The Seminole Wars

The Seminole Wars America’s longest Indian Conflict

The Seminole Wars America’s longest Indian Conflict

Native Florida

At the time of Ponce de Leon, it is estimated that over 100,000 Indians lived in Florida. During that time the Seminoles had not yet arrived in Florida. In the 1700s, bands of Upper and Lower Creek Indians began to migrate to Florida. These bands became known by the Spanish as the Seminoles, who owned Florida, meaning “to run away.”

By the time the Seminoles came to Florida, the tribes before the time of Ponce de Leon had disappeared. The Seminoles also sheltered fledgling slaves. Former slaves were absorbed into the Seminole tribe and are often referred to as Black Seminoles. During the time of increased white people and relocation of Indians from Aboriginal lands, the government devised a number of strategies to resettle Indians to reservations west of the Mississippi.

Together, the Seminoles and Black Seminoles fought for their right to live on their land in Florida. Through three difficult battles combined, cunning fighting techniques and adaptations, the Seminoles won tribal independence in Florida when other tribes were forced into reservations in the West during the nineteenth century.

First Seminole War

There were a total of three Seminole Wars. The First Seminole War began in 1816, a time when tribal lands in the Indian nations were already rapidly declining. The First Seminole War began with the United States‘ efforts to capture runaway slaves who were living among the Seminoles in Spanish-owned Florida. The war lasted for two short years, from 1816–1818. During this time, West Florida was Louisiana Territory, while East Florida remained under Spanish rule.

General Andrew Jackson led troops during both the First and Second Seminole Wars. To suppress fighting on the Spanish Florida border, General Jackson launched a campaign against the Creek and Seminole Indians. Jackson was known as the Sharp Knife for the Cherokee and the Indian Killer for many others. Jackson, an ardent supporter of Indian expulsion, ordered the soldiers to kill the native women and children after killing the men to complete the task of getting rid of them.

During his fifth annual message, Jackson is quoted as saying, “He has neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire for improvement which are necessary for any favorable change in his position”. Jackson was also a strong supporter of slavery, a combination that fueled the First Seminole War.

Spanish Invasion

Because Florida was Spanish-owned land rather than United States territory, Jackson asked for the “capture of St. Mark’s fort and the capital city of Pensacola, together with the fort of Barrancas.” After these sieges, General Jackson and his army further captured Spanish Florida, and ravaged the towns, killing and enslaved many Creek, Seminole and Black people, as well as two British prisoners.

British prisoners were tried and convicted in a military tribunal for being sympathetic to the Seminoles. The general’s actions made the government realize that not only had Jackson crossed a line and deprived the prisoners of due legal process, but he had also started war with Spain by attacking forts and villages.

Although it was a war against the Seminoles as it took place in Spanish-owned territory, General Jackson’s actions were discussed in Congress for two months in 1818, to determine whether Jackson’s actions violated the Constitution. did or not. Congress ultimately determined that General Jackson did not act in a manner that violated the Constitution.

The ongoing argument by the government to treat Indian nations as barbaric or sovereign, along with slavery laws, eventually gave way to policies such as the Indian Expulsion Act of 1830. Although the Seminoles did not celebrate a decisive victory, they remained in Florida because Florida was not a United States territory until 1819. Spain was forced to cede to the United States, due to the First Seminole War.

Indian Removal Act

Despite his previous difficulties with Congress, General Jackson was elected President of the United States in 1829. While his battlefield strategy was put into question by the Congress, the people supported him. The Indian Removal Act was debated in Congress for seven months, after receiving several petitions from white residents to remove Indians from the Southeast, primarily Georgia.

It was a delicate subject that dealt with more than the native peoples, it also raised issues of tribal sovereignty and the legitimacy of denying previous treaties.

After several amendments, President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The act provided resettlement of Indians from east of the Mississippi River to land in the west. While the Act was intended to be voluntary, the government was allowed to forcibly remove tribes when it felt it was necessary. The goal of the relocation was to civilize and Christianize the Native Americans.

In addition, the Indian Expulsion Act freed up lands occupied by Indians for settlers to claim. While some tribes rose to resistance, the United States military suppressed the rebels and tribal warriors eventually submitted to the reservation life or died in battle. Other tribes went west voluntarily or were forced by armies when they took too long to leave. By the 1840s, except for the Seminoles, no tribes lived in the south anymore.

Payne’s Landing Treaty

The Seminoles refused to leave Florida under the Indian Removal Act. Many hid their families in the Everglades so that they could not be forcibly removed. Then a new treaty was written to persuade the Seminoles to leave Florida peacefully. The Treaty of Payne’s Landing was a treaty between the United States government and the Seminole Indians.

The treaty, created on April 12, 1834, was written by James Gadsden on behalf of the United States government and several Seminole chiefs. It was signed and enacted on May 9, 1834, sixteen years after the First Seminole War.

The treaty outlined the demands of the United States government to the Seminole Indians to move the Seminole to the Western Region. One of those demands, again, was the return of the escaped slaves to the slaveholders. It has been claimed that the treaty was written in vague terms, for example giving the Seminoles three years to deport the West.

This would normally be interpreted as three years from 1834, however, the government interpreted it as three years from 1832, the year in which some Seminole chiefs moved to check reservations in the western regions, allowing the Seminoles to Was given less than a year to leave.

