AM I a negro, a slave? My skin is dark, but not black. I am an Indian -- a Seminole. The white man shall not make me black. I will make the white man red with blood, and then blacken him in the sun and rain, where the wolf shall smell his bones, and the buzzards shall live upon his flesh." Where, when, and by whom was expression given to this dark sentiment? The speaker was Osceola, a young Seminole warrior. The scene, a trader's cabin, at a settlement in Florida. Osceola had sought to buy a keg of powder. He had been refused on the ground that the United States forbade the sale of ammunition or fire-arms to the Seminoles. The time of this affront was the early part of the year 1835. Who was Osceola, what his race, and what the occasion for this collision between its members and the white man?
About the middle of the last century a great chief arose among the Creeks, named Secoffee. He had ambition, genius, eloquence, the gift of leadership, and the spirit of rebellion. He revolted from the confederacy of the Creeks, and drawing after him a third part of the tribe, took his way to the heart of Florida. The Creeks attempted, by terrible wars, to conquer the rebels, and force them to return to their old allegiance. Failing in this, they sought revenge by branding the runaways with the name of "The Seminoles," a name originally a badge of disgrace, signifying simply "The Runaways." The insult failed, as well as the armies of the Creeks, to accomplish its purpose. Long since has the humiliating meaning been forgotten among men, who remember only the sad but beautiful name, Seminole.
Fugitives themselves, the Seminoles always afforded refuge and safety to the negroes of Georgia, who likewise fled from the bondage of their masters. This practice brought on a small war between the Georgians and the Seminoles, which eventually resulted in the purchase of Florida from Spain. The United States thus found itself with a red elephant on its hands. The whites along the frontier hated their Indian neighbors. They longed to get their greedy hands upon their property.
Adventurers, speculators, and pioneers kept up an incessant din, demanding that the Indians of Florida be confined to certain limits, and that the rest of the country be thrown open to settlers. The whites wanted the country, so they said. This was sufficient reason in the opinion of the government and of the age to rob the Indians of their lands. Inasmuch as at the present day vast expanses of Florida remain a wilderness, untrodden by the foot of man, undeveloped and unexplored, the folly, the falsehood, and the wickedness of the spoliation of the Seminoles is apparent to every candid mind. Nevertheless, the government, by intrigue and stratagem, on the 18th of September, 1824, took the step which was ultimately to desolate the peninsula to which mankind have given the name "The Land of Flowers." A considerable portion of the Seminole chiefs were induced to sign a treaty by which they bound themselves to withdraw their people to a certain designated reservation. This treaty was to afford a pretext in case of its violation for the destruction of the Seminoles.
It brought nothing but trouble. The Indians, unsettled and driven from the old homes, failed to quiet down in any new ones. Angry and furious, they roamed the peninsula at will, from end to end. Moreover, the old question of the negroes among the Seminoles gave increasing difficulty. The whites claimed that the Indians robbed their cornfields, burned their houses, and killed their cattle. The southerners were passionate. No one knew at what moment an Indian war might break out.
So in 1833 the government induced a party of chiefs to visit another unexplored wilderness, now comprising the State of Arkansas, with a view to the removal of the entire Seminole nation to that place. By some manipulation the United States succeeded in inducing a number of chiefs to sign what is known as the treaty of "Payne's Landing," whereby they agreed to make the removal to Arkansas, provided an investigating band should make a favorable report concerning the country. The latter, under the seductive arts of the Indian agents, signed a treaty whereby they admitted that the country was satisfactory, and binding the Seminoles absolutely to the removal.
When these chiefs returned from Arkansas, and told their people what had been done, a universal dissatisfaction arose. The authority of the commissioners was denied. Indeed, more than half of them deliberately swore they had never signed the treaty, and that their names had been forged. There was widespread agitation. In every wigwam was heard the sound of dispute; in every council-house the roar of argument. The negro slaves belonging to the Seminoles banded together and boldly refused to follow their masters into exile, to a country where subsistence was only to be obtained by hard labor. As if by common impulse the Seminoles began to accumulate ammunition and weapons. The government retaliated by forbidding the sale of these articles to Indians or negroes. In response to a refusal to sell even powder, Osceola, a young warrior, not even a chief, uttered the terrible threat which stands at the opening of this chapter.
