 that marks a non-descript area as Bloody Bluff. The ambush itself was never called Bloody Bluff until modern times. I find it interesting that it is called Dueling Bluff by Loomis before the area was US territory. I would like to know the story behind that!

And of course, the sailors who were ambushed were alive no more than a couple hours once they left the gun vessel. There was no way they could have rowed or sailed approximately 20 miles upriver to where Dueling Bluff / Bloody Bluff Road is today in that short time before getting killed. So I am pretty sure that happened down river. But you wonder how Dueling Bluff got its name, and how did Loomis know to call it that in 1816?

Taken from:

The Army & Navy Chronicle, Vol. 2, No. 8, Page 114-116, Feb. 25, 1836

Navy Doc. # 119, Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, Transmitting, in Obedience to a Resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 26th Ult, sundry Documents relating to the Destruction of the Negro Fort in East Florida, in the Month of July, 1816. February 1, 1819. Washington, 1819.
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Below: From the website “shipmodel.com” Gun boat number 156, one of the ships that participated in the battle on Lake Borgne during the Battle of New Orleans. This is the class that Gun Boats 149 & 154 would have been that destroyed Negro Fort.

Supplies for Camp Crawford, the new American fort established in June 1816, were ordered from New Orleans. Two Barges of supplies, one for food and clothing, and one for gun powder and weapons. If they did not receive these supplies soon, then Lt. Col. Clinch would be forced to abandon the fort and suspend his campaign against the runaway slaves, and the Indians who had raided the cattle from Fort Gaines and killed Mr. Johnson and McCaskey.

The Gulf of Mexico was still considered a volatile frontier after the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. The city was a major shipping port, and US Navy was tasked under Commodore Daniel Patterson with guarding against Pirates of Barataria, and “lawless conduct of those sailing under the Carthagenian and Mexican flags.”

(Below: Commodore Daniel Patterson; Naval Commander over New Orleans and the Gulf Coast operations, and hero of the naval operations from the USS Carolina during the Battle of New Orleans.)

The American fleet was made up of small ships that could enter the narrow waterways and bayous of the Gulf coast and chase after the pirates. It did not do well against the British fleet in 1814, but the British fleet could not enter the narrow canals that the small gun boats were suited for.

A small flotilla left Pass Christian, Mississippi. Schooner Semilante was laden with ordnance, and the General Pike with provisions. Sailing Master Jairus Loomis, Commanding US Gun Boat 149, was overall commander, and Sailing Master James Bassett commanded US Gun Boat 154. Commodore Patterson gave orders that if Negro Fort showed any opposition to the ships, it was to be destroyed.

Gun Boat 149 and Gun Boat 154 were the same class of craft that saw action on the battle of Lake Borgne during the Battle of New Orleans campaign in December 1814, and are described by Major Arsene Lacarriere LaTour, main engineer for the defense of New Orleans under General Jackson. They were known as Jefferson Gun Boats, and were schooners that were armed with four carronades of 10 pound shot, two on each side, and a large artillery piece in front, usually a 24-pounder. They also had four swivel guns, and were manned by a complement of 45 men. It was all open deck, so if you wanted shelter, canvas was stretched overhead. At the time the US Navy was very small, and these were the best ships available that the Navy had to go up against the fort on the Apalachicola.

Sailing Master Loomis knew that he was going into a situation where he would be at a disadvantage. The fort was sitting higher up than his ships, with heavier artillery, and would be able to rake down upon his deck with grape shot and bar shot. The men in the fort were well trained by the British and knew how to operate the guns. In contrast, the one large cannon on the gun vessels was hard to aim and elevated by blocks, and would have to be elevated as high as possible to fire into the fort. The four 10-pound shot carronades on the sides would be mostly useless against the fort, and were better against other ships and personnel. Knowing the advantage that a well-defended fortification with heavy artillery had, it could make short work of the gun vessels.

(Below: Plan of Fort Gadsden drawn by James Gadsden which shows the British works. From the Florida Historical Quarterly, and on the Florida Memory photo website.)

There was no option in the mind of the military officers but the destruction of the fort. As Commodore Patterson described it: “the general rendezvous of runaway slaves, disaffected Indians, an asylum where they were assured of being received; a strong hold, where they found arms and ammunition to protect themselves against their owners and the government. This hold being destroyed, they have no longer a place to fly to, and will not be so liable to abscond.”

The fort flew the English Union Jack, and the red or bloody flag, as described by Commodore Patterson, who had them in his possession after the fort destruction, and turned them over to the Secretary of the Navy. These flags should be with the Navy Museum at Annapolis. It would be interesting to view these, if the opportunity ever becomes available.

(Below: In the woods, last March, I would still find the remains of the British walls of the fort at Fort Gadsden/Negro Fort.)

On July 10th, the vessels arrived at the Bay at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Loomis sent an Indian runner (Lafarka / John Blount) up to Clinch to notify him of their arrival, so he could meet them and assist with their movement up the river. Here they would wait. And wait. And wait. They would wait here for the next 17 days.

