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The Unforgiving Land and the Third Seminole War

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Title:
The Unforgiving Land and the Third Seminole War
Creator:
Pyles, Stephen
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Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural land ( jstor )
Boats ( jstor )
Crops ( jstor )
Everglades ( jstor )
Government officials ( jstor )
Land economics ( jstor )
Soldiers ( jstor )
Swamps ( jstor )
War ( jstor )
White people ( jstor )
Florida--Everglades
Relations with Seminole Indians
Seminole War, 3rd (1855-1858)
Genre:
Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Notes

Abstract:
This paper discusses the settlement of white homesteaders throughout the southern portion of the Florida peninsula, and the subsequent effect this settlement had on white-Seminole relations, and the Third Seminole War. More specifically, it examines two of the most influential acts implemented by federal administrators in order to expedite and encourage this settlement. The paper builds upon the observations of other authors and explores in detail the various roles the Florida government played, either intentionally or inadvertently, in initiating war between the Seminoles and white settlers. The second purpose of the paper is to examine the important role land played in not only encouraging settlers through the economic and agricultural opportunities it provided, but also in determining the outcome of the Third Seminole War. The terrain and environment present in the Everglades is unlike that of anywhere else in the world, therefore most soldiers and military officers were unprepared for exploring and scouring its land in search of elusive Seminoles. Focusing on the challenges the Florida frontier presented to prospective settlers and the U.S. military will illuminate the important role land played in shaping not only the outcome of the war, but in determining the course of Florida history. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 3, 2011 magna cum laude. Major: History
General Note:
College/School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
General Note:
Advisor Jack E. Davis

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Stephen Pyles . Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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1 The Unforgiving Land and the Third Seminole War Stephen Pyles University of Florida Department of History April 5, 2011

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2

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3 Acknowledgements Professor Jack Davis, University of Florida Professor Howard Louthan, University of Florida James Cusick, University of Florida Smathers Library Casey Pyles Vicki Kaikaka

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4 Table of Contents Acknowledgements -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Introduction --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5 Section 1: The Unwelcoming Florida Terrain ---------------------------------------------------------11 Section 2: Tension Created by the Arme d Occupation Act -----------------------------------------19 Section 3: From Sawg rass to Riches -------------------------------------------------------------------35 Section 4: Fortifying the Wetlands ---------------------------------------------------------------------42 Conclusion --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------50 Bibliography ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------53

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5 According to historical legend, the final episode of long enduring conflicts between the Seminole Indians and white settlers of Florida began with a rather trivial incident. In December of 1855 a small survey detachment from Fort Myers under the command of Lieutenant George Hartsuff containing six mounted men, two foot soldiers, and two teamsters was ordered by 1 As Hartsuff embarked on his expedition he was reminded to treat any Indians he encountered with kindness, and to avoid provoking any sort of attack. Throughout the expedition the scouting party discovered that several f orts, including Fort Simon Drum and Shackelford, had been burned. Despite these disturbing signs, Hartsuff and his men continued to explore the area. On the night of December 17, the group encamped within three miles of Billy Bowlegs village and, upon inspection the following morning, discovered that the village had been abandoned, with untended vegetables growing in the place of once cultivated gardens. One member of the group, Private William Baker, later stated some of the party 2 Upon leaving the village, the men received orders to return to Fort Myers and decided to make camp in a small grove of pines where they thought they would be able to comfortably relax before the return trip. H artsuff and his men would have undoubtedly been excited about the opportunity to return to the safe confines of the fort and depart from the swampy boundaries of the Everglades; many, however, never got the chance. Around 5 a.m. the following morning, a wa r party of approximately thirty Seminoles, decorated in their traditional black and white egret feathers, initiated an attack against Hartsuff and his men. Amidst much 1 Tequesta 22, 9. 2 Ibid., 10.

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6 whooping and yelling, the Seminoles opened fire on the unsuspecting camp. Several of Ha were able to pick up their arms and hold their position. When the fighting was all but over, the mules, horses, and wagons had all been destroyed; four men ha d been killed, four others wounded, and three escaped, including Hartsuff himself. The U.S. government had been pushing for another war with the Seminoles, and Billy Bowlegs and his warriors had finally pushed back. 3 Whether or not this event involving ban ana plants actually happened is open for debate, as the primary account given by Private Andrew P. Canova seems rather romanticized. It is more likely that this attack was prompted by the desire of the Seminole band to do something that would impress their own people and simultaneously strike fear into the hearts of white settlers and government officials alike. The accuracy of these details, however, are irrelevant. What is important is that this particular attack on Hartsuff and his men helped jumpstart the third and final physical conflict between the Seminoles and whites settlers of Florida. The conflict that insistence on removing the Seminoles from the state of Flo rida, but also the Seminoles resistance to these efforts. This particular incident changed the pattern of these efforts and should therefore not be dismissed lightly. The conflicts that took place on December 20, 1855 had not been initiated in 1855, but r oughly forty years earlier in 1814. Indian historian Grant Foreman wrote that there is perhaps no blacker chapter in our dealing with the Indians than that relating to the removal of the 3 Andrew P. Canova, Life and Adventures in South Florida (Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885), 12 13.

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7 Seminoles from Florida. 4 Pressure placed on the Seminoles during th e search for escaped slaves to Spanish Florida, and the expansion of the plantation system deeper into south Georgia and Alabama in 1814 eventually led to the First Seminole War. While the shortest of the three, this war was important in that it led to th U.S. government, as well as most white settlers, believed that the purchase of the Florida territory in 1819 justified the removal of the Seminoles. This was demonstrated on September 18, 1823 when U.S. officials forced the Seminole leaders to sign the treaty of Moultrie Creek. The principal features of this treaty included the Seminole agreement to prevent runaway slaves from entering their country, as well as their compliance to move their v illages southward and to the poorer swampland of the interior. 5 Many Seminoles, however, were reluctant to pick up and move. Prior to the treaty, they had occupied some of the finest and most profitable land in Florida. The impoverished and malnourished land the Seminoles had been assigned for resettlement was insufficient for raising and herding the cattle they had become reliant upon. For most whites, the relocation of the Seminole Indians to other lands within the territory of Florida was seen as a t emporary solution; their ultimate goal had always been complete Indian removal. President Andrew Jackson embraced this view, regarding the Seminoles as an obstacle to Florida expansion and as a potential threat to white settlers. To eliminate this threat Congress passed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830. This ambitious legislation called for all Indian tribes east of the Mississippi to be relocated to new lands west of the Mississippi River. 6 Many prominent Seminole leaders and their people conti nued to refuse to move out west. This resistance exacerbated the animosity between white settlers and the Seminoles of Florida. In a 4 Grant Foreman, Indian Removal (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1953), 315. 5 Ibid., 319. 6 U.S. Government, The Indian Removal Act of 1830 http://www.civics online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html

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8 final desperate attempt to get the Seminoles to relocate, the U.S. government implemented the May of 1832. This treaty gave the Seminole Indians three years to leave for the West. To the residents and military men of Florida, the presence of several prominent native military leaders, such as Osceola, in the territory of Florida by 1835 would hav e served as a fairly clear indication that another war on the Florida frontier was all but inevitable. During the conflict known as the Second Seminole War, some three thousand Seminoles were removed from the territory of Florida through various means. 7 However, when the war finally came to an end on May 10, 1842, the goal of complete Seminole removal had still not been attained. It was decided that the roughly two hundred and forty Seminole Indians remaining in Florida were to be dealt with peacefully in hopes that they would willingly join their kinfolk on western reservations. The Second Seminole War was important in that it opened large new tracts of Florida territory for whites, as well as reaffirm ed within settlers and government officials a sense and attitude of rightful entitlement. The First and Second Seminole Wars served as a demonstration to white settlers that the Seminoles were unwilling to leave their land without a fight. The tenacity and bravery with which the Seminoles fought to remain on their homeland should have indicated to government and military officials alike that the attempts of peaceful resettlement through bribes and other monetary gains would not be enough to remove those Seminoles who still called Florida home. Few people realize the devastating effects these wars had on the United States, both physically and economically. The Second Seminole War alone cost the government roughly thirty million dollars and today stands as the longest and most expensive Indian war ever foug ht 7 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of T he Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 2.

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9 by the United States. The wars, for the most part, were fought over the lands where the Native Americans, and the free and enslaved African Americans whom they were protecting, known as Black Seminoles, resided. Because the Seminole Wars were quickly followed by the seemingly much more important American Civil War, today these conflicts appear to have been all but forgotten outside of Florida. However, the fact remains that many Florida towns owe their names, if not their entire existence, to the Semi nole Wars, and the profound impact these conflicts had not only on the settlement of Florida, but the exploration and plotting of the land throughout the State as well. Despite these important developments, very little research has been conducted regardin g the Third Seminole War and its participants, and the lack of interest in these conflicts has left several important questions unanswered. Many authors, such as James Covington, have gone into great depth examining what they believe were many of the underlying causes of the war. These authors acknowledge the fact that federal administrators sought programs that would attract families to the t erritory of Florida, but tend to ignore the prevalent effects these programs eventually had on creating conflicts and heightening tensions between white settlers and Seminoles. The first purpose of this essay will be to build upon these observations and ex plore in detail the various roles the Florida government played, either purposely or inadvertently, in initiating war between the Seminoles and white settlers. Its principle contribution to the historiography regarding this topic will be to regard the war not as something that was brought about by conflicts between white settlers and territory and taking advantage economically of all the Florida frontier had to offe r. The second purpose of this thesis will be to examine the important role land played in determining the out come of the Third Seminole War. The Florida terrain played a very

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10 important, if not principal, role in shaping the way the war was fought. Des pite this, very few authors have chosen to examine these important effects. The absence of large significant battles and major characters has caused many historians to obscure the importance of the Third Seminole War and the effect it had on shaping Flori several have also failed to emphasize the importance of terrain leaves many questions unanswered. Examining the various influences that the climate and terrain had on governmental decisions as well as military tactics are vital factors to understanding the outcome of the war, and are thus important factors to address in this paper. Focusing on the various challenges the frontier presented to prospective settlers and U.S. military officials will illuminate the important role land played in shaping not only the outcome of the war, but in determining the course of Florida history.

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11 Section 1: The Unwelcoming Florida Terrain Seminoles allowed the white male property owning citizens [of Florida] to concentrate on 8 The end of the Second Seminole War in 1842 also prompted white settlers and the Florida government to shift their att ention from that of the Seminole Indians to the Everglades they inhabited. Despite having already participated in two major conflicts with the Seminoles by 1842, white settlers and explorers still knew very little about the interior of southern Florida. This lack of information may have played an important role in the decision to allow the Seminoles to remain temporarily Seminoles totally removed, there seemed n o great urgency to do it, and for the better part of six years Florida remained at peace. The wetlands and marshes of south Florida, in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, were the staging area s for the third and final conflict between white settlers and the Seminoles. The unique physical traits and atmosphere of this Seminole safe haven turned out to be an obstacle in a way that territory to the north where the first wars occurred was not. When one reflects upon the damage done to the southern half of t he Florida terrain during the First and Second Seminole Wars, it is not surprising that most whites looking to migrate War between the Seminole Indians and whi tes of Florida had terrible economic and social recalled how the once promising frontier now contained, 8 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 142.

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12 Belted trees stripped of foliage standing like masts of booming, rail fences rotting to earth, houses abandoned in [the] process of construction, clambering wild vines half binding some task given up, devastated and deserted e new graves of the massacred in the gloom of the primeval wilderness. 9 Despite these bleak conditions and the presence of Seminoles scattered throughout the area, the Florida government still looked to take advantage of the economic benefits it believed the Florida frontier offered. As early as 1843, the state began to send surveyors down the coast of Florida with orders to map out and report what they discovered. Following the Second Seminole War, Indians were no longer the principal impediment to the expansion of white settlement. explorations. Many were conducted by military officers like Colonial Munroe, as well as surveyors and historians like Bucking ham Smith. 10 These explorations, most of which were attended with great difficulty, were well documented and preserved. The memoirs of these men have provided historians with a detailed description of the Florida terrain, as it was then, and the daily obs tacles its Seminole inhabitants and white intruders were forced to encounter on a daily basis. There are a multitude of sources that discuss the various aspects of this swampy frontier, but none are as accurate or provide as much dept h and detail as Joseph s 11 Ives, who was an American army officer, explorer, surveyor and cartographer, was given direct orders by the secretary of war, Jefferson Davis, to write and produce this memoir in April of 1856, roughly 9 Ellen Call Long, Florida Breezes (Jacksonville: Ashmead brothers, 188 2), 209. 10 Marjory S. Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (St Simons Island, Ga.: Mockingbird Books, 1974), 194. 11 J.C. Ives, Memoir to Accompany A Military Map of the Peninsula of Florida, South of Tampa Bay (New York: Book & Job Printer, 1856).

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13 four months after fighting had broken out during the Third Seminole War. Using the latest and most reliable information from recent re connaissance s along the coast and interior area of the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp, Ives was able to create an extensively detailed map of the southern portion of the Florida peninsula. Financial incentives and the potential settlement of whites played an important role in the initiation of these expeditions. However, few people other misunderstood by the military as well. Consequently, expeditions, like the one conducted by Ives, were essential to military leaders and their sold iers if they were to have any success against the Seminoles and open new territory to white settlement. In an early attempt to significantly increase the population of Florida, leaders in the territory began the difficult and daunting task of selling Flori da to skeptical settlers. One of the later known as David Yulee ). In a letter to the National Intelligencer Levy fervently outlined some of the advantages of life in Florida : in circumstance, it is, beyond comparison, the paradise of earth. There are no freezing winters to be provided against by close houses, magazines of supplies for em bargoed and more productive, and industry more quickly blessed with accumulation and plenty than is conceivable to the inhabitant of a less fortunate region. 12 Levy u nderstood that land was one of the most enticing aspects of the Florida frontier for white settlers. Florida, howev er, would be tougher to sell tha n he originally thought. Not only had years of negative press made settlers wary of the Florida frontier, b the territory differed from those accounts given by Ives and other surveyors. According to these 12 Nat ional Intelligencer Oct. 1842, quoted in John Missal and Mary Lou Missal, The (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2004), 209.

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14 13 What Ives, along with many ot her explorer s of the Everglades, discovered was the opposite of what most white settlers might have hoped for. establish important and profitable plantations, the agricultural expectations for the southern portion of Florida looked rather unpropitious. 14 In his memoir Ives briefly described the and oak hammocks, connected and entirel 15 Most white settlers had never experienced swampy terrain like that found in the Everglades, and would have struggled to grow and produce crops there. This uniquely remote region had served as an adeq uate location for the Seminole Indians, but even then only for short periods at a time. Even for an indigenous group like the Seminoles, who had become accustomed to living off of the land, surviving in the Everglades was a formidable challenge. The natu ral resources located within the Everglades provided the Seminoles with enough food and shelter to survive while on the run, but would not have served as an adequate place to grow a profitable crop or raise a typical Anglo American family during the ninete enth century. Sampson Forrester, an African American who lived for two years among the Seminoles from 1839 to 1841, offered a good account of typical Seminole life in the Everglades. In the center of the swamp, is the council ground. South of this within two miles, is the guide their pursuers. Within the swamp are many pine islands, upon which the villages are located. They are susceptible of cultivation; and between the m is a cypress swamp, 13 Breese, To authorize draining of Everglades in Florida (Senate Report N o. 242, 30 th Congress, 1848), 1. 14 Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003), 30. 15 Ives, Memoir to Accompany 25 26.

