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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Florida Historical Quarterly
Vol. 38 No. 2 (Oct. 1959), pp142‑171

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p142 The Journals of Lieutenant John Pickell
1836‑1837

Edited by Frank L. White, Jr.

During the summer of 1837, virtually all military operations against the Seminoles ceased. For several months after General Thomas S. Jesup's agreement with the Indians in March, only sporadic fighting had occurred in Florida.1 The Army was employed in encouraging the Indians to assemble for emigration to the West as provided by the truce and in exploring the country. At the same time, however, additional troops were arriving to resume hostilities, if this should become necessary. The Seminoles, on the other hand, used this period to delay their embarkation and at the same time to continue their attacks upon white settlements. The resumption of the war, consequently, was inevitable.2

By fall, most of the Indians had neither surrendered nor had they come out of their hiding places in hammocks and deep recesses. General Jesup therefore attempted to break the stalemate through his seizure and subsequent imprisonment of Osceola and other chiefs. Still the remaining Indians would not yield.3

As his next step, he resorted to the use of persuasion. For that purpose and with War Department concurrence, John Ross, an influential Cherokee chief, had come to Florida with a delegation of four sub-chiefs to meet with the Seminoles and encourage them to emigrate.4 The Cherokees made little progress in their negotiations, largely because several of the Seminole Indians refused to come in.

General Jesup, feeling that the Seminoles were insincere in their professions of peace and friendship, seized Micanopy and his delegation. He then sent them to St. Augustine as prisoners where they joined the ones who had been previously seized.5 p143Negotiations immediately ceased, the Cherokee delegation returned embittered to Washington and the Army prepared to resume the war by waging a winter campaign which was to culminate on December 25, 1837, in the Battle of Lake Okeechobee.6

All of these events are related by Lieutenant John Pickell, the adjutant of the Fourth Regiment of Artillery, who provides a firsthand contract of the events leading up to the battle. Two journals kept by him tell of the military events in Florida during 1836 and 1837. These also detail his participation in the exploration of the St. Johns River in which his organization participated.7

The first and shorter of the two journals covers the period between July 16 and August 1, 1836.8 This account contains little of significance except Pickell's arrival in Florida from Fort Hamilton, New York, and his participation in a scouting expedition near Jacksonville. He failed to make any entries after August 1 although he remained in Florida until fall, when he was ordered to Fort McHenry, Maryland.9 He did not return to Florida until November of the following year.

Pickell's second, the longer and more important of the journals covers the period between November 8 and December 16, 1837. He had been ordered to return to Florida in early November, so he arrived at the time the Fourth Artillery was preparing to proceed up the St. Johns River to establish a depot for use as a base for future operations.10 Although his regiment failed in this assignment, Colonel Bankhead's command continued to explore p144the river to its supposed source in the Everglades.11

Pickell devotes much space in his journal to the flora and fauna he noted during his exploration of the region. He also relates quite proudly his leadership of the survey of the lake which bears his name. "In consideration of having discovered the head of the St. John's River," he wrote, "Col. Bankhead did me the honor of naming the lake at its source Lake Pickell and accordingly wrote it upon the map." After making this and other discoveries, the command returned to Fort Mellon.

With the return to Fort Mellon, the army settled down to await the results of the Cherokee mission. Pickell uttered the hope that the delegation might be successful and "prevail upon the hostile chiefs to come in, and yield without for bloodshed." He also entertained high hopes for John Ross' success and anxiously awaited his return after he and his chiefs had made their initial contact with the Indians who were still holding out in the swamps. "I am inclined to the opinion that the last rifle has been fired," he commented. When the Cherokees returned to the fort, Pickell felt that the Seminoles were insincere. "The Indians played a deep ruse de guerre by the deception they practiced upon the delegation and the army," he noted. He felt that the delay had enabled the Indians to "move farther south and to a country still more inaccessible to the army," an opinion which was voiced by General Jesup as well.12

Pickell's journals assume importance because of his eye-witness commentaries upon contemporary events in Florida. While the negotiations were being carried on, for example, Wild Cat, who had been confined in St. Augustine with the chiefs who had been seized in September, made good his escape.13 This, noted Pickell, would "have an unfavorable effect upon the termination p145of the war." As subsequent events proved, Wild Cat reached the camp of the Indians who were resisting surrender and inflamed them against the whites. Pickell also felt that the current negotiations with the Seminoles were of little value. "Parleying with the Indians gives them only hopes that cannot be fulfilled."

Pickell's opinions generally reflected the views of the Army. He felt that both the chiefs Micanopy and Coahadjo were sincere in their professions of peace and desires to emigrate, but that the other chiefs were not. He regretted the inability of the Cherokees to mediate the difficulties successfully, while at the same time he condemned Seminole deception.14 Sadly, he watched the army prepare for another campaign. "Yesterday we felt as if it was a time of peace. Today it is a time of war." He closed his journal as the army prepared to move out in pursuit of the hostiles and as the Cherokee delegation departed humiliated and angry on their way first to Black Creek and then to Washington. He firmly believed that General Jesup had used every means at his disposal in this unsuccessful attempt to end the war. The resumption of hostilities meant the dragging out of hostilities for five more years.15

Notes of the Seminole Expedition

Saturday, July 16th 1836. Left Fort Hamilton, N. Y. in the Steam Boat William Gibbons for Charleston.16 Capt. Childs17 and his company with Lt. Roswell Lee18 on board bound to Garey's Ferry on Black Creek, E. F.19 Arrived at Charleston, S. C. on Tuesday evening. On the following day left for Garey's Ferry via Savannah & St. Mary's.

Sunday 24th. At 2 o'clk P.M. reached Jacksonville where we learned the particulars of the attack of the Indians upon Col. Hollins,20 a week ago on his plantation about 10 miles above Jacksonville. The Col. was wounded in the head by an Indian firing through the window of the house. We were also informed at St. Mary's that the Indians had attacked the party of Invalids p146under an escort of about 50 troops on their way to Micanopy.21 The body of Indians consisted of about 300. They were repulsed in their first attack. In a second attack which they made they succeeded in capturing one Baggage waggon & Capt. Ashby of the Dragoons22 & Dr. Weightman23 are reported to [be] wounded. We continued on our way 2 miles beyond the mouth of Black Creek in order to deceive the Indians as to our destination. We anchored at sunset and will in the morning return and go up the creek to the ferry. The bulwarks of the S. Boat John Stovey are boarded up, to secure and protect us our way up the creek against the fires of the Indians that are in its neighborhood. The weather since I left New York has generally been pleasant. From Savannah to St. Mary's the inside passage was taken and the trip was delightful. There is much alarm in Jacksonville and the Inhabitants are leaving it under the apprehension of an attack from the Indians. While at St. Mary's called to pay my respects to Genl. Clinch.24

Monday 25th. Reached Fort Heileman Garey's Ferry at 8 o'clk A.M.25

Tuesday 26th. In camp. No news.

Wednesday 27th. Do.

Thursday 28th. Lt. Herbert returning with the man that bought the horses from St. Augustine landed at the mouth of Black Creek at Ridgely's Mills and was attacked by a party of almost 50 Indians.26 A battle ensued that continued 1 hour and 20 min. It is not known how many of the Indians were killed. 5 of our men were wounded. After they returned to the S. Boat the Indians fired several rounds upon it. Wounded 2 men & more than 19 Shot Ball holes in it.

