Seminole (November, 1817-October, 1818 and
December, 1835-August, 1842) - This conflict began with the massacre of
about 50 Americans near an army post in Georgia -- climax to a series of raids
against American settlements by Seminole based in Spanish
General Edmund P. Gaines, Indian commissioner of the area, attempted
countermeasures but soon found himself and his force of 600 Regulars confined to
Fort Scott, Alabama by the Seminole. War Department instructions to Gaines had
permitted the pursuit of
Florida but, had forbidden interference if
took refuge in Spanish posts.
Major General Andrew Jackson, who was ordered to
take over the operation, chose to interpret Gaines' instructions as sanctioning
a full-scale invasion of the Spanish colony. He organized a force of about 7,500
volunteers, militia, subsidized Creek Indians, and Regulars, and invaded Florida with
part of thin force in the spring of 1818.
Jackson destroyed Seminole camps, captured
Pensacola (capital of Spanish Florida) and other Spanish strongholds, and
executed two British subjects, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, accused
of inciting and arming the Indians. These activities threatened American
relations with Great Britain and jeopardized negotiations with Spain pertinent
to cession of Florida (Adams-Onis Treaty, 1819). Eventually the British were
mollified and a compromise agreement was reached with the Spanish under which
American forces were withdrawn from Florida without repudiating the politically
popular Jackson. As for the Seminole problem, it was temporarily allayed but by
no means solved.
In the Treaties of Payne's Landing in 1832 and Fort Gibson in 1833, the Seminole
had agreed to give up their lands, but they refused to move out.
arrest and release of Osceola, their leader, in 1835 Seminole depredations
rapidly increased. These culminated on December 28th in the massacre of Captain
Francis L. Dade's detachment of 330 Regulars enroute from Fort Brooke in Tampa to Fort King
in Ocala - a disastrous
loss for the small, Regular force of 600 men in Florida. Brigadier General
Duncan L. Clinch, commanding Fort King, took the offensive immediately with 200
men and on December 31, 1835 defeated the Indians on the Withlacoochee River.
The War Department, meanwhile, had ordered Brigadier General Winfield Scott,
commander of the Eastern Department, to Florida to direct operations against the
Seminole. Most of the hostilities had occurred in General Gaines' Western
Department, but the War Department expected impending troubles in
Texas to keep
Gaines occupied. Nevertheless, Gaines had quickly raised about 1,000 men in New
Orleans and, acting on his own authority, embarked for Florida in February 1836.
Even after learning of Scott's appointment, Gaines seized supplies collected by
Scott at Fort Drane and pressed forward until heavily attacked by Seminole. He
succeeded in extricating his force only with help from Scott's troops. Shortly
thereafter Gaines returned to New Orleans.
Completion of preparations for Scott's proposed three-pronged offensive
converging on the Withlacoochee River were delayed by Gaines' use of Scott's supplies,
expiration of volunteer enlistments, and temporary diversion of troops to deal
with the Creeks who were then on the warpath in Georgia and Alabama. Before the campaign could get underway, Scott was recalled to
Washington to face charges of dilatoriness and of casting slurs on the fighting
qualities of volunteers. Beginning in December,1836, Major General Thomas S. Jesup carried out a series of small actions against the
Seminole, and in
September, 1837 Osceola was captured. Colonel Zachary Taylor decisively defeated
a sizeable Indian force near Lake Okeechobee in December, 1837.
After Taylor's expedition no more large forces were assembled on either side.
Numerous small expeditions were carried out chiefly by Regular troops commanded
successively by Jesup, Taylor, and Brigadier General Walker A. Armistead, and
many posts and roads were constructed.
Colonel William J. Worth finally conceived a
plan which consisted of campaigning during the enervating summer seasons with
the object of destroying the Indian's crops. This plan was successful in driving
a sufficient number of Seminole from their swampy retreats to permit official
termination of the war on May 10, 1842.
During the long and difficult campaign some 5,000 Regulars had been employed
(including elements of the 1st, 2d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Infantry) with a
loss of nearly 1,500 killed. Nearly 20,000 volunteers also participated in the
war which cost some thirty-five million dollars and resulted in the removal of
some 3,500 Seminole to the