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there to mature plans for opening the campaign. The country was aroused; all friendly intercourse with the whites was at an end; councils with them were no longer held, while defence of their homes, and deep revenge for their wrongs, were the only words uttered from one extremity of the country to the other.
Notwithstanding this seeming unanimity, a small minority, under Holata Amathla and others refused to join, and withdrew to Fort Brook, where they were well received by the army, and called the Friendly Indians. Nevertheless the great council of the nation assembled at the summons of Micanopy, when it was decided to retain possession of the country at all hazards, and to put to death all who would not join them, or who were opposed to their views.
Osceola took an active part in these deliberations. He strengthened the weak-hearted, encouraged the timid, and overawed the doubtful. He proclaimed the treaty at an end; no compromise was in future to be listened to ; “the tomahawk and the rifle were raised ;' the war-cry had been sounded,' and it behooved every lover of his country and his home to secure these possessions, and avenge the wrongs the whites had never ceased to heap upon the Seminole nation.
This was in November, 1835, and at this period commences the military career of Osceola. No sooner was it decided upon to resist removal by force of arms, than the war-parties assembled their men and put themselves in motion. The defection of the body under Holata Amathla which had seceded, was calculated to produce an injurious effect, and they were justly alarmed lest the deliberations of the council should be made public too soon, and this defection be followed by those who might yet be wavering. The war party proceeded forthwith to the upper towns, where by persuasion and threats they succeeded in securing the coöperation of the chiefs and warriors; and learning that Charley Amathla with his band were about to retreat, a party of four hundred warriors, headed by Holata Mico, Abraham, and Osceola, marched without loss of time to his town, and there demanded a pledge that he and his people should join the common cause. The chief declined, and endeavored to convince the party that it was more for the interest of the Indians to remove than to remain, and that notwithstanding the great love he felt for his country and home, he would be true to his promise to go with his people to the West. He was told that the hour was come when he must either unite with them or suffer death, and they granted him two hours to make up his mind. But he answered immediately that his determination was already taken, and he would abide by the consequence of a refusal. Whereupon Osceola raised his rifle and shot him dead. On the loss of their chief the band joined themselves to Osceola's forces.
This decisive step plainly showed the resolution of the war-party, and was the prelude to many revolting scenes, and all the horrors which savage warfare carries in its train. The Indian settlements were now broken up, so as to present no assailable points to their opponents, and dwellings were formed in the swamps and hammocks, whence parties issued out to the work of destruction. These swamps and hammocks are not uninhabitable places, as their names might imply, but dry lands
with a rich growth of timber, and a soil of the greatest fertility. So well did the Indians conceal their trails, that even to this day many of the places where they concealed themselves are still unknown. The whole country was exposed to their attacks; from Fort Brook at the south to Fort King at the north, a space of more than one hundred miles, were to be seen plantations on fire, cattļe driven off, pillage and murders.
Notwithstanding the innumerable warnings which had been given to government, they had strangely neglected to provide for the crisis which had now arrived. Less than five hundred troops were in the territory to guard a surface of twenty thousand miles square, and these were distributed in small detachments many miles from each other, while the country from one extremity to the other was ravaged by two thousand Seminole warriors, securely posted and thirsting for vengeance.
Events which had produced this state of affairs had been gradual in their progress. The unwillingness of the Seminoles to leave their homes was well known, and the war that must inevitably ensue was foreseen long before the troubles broke out. The neglect at Washington of Florida affairs was every way reprehensible; and to the supine. ness of the government is justly attributable many of the dreadful scenes that occurred, and to the prolongation of the contest. The treaty of Payne's Landing, which secured all that was desired, was suffered to remain two whole years unratified, for no assignable cause : while the hostile feelings of the Seminoles was well known, and the defenceless state of the country was pressed upon the government, no measures were adopted to guard against the impending danger. General Jack. son never could be made to believe there existed in the territory beyond six or seven hundred Seminoles, or that it was not in the power of the inhabitants themselves to drive them out, if they would make exertion for the parpose ; unfortunately, also, he was surrounded by people who were either unwilling or afraid to make known the unwelcome truth that he was deceiving himself. It is proved by official reports that as late as 1836, four years after the time in question, there were two thousand four hundred and twenty Indians in the territory ; and this too when a very large emigration had been effected previously.