Friday 29th. At 5 o'clock P.M. the S[team] B[oat] Essayons returned & gave us the first intelligence of the Battle. Capt. p147Childs with his company and ten men of Capt. Galt's company.27 I volunteered my services to accompany the Scout. We landed at mouth of the Black Creek after dark. As we anchored about 250 yards from the shore we discovered 8 or 10 Indians moving about the fires. The mill & other buildings having been set on fire the day before. We took our position on the boat in extended order. At daylight we commenced our scout. We thoroughly charged the hammock on the right of our bivouac. Then marched to Travers' place on the St. Johns where we were joined by the Black Creek horsemen & the balance of "C" Company mounted. Then we seperated [sic] & continued the scout & returned at 3 o'clock. P.M. to the S. Boat and embarked. Just before we weighed anchor the St. Augustine Horsemen under Capt. Dummit reached the point of land at the mills (or ruins).28

I was directed by Capt. Childs to report to them what we had done. I found with the command Lt. Irwin29 and Lt. Herbert. We returned to Fort Heileman at 6 o'clock P.M. much fatigued and after a severe scout of 22 hours.

Saturday 30th. No news.

Sunday 31st. A fire was seen in the direction of Horse Hole branch & it was also reported in the direction of Marquis Fougere's place. A party of about 15 men was immediately made up. I volunteered my services to accompany the detachment. At 4 o'clock P.M. 2 men returned from the place and reported that the firing we heard was shooting birds. The scout of course did not start. At 10 o'clock P.M. a party of Col. Warren's mounted men arrived and reported that Col. Warren would arrive tonight.30

Monday August 1st 1836. Col Warren arrived early this morning with 18 or 20 mounted men. Capt. Childs' company is ordered to proceed in company with the mounted men, 40, to Micanopy. A Howitzer is to go with the train, and having been detailed to go with it.

[End of the first journal]

p148 1837. Fort Heileman, E. F.

Wednesday, Nov. 8th. Arrived at Black Creek from Baltimore, which I left on the 31st ult.

Sunday 12th. Commenced my duties in the Field as adjutant. Lt. Col. Bankhead commanding Fort Heileman.31 The weather since my arrival has been very pleasant. This evening 2 young Seminole warriors were brought to camp having been captured by a party of Florida militia about 25 miles S. The effective force of the command at this post according to the Field Dispatch made out today is [left blank in the original journal].32 The Dragoons 2nd Regiment under the command of Col. Twiggs commenced embarking today.33 Two & a half companies for Volusia.34 The remaining companies will embark for the same destination as fast as the S. Boat Conveyance up the St. Johns can be afforded.35

Monday 13th. This afternoon two more companies of Dragoons (2nd Regiment) embarked on board the Steam Boat Cincinnati for Fort Mellon.36 The mail of today brought me no letters. The weather continues pleasant.

A party of Florida mounted men returned from Rice Creek & reported that they chased 8 Indians for some time & that they escaped by entering into a dense hammock.37 Camp Heileman E. F. near Fort Heileman.

Tuesday Novr. 14th. Col. Twiggs left his encampment on the north side of Black Creek with the Dragoons excepting part of one company for Volusia.38

Wednesday 15th. The preparations for moving continue.

p149 Thursday, 16th. The last company of the 2nd Regiment Dragoons having left, orders were issued to the troops under the command of Col. Bankhead to embark. The general was back at 3 o'clock P.M. and the command was marched to Garey's Ferry for embarkation. Col. Bankhead & Adjt. with 34 of the mounted men under Lt. Allen,39 and Companies "F" of the 2nd Arty & "D" 4th Arty. The officers, Lt. Col. Bankhead commanding, Lt. Pickell adjt., 1st Lts. Ross40 & Whitely.41 2nd Lts. Phelphs [Phelps]42 Pratt,43 Martin,44 Allen, Thomas45 & Dr. Maffit.46 Comp. "F" 22nd Arty 57 non coms & privates. Co. D 4th Arty 50 do.47

After the S. Boat Santee were the remaining half of the mounted men of Capt. Ringgold's comp.48 now under the command of Lt. Allen and 2 companies of the 3rd Arty, under Lt. Col. Gates49 upon the Steam Boat Forister. 3 comps. of the 3rd Arty.

The weather pleasant and by 6 o'clock Friday morning Nov. 17th we reached Volusia where we stopped for about an hour and visited the pickets. The post [is] under the command of Bvt. Maj. Gardner 4th Arty, with 2 companies.50 The scenery along the banks of the St. Johns is thus far very monotonous. Before we entered Lake George the growth covered with Palmetto and Live Oaks. The pickets at Volusia is located upon a bank of shells [sic] and the country back to the hammock nearly one mile is composed of the same as also that on the opposite side along the bank. Volusia is situated upon the S. E. Side of Lake George & Lake Monroe occasionally contracts and expands from 100 yards p150to ¾ of a mile in width. We entered into Lake Monroe at ¼ before 4 o'clock P.M. and arrived off Fort Mellon at ½ past 5 o'clock P.M. From the mouth of Lake Monroe to Ft. Mellon that was distinctly seen the direction is very little N of E distant about 4 miles. Being too late to land Col. Bankhead, Dr. Maffit & myself went on shore, Lt. Col. Harney of the 2d Dragoons comdg. to ascertain the best position for the encampment.51 We passed the Steam Boat about 12 miles from Ft. Mellon. Col. Harney informed us that [two] days since he went out about 2 miles from the Fort and discovered signs of two or three Indians. No Indians have been seen. The Fort occupied the ground which was a dense hammock when the Indians made their attack on the pickets in which Capt. Mellon was killed about two months ago.52 The ground is high and composed of hillocks of the same kind of shells as at Volusia. The situation is pleasant, facing upon Lake Monroe, a beautiful sheet of water.

Remarks about 30 miles of Volusia. Passed the entrance of a stream into the St. John's called the Silver Spring which is remarkable for the clear and groundlike color of the water. The line between the dark and green waters of the St. Johns & Silver Spring is beautifully striking to the view.

Birds, wild Turkies, Ducks, several varieties of Cranes, Water Turkies, Marsh hens and Alligators were seen in considerable numbers & afforded amusement to shoot them and particularly the Alligators. Lake Monroe is about 30 miles from Volusia. The Palmetto Grass and natural meadows hedged with evergreens presented beautiful objects of scenery. Our passage from Volusia to Ft. Mellon was very serpentine & several times in very short distances almost turned every point of the compass. In the afternoon we had several little showers of rain. We remained on Board of the S. Boat until morning.

Saturday 18th. Landed the troops, and encamped a little distance from the bank of Lake Monroe in a beautiful & gentle slope. Busy in arranging the encampment.

Sunday 19th. The S. Boat Charleston with Gen'l Eustis arrived.53 p151Several showers of rain. An order for camp, 4th Regt. Arty; and Companies B, F, & H of the 3rd Arty under the command of Lt. Col. Bankhead to proceed by sunrise tomorrow in the Steamboats Santee & McLean to the highest accessible point of Lake Harney to establish a post on its west bank. The expedition is supplied with one six pounder & 100 rounds of ammunition and the whole command with 100 musket ball & Buck Shot cartridges each & 15 signal muskets. The officers of the Command — Lt. Col. Bankhead, Lt. Pickell, Adjutant, Dr. Maffitt, 1st Lieuts. Davidson,54 & Ross, 2nd Lts. Tompkins,55 Mock56 Phelps, Martin & Taylor.57

Monday 20th. Struck our tents at sunrise and left Fort Mellon at ½ past 7 o'clock A.M. At the head of Lake Monroe we had considerable difficulty getting over the bar at the mouth — having only 4 ft. water on the Santee drawing loaded a few inches more. At 4 o'clock we passed over the bar and the S. Boat McLean passed over immediately after. We reached by dusk about 5 miles from the bar, in all say 8 miles from Fort Mellon. It rained in showers until we anchored for the night. The country bordering upon the river thus far is savannahs with occasionally a grove of Palmettoes. Our course has been southeasterly, the river meandering. The S. Boat McLean lays along side. Nothing has [been] received that requires to be particularly noted. Before I left Ft. Mellon I wrote to my brother informing him of our intended expedition.