On the 15th, the ships saw a boat pulling out of the river. Going to investigate, a boat was dispatched to investigate, but was fired upon with muskets when they got near. The gun boat responded with her artillery, but with no effect.

On the 17th, the ships were running low on fresh water. Master Loomis detailed five men in a boat to search for fresh water on shore.

Okay, last time I said I was going to talk about the Battle of Bloody Bluff, but I have talked about the ships so much, that I will save it for next time. I wanted to have this a four part series, and it looks like it will be six. Next time, I promise, Bloody Bluff, on July 17th, 1816, 200 years ago. On the Apalachicola River just south of Negro Fort, where four sailors were killed.

Taken from:

The Army & Navy Chronicle, Vol. 2, No. 8, Page 114-116, Feb. 25, 1836

Navy Doc. # 119, Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, Transmitting, in Obedience to a Resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 26th Ult, sundry Documents relating to the Destruction of the Negro Fort in East Florida, in the Month of July, 1816. February 1, 1819. Washington, 1819.

“Historical memoir of the war in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-1815. With an atlas.” (Facsimile of the 1816 edition) by LaTour, Arsene Lacarriere.
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Continuing what I have been reading from the actual historical documents themselves. This is not the only point of view. I will put at the bottom my sources that I am using for this part.

Lt. Col. Duncan Clinch with his regiment of the 4th Infantry built Keel boats and descended down the Chattahoochee River from Fort Gaines to where they established Camp Crawford, later renamed Fort Scott, at the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee River. The abandoned Nicholls Fort or Fort Apalachicola was only a short distance down the river, on the Apalachicola River, at what is today Chattahoochee Landing on top of a large Indian Mound.

Below: Keel Boats on the Ohio River, 19th Century. They were made out of whatever was on hand, and the river work horse of the day. Usually once down river, would be sold or salvaged.

Supplies for the new American fort had been ordered from New Orleans, escorted by two gun boats, Gun Boat 149 and Gun Boat 154. The boats were waiting down in Apalachicola Bay. On July 15th, (1816) Lt. Col. Clinch received a message from an Indian named Lafarka, later known as John Blount that Sailing Master Loomis was ready to proceed. If they passed by the fort and were challenged, and they most assuredly expected they would, then they would destroy it. Clinch would attack Negro Fort from land, and the ships would fire from the river. Clinch departed Camp Crawford on July 17th with 116 men in the boats, and were soon joined by 150 Creek warriors under William McIntosh, and later still more warriors under Captain Isaacs and Mad Tiger, but many without armaments.

Below: "John", sketched by artist John Trumbull during Creek Chief's visit to President George Washington in 1790. Some have guessed that this might be Lafarka/Chief John Blount/Blunt, but it is only speculation.

The Creek allies had left on their own expedition to attack the fort and secure the slaves. McIntosh says that he intended to return them to their masters, but seeing how he was also in business with the Creek Agent David Mitchell, as would be revealed later, of illegally smuggling African slaves into the United States, he probably had intended to seize them for himself for sell. Soldier Marcus C. Buck says that many slaves from the United States and friendly settlements of Indians near the Apalachicola were apprehended on the way down.

Clinch’s report identifies the fort as being occupied by “Negroes and Choctaw Indians.” 80 to 100 Black Warriors, trained by the British, 25 or 30 Choctaw warriors, and the rest of the two-thirds being women and children. On the 19th, the Creek allies bring in a captured black warrior, carrying the scalp of one of the sailors, Midshipman Lufborough, saying they had killed several white men and captured their boat. (More of that later.) And they were taking the scalp to the Seminoles. Meanwhile, Lafarka reported that he was unable to get through and send another message to the ship captain down in the bay.

Clinch writes that he found 50 miles of corn fields cultivated along the river. We would assume that this would be for a population much greater than the 300 that were found inside the fort when the Army and Navy command reached it. Clinch was also of the belief that the fort only had six artillery pieces and that he could easily take it, which he soon found to be seriously mistaken.

Below: From Florida Memory: Sketch of Fort Gadsden(1818) with earlier British outer walls and circular protected British magazine:

Clinch landed his command on July 20th three-quarters of a mile from the fort. The fort was heavily armed with ten artillery pieces that kept up a constant fire of round shot, grape shot, and rockets. Although, the soldiers kept far enough back so it had no effect. Both sides remained harassing each other for the next week without any effect. Clinch tried unsuccessfully to set up a cannon battery on the opposite bank of the river from the fort. Clinch’s command will end up being mostly useless except surrounding the fort and keeping the occupants inside. Clinch's force is too small to lay siege to a well protected fort, and anyone in the fort is not able to wander outside very far without running into Clinch and McIntosh’s line. A classic standoff, and Clinch doesn’t have the supplies to sustain it for very long. The fort has enough supplies to wait out almost indefinitely.

Below: Photo from Florida Memory website. Cannon shot and Grape Shot excavated at Fort Gadsden/Negro Fort.

A deputation of Creek chiefs entered the fort but were much taunted and abused by the black chief and Choctaw chief inside, who said that they would attack any American vessel that tried to pass.