The two years wherein the pacification of Florida might have been effected, were consumed at Washington in exciting political and finan. cial movements, varied by domestic difficulties. At last, nothing of ·moment being on hand, the almost forgotten treaty was taken from the pigeon-hole of the secretary's desk, and ratified in due form. This tardy acknowledgment was worse than if no treaty had ever been made. The delay gave time to raise doubts of its validity, which were very rea. sonable ; to create new subjects of irritation between the whites and the different tribes; and farther, afford to the latter ample time to prepare themselves for the contest they were predetermined should take place.
As soon as Charley Amathla was despatched, and his band had joined the forces of Osceola, the party made their report to Micanopy, who lost no time in gathering around him all the warriors within reach, to decide upon future operations. At this meeting a new arrangement was made of the National Council. Jumper was made • Sense-keeper'
to the king, an office which bears a resemblance to that of secretary of state, and Osceola was declared Head war-chief,' equivalent to the uni. ted offices of secretary of war and general-in-chief of the army. These two chiefs were the ablest men in the Nation; and on every occasion where the military talents of Osceola were called into exercise, he displayed boldness, energy, and an uncommon degree of skill. Those who served in the Florida campaigns represent him as the leading spirit of his party; and officers of the army who were eye-witnesses, assert that to the judicious application of his forces, joined to his great resources in recovering from defeats, may be ascribed the unexpected length of time to which the war was protracted.
Intelligence had been received by General Clinch at Fort King that a large force of Indians was assembled at the forks of the Ouithlacoochee river: it was evidently necessary to disperse them before their numbers should increase : beside this, two other objects were to be accomplished; one to strike so serious a blow at once as to bring the war to an end, or in case this was not effected, to drive the enemy into the everglades, (the extreme southern part of the territory,) and give peace and security to the North, the portion most densely populated by the whites. In pursuance of this determination he concentrated his forces, at the same time sent an order to Major Belton, the commanding officer at Fort Brook, to detach as many of his troops as could be spared to join him on or about the thirty-first of December. Belton despatched a messenger to General Clinch with a reply to the order, giving a detail of the line of march to be taken by the reïnforcement, to which he added many remarks on the intended plan of attack.
This movement, with all its particulars, came, no one knows how, to the knowledge of the Seminole chiefs, and was laid before Micanopy without loss of time. He was at the same moment pressed by Osceola and the other warriors to seize this opportunity of cutting off this detachment. Micanopy, with his usual indecision, long hesitated about giving his consent; but the vehement demand of the chiefs was not to be resisted, and he gave a reluctant order that a force should be sent to accomplish the work. The command of this war party was given to Cloud, and the order was that he should not allow one white man to escape. Osceola was not one of this party; he reserved himself for a work more in accordance with his wishes; one in which his personal feelings were more deeply engaged.
The detachment was under the command of Major Dade, and took up its line of march from Fort Brook at the prescribed time. When a little more than half way on its route, it was attacked by the band under Cloud, and a horrible butchery ensued. Cloud was not unmindful of his orders. Of one hundred and ten men, only three escaped; and these, dreadfully wounded, were just able to crawl to Fort Brooke, and relate the melancholy fate of their companions. Two of these men died; the third is still living.
A few days after this, Osceola appeared with a small party at the Seminole agency, the dwelling-place of his hated foe, General Thompson. After a little manæuvring to gain admittance, the post was attacked, and notwithstanding a brave resistance, the defenders, including
General Thompson, were all killed. Thus the threat of Osceola was carried into full effect, and his burning thirst of vengeance was slaked. It appears he was satisfied; for on many occasions afterward he showed humanity, and refused to engage in enterprises undertaken by his countrymen against unoffending inhabitants.
In the expectation of being joined by Dade, General Clinch advanced toward the Ouithlacoochee with such of the regular army as he could muster, joined to a body of militia and volunteers.' In attempting to cross the river he was attacked by a large force of the enemy, which he repulsed, yet in a few days was under the necessity of retiring to Fort Drane, where the volunteers, whose term of service had expired, left him. This retreat revealed the weakness of the United States' forces, and gave undisturbed scope to Indian depredations. On the north, south and east war-parties rambled over the land; plantations were devastated, cattle driven off, and many of the defenceless inhabitants cruelly murdered.