Tuesday 21st. At ½ past 11 o'clock A.M. arrived at our position about ½ a mile from the Western shore of the Lake and immediately after landed, the S. Boat anchored, had two boats manned with 20 men with arms in each boat and went on shore, in company with Col. Bankhead, Lieuts. Davidson, Ross, Tompkins, and Dr. Maffitt to examine the ground for the establishment p152of a military post. Upon landing we found that the high land along the shore was a narrow belt of white sand covered with palmettoes and a few live oaks interspersed. Beyond was wet, marshy land, extending along parallel to the coast for about 7 miles and broken at one place by a very wet cypress swamp which was found impracticable to pass. No position could be found upon this bank suitable to the object in view. It was unapproachable on the South in consequence of the wet strip of land about 500 yards wide. Enough of palmetto for the picketing but no good for fuel [and] could not be approached by the Steam Boats nearer than 50 yds. with 4 ft. water and no drinking and cooking. In the afternoon Lts. Davidson, Tompkins, & myself again landed to make a more critical examination, and were confirmed in the opinion in which we all concurred that it was impracticable to make a location upon this part of the shore. We discovered two small streams running very saline falling into the lake about 3 miles apart. The remains of several Indians lodges, but which did not appear to have been occupied for some time past, pieces of cloth and soldiers['] uniforms were found at the lodges and several hominy pounders used by the Indians. South of the ridge of sand we discovered a trail which ran nearly parallel to the shore and was no doubt at one time much used. The Indian track seemed to be but a day old going east. The ground had every indication of having been much trodden by horses and cattle probably a week or ten days since. Wolf & deer tracks, at several places near the lake. An excellent canoe was discovered[,] a flat, and several planks along the shore. The men took possession of the canoe and brought it to the S. Boat.

Several beautiful flowers grew upon the ridge. The coryopsis particularly was very abundant and exceedingly fragrant. The birds seen were several kinds of plovers, quail, ducks, white & blue cranes, Brant, black birds, and some small birds. I obtained on the shore a specimen of the [illegible] and several specimens of shells the inside of which had a fine pearly appearance. The bushes & grass along the shore showed that the water had been lately about 4 ft. higher than at present. The greatest length of the lake about 9 miles N. & S. The streams are literally filled with fish, trout, and sun fish. Large catfish were caught today p153by some of the men from the S. Boats. The view to the East is one of interminable savannahs, covered with a luxury growth of grass. I returned to the S. Boat after sunset much fatigued with the examination we had made. During the day we had several showers of rain some heavy. The sunset was the most perfectly glowing I have ever seen.

Wednesday 22nd. At daylight this morning I went with the Captains of the S. Boat Santee and McLean to sound the bar at the head of Lake Harney with the view of going up river with the McLean as far as practicable. The country on the western shore not being at all suitable for a military post, Col. Bankhead was induced from the favorable appearance of the character of the country higher up the river to examine the ground bordering upon it and to ascertain whether a more favorable position could be obtained for the proposed depot. Upon a careful sounding we found 3 ft. 8 inches over the bar, a sufficient depth for the McLean if lightened by removing the surplus wood, etc. to the Santee. We weighed anchor at 9 o'clock A.M. and passed over the bar without difficulty, and were again under weigh up the river at ¼ after 10 o'clock P.M. after proceeding 7 or 8 miles we grounded on 3 ft. 6 inches. Anticipating much delay in putting off which could only be affected by taking out the wood and other loading I proposed to Col. Bankhead to dispatch the yawl boat with a few hands, etc. under my direction to proceed up the river to examine it. At about 4 o'clock I started in the Boat with Capt. Curry of the McLean his mate and two hands.58 At a short distance from the S. Boat we entered a Lake 1¼ miles long, and within the next 3 miles two other lakes were united by the straits of the river 3 or 400 yards long. After leaving the last lake we ascended the river about one mile from there. The river from the lake last noted is contracted to a width of 7 or 9 yards. The shore of the water from 3 to 7 ft. in depth and the banks covered with a high sedge. At the termination of this reach, it opened into a beautiful lake nearly circular and of about 1 mile in diameter. This lake is evidently the head waters of the St. John's River and which terminated in the midst of the everglades, so celebrated as the terra incog. and which never before had been so far penetrated "by the white man" and p154perhaps never by the "red man."59 The head of the river is in a southeasterly direction from the head of Lake Harney and distant from 15 to 16 miles. The appearance of the everglades is interesting and spreading out E. and West from the head of the river 15 or 20 miles, dotted with three or four small groups of palmettoes. Towards the South the river is interminable.

The everglades are extensive savannahs, covered with high grass and checkered over with branches and ponds. Upon the summit the ground is very level and the grass grows to the height of 10 to 12 feet. That bordering the head of the Lake is a species of red sedge and differs from the growth farther down the river. Water fowl were very plenty and never before were started from their green retreats by the noise of the boatman's paddle. The most numerous of the fowl kind was the curlew, which were of the white and brown species. Ducks, water hens, [and other fowl] were also numerous. After having critically coursed and examined the bank of the Lake we commenced our return at dark and reached the S. Boat at 9 o'clock P.M. In consequence of the lateness the Bell of the S. Boat was rung to advise us of its position, which we heard then about 3 miles from it. On our return, I had of course much to relate of the exploration. I was careful in sketching the part of the river above the S. Boat to the head of the River and took minute notes, adding my notes and sketches to those of Lieut. Davidson who accompanied the party. We were enabled after my return to make a correct map of the river and everglades from Lake Harney to the head of the river — and which we presented to Col. Bankhead. We remained in the river until next morning.

p155 Thursday 23rd. At sunrise we were on our return to the Lake and which we reached the anchorage over the bar at about 9 o'clk A.M. and by 12 N. we were under weigh to the outlet of the Lake towing the Santee. At 1 P.M. the McLean was dispatched with a communication from Col. Bankhead to Genl. Eustis at Fort Mellon giving an account of our expedition and the result of the examination of the ground at the head of the Lake and to the head of the river, and recommending that another position be fixed upon as more favorable for a Depot. We dropped down from the mouth of the Lake ¾ of a mile and fastened the Boat to the Shore at ½ an hour before sunset. Here the men had an opportunity of cooking on the Shore and remained on shore until nearly 8 P.M. At 9 P.M. two signal rockets were fired off. Towards the S. E. smoke was discovered at several places. The fires were beyond the woods bordering the lake, apparently 10 miles from us. Last night and this morning uncomfortably cold. In consideration of having discovered the head of the St. John's River, Col. Bankhead did me the honor of naming the lake at its source Lake Pickell and accordingly wrote it upon the map. I forgot to say that the St. John's River is supplied by the rain that falls upon the level ground at the summit in the everglades which contains numerous natural resources. From the appearance of the grass the water has recently been 18 inches deep upon the general surface of the ground.

Friday 24th. This morning despatches were recd. from Genl. Eustis and Col. Bankhead directed the S. Boats to run up to the head of the Lake for the purpose of sending two barges up the river with the Negro guide Ben60 to the upper crossing said to be 25 miles from the Lake. [Lieut.] Ross and myself had each charge of a Barge accompanied by Lieut. Tompkins and 30 men. We left the Bar at ¼ after 4 o'clk. P.M. and by 8 o'clk. we were in Lake P. and were obliged to return about one mile to get into another channel. We ran our boats to shore and at 9 o'clk. put up two Single rockets as agreed upon when we arrived at our destination, but which we understood to be given when we stopped for the night. It was answered by the S. Boat on p156the Lake by one rocket. The night was very cold and of course our sleep was not very refreshing.