As the months went by, this high-spirited brave became one of the leaders of the war-party of the Seminoles. The old chiefs of the nation were timid and conservative. They inclined to a compliance with the demands of the United States. With the ringing voice of command, Osceola swore the first Indian who commenced the sale or disposal of his property, preparations to removal, should be put to death. It was not long before this threat was carried out. Charley Mathlar, an old chief, had driven his cattle to one of the army posts, and there, in conformity with the treaty, received from the government agent the money for them. He was returning home from trip, carrying in his hands a handkerchief, in which was tied up the gold and silver thus obtained.
Osceola, mindful of his threat, posted himself with a band of braves in the forest beside the path, along which the old chief must come. As the latter approached, his enemies fired. Covering his face with his hands, he fell prostrate, receiving the blows from the braves without a word. With imperious tone Osceola said that the gold and silver was made of the red man's blood. Forbidding his followers to touch the accursed thing, he took it with his own hands and threw it in every direction.
Osceola was not satisfied. He determined to obtain revenge for the murder of Charley Mathlar, to which, as he said, the white man had driven him. With sixty followers he concealed himself in a dense forest, in the neighborhood of Fort King. General Thompson and Lieutenant Smith were taking an afternoon walk. As they approached the ambush they were fired upon and killed.
The fierce appetite for war and blood, which sometimes sleeps, but never is utterly eradicated from the savage heart, had during the long years of comparative peace and of agricultural pursuits slumbered inactive in the breasts of the Seminoles. As the deed of blood was accomplished, this old appetite was roused, like some sleeping animal, to rage and fury in the bosoms of the Indians. With fierce exultant cries they leaped forth from their concealment, scalped the fallen men, in whose bodies were no less than thirty-seven balls, and to satisfy the appetites of all, as well as to prove to their companions their participation in the murder, cut the scalps into sixty small pieces, and distributed them to every member of the party.
Near by was the sutler's store, from which provisions were supplied to the fort. It was just the hour for the evening meal. Through the windows, open for the fresh breeze, which during certain hours in the day makes Florida delightful beyond any climate in the world, the savages discovered four gentlemen and one boy seated at the table. They fired through the open doors and windows, killing every inmate in the house. The scalps of the slain were cut up and distributed as before. With greedy hands the store was rifled. Then the torch was applied, and the band rode away, leaving the buildings in flames.
Horrible as was this occurrence, which stands as the opening of the Florida war, a war of which the histories are few and the events but little known, which is passed over lightly by every historian of our country, who is more careful for its fame than for the truth, it must be remembered that the Seminoles were frantic with agitation and insane with grief, both at the sorrows they had suffered and at the exile which confronted them. They had been driven from the villages which they and their fathers had inhabited for three quarters of a century; they had been quarreled with and hated by their neighbors. Who for forty years had sought only their destruction or exile, and the robbery of their lands. Houseless and homeless, they had roamed restlessly through the peninsula, angry with themselves and embittered by hatred for their enemies. Their braves had been arrested and placed in irons; their hunting parties had been robbed and murdered.
The territorial legislature, in a petition to congress, had accused them of the violation of a treaty, into which their chiefs had been entrapped, and to which the nation at large had never agreed. Guilty of much, they had, nevertheless, been charged with murders which they did not commit, and slandered for outrages of which they were innocent. Their exile was demanded on the strength of a treaty alleged to have been made with the exploring party sent to Arkansas, which the chiefs themselves repudiated as a forgery. Their most trusted leaders had been corrupt with money, and their hereditary chiefs had been bribed with presents. The suffering Seminoles, unlike the Indians of other portions of the country, could not retreat from the aggressions of the white men farther into the wilderness. Nature had hemmed them in by sea and gulf. For them there were but two alternatives, exile or war.