The Seminoles saw this as another lie of the United States government. Because Chief Ossiola, as well as others, had married former slaves and had children with them, they would not leave their families for slaves. In 1835, Osciola, led by the Seminoles, rejected the Treaty of Payne’s Landing, and began guerrilla-style warfare against American troops in the Florida swamps in resistance to relocation at the start of the Second Seminole War.

Second Seminole War

The Black Seminoles were one of the reasons why Andrew Jackson was not able to expel the Seminole Indians from their native lands. The Treaty of Payne’s Landing, 1832, stipulated that any Seminole with black blood was considered a runaway slave and should be returned. It belonged to the Seminoles, as many black people had married Seminoles and adopted their culture.

Chief Osciola opposed the surrender of the Black Seminoles. Most of the United States soldiers in their 40s and 50s were farmers who were not used to fighting in swamps. In January of 1836, Seminole warriors led by Osciola, known as Powell, attacked Major Dade’s camp near Tampa, Florida, in addition to the escaped slaves. The entire camp, including Major Dade and Captain Fraser, was slaughtered. It has been said that Chief Ossola was considered one of the greatest generals of his day.

Chief Osceola

Chief Ossiola was half-breed. His father was a white man named Powell from Georgia and his mother was an Indian. In 1837, during negotiations, Ossiola verbally attacked an Indian agent, and was captured under the flag of an armistice. He was confined to St. Augustine but was later sent to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.

With Ossiola in prison, the United States government thought that his forces would give up and the fighting would end. In contrast, on Christmas Day in 1837, Colonel Zachary Taylor attempted to ambush a group of Seminoles in Okeechobee. However, it was they who were ambushed by the Seminoles. While the army entered a clean field for battle, the Seminoles used guerilla tactics to drive out most of the unit’s officers.

Osciola died in prison in January 1838. However, Ossiola’s forces continued to fight for the next several years. In 1842, the Seminoles surrendered to the government, ending the Second Seminole War. Some were deported to the West, but some still refused. Those who survived were allowed to live in the marshes of the Everglades.

The Seminoles were allowed to live on their land as long as it was a life of peace. His chief was now Billy Bowles, who was part of the ambush against Colonel Taylor.

Third Seminole War

Billy Bowles was called the King of the Everglades. He was a descendant of Chief Sekoffee who broke away from the Creek Indians and settled in Florida. Billy Boulegs and several Seminoles lived and farmed in the marshes of the Florida Everglades.

In 1855, government surveyors led by Colonel Harney, accompanied by army engineers who were under orders not to provoke the Indians, stole crops and damaged banana trees belonging to the Seminole. It was an act of provocation and aggression. When confronted by the Seminoles, the men showed no remorse.

He admitted that he wanted to see Chief Bowles come down. This leads to the Third Seminole War. This was the final battle attempting to drive the Seminoles out of Florida and force them out west onto the reservation. Additionally, this was the final push from the Seminoles to stay on their land.

The war began the morning after the theft. Seminole warriors attacked Surveyor’s camp killing four and wounding four others. In response, the United States Army raised its numbers against the Seminoles with the Seminoles from fourteen to one. Several skirmishes took place over the next two years.

The United States military aimed to kill or oust the Seminoles from their lands, and the Seminoles fought for their right to live and live in peace. It was speculated that the Surveyors had attacked Billy Bowles’ camp in an attempt to provoke the Seminoles so that the United States government would have a reason to go to war with them, thus leaving the Seminole’s Florida once more. Got rid of all. .

Col. Harney

Colonel Harney was a family friend of Andrew Jackson. He also fought alongside General Jackson in the First and Second Seminole Wars. He was a contradictory person. He publicly took the stand that wars with Indians should be avoided by being good neighbours. However, it was the men under his command who ransacked Billy Bowles’ camp.

Also, while he may have befriended the crows, he fought alongside Colonel Zachary Taylor against the Black Hawk. During the Third Seminole War, he threatened to hang women and children for pressuring the Seminoles to reveal the location of Billy Bowles. At one point, he held a noose around a child’s neck until his parents gave the desired information.

Billy Bowlegs’ War

To end the fighting, the government offered another treaty in 1856 to entice the Seminoles to move west. The Seminoles were promised independent government from the other tribes if they would surrender their lands and move west. This treaty did not end the fighting.

After years of minor skirmishes, the final conflict of the Third Seminole War came in 1857 when Billy Bowles’ camp was burned to the ground by United States forces. The conflict, also known as the Billy Boulenges War, lasted only one year, ending in 1858.

The US government met with Billy Bowles under the flag of a truce to end the Third Seminole War. The Seminole people were offered various sums payable upon boarding a ship at Egmont Key to leave the kingdom. After discussion in the Indian Council, the proposal was accepted.

Billy Bowles, his family and his men boarded the ship and were removed to a reservation in the west. However, about two hundred Seminoles remained in Florida. These two hundred Indians were the last Indians to live on their land. They moved deep into the swamps of Florida and avoided all contact with white settlers.

Final result

After three hard wars, the Seminoles had gained the freedom to live on their homeland. They were the only Indian tribe to achieve such independence. All other tribes were removed to reservations west of the Mississippi. However, the Seminoles made a living for themselves in the swamps of Florida.

After the Third Seminole War, he was rarely seen. The tribal people gave up their land only for a short time to trade in the adjacent border villages. Despite contact with white settlers during the trade, most Seminoles shunned whites and kept in their original manner and language.

During the late nineteenth century, efforts were made by concerned citizens and missionaries to reach and teach the Seminoles; However, the United States government left him alone.


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