On the 26th, Clinch sneaked past the enemy lines to rendezvous with Sailing Master Loomis four miles below the fort at Dueling Bluff.

Next part gets really interesting, as I detail the battle of Bloody Bluff and the ambush upon the five sailors, where I go into the Naval accounts.

Taken from: The Army & Navy Chronicle, Vol. 2, No. 8, Page 114-116, Feb. 25, 1836

Navy Doc. # 119, Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, Transmitting, in Obedience to a Resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 26th Ult, sundry Documents relating to the Destruction of the Negro Fort in East Florida, in the Month of July, 1816. February 1, 1819. Washington, 1819.
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Photo: Reconstructed blockhouse at Fort Gaines, Georgia.

Following the Treaty of Fort Jackson, the Creeks were forced to cede all land south of what is today Fort Gaines in southwest Georgia. What we would consider today about a fifth of the state of Georgia, and about a third of Alabama.

From Wikipedia: Land cessions ceded under the Treaty of Fort Jackson. See why even the Creeks allied with the United States were unhappy with it?

Of course, there were Creek/Seminole towns who did not attend the treaty talks for the Treaty of Fort Jackson, and they didn’t think it applied to them. The United States was of a different opinion. As far as the non-attendees were concerned, they never agreed to give up their land. Other Creek towns were in the ceded area living in destitute, still suffering from the devastation of the Creek War a couple years earlier.

All Creek land taken over a hundred year period from 1733 to 1832 from the Georgia Colony, Mississippi Territory, and United States and State of Alabama. What an injustice was done to these people!

Not far away across the border in Spanish Florida is the large town of Miccosukee. And as far as an international border, I doubt you could tell where American Georgia ended and Spanish Florida began. The Miccosukee did not consider themselves a part of the Treaty either. The Americans had not yet recognized the Seminoles and Miccosukee separate from the rest of the Creeks.

In early 1816, there are surveyors trying to survey land in southwest Georgia that was taken from the Creeks as part of the Fort Jackson treaty. They are constantly stalked and threatened by Indians, and of the belief that they are under the threat of imminent attack, so they flee and refuse to continue their work. This will be repeated again 40 years later, as a cause of the Third Seminole War, when soldiers are surveying land that is Indian reservation land, and are attacked.

Fort Gaines Historical Marker.

Location of Fort Gaines in southern Georgia, the fort between the Creek land to the north, and the land just ceded to the US to the south.

Historical Marker at Fort Gaines about General Gaines, next to an oak tree that is said to have been planted by the general 200 years ago.

On March 20, 1816, General Edmund, in charge of the southern border writes to his commander, General Jackson, about Negro Fort. Gaines says, “The negro establishment is (I think justly) considered as likely to produce much evil among the blacks of Georgia, and the eastern part of the Mississippi territory. Will you permit me to break it up?” Gaines is asking permission to cross the international boundary for a military invasion to destroy the fortification established by a third nation, which he doesn’t have authority to do. This is what Jackson will be blamed for doing a few months later, but Gaines is asking to do it first.

Portrait of Lt. Col. Duncan L. Clinch in the Florida Museum of History in Tallahassee, Fla. One of only two portraits that exist of a US officer wearing the 1808 uniform. (The other being Zebulon Pike.)

Finally in June 1816, a site was selected by Lt.Col. Clinch near the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint River for the establishment of the fort, first known as Camp Crawford, later called Fort Scott.

Steve Abolt and Dale Cox (and myself, not shown) visited the site of Fort Scott this past winter. It is extremely remote. During the summer, you will find an abundance of ticks and copperheads.

The Creek allies complained about Fort Scott being established. In a letter by Little Prince / Tustannuggu Hopoy, writing to the commander of the US forces at Fort Hawkins, complaining that the United States had promised that no forts would be established on land seized by the treaty, and now three were built. They were very unhappy with the land they had lost in the treaty and other stipulations that had been forced upon them. But, the allied Creeks promised that they would go down and break up Negro Fort, which they received rations to do.

Some of the Creek Chiefs were trying to be peace keepers between the US and other tribes in the area, but things did not work out. Relations between Little Prince and Seminole chiefs soured. Two soldiers driving 30 head of cattle from Fort Gaines were taken prisoner by warriors of Fowltown and Miccosukee Town. This was a pretty bold move, Fort Gaines being about 60 miles north of Fowltown and the Georgia / Florida border.

Trying to negotiate a release, the British trader Hambly who was friendly with the Americans, and the chief Little Prince went down to talk to the captors, but were chased off. From what Little Prince said, it seemed that the herd was being driven down to St. Marks to be sold to the Spanish, and the soldiers were to be either killed or ransomed to the Spanish. The Americans had expected the soldiers to be killed, but they were eventually returned alive with some of the cattle.

Due to the cattle incident, and two settlers named Johnson and McGaskey killed around the same time, Gaines orders the urgency of the fort being established at the confluence of the three rivers in May 1816. He orders supplies, ammunition and ordnance, from New Orleans with a gun boat, and directs Lt.Col. Duncan Clinch that if any opposition is met from Negro Fort, then to coordinate a land and naval force operation to destroy it. This will be the operation that will destroy the fort two months later.

