Fort King Post Returns part 1
Back in November, I wrote about the first few years of Fort King. See it here: https://seminolewar.livejournal.com/214657.html
I wanted to share what is on the post returns, which is very enlightening of the history of the fort, as well as the beginning history of the Florida Second Seminole War. It does not cover everything that was happening at the time, but it is still enlightening.
Every fort and post at this time was required to do a monthly report of personnel. On the front page would be the Post Return, showing the number of men and changes, along with General Orders and Standard Orders. Often the names of sick or confined men would be listed. On the backside, was “Commissioned Officers,” showing all the officers on the post. Officers of the same company but absent or on special duty would also be listed. The information on the returns is how it was on the last day of the month.
This was a standard form printed by the government. The adjutant at the post would make three copies; one to stay in the post adjutant box, one to be sent to the regiment or Florida headquarters, and one to be sent to the Army Adjutant office in Washington, D.C. This would require the post to make three perfect copies per month, and the officers serving as adjutant would have to handwrite all copies. So if none were done wrong or disposed of, the post would need at least 36 forms a year. Sometimes the larger forts would fill out post returns for smaller, satellite forts. Often the post would run out of forms and have to order new ones, while in the meantime, have to complete the monthly return on a sheet of paper. So we often see reports that appear a little different.
What the first Post Returns look like from the microfilm:
March 1827—First month of the Post Returns.
Capt. (Brevet Major) James M. Glassell of the 4th Infantry, arrived March 25th from Fort Brooke.
Capt. Glassell would command Camp King for the first two years.
4th Infantry, Companies F and H, with 87 men present. Both companies employed in building quarters.
One Sergeant died.
One Private deserted. A sergeant sent in pursuit.
13 soldiers working to clear the Ocklawaha River.
The number of soldiers present at the post is 70 due to other special detail work or to bring supplies from Tampa/Fort Brooke.
The deserting private was apprehended but the musician deserted.
Three men were discharged from the Army by Surgeon’s certificate.
Three soldiers deserted but are apprehended. (How desperate do you have to be to desert from Fort King in 1827, out in the middle of Indian territory?)
Company F leaves for Fort Brooke, leaving only Capt. Glassell and Company H, with 37 men at the post.
“The post is at present supplied with provisions, but miserably destitute in medicines and hospital stores. The place continues healthy, as most of the cases are from sore feet occasioned by an insect called Chiger [chigger]. I have this morning (8 Sept.) sent the acting Quarter Master, to see what kind of wagon road can be had between this and Palatka on the St. Johns. On his return Lt. [Joseph] Searight will be again sent down the [Silver and Ocklawaha] river to view it. J.M.G.”
“This Post continues healthy, but the Hospital and Medical Dept. still destitute of supplies.—The cases reported are principally from sore feet, occasioned by chigers.—I left the post on 29 Sept. & returned on the 1st Oct., but not being present on the 30th could not sign the return. J.M. Glassell, Capt. Commg., Fort King, 5th Oct. 1827.”
34 men present.
The Post Returns the next few months do not list any significant changes, so I will only mention the interesting quotes and events.
The Post Returns from October when the fort finally received the proper forms to fill out.
37 men present
“The post quite healthy; the principal cases of sickness reported occasioned by intoxication immediately after payment. Recruits much wanted to fill the company. No column in the alterations to report Lt. Eaton as to the post aggregate by promotion. He is detained until another officer can relieve him.”
Only 30 present on the post. Not present 39.
‘No convicts at the post.—The place hitherto healthy; most of the cases being accidental; and also at present well supplied with everything but medicines & hospital stores.”
No July returns.
Number of soldiers at the post is up to 45.
“No convicts at the post.”
“There are no convicts at this post. The cases of sickness are accidental and chronic.”
Number of soldiers at the post is down to 34.
1st Lieut. Joseph Shaw is on furlough. His status is listed as “unknown” and “Reported to have been on command.” Army Adjutant General Roger Jones writes a comment underneath: “Find out Lt. Shaw’s position and inform the commander of his company.”
Lt. Shaw is reported to be at Ft. Mitchell. Lt. Newcomb is at Palatka to bring up provisions.
Only 28 soldiers on the post.
“No convicts at the post.— Three convicts at other posts reported on ‘detached service’ having received an order from the adjutant of the regiment to report them thus.”
1st Lt. Shaw is commanding the post with 2nd Lt. Newcomb and Asst. Surg. Hawkins the only other officers. Capt. Glassell has left on recruiting service. 29 people on the post.