Saturday 25th. At daylight we were again under way and at ½ past 11 o'clk. A.M. reached the main crossing about 25 or 27 miles above the lake. At a point 7 miles below we landed and visited a small Indian habitation on a Shell Hillock which we found under cultivation. Pumpkins and cabbages were growing upon it. No evidence of Indians have been on it for the last 10 or 12 days. This hillock was on the W. side and 4 or 500 yards from the landing. At the upper crossing we also landed, and wading through a pond 200 yds. wide and 3 or four feet deep we reached a palmetto grove and Several Indian lodges. Here we found quite an extensive cultivation of Sweet Potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, etc. The Indians had just left it, as the fire was burning and the potato vines seemed to have been just dug up. I brought from it a branch of an orange tree. At noon we left on our return to the Lake and which we reached at ½ after 4 P.M. having been about on the expedition 24 hours. Water fowl abounded and seemed to have increased as we ascended. The character of the country is savannah with occasional groves of palmettoes. Returning to the lake we met the S. Boat about 4 miles up. In consequence of our signal rockets having indicated to Col. B. that we had arrived at our destination at 9 o'clock last night, and not returning in the morning, Col. B and those below were apprehensive that we had met with serious difficulty, and therefore they moved up the river.

Sunday 26th. At day light we left the head of the Lake for the outlet where we arrived by 7 o'clock A.M. Col. Bankhead directed me to proceed in the S. Boat McLean to Fort Mellon with dispatches for Genl. Eustis. We started at 8 A.M. and at ½ past 11 A.M. arrived at Fort Mellon. On my arrival I ascertained that a family of Indians had come in the day before and gave favorable accounts of the intentions of the Indians to come in after a talk was held between the several chiefs and warriors. It is said that Micanopy had directed that there should be a meeting at Powells creek about 60 miles from Fort Mellon. I am inclined to the opinion that the last rifle has been fired and this opinion is strengthened by the fact on coming down the river from the upper crossing there was afforded hundreds of opportunities p157from the notionº of the country to have shot upon us undiscovered & of which they did not avail themselves. This I ascribe to their intention not to fire another rifle. So much for a digression.

Having rec'd my orders from Genl. Eustis I started on my return to Col. Bankhead's command at the outlet of Lake Harney, Genl. Eustis directed that we should return as soon as possible to Ft. Mellon, and more than probable a floating depot will be made at the head of Lake H. and Col. B.'s command be directed to move up the St. John's to its highest point. Left the wharf at Ft. M. at ½ after 7 P.M. The officers were all anxiously awaiting my return to hear what would be the destination of our command. All are in favor of the expedition up the St. John's River, and which could then be explored to its head.

Monday 27th. At 10 min. of 10 o'clk. A.M. we got underway for Ft. Mellon.61 I omitted to state in my yesterday's notes that the Cherokee delegation had arrived at Fort Mellon.62 Genl. Jessup [Jesup] with Col. Twiggs command of the 2nd Regt. of Dragons, and Major Gardner with 2 companies of the 4th Artillery from Volusia arrived also at about noon yesterday. On my p158way down the weather was very pleasant & the atmosphere clear and the water and land checkered over with groves of palmetto presented a fine view. On my return in the evening the sunset was particularly glowing and rich. We found much difficulty in getting the Santee over the bar and shallows of the river and did not reach the mouth of the river at the head of Lake Monroe until nearly 2 o'clock P.M. Finding it impossible to get the S. B. over the bar Col. Bankhead and myself went on board the McLean that had already crossed and proceeded in her to Fort Mellon and where we arrived at 3 o'clock P.M. After the two companies on board had landed she returned to the Santee with several lighters to take off what was necessary to reduce her draught of water to cross the bar.

Tuesday 28th. The Santee did not succeed in coming over the bar until about noon today. The arrangements with the delegation of the Cherokee chiefs having been made for their departure, they left the Camp at 2 o'clk. P.M. to meet the Seminole Chiefs in council at Powell Creek said to be 50 miles distant in a S. Westerly direction. After going through the ceremony of shaking hands they mounted their horses and rode slowly through the camp. The delegation 5 in number headed by the celebrated Seminole Chief Co‑a‑hadjo, attired in the rich costume of his nation, presented an imposing spectacle and left us with our best wishes for their success in their errand of peace.63 God grant they may succeed and prevail upon the hostile chiefs to come in, and yield without further bloodshed to the necessity which they cannot by any means obviate. The opinion of the officers is that the delegation will be successful. It is expected to return by p159Saturday next. That day so important to our future operations, is awaited with the most patient anxiety.

Wednesday 29th. At 10 o'clk. A.M. Col. Bankhead's command is ordered on an excursion of 3 or 4 miles for the sake of recreation. As the command was forming on the grand parade we had a shower of rain and several showers while on the march. We proceeded about 3 miles and we returned to camp by 1 o'clock P.M. An order was issued for a general court martial to convene at this post tomorrow. Genl. Eustis President and Lt. Davidson Judge Advocate. Wrote to [illegible] by the Santee which leaves tomorrow. The wolves for the last two nights have made much noise around our encampment. Their barking to those who have not heard them before in an Indian country would take it, to be the terrible yelling of the savages. Such it seemed to me at first, but being now accustomed to their noise it is easily distinguished from the yell of the Indians.64

Thursday 30th. At 11 o'clock A.M. a detachment of recruits 120 or 130 arrived from the New York rendezvous under Lieuts. Allen65 & Lincoln.66 Several days ago an Indian runner was sent out at the request of Osceola who is a captive in St. Augustine, to bring in his family.67 Their arrival is expected for the last two days, but did not arrive until 4 o'clk. this afternoon. They came with a white flag, hoisted upon a staff or pole 8 feet high and presented an altogether pitiable sight. The bearer of the flag was a fine young warrior and the head of the train, which was composed of about 50 souls including the two wives of Osceola and his two children & sister 3 warriors and the remainder negro men, women, and children. The negro part of the train was a wretched picture of squalid misery. I have just received (8 o'clk. P.M.) an order to have 12 privates & 2 non-commissioned officers detailed to guard them to St. Augustine p160and they will leave in the S. Boat at reveille tomorrow morning. They say, to avoid meeting with the Indians who are hostile they were obliged to leave the trail. They have been on their way a number of days and were much fatigued when they arrived. They brought two miserable looking Indian ponies with them. From the voraciousness of their apetites when they were supplied with food, they seemed to have been nearly starved. They inform us, that Sam Jones,68 or A‑bi‑a‑ca, is about 30 miles from us, with several hundred warriors and is determined not to surrender, but give us battle in the open pine woods in which he has his present position. They did not see the Cherokee delegation, but came upon its trail after it passed them. They appeared much surprised at the number of troops we have here. They expected to see but a few soldiers. They also state that they saw us when we were up the river in the S. Boat, but too much fatigued to get to us, in time, and which they were anxious to do.

Friday, December 1st. By the order last evening the Indians and negroes, that surrendered themselves yesterday were to have left for St. Augustine immediately after reveille, did not leave until 9 o'clk. A.M. in the Steam Boat for Picolata where they would be furnished with waggons to carry them to St. Augustine. The Indians were very reluctant to leave; they did not relish the idea of going on board of the "fire Boat" and even Osceola's family manifested rather an indisposition to go to St. Augustine. We hear nothing more from the Indians today. The two negroes that were kept as guides were further interrogated and they repeated in substance what they had said yesterday. To the question "What number of Indian warriors Sam Jones or A:bi:a:ca had with him" Negro Sampson69 replied that A:bi:a:ca had them all collected that is the service tribes, and they amounted to 1900. This is doubtful as it exceeded the number as it is stated by others.

This is the first day of winter and I cannot but reflect upon the contrast of the weather in this sunny climate, and that of the north. The air is soft and delightful. The woods are green, p161and the ground covered with all varieties of beautiful and fragrant flowers. At the north, I presume winter has set in with the frosts and snows that belong to its latitudes. The woods have long since been stript of its foliage and the earth covered with its deep mantle of snow. Here no fires are required, for the air is as mild and pleasant as in the balmy month of May. At the north, the domestic hearth blazes with a cheerful fire, and the fire-side is made still more pleasant by social intercourse by which hour after hour is beguiled with the time of retirement. Here the bed is the ground, with one solitary blanket to intercept the heavy dew which falls like a drizzling shower during the night. Tomorrow we will look for the return of the Cherokee delegation. If they will not have succeeded, on Monday next we strike our tents and march to meet the enemy.

