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Seminole Wars, End of

A History of Florida


Battle of Okechobee. In December, 1837, General Taylor, who had been ordered to find the enemy wherever he could, set out in the direction of Sam Jones's camp with eleven hundred men. Among them were some Delaware and Shawnee Indians. He met a large force of Seminoles in a dense hammock near Okechobee. As they were protected in front by a swamp, our men were at a disadvantage, but after three hours' hard fighting, the Seminoles were driven from the field. But the loss was very heavy. This was the last standing battle of the war.

Gen. Taylor
General Taylor

Jumper and Followers Surrender. While General Taylor was on his march Jumper and a few families of Indians had come to Tampa and said they were ready to leave Florida. After this from time to time, small bands would come in, or were captured, and in the spring a party of more than twelve hundred Indians were sent to Arkansas. A few weeks later three hundred more were sent. They were very unhappy. Lands had been set apart for them, for it was intended they should join their old enemies, the Creeks. This they were not willing to do. The Cherokee offered them a home on their reservation until lands set apart for them.

Who now marched against the Indians? With what force? Toward what place did he march? Where was a battle fought? Tell of the deportation of some of the Indians. What disappointments awaited them?

Taylor's New Plan of War. General Taylor was in command of the army. Soon after his appointment removed to Arkansas about two hundred Indians from West Florida. He made a new plan for the war. The Indians would no longer give open battle, but in small bands would appear least expected, attack undefined settlements, and put to death entire families. Taylor divided the Territory into small squares, each with a blockhouse, and every square was to be patrolled every third day by a squad of infantry and mounted men.

Macomb's Treaty. Before this plan could be carried out, General Macomb was sent from Washington to make an agreement with the Indians. He agreed that they should be allowed to remain below Peace River and Lake Okeechobee, and the war was declared ended. However, General Taylor was left in command of the army in Florida. But it is evident that the Washington authorities did not fully realize the state of affairs in the troubled territory.

What was Taylor's new plan of conquering the Territory? What was the Macomb Treaty?

This arrangement did more harm than good, for at the very time the army was ordered to cease fighting, the Indians were continuing to destroy life and property, and soon there were more attacks than before in all parts of the Territory. The war was not yet ended.

Changes of Command. When General Taylor had held command of the army two years, he asked to be relieved, and General Armistead was appointed in his place. After a year, during which time he had captured 450 Indians, General Armistead asked to be relieved, and the command was was given to General Worth.

General Worth. General Worth took command in May, 1841, and at once sent parties into every swamp and hammock where the Indians might be found. The Indians had scarcely a hope left, but still made their fight, and said they would kill any messenger who came to talk to them about surrender.

Coacoochee Deported. A few months before General Worth had received command of the army, he had sent for Coacoochee to come and have a talk with him. Coacoochee came. He was dressed in a gay costume that he had gotten from a company of traveling actors attacked near St. Augustine some time before. He promised to bring in his band for emigration, but afterwards said they were scattered and he could not collect them as soon as he had promised. He came to the camp several times afterwards, but said be could not get his band together. Finally Major Childs, believing he did not intend to keep his word, had Coacoochee and the few who were with him, arrested and sent to Arkansas.

How was it observed? Who succeeded General Taylor, and when? What did Armistead accomplish? How did General Worth prosecute the war? What shows the desperation of the Indians?

His Return. As soon as General Worth learned what had been done, he sent a messenger to bring Coacoochee and his companions back to Tampa. Coacoochee was delighted when told he was to return to Florida, promised to do all he could to persuade his men to render, but he was mortified when told he was still to kept in irons.

General Worth's Interview. General Worth and staff were at Tampa to meet the returning ship, and the morning of the 4th of July, came on board for interview. Coacoochee was very calm and dignified. General Worth taking him by the hand, told him he was a brave man who had fought long for his country with a strong, true heart. But he must see now the whites were too strong for the Indians and must conquer at last. It was time for the war to end, and Coacoochee must end it. There was no use shedding any more blood. The ground was red with it. He must select a few of his men to carry a "talk" to his friends. If the band did not surrender by a certain time, Coacoocbee and the men with him should be hung from the yard arm of the vessel.

The Indians' Side of the Question. Coacoochee rose, trembling with excitement. He said, "When I was a boy, I saw the white man afar off, and was told that he was my enemy. I could not shoot him as I would a wolf or bear, yet like those he came upon me. Horses, cattle fields he took from me. He said he was my friend. . . .He gave us his hand in friendship; we took it. He had a snake in the other; his tongue was forked; he lied and stung us. I asked for but a small piece of these lands enough to plant and live upon far south a spot where I could place the ashes of my kindred—a place where wife and child could live. This was not granted me."

Tell of the conferences with Coacoochee, his deportation, return and complaint.

Submission of the Indians. He said that he wanted to end the war, but be could not go to his warriors in irons they would say his heart was weak, and would not obey him. When told that be could not go himself, but must send the "talk," he selected five men, and told them what to say. After giving the message to his band, he tried to give a message to his wife and child, but could not speak then, and turned away his face to hide the tears streaming from his eyes. As the messengers, released from their chains, passed Coacoochee, each silently took him by the hand. To one of them he gave a brooch handkerchief, saying, "Give these to my wife and child."

The Departure. The messengers were successful. In ten days a party of six warriors and some women and children came in. From day to day others came, and by the appointed time the whole band had surrendered.

Now Coacoochee's irons were taken off, and he was allowed to go before his band. He was very gayly dressed for the occasion. A red silk girdle fastened his colored frock; he wore bright red leggings and ornamented Moccasins; silver ornaments covered his breast; and ostrich plumes waved from his crimson silk turban. With his scalping knife in his girdle, he felt that he appeared as a chief should.

He talked to his people. He told them the rifle was hidden, and the white and red men were friends. He sent messages to other chieftains, urging them to make peace. He said they must throw away their rifles take the word of the white men.

At last all was ready for migration. When he bade General Worth good-by, Coacoochee said that in leaving Florida forever he had done nothing to disgrace it. "It was my home," he said; "I loved it, and to leave it is burying my wife and child. I have thrown away my rifle, have taken the hand of the white man, and now say, 'take care of me.'"

How were the tribes reached? Tell of Coacoochee's ideas of a dignified appearance. What was his advice to the tribes?

End of the War. After this, other bands surrendered or were captured, and in the spring of 1842, General Worth informed the government that only about three hundred Indians remained in the Territory. He advised that these should be allowed to live below Peace River. This was agreed to, and the war was at last ended.

The war had lasted seven years, and had cost the lives of more than fourteen hundred American soldiers. The army employed had numbered at one time nearly nine thousand men against hardly two thousand warriors.

Two of the generals, Scott and Taylor, were afterwards distinguished in the Mexican War. General Taylor, after the close of the war, was elected President of the United States, and was called by the red men "Great Father."

Excerpt from Part Two, Chapter Nine, "End of the Seminole War" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


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