The last month of post returns before Camp King is abandoned for the next three years. Surg. Hawkins present, Lt. Shaw commanding the post. Lt. Newcomb acting as Quartermaster. Capt. Glassell on recruiting duty. Lt. Baker at Mobile Point performing engineering duty and never joined the company. 40 men present.
Sometimes after the post was abandoned, it was burned and had to be rebuilt when reoccupied three years later.
Following the Treaty of Paynes Landing in Spring 1832, Fort King was reoccupied. Company D, 4th Infantry arrives and constructs new buildings, quarters, a hospital, and even work on building a boat to bring supplies by waterway. The surgeon was held back at Fort Brooke, so Lt. Graham has to hire a temporary civilian replacement. Graham also contracts Erastus Rogers to be the Post Sutler.
Officers on the post are 1st Lt. William M. Graham (promoted to Captain), Bvt. 2d Lt. Bradford Alden, and acting surgeon John Hamilton.
“Company D, 4th Regiment of Infantry commanded by 1st Lieut. Wm. M. Graham left Fort Brooke, Florida on the 12th and arrived and reoccupied Fort King, Florida on the 18th of July, 1832 in obedience to order No. 49 from Adjt. Genl. Office dated 7th June 1832.”
There are 42 men at the post on the first month return.
Also listed under Company D but on Special Duty is Capt. James H. Hook, serving as Assistant Commissary General of Subsistence in Washington, D.C. He never came to Fort King since he was appointed to the position in Washington in 1829, but has been unofficially serving in that position since at least 1821. Capt. Hook originally commanded Fort Hawkins, Georgia, but suffered a crippling injury that followed him the rest of his life, so he went to work in subsistence where he would not be in the field. It is ironic that he shows up for one month on the Fort King post returns, because he will come in possession of Osceola’s clothing and personal items in 1838, given to him by Dr. Frederick Weedon and Captain Pitcairn Morrison. (Besides plundering Osceola’s personal items, Morrison will later be partially responsible for the Bascom affair in Arizona in 1861 that will start 25 years of warfare with the Apache.) These are items Osceola probably had with him at Fort King.
There are several letters in the “Adjutant Received” letters from Capt. William Graham, arguing that he should have been promoted ahead of James Hook. Maj. Hook in Washington will be in charge of subsistence or feeding all the Native tribes being removed under the Indian Removal Act, and at the same time amass a huge collection of Native American artifacts and clothing from all over the country. Something that might be considered very questionable and unethical today, but was commonplace in the 19th century. When Hook dies in 1841, his wife will sell his collection, and the Osceola items are purchased by Capt. John Casey.
2d Lt. Joseph Harris joins the post to serve as Subsistence officer. Lt. Alden is working on building a boat and finishing quarters. Dr. Hamilton is dropped from the returns because he is a civilian and not commissioned officer.
Asst. Surgeon John Thurston joins the post on 10th Sept.
There are 35 men present with four desertions with two apprehended.
The number of soldiers at the post are 42.
Capt. Graham is summoned to attend a civil court in Newnansville.
Three soldiers deserted and apprehended.
Capt. Graham is back. Assistant Surgeon James W. Roper replaces Surgeon Thurston. One soldier died; no name or details given. 37 soldiers present.
Surgeon Roper is ordered to New Orleans to take his exam in front of the medical board. One soldier deserted and apprehended.
Capt. Graham and Lt. Alden, and a total of 35 men present.
Capt. Graham with 24 men. Lt. Alden takes the boat to Palatka for subsistence and quartermaster stores.
Surgeon Roper has gone to Harper’s Ferry (Virginia). 34 men with one soldier deserted and apprehended.
Capt. Graham is the only officer at the post. Lt. Alden left for West Point. 44 men at the post.
54 men at the post.
Surgeon Roper (not yet returned to Florida) goes to New York for another examination of the medical board headed by Surgeon Lawson (who is soon after Army Surgeon General). One soldier died at Fort King. 52 men present.
Captain Graham present. Surgeon Roper returns to Fort King after being gone for eight months. 44 men present.
39 men present.
Captain Graham is present and doing all the officer duties at the post. Surgeon Roper is listed as sick. 42 men present.
Surgeon Roper still sick at the fort. 35 men present.
Surgeon Roper dies of “Pulmonary Consuption” on 20 March. (What a waste, after sent through all those boards of examination, and he comes back and dies.) 36 men present.
54 present. The first time since August there is a full company of soliders, except the officers. Capt. Graham is the only officer present.
One man discharged for disability. 53 men present. Capt. Graham still the only officer. The following months will show that the status of the fort remains unchanged.
Only 37 men present.
44 men present.
Captain Graham finally gets relief, as he is joined by Lt. John Graham and Surgeon George Clarke. William Graham and John Graham are not related, but William’s brother James Graham is famous in the old Northwest as an Army Engineer. One man died; 43 men present.