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15 the water from two to three feet deep. The Indians rely principally upon their crops, which, though small, add much to their comfort. Corn, pumpkins, beans, wild potatoes, and cabbage palmetto, afford subsistence. 16 The remote tree i slands located throughout the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp that Forrester refers to were the only suitable location where any type of wholesome and beneficial crops could be grown. Fluctuating water levels, however, often prevented most of these islan ds from serving as a reliable location for consistent growth every year. The few remaining Seminoles who had been pushed to live in the Everglades made the best of what they were given. According to historian Marjory Stoneman Douglas, they ate what every body around the Everglades had always eaten: 17 For vegetables they could count on only the most basic crops, including beans, squash, corn, and cabbage. Above e verything else, their most important and and could easily be identified by the small yellow and orange cone like flowers at its base. The most vital part of the plant was its root, which the Seminoles grated, squeezed, and sifted into 18 Perpetual wetness in most places, san dy soil in drier areas, and diminished sunlight in jungle like hammocks of the Everglades made growing more profitable crops like cotton and tobacco nearly impossible. For these reasons and others the Everglades should have been of very little desire econ omically and agriculturally for future white settlers. For those dauntless settlers who elected to move themselves and their families into the swampy confines of the Everglades, transportation quickly became their biggest obstacle and 16 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 7. 17 Douglas, The Everglades 151. 18 Ibid., 31.

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16 principle priority. Throughout the First and Second Seminole Wars the most difficult and daunting task, besides scouting and plotting the marshes, had become importing supplies and forage to those troops located deep within the swamp itself. The task often proved so difficu lt that it became the major cause for the disbanding of several important forts, including Fort Josephine near modern Highlands County. 19 The marshes and thick hammocks of the Everglades coupled with the climate made traveling into the interior post very d ifficult for mules, horses, and men. For this reason, many of the forts were built near navigable waterways like the Caloosahatchee River. Unfortunately, this also made the forts more vulnerable and susceptible to Seminole attacks. Ultimately, however, it became necessary to establish a larger portion of the forts near the interior as well, especially in areas like the Big Cypress swamp. Shipping ammunition, rations, and forage to these remote locations was difficult in the dry seasons and nearly imposs ible during the rainy season. Indeed, one of the most frustrating aspects about trying to navigate the terrain was the fluctuating water levels. Trails and streams that were easily navigable during one part of the year could be impossible to find during another. On top of that, land often rapidly disappeared into the low lying marshes, or water would suddenly transform into thick heavy mud. Ives gave a particularly detailed account of one explorer who experienced the treacherous terrain of the Everglade s. In the year 1855, Captain Dawson, of the First Artillery, made two explorations into the Everglades. The first of these expeditions took place in March, which is one of the driest months of the year. Upon entering the Everglades, the Dawson party dea lt with very little water, but soon found themselves walking through increasingly deeper 19 Knetsch, 152.

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17 20 Two days into the expedition, the men began to experience many of the crippling effects of the Florida terrain. During the latter part of the second day, long mud banks were encountered, in which the men sank to their middles while dragging their boats. The course through the intervening ponds was greatly obstructed by fungi, clumps of trees and b ushes, and innumerable keys could be seen in all directions; the ground everywhere, however, being boggy and wet. The Third day, the water became in many places too shoal to float the canoes; the breaks between the ponds were of greater extent, and the me n were annoyed by the sawgrass cutting their feet and limbs while forcing a way along. 21 More than one of the scouting parties that entered the Everglades considered cutting through the sawgrass and mud banks to create a clear and direct route for canoes. However, the amount of time and manpower required to complete this task, made those considering it question whether or not its undertaking would be practicable, and if accomplished, whether or not the rapid growth of vegetable matter throughout the Evergl ades would cause the path to become insignificant for future explorers and settlers. The sawgrass, clumps of mud, and vast waterways, all helped define the Everglades as both simple and unique. Men attempting to expose the secrets of its interior often suffered from the discomforts of the thundering rains, wet clothing, clouds of salt water, wet food, and sleeping in wet boats or on the wet ground. Ni ghts were cold, and eerily quiet save for the chirping of insects and the sound of the hammocks blowing in the wind. When they were not surrounded by water, the men pushed their boats with difficul ty through the slimy black muck. T heir limbs would have undoubtedly been bleeding from the cuts of sawgrass, and their bodies exhausted. Traveling through the E verglades took time. Ives recalls how it took him and his men roughly five days to travel six miles. 22 The slow movement of the men would have made them even 20 Ives, Memoir to Accompany 21. 21 Ibid., 21. 22 Ibid., 14.

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18 easier targets for the bloodthirsty mosquitoes and alligators that called the Everglades home. O ne of the most difficult aspects of traveling through the Everglades, however, was the similarity of its terrain Virtually every aspect of the Florida Everglades resembles another part. For men traveling through its waterways, minutes turned into hours, and hours into days, as long expeditions must have appeared to seemingly have gone nowhere. Despite these difficulties, practically the entire Third Seminole War was fought in the mpletely the Seminoles from the swampy confines of this murky area was indicative of its desire eventually to plot and populate the area with white settlers. Even if settlers had been able to somehow burn away the sawgr ass and soggy decaying vegetable mat ter, they would have been left with thousands of acres of rockwork, known as limestone, insufficient for growing crops. These factors seem to emphasize the fact that the motivation for white settlement, and the Third Seminole War, came from the encouragem ent of the government, and not from the natural benefits offered by the available land in the Everglades. In the eyes of many people there were fortunes to be made in southern Florida, and the only thing standing in their way was the annoying presence of a few hundred Seminole Indians.

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19 Section 2: Tension Created by the Armed Occupation Act When President John Tyler announced the termination of military action in the territory of Florida on May 10, 1842, the Second Seminole War officially came to an end. Throughout this seven year conflict, some three thousand Seminole Indians had been captu red, forced from their homes at gunpoint, and removed from Florida by various means to strange lands nothing like the one they had left. This war alone cost the government somewhere between a staggering thirty and forty million dollars, and saw nearly fif teen hundred valiant American soldiers lose their lives. White settlers and government officials alike hoped that the end of the war would help convince the roughly two hundred and forty Seminole Indians still remaining in Florida to abandon their homes a nd join their kinfolk in the West. 23 Military leaders like Colonel William J. Worth, however, knew that peaceful overtures would have little effect on these remaining Seminoles, and thus the Indians were also given temporary use of some land for hunting an d 24 (Figure 1) 25 23 James Covington, The Billy Bow legs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 2. 24 Ibid., 3 25 John Missall and Mary Lou Missall, Conflict (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2004), 215.

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20 Figure 1

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21 The Seminole Indians had not been the only people affected by the war. A large portion of across the territory. Furthermore, the threat and reality of Indi an hostilities had forced many potential immigrants and settlers to look elsewhere for new homes. Despite the slow influx of settlers into the Florida territory over this seven year period, government officials remained confident that, with the war over, Florida would soon join the potential acceptance into statehood. One of the most prominent was the question of who would pay for the extreme damage caused by the Second Seminole War. According to historians John 26 Residents of the territory were also concerned with who would be appointed to remove the remaining Seminoles in Florida. By this point, the Seminoles who still called Florida home had already withstood the pressures of war, disease, and hunger, all of which implied that they were unlikely to decide suddenly to move peacefully out West. To make matters even worse, mistrust was rampant between the people of eastern and western Florida. This lack of trust between the two regions of Florida led to proposals for the entry of two separate states or to not entering the into statehood was its population. By 1840, Florida still lacked an adequate number of residents to officially beco me a state. 27 In 1830, there were less than 35,000 people living in Florida, and about half of that number consisted of slaves brought into the territory by their owners. By 1840, 26 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 208 27 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003 ), 142

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22 that number had only increased by about 20,000 to somewhere around 55,000 p eople, most of who continued to settle in the upper portion of the peninsula. 28 The fertile lands in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Mississippi, and Alabama had attracted the vast majority of continental migratory settlers during this period and the Florida pen insula had been ignored. A few figures from the census records of 1830 and 1840 help demonstrate the vast difference in population growth over this period. 1830 1840 309,527 590,756 1,519,467 29 This slow progression was partially the result of damage caused by the war, but the presence of the Seminoles alone would have been enough to prevent most settlers from even contemplati ng the move. One has to also assume that the quality of the land and the unique atmosphere present in the Florida frontier also played an important role in decisions made by those settlers who opted to explore and settle the frontiers of lands out west an d further north. With many of these conditions in mind, the government and leaders of the territory looked to increase the appeal of Florida to potential settlers, and subsequently boost its population in the process. By 1840, federal administrators had begun to look for a way to balance the constant draining away of potential settlers to Texas and the developing West, and somehow attract families to the territory of Florida. Administrators were also forced with the daunting tasks of 28 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 208 29 James Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 The Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (July, 1961): 41.

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23 trying to defend a v ast frontier wilderness against an elusive enemy, developing and exploiting enormous lands and resources quickly and inexpensively, and trying to pressure or convince defiant Seminoles into moving west without provoking another long and costly war. 30 It is quite north of the Caloosahatchee River and West of the Kissimmee River where the Seminole Indians resided, would have continued to be completely ignore d by potential settlers during this time. In 1840, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri introduced a measure aimed toward stimulating settlement, which would later become known as the Armed Occupation Act. This measure intended to provide land, weapons, and food to p rospective settlers of Florida. In his introductory speech, the senator from Missouri made the following points: Armed occupation, with land to the occupant, is the true way of settling and holding a conquered country. It is the way which had been followed in all ages and in all countries from the time that children of Israel entered the promised land with the implements of husbandry in one hand, and the weapons of war in the other. From that day to this, all conquered countries have been prepared for this armed settlement: the enemy has been driven out of the field. He lurks to keep possession; and th e armed cultivator is the man for that. The blockhouse is the [T]he heart of the Indian sickens when he hears the crowing of the cock, the barking of the dog, the so und of an axe and the crack of the rifle. They are the true evidences of the dominion of the white man; these are the proof that the owner has come, and means to stay; and then they feel it is time for them to go. 31 Benton, like many others during this ti me, believed that the most effective way to remove the remaining Seminoles would be through the pressure of white settlement and familiarity. The act drew support from those who saw it as an alternative to the high costs of maintaining regular army person 30 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 1842 and Tequesta 53 (1993): 63. 31 Thomas H. Benton, Thirt (New York: Frederick Parker, 1856), 167 169.

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24 efforts, determined opposition by prominent Southerners was able to successfully defeat the measure. Benton accused these men of desiring the land for themselves, and of pre ferring the presence of soldiers to that of white settlers. 32 The measure was ignored for the next two years until the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842. As previously mentioned, the population in Florida by this time was still very low. There had announcement to cease military action in Florida, but nothing sufficient enough to settle the territory. Other measures of settlement were attempted before Congress again looked at for example, the United States Army attempted to promote some immigration into Central Florida. Under the leadership of Donald Stewart, a military sponsored steamboat full of white settlers sai River to Fort Mellon. 33 Unfortunately, most of the settlers under this plan became discouraged after the army had reduced its forces, closed many outposts, and failed to supply them with food hdrawal prompted many of these settlers to abandon the territory for safer, more accessible locations. This failed attempt at settlement also served to demonstrate that white settlers still relied rather heavily on soldiers for protection and supplies. A s has been established, not all members of Congress were excited about the potential settlement of Florida so quickly following the war. Delegate to Congress David Levy was one of these men. He understood that although the Second Seminole War had ended, much of the disrupted land was still in the hands of the Seminoles. It was foolish, Levy argued, to send susceptible unarmed settlers into the heart of Indian ter ritory. He believed it was ill advised to declare the Second Seminole War over when Seminole s were still conducting weekly raids on 32 Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 42 33 Letter of Donald Stewart, May 10, 1842, in Saint Augustine News May 28, 1842.

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25 introduce a slightly newer modified version of the Armed Occupation Act in June of 1842. According to the version present head of a family, or single man over 18 years of age, able to bear arms, who had made a section o cultivate at least five acres and live there for four years. 34 The act opened up roughly 200,000 acres of land south of present day Gainesville for settlement by anyone willing to risk the was a form consisting of a single shee t (Figure 2). 34 Congressional Document, Number 122, 27 Congress, 2 Session, 502.

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26 FIGURE 2

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27 Almost all of this newly available land was unsurveyed, and would require quite some time to properly cultivate and prepare for settlement. The unspoken idea behind the act was that a large contingent of hardy and attentive Indi an hating frontiersmen would populate the southern portion of the Florida peninsula and slowly force the Seminole inhabitants around them to move out West. Government officials also hoped that this blockade of white settlers would help prevent the escape of slaves southward and prohibit the hijacking of slave gangs. The only conditions limiting the selection of land were that recipients could not settle in Indian territory, on lands previously granted to others, within two miles of an active military post or on lands reserved for military purposes. School lands, which comprised the 16 th section of each township, were also excluded from settlement under the act. 35 Within six months of the expiration of the act, certain details concerning proof of settleme nt had to be presented to the Land Office. The necessary information included: date of crop cultivation, kind of crop, number of acres in cultivation, type of house, number and description of inhabitants, and proof of settlement. 36 The problem for most se ttlers was not meeting the requirements for proof of settlement, but traveling to appear in front of the tribunal to actually prove their compliance with the act. For white settlers, life on the frontier was difficult and dangerous enough without having t o abandon their crops and family to travel through often unsettled and dangerous territory to provide evidence of their settlement. Despite these meticulous demands, during the nine month period in which the law was in effect, 1,312 permits were issued, a nd settlers claimed roughly 189,440 of the 200,000 acres made available 35 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 64 36 Florida Herald July 24, 1843. Not all of the settlers were required to submit the necessary information at the same time. Such requests were staggered, and the section and deadline for data was advertised in Florida newspapers.

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28 by the act. 37 Of those settlers who attempted to gain permits during this time, only one hundred and twenty eight were annulled. The reasons for these annulments varied, but often stemmed from the fact that settlers had trouble coping with the Florida frontier wilder ness. Others, however, were denied access to their land for more legal matters, such as the land having already been owned by others, or the site being located within two miles of a military post. Almost all of the settlers were farmers or traders attemp ting to raise a variety of crops, including sugar, tobacco, coconuts, plantains, bananas, pumpkins, and citrus trees. Opinions regarding the success of the Armed Occupation Act varied during and after the period it was in effect. As far as the settlement of middle Florida was concerned, federal official six thousand persons into a virtually unknown, unsurveyed, and unpopulated district containing few or no roads an 38 Settlers were severely crippled by the heavy rains and at best primitive roads. Despite these obstacles, many were able to persevere through the difficulties, and demonstrate their bravery by establ ishing and settling their homes near the protected territory of Seminoles. Still, several years after the act had been put into effect, some government officials and settlers were unimpressed with the overall success of armed occupation. These men believ ed that the act had failed to create a determined band of hard fighting farmers who would be willing to fight to protect their land. Governor of Florida, Occupation Act hav e neither weapons nor the disposition to use them not one of ten appearing 37 Covington The Billy Bowlegs War 5 38 Ibid. 5

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29 39 He later attempted to summarize more accurately his opinion d suffice to break up and scatter the entire line of new settlements although tenfold their number, which, although, composed of occupants under the armed occupancy bill, have neither weapons, nor the disposition to use them, not one in ten appearing with 40 If the act is to be measured upon its ability to attract settlers successfully who were willing, or even capable, of defending their homes against what few Indians were left in Florida, then Brown is right to have labeled it a f ailure. Most of the homesteaders who settled within the territory had neither the resources nor the strength to repel even the most minor of Seminole assaults, proving that half of Florida was still under the control of roughly three hundred Seminoles eve n after a seven year war and the subsequent invasion of white settlers. Many of the settlers, despite their agricultural intentions, had by passed valuable agricultural lands and settled in lands that were not productive. A letter written to the Jacksonvi lle Florida Republican of May 9, 1850 situation in the following words: At the cessation of Indian hostilities, the settlers under the Armed Occupation Act located for the most part on or near the main routes through the interior of the country south of the line designated for such settlers, and the few who turned towards the coast and rivers sought rather for places for towns, healthy residence, islands, etc., than for rich hammock land. To verify this, I need only to mention the fact that there is one hammock of fifty square miles without a permit on it; another of thirty, and yet another of fifteen square miles within the limits herein above mentioned. It is true there were some permits taken out upon the Cry stal River, Homossassa, Cheesahowitska, Wekiwachee Rivers, but this may be accounted for by the fact that they were upon one of the routes of travel south. 39 Governor Thomas Brown to George W. Crawford. Secretary of War, November 29, 1849; Journal of the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Florida (Tallahasse e, 1850), 27 28. 40 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 76

