The Second Seminole War (1835-1842)

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Also Known as the Florida War. In the 1830s, the Seminole Indians and the settlers in Florida were experiencing continued conflicts. So, the U.S. government decided that the best thing to do would be to remove all of the Indians and move them to Indian Territory, which was located in what is now Oklahoma. As of 1834, 3,824 Indians had been moved to Indian Territory from Florida.

The Seminole Indians did not want to be forcibly removed. So, a group led by Osceola killed 7 people, including General Wiley Thompson, who was the Indian agent at the time, on December 28, 1835. They were killed near the stockade at Fort King. However, Thompson himself was not just killed. He was savagely shot 14 times. Then he was scalped by the Indians.

Second Seminole War Map

On that exact same day, 300 Seminole warriors near Fort King (present-day Ocala), attacked troops led by Major Francis Dade. That started the Second Seminole War.

On December 25, 1837, a group of approximately 1,100 men led by Colonel Zachary Taylor was ambushed by Seminole Indians on the way to lake Okeechobee. Taylor and his men had been charged with the task of rounding up Indians who were resisting being removed from Florida. The group of Indians that attacked them were led by three chiefs, Abiaca, Alligator, and Billy Bowlegs. The Seminoles planned the attack in advance and cut down all the grass so that they would have a clear field in which to attack. Only 11 Seminoles died in the attack, and only 14 were hurt. However, 26 U.S. men were killed and 112 were wounded in the attack. Not only that, but the Seminoles specifically targeted the higher ranking officers. Colonel Taylor and his remaining troops retreated to Fort Basinger. However, he showed that large forces of U.S. troops were capable of getting into Seminole territory. He was therefore promoted to Brigadier General and took over leadership of Florida operations from Major General Thomas S. Jesup in may of 1838.

U.S. forces pretended to want a truce in the summer of 1837. They used that tactic to capture Osceola. Oceola died the following year, on June 30, at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. By the time the war ended in 1842, 4,420 Seminole Indians had been moved from Florida to Indian Territory.