Saturday Decr. 2nd. The Steam Boat Cincinnati arrived this afternoon from Black Creek and brought the unfortunate intelligence of the escape of 20 Indians from their confinement in the Fort in St. Augustine, among which were Wild Cat, or Co‑a‑coo‑chee one of the most inveterate and hostile of the chiefs and Philip's son.70 They made their escape on Wednesday night, through the embrasures of the casements in which they were confined and lowered themselves from the outside 14 to 16 ft. to the ground. This will we apprehend have an unfavourable effect upon the termination of the war and particularly if they have been able to reach A‑bi‑a ca's camp, before the Cherokee delegation will have concluded its "talk" with the hostile chiefs assembled in council at Powell's Creek. If the council was held as early as expected when the delegates left our camp on Tuesday last and which is supposed to have been concluded yesterday, p162they have not had time to reach it, as they must necessarily have travelled slowly in consequence of their long confinement and cautiously to escape apprehension, as no doubt they were immediately pursued upon learning that they had made their escape on Thursday morning.

Sunday Decr. 3rd. The Steam Boat McLean arrived at 10 o'clk. A.M. from Black Creek. About 5 o'clk. P.M. information reached Camp that the Cherokee delegation with about 20 warriors & chiefs were within 5 miles on the way to our encampment, Micanopy at their head.71 I received orders to have the assembly sounded and the soldiers were immediately paraded under arms on the company parades. Soon after sunset the delegation appeared accompanied by Micanopy, Little Cloud72 and about 20 warriors with a white flag. They were escorted to the commanding General's tent after the chiefs had dismounted and shook hands. After a few questions were answered they retired to the tent that was pitched for them, and were informed that tomorrow morning a "talk" would be held with them. The delegation met them 50 miles distant and were received kindly. Another party of the hostiles is expected in tomorrow morning. A‑bi‑a‑ca, or Sam Jones not being well enough to ride the distance, he sent his nephew as his representative and who came with the party, with the information that if Genl. Jessup [Jesup] would treat him well and send one of the Cherokees to him with that pledge he would come in with all his warriors amounting to about 400. Co‑a‑hadjo also accompanied the return of the delegation. The command under Co. Bankhead up the river was seen by the Indian and had an intention to make an attack upon us while we were either in Boats up the river or while we had landed from the S. Boat at the head of Lake Harney. If they had attacked us while exploring above the head of the Lake, the advantages they possessed would have enabled them to do us very serious injury. It was reported in camp today that the reports of cannon were heard in a S. W. direction. The tent the Indians occupy is 25 or 30 p163yds. from mine. At 10 o'clk. P.M. I looked at them around their fires. It was a novel sight. They appeared to be cheerful or occasionally they laughed outright at joking with each other.

Monday 4th. At 9 o'clk. 10 more warriors came in, and at 1 o'clk. P.M. 3 more and at 4 o'clk. P.M. 3 more warriors arrived in camp making altogether 16 warriors that came in today. The last three, say they are from Econlike-Hatchee Creek which empties into the St. Johns river about 2 miles above Lake Harney. This day has been one of considerable anxiety, as the officers were generally of opinion that the army ought to have moved towards A‑bi‑a‑ca. My opinion is that early this morning one of the Cherokee delegation ought to have been sent out to Abiaca, informing him that if he would surrender unconditionally, he and his warriors would be well treated, and that if they were so disposed they could meet us on the march or on his own ground. That we did not wish to destroy them, but only to abide by the provisions of the treaty and surrender themselves and emigrate. Parleying with the Indians gives them only hopes that cannot be fulfilled, and if they fired one solitary rifle or made resistance they would be dealt with as enemies in arms against us. Promptness in this respect, in my opinion, would have had the effect we all most earnestly desire: An unconditional surrender and consequently a termination of hostilities. The commanding General has no doubt acted at this important crisis upon the most mature deliberation, and after weighing in his mind the consequences that might result from the several modes that presented themselves to his mind from all the lights with which he has been furnished. I must confess, that in my belief in the sincerity of the Indian chiefs who have come in with the exception of Micanopy and Co‑a‑hadjo is a little impaired by their apparent indifference and manner have, I hope I am mistaken. It is reported that a Cherokee will leave tonight for a‑bi‑a‑ca's camp to carry the "talk" to him. If Abiaca is sincere, he will come in or meet us on our march and deliver up his army. He is considered the most important chief after Osceola, and his inveteracy to the whites is said even to exceed that of the captive chief in St. Augustine.

It was reported that a "talk" would be held this even, but nothing has been done. We are laying upon our oars and quietly p164looking ahead to the shore which unless some movement is made, we can never reach, — the termination of the difficulties with the Seminoles.

Tuesday 5th. This morning the S. Boat Santee arrived and at about 4 o'clock. P.M. the S. B. Camden. At noon the "talk" was held with the chief and warriors, in the area in front of Genl. Jessup's tent. Micanopy, Cloud, Tuskegee & others took their seats on benches.73 Micanopy was seated in the middle of his council chiefs. Cloud & Co‑a‑hadjo on his left and Tuskegee & one other on his right. The replies to the interrogation of the commanding Genl. were made by Micanopy, who occasionally consulted his chiefs before a question was answered. The "talk" did not seem to me to be entirely sincere on the part of the chiefs, although the questions were generally answered without much hesitation. The questions were propounded by Genl. Jessup and in much detail. Micanopy pledged himself that if Indian runners were allowed to go out to Abiaca, Jumper and the other chiefs that they would come in with their warriors and surrender their arms. As a guarantee for the fulfilment of this promise the commanding General required that the women and children of the Indians that were nearest the camp should at once be brought in and also, the women & children of the captives in St. Augustine. The several chiefs selected the runners and they left our camp at 5 o'clk. P.M. on horseback with the necessary supply of provisions for the time allowed to them to return. The runner to Abiaca is directed to get back in 7 days. The runner to Jumper in 10 days, and another to return in 10 days. I rode out a few miles this afternoon, in company with several officers and met a young warrior on his way to camp. He said that there was another near him, but who was afraid to come in. The one we met was a nephew of Co‑a‑hadjo. Upon telling him that Micanopy & other chiefs were in camp and that they would be treated well, he went back for his companion and both then proceeded to Camp. Tomoka John and one of our interpreters (negro) were p165also met and they informed us that 4 Indians, 2 of the Tallahassee tribe were about 5 miles out, but they could not be prevailed upon to come with them to camp, and would allow them only to approach near enough to talk with them. An order has just been issued for a court martial. Col. Bankhead President — for the trial of Lieut. Howe of the 2nd Regt. Dragoons.74 Weather continues pleasant.

Wednesday 6th. Genl. Jessup & Staff left at 10 o'clk. for Black Creek to organize the Troops there, from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee for service. Several Indians came in to camp this morning.

Thursday 7th. Steam Boat James Adams left for Black Creek and Charleston. This day has had few incidents to make it distinguished. The day was cloudy and an occasional drizzling of rain. An Indian came in this morning and this evening as Dr. Maffitt and myself were riding along the trail a few miles from Camp we met a family of Co‑a‑hadjo's people — men-women & three children coming to camp. They were the most miserable and starved looking creatures that have yet presented themselves. They arrived in camp and after getting something to eat for them, they were allowed to go out to their wigwam under the promise of returning in the morning.

Friday 8th. The Indian family returned to camp. The Steamer Camden left at 10 o'clk. A.M. with Lieut. Lincoln and his company (64) of recruits. The S. Boat Cincinnati arrived at 3 o'clk. P.M. from Black Creek, brought nothing — that is, no letters.