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30 These settlers were, however, of the class who had no experience in planting, no intention of making a permanent settlement, and soon abandoned their places. 41 Clearly many of the adventurous men making their way down to Florida were inexperienced and unprepared for life on the frontier. In spite of these deficiencies, the Armed Occupation must be consid ered a success. Ultimately it achieved its goal of attracting settlers from nearby states, who might have otherwise chosen to settle elsewhere. It is important to note that the rapid influx of settlers not only helped Fl orida move a step closer toward st atehood, but also brought it closer to the brink of war. It was these pioneers who complained constantly about the Seminole Indian threat in Florida and finally forced a showdown by reluctant federal officials. Had these settlers not been enticed by the government to homestead within this less than ideal territory with legislation like the Armed Occupation Act, it is likely that the Seminoles would have been left alone, secluded amongst their isolated villages in and around the Everglades. The first maj or sign of tension created by the arrival of these new settlers began in July of 1849. Most Seminoles knew the territory of the reserve very well and were content to stay within its boundaries, but others roamed outside the unmarked boundary lines at thei r pleasure. The long Second Seminole War had greatly diminished any trust between the Seminoles and whites. Furthermore, it had made the Seminoles anxious to remain on peaceful terms with their new neighbors. They knew they could not afford to fight ano ther war to defend what little land they had left. The series of conflict that broke out in 1849 between the two groups is representative of the tension that had been created by the new influx of settlers within the Seminole territory, as well as the dete rmination and desire of the Seminoles to maintain peace. 41 Florida Republican May 9, 1850, quoted in James Covington The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 5

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31 provided for them and a protective bent or neutral zone had been established between the Seminoles and settle rs, both groups sensed that the whites would be content only when 42 By 1845, white settlers were beginning to grow anxious. Some twenty citizens of Orange County sent a petition to Congress complaining a bout Indians roaming beyond the boundaries of the reserve and allegedly burning fields and stealing hogs and cattle. Upon receiving these petitions, Governor William Moseley wrote to fully if they can, 43 Despite these complaints, and the request made my Governor Moseley, very little was done concerning the removal of the Seminoles at this point. In July of 1849, there occurred two acts of violence and subsequen t punishment, which demonstrated to all the remarkable determination of the Seminoles to keep peace, and also the themselves to create disorder and declare war on the white settlers of Florida. Creating disorder they believed would be quite simple, all they had to do was make a few attacks on the exposed settlements just north of the reserve. They knew from prior experiences that the whites would undoubtedly flee and demand the Seminoles be removed. On July 13, these five Indians attacked two men working in a field just outside of a tiny Indian River settlement near Fort Pierce. The Seminoles were able to successfully kill one man, but the other, William Russel l, was able to escape and warn the other settlers. Much like the Seminoles had predicted the settlers fled the area to a large vessel anchored in the middle of the Indian River. This attack upon white settlers outside the reserve alarmed the Seminole le ader Billy Bowlegs, who wished 42 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 9 43 Mosely to James Polk, December 29, 1848, Seminole Agency, 1846 55, Office of Indian Affairs, National Archives

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32 to stay in Florida and was, therefore, hesitant to give the whites an excuse for another war. He, however, was unable to prevent the second attack by these men. On July 17 the Indians struck again, this time killing two men and wounding two others while they were enjoying an evening meal near Charlotte Harbor. The news of the two attacks, much like the Seminoles had anticipated caused the white pioneers living along the boarders of the reserve to believe that a full scale Indian war had begun, forcing them to leave their homes, crops, and livestock. Most of these settlers fled to public and private fortified positions located in Tampa and St. Augustine. 44 The Armed Occupation Act had been created to bring settlers down to Florida for this very reason, and yet, when finally given a chance to act upon their agreement, the occupants fled. Many leading citizens of the area recognized the ineffectiveness of b oth the settlers who had been brought down as well as the military forces currently stationed throughout the territory, and wrote frantic letters to Washington demanding the dispatch of regular troops from nearby states into the danger zone of the frontier Here we can see how the encouragement of white settlement by the government led to conflicts among the Seminoles. While the actions of these five Seminoles, who were eventually caught and punished for their plans, cannot be considered representative of the feelings of all Seminoles within the territory at this time, it became rather evident from these conflicts that white settlers and the Seminoles could not live peacefully among one another. Despite the best efforts of Seminole leaders like Billy Bowl egs, some Indians remained bitter for the lives and land they had lost to these white settlers. That the Seminoles were so willing to offer their full cooperation in helping not only to capture, but also to punish these men for their crimes, proved their determination to maintain peaceful relations. It was also representative of the contentment the Seminoles felt for their land. 44 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 10 11.

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33 At least at this point, they felt no need to try and expand upon their territory or reclaim lost land. to maintain peace makes the beginning of the Third Seminole War only whites down to settle around the territory of Southern Florida, but also to raise and send in t roops amongst times of panic and confusion, helps to strengthen the claim that war would have been unlikely had it not been for their tenacious assertiveness. As mentioned earlier, one of the goals of the Armed Occupation Act was to create an armed conti ngent of brave settler s to hold the Indians in check. Throughout the history of advancing frontiers, there have been offers of free land to those brave enough to settle and live on it. Unfortunately for the Florida government and others interested in set tling the Florida Frontier, the men and women who made their way down the coast of Florida to begin their lives anew amongst the Seminoles were unprepared for the types of hardships they would encounter. In fact, according to historian Joe Knetsch, of tho se men who were issued permits to come settle amongst the frontier during the Armed Occupation Act, none appeared on the rolls of the volunteers as recorded in the Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish American Wars. 45 The governme nt encouraged settlers to acquire homesteads in a frontier area with the Armed Occupation Act. They hoped that the settlement of these adventurous men would help boost economic revenue through the territory of Florida, and subsequently bring it one step c failure to extend protection to those who settled under its terms caused many to depart, thus preventing the formation of a permanent population. Moreover, the act failed to contribute a fighting force to expel the Seminoles from Florida. It did prove that, given the opportunity, 45 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 77

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34 whites were willing to make the move and take the risk of settlement near Seminoles. While the Armed Occupation Act played only a minor role in encouraged government officials to continue to look for solutions regarding the relocation of the Seminoles solutions that would eventually bring the Seminoles and their white neighbors to the brink of warfare.

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35 Section 3: From Sawg rass to Riches Despite economic depression and the presence of Seminoles, the population of Florida had reached nearly 58,000 by 1845. The territory was now eligible for statehood, which it attained on March 3, 1845, along with Iowa, the required free state needed to c ounterbalance the influence of adding another slave state to the Union. By 1850, the population of Florida had reached 87,445, up 30,000 from five years before. 46 Roughly one third of the population 39,000 to be exact constituted black slaves. Small farm ers looking to make a living in the southern half of the peninsula gradually learned that Florida agriculture was nothing like that of and a wide variety of insect pests and subtropical diseases all made this portion of Florida unique. The fertile red clay similar to that of Georgia ended just below Tallahassee. Planters ples failed year round, [and] corn [planted] in June [became] stunted and laden with useless miniature 47 There were new farming techniques to learn, and the labor was backbreaking. These challenges meant that Florida officials still had th eir work cut out for them in recruiting settlers. The people of the state of Florida recognized the need for government financed internal improvements some years before attaining statehood. In the constitution, adopted by the convention which assembled i n St. Joseph in 1838, Article XI, Section 2, declared: A liberal system of internal improvements being essential to the development of the resources of the country, shall be encouraged by the government of this State, and it shall be the duty of the Genera l Assembly, as soon as practicable, to ascertain by law proper objects of improvement in relation to roads, canals arid, navigable streams, and to 46 Gloria Jahoda, Florida: A History (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984), 70. 47 Ibid., 70.

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36 provide for a suitable application of such funds as may be appropriated for such improvements. 48 Unfortunatel y, upon entering the Union as a state in 1845, Florida still lacked many of these important essentials. To have any chance of building upon the settlement created by the Armed Occupation Act, Florida officials knew that they would need to offer more roads railroads, canals, and land. Nowhere in Florida was there more available land than in the Everglades. If the Everglades could be drained and settled by land hungry white settlers, then the government would not only dramatically increase the economic va lue of its new state, but also move one step closer toward finally moving the Seminoles to new lands out west. Therefore, in the same year Florida became a state, the legislature urged Congress to examine and survey the Everglades to determine the possibi lity of draining them. The legislature argued that the reclamation of this land would be of great interest not only to those who settled upon it, but to the entire state of Florida as well because of the economic opportunities it provided. 49 In fact, some went so far as to claim that once drained, the land in the Everglades would easily become the best rice and sugar lands in the nation. Senator James D. Westcott, Jr. of Florida quickly became one of the biggest supporters of draining the Everglades. On May 11, 1847, Westcott wrote the secretary of the treasury, Robert a report as to the probable practicability of the work [draining the Everglades] to be laid be fore 50 In his letter he cited the opinions of various army officers who had been on duty in the Everglades throughout the war. For many, the Second Seminole War 48 Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the Sate of Florida, 5 Session, 1851, XVI. 49 Marjor y S. Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (St Simons Island, Ga: Mockingbird Books, 1974), 194. 50 Ibid., 194.

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37 brought back nothing but violent images of bloody skirmishes an d unpleasant expeditions. However, soldiers also remembered the small array of fertile islands located throughout the Everglades. Many of these islands were very rich in soil and had been used by the Seminoles during the war to grow various crops, includ ing corn, beans, sugarcane, pumpkins, squash, melons, bananas, and tobacco. 51 Some of the wars most prominent military leaders offered their support toward the movement. General William S. Harney, for example, believed that by building enough canals, the 52 Walker must have found the opinions of Westcott and the veterans rather c onvincing, because only a week later, on June 18, he sent a letter to Buckingham Smith of St. Augustine regarding certain services to be performed in the Everglades. In a letter to the Treasury character and intelligence, who offices in Florida; and directed, also, to make a reconnaissance of the Ever Glades as a part of the public lands for the purpose of ascertaining the practicability and expediency of draining 53 54 But Smith was not an engineer, surveyor, or cartographer. F urthermore, he had never been to the Everglades and he had no exploration experience in such territory. 51 A History of the Everglades of Florida Carolina, 1947), 79. 52 Douglas, The Everglades 195. 53 Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 3. 54 Douglas, The Everglades 195.

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38 Billy Bowlegs and the other Seminole leaders had done their best to maintain peace and tranquility following the Indian attacks on white settlers in 1 849. Little did they know that Congress and Florida officials had been organizing a method of draining the Everglades in part to permanently remove the Seminoles, and to open the land up for whites. Bowlegs knew that d previously considered the land of the Everglades incapable of surveying, and therefore valueless to the white population. For this reason news of the potential draining of this swampy Indian safe haven would have come as a complete shock to him and his fellow Seminole leaders. Approximately one year after he had been commissioned by Walker to examine the Everglades, Buckingham Smith submitted a report on his inspection of the land. Essentially, he believed the water of the Everglades could easily be d rained. and its tributaries, and the other rivers emptying into Lake [Okeechobee], this lake must be tapped by such canals running into the [Caloosahatchee] on the one side and into the [Loxah atchee ] of the peninsula into the Glades. 55 In Smiths opinion, the draining of the Everglades was easily attainable. Despite a little bit of smell from the decayi ng vegetation, reclamation could be attended with no ill effects and only cost about $500,000. That Smith believed the draining would cost $500,000 is an important factor. It should be remembered that the Florida government was still looking for a way to pay its way out of debt for its expenses during the Second Seminole Wars. Once drained, it was cotton, rice, tobacco, sisal hemp, as well as citrus, bananas, figs, olives, pineapples, coconuts, and other tropical crops and fruits. 56 The economic surplus associated with the production of 55 Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 16. 56 Ibid.,155.

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39 Seminoles from this land. S 57 In fact, one of the reasons he believed removing the Seminoles had become so difficult was because of the land they had been given as a temporary reserve, the eastern and northern portions of the Big Cypress Swamp west to the coast around Port Charlotte. He argued that the location of the Seminole reserve had essentially prevented the settlement of the coast and the lower interior of southern Florida (essentially from present day Port Charlotte to Naples). Furthermore, he claimed that it had consolidated the Indians and placed them in the most defensible position against removal. Behind their reserve lay the Everglades, giving them a natural retreat on the one hand and a the western part of the Territory, nearer a dense white population, it is conceived their ulti mate removal west of the Mississippi could have been effected without the great delay, vast expense, 58 Others who had spent time in the Everglades maintained the opinion that originally led to the S eminoles being relocated towar d this particular area in the first place. Stephen Russell Mallory, the collector of customs at Key West ( and future confederate vice president), stated: My own impression is that large tracts of the Glades are fully as low as the surrounding sea, and can never be drained, that some lands around the margin may be reclaimed by drainage, or by dyking, but it will be found wholly out of the question to drain all the Everglades. As the country now is, healthy and mild, with its good lands in small parcels, wit h water at hand anywhere for irrigation, I think it offers inducements to small capitalists, men with from one to ten hands, to go there and raise fruits. Fruits will grow well there. 59 Despite the differing opinions of those who had spent time in the Ever glades, on September 57 Ibid., 34. 58 Dovell 62. 59 Senate Documents, Number 242, 3 0 Congress, 1 Session, 55.

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40 60 This act gave the Everglades area to the state of Florida and with it passed the success o f future settlement from the federal to state government, any future Indian wars notwithstanding. The Swamp and Overflowed Land Act gave to the states all federal lands that were more than half covered with water, but could potentially be drained and made useful. In Florida, that was a considerable amount of territory, some twenty million acres. Normally, the development of federal lands tended to be slow and sporadic. Under state control, those same lands might be made available for immediate sale. Su ddenly land that was considered totally worthless fell under the gaze of speculators and developers. Extravagant plans for draining the Everglades were formulated and submitted to the state legislature. In the eyes of many whites, there were fortunes to be made in southern Florida the only thing standing in their way was the annoying presence of a few hundred Seminole Indians, who, like water lying atop fertile ground, needed to be relocated. With all of these newfound opportunities opening up for them in the southern portion of the peninsula, the white people of Florida grew more and more impatient with the Seminole situation. Pressure mounted on politicians in both Tallahassee and Washington to remove the remaining Seminoles. The bloody Indian wars and massacres that took place throughout much of south Florida during the 19 th century help explain why the area remained so sparsely settled. Prior to the Armed Occupation Act of 1845 and the Swamp and Overflowed Land Act of 1850, white settlers had litt le reason to even contemplate the risky move to the Everglades and its surrounding areas. After the Second Seminole War, Indian troubles in Florida were minor, and the small number of Indians remaining in the territory took to the swamp for habitation. I n 1851, Governor Thomas 60 Ibid. 43.

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41 sealed to the knowledge of the world, t 61 These acts had turned territory that was once considered valueless, only fit for habitation by the Indians, into land that was now viewed as some of the most valuable in the state. Florida official s knew t he drainage of the Everglades would be a great undertaking, but the risks associated with removing the Seminoles and draining their land no longer seemed consequential. ] saw the Everglades no longer as a vast expanse of saw grass and water, but as a dream, a mirage of riches 62 61 Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Florida, 1851, 27. 62 Douglas, The Everglades 220.