The Indians were by no means idle. One hundred troops were marching from Fort Brooke to the help of Fort King, where the above outrages were committed. They were discovered passing through an immense swamp. The Indians, two hundred in number, commanded by Jumper and Alligator, posted themselves on the west side of the road. Every warrior was protected or concealed amid the broad leaves of the high palmettos. Just as the troops arrived at this point, where they were, so to speak, between the devil and the deep blue water, the ambushed Indians fired. Alligator says, "The soldiers shouted and whooped, and the officers shook their swords and swore."
They seem to have done no more effective fighting. A cannon was loaded and fired a time or two, but the balls hissed harmlessly through the air, and fell with dull thuds far back in the swamp. Almost every white man was killed on the spot. Six got away, and endeavored to build a log barricade or pen, behind which they would be safe. The negroes, who formed powerful and ferocious allies of the Seminoles, attacked the rude rampart. When they clambered over the logs, only three men were found alive in the pen. Two of these were killed outright. The third snatched a rifle from the hands of his enemies, and with a terrific blow brained his opponent. He swiftly leaped over the logs, and started down the road at full speed. Two Indians on horseback gave chase, and, firing from a distance, killed him. Every man but two in the command was killed. The Indians lost only three warriors.
The whole Seminole country seemed to burst into flames at once. Sixteen plantations in East Florida, upon each of which were employed over a hundred negroes, together with sugar mills, cotton gins, storehouses, and fine residences, were completely destroyed during the month of January, 1836. The wealthiest people fled through the swamps for their lives, destitute of the common necessaries of life. None could tell at what moment or in what manner they would be assailed, and subjected to the most cruel and brutal death. "In some instances the lives of mothers were spared, that they might see their children cut in pieces, and their limbs used as weapons to assail the living."
A Frenchman, traveling in Florida in 1851, heard the story of the destruction of one of these planter's homes, from his guide, and published in Paris. Though no date was given, the affair doubtless occurred early in the war. The guide had been a member of a company of volunteers, who were encamped on the shores of the St. John's River. One day a negro was observed swimming the river. He directed his course to the camp. As he touched the shore he ran toward the soldiers, all dripping with water, explaining in agitateds tone that the Indians were attacking the house of Mr. Montgomery, his master, and begging for help.
A party of men hastily prepared to accompany the slave to the threatened mansion, which was some little distance above, on the opposite side of the St. John's. the place was found to be well defended, and in no immediate danger, as the Indians had been gone for some hours. Montgomery, however, expressed great fears for the safety of his neighbor, Motte, who lived some miles farther up the river. Leaving a guard at Montgomery's, the men started on to Motte's.
When within a short distance of the house, which was spacious and elegant, the soldiers discovered smoke and flames beginning to issue from the windows. No Indians were in sight. Hurrying forward, the men entered the burning building. The owner seemed to be absent, yet he could not have been gone long. The rooms, with their elegant furniture, which one after another were being reached by the flames, gave evidence of recent occupation.
Pushing on into the parlor, the soldiers discovered the scene of an awful tragedy. Four mutilated corpses, yet warm with life, were lying on the floor. One was that of an old man, Mr. Motte himself. He was lying on the floor, partially leaning against the wall. He had been scalped, and the blood still trickled down his pallid features. And reddened all his snow-white beard. Right by him lay the mangled form of his youngest daughter. A few feet off were the other beautiful daughters, lying, scalped and lifeless. There had been a struggle; the old man still grasped his gun, and the oldest daughter still held in her jeweled hand a large pistol. The apartment, with its handsome fittings, was already full of fire. The floor and walls were in a blaze; the garments of the dead were burning.
Swift hands snatched the corpses from the flames, and bore them out for internment. Just as they were about to leave the doomed house, which was now filled with a frightful roar from the flames, the soldiers heard a shriek. The next moment, an old lady, scalped and bloody, but yet living, the mother of the girls, sprung toward them. She was tenderly transported to a place of safety, and survived for a year or so.
