People who know me, know me as kind and friendly, and as unoffensive as can be. But when I attack sacred cows, I'm not as popular. But I feel that I have a duty to face things that are not true.
Researching history and the Second Seminole War, I constantly have to address myths and untrue statements. Maybe I should create a "Wall of Shame" section of my webpage to address these? I did one on Osceola years ago, because there's more folklore about him than actual fact, much like Davy Crockett.
I have noticed four types of historical myths.
1. Folklore myths--These are almost as old as the history themselves. They have been repeated so long that most people accept them as fact. But when you start to research the actual event, you find no basis in fact. Again, Osceola has a lot of these folklore legends associated with him, but not one piece of documentation to substantiate that they ever happened. Like the story of Osceola having a wife that was captured by slave hunters, which ticked him off and started the war. I could talk about that one for a long time, but will refrain from it right now. There is nothing to substantiate that it ever happened. Yes, Osceola was confined to the stockade for a short time by Thompson. But nothing says it had anything to do with having a black wife who was captured by slave hunters.
Osceola's wife is captured. Good story, but has nothing to back it up that it ever happened that way.
2. Bad research/repeating mistakes--Somebody's bad research, that is taken as fact, and then repeated. Later down the road we find from research that it just is not true. One example is the following video on Youtube. We now know that the Seminoles had mostly percussion rifles at Dade's battle, not flintlocks. And the soldiers did not button their muskets under their coats--I would like to see someone try to do that.
And I can't go on without mentioning the absolute worst of inaccuracies that I have found so far on Youtube. This "Seminole Battlefield Ceremony" video has so many things wrong with it, that I don't know where to even begin. And they don't even get Bob Carr's name right. They have their battles mixed up. This park had the battle that was led by General Jesup, not Lt. Powell. And they even got the wrong soldiers there--the Sons of the Union Veterans!
3. Agenda-driven myths--Are myths that are created that have no basis in fact, and seem to promote a point of view, or even drive an agenda. Often the supporters of the myth give their sources, but when you look back in these sources, no mention at all is made of their claims. Such a myth was one I recently found on Wikipedia. It says that Col. William S. Harney raped women before hanging them the next day. Sorry, the sources the person quoted for this do not back up the claim. It would be doubtful that he would become a high ranking officer if he ever did that. Yes, he did threaten to hang women and children, but there is no evidence that he went beyond a threat. Yes he was the most unrelenting and hard-core officer during the war, but not a sexual predator. And he was a commanding officer of the most extreme regiment in the army that was later the foundation for the Special Forces.
William S. Harney -- famous general or sexual predator?
4. And just plain bizarre myths--Osceola took off with a huge stash of gold at the battle of Black Point at the beginning of the war. It's buried somewhere and never found. There are actually people looking for Osceola's lost gold. Sorry, the militia was not even paid during that time--they still had a few weeks to serve. And they would have been paid closer to home, like a fort near Tallahassee when they mustered out. General Call and others involved make no mention of a stolen payroll, and they didn't pay the soldiers with gold back then. And it doesn't seem like Osceola was even there to begin with.
Or another bizarre myth--Dade battle didn't really happen where the park was. It was somewhere else a few miles away. This claim has so many holes in it that it is not even worth discussion. I guess the battle of Gettysburg didn't really happen where all those monuments are, either.
My job is never finished correcting the mistake of others. Some people may think it is a bit rude, but I feel it is my mission to tell the proper history of the 2nd Seminole War. Over the past 12 years I have seen things that keep coming up in print, and now on the internet, that are just plain wrong about history. I feel that it is a great disservice to tell something that is blatantly wrong. If there are things that are told that are wrong or incorrect, they become propaganda or are promoted to push someone's political agenda. I do not want to see that done with the memory of those who can no longer speak for themselves.
well, that makes two of us...cause i can't stand leaving someone believing something that is incorrect, or worse, that person perpetuating the myth. i get the same reactions, but i feel i have a duty to the truth.
i watched the first video - well, i only listened to the last half of it with half an ear - your entry was more interesting...and correct. this guy has a lot right, but he has just as much wrong. he doesn't know near as much about Fort King as he should if he is going to talk about it in this venue. (granted, i DID grow up across the street from it, but still) he was off about the muskets, sounded like he didn't even know anything about muskets, rifles, or any historical weaponry, and i lost interest in him after that...i hope those people got to hear from someone giving correct info before they left.
His problem is that he is not doing, or not able to do, research that we have done. He is just repeating what Frank wrote, and that is about 40 years old. It is good that someone is able to give a talk, but bad when it is not updated.
On January 22nd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
There is the subcategory of Folklore Myths that I call "Great Aunt Toomey Says." If you try to suggest that Great Aunt Toomey's memory might have been faulty, or that some else gave her flawed facts to begin with. the response can be, "Why are you calling my Great Aunt Toomey a liar? She's a real nice lady and you don't even know her." Um, yeah.
If they had the Sons of Union Veterans there, they also need to have the Sons of the Confederate Veterans there as well. I just looked it up, and Loxahatchee also involved officers who later became famous Confederate Generals: Joseph E. Johnson, Jubal Early, and John Pemberton. (I saw their names all over Gettysburg a few months ago.)