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42 Section 4: Fortifying the Wetlands By 1854, the Seminoles had become desperately aware of the situation the government s acts had placed them in regarding white encroachment and pressure for resettlement. Billy Bowlegs and the Indian council also understood that the state of Florida had deliberately violated the agreement it had made with the Indians by allowing traders, hunters, and surveyors to invade the Seminole reservation near Lake Istokpoga and the neutral zones around it. Surveying parties, led by men like W.J. Reyes, deep within and around the Everglades served as a constant reminder to the Seminoles that simply remaining hidden among the hammocks would no longer maintain peace. The ever pressing thought of acquiring fertile new land was too much for white settlers and government officials to ignore. Military operations of surveying and exploring the southern part of the state accompanied homesteaders as they gradually continued to settle along the coasts and interior of Florida. Military posts at Ft. Brooke on Tampa Bay, at Ft. Myers on the Caloosahatchee, at Ft. Lauderdale on the New River, and at Ft. Dallas on the Miami River gave protection to the pioneers who were making their home on this southernmost frontier. 63 As eager settlers grew more impatient with the presence of the Seminoles, Florida officials were pressured into maki ng a decision. At first, the most important priority was to avoid another war with the Indians. The amount of money politicians in both Tallahassee and Washington were willing to spend on peacefully removing the few remaining Seminoles amounted to hundred s of thousands of dollars. Seven years of war had cost the government dearly. The War Department did not want to spend millions of dollars on another long embarrassing war in Florida. For the white settlers of Florida, fear was the greater concern. In 1849, it had only taken the subversive activities of five Seminole warriors to clear the frontier of 63 University of North Carolina, 1947), 106.

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43 whites. Land speculators knew that as long as the Seminoles were in South Florida, settlers would be reluctant to populate the area. In an attempt to put even more pressure on the Seminoles, the government decided to construct a number of new forts close to the Big Cypress Swamp, where many of the Seminoles lived. The continued presence of survey parties throughout the reserve also let Indians know that g overnment officials and white settlers were growing impatient. As companies of soldiers marched and boated around southern Florida, noting the locations of the Seminole camps and trails, Billy Bowlegs patience and desire to maintain peace similarly weaken ed. The constant pressures and invasive scouting by the army into the reserved lands had begun to take its toll on the Seminoles. Government officials had hoped that this increased pressure would force the Indians to admit that relocation was preferable to life in Florida, not force them to the brink of warfare. Cleary, as had happened in 1835, these officials had underestimated just how determined the Seminoles were to remain on what little land they had left. The direct encroachment on their lands com bined with the increasing number of military reconnaissance missions into the Big Cypress and along the coasts could only mean one thing to the Seminoles the whites were either going to force them to emigrate or push them into committing the first act of a ggression. As pressure mounted on the military to do more than just scout the land, the state legislature passed resolutions calling for the immediate removal of the Seminoles, and the number of troops in the state was increased. 64 The result was the Dece mber 20, 1855, Billy Bowlegs attack on the command of Lieutenant George Hartsuff. This attack sparked a campaign that would last three long, tedious years. The Third Seminole War was unique in that it was fought almost entirely in the Everglades and Big 64 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 149.

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44 C ypress swamp into which the Seminoles adroitly retreated deeper and deeper. Few Indian Wars were determined so thoroughly by the terrain they were fought on than were the Seminole Wars, in particular the Third. However, this was not the first time white settlers had been forced to engage in a conflict with Indians in a swampy environment. In the great Indian conflict known fought several important battles in and around the swamps of present day New England. The various Indian nations who participated in the war would frequently escape into the local swamps, where they would blend in with the vegetation around them. The colonial soldiers who participated in that war could attest to the difficulty of trying to locate and fight an enemy in an area as unique and inaccessible, not to mention haunting, as the swamp. In the chaos of the en in 65 As a result of instances like this, the colonial soldiers became quite terrified of swamps. In fact, military officers like Swamp, being taught by late Experience how dangerous it is to fight in such dismal Woods, when their Eyes were muffled with the Leaves, and their Arms pinioned with the thick Boughs 66 Soldiers participating in the Third Seminole War quickly discovered how difficult and terrifying it was to fight in the s wampy confines of the Everglades. 65 Jill Lepore, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc, 1998), 85. 66 Ibid., 85.

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45 demonstrate that it could make its way through the Everglades and destroy any villages and crops upon which the Seminoles depended. There were no major pitched battles between the combatants, and the casualties among white soldiers and Indians caused by disease far outnumbered those caused by the relatively few skirmishes fought between the army and the Seminoles. Opinions differed as to the federal government s policy of attempting to rid south Florida of the Seminoles by offering rewards for the capture of these elusive Indians. Prices on captured Indians ran from $500 for warriors, $250 for women, to $100 for children. 67 One of the soldiers who took part in the campaign, Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess, believed, that there was suitable for the white man. The Indians want them and, should be 68 Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Boggess and speculators had differing opinions. On June 2, 1856, i n Hernando County, John E. Turkett and nine other citizens petitioned onsequence of the depredations the tomahawk and scalping knife of th 69 The truth remained, however, that despite the buildup of troops in the state, the army was unprepared for war. Calls for volunteers and companies of militia were quickly made, but proved rather ineffective. These forces tended to s tay close to home and generally kept to open roads. If the army wanted to drive the 67 68 Francis C. M. Bogges, A Veteran of Four Years (Arcadia: The Champion Press, 1900), 63. 69 George Rollie Adams, General William S. Harney: Prince of Dr agoons (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2001), 146.

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46 Seminoles from Florida, they were going to have to travel beyond those areas where they felt comfortable, and enter the swamps and hammocks of the Everglades. The militia more interested in tending their crops and remaining close to their families, showed little inclination to invade the Everglades. 70 If the Seminoles were going to be removed, it would be up to the leadership and actions of the regular army. wet terrain played a very important, if not principal, role in shaping the way the war was fought. Those soldiers who were willing to operate from boats proved to be some of the most effective and useful throughout the war. Florida was able to raise a si gnificant number of troops to operate from watercraft, the most successful being those led by Captain Jacob Mickler. 71 In the early part of July 1857, Mickler and a boat company consisting of forty five men were mustered into the volunteer service of the U nited States at Fort Brooke now called Tampa. Andrew P. Canova, a native of Florida, decided to join the armed forces and was one of the forty five participants in this boat company, which made several Indian hunting expeditions through the Everglades are a. Canova later wrote a book titled Life and Adventures in South Florida which gives one of the best accounts of military life in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp during this period. Many people who have heard of the Everglades all their lives, have no idea of what the country looks like. Some imagine it to be a beautiful forest, where tropical birds fly through fruit laden trees; others imagine that it is an El Dorado, where one is almost sure to find gold or jewels. I understand that one prominent w riter, and citizen of Florida, pretending to write from experience, says that the Everglades will yet become the greatest winter resort in Florida. He speaks of "high, rolling land, wild orange groves, and a rich soil and healthful climate, which must some day gain for it a world wide reputation as a resort for invalids." I can scarcely conceive of a more shameless misrepresentation. 72 70 John Missall and Mary Lou Missall, Conflict (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2004), 214. 71 Knetsch, 153. 72 Andrew P. Canova, Lif e and Adventures in South Florida (Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885), 34 35.

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47 The Florida conditions experienced by those participating in the Third Seminole War were worse than even the most experienc ed soldiers had endured. Most of the scouting missions up the rivers of the Everglades and Big Cypress were fruitless exercises with few significant results other than demoralizing the troops. Soldiers forced to painstakingly make their way though the Ev had to slake [their] thirst with the loathsome limewater that oozed t hrough the grass at [their] 73 The Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act was passed in 1850 with the very powerful idea that the Eve rglades, and the Seminoles who inhabited it, were only a minor obstacle to settling south Florida. For hundreds of white settlers, men like Andrew Canova were the key to unlocking a land full of countless economic and agricultural possibilities. However, before plans to drain the Everglades could be realized, the Seminoles had to be removed. For men like Canova, the military experience during the Third Seminole War was horrific. The Everglades access. But the military had no plans to drain the Everglades to pursue its ends. The military, unlike agricultural developers of later years, had to deal with the raw physicality of the Everglades without the benefit of landscape altering heavy equipme nt and peace. For many participants, the war must have felt more like an unbearable scouting expedition than an actual military conflict. Canova later claimed: It is my honest opinion that we never could have gone a mile into the Everglades without 73 Canova, Life and Adventures 41.

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48 the aid of the boats, for the soil was so soft and boggy that as soon as we relaxed our hold on the boats we sank above our knees. Nobody knows how much deeper we would have sunk. All the hardships I had ever endured were nothing compared to this. Very often we leaned over in the boats, thoroughly exhausted by our exertions. It was an almost superhuman task to shove the boats along, and when we were once out of sight of dry land, the prospect was indescribably dreary, a circle of saw grass and little islands i n every direction. I think I can safely say that no human being ever did, or can, accomplish the feat of crossing the Everglades on foot and unaided. 74 The same land that had become a safe haven for the Seminoles, and a gleaming territory of fresh land to white settlers, also served as a difficult barrier for the military. The unique environment present in the Everglades and other portions of south Florida turned out to be an obstacle in a way that territory to the north where the first Seminole wars occu rred had not. The Seminoles had learned from prior wars that the most effective military strategy was elusion. Random strikes upon smaller military parties struck fear into white settlers and military officials alike. The inability of the military to qu ickly and effectively locate Seminole war parties following many of these attacks is one of the reasons the war dragged on for as long as it did. alone scour thousands of uncharted acres in search of an enemy skilled and adept at blending in. Had it not been for the experienced leadership of men like General William S. Harney, there is no telling how long the Seminoles would have been able to fend off militar y attacks and white encroachment. The Third Seminole War represented one last major demonstration of the federal fighting methods. A few hundred Seminoles, many of them women and children, occupied nearly three thousand regular and volunteer soldiers for almost two years, making the conflict resemble more of a colossal reconnaissance operation than a war. The gove rnment eventually succeeded in removing most of the Florida 74 Ibid., 39.

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49 75 By 1858, the relentless pursuit of the Seminoles throughout the Everglades had finally taken its toll on Billy Bowlegs and the other Indian leaders. His people, hunted and pursued to exhaustion, were at last willing to emigrate. Old Seminole friends from the West had returned to Florida to help convince Bowlegs that it was now to his advantage to take his people to the new reservation in what would come to be known as Oklahoma. The fighting in Flori da was finally over. It took a be notified and gathered, but finally on May 4, 1858, the steamship Grey Cloud was able to leave with the Seminole party, which included roughly one hundred and sixty five warriors, women, and children. 76 The military expeditions had been so successful in scattering the Seminoles that several bands could not be located and were left behind. Some Indians, like the aged Seminole leader Sam Jones, elected to remain in Florida; others joined Bowlegs out west as soon as they could. It is estimated that as man y as one hundred and fifty Seminoles elected to remain in the Everglades and not go out west. 77 Of the four hundred and fifty Indians who called Florida home when the Thir d Seminole W ar began, only this small portion still remained. The presence of these few Seminoles alone was enough to prevent settlers from pouring into the area south of the Peace River. 78 Government officials had finally realized, however, that it was too expensive and not worthwhile to remove every last Seminole from Florida. With the Civil War rapidly approaching, the affairs of a few Indians hidden deep in the lowlands of southern Florida no longer seemed as important. 75 Adams, General William S. Harney 157. 76 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla. : The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 79. 77 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 221. 78 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 81.

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50 Conclusion The absence of large significant battles and major characters has caused several historians to obscure o r overlook the importance of the Third Seminole War and the significant effect its its debt, and subsequently boost the population of Florida, the federal government was forced to implement acts that would forever change life for the Seminole inhabitants and white settlers of Florida. Several historians have acknowledged that federal administrators sought acts involving the draining of the Everglades in order to attract white sett lers to Florida, but they ignored the prevalent effects these programs had on creating conflicts and heightening tensions between white settlers and Seminoles. There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, and always will be, one of the most uniq that white soldiers may have participated in or read about, nothing could have prepared soldiers, or settlers, for their experiences in the Everglades. Its thundering ra ins, vast waterways, clumps of mud, and sharp sawgrass all made life among the swampy confines of this beautiful, yet treacherous, place both uncomfortable and exhausting for those who inhabited it, or were forced to explore it. For the Seminoles, the Ev erglades represented their only chance of maintaining what little freedom they had left. From 1855 until 1858 it was their safe haven from the ever increasing pressures of government officials and white settlers. Federal administrators made several att empts to improve the appeal of southern Florida to settlers and to make the land readily available. The Armed Occupation Act was passed in 1842 with the intended purpose of providing land, weapons, and food to prospective settlers of Florida. Government officials also hoped that it would attract a large contingent of armed brave

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51 white settlers to the heart of the Florida frontier. Similarly, the Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act was passed in 1850 with the partial purpose of opening up more land to potentia l white settlers. Both of these acts were created in order to boost the white population of Florida, but had an additional intended effect of placing pressure on the Seminoles, subsequently creating more conflicts among whites and Indians. The Seminole N ation, as with every other Indian nation, stood in the way of white expansion and economic opportunity. In all three Seminole wars there were very few winners. As every soldier knew, there was little chance for glory in the Seminole Wars, and as most Sem inole warriors would eventually discover, their dream of a peaceful life in Florida was a lost cause. White settlers and Seminoles were really quite similar in their motives both loved their homeland and were willing to risk everything for it. The Third Seminole War however, was by no means a lost cause. Roughly one hundred and fifty Seminoles, including Sam Jones, successfully remained living in the Everglades. Despite the astronomical price it paid, the United S tates also got what it wanted se ttlers. The three Seminole Wars fought in Florida were the longest and most expensive Indian wars ever fought by the United States making them representative of several important facts. First, it is a testament to how difficult the terrain of southern Florida i s to fight in. It also demonstrates how truly determined the Seminoles were to defend and protect their land. Final ly, and perhaps most important it represents the lessons the government learned in dealing with American Indians and white Indian relation s. If government officials had focused more on creating fairly negotiated treaties, rather than pressuring the Seminoles into making a decision, the Third Seminole War easily could have been avoided. Americans of all races would have flocked to Florida f or the same reasons they always have land and opportunity. A small number of Seminoles would not have stopped them. Regardless

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52 of their loyalty to the land, various escalating pressures would have forced most, if not all, of the remaining Seminoles to ev entually sell their land to wealthy speculators and developers. In conclusion, the Third Seminole war was not an altercation that was brought about by existing conflicts between white settlers and Seminoles, but was an inevitability ensured by the gover unique and vibrant atmosphere distinctive to the Everglades, but i t also provided necessary shelter to the Seminoles under their time of distress, allowing the Third Seminole War to become one of the most difficult and exhausting Indian wars in American history.

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53 Bibliography Primary Sources Benton, Thomas H. New York: Frederick Parker, 1856. Boggess, Francis C. M. A Veteran of four wars. The autobiography of F.C.M Boggess. A record of pioneer life and adventure, and heretofore unwritten history of the Florida Seminole Indian Wars Areadia, Fla.: The Champion Press, 1900. Breese, To authorize draining of Everglades in Florida Senate Report No. 242, 30 th Congress, 1 session, 1848 C anova, Andrew P. Life and Adventures of South Florida Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885. Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 3. Florida Herald 24 July 1843. Florida Re publican 9 May 1850. Governor Thomas Brown to George W. Crawford. Secr etary of War, November 29, 1849. In Journal of the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Florida Tallahassee, 1850. Ives, J.C. Memoir to accompany a Military Map of the Peninsul a of Florida, South of Tampa Bay New York: M.B. Wynkoop, 1856. Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Florida, 1851, 27. Executive Documents, Number 122, 27 Congress, 2 Session. Long, Ellen Call. Florida Breezes Jacksonville, Fla: Ashmead brothers, 1882. Mosely to James Polk, December 29, 1848. Seminole Agency, Office of Indian Affairs, National Archives 1846 55 National Intelligencer (Washington D.C.). 1 Oct. 1842. Saint Augustine News 28 May 1842.