Fort Scott is established 200 years ago, and events has been set in motion for the destruction of Negro Fort.

Reference used was 1819, House of Representatives document, “Letters from the Secretary of War transmitting Pursuant to a Resolution of The House of Representatives of the 26th Ult. Information in Relation to the Destruction of the Negro Fort in East Florida in the Month of July 1816, &c, &c.” February 2, 1819; 26 pages.

To be continued…

It will take me a few days to read over and write the next part. Be patient, please, I know you are enjoying this!

Books currently available on the subject:

“Fort Scott, Fort Hughes & Camp Recovery, Three 19th Century Military Sites in Southwest Georgia” by Dale Cox, 2016, Old Kitchen Books, www.exploresouthernhistory.com

“Nicolls’ Outpost, A War of 1812 Fort at Chattahoochee, Florida” by Dale Cox, 2015, Old Kitchen Books, www.exploresouthernhistory.com

“Elizabeth’s War, A Novel of the First Seminole War” by John and Mary Lou Missall, 2015, The Florida Historical Society Press.

(I have mentioned them on this blog before, so no need to post the covers again.)
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The past year I have been reviewing letters related to the First Seminole War in the archives to get a better understanding of the events and causes of what actually happened. Things were far more interesting than what is usually portrayed. More was involved than just Major General Andrew Jackson invading Florida—that was the inevitable conclusion, not a random action by this renegade general. Jackson had been given authority by the Secretary of War, and by the time he arrived on the scene, things had already spiraled out of control. I will not cover so much Jackson’s invasion, but more of what happened before and after. I think it is really important to understand what happened to start these events.

Let us start by looking at the events following the War of 1812 to the destruction of Negro Fort.

When the British left New Orleans, they had full intention of continuing a campaign against the Americans along the Gulf coast. But with the Treaty of Ghent ratified in March 1815, it told the Brits to leave everything status quo and stand down. Part of the British plan for the New Orleans campaign back in 1814 was to destabilize the American economy by way of Spanish Florida, using the Indian allies and escaped slaves as mercenaries against the Americans. When the British departed, all their armed Native & Negro allies remained, so the former plan took a life of its own and continued without British support. But as far as Jackson and Gaines were concerned, the Brits were lurking behind the scenes, even though there is little evidence that the Crown cared at all what was going on in North America.

There were two British forts established in 1814 on the Apalachicola River to arm and train these axillaries, one at the southern end we know as Negro Fort, and one at the northern end of the Apalachicola, just south of the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint River, known as Nicholls Fort, or Apalachicola Fort. These forts would also stop all movement of ships on the river, and prevent the Americans from bringing their cotton down river from Georgia and eastern Mississippi territory to market in New Orleans, becoming a severe economic hardship for the Americans. Not to mention a haven for escaped slaves, which much has been written about.

Photo: Historical Marker at Chattahoochee Florida for Nicholls Fort:

Even though it was Spanish territory and the Americans probably needed to make some agreement with Spain for travelling down river, Spain was by this time, ineffective as a colonial power in the western hemisphere. They were conquered by Napoleon, who had been defeated by Britain. The Spanish government in Florida had been on its own with little direction. The British forts on the Apalachicola were established without any opposition.

Fort Apalachicola or Nicholls Fort was abandoned a few months after being established. Even though Col. Nicholls met with 500 warriors, the Indians just returned to their villages after the war ended and all the presents were distributed. Even today, the river floods in the spring, so it is not a desirable place to be. But the Americans had minimal intelligence of the river, and were not aware that the northern fort was abandoned. But from what they had heard, thousands of warriors were gathering to attack the American settlements.

Secretary of War William Crawford ordered the military commander of the southern district, Major General Andrew Jackson in Nashville, to investigate the matter of the renegade forts, and have this fort south of the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint River destroyed (not knowing it was already abandoned), but first have Jackson contact the Spanish in Pensacola and see if they would destroy it since it was in Spanish territory.
Jackson ordered from his headquarters at the Hermitage, US officers to contact the authorities at Pensacola. These officers left from New Orleans and Mobile. Nobody is travelling the dangerous Apalachicola, and therefore the status of this renegade fortress was unknown.

What the US Officers find in Pensacola, is that the town has a small garrison of Black soldiers, who are basically unarmed, although the Spanish residents themselves are afraid of the soldiers in their own garrison. The Spanish knew of Negro Fort on the Apalachicola and were much alarmed by it, but could not muster any force against it. The American officer reported that the Spanish did not even have enough gun powder to fire a salute for a flag raising!

So the Americans now felt it was their duty to protect their frontier by destroying Negro Fort. Jackson wrote back to the Secretary of War that the presence of the fort could not be tolerated as a haven for escaped slaves and renegade banditti and land pirates, as he called it. He was confident that it could easily be destroyed using the 4th & 7th Infantry troops and a small Naval force. Although things would not go according to plan, and the land force would be ineffective, and it would be the small Naval force that would make quick destruction of Negro Fort.

