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Bill Thayer

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Seminole Wars

Histories and Source Documents

The three Seminole Wars (1814‑1819 as far as it can be dated, 1835‑1842, 1855‑1858) are a rather neglected part of American history these days, but are important in several ways. They consolidated the United States' hold on Florida, and in terms of the country's population they were among our bloodiest wars, worse than the Vietnam Conflict, another guerrilla war in the tropics, which it somewhat resembled; but they were important mostly because they set the pattern for the many Indian wars of the 19c: the Second Seminole War in particular was caused by Andrew Jackson's shameful deportation of thousands of native Americans to the land least coveted by settlers of European extraction, a policy made implementable by the Indian defeat.

At some point I hope to put onsite a complete history of the Seminole Wars; for now, the following items:

[image ALT: A close-up of a collection of papers spread out on a table. It is the icon used on this site to represent my American History Notes subsite.]

Among the many items in the American History Notes section of the site, The Dade Massacre (Florida Historical Society Quarterly 5:123‑138) is a clear, comprehensive and amply annotated account of the first engagement of the Second Seminole War in 1835, which brings out the rôle in it of what today's writers now call the Black Seminoles. It is joined by The Journals of Lieutenant John Pickell (a primary source, FlaHQ 38:141‑171) recounting some of that officer's experiences in the half-peace of 1836‑1837.

[ 2 webpages: 46 pages of print ]

[image ALT: An engraving, very possibly idealized, of a particularly handsome young man, with a wide forehead and thick curly hair; he wears an early‑19c U. S. Army officer's uniform, with a double row of brass buttons, a high collar and epaulets. It is Lieutenant Robert R. Mudge, killed in Dade's Massacre in the Second Seminole War.]

Robert R. Mudge and Dade's Massacre is an account — a series of different accounts, actually, assembled by a relative from contemporaneous sources — of Dade's Massacre itself in which the young lieutenant lost his life, and of the ceremonial reburial of the dead in 1842 in what is now St. Augustine National Cemetery. (primary source)

[ 1 webpage: 11 pages of print ]

[image ALT: a blank space]

Lt. William Mock's Journal covers the nine months from his graduation from West Point in June 1836 to March 1837 when the war started to heat up. It is short and fragmentary, and only half of it is about his life in Florida, but it is nonetheless of interest.

[ primary source: 1 webpage ]

[image ALT: A lithograph of an Indian chief in full regalia, holding a rifle. He is the Seminole chief Tuko-See-Mathla, and the image serves as my icon for the Seminole Wars subsection of this website.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is from a portrait of Tuko-See-Mathla, a Seminole chief, published by Daniel Rice & James G. Clark, Philadelphia, 1843; the complete image of the original color lithograph — which is also much larger — is available at the Prints and Photographs Division, U. S. Library of Congress, digital ID cph.3g02904.

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Site updated: 26 Dec 14