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54 U.S. Government, The Indian Removal Act of 1830 http://www.civics online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html Secondary Sources Adams, George Rollie. General William S. Harney: Prince of Dragoons Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2001. Covington, James W. The Billy Bowlegs War, 1855 1858: The Final Stand of the Seminoles Against the Whites Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982. -The Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (1961): 41 52. Douglas, Marjory S. The Everglades: River of Grass St Simon Island, Ga.: Mockingbird Books, 1974. diss., University of North Carolina, 1947. Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1953. Gannon, Michael. Florida: A Short History. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2003. Jahoda, Gloria. Florida: A History New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984. Knetsch, Joe. 1858 C harleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2003. Tequesta 53 ( 1993): 63 80. Lepore, Jill. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc 1998. Missall, John., Mary Lou Missall. Conflict Gainesville: University Pr esses of Florida, 1949. Tequesta 23 (1963): 3 14.


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1 The Unforgiving Land and the Third Seminole War Stephen Pyles University of Florida Department of History April 5, 2011

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3 Acknowledgements Professor Jack Davis, University of Florida Professor Howard Louthan, University of Florida James Cusick, University of Florida Smathers Library Casey Pyles Vicki Kaikaka

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4 Table of Contents Acknowledgements -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Introduction --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5 Section 1: The Unwelcoming Florida Terrain ---------------------------------------------------------11 Section 2: Tension Created by the Arme d Occupation Act -----------------------------------------19 Section 3: From Sawg rass to Riches -------------------------------------------------------------------35 Section 4: Fortifying the Wetlands ---------------------------------------------------------------------42 Conclusion --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------50 Bibliography ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------53

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5 According to historical legend, the final episode of long enduring conflicts between the Seminole Indians and white settlers of Florida began with a rather trivial incident. In December of 1855 a small survey detachment from Fort Myers under the command of Lieutenant George Hartsuff containing six mounted men, two foot soldiers, and two teamsters was ordered by 1 As Hartsuff embarked on his expedition he was reminded to treat any Indians he encountered with kindness, and to avoid provoking any sort of attack. Throughout the expedition the scouting party discovered that several f orts, including Fort Simon Drum and Shackelford, had been burned. Despite these disturbing signs, Hartsuff and his men continued to explore the area. On the night of December 17, the group encamped within three miles of Billy Bowlegs village and, upon inspection the following morning, discovered that the village had been abandoned, with untended vegetables growing in the place of once cultivated gardens. One member of the group, Private William Baker, later stated some of the party 2 Upon leaving the village, the men received orders to return to Fort Myers and decided to make camp in a small grove of pines where they thought they would be able to comfortably relax before the return trip. H artsuff and his men would have undoubtedly been excited about the opportunity to return to the safe confines of the fort and depart from the swampy boundaries of the Everglades; many, however, never got the chance. Around 5 a.m. the following morning, a wa r party of approximately thirty Seminoles, decorated in their traditional black and white egret feathers, initiated an attack against Hartsuff and his men. Amidst much 1 Tequesta 22, 9. 2 Ibid., 10.

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6 whooping and yelling, the Seminoles opened fire on the unsuspecting camp. Several of Ha were able to pick up their arms and hold their position. When the fighting was all but over, the mules, horses, and wagons had all been destroyed; four men ha d been killed, four others wounded, and three escaped, including Hartsuff himself. The U.S. government had been pushing for another war with the Seminoles, and Billy Bowlegs and his warriors had finally pushed back. 3 Whether or not this event involving ban ana plants actually happened is open for debate, as the primary account given by Private Andrew P. Canova seems rather romanticized. It is more likely that this attack was prompted by the desire of the Seminole band to do something that would impress their own people and simultaneously strike fear into the hearts of white settlers and government officials alike. The accuracy of these details, however, are irrelevant. What is important is that this particular attack on Hartsuff and his men helped jumpstart the third and final physical conflict between the Seminoles and whites settlers of Florida. The conflict that insistence on removing the Seminoles from the state of Flo rida, but also the Seminoles resistance to these efforts. This particular incident changed the pattern of these efforts and should therefore not be dismissed lightly. The conflicts that took place on December 20, 1855 had not been initiated in 1855, but r oughly forty years earlier in 1814. Indian historian Grant Foreman wrote that there is perhaps no blacker chapter in our dealing with the Indians than that relating to the removal of the 3 Andrew P. Canova, Life and Adventures in South Florida (Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885), 12 13.

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7 Seminoles from Florida. 4 Pressure placed on the Seminoles during th e search for escaped slaves to Spanish Florida, and the expansion of the plantation system deeper into south Georgia and Alabama in 1814 eventually led to the First Seminole War. While the shortest of the three, this war was important in that it led to th U.S. government, as well as most white settlers, believed that the purchase of the Florida territory in 1819 justified the removal of the Seminoles. This was demonstrated on September 18, 1823 when U.S. officials forced the Seminole leaders to sign the treaty of Moultrie Creek. The principal features of this treaty included the Seminole agreement to prevent runaway slaves from entering their country, as well as their compliance to move their v illages southward and to the poorer swampland of the interior. 5 Many Seminoles, however, were reluctant to pick up and move. Prior to the treaty, they had occupied some of the finest and most profitable land in Florida. The impoverished and malnourished land the Seminoles had been assigned for resettlement was insufficient for raising and herding the cattle they had become reliant upon. For most whites, the relocation of the Seminole Indians to other lands within the territory of Florida was seen as a t emporary solution; their ultimate goal had always been complete Indian removal. President Andrew Jackson embraced this view, regarding the Seminoles as an obstacle to Florida expansion and as a potential threat to white settlers. To eliminate this threat Congress passed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830. This ambitious legislation called for all Indian tribes east of the Mississippi to be relocated to new lands west of the Mississippi River. 6 Many prominent Seminole leaders and their people conti nued to refuse to move out west. This resistance exacerbated the animosity between white settlers and the Seminoles of Florida. In a 4 Grant Foreman, Indian Removal (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1953), 315. 5 Ibid., 319. 6 U.S. Government, The Indian Removal Act of 1830 http://www.civics online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html

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8 final desperate attempt to get the Seminoles to relocate, the U.S. government implemented the May of 1832. This treaty gave the Seminole Indians three years to leave for the West. To the residents and military men of Florida, the presence of several prominent native military leaders, such as Osceola, in the territory of Florida by 1835 would hav e served as a fairly clear indication that another war on the Florida frontier was all but inevitable. During the conflict known as the Second Seminole War, some three thousand Seminoles were removed from the territory of Florida through various means. 7 However, when the war finally came to an end on May 10, 1842, the goal of complete Seminole removal had still not been attained. It was decided that the roughly two hundred and forty Seminole Indians remaining in Florida were to be dealt with peacefully in hopes that they would willingly join their kinfolk on western reservations. The Second Seminole War was important in that it opened large new tracts of Florida territory for whites, as well as reaffirm ed within settlers and government officials a sense and attitude of rightful entitlement. The First and Second Seminole Wars served as a demonstration to white settlers that the Seminoles were unwilling to leave their land without a fight. The tenacity and bravery with which the Seminoles fought to remain on their homeland should have indicated to government and military officials alike that the attempts of peaceful resettlement through bribes and other monetary gains would not be enough to remove those Seminoles who still called Florida home. Few people realize the devastating effects these wars had on the United States, both physically and economically. The Second Seminole War alone cost the government roughly thirty million dollars and today stands as the longest and most expensive Indian war ever foug ht 7 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of T he Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 2.

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9 by the United States. The wars, for the most part, were fought over the lands where the Native Americans, and the free and enslaved African Americans whom they were protecting, known as Black Seminoles, resided. Because the Seminole Wars were quickly followed by the seemingly much more important American Civil War, today these conflicts appear to have been all but forgotten outside of Florida. However, the fact remains that many Florida towns owe their names, if not their entire existence, to the Semi nole Wars, and the profound impact these conflicts had not only on the settlement of Florida, but the exploration and plotting of the land throughout the State as well. Despite these important developments, very little research has been conducted regardin g the Third Seminole War and its participants, and the lack of interest in these conflicts has left several important questions unanswered. Many authors, such as James Covington, have gone into great depth examining what they believe were many of the underlying causes of the war. These authors acknowledge the fact that federal administrators sought programs that would attract families to the t erritory of Florida, but tend to ignore the prevalent effects these programs eventually had on creating conflicts and heightening tensions between white settlers and Seminoles. The first purpose of this essay will be to build upon these observations and ex plore in detail the various roles the Florida government played, either purposely or inadvertently, in initiating war between the Seminoles and white settlers. Its principle contribution to the historiography regarding this topic will be to regard the war not as something that was brought about by conflicts between white settlers and territory and taking advantage economically of all the Florida frontier had to offe r. The second purpose of this thesis will be to examine the important role land played in determining the out come of the Third Seminole War. The Florida terrain played a very

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10 important, if not principal, role in shaping the way the war was fought. Des pite this, very few authors have chosen to examine these important effects. The absence of large significant battles and major characters has caused many historians to obscure the importance of the Third Seminole War and the effect it had on shaping Flori several have also failed to emphasize the importance of terrain leaves many questions unanswered. Examining the various influences that the climate and terrain had on governmental decisions as well as military tactics are vital factors to understanding the outcome of the war, and are thus important factors to address in this paper. Focusing on the various challenges the frontier presented to prospective settlers and U.S. military officials will illuminate the important role land played in shaping not only the outcome of the war, but in determining the course of Florida history.

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11 Section 1: The Unwelcoming Florida Terrain Seminoles allowed the white male property owning citizens [of Florida] to concentrate on 8 The end of the Second Seminole War in 1842 also prompted white settlers and the Florida government to shift their att ention from that of the Seminole Indians to the Everglades they inhabited. Despite having already participated in two major conflicts with the Seminoles by 1842, white settlers and explorers still knew very little about the interior of southern Florida. This lack of information may have played an important role in the decision to allow the Seminoles to remain temporarily Seminoles totally removed, there seemed n o great urgency to do it, and for the better part of six years Florida remained at peace. The wetlands and marshes of south Florida, in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, were the staging area s for the third and final conflict between white settlers and the Seminoles. The unique physical traits and atmosphere of this Seminole safe haven turned out to be an obstacle in a way that territory to the north where the first wars occurred was not. When one reflects upon the damage done to the southern half of t he Florida terrain during the First and Second Seminole Wars, it is not surprising that most whites looking to migrate War between the Seminole Indians and whi tes of Florida had terrible economic and social recalled how the once promising frontier now contained, 8 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 142.

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12 Belted trees stripped of foliage standing like masts of booming, rail fences rotting to earth, houses abandoned in [the] process of construction, clambering wild vines half binding some task given up, devastated and deserted e new graves of the massacred in the gloom of the primeval wilderness. 9 Despite these bleak conditions and the presence of Seminoles scattered throughout the area, the Florida government still looked to take advantage of the economic benefits it believed the Florida frontier offered. As early as 1843, the state began to send surveyors down the coast of Florida with orders to map out and report what they discovered. Following the Second Seminole War, Indians were no longer the principal impediment to the expansion of white settlement. explorations. Many were conducted by military officers like Colonial Munroe, as well as surveyors and historians like Bucking ham Smith. 10 These explorations, most of which were attended with great difficulty, were well documented and preserved. The memoirs of these men have provided historians with a detailed description of the Florida terrain, as it was then, and the daily obs tacles its Seminole inhabitants and white intruders were forced to encounter on a daily basis. There are a multitude of sources that discuss the various aspects of this swampy frontier, but none are as accurate or provide as much dept h and detail as Joseph s 11 Ives, who was an American army officer, explorer, surveyor and cartographer, was given direct orders by the secretary of war, Jefferson Davis, to write and produce this memoir in April of 1856, roughly 9 Ellen Call Long, Florida Breezes (Jacksonville: Ashmead brothers, 188 2), 209. 10 Marjory S. Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (St Simons Island, Ga.: Mockingbird Books, 1974), 194. 11 J.C. Ives, Memoir to Accompany A Military Map of the Peninsula of Florida, South of Tampa Bay (New York: Book & Job Printer, 1856).

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13 four months after fighting had broken out during the Third Seminole War. Using the latest and most reliable information from recent re connaissance s along the coast and interior area of the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp, Ives was able to create an extensively detailed map of the southern portion of the Florida peninsula. Financial incentives and the potential settlement of whites played an important role in the initiation of these expeditions. However, few people other misunderstood by the military as well. Consequently, expeditions, like the one conducted by Ives, were essential to military leaders and their sold iers if they were to have any success against the Seminoles and open new territory to white settlement. In an early attempt to significantly increase the population of Florida, leaders in the territory began the difficult and daunting task of selling Flori da to skeptical settlers. One of the later known as David Yulee ). In a letter to the National Intelligencer Levy fervently outlined some of the advantages of life in Florida : in circumstance, it is, beyond comparison, the paradise of earth. There are no freezing winters to be provided against by close houses, magazines of supplies for em bargoed and more productive, and industry more quickly blessed with accumulation and plenty than is conceivable to the inhabitant of a less fortunate region. 12 Levy u nderstood that land was one of the most enticing aspects of the Florida frontier for white settlers. Florida, howev er, would be tougher to sell tha n he originally thought. Not only had years of negative press made settlers wary of the Florida frontier, b the territory differed from those accounts given by Ives and other surveyors. According to these 12 Nat ional Intelligencer Oct. 1842, quoted in John Missal and Mary Lou Missal, The (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2004), 209.

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14 13 What Ives, along with many ot her explorer s of the Everglades, discovered was the opposite of what most white settlers might have hoped for. establish important and profitable plantations, the agricultural expectations for the southern portion of Florida looked rather unpropitious. 14 In his memoir Ives briefly described the and oak hammocks, connected and entirel 15 Most white settlers had never experienced swampy terrain like that found in the Everglades, and would have struggled to grow and produce crops there. This uniquely remote region had served as an adeq uate location for the Seminole Indians, but even then only for short periods at a time. Even for an indigenous group like the Seminoles, who had become accustomed to living off of the land, surviving in the Everglades was a formidable challenge. The natu ral resources located within the Everglades provided the Seminoles with enough food and shelter to survive while on the run, but would not have served as an adequate place to grow a profitable crop or raise a typical Anglo American family during the ninete enth century. Sampson Forrester, an African American who lived for two years among the Seminoles from 1839 to 1841, offered a good account of typical Seminole life in the Everglades. In the center of the swamp, is the council ground. South of this within two miles, is the guide their pursuers. Within the swamp are many pine islands, upon which the villages are located. They are susceptible of cultivation; and between the m is a cypress swamp, 13 Breese, To authorize draining of Everglades in Florida (Senate Report N o. 242, 30 th Congress, 1848), 1. 14 Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003), 30. 15 Ives, Memoir to Accompany 25 26.

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15 the water from two to three feet deep. The Indians rely principally upon their crops, which, though small, add much to their comfort. Corn, pumpkins, beans, wild potatoes, and cabbage palmetto, afford subsistence. 16 The remote tree i slands located throughout the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp that Forrester refers to were the only suitable location where any type of wholesome and beneficial crops could be grown. Fluctuating water levels, however, often prevented most of these islan ds from serving as a reliable location for consistent growth every year. The few remaining Seminoles who had been pushed to live in the Everglades made the best of what they were given. According to historian Marjory Stoneman Douglas, they ate what every body around the Everglades had always eaten: 17 For vegetables they could count on only the most basic crops, including beans, squash, corn, and cabbage. Above e verything else, their most important and and could easily be identified by the small yellow and orange cone like flowers at its base. The most vital part of the plant was its root, which the Seminoles grated, squeezed, and sifted into 18 Perpetual wetness in most places, san dy soil in drier areas, and diminished sunlight in jungle like hammocks of the Everglades made growing more profitable crops like cotton and tobacco nearly impossible. For these reasons and others the Everglades should have been of very little desire econ omically and agriculturally for future white settlers. For those dauntless settlers who elected to move themselves and their families into the swampy confines of the Everglades, transportation quickly became their biggest obstacle and 16 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 7. 17 Douglas, The Everglades 151. 18 Ibid., 31.