To be continued.
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One of the biggest things we get asked, to myself, to many libraries, to the state library and archives, and to the Seminole Wars Foundation, is from someone doing genealogy research. They have an ancestor who fought as a soldier in the Florida Seminole War and are looking for more information. Maybe they don't want to pay for a subscription to Ancestry.com. (I have one, but I understand.)

So, where can they look? Well, this will be about the most comprehensive list of sources anywhere.

Here is a good bibliography:


Officers in the Regular Army

• Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army From Its Organization, September 29, 1789 to March 2, 1903. [Google eBook]
• Cullum, George W. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY [Google eBook]


• U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914. [online at Ancestry.com]. Also available at the National Archives, Microfilm M233, 81 rolls. Arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by the first letter of the soldier’s surname.
• Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926. National Archives, Microfilm T316. Arranged alphabetically by the claimant’s surname.
• Index to Indian War Pension Files, 1892-1926. Card index relates to service in the Indian campaigns, 1817-1898. National Archives, Microfilm T318, 12 rolls. Arranged alphabetically.

State Militia or Volunteer Soldier

• Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815-1858. National Archives, Record Groups 94 and 407, Microfilm M629, 42 rolls. Alphabetical index gives soldier’s name, rank, unit, and war or disturbance they served in.
• U.S. Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index, 1815-1858 [Ancestry.com] Database contains alphabetical card indexes to compiles service records of Volunteer soldiers who belonged to units from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee who served during the Cherokee disturbances and removal, 1836-1839. Volunteer soldiers who served in various Indian wars or participated in the quelling or solving of Indian disturbances or problems, 1815-1858.

Gen. R. K. Cal’s Brigade of Florida Mounted Volunteers, 1835
Major Leigh Read’s Battalion of Florida Volunteers, 1836
Warren’s 1st Regiment of Florida Mounted Volunteers, 1836-1837
Resources found at major libraries throughout Florida and at the Florida State Archives.

• Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815-1858. There is no state index, but participants are included in this master index.
• Compiled Service Records of Volunteers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Florida During the Florida Indian Wars, 1835-1858. Also available at National Archives, M1086, 63 rolls. Organized by war, then by unit, and then alphabetically by surname.
• Original Florida Territorial Muster Rolls, 1826-1849. Includes a few original muster rolls from the Second Seminole War.
• Seminole War Muster Rolls of Florida Militia, 1836-1841, 1856-1858.
• Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars. (Florida Board of State Institutions, 1903; reprinted, Macclenny, Fla.: Richard J. Ferry, 1983) [Check Florida State Library website under Florida History and Materials for digitized copy]
• Florida War Death List, 1836-1842. [Ancestry.com]
• Florida Militia Muster Rolls: Seminole Indian Wars. 10 vols. Florida Department of Military Affairs [online at http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00047719/00011/1j]

Check Military Records in other state Department of Archives and History [i.e. www.archives.state.al.us/]

Colonel William Chisolm’s Regiment of Alabama Volunteers (Inf.), 1836
Major Caulfield’s Battalion of Alabama Mounted Volunteers, 1836-1837

• Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Florida War in Organizations from the State of Alabama. National Archives, M245, 1 roll. Arranged alphabetically by name.
• Public Information Subject file-Alabamians at War—Alabama Department of Archives and History. Box: 2nd Creek War, 1835-36; Folder: Indian War; Location #SG013379; Folder #001; Folder: Muster Rolls, 1836-1838, Location #SG013379, Folder #006; Folder: Soldiers, 1836-1839, Location #SG013379, Folder #007.
• Alabama Militia Service Cards. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Microfilm in Research Room.

District of Columbia
Captain Irvin’s Company of District of Columbia Volunteers, 1836-1837

Major Mark A. Cooper’s 1st Battalion of Georgia Foot (Inf.), 1836
Major Robertson’s Augusta (GA) Battalion (Inf.), 1836
Major Nelson’s Battalion of Mounted Volunteers, 1836-1837
• Georgia Archives Vertical Files: military records [Georgia Department of Archives and History]

Colonel P. F. Smith’s Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers (Inf. & Rifle), 1836
Capt. H. Marks’ Company of Louisiana Volunteers, 1836

• Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Florida War in Organizations from the State of Louisiana. National Archives, M239, 1 roll. Arranged alphabetically by name.
• Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1837-1838 in Organizations from the State of Louisiana. National Archives, M241, 1 roll. Arranged alphabetically by name.

Colonel Richard Gentry’s 1st Regiment of Missouri Vol. (Mtd. Inf.), 1837-1838
Major Morgan’s Spy Battalion, Missouri Volunteers (Mtd. Inv.), 1837-1838

New York
New York Volunteer Company, 1837-1838

Pennsylvania Battalion of Infantry Volunteers, 1837-1838

South Carolina
Colonel Goodwyn’s Regiment of SC Mounted Volunteers (Mtd. Rifle), 1836
Colonel William Brisbane’s Regiment of SC Volunteers (Inf.), 1836
Captain Elmore’s Corps of Columbia and Richland Riflemen, 1836

Gen. Armstrong’s Brigade of Tennessee Mounted Volunteers, 1836-1837 (including
the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Tennessee Mounted Volunteers)
Major Lauderdale’s Battalion of Tennessee Volunteers, 1837-1838

And there are a few other states and few other sources. But this should get you started.
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I found this posted the other day on YouTube:

I don't know if this student is proposing to build this in his home town in northwest Ohio as a school project, or what the plans are, but I commend him. He was a little unprepared for some of the questions. But, if he or his teacher will email to me the mailing address; the school address would be fine, then I will send him a copy of my book listing all the battles and events of the Seminole Wars.

