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Okeechobee 170 years later

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Christmas Day will be the 170th anniversary of the Battle on the northern shore of Lake Okeechobee.

On one side was 1200 soldiers under Colonel Zachary Taylor with a large number of Missouri Militia who made their only major claim to fame during the war by being wiped out at this battle.

On the Seminole side was Abiaka/Sam Jones with Wildcat/Coacoochee, Alligator, and Halleck Tustenuggee.

As far as battles go, the result of this one was pretty much inconsequential. But it did firmly confirm Taylor's reputation as a good tactical commander, and earned him the general's star and command of the forces in Florida the following year.

If you want to determine who won the battle, tactically it would have been the U.S. forces because they drove the Seminoles/Miccosukee from the ground and gained the hammock.

But for the Seminoles and Miccosukee, they consider it a victory for them as well. Mainly because they inflicted heavy casualties upon the soldiers; more wounded than any other battle, and number of killed second only to Dade's Battle. (Join us at Dade Battlefield this weekend for the reenactment of that one.) The Indians set up a trap for the soldiers, and they took the bait and entered the killing field.

As far as importance of battles go, I consider Dade's Battle more significant than this. But when the Seminoles & Miccosukee remember the war, the battle they like to talk about the most is this one. They seem to think that this battle was more significant than Dade's. Why is that?

Well for one thing, in the Seminole & Miccosukee culture, their memories and stories are tied to geographical locations. That is one reason why they were adamant about refusing to go to Oklahoma. The Seminoles still live around Okeechobee 170 years later. They have not been driven away. This battle serves as a reminder to them that they have resisted and remain here today. They can see the shores of Lake Okeechobee every day if they wish.

Dade Battlefield was in Seminole territory and part of the reservation defined in 1823. Both Jumper and Abraham had their towns nearby. But the Seminoles have not lived up there for generations. Although Dade was a victory for them, they do not live there anymore. Okeechobee is the battlefield in their current home ground that is a physical reminder of the war and their fight to stay in Florida.

(Sorry folks; on the road and no graphics to add this time.)
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