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16 principle priority. Throughout the First and Second Seminole Wars the most difficult and daunting task, besides scouting and plotting the marshes, had become importing supplies and forage to those troops located deep within the swamp itself. The task often proved so difficu lt that it became the major cause for the disbanding of several important forts, including Fort Josephine near modern Highlands County. 19 The marshes and thick hammocks of the Everglades coupled with the climate made traveling into the interior post very d ifficult for mules, horses, and men. For this reason, many of the forts were built near navigable waterways like the Caloosahatchee River. Unfortunately, this also made the forts more vulnerable and susceptible to Seminole attacks. Ultimately, however, it became necessary to establish a larger portion of the forts near the interior as well, especially in areas like the Big Cypress swamp. Shipping ammunition, rations, and forage to these remote locations was difficult in the dry seasons and nearly imposs ible during the rainy season. Indeed, one of the most frustrating aspects about trying to navigate the terrain was the fluctuating water levels. Trails and streams that were easily navigable during one part of the year could be impossible to find during another. On top of that, land often rapidly disappeared into the low lying marshes, or water would suddenly transform into thick heavy mud. Ives gave a particularly detailed account of one explorer who experienced the treacherous terrain of the Everglade s. In the year 1855, Captain Dawson, of the First Artillery, made two explorations into the Everglades. The first of these expeditions took place in March, which is one of the driest months of the year. Upon entering the Everglades, the Dawson party dea lt with very little water, but soon found themselves walking through increasingly deeper 19 Knetsch, 152.

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17 20 Two days into the expedition, the men began to experience many of the crippling effects of the Florida terrain. During the latter part of the second day, long mud banks were encountered, in which the men sank to their middles while dragging their boats. The course through the intervening ponds was greatly obstructed by fungi, clumps of trees and b ushes, and innumerable keys could be seen in all directions; the ground everywhere, however, being boggy and wet. The Third day, the water became in many places too shoal to float the canoes; the breaks between the ponds were of greater extent, and the me n were annoyed by the sawgrass cutting their feet and limbs while forcing a way along. 21 More than one of the scouting parties that entered the Everglades considered cutting through the sawgrass and mud banks to create a clear and direct route for canoes. However, the amount of time and manpower required to complete this task, made those considering it question whether or not its undertaking would be practicable, and if accomplished, whether or not the rapid growth of vegetable matter throughout the Evergl ades would cause the path to become insignificant for future explorers and settlers. The sawgrass, clumps of mud, and vast waterways, all helped define the Everglades as both simple and unique. Men attempting to expose the secrets of its interior often suffered from the discomforts of the thundering rains, wet clothing, clouds of salt water, wet food, and sleeping in wet boats or on the wet ground. Ni ghts were cold, and eerily quiet save for the chirping of insects and the sound of the hammocks blowing in the wind. When they were not surrounded by water, the men pushed their boats with difficul ty through the slimy black muck. T heir limbs would have undoubtedly been bleeding from the cuts of sawgrass, and their bodies exhausted. Traveling through the E verglades took time. Ives recalls how it took him and his men roughly five days to travel six miles. 22 The slow movement of the men would have made them even 20 Ives, Memoir to Accompany 21. 21 Ibid., 21. 22 Ibid., 14.

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18 easier targets for the bloodthirsty mosquitoes and alligators that called the Everglades home. O ne of the most difficult aspects of traveling through the Everglades, however, was the similarity of its terrain Virtually every aspect of the Florida Everglades resembles another part. For men traveling through its waterways, minutes turned into hours, and hours into days, as long expeditions must have appeared to seemingly have gone nowhere. Despite these difficulties, practically the entire Third Seminole War was fought in the mpletely the Seminoles from the swampy confines of this murky area was indicative of its desire eventually to plot and populate the area with white settlers. Even if settlers had been able to somehow burn away the sawgr ass and soggy decaying vegetable mat ter, they would have been left with thousands of acres of rockwork, known as limestone, insufficient for growing crops. These factors seem to emphasize the fact that the motivation for white settlement, and the Third Seminole War, came from the encouragem ent of the government, and not from the natural benefits offered by the available land in the Everglades. In the eyes of many people there were fortunes to be made in southern Florida, and the only thing standing in their way was the annoying presence of a few hundred Seminole Indians.

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19 Section 2: Tension Created by the Armed Occupation Act When President John Tyler announced the termination of military action in the territory of Florida on May 10, 1842, the Second Seminole War officially came to an end. Throughout this seven year conflict, some three thousand Seminole Indians had been captu red, forced from their homes at gunpoint, and removed from Florida by various means to strange lands nothing like the one they had left. This war alone cost the government somewhere between a staggering thirty and forty million dollars, and saw nearly fif teen hundred valiant American soldiers lose their lives. White settlers and government officials alike hoped that the end of the war would help convince the roughly two hundred and forty Seminole Indians still remaining in Florida to abandon their homes a nd join their kinfolk in the West. 23 Military leaders like Colonel William J. Worth, however, knew that peaceful overtures would have little effect on these remaining Seminoles, and thus the Indians were also given temporary use of some land for hunting an d 24 (Figure 1) 25 23 James Covington, The Billy Bow legs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 2. 24 Ibid., 3 25 John Missall and Mary Lou Missall, Conflict (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2004), 215.

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20 Figure 1

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21 The Seminole Indians had not been the only people affected by the war. A large portion of across the territory. Furthermore, the threat and reality of Indi an hostilities had forced many potential immigrants and settlers to look elsewhere for new homes. Despite the slow influx of settlers into the Florida territory over this seven year period, government officials remained confident that, with the war over, Florida would soon join the potential acceptance into statehood. One of the most prominent was the question of who would pay for the extreme damage caused by the Second Seminole War. According to historians John 26 Residents of the territory were also concerned with who would be appointed to remove the remaining Seminoles in Florida. By this point, the Seminoles who still called Florida home had already withstood the pressures of war, disease, and hunger, all of which implied that they were unlikely to decide suddenly to move peacefully out West. To make matters even worse, mistrust was rampant between the people of eastern and western Florida. This lack of trust between the two regions of Florida led to proposals for the entry of two separate states or to not entering the into statehood was its population. By 1840, Florida still lacked an adequate number of residents to officially beco me a state. 27 In 1830, there were less than 35,000 people living in Florida, and about half of that number consisted of slaves brought into the territory by their owners. By 1840, 26 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 208 27 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003 ), 142

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22 that number had only increased by about 20,000 to somewhere around 55,000 p eople, most of who continued to settle in the upper portion of the peninsula. 28 The fertile lands in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Mississippi, and Alabama had attracted the vast majority of continental migratory settlers during this period and the Florida pen insula had been ignored. A few figures from the census records of 1830 and 1840 help demonstrate the vast difference in population growth over this period. 1830 1840 309,527 590,756 1,519,467 29 This slow progression was partially the result of damage caused by the war, but the presence of the Seminoles alone would have been enough to prevent most settlers from even contemplati ng the move. One has to also assume that the quality of the land and the unique atmosphere present in the Florida frontier also played an important role in decisions made by those settlers who opted to explore and settle the frontiers of lands out west an d further north. With many of these conditions in mind, the government and leaders of the territory looked to increase the appeal of Florida to potential settlers, and subsequently boost its population in the process. By 1840, federal administrators had begun to look for a way to balance the constant draining away of potential settlers to Texas and the developing West, and somehow attract families to the territory of Florida. Administrators were also forced with the daunting tasks of 28 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 208 29 James Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 The Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (July, 1961): 41.

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23 trying to defend a v ast frontier wilderness against an elusive enemy, developing and exploiting enormous lands and resources quickly and inexpensively, and trying to pressure or convince defiant Seminoles into moving west without provoking another long and costly war. 30 It is quite north of the Caloosahatchee River and West of the Kissimmee River where the Seminole Indians resided, would have continued to be completely ignore d by potential settlers during this time. In 1840, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri introduced a measure aimed toward stimulating settlement, which would later become known as the Armed Occupation Act. This measure intended to provide land, weapons, and food to p rospective settlers of Florida. In his introductory speech, the senator from Missouri made the following points: Armed occupation, with land to the occupant, is the true way of settling and holding a conquered country. It is the way which had been followed in all ages and in all countries from the time that children of Israel entered the promised land with the implements of husbandry in one hand, and the weapons of war in the other. From that day to this, all conquered countries have been prepared for this armed settlement: the enemy has been driven out of the field. He lurks to keep possession; and th e armed cultivator is the man for that. The blockhouse is the [T]he heart of the Indian sickens when he hears the crowing of the cock, the barking of the dog, the so und of an axe and the crack of the rifle. They are the true evidences of the dominion of the white man; these are the proof that the owner has come, and means to stay; and then they feel it is time for them to go. 31 Benton, like many others during this ti me, believed that the most effective way to remove the remaining Seminoles would be through the pressure of white settlement and familiarity. The act drew support from those who saw it as an alternative to the high costs of maintaining regular army person 30 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 1842 and Tequesta 53 (1993): 63. 31 Thomas H. Benton, Thirt (New York: Frederick Parker, 1856), 167 169.

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24 efforts, determined opposition by prominent Southerners was able to successfully defeat the measure. Benton accused these men of desiring the land for themselves, and of pre ferring the presence of soldiers to that of white settlers. 32 The measure was ignored for the next two years until the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842. As previously mentioned, the population in Florida by this time was still very low. There had announcement to cease military action in Florida, but nothing sufficient enough to settle the territory. Other measures of settlement were attempted before Congress again looked at for example, the United States Army attempted to promote some immigration into Central Florida. Under the leadership of Donald Stewart, a military sponsored steamboat full of white settlers sai River to Fort Mellon. 33 Unfortunately, most of the settlers under this plan became discouraged after the army had reduced its forces, closed many outposts, and failed to supply them with food hdrawal prompted many of these settlers to abandon the territory for safer, more accessible locations. This failed attempt at settlement also served to demonstrate that white settlers still relied rather heavily on soldiers for protection and supplies. A s has been established, not all members of Congress were excited about the potential settlement of Florida so quickly following the war. Delegate to Congress David Levy was one of these men. He understood that although the Second Seminole War had ended, much of the disrupted land was still in the hands of the Seminoles. It was foolish, Levy argued, to send susceptible unarmed settlers into the heart of Indian ter ritory. He believed it was ill advised to declare the Second Seminole War over when Seminole s were still conducting weekly raids on 32 Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 42 33 Letter of Donald Stewart, May 10, 1842, in Saint Augustine News May 28, 1842.

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25 introduce a slightly newer modified version of the Armed Occupation Act in June of 1842. According to the version present head of a family, or single man over 18 years of age, able to bear arms, who had made a section o cultivate at least five acres and live there for four years. 34 The act opened up roughly 200,000 acres of land south of present day Gainesville for settlement by anyone willing to risk the was a form consisting of a single shee t (Figure 2). 34 Congressional Document, Number 122, 27 Congress, 2 Session, 502.

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26 FIGURE 2

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27 Almost all of this newly available land was unsurveyed, and would require quite some time to properly cultivate and prepare for settlement. The unspoken idea behind the act was that a large contingent of hardy and attentive Indi an hating frontiersmen would populate the southern portion of the Florida peninsula and slowly force the Seminole inhabitants around them to move out West. Government officials also hoped that this blockade of white settlers would help prevent the escape of slaves southward and prohibit the hijacking of slave gangs. The only conditions limiting the selection of land were that recipients could not settle in Indian territory, on lands previously granted to others, within two miles of an active military post or on lands reserved for military purposes. School lands, which comprised the 16 th section of each township, were also excluded from settlement under the act. 35 Within six months of the expiration of the act, certain details concerning proof of settleme nt had to be presented to the Land Office. The necessary information included: date of crop cultivation, kind of crop, number of acres in cultivation, type of house, number and description of inhabitants, and proof of settlement. 36 The problem for most se ttlers was not meeting the requirements for proof of settlement, but traveling to appear in front of the tribunal to actually prove their compliance with the act. For white settlers, life on the frontier was difficult and dangerous enough without having t o abandon their crops and family to travel through often unsettled and dangerous territory to provide evidence of their settlement. Despite these meticulous demands, during the nine month period in which the law was in effect, 1,312 permits were issued, a nd settlers claimed roughly 189,440 of the 200,000 acres made available 35 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 64 36 Florida Herald July 24, 1843. Not all of the settlers were required to submit the necessary information at the same time. Such requests were staggered, and the section and deadline for data was advertised in Florida newspapers.

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28 by the act. 37 Of those settlers who attempted to gain permits during this time, only one hundred and twenty eight were annulled. The reasons for these annulments varied, but often stemmed from the fact that settlers had trouble coping with the Florida frontier wilder ness. Others, however, were denied access to their land for more legal matters, such as the land having already been owned by others, or the site being located within two miles of a military post. Almost all of the settlers were farmers or traders attemp ting to raise a variety of crops, including sugar, tobacco, coconuts, plantains, bananas, pumpkins, and citrus trees. Opinions regarding the success of the Armed Occupation Act varied during and after the period it was in effect. As far as the settlement of middle Florida was concerned, federal official six thousand persons into a virtually unknown, unsurveyed, and unpopulated district containing few or no roads an 38 Settlers were severely crippled by the heavy rains and at best primitive roads. Despite these obstacles, many were able to persevere through the difficulties, and demonstrate their bravery by establ ishing and settling their homes near the protected territory of Seminoles. Still, several years after the act had been put into effect, some government officials and settlers were unimpressed with the overall success of armed occupation. These men believ ed that the act had failed to create a determined band of hard fighting farmers who would be willing to fight to protect their land. Governor of Florida, Occupation Act hav e neither weapons nor the disposition to use them not one of ten appearing 37 Covington The Billy Bowlegs War 5 38 Ibid. 5

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29 39 He later attempted to summarize more accurately his opinion d suffice to break up and scatter the entire line of new settlements although tenfold their number, which, although, composed of occupants under the armed occupancy bill, have neither weapons, nor the disposition to use them, not one in ten appearing with 40 If the act is to be measured upon its ability to attract settlers successfully who were willing, or even capable, of defending their homes against what few Indians were left in Florida, then Brown is right to have labeled it a f ailure. Most of the homesteaders who settled within the territory had neither the resources nor the strength to repel even the most minor of Seminole assaults, proving that half of Florida was still under the control of roughly three hundred Seminoles eve n after a seven year war and the subsequent invasion of white settlers. Many of the settlers, despite their agricultural intentions, had by passed valuable agricultural lands and settled in lands that were not productive. A letter written to the Jacksonvi lle Florida Republican of May 9, 1850 situation in the following words: At the cessation of Indian hostilities, the settlers under the Armed Occupation Act located for the most part on or near the main routes through the interior of the country south of the line designated for such settlers, and the few who turned towards the coast and rivers sought rather for places for towns, healthy residence, islands, etc., than for rich hammock land. To verify this, I need only to mention the fact that there is one hammock of fifty square miles without a permit on it; another of thirty, and yet another of fifteen square miles within the limits herein above mentioned. It is true there were some permits taken out upon the Cry stal River, Homossassa, Cheesahowitska, Wekiwachee Rivers, but this may be accounted for by the fact that they were upon one of the routes of travel south. 39 Governor Thomas Brown to George W. Crawford. Secretary of War, November 29, 1849; Journal of the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Florida (Tallahasse e, 1850), 27 28. 40 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 76

