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A Correct and Authentic Narrative of the Indian War in Florida with a Description of Maj. Dade's Massacre and an Account of the Extreme Suffering for Want of Provision of the Army

188 pages
Library of Alexandria
IN the beginning of January, 1836, the inhabitants of New Orleans received tidings from Florida of a very alarming and distressing nature. An able and brave, but unscrupulous chieftain, named Powell, had been for some time suspected of harboring designs to prevent the removal of the Seminole Indians, beyond the Mississippi, according to treaty. For this or some such cause, Powell was arrested and thrown into double irons, at Fort King, by General Thompson, the Indian agent. He was soon released: the head chief of the tribe, Attemottely, (I know not if I spell his name properly) pledging himself that Powell should raise no disturbances. Powell repaid him with the blackest ingratitude: he was no sooner free from his confinement, than he with a party of his warriors, killed Attemottely, who was in favor of fulfilling the terms of the treaty, and thus obtained for himself the consequence he now enjoys in the nation. Soon after this, Dalton, the carrier of the mail from Tampa Bay to Fort King, was murdered, and his body found in the woods a few miles from Fort Brooke. Next came the murder of the Indian agent, General Thompson, and several of the officers of Fort King. This was soon followed by the massacre of Major Dade’s command, and the engagement of General Clinch, on the Ouithlacouchy. The houses of the inhabitants were also burned, their plantations destroyed, their property plundered, and they themselves, were, in many instances murdered. On receipt of these tidings, the citizens of New Orleans held a meeting, at which it was unanimously resolved to raise a regiment in defence of their suffering friends in Florida. Gen. Persifor F. Smith volunteered his services as Colonel, and Mr. Lawson, as Lieut. Colonel: the latter gentleman, the head physician of the United States, has since proved that the profession of arms is not inconsistent with the duties of a follower of Æsculapius. The enlistment was commenced on the 24th January, and a body of seven hundred men was quickly raised. The citizens, with their usual liberality and patriotism, supplied the troops with comfortable quarters, till the 3d of February. Each intervening day the regiment was inspected in the Custom House yard: on the 2nd February the troops received their uniform, blankets and other necessaries, and on the 3rd were mustered in the Barrack yard. Louisiana had done her part—she had raised a fine and as was afterwards proved, an effective body of men. They received their arms, colors and bounty, thirty dollars (the wages were ten dollars per month) and marched, some that evening, others next morning, to the rail road, where we found the cars in readiness and were soon embarked on Lake Ponchartrain. Two steamboats, the Watchman and Merchant were chartered to transport us to Tampa Bay, and the David Brown proceeded to the same point, via the Balise. The Watchman reached Pensacola on the 6th without any adventure except being detained a few hours on a mud bank. We took in wood and again put off, but the evening looked very dirty and the vessel was any thing but a good sea boat. Our captain accordingly determined not to go to sea, and lay too, close to the Fort, which is a few miles below the town. Here we had comfortable quarters for the night, and next morning again embarked. We arrived at Tampa Bay, on the 9th, and landed on the 10th. The Merchant had been in a day before us, and the David Brown arrived the day after. Here was a scene well calculated to rouse the spirits of the lukewarm, (if any such were among us). Almost every house in this beautiful spot had been torn down or burnt, and the inhabitants had been compelled to fly for protection to the vessels in the bay.