Saturday 9th. The S. Boat Cincinnati left at noon for Black Creek. Five Indians came in this morning. Two of these were taken down to Lake George with Genl. Jessup a few days ago where they said a small party of Indians resided & that they could prevail upon them to come to camp. They returned with 3 of them. They state that upwards of 40 Indians will be in tomorrow, they camp at a swamp about 15 miles distant tonight. The thermometer at 12 M. stood at 94° above zero — sun exposure. At 2 o'clk. P.M. in the shade at 82° above zero — and having laid a short time on the ground, it rose to 104°.

p166 Sunday 10th. The Steam Boats McLean & Santee arrived today, brought no letters, both having left Black Creek on the evening before the arrival of the mail. The wolves made a tremendous howling last night.

A party of Indians including 7 warriors — the rest women & children arrived in camp at 10 o'clk. P.M. At 4 o'clk. P.M., Col. Bankhead, Major Lomax75 and himself rode out about 3 miles and came to an Indian camp where we found 2 warriors and 8 or 10 women & children. They will be in our camp tomorrow. Provisions have been sent out to them. Upwards of 40 sticks were sent in yesterday, which indicates the number of Indians on their way & within one day's march of camp.

Monday 11. No arrivals of Indians today. Bush-Bankhead one of the Cherokee delegation not coming in yesterday in a favorable circumstance, as it was understood if Abiaca did not consent to come to the camp with his warriors, he was to have returned yesterday.76 [sic] The fine looking young warrior, a nephew of King Philip, who asked permission on the day of the council to go out for the cattle that belonged to him, and for which Genl. Jessup agreed to pay a just price, if they were believed in camp, has not yet returned as he had stated he would.77 He will probably return with Abiaca.

The Steam Boards Forester & Santee arrived this afternoon from Black Creek. Genl. Jessup and staff returned in the Santee. Recd. a letter from Genl. Weightman.78

This day has been cool and a fire in the morning & evening quite comfortable. Gen. Hernandez' command on the opposite side of the Lake and announced its arrival there by firing three times.79 Yesterday the band of music belonging to the 2nd Regt. Dragoons arrived from Garey's Ferry & for the last two nights we have been favored with their fine music. Rode out with several officers to the Indian encampments two or three miles distant. No new arrivals of Indians at any of them.

p167 Tuesday 12th. Bushy Head,80 one of the Cherokee delegation and one of Cloud's Indians came at dusk this evening. Bushy-head was not as successful as we had wished. Abiaca does not appear to be disposed to surrender. Jumper says he will come in, but is lame and cannot walk fast. Genl. Jessup will send a horse to him. After Bushy-head's return to camp a "talk" was held in front of Genl. Jessup's tent, at which Micanopy, Cloud and several of the sub-chiefs attended. The General gave the Chiefs to understand that no more time can be lost and that Co‑a‑coo‑chee, Tus-ke‑nug‑gee, Miceo and others must be surrendered at once, and that he would not listen to the terms of peace unless they brought it. The return of Bushy-head produced a considerable excitement in camp. We had been expecting him since morning. His return would bring us intelligence of an important character and which would determine the character of our operations if the Indians would come in with him, no more blood would be shed. If they refused and persisted in their hostilities they would be met as enemies in war and be dealt with accordingly.

Bushy-head and Mr. Fields, two of the delegation are determined if the hostiles can be prevailed upon to yield, to leave no efforts untried. They will leave tonight and expect to be Abiaca by 11 o'clk. tomorrow morning. Bushy-head said the last words he spoke to Abiaca when he found he was not willing to yield to his persuasions was — "well, Abiaca, the consequences will be upon your head. The blood that will be shed you will be answerable for, if you will not regard my advice, farewell."

Wednesday 13th. Last night we had several hard showers of rain, and it continued raining until 10 o'clk. A.M. after which it cleared off, and the weather continued very pleasant. At 5 o'clk. P.M. it was reported that 2 of the Indians were missing. A party was sent after them. One of them was a ferocious looking half negro and the other a nephew of Abiaca. Three warriors and 7 or 8 women & children came in this afternoon.

The Steam Boat Forester left early this morning for Black Creek.

p168 An order was issued yesterday placing Genl. Hernandez' Command under Genl. Eustis, and dividing the whole military force in Florida into two divisions — under Generals Armistead and Eustis.81

Thursday 14th. At 7 or 8 o'clk. this morning Bushy head and Mr. Fields returned and brought unfavorable intelligence. The Indian that came in with Bushy head on Thursday evening accompanied them back towards Abiaca's camp, and when within a mile or two of it told them that they need go no farther, that he was authorized by Abiaca to tell a lie to the white people and that Abiaca had left his camp and did not intend to come in, but was ready to give them battle whenever they came to his country. As soon as the Indian had made this statement and they found he had practiced deception, they left him without proceeding further and returned to our camp with this unexpected intelligence. Immediately after the Indians, women & children & negroes amounting to 72 souls were collected. The guard was doubled and arrangements made for sending them to St. Augustine. This party including Micanopy and Coahadjo numbered about 30 warriors or fighting men. 24 rifles were taken from them and secured. They embarked on board Steam Boat Santee at 2 o'clk. P.M. with a guard of 18 men, 2 non-commissioned officers under the command of Lieut. Jones of the 3rd Arty.82 An order issued for 4 companies of the 3rd Arty. and 2 companies of the 2nd Regt. Dragoons under the command of Major Lomax, to take up the line of march at sunrise and open a waggon road along the trail round the head of Lake Jessup and to the head of Lake Harney. The rest of the army will follow in all probability on Saturday morning. A report reached camp this morning that several Indians were seen a short distance outside the line of Sentinels. Yesterday we felt as if it was a time of peace. Today it is truly a time of war. By the Steam Boat Santee left. [sic] Since the departure of the Indians, the camp is comparatively quiet. And were we not preparing for the march which occupies our time, pretty constantly to day we might say that the camp is also less interesting. There was even until this p169day some novelty in the character, manners and customs of the Indian which amused and interested. The groups around their fires, women cooking sofka.a The men making moccasins and the boys shooting through the reed at small oranges and numerous other novelties of the "red man," that almost constantly attracted attention. Even the dress of the chiefs and warriors with their wampum, leggins and frock fancifully decorated and ornamented and their party colored turbans crowned with feathers and silver bands with dignified step and gesture and their occasionally good humor'd frivolities were all so many sources of interest to us, that now, it has left a blank, which would still be more observed, were it not for the excitement attendant upon the preparation for that march. It is said that "Cloud" was much affected when he got on board the Steam Boat, that he actually shed tears, but as he had a villainous look, my opinion is that the tears were more on account of the impossibility of making his escape than anything else. We are all of the opinion in as far as I have been able to know the opinion of the officers that Micanopy was in all he promised sincere. The noble looking chief Co‑a‑hadjo was probably equally sincere in all his professions of peace and friendship.

There are a number of incidents connected with an encampment that renders it interesting, especially upon such ground as we now occupy. Our encampment is on a gentle slope and about 300 or 400 yds. from the lake. In front is the Dragoon encampment and on the right and left open pine woods interspersed with a few live oaks and palmettoes on the flanks. At night groups of officers collect around fine blazing fires and talk over perhaps the occurrences of the day and discuss "matters and things in general," socially. The nature of the conversations is given according to circumstances — as the conversation is to pass time the most pleasantly, the subject changes perhaps a hundred times in the course of an evening. This time is agreeably and pleasantly passed until it is time to retire to our tents for rest.

How often do I think of my friends and of "home" where all the comforts and conveniences of life are richly enjoyed. The life of the soldier in the abstract is one of toil, care, anxiety and excitement: his fare coarse and simple, — but with all he is content p170and is sustained only by the hope that his discomforts, inconveniences, privations, and hardships will have an end, and that he will at the termination of his service return to his friends, with the satisfaction that he has faithfully performed his duties in the course in which his country has called him.

Friday, 15th. The command of Major Lomax left at 7 o'clk. this morning. The weather pleasant the sky unclouded and a fine bracing breeze from the north. A very favorable day to begin the march.