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30 These settlers were, however, of the class who had no experience in planting, no intention of making a permanent settlement, and soon abandoned their places. 41 Clearly many of the adventurous men making their way down to Florida were inexperienced and unprepared for life on the frontier. In spite of these deficiencies, the Armed Occupation must be consid ered a success. Ultimately it achieved its goal of attracting settlers from nearby states, who might have otherwise chosen to settle elsewhere. It is important to note that the rapid influx of settlers not only helped Fl orida move a step closer toward st atehood, but also brought it closer to the brink of war. It was these pioneers who complained constantly about the Seminole Indian threat in Florida and finally forced a showdown by reluctant federal officials. Had these settlers not been enticed by the government to homestead within this less than ideal territory with legislation like the Armed Occupation Act, it is likely that the Seminoles would have been left alone, secluded amongst their isolated villages in and around the Everglades. The first maj or sign of tension created by the arrival of these new settlers began in July of 1849. Most Seminoles knew the territory of the reserve very well and were content to stay within its boundaries, but others roamed outside the unmarked boundary lines at thei r pleasure. The long Second Seminole War had greatly diminished any trust between the Seminoles and whites. Furthermore, it had made the Seminoles anxious to remain on peaceful terms with their new neighbors. They knew they could not afford to fight ano ther war to defend what little land they had left. The series of conflict that broke out in 1849 between the two groups is representative of the tension that had been created by the new influx of settlers within the Seminole territory, as well as the dete rmination and desire of the Seminoles to maintain peace. 41 Florida Republican May 9, 1850, quoted in James Covington The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 5

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31 provided for them and a protective bent or neutral zone had been established between the Seminoles and settle rs, both groups sensed that the whites would be content only when 42 By 1845, white settlers were beginning to grow anxious. Some twenty citizens of Orange County sent a petition to Congress complaining a bout Indians roaming beyond the boundaries of the reserve and allegedly burning fields and stealing hogs and cattle. Upon receiving these petitions, Governor William Moseley wrote to fully if they can, 43 Despite these complaints, and the request made my Governor Moseley, very little was done concerning the removal of the Seminoles at this point. In July of 1849, there occurred two acts of violence and subsequen t punishment, which demonstrated to all the remarkable determination of the Seminoles to keep peace, and also the themselves to create disorder and declare war on the white settlers of Florida. Creating disorder they believed would be quite simple, all they had to do was make a few attacks on the exposed settlements just north of the reserve. They knew from prior experiences that the whites would undoubtedly flee and demand the Seminoles be removed. On July 13, these five Indians attacked two men working in a field just outside of a tiny Indian River settlement near Fort Pierce. The Seminoles were able to successfully kill one man, but the other, William Russel l, was able to escape and warn the other settlers. Much like the Seminoles had predicted the settlers fled the area to a large vessel anchored in the middle of the Indian River. This attack upon white settlers outside the reserve alarmed the Seminole le ader Billy Bowlegs, who wished 42 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 9 43 Mosely to James Polk, December 29, 1848, Seminole Agency, 1846 55, Office of Indian Affairs, National Archives

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32 to stay in Florida and was, therefore, hesitant to give the whites an excuse for another war. He, however, was unable to prevent the second attack by these men. On July 17 the Indians struck again, this time killing two men and wounding two others while they were enjoying an evening meal near Charlotte Harbor. The news of the two attacks, much like the Seminoles had anticipated caused the white pioneers living along the boarders of the reserve to believe that a full scale Indian war had begun, forcing them to leave their homes, crops, and livestock. Most of these settlers fled to public and private fortified positions located in Tampa and St. Augustine. 44 The Armed Occupation Act had been created to bring settlers down to Florida for this very reason, and yet, when finally given a chance to act upon their agreement, the occupants fled. Many leading citizens of the area recognized the ineffectiveness of b oth the settlers who had been brought down as well as the military forces currently stationed throughout the territory, and wrote frantic letters to Washington demanding the dispatch of regular troops from nearby states into the danger zone of the frontier Here we can see how the encouragement of white settlement by the government led to conflicts among the Seminoles. While the actions of these five Seminoles, who were eventually caught and punished for their plans, cannot be considered representative of the feelings of all Seminoles within the territory at this time, it became rather evident from these conflicts that white settlers and the Seminoles could not live peacefully among one another. Despite the best efforts of Seminole leaders like Billy Bowl egs, some Indians remained bitter for the lives and land they had lost to these white settlers. That the Seminoles were so willing to offer their full cooperation in helping not only to capture, but also to punish these men for their crimes, proved their determination to maintain peaceful relations. It was also representative of the contentment the Seminoles felt for their land. 44 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 10 11.

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33 At least at this point, they felt no need to try and expand upon their territory or reclaim lost land. to maintain peace makes the beginning of the Third Seminole War only whites down to settle around the territory of Southern Florida, but also to raise and send in t roops amongst times of panic and confusion, helps to strengthen the claim that war would have been unlikely had it not been for their tenacious assertiveness. As mentioned earlier, one of the goals of the Armed Occupation Act was to create an armed conti ngent of brave settler s to hold the Indians in check. Throughout the history of advancing frontiers, there have been offers of free land to those brave enough to settle and live on it. Unfortunately for the Florida government and others interested in set tling the Florida Frontier, the men and women who made their way down the coast of Florida to begin their lives anew amongst the Seminoles were unprepared for the types of hardships they would encounter. In fact, according to historian Joe Knetsch, of tho se men who were issued permits to come settle amongst the frontier during the Armed Occupation Act, none appeared on the rolls of the volunteers as recorded in the Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish American Wars. 45 The governme nt encouraged settlers to acquire homesteads in a frontier area with the Armed Occupation Act. They hoped that the settlement of these adventurous men would help boost economic revenue through the territory of Florida, and subsequently bring it one step c failure to extend protection to those who settled under its terms caused many to depart, thus preventing the formation of a permanent population. Moreover, the act failed to contribute a fighting force to expel the Seminoles from Florida. It did prove that, given the opportunity, 45 Joe Knetsch and Paul S. George 77

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34 whites were willing to make the move and take the risk of settlement near Seminoles. While the Armed Occupation Act played only a minor role in encouraged government officials to continue to look for solutions regarding the relocation of the Seminoles solutions that would eventually bring the Seminoles and their white neighbors to the brink of warfare.

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35 Section 3: From Sawg rass to Riches Despite economic depression and the presence of Seminoles, the population of Florida had reached nearly 58,000 by 1845. The territory was now eligible for statehood, which it attained on March 3, 1845, along with Iowa, the required free state needed to c ounterbalance the influence of adding another slave state to the Union. By 1850, the population of Florida had reached 87,445, up 30,000 from five years before. 46 Roughly one third of the population 39,000 to be exact constituted black slaves. Small farm ers looking to make a living in the southern half of the peninsula gradually learned that Florida agriculture was nothing like that of and a wide variety of insect pests and subtropical diseases all made this portion of Florida unique. The fertile red clay similar to that of Georgia ended just below Tallahassee. Planters ples failed year round, [and] corn [planted] in June [became] stunted and laden with useless miniature 47 There were new farming techniques to learn, and the labor was backbreaking. These challenges meant that Florida officials still had th eir work cut out for them in recruiting settlers. The people of the state of Florida recognized the need for government financed internal improvements some years before attaining statehood. In the constitution, adopted by the convention which assembled i n St. Joseph in 1838, Article XI, Section 2, declared: A liberal system of internal improvements being essential to the development of the resources of the country, shall be encouraged by the government of this State, and it shall be the duty of the Genera l Assembly, as soon as practicable, to ascertain by law proper objects of improvement in relation to roads, canals arid, navigable streams, and to 46 Gloria Jahoda, Florida: A History (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984), 70. 47 Ibid., 70.

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36 provide for a suitable application of such funds as may be appropriated for such improvements. 48 Unfortunatel y, upon entering the Union as a state in 1845, Florida still lacked many of these important essentials. To have any chance of building upon the settlement created by the Armed Occupation Act, Florida officials knew that they would need to offer more roads railroads, canals, and land. Nowhere in Florida was there more available land than in the Everglades. If the Everglades could be drained and settled by land hungry white settlers, then the government would not only dramatically increase the economic va lue of its new state, but also move one step closer toward finally moving the Seminoles to new lands out west. Therefore, in the same year Florida became a state, the legislature urged Congress to examine and survey the Everglades to determine the possibi lity of draining them. The legislature argued that the reclamation of this land would be of great interest not only to those who settled upon it, but to the entire state of Florida as well because of the economic opportunities it provided. 49 In fact, some went so far as to claim that once drained, the land in the Everglades would easily become the best rice and sugar lands in the nation. Senator James D. Westcott, Jr. of Florida quickly became one of the biggest supporters of draining the Everglades. On May 11, 1847, Westcott wrote the secretary of the treasury, Robert a report as to the probable practicability of the work [draining the Everglades] to be laid be fore 50 In his letter he cited the opinions of various army officers who had been on duty in the Everglades throughout the war. For many, the Second Seminole War 48 Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the Sate of Florida, 5 Session, 1851, XVI. 49 Marjor y S. Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (St Simons Island, Ga: Mockingbird Books, 1974), 194. 50 Ibid., 194.

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37 brought back nothing but violent images of bloody skirmishes an d unpleasant expeditions. However, soldiers also remembered the small array of fertile islands located throughout the Everglades. Many of these islands were very rich in soil and had been used by the Seminoles during the war to grow various crops, includ ing corn, beans, sugarcane, pumpkins, squash, melons, bananas, and tobacco. 51 Some of the wars most prominent military leaders offered their support toward the movement. General William S. Harney, for example, believed that by building enough canals, the 52 Walker must have found the opinions of Westcott and the veterans rather c onvincing, because only a week later, on June 18, he sent a letter to Buckingham Smith of St. Augustine regarding certain services to be performed in the Everglades. In a letter to the Treasury character and intelligence, who offices in Florida; and directed, also, to make a reconnaissance of the Ever Glades as a part of the public lands for the purpose of ascertaining the practicability and expediency of draining 53 54 But Smith was not an engineer, surveyor, or cartographer. F urthermore, he had never been to the Everglades and he had no exploration experience in such territory. 51 A History of the Everglades of Florida Carolina, 1947), 79. 52 Douglas, The Everglades 195. 53 Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 3. 54 Douglas, The Everglades 195.

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38 Billy Bowlegs and the other Seminole leaders had done their best to maintain peace and tranquility following the Indian attacks on white settlers in 1 849. Little did they know that Congress and Florida officials had been organizing a method of draining the Everglades in part to permanently remove the Seminoles, and to open the land up for whites. Bowlegs knew that d previously considered the land of the Everglades incapable of surveying, and therefore valueless to the white population. For this reason news of the potential draining of this swampy Indian safe haven would have come as a complete shock to him and his fellow Seminole leaders. Approximately one year after he had been commissioned by Walker to examine the Everglades, Buckingham Smith submitted a report on his inspection of the land. Essentially, he believed the water of the Everglades could easily be d rained. and its tributaries, and the other rivers emptying into Lake [Okeechobee], this lake must be tapped by such canals running into the [Caloosahatchee] on the one side and into the [Loxah atchee ] of the peninsula into the Glades. 55 In Smiths opinion, the draining of the Everglades was easily attainable. Despite a little bit of smell from the decayi ng vegetation, reclamation could be attended with no ill effects and only cost about $500,000. That Smith believed the draining would cost $500,000 is an important factor. It should be remembered that the Florida government was still looking for a way to pay its way out of debt for its expenses during the Second Seminole Wars. Once drained, it was cotton, rice, tobacco, sisal hemp, as well as citrus, bananas, figs, olives, pineapples, coconuts, and other tropical crops and fruits. 56 The economic surplus associated with the production of 55 Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 16. 56 Ibid.,155.

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39 Seminoles from this land. S 57 In fact, one of the reasons he believed removing the Seminoles had become so difficult was because of the land they had been given as a temporary reserve, the eastern and northern portions of the Big Cypress Swamp west to the coast around Port Charlotte. He argued that the location of the Seminole reserve had essentially prevented the settlement of the coast and the lower interior of southern Florida (essentially from present day Port Charlotte to Naples). Furthermore, he claimed that it had consolidated the Indians and placed them in the most defensible position against removal. Behind their reserve lay the Everglades, giving them a natural retreat on the one hand and a the western part of the Territory, nearer a dense white population, it is conceived their ulti mate removal west of the Mississippi could have been effected without the great delay, vast expense, 58 Others who had spent time in the Everglades maintained the opinion that originally led to the S eminoles being relocated towar d this particular area in the first place. Stephen Russell Mallory, the collector of customs at Key West ( and future confederate vice president), stated: My own impression is that large tracts of the Glades are fully as low as the surrounding sea, and can never be drained, that some lands around the margin may be reclaimed by drainage, or by dyking, but it will be found wholly out of the question to drain all the Everglades. As the country now is, healthy and mild, with its good lands in small parcels, wit h water at hand anywhere for irrigation, I think it offers inducements to small capitalists, men with from one to ten hands, to go there and raise fruits. Fruits will grow well there. 59 Despite the differing opinions of those who had spent time in the Ever glades, on September 57 Ibid., 34. 58 Dovell 62. 59 Senate Documents, Number 242, 3 0 Congress, 1 Session, 55.

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40 60 This act gave the Everglades area to the state of Florida and with it passed the success o f future settlement from the federal to state government, any future Indian wars notwithstanding. The Swamp and Overflowed Land Act gave to the states all federal lands that were more than half covered with water, but could potentially be drained and made useful. In Florida, that was a considerable amount of territory, some twenty million acres. Normally, the development of federal lands tended to be slow and sporadic. Under state control, those same lands might be made available for immediate sale. Su ddenly land that was considered totally worthless fell under the gaze of speculators and developers. Extravagant plans for draining the Everglades were formulated and submitted to the state legislature. In the eyes of many whites, there were fortunes to be made in southern Florida the only thing standing in their way was the annoying presence of a few hundred Seminole Indians, who, like water lying atop fertile ground, needed to be relocated. With all of these newfound opportunities opening up for them in the southern portion of the peninsula, the white people of Florida grew more and more impatient with the Seminole situation. Pressure mounted on politicians in both Tallahassee and Washington to remove the remaining Seminoles. The bloody Indian wars and massacres that took place throughout much of south Florida during the 19 th century help explain why the area remained so sparsely settled. Prior to the Armed Occupation Act of 1845 and the Swamp and Overflowed Land Act of 1850, white settlers had litt le reason to even contemplate the risky move to the Everglades and its surrounding areas. After the Second Seminole War, Indian troubles in Florida were minor, and the small number of Indians remaining in the territory took to the swamp for habitation. I n 1851, Governor Thomas 60 Ibid. 43.

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41 sealed to the knowledge of the world, t 61 These acts had turned territory that was once considered valueless, only fit for habitation by the Indians, into land that was now viewed as some of the most valuable in the state. Florida official s knew t he drainage of the Everglades would be a great undertaking, but the risks associated with removing the Seminoles and draining their land no longer seemed consequential. ] saw the Everglades no longer as a vast expanse of saw grass and water, but as a dream, a mirage of riches 62 61 Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Florida, 1851, 27. 62 Douglas, The Everglades 220.

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42 Section 4: Fortifying the Wetlands By 1854, the Seminoles had become desperately aware of the situation the government s acts had placed them in regarding white encroachment and pressure for resettlement. Billy Bowlegs and the Indian council also understood that the state of Florida had deliberately violated the agreement it had made with the Indians by allowing traders, hunters, and surveyors to invade the Seminole reservation near Lake Istokpoga and the neutral zones around it. Surveying parties, led by men like W.J. Reyes, deep within and around the Everglades served as a constant reminder to the Seminoles that simply remaining hidden among the hammocks would no longer maintain peace. The ever pressing thought of acquiring fertile new land was too much for white settlers and government officials to ignore. Military operations of surveying and exploring the southern part of the state accompanied homesteaders as they gradually continued to settle along the coasts and interior of Florida. Military posts at Ft. Brooke on Tampa Bay, at Ft. Myers on the Caloosahatchee, at Ft. Lauderdale on the New River, and at Ft. Dallas on the Miami River gave protection to the pioneers who were making their home on this southernmost frontier. 63 As eager settlers grew more impatient with the presence of the Seminoles, Florida officials were pressured into maki ng a decision. At first, the most important priority was to avoid another war with the Indians. The amount of money politicians in both Tallahassee and Washington were willing to spend on peacefully removing the few remaining Seminoles amounted to hundred s of thousands of dollars. Seven years of war had cost the government dearly. The War Department did not want to spend millions of dollars on another long embarrassing war in Florida. For the white settlers of Florida, fear was the greater concern. In 1849, it had only taken the subversive activities of five Seminole warriors to clear the frontier of 63 University of North Carolina, 1947), 106.