In the yard the men found the body of the colored gardener. One man stopped to water his horse. He heard a low moan from the marsh. Advancing cautiously, he found a poor mulatto girl, half-dead with fright. She had been lying in the swamp for hours. From her the story of the tragedy was learned. She had gone to get some water for the house, when Indians were discovered climbing the garden walls. The family were at the time out in the garden gathering flowers. They had time to reach the house and barricade the doors. The colored gardener sought to join them, but was killed on the way. The mulatto girl being too far away to reach the house, fled to the marsh. Here she endured agony, but it was not the agony of death. She saw the Indians surround the house. She heard their demand for surrender, and the refusal of the inmates. She saw the doors battered down, heard the shots, the shrieks, the moans. Then there had been a silence. For an hour or two the Indians remained in the house, ransacking it. At last they came forth with their plunder, fired the house, and disappeared in the hammock. For many years the ruined house bore the name of the House of Blood.
Two months after the massacre of Major Dade's command, General Gaines, who with a considerable force from New Orleans had reached the scene of hostilities, came upon the spot where the awful tragedy had been enacted. Here was a cart amid a lot of broken and scattered boxes. The two oxen were lying dead, their yokes still on them. A little farther on were the offensive remains of some horses. Next the men came upon a little triangular breastworks of logs. A soldier counted the corpses, by that time almost skeletons, lying within the triangle. There were thirty of them. They were lying in a regular row, parallel to each other, behind the barricade, their heads next to the logs over which they had fired, and their bodies stretched out on the ground. They had been shot dead in their ranks, and lay in death as they had fought in life.
A little farther on, other bodies were found lying along the road. Behind every tree, log, or even bush, to which the men had resorted for cover, was one or more corpses. At one spot, two hundred yards down the road, lay a cluster of bodies in regular ranks, like the others. This had been the advance guard. The soldiers were overwhelmed with horror. If such was the beginning, what would be the end of the war?
Their apprehensions were indeed justified. The very first movement in the was a terrible blunder. General Gaines, finding no supplies at Fort King, resolved to withdraw to Fort Brooke, on Tampa Bay. On the way, while crossing a river, an immense force of warriors attacked them. A rude breastwork of logs was hastily thrown up, and a runner dispatched to Fort Drane, ordering General Clinch to hurry forward with all his troops and supplies, and take the Indians, numbering more than fifteen hundred braves, in the rear, while General Gaines attacked them in the front.
While the army, pinched with hunger and annoyed by the Indians, remained quiet in their fortified camp awaiting General Clinch, an old negro named Caesar came up to the lines, and shouted "that the Indians were tired of fighting, and wished to come in and shake hands." Is pursuance of arrangements made with this ambassador, a large number of warriors without their arms, assembled under a flag of truce about five hundred yards from the camp. Midway between the hostile armies three chiefs met like a number of American officers, and arranged a temporary cessation of hostilities. The Indians were to withdraw to the south side of the Withlacoochie, and remain there until a permanent peace was concluded. At that moment, General Clinch, from Fort Drane came into sight, and supposing the assemblage of Indians to be a hostile one, instantly charged upon them, inflicting great slaughter. So the conference broke up, and the Indians freshly enraged, fled to their towns, swearing new oaths of vengeance.
On the twenty-second day of February Major-General Scott arrived in Florida, assuming command of the American forces. From the first all his efforts met with embarrassment and failure. His troops almost starved before rations could be had. In attempting a forward movement, large numbers of his provision wagons and horses were swept away in fording a river. Such provision as was rescued was exposed to a tremendous rain of many days, and ruined. The stormy weather delayed the movement of troops, and the exposure caused large numbers of the men, unused to the climate, to be attacked with malignant fevers. The cannon mired in bottomless bogs. Generals Gaines and Clinch refused to co-operate with Scott, and a bitter quarrel broke out between the commanders.
Assailed by these overwhelming difficulties, the army was compelled to straggle back to Fort Drane to escape starvation. They arrived there famished and fever-stricken, only to find that General Gaines, who had not been expected in that part of the country, had deliberately apportioned nineteen thousand rations to his own use. Nevertheless General Scott, misled by dishonest scouts, utterly ignorant of the geography of a country which consisted of dense and impassable jungles, into which the light of day never penetrated, and of endless swamps, interspersed with bottomless bayous and salt lagoons, managed to send out detachments in all directions to search for the enemy, whose whereabouts was utterly unknown. The Indians, thoroughly familiar with the country, led these detachments on wild and fatiguing chases only to disappear from view entirely, and fall upon the worn soldiery as they attempted to make their way back to their commander. Meanwhile the heated season coming on, together with scanty water from poisonous pools, made the condition of the men still more intolerable. In short, the campaign was an utter and ruinous failure.