Osceola took no part in these predatory expeditions. I am credibly informed that being once advised to take a party of his warriors and fall upon a white settlement not far from him, he replied, “No, I make war against the white warriors, not against old men, women and children.' These expressions are so much at variance with our notions of Indian character, that I should not report them without good authority. They are in the highest degree creditable, since they exhibit a high-mindedness not to be expected from an uncultivated Indian, engaged in a deadly war.
The wretched condition of the territory excited the sympathy of the neighboring states, and at last awakened the dormant attention of the government at Washington. Volunteers flocked in from Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and a few regular troops were added. The whole was under the command of General Gaines, who took upon himself this charge, believing that this portion of Florida came within the limits of his military district. Although this assumption was not sanctioned by the war department, and he was even ordered to return to his local command on the western frontier, he yet thought proper to remain, and in the early part of the year 1836 assembled at Fort Brook a large force of regulars and volunteers. Having advised Gen. Clinch of his intention to move to the north, he advanced to join him, at the head of one thousand and one hundred men, accompanied by seventyeven friendly Indians as guides. On the twentieth the columns came up to the melancholy spot where Dade and his party had been destroyed. Here they spent some time in the mournful duty of giving sepulchre to the remains of their fellow-soldiers.
Gaines was here informed that Clinch, at Fort Drane, could not or would not coöperate with him: it became necessary therefore to delibe. rate whether it was advisable to continue his intended route to the left to the appointed place of rendezvous on the Ouithlacoochee, or proceed in a northerly direction to Fort King. He decided upon the latter, mainly, as is alleged, on account of his great lack of provisions, and arri. ved at the fort without annoyance. Clinch came from Fort Drane to see him, on a visit of respect; and here, as is said, Gaines first knew that General Scott was appointed Commander-in-Chief in Florida, and was then at Picolata. This will hardly be believed, when it was well known to all the officers that General Scott had been appointed as early as the twenty-first of January, and letters had been received from the war department under date of the twenty-third, and private advices still later in the month.
The eccentricities of General Gaines have often been a subject of remark. So long as they were confined to acts which regarded himself alone, the public refrained from censure, and were amused. In leaving his local command and assuming one in Florida, he had performed a Quixotic exploit that was a breach of his first duty, and at the same time materially interfered with the policy of his superiors at Washington. The portion of the public who were merely lookers-on, treated him as a hero, and even the Secretary of War, Cass, while gently ordering him to return to his post, tells him that his personal presence is necessary at a point where public considerations demand the exercise of great discretion and prudence.' Notwithstanding these very smooth expressions, many persons thought then, (and more think so now,) that General Gaines was wofully deficient in discretion and prudence.'
The General, since his entrance into Florida, had made much display, but as yet had won no laurels, although at the head of a strong force. It became necessary to produce a more substantial effect. Accordingly he undertook to make a diversion, on his own responsibility, while he knew that his commanding General was within seventy miles of him, and could be easily reached. He forthwith marched with all his troops to a place on the Ouithlacoochee, called Clinch's battle-ground,' in the expectation, as he said, of there meeting the enemy, or of withdrawing him from the parts where he was committing depredations. Hardly had he reached the spot and had time to throw up breast-works when he was attacked (numerous and well-appointed as was his army) by a band of Seminoles, headed by Osceola, Jumper and Abraham, who so far succeeded as completely to hem him in within the narrow limits of his works. To make his situation more mortifying, they would one day storm his works in the best way ignorant Indians are capable of, kill many of his men, and the next day cajole him with soft words of peace and a show of negotiation. For fourteen days he was kept in this humiliating condition, without even making a sortie. It was reported by one of the interpreters present at these mock deliberations that Osceola, Alligator, and others, were overheard indulging themselves in playful remarks and coarse jokes upon the position of the pale-faces. Mr. Hagan, another interpreter, with more zeal than judgment, put an end to this by-play, when the two jokers resumed a serious countenance, and re-commenced negotiating.
General Gaines remained in this unenviable state, without power to advance or retreat, until relieved by General Clinch, to whom he resigned the command, and retired to his post on the Texan frontier. The General did not, however, regain his quarters without receiving a shot
en passant,' which by the way came from his friends. At Mobile he was greeted as the champion of the defenceless and suffering inhabitants of Florida,' and tendered the freedom of the city.