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43 whites. Land speculators knew that as long as the Seminoles were in South Florida, settlers would be reluctant to populate the area. In an attempt to put even more pressure on the Seminoles, the government decided to construct a number of new forts close to the Big Cypress Swamp, where many of the Seminoles lived. The continued presence of survey parties throughout the reserve also let Indians know that g overnment officials and white settlers were growing impatient. As companies of soldiers marched and boated around southern Florida, noting the locations of the Seminole camps and trails, Billy Bowlegs patience and desire to maintain peace similarly weaken ed. The constant pressures and invasive scouting by the army into the reserved lands had begun to take its toll on the Seminoles. Government officials had hoped that this increased pressure would force the Indians to admit that relocation was preferable to life in Florida, not force them to the brink of warfare. Cleary, as had happened in 1835, these officials had underestimated just how determined the Seminoles were to remain on what little land they had left. The direct encroachment on their lands com bined with the increasing number of military reconnaissance missions into the Big Cypress and along the coasts could only mean one thing to the Seminoles the whites were either going to force them to emigrate or push them into committing the first act of a ggression. As pressure mounted on the military to do more than just scout the land, the state legislature passed resolutions calling for the immediate removal of the Seminoles, and the number of troops in the state was increased. 64 The result was the Dece mber 20, 1855, Billy Bowlegs attack on the command of Lieutenant George Hartsuff. This attack sparked a campaign that would last three long, tedious years. The Third Seminole War was unique in that it was fought almost entirely in the Everglades and Big 64 Joe Knetsch, 1858 (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 149.

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44 C ypress swamp into which the Seminoles adroitly retreated deeper and deeper. Few Indian Wars were determined so thoroughly by the terrain they were fought on than were the Seminole Wars, in particular the Third. However, this was not the first time white settlers had been forced to engage in a conflict with Indians in a swampy environment. In the great Indian conflict known fought several important battles in and around the swamps of present day New England. The various Indian nations who participated in the war would frequently escape into the local swamps, where they would blend in with the vegetation around them. The colonial soldiers who participated in that war could attest to the difficulty of trying to locate and fight an enemy in an area as unique and inaccessible, not to mention haunting, as the swamp. In the chaos of the en in 65 As a result of instances like this, the colonial soldiers became quite terrified of swamps. In fact, military officers like Swamp, being taught by late Experience how dangerous it is to fight in such dismal Woods, when their Eyes were muffled with the Leaves, and their Arms pinioned with the thick Boughs 66 Soldiers participating in the Third Seminole War quickly discovered how difficult and terrifying it was to fight in the s wampy confines of the Everglades. 65 Jill Lepore, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc, 1998), 85. 66 Ibid., 85.

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45 demonstrate that it could make its way through the Everglades and destroy any villages and crops upon which the Seminoles depended. There were no major pitched battles between the combatants, and the casualties among white soldiers and Indians caused by disease far outnumbered those caused by the relatively few skirmishes fought between the army and the Seminoles. Opinions differed as to the federal government s policy of attempting to rid south Florida of the Seminoles by offering rewards for the capture of these elusive Indians. Prices on captured Indians ran from $500 for warriors, $250 for women, to $100 for children. 67 One of the soldiers who took part in the campaign, Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess, believed, that there was suitable for the white man. The Indians want them and, should be 68 Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Boggess and speculators had differing opinions. On June 2, 1856, i n Hernando County, John E. Turkett and nine other citizens petitioned onsequence of the depredations the tomahawk and scalping knife of th 69 The truth remained, however, that despite the buildup of troops in the state, the army was unprepared for war. Calls for volunteers and companies of militia were quickly made, but proved rather ineffective. These forces tended to s tay close to home and generally kept to open roads. If the army wanted to drive the 67 68 Francis C. M. Bogges, A Veteran of Four Years (Arcadia: The Champion Press, 1900), 63. 69 George Rollie Adams, General William S. Harney: Prince of Dr agoons (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2001), 146.

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46 Seminoles from Florida, they were going to have to travel beyond those areas where they felt comfortable, and enter the swamps and hammocks of the Everglades. The militia more interested in tending their crops and remaining close to their families, showed little inclination to invade the Everglades. 70 If the Seminoles were going to be removed, it would be up to the leadership and actions of the regular army. wet terrain played a very important, if not principal, role in shaping the way the war was fought. Those soldiers who were willing to operate from boats proved to be some of the most effective and useful throughout the war. Florida was able to raise a si gnificant number of troops to operate from watercraft, the most successful being those led by Captain Jacob Mickler. 71 In the early part of July 1857, Mickler and a boat company consisting of forty five men were mustered into the volunteer service of the U nited States at Fort Brooke now called Tampa. Andrew P. Canova, a native of Florida, decided to join the armed forces and was one of the forty five participants in this boat company, which made several Indian hunting expeditions through the Everglades are a. Canova later wrote a book titled Life and Adventures in South Florida which gives one of the best accounts of military life in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp during this period. Many people who have heard of the Everglades all their lives, have no idea of what the country looks like. Some imagine it to be a beautiful forest, where tropical birds fly through fruit laden trees; others imagine that it is an El Dorado, where one is almost sure to find gold or jewels. I understand that one prominent w riter, and citizen of Florida, pretending to write from experience, says that the Everglades will yet become the greatest winter resort in Florida. He speaks of "high, rolling land, wild orange groves, and a rich soil and healthful climate, which must some day gain for it a world wide reputation as a resort for invalids." I can scarcely conceive of a more shameless misrepresentation. 72 70 John Missall and Mary Lou Missall, Conflict (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2004), 214. 71 Knetsch, 153. 72 Andrew P. Canova, Lif e and Adventures in South Florida (Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885), 34 35.

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47 The Florida conditions experienced by those participating in the Third Seminole War were worse than even the most experienc ed soldiers had endured. Most of the scouting missions up the rivers of the Everglades and Big Cypress were fruitless exercises with few significant results other than demoralizing the troops. Soldiers forced to painstakingly make their way though the Ev had to slake [their] thirst with the loathsome limewater that oozed t hrough the grass at [their] 73 The Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act was passed in 1850 with the very powerful idea that the Eve rglades, and the Seminoles who inhabited it, were only a minor obstacle to settling south Florida. For hundreds of white settlers, men like Andrew Canova were the key to unlocking a land full of countless economic and agricultural possibilities. However, before plans to drain the Everglades could be realized, the Seminoles had to be removed. For men like Canova, the military experience during the Third Seminole War was horrific. The Everglades access. But the military had no plans to drain the Everglades to pursue its ends. The military, unlike agricultural developers of later years, had to deal with the raw physicality of the Everglades without the benefit of landscape altering heavy equipme nt and peace. For many participants, the war must have felt more like an unbearable scouting expedition than an actual military conflict. Canova later claimed: It is my honest opinion that we never could have gone a mile into the Everglades without 73 Canova, Life and Adventures 41.

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48 the aid of the boats, for the soil was so soft and boggy that as soon as we relaxed our hold on the boats we sank above our knees. Nobody knows how much deeper we would have sunk. All the hardships I had ever endured were nothing compared to this. Very often we leaned over in the boats, thoroughly exhausted by our exertions. It was an almost superhuman task to shove the boats along, and when we were once out of sight of dry land, the prospect was indescribably dreary, a circle of saw grass and little islands i n every direction. I think I can safely say that no human being ever did, or can, accomplish the feat of crossing the Everglades on foot and unaided. 74 The same land that had become a safe haven for the Seminoles, and a gleaming territory of fresh land to white settlers, also served as a difficult barrier for the military. The unique environment present in the Everglades and other portions of south Florida turned out to be an obstacle in a way that territory to the north where the first Seminole wars occu rred had not. The Seminoles had learned from prior wars that the most effective military strategy was elusion. Random strikes upon smaller military parties struck fear into white settlers and military officials alike. The inability of the military to qu ickly and effectively locate Seminole war parties following many of these attacks is one of the reasons the war dragged on for as long as it did. alone scour thousands of uncharted acres in search of an enemy skilled and adept at blending in. Had it not been for the experienced leadership of men like General William S. Harney, there is no telling how long the Seminoles would have been able to fend off militar y attacks and white encroachment. The Third Seminole War represented one last major demonstration of the federal fighting methods. A few hundred Seminoles, many of them women and children, occupied nearly three thousand regular and volunteer soldiers for almost two years, making the conflict resemble more of a colossal reconnaissance operation than a war. The gove rnment eventually succeeded in removing most of the Florida 74 Ibid., 39.

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49 75 By 1858, the relentless pursuit of the Seminoles throughout the Everglades had finally taken its toll on Billy Bowlegs and the other Indian leaders. His people, hunted and pursued to exhaustion, were at last willing to emigrate. Old Seminole friends from the West had returned to Florida to help convince Bowlegs that it was now to his advantage to take his people to the new reservation in what would come to be known as Oklahoma. The fighting in Flori da was finally over. It took a be notified and gathered, but finally on May 4, 1858, the steamship Grey Cloud was able to leave with the Seminole party, which included roughly one hundred and sixty five warriors, women, and children. 76 The military expeditions had been so successful in scattering the Seminoles that several bands could not be located and were left behind. Some Indians, like the aged Seminole leader Sam Jones, elected to remain in Florida; others joined Bowlegs out west as soon as they could. It is estimated that as man y as one hundred and fifty Seminoles elected to remain in the Everglades and not go out west. 77 Of the four hundred and fifty Indians who called Florida home when the Thir d Seminole W ar began, only this small portion still remained. The presence of these few Seminoles alone was enough to prevent settlers from pouring into the area south of the Peace River. 78 Government officials had finally realized, however, that it was too expensive and not worthwhile to remove every last Seminole from Florida. With the Civil War rapidly approaching, the affairs of a few Indians hidden deep in the lowlands of southern Florida no longer seemed as important. 75 Adams, General William S. Harney 157. 76 James Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 1855 1858: The Final Stand of The Seminoles Against The Whites (Chuluota, Fla. : The Mickler House Publishers, 1982), 79. 77 Missall and Missall, The Seminole Wars 221. 78 Covington, The Billy Bowlegs War 81.

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50 Conclusion The absence of large significant battles and major characters has caused several historians to obscure o r overlook the importance of the Third Seminole War and the significant effect its its debt, and subsequently boost the population of Florida, the federal government was forced to implement acts that would forever change life for the Seminole inhabitants and white settlers of Florida. Several historians have acknowledged that federal administrators sought acts involving the draining of the Everglades in order to attract white sett lers to Florida, but they ignored the prevalent effects these programs had on creating conflicts and heightening tensions between white settlers and Seminoles. There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, and always will be, one of the most uniq that white soldiers may have participated in or read about, nothing could have prepared soldiers, or settlers, for their experiences in the Everglades. Its thundering ra ins, vast waterways, clumps of mud, and sharp sawgrass all made life among the swampy confines of this beautiful, yet treacherous, place both uncomfortable and exhausting for those who inhabited it, or were forced to explore it. For the Seminoles, the Ev erglades represented their only chance of maintaining what little freedom they had left. From 1855 until 1858 it was their safe haven from the ever increasing pressures of government officials and white settlers. Federal administrators made several att empts to improve the appeal of southern Florida to settlers and to make the land readily available. The Armed Occupation Act was passed in 1842 with the intended purpose of providing land, weapons, and food to prospective settlers of Florida. Government officials also hoped that it would attract a large contingent of armed brave

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51 white settlers to the heart of the Florida frontier. Similarly, the Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act was passed in 1850 with the partial purpose of opening up more land to potentia l white settlers. Both of these acts were created in order to boost the white population of Florida, but had an additional intended effect of placing pressure on the Seminoles, subsequently creating more conflicts among whites and Indians. The Seminole N ation, as with every other Indian nation, stood in the way of white expansion and economic opportunity. In all three Seminole wars there were very few winners. As every soldier knew, there was little chance for glory in the Seminole Wars, and as most Sem inole warriors would eventually discover, their dream of a peaceful life in Florida was a lost cause. White settlers and Seminoles were really quite similar in their motives both loved their homeland and were willing to risk everything for it. The Third Seminole War however, was by no means a lost cause. Roughly one hundred and fifty Seminoles, including Sam Jones, successfully remained living in the Everglades. Despite the astronomical price it paid, the United S tates also got what it wanted se ttlers. The three Seminole Wars fought in Florida were the longest and most expensive Indian wars ever fought by the United States making them representative of several important facts. First, it is a testament to how difficult the terrain of southern Florida i s to fight in. It also demonstrates how truly determined the Seminoles were to defend and protect their land. Final ly, and perhaps most important it represents the lessons the government learned in dealing with American Indians and white Indian relation s. If government officials had focused more on creating fairly negotiated treaties, rather than pressuring the Seminoles into making a decision, the Third Seminole War easily could have been avoided. Americans of all races would have flocked to Florida f or the same reasons they always have land and opportunity. A small number of Seminoles would not have stopped them. Regardless

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52 of their loyalty to the land, various escalating pressures would have forced most, if not all, of the remaining Seminoles to ev entually sell their land to wealthy speculators and developers. In conclusion, the Third Seminole war was not an altercation that was brought about by existing conflicts between white settlers and Seminoles, but was an inevitability ensured by the gover unique and vibrant atmosphere distinctive to the Everglades, but i t also provided necessary shelter to the Seminoles under their time of distress, allowing the Third Seminole War to become one of the most difficult and exhausting Indian wars in American history.

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53 Bibliography Primary Sources Benton, Thomas H. New York: Frederick Parker, 1856. Boggess, Francis C. M. A Veteran of four wars. The autobiography of F.C.M Boggess. A record of pioneer life and adventure, and heretofore unwritten history of the Florida Seminole Indian Wars Areadia, Fla.: The Champion Press, 1900. Breese, To authorize draining of Everglades in Florida Senate Report No. 242, 30 th Congress, 1 session, 1848 C anova, Andrew P. Life and Adventures of South Florida Palatka, Fla.: The Southern Sun Publishing House, 1885. Senate Documents, Number 242, 30 Congress, 1 Session, 3. Florida Herald 24 July 1843. Florida Re publican 9 May 1850. Governor Thomas Brown to George W. Crawford. Secr etary of War, November 29, 1849. In Journal of the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Florida Tallahassee, 1850. Ives, J.C. Memoir to accompany a Military Map of the Peninsul a of Florida, South of Tampa Bay New York: M.B. Wynkoop, 1856. Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Florida, 1851, 27. Executive Documents, Number 122, 27 Congress, 2 Session. Long, Ellen Call. Florida Breezes Jacksonville, Fla: Ashmead brothers, 1882. Mosely to James Polk, December 29, 1848. Seminole Agency, Office of Indian Affairs, National Archives 1846 55 National Intelligencer (Washington D.C.). 1 Oct. 1842. Saint Augustine News 28 May 1842.

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54 U.S. Government, The Indian Removal Act of 1830 http://www.civics online.org/library/formatted/texts/indian_act.html Secondary Sources Adams, George Rollie. General William S. Harney: Prince of Dragoons Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2001. Covington, James W. The Billy Bowlegs War, 1855 1858: The Final Stand of the Seminoles Against the Whites Chuluota, Fla.: The Mickler House Publishers, 1982. -The Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (1961): 41 52. Douglas, Marjory S. The Everglades: River of Grass St Simon Island, Ga.: Mockingbird Books, 1974. diss., University of North Carolina, 1947. Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1953. Gannon, Michael. Florida: A Short History. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2003. Jahoda, Gloria. Florida: A History New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984. Knetsch, Joe. 1858 C harleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2003. Tequesta 53 ( 1993): 63 80. Lepore, Jill. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc 1998. Missall, John., Mary Lou Missall. Conflict Gainesville: University Pr esses of Florida, 1949. Tequesta 23 (1963): 3 14.