I wish that we had students in Florida wanting to build such memorials in their home town!

One reason why we feel this is important, is that it puts this in the minds and in front view of people in Florida. That they know that the longest, and most costly war against any Native American tribe, happened right here, 175 years ago.
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Yes, I am still around. Been very Busy. Almost 40 years driving and never a car accident, and the day before I was to go to New Orleans for the 201st commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans, I was hit in two separate accidents but two different college students. The first one, I had my front bumper ripped off by an 18 year-old who zoomed past me. The police officer didn't even talk to me, but listened for a half hour to the 18-year old gymnastic sorority girl and her friends who later showed up, talking about things that were irrelevant, such as flips and somersaults. There was no way they were going to believe my side of the story. The next day while limping to the repair shop and sitting at a stop light, I was rear-ended by some other idiot student who was probably texting and didn't see the traffic stopped ahead of him. He was driving his mom's Ford Focus and won't return my phone messages.

Enough about me. There are several new books out.

The first, "Elizabeth's War, A Novel of the First Seminole War" by John and Mary Lou Missall. Printed by the Florida Historical Society. Which I've heard that they had some glitches from ordering from the FHS web page, so just buy it from John and Mary Lou at the reenactments you find them at, at the Seminole Wars Foundation table.

This is a novel about Elizabeth Stuart, a real woman who was captured, and the only survivor of the Scott Massacre, a boat of about 40, 7th Infantry soldiers and some of their wives, on the Apalachicola River, on November 30th, 1817. As told from Elizabeth's point of view and her Indian captors. She spent several months prisoner until being freed, and eventually lived the rest of her life around the community of Fort Gaines in southwest Georgia.

This is a true story set as a historic novel.

The Seminole Wars Foundation is having several books reprinted through Applewood Books, and three of the books are Seminole War classics that were part of the Florida Facsimile Series. They are essential to any Seminole War library collection. They were reprinted in the 1960's, but it has been almost impossible to get a copy of the reprints. You will be glad to find them once again, and can buy them from the Foundation or through Applewood Books. Here they are:

"Notices of the Florida and the Campaigns" (1836) by M.M. Cohen. This is one of the eyewitnesses who published the first year of the 2nd Seminole War. Cohen was with the South Carolina Militia, and was with the Scott campaign.

A couple years ago the Foundation reprinted Potter, another eyewitness from 1836, and there is a third eyewitness book from the same year that has never been reprinted, by W.W. Smith, which we are looking into printing, but it is taking a lot of editing. (It has no index.) In my opinion, Smith is the lesser interesting of the three, and doesn't have all that much historical value since it is written mostly from his sick bed, and not from what he witnessed. (It's not first-hand accounts.)

"The Territory of Florida" (1837) by John Lee Williams. Williams was from Pensacola, and later settled at Picolata on the St. Johns River, and writes about the Florida Militia. His observations of Florida during early territorial days are invaluable.

Both Cohen and Williams have been damn near impossible to find, even as the reprints.

"Red Patriots" (1890) by Charles Coe. Not only does Coe write about the Seminole War, but he writes about the Seminole history up to that time. He was one of the first books about the Seminoles after the war period.

If you take three books about the Seminoles written after the 2nd Seminole War in the 19th Century, Joshua Giddings, 1858, "The Exiles of Florida," Coe, and Minnie Moore Willson's "The Seminoles of Florida" (1896), Coe was more accurate on his history and descriptions. Coe did a great job bringing to light that the Seminoles were still there, and still alive in Florida. Giddings and Willson are so fraught with errors that I don't like to even reference them.
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Update: The day after I posted this, I just found out that the bones have just been returned to the Seminole Tribe by the Univ. of Penn. That is good, and I hope things go well. I will just leave the rest of the article as is.

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I think that you may find this one of the most provocative, shocking, and thought provoking blogs about the Seminole War that I may have written thus far. And in a roundabout way, you can say that the Seminoles had their unwilling contribution to what became modern physical anthropology and CSI Criminal Investigation.

Most of you are familiar with the cruel fate of Osceola that made him the most recognizable Seminole Indian in all of history, as he was captured under a flag of truce. And many of you know about his subsequent death in prison a few months later, and how the attending physician Dr. Weedon, spirited off Osceola’s head as a specimen for the doctor’s collection of medical curiosities.

And as the story goes, Weedon eventually sold the head to Dr. Valentine Mott, one of the most famous physicians of that time, in New York, but that it was destroyed in a fire when Mott’s museum burned down in 1866. I will skip all the other folklore which many of you may have heard.