About the first of June, General Call assumed command of the army. He, however, having several engagements with the enemy, met with no better success than his predecessor. His principal undertaking was to send a strong detachment against the enemy, which were supposed to be posted in large numbers in the great Wahoo swamp.
After a journey of incomparable difficulty, the men wading much of the time up to their armpits in mire and water, the enemy was met in great strength. In endeavoring to dislodge them from a vast morass, the men themselves became so entangled in its deceitful depths, the loss was heavy, although the engagement was a victory. At night, however, it was deemed impossible to remain or to risk another engagement. The horses were dying for want of food. The ammunition was exhausted. The supplies, too, were gone. They had been lost in the difficulties of the advance. There remained nothing to be done except a disastrous and painful retreat. On the 27th of November, 1836, General Call was succeeded by General Jessup. The latter pushed the campaign with vigor. As the summer approached the Indians themselves, who had been accustomed to subsist on agricultural productions, were compelled to sue for peace. They again agreed to withdraw to Arkansas, and hostilities, for the time being, ceased.
By agreement large numbers of the Seminoles assembled in a camp near Fort Brooke, preparatory to an embarkation on government vessels for transportation to Arkansas. The old chief Micanopy had been largely instrumental in this consent to the exile of his people. He was encamped with hundreds of his followers at Fort Brooke, ready to bid a last farewell to the country he loved, and seek a new home in the barren wilderness west of the Mississippi. On the night of the 4th of June two dark forms made their way through the sleeping Indian camp toward the wigwam of old Micanopy. They were Osceola and Coacooche, the young and ferocious chiefs of the war-party. With noiseless tread they entered the rude apartment, unsheathed their glittering knives and roused the old chief from his slumbers. With whispered words they told him that he was a traitor to his people, that as they had sworn to kill the first Indian who should prepare to remove from Florida, and had fulfilled their oath by the slaughter of Charley Mathlar, so now they had sworn to take the life of Micanopy as that of a traitor, unless he at once consented to arouse the sleeping camp and lead the people before the break of day in a flight to the south, where they would be beyond the reach of the American army, and thus again foil the schemes of the enemies of the Seminoles to drive them into cruel exile.
The old man heard the whispered threats of the dark conspirators. He was timid and resolute. He doubted himself whether he was not, as they hissed through their teeth in the darkness, a traitor to his people. He still hesitated. Osceola uplifted his right hand, from which the bright blade glistened in the starlight, to plunge the dagger into the chieftain's heart. Agitated beyond measure, the old man gave his consent to their demand. Dark messengers passed swiftly and noiselessly from tent to tent, rousing the occupants, and conveying the order of their chief to prepare for instant flight. Not a question was asked. In a quarter of an hour, every one of the seven hundred Indians was proceeding through the forest without so much noise as would come from the breaking of a twig or the rustle of a dried palmetto leaf.
At sunrise, General Jessup, proud and pleased at the apparent termination of the war, rose to give orders for the embarkation of the exiles. In half an hour he repaired to the spot where the Indian camp had been pitched. To his dismay and astonishment, he found only a few bare poles from the wigwams. The whole Indian assemblage had fled, and were many miles away, beyond the reach of a successful pursuit. On that day General Jessup, the third commander-in-chief of the Florida army, tendered his resignation. He continued in actual command, however, until the 15th of May, 1838.
To General Hernandez the commander-in-chief intrusted the military operations of a campaign in East Florida, along the Atlantic coast. On the 9th of September, 1837, Hernandez succeeded in capturing King Philip, a noted Seminole chief of intelligence and influence, and the father of Coacoochee. The chieftain, finding himself in the toils of his enemies, sent word to his distinguished son earnestly requesting him to come and confer with his father. Coacoochee was brave. Moreover, he had a special mission to perform with Osceola. Placing a large white plume in his hat, he boldly visited the camp of Hernandez, accompanied by Blue Snake, another chief.