This is certainly the most uninteresting day we have since we encamped here. The Indians gone, no Steam Boat arrived. The weather as usual, no incidents, no circumstances that are worthy of being recorded. It is only remarkable, because nothing has occur'd of sufficient interest to make a remark of in the journal. We are anxiously expecting a Steam Boat from Black Creek, which will bring us Monday's mail.

Saturday, Dec. 16th. The Steam Boat Camden left at 9 o'clk. A.M. with the Cherokee delegation for Black Creek. The negotiations between the hostile Indians and the government has been entirely unsuccessful. The Indians played a deep ruse de guerre by the deception they practiced upon the delegation and upon the army. The delay it has caused, they have availed themselves of, no doubt either to move farther south and to a country still more inaccessible to the Army, or otherwise strengthened themselves, while we were quietly awaiting the fulfillment of their promises & pledges at the day that was designated at the "talk." Every disposition has been manifested on the part of the Commanding General to promote the object of the Delegation and to induce the Indians to surrender, without further resistance and which would result unavoidably to the serious injury of Indians as a people & as a nation. This we are all seriously desirous to avoid and had hopes the Cherokee delegation who have no doubt very honestly and sincerely used every exertion to prevail upon A‑bi‑a‑ca or Sam Jones the most important and influential chief of the hostiles to yield to their wishes and prevent the farther affusion of blood, and perhaps their extermination as a people. The consequences of their continued resistance has been represented to them. They are aware of what will follow. The commanding p171general distinctly informed the runners when they went out, that if one drop of blood was shed by any one of them, the captives would be executed & that it would most assuredly be called into effect.

Of the origin of the war, it does not enter into the character of this. Daily notes, to inquire, but in justice to the commanding General it is due to state that every indulgence every persuasion every means consistent with the policy of the government has been regarded and used to terminate, without the alternative of arms, this protracted war by the mediation of the Cherokee delegation to which the War Department has given much importance by its sanction and acceptance. We are now on the eve of another campaign. Maj. Dearborn83 with 2 companies of the 2d Infantry embarked on board of 2 Barges and 1 Lighter for the head of Lake Harney with provisions. He will proceed to the position occupied by Col. Bankhead's demand on the 23d ult. where the army will repair to, should it become necessary to supply it with provisions from that quarter. An order is issued for Col. Bankhead's command consisting of detachments of the 3rd & 4th Artillery and Capt. Washington's Company to take up the line of march at sunrise tomorrow morning and join the advance part of the Brigade84 — the command to take 4 days provisions. The field report of today that will march is 682 officers and soldiers — 24 soldiers will be left on account of sickness.85


The Editor's Notes:

1 John T. Sprague, The Origin, Process, and Conclusion of the Florida War (New York, 1848), 177‑178 contains a copy of the agreement which was signed at Camp Dade.

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2 Mark F. Boyd, "Asi-Yaholo or Osceola," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXXIII (January-April, 1955), 293‑294.

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3 Grant Foreman, Indian Removal (Norman, 1932), 349.

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4 Sprague, op. cit., 191.

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5 Boyd, op. cit., 302.

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6 James F. Sunderman, editor, Journey into Wilderness by Jacob R. Motte (Gainesville, 1953), 170.

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7 Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Pickell graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1822 at which time he was commissioned brevet second lieutenant in the Fourth Artillery. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1831 and served as regimental adjutant from October 15, 1836, until August 5, 1838, when he resigned from the army. He subsequently served as Colonel of the 13th New York Infantry between 1861 and 1862. He died in 1865. In 1844, he wrote to The Adjutant General claiming bounty land for his discovery of saline springs in Florida in 1837. AGO Letters Received, Records of the Adjutant General, National Archives.

Thayer's Note: The link that heads off the above note, like other links in the same style thruout this page and my site as a whole, is to the man's entry in Gen. George Cullum's Biographical Register of the Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy, which provides further detail. Sometimes these entries, annotated and linked to source documents like the one before you, provide very extensive information; and some of the men seen here in passing, early in their careers, became important players in American history. Not all Army officers, however — then or now — are West Point graduates; on this page, those who are not remain unlinked, for lack of ready information.

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8 Pickell's journals are located in the Library of Congress.

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9 Roger Jones, The Adjutant General, to Commanding Officer, Garey's Ferry, October 8, 1836. AGO Letters Sent, Records of the Adjutant General, National Archives.

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10 Army and Navy Chronicle, V (November 2, 1837), 287.

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11 "If we cannot subdue the Indians we can explore the country," says a correspondent of the New York Star. "If the government continues the war for two or three years longer, the whole of East Florida will be discovered, and its navigable rivers improved, and perhaps the everglades drained. Two hundred men are now exploring that part of Florida. This is a crumb of comfort and we accept it with thankfulness." Ibid., VI (January 18, 1838), 44.

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12 Thomas S. Jesup to J. R. Poinsett, July 6, 1838, cited in Sprague, op. cit., p192: "I lost fifteen most important days by their negotiations — a delay, the consequences of which no subsequent effort could retrieve; for in the mean time, the Seminoles had dispersed."

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13 Sunderman, op. cit., 166.

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14 Ibid., 170.

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15 Jesup to Jones, Jan. 4, 1838, cited in Sprague, op. cit., 203.

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16 Fort Hamilton was located at The Narrows in New York Harbor.

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17 Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thomas Childs, 3d Artillery.

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18 Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Roswell Lee, 3d Artillery.

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19 Garey's Ferry had been established as an army depot in 1836 at Black Creek.

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20 Colonel Hollins is further unidentified.

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21 Probably the present-day town of the same name located a short distance south of Gainesville.

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22 Brevet Capt. James Ashby, 2nd Dragoons.

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23 Assistant Surgeon Richard Weightman.

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24 Brig. Gen. Duncan L. Clinch who had his plantation near Fort Drane.

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25 Fort Heileman was located at Garey's Ferry.

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26 Brevet 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Alfred Herbert, 1st Artillery.

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27 Capt. Patrick Galt, 4th Artillery.

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28 Captain Dummit is further unidentified.

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29 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Irwin, 1st Artillery.

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30 Probably Colonel John Warren who commanded the Fourth Regiment of Florida Volunteers.

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31 Lieut. Colonel James Bankhead, 2d Artillery.

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32 On November 30, there was a total of 455 officers and 8411 men including volunteers, militia, Indian allies and regular troops in Florida. Sunderman, op. cit., 289.

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33 Colonel David E. Twiggs, 2d Dragoons.

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34 Volusia was situated several miles south of Lake George. Fort Call was located there.

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35 During the Florida War, steamboats carried personnel and supplies up and down the St. Johns River.

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36 Fort Mellon was located on the south shore of Lake Monroe at the site of present day Sanford.

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37 Rice Creek is further unidentified.

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38 "Colonel Twiggs had been previously detached to Volusia with instructions to examine the country between the St. John's and the Ocklawaha." Sprague, op. cit., 191.

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39 Probably 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Augustus P. Allen, 3d Artillery.

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40 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Edward C. Ross, 4th Artillery.

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41 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert H. Whitely, 2d Artillery.

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42 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John W. Phelps, 4th Artillery.

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43 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry C. Pratt, 2d Artillery.

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44 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William T. Martin, 4th Artillery.

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45 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George C. Thomas, 4th Artillery.

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46 Asst. Surgeon William Maffitt.

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47 "The 3rd and 4th Regiments of Artillery, under Colonel Bankhead, including Ringgold's Mounted Artillery, left Garey's Ferry and proceeded up the St. John's, determined to establish a post about 40 or 50 miles above Lake Monroe, near a lake recently discovered, and supposed to be in the vicinity of the point where the main body of Indians are said to be concentrated." Army and Navy Chronicle, V (December 7, 1837), 365.

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48 Bvt. Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Samuel Ringgold, 3d Artillery.

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49 Lieut. Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Gates, 3d Artillery.