Big changes as Brevet Brig. Gen. Duncan L. Clinch arrives and assumes command of the post, adding Company D, 2d Artillery (with already present Company D, 4th Infantry). Also added are Dr. Weightman as surgeon, Capt. Drane, Lt. R. Smith, with a total of 90 men at the post. Five other lieutenants and one sergeant are absent on special duty elsewhere.
1st Lt. F.A. Dancy takes command of Co. D, 2d Arty, from Capt. Drane who has ordnance duty in St. Augustine. 74 men present.
Capt. Drane returns. 70 men for duty including loses accounted for disability and expiration of service.
Six companies are now present at Fort King as talks with the Seminoles are held at the Indian Agency, and the government will pressure the Seminoles to remove. Brig. Gen. Clinch is commanding, with Maj. Fanning, three surgeons, and 15 other lieutenants and captains. 245 men present for duty. Two desertions and one apprehended. Companies present are Co. C, 1st Arty; Co. D & F, 2d Arty; Co. C & I, 3d Arty; Co. D, 4th Infy.
Gen. Clinch departs and Brevet Lt. Col. A.C.W. Fanning assumes command. Capt. Drane’s Company D, 2d Artillery with Dr. Weightman leaves to Fort Marion in St. Augustine. Two surgeons and 12 other officers are at the post with Capt. Wm. Graham, Lt. C. Smyth (who will be killed at the end of the year,) Lt. Mellon and Lt. Maitland, who will also be killed during the coming war. Lt. John Graham is commanding a boat party bringing in subsistence stores from Paynes Landing. 211 men present; two died.
Lt.Col. Fanning commanding and the same number of officers. Co. C, 3d Arty has gone to a local plantation known as the Flotards, 12 miles away. 186 men with two died.
Lt. Col. Fanning commanding, two surgeons and 9 officers, with four companies with 153 present. One deserted.
Lt. Col. Fanning commanding; two surgeons, and ten officers present. Co. I, 3d Arty with Surgeon Clarke are sent to “Camp Witumpkey” (Fort Drane). 255 men; one died and one deserter apprehended.
Lt.Col. Fanning, two surgeons, and 11 officers at the post. 284 men with the addition of Co. H and the return of Co. I, 3d Arty. Two died and one deserter apprehended.
Four soldiers desert and are apprehended.
279 present at the fort; one soldier died.
Lt.Col. Fanning commanding, Surgeon Clarke present, and 12 officers. Six companies and 290 soldiers present. One died, three desertions, and four deserters apprehended. Co. C, 1st Arty; and Co. D, 4th Infantry have been detached to “Wetumpkie”. 50 recruits have been ordered to Ft. King. Several officers have resigned from the Army, which is noted on the bottom of the form.
On the morning of Dec. 28th, all the companies depart Fort King for Wetumpka/Clinch’s Plantation, except Co. I, 3d Arty, 12 sick men, and a hospital steward also stay behind, and four soldiers in confinement. Lt.Col. Ichabod Crane (Yes, Washington Irving did steal his name to use as a character in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.) assumes command with 46 men in the garrison in the afternoon, as Lt. Constantine Smyth is killed by Osceola’s warriors along with Indian Agent Wiley Thompson. Post Sutler Erastus Rogers and two other store clerks Roger Suggs and Mr. Kitzler are killed. The Second Seminole War has begun.
Lt. Col. Crane commanding with Surgeon Clarke and three officers. Only Co. I, 3d Arty, is assigned to the post. 47 men are present. In addition to those are two men in the hospital for wounds at the Battle of Withlacoochee, ten previously left in the hospital, and three men confined.
Lt. Col. Crane commanding the post with Surgeon Clarke and four officers. Only Co. I, 3d Arty, is assigned to the post. 50 men encompass the garrison. In addition are 2 hospital stewards, 19 sick in the hospital including those brought from Fort Drane, and 6 in confinement. Genl. Gaines arrives on the 26th and leaves behind two officers and 34 men of the Louisiana Volunteers who are sick.
Capt. Lemuel Gates assumes command with a surgeon and two lieutenants. Co. C, 1st Arty, replaces Co. I, 3d Arty. 50 men in the garrison. Two men still remain in the hospital.
Capt. Gates with 49 men at the garrison with two men in the hospital. Genl. Clinch passes by with 1100 troops heading to Fort Drane.
Fort King is abandoned on May 27th for 11 months. The garrison moves to Fort Drane, which is also soon abandoned. Captain Gates gets sick and dies from disease on August 6th at Fort Defiance (Micanopy.)