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Withlacoochee, Oct. 13-17, 1836

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Governor Call's Failed Campaign: 4th and Final Assault on the Withlacoochee

During the first year of the war there were four attempts at driving the Seminoles away from the Withlacoochee River. All failed.

General Duncan L. Clinch had just started the first campaign and left his plantation, when his force was ambushed while trying to cross the river on New Year's Eve. The battle exhausted his ammunition and supplies where he decided he could not continue, and returned home. The term of enlistment for the Florida volunteers had expired, so he suddenly found a large part of his force wanting to go home. The campaign was aborted when it barely got off the ground.

General Clinch

Major Dade was actually part of this first campaign, because his troops were going to Fort King to resupply what had been taken by Clinch for his march.

Less than two months later was the campaign of General Edmund P. Gaines. He was the commander of the military district that included the west side of Florida. He actually had orders to move out to the west from where he was in Louisiana, but decided to delay it, and make a strike against the Seminoles. His was actually the first large army to move through Seminole territory since Major Dade was killed, and buried Dade and his men.

General Gaines

Reaching Fort King and finding not much to resupply his army, Gaines decided to return to Tampa Bay and make a strike against the Seminoles along the way. The Army ended up under siege for about 10 days along the Withlacoochee River at Camp Izard (below) .

General Winfield Scott, just arrived in Florida to take command of the forces and orchestrate his idea of a strike against the Seminoles. Scott was furious at Gaines' involvement in the war, and considered it interfering with his own plans. So Scott withheld support to Gaines who was surrounded by 1,500 Seminole Warriors in a crude encampment on the Withlacoochee. Finally both Gaines and the Seminoles decided they had enough and wanted to talk peace, but the peace talks were aborted by relief from General Clinch, whose soldiers fired on the negotiating Seminoles.

The result of Gaines' campaign was that it accomplished little, and set the Army into its own internal feud with Gaines and Scott battling it out with a congressional hearing over the debacle.

General Scott, known as "Old Fuss and Feathers"

Scott's grandiose plans were not any better, and lacked any understanding of the Florida terrain and the opposition that he was up against. His idea of three armies converging in the Withlacoochee were a total failure. None of the Armies ever found each other. One Army column quit, and the other ended up lost in unmapped terrain.

The east column of Scott's command under General Eustis crossing the Ocklawaha. I never understood why they are getting their feet wet if there is a perfectly good bridge next to them.

So the final attempt to assault the Withlacoochee was made by Governor / General Richard K. Call October 13-17, 1836. He became commander of the forces in Florida in the interim between Scott and the arrival of General Thomas S. Jesup. Call's campaign was to just strike at the Indians. His failure came from lack of supplies, and a slow moving Army that could not keep up with the Seminoles. He did reach the Withlacoochee, but found that high waters made crossing impossible where he had planned. Call became very ill which hampered his leadership command and movement of the army.

Governor / General Call

Giving another try at striking at the Seminoles, Governor Call started another campaign the next month when he was resupplied with more forces. Included among the new troops were the Creek Indian regiment from Alabama. This campaign resulted in the Battle of Wahoo Swamp, which also ended in failure for Call. He had once again failed to have any major victory against the elusive Seminoles. And once again, his army was again short of supplies and starving.

Governor Call's former friend, comrade in arms, commanding general, and now President of the United States, andrew jackson, was critical of Call's campaign and ordered that General Thomas Jesup, US Army Quartermaster, to take command of the forces in Florida. Call was more than willing to pass the command to General Jesup in December.

General Gaines' command comes to the Withlacoochee River and finds the remains of the bridge still smoldering after being burned by the Seminoles.

The Army did not actually penetrate the interior of the Cove of the Withlacoochee until 5 years later in 1841 under the command of Colonel William J. Worth. The Army had several campaigns that attempted to round up the Seminoles in the Cove of the Withlacoochee, and they all failed. By the time they actually did get to explore and search the Cove in 1841, the Seminoles were long gone and they didn't find much.
Current Location:
the hammock
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
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