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50 Bvt. Major John L. Gardner, 4th Artillery.

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51 Lieut. Col. William S. Harney, 2d Dragoons.

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52 Fort Mellon was originally named Camp Monroe. Its name was changed in honor of Captain Charles Mellon, 2d Artillery, who was killed in the attack on Camp Monroe of February 8, 1837.

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53 General Abraham Eustis "having organized the regular troops, by assigning the recruits to companies, and having caused Volusia and Fort Mellon to be occupied, and proper garrisons of mounted men and foot to be placed at the several posts on the frontier to Fort King, proceeded from Garey's Ferry, on the 17th of November, to Fort Mellon." Sprague, op. cit., 190‑91.

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54 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William B. Davidson, 3d Artillery.

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55 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Christopher C. Tompkins, 3d Artillery.

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56 1st Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Mock, 3d Artillery.

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57 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George Taylor, 3d Artillery.

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58 Captain Curry is further unidentified.

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59 The Army and Navy Chronicle characterized the Everglades as an area in which "the climate [is] most delightful; but, from want of actual observation, [it] could not speak so confidently of the soil, although, from the appearance of the surrounding vegetation, a portion of it, at least, must be rich. Whenever the aborigines shall be forced from their fastnesses, as eventually they must be, the enterprising spirit of our countrymen will very soon discover the sections best adapted to cultivation, and the now barren or unproductive everglades will be made to blossom like a garden. It is the general impression that these everglades are uninhabitable during the summer months, by reason of their being overflowed by the abundant rains of the season; but if it should prove that these inundations are caused or increased by obstructions to the natural courses to rivers, as outlets to the numerous lakes, American industry will remove these obstructions." Army and Navy Chronicle, VI (January 11, 1838), 28.

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60 Ben was a slave of Micanopy, Foreman, op. cit., 344.

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61 "We learn that Lt. Col. Bankhead, despatched by Gen. Eustis to establish a military post on the border of Lake Harney, not finding a suitable site there, ascended the river to its source, about 16 miles above the lake, and ascertained that the river takes its rise in the Everglades, which presented to the eye an interminable extent of marsh interspersed with small lakes or ponds. From the appearance of the grass on the margins, it is supposed that the whole surface of this part of the Everglades, is at times under water. An eligible position, on this part of the river, has been selected as a military post by Colonel Bankhead," Army and Navy Chronicle, V (December 14, 1837), 381‑382.

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62 The Cherokee delegation proceeded from their Nation to Augusta, Ga., and from there to Charleston, S. C. The Charleston Courier characterized the "talk" as containing "sentiments highly honourable to the influential Cherokee who penned it, showing that he understands the peculiar situation in which the aborigines of the country are placed, and properly estimates the good feelings entertained by the Government towards them." Foreman, op. cit., p352, Army and Navy Chronicle, V (November 23, 1837), 331. From Charleston, the delegation proceeded to St. Augustine where they interviewed the Seminoles confined there. "The delegation held an interview with the Chief in the fort on Saturday," commented the St. Augustine Herald. "We understand that this interview was strictly confined to professions of friendship between themselves. We further learn that these Chiefs were delighted at the interview, and are sanguine as to the favorable result of their undertaking." Army and Navy Chronicle, V (November 30, 1837), 346.

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63 "Today we have received five Cherokee chiefs, who have come in to negotiate with the Seminoles," wrote Col. Gates from Ft. Mellon. "They had a conference with Osceola and others, and three selected, have gone out to invite Sam Jones and others to a talk. Coahadjo is here, and declares his sincere belief that they will come in to a talk, and that all will be peace again. They are all looked for in two or three days. We have so often been deceived by their negotiations, that I have very little confidence in their good faith. The principal chief of the Cherokees has sent in his pipe, and Coahadjo is quite certain the Seminole chiefs will respect it. He seems agitated at the idea of our troops removing soon, and hopes the cavalry will not meet any of his people before some come in. For one, I am prepared to pass the winter in pursuit of them, through mud and water." Army and Navy Chronicle, V (December 21, 1837), 394.

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64 On the 29th ult. Col. Bankhead, with his command, were at Fortº Mellon, having returned there a day or two previous from his expedition up the St. John's, without being able to establish a fort or depot either on or above Lake Harney, as he could not find a suitable place. He ascended the river 14 miles above Lake Harney." Army and Navy Chronicle, V (December 14, 1837), 382.

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65 Probably Second Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert Allen, 2d Artillery.

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66 2nd Lieut. George Lincoln, 4th Infantry.

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67 Osceola had been taken prisoner on October 20, Boyd, op. cit., 296‑297.

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68 Sam Jones or Arpeika or Abiaca, was "then about seventy-eight years of age, [and] occupied the country near the mouth of the Kissimmee river and the eastern border of Lake Okeechobee." Sprague, op. cit., 270.

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69 Sampson was probably another of the slaves held by the Seminoles.

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70 Coacoochee "made his way south, and succeeded in reaching the camp of Arpeika or Sam Jones, who was on his way with his people to Fort Mellon to meet General Jesup, along with the other chiefs of the nation. The representations of Coacoochee, who had been greatly exasperated by his imprisonment, and the treatment received by him . . . at once aroused the suspicions and indignation of that wary and hostile old chief; who not only immediately relinquished all idea of surrendering or communicating further with the commanding general, but succeeded in preventing all the Indians who were out, from coming in or listening to any proposal for peace. But for this untoward event, the war would certainly have terminated at this juncture, instead of being renewed and prolonged, as it was afterwards, through several eventful and disastrous years." Sprague, op. cit., 219‑220.

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71 The escape of Coacoochee came too late to prevent Micanopy from coming into Fort Mellon. Boyd, op. cit., 300. Micanopy was the titular head of the Seminole nation.

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72 Little Cloud or Taholoochee, "was remarkable for his bold achievements as a hunter and warrior, and for his bitter animosity to the whites." Sprague, op. cit., 97.

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73 The Army and Navy Chronicle commented that the negotiations held promise of the speedy termination of hostilities. "Such an event will be hailed with general joy throughout the country, as not only giving tranquility to one of the fairest portions of our country, but as restoring the army to its wonted regularity and its appropriate stations." Army and Navy Chronicle, V (December 21, 1837), 392.

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74 1st Lieut. Marshall S. Howe, 2d Dragoons.

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75 Brevet Major Mann P. Lomax, 3d Artillery.

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76 Pickell probably is in error here. The delegate's name was Jesse Bushy-head.

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77 Further unidentified.

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78 Further unidentified.

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79 Brig. General Joseph Hernandez commanded forces east of the St. Johns River.

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80 Such missions "were dangerous, for the Seminole chiefs and warriors had decreed the penalty of death for Indians consenting to emigrate and for white or Indian emissaries seeking to confer with them on the subject." Foreman, op. cit., 353.

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81 Bvt. Brig. Gen. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.W. K. Armistead, who in 1840 assumed the command of the army in Florida.

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82 2nd Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert T. Jones, 3d Artillery.

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83 Brevet Major Greenleaf Dearborn, 2d Infantry.

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84 Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John M. Washington, 4th Artillery.

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85 The Cherokee delegation arrived in Washington in January. "They had penetrated the interior of Florida, and succeeded in obtaining a conference with the hostiles on friendly terms, and in delivering a talk prepared in [Washington] by John Ross, with the approbation of the Secretary of War." Army and Navy Chronicle, VI (January 18, 1838), 41. The report of the Cherokee delegation has been edited by Grant Foreman, "Report of the Cherokee Deputies in Florida," Chronicles of Oklahoma, IX (1931), 423‑438.


Thayer's Note:

a Sofka was the tribal dish of the Seminoles, resembling the Spanish olla podrida in that the stewpot was kept constantly cooking on the fire, being served from and added to as needed. The basic ingredient was hominy or rice, with whatever the hunt brought: the constant cooking reduced it to a sludge.


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Page updated: 5 Jan 14