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Fort Micanopy Fails Inspection

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The following inspection report by Lt. Col. Bennett Riley shows how bad conditions had gotten at Fort Micanopy during the 2nd Seminole War. It is said that at Micanopy, it was safer in the woods with the Indians than inside the stockade of the fort.

Lt. Col. Riley commanded Fort King (Ocala) for a time, until going to Buffalo, New York to be commander of the Buffalo or Poinsett Barracks. His officer quarters in Buffalo later became the Wilcox mansion, where Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States in 1901. You can see this portrait of Riley and his dress uniform hat at the mansion today, at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, in Buffalo, NY. (Directly below.)

Extract from Army Adjutant General Records.

Fort King, East Florida
August 5th, 1841


I have the honor to inform you that I have been to Micanopy in obedience to your order and examined everything as respects Whiskey selling and inspected the troops, and found them in a horrible state both as respects to health and discipline. I have never seen men in such a state since I have been in the Army – there were ninety-nine on the sick report and about 50 or 60 in the guardhouse. Some of the companies had only eight on parade and others had fifteen, but none more than that, some of which were drunk at the time, and others had all the appearance of having very recently been drunk; in fact, I saw very few sober men during my inspection. I told the Officers what I was sent to do, and they said that nothing in their opinion, could stop the liquor trade, but breaking up the Post. There being no Magistrate at the place, I went with Capt. Seawell [7th Infantry Regt] to some of the most respectable inhabitants and told them that if the whiskey trade could not be broken up, that you were determined to break up the Post. They said they were very sorry – that they could not blame you, and that they could not stop it, in as much as the whiskey sellers were too strong for them, numbering more than two to one, and it became impossible for them to do anything. The Officers also say that nothing under the sun can remedy the evil, but a total break up. You can have no idea of the extent it is carried too, drinking and shouting all night, almost under the walls of the Commanding Officer, and he at the same time guarded by a chain of sentinels to keep off the improperly named, civil authority. I considered it dangerous to go out after night, one hundred yards from the Post. I hope for the sake of the Army and humanity, that you will have the Post broken up immediately, or as soon as practicable.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servt
B[ennett]. Riley
Lt. Col., Comd [2nd Infantry Regt]

Col. W. J. Worth
Comm[ander of] F[orces]
Fla. Terr.
Current Location:
back in the swamp
Current Mood:
awake awake
Current Music:
rain on the roof
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