But, are you aware that Osceola’s head, was just one of many that were collected as specimen for science during the Florida War? That many Seminoles had their cranium added to collections?

During the 1830s and 1840s was the height of the study of Phrenology. It was believed that the shape of the human head could tell character and moral traits. That the brain was not one organ, but a combination of separate organs that were responsible for character, ethics, intelligence, and morality. These beliefs were used by the slave holding south to show that slaves were incapable of freedom on their own and needed to remain in servitude.

Of course, we now know that all this was a mistaken, dead-end pseudo-science. What it was really studying was genetic traits and developments among different societies and cultures. Eventually this turned into a real field of science known as physical anthropology that showed how genetic traits are passed on by certain people from different cultures. About the same time, genetic traits were beginning to be understood by a German Monk named Mendel. With Phrenology, studying skeletal structures had this strange beginning, but it led to actual, real science. And even today, with what we have as identifying skeletal remains, bones, and skulls, we see on television all the time as CSI Criminal Investigation.

The main person who was world famous promoting Phrenology was Dr. Samuel George Morton in Philadelphia. He started collecting skulls in 1830 and continued until his death in 1852. He was widely published, which inspired many to help add to his collection. He obtained an amazing collection of craniums representing almost every people and culture from all over the world. It was not him who traveled, but his loyal readers, from other physicians, military officers, explorers, and other people generally with an interest in science who had read Dr. Morton’s writings.

When Dr. Morton died, his collection of cranium numbered 867, and his successor Dr. Meigs increased it to around 1225. Each skull collected was cleaned and polished, varnished, numbered, marked with information if known. Where it came from or who it was, if known. Important features may have been marked or noted. Dr. Morton had a catalog, and Dr. Meigs improved and sorted the catalog even further.

Included were Egyptian mummies. Peruvian skulls that had cranial enlarged/extended. Vikings from Finland. Romans and Greeks. Hindu and Chinese burials. South Pacific Islanders. And of course from many Native American tribes, some from aboriginal Indian mounds. And of course, the catalog list about half a dozen Cherokee, 4 Creeks, 3 Yamassee from a mound in Tampa. But the biggest tribe represented by far, are the skulls from 16 Seminoles. With half the US Army in Florida, physicians, explorers, and other patrons of Dr. Morton, the Florida Seminoles were a field ripe for the picking.

There are two warriors who were found at the battle of Okeechobee. Some other warriors not identified; men, women, and children remains. It seems that history doesn’t often mention this sordid souvenir hunting.

Below: Some of the listing for the Morton/Meigs catalog for the Seminoles. I refuse to include the drawing of one of the skulls. Notice that it also has the name of the person who donated the skull to Dr. Morton or Meigs' collection.

I have also found record of remains that were collected during the war that are not listed in Dr. Morton & Meigs Crania Americana catalog. Dr. Weedon also had the skull of Uchee Billy who died at the fort at St. Augustine. Morton lists a Euchee Indian, but we don’t know if it is the same as Uchee Billie.

There was an Apalachicola chief by the name of Coa-harjo, but who was not the same as the Seminole Chief Coa-Hadjo who was a Chief with Osceola. The Apalachicola Coa-Harjo was killed by his own people in 1838, and a Phrenology journal by Morton in 1839 describes his head in detail, but the crania is not listed in Morton’s catalog. On a side note, there is also a Chief Old Joe that was killed in the Florida panhandle, and his complete skeleton is supposed to have been on display at the Medical College at the University of Dublin in Ireland. Apparently there are many unknown remains collected during the war that went to various other medical collections still unidentified.

So, what happened to Dr. Morton’s collection? It still exists with the University of Pennsylvania. A recent article told about this amazing collection. Over the years, they have offered the various Native American Tribes if they want to seek repatriation under NAGRA. And some have taken care of this.

Here are my own thoughts on the subject. And it is to leave these skulls where they are, and undisturbed. Further tampering or movement would not help. This is a different situation than a casket of remains. These are specially prepared remains. Not whole skeletons, but craniums, that are cleaned, varnished, painted, and deposited with others. They have been placed with a charnel house of other unique representatives from around the world. I actually think they hold a unique and honored position where they are at, and nobody really bothers them. These remains are in a communion with like representatives. Actually, they are not the body or person, but the husk or remains. They are the evidence that life has once been present. With honored representatives from all over the world.

In the old southeastern Native American traditions, there is a function of a “Bone Picker.” That is what Dr. Morton became. And that is also why he died before his time, and could have lived another 30 years if he had known the correct songs and medicines.

Further tampering of the remains will only cause difficulty, pain and sickness in ways you cannot imagine for the living and dead. Improper tampering can cause problems with the family, their clan or tribe that they are from. Worse can be done by people who think that they are doing the right thing, but doing it improperly. It is better to leave them alone. Trying to move the remains will only cause more sickness and death to those innocents who will have no understanding of what is happening to them. We have in the Native American folklore Ghost Sickness, and I have a lot of experience with it, and do not want to have this become a problem for someone who does not understand it.

It is also better to keep theses skulls as a reminder about what was done to these people and the injustice of removal from their home 175 years ago. And a time when a human head was a sought after commodity. People will forget what I say in a few years. They won’t forget a physical reminder.

They called the Indians as savages for taking scalps, and at the same time, the white men and soldiers stole whole heads.


1839, Morton, Samuel George; Crania Americana, or, a Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South American.
1849, Morton, Samuel George; Catalogue of Skulls of Man and the Inferior Animals, in the Collection of Samuel George Morton.
1856, Meigs, J. Aitken; Catalogue of Human Crania, in the Collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
The American Phrenological Journal and Miscellany, Volume II, No. 1, Philadephia, Oct. 1, 1839; Pg. 139-142.
November 2008, Monge, Janet; and Renschler, Emily S.; Expedition, Vol. 50, No. 3; The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection, Historical Significance and New Research.
Current Mood:
awake awake
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Attention all you U.S. 7th Infantry Cottonbalers, this involves a historical marker for an incident of your regiment. Lt. Richard Scott and the soldiers of Fort (Winfield) Scott in 1817.

Dale Cox from the famous community of Two Egg, Florida, has been successful for promoting the history around northwest Florida. Last year he put up a historical marker for Nicoll’s trading post at Chattahoochee Landing, where British Marine Colonel Nicolls established a fort with Josiah Francis during the War of 1812, known as Apalachicola Fort. Now he has started a new campaign, which you will see in this video:

With that British fort on the north end of the Apalachicola River, and Negro Fort on the southern end of the river, the Brits hoped that their Indian allies would control the river traffic through Spanish Florida and be a hindrance to American cotton trade from Georgia and Mississippi territory during the War of 1812.

Dale Cox has also written several history books on the history of Gadsden County, Jackson County, Milly Francis, Nicolls’ Outpost, and the Scott Massacre. Now Dale is also seeking to put up a historical marker at the site of the Scott Massacre, which is a stone’s throw from Nicoll’s Fort and Chattahoochee Landing. The Scott Massacre is a significant incident which started the First Seminole War.

Picture: From Dale Cox, Attack on the American boat in 1817.

In 1817, Chief Nea-Mathla, was one of the main Seminole / Mikasuki chiefs. His village, named Fowltown, was in Georgia, along the Flint River. Nea-Mathla had always lived there, and considered it his land, not the United States, not the State of Georgia, not Creek land that had been ceded over to the U.S. with the Treaty of Fort Jackson. He was Mikasuki / Miccosukee and not Creek, and did not recognize the Creeks as having any authority over him, who had no authority to give away his land. In contrast, the United States recognized this land as the State of Georgia, as land ceded by the Creeks under the Treaty of Fort Jackson three years earlier.

General Gaines demanded that Nea-Mathla come to Fort Scott about 15 or 20 miles away. Nea-Mathla refused, did not trust the Americans, and had no reason too. Gaines sent his soldiers to Fowltown to bring Nea-Mathla to him. As the armed and uninvited soldiers approached the alarmed town, the people in town fired back and fled. The one Indian killed was a woman. As the soldiers examined the deserted town, they found a British uniform and letter from the British of support to Nea-Mathla.

The soldiers returned, this time 300 in number, finding the town deserted, and burned everything, and taking with them the cattle and stores of crops. As expected, the Indians were outraged. This meant a declaration of war to the Seminole / Mikasukis.

This was the first action of the First Seminole War. The destruction of Fowltown was only the beginning. A week later was what is known as the Scott Massacre, which can be considered as revenge.

Fort Scott had been running low on supplies. Before the attack, a shipment was coming on boats up the Apalachicola of uniforms, supplies, food, with the families, and an escort of sick soldiers in barges that were not easy to maneuver on the river. For whatever reason, when the officer in charge, Lt. Richard Scott, heard of the trouble between the Army and Nea-Mathla’s people, he decided to continue on. That was his fatal mistake. Late at night the wind blew the barges close to shore about a mile south of the confluence of the Flint and the Chattahoochee River, and the Indians attacked. Most all in the boats were killed. Just a few soldiers survived and escaped to make their way to Fort Scott. Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart was captured by the Indians and remained a prisoner among the Indians until she was freed about six months later. (And remember, this is all in Spanish territory.)

The press called this incident a massacre of women and children. In reality, it was mostly soldiers of the 40 who were killed. About six women were on board. We are still debating if there were children or not. But this was all the provocation needed.

This incident caused the outrage with the United States government, who gave General Andrew Jackson reason to organize an army to come down to Fort Scott, which started the First Seminole War. These were to opening shots of the next forty years of warfare against the Seminoles-Miccosukees of Florida. The United States would gain possession of Florida from Spain. It all started at Fowltown and here near Chattahoochee Landing on the Apalachicola River. This incident is certainly worthy of recognition of a historical marker, wouldn’t you agree?

Dale has set up a fund to raise money for a historical marker for the Scott massacre, and here is the link. Please feel free to give. He is not asking for much! He has done very well by creating other historical makers by this method.

Current Mood:
anxious anxious
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