On being shown into the presence of the American general, Coacoochee presented him with a handsome peace pipe, from the great Osceola, accompanied by a request for a conference. To this opposition Hernandez acceded, and Coacoochee departed with a message to Osceola, to the effect that he might have a council with the American general. On the appointed day, Coacoochee returned to General Hernandez with information that Osceola, with a hundred warriors, was on his way to St. Augustine, for the appointed peace talk. Hernandez, with a design in his mind which, inspired by his commander or originated by himself, bears the ear-marks of a deep and damnable treachery, eager to get the game in his trap, hurried forward to meet Osceola. Seven miles southwest of St. Augustine, he met the distinguished Indian chieftain, and entered into a conference.
He at once commenced to question Osceola as to the purposes and plans of the Indians. While the conversation was progressing, the council was quickly and quietly surrounded by an overwhelming force of American soldiers. With quick intuition, Osceola read the sinister purposes of his enemy. As the questions were put to him he looked nervously about him at the surrounding military, gave a few vague and uneasy replies, and then lapsed into silence. Overcome by uncontrollable emotion, he turned to Coa-Hajo, and said, "I feel choked; you must speak for me."
Seeing that his purposes were discovered, Hernandez gave a signal, and in a moment Osceola and his little band of braves were made prisoners without a struggle. The date of this infamy was October 22, 1837. Osceola and his companions were at once placed in irons and thrown into the dungeon of the castle of St. Marco, at St. Augustine.
Notwithstanding the treachery by which he had been betrayed, Osceola communicated with Hernandez, and proposed to send a message to his people and their chiefs, recommending them to come in and consent to an exile to Arkansas. This proposition was agreed to. The messengers were sent. A council was held, and the scheme promised well. It however met with a sudden interruption. Coacoochee and his friend Talmus Hadjo were immured in another of the dark and mysterious dungeons in the castle of St. Marco, at St. Augustine, the most ancient military work in the United States.
While Osceola in one part of the old structure was planning for a submission by his people to exile, Coacoochee and his friend weary with studying the arms of Spain, which were carved on the walls of their prison cell, and growing more languid and sickly day by day from the confinement, resolved to escape, or die in the effort. They occupied an apartment about eighteen feet square, with wall of stone, and a lofty ceiling. The only window through which they received light and air, and consequently the only chance for escape, was a small embrasure eighteen feet from the floor. From this aperture to the bottom of the ditch outside, was more than fifty feet. The two prisoners examined the hole attentively, and saw that it was exceedingly small, but believed that they might possible squeeze through it.
All their preparations had to be carried on in complete silence, as a sentinel stood constantly at the door of the cell. With deft fingers the prisoners tore into strips a few forage bags which formed their bed, and wove them into a rude rope. The first thing was to reach the embrasure. Again and again Coacoochee stood on the shoulders of his companion and strained himself to the utmost to reach the sill. All in vain; the window remained two feet above his fingers.
At last the prisoners managed to secrete a knife. Standing on the shoulders of his companion, Coacoochee gradually worked it into a crevice in the rocks high up as he could reach. When the blade and half of the short, heavy handle had been inserted the other part of the handle remained a stout and serviceable peg, by means of which the athletic Indian raised himself to the embrasure. He found it small, but believed that if he and his companion could get rid of their flesh they might get through. They at once feigned sickness, and procured through the guards some roots, of which they knew the effect. For three weeks the prisoners abstained almost entirely from food, taking large quantities of the medicinal root, and at the end of the time were little more than skin and bone.
On a certain night, when there would be no moon, they resolved to attempt their escape. During the evening the keeper came in frequently, annoying the prisoners so much that they almost resolve to seize and gag him. They more prudently pretended to be asleep, and at last the keeper came no more. Taking one end of the rope in his hand, Coacoochee once more climbed up to the embrasure. Here he made fast the rope, letting one end hang down inside for his friend, who was to follow, and dangling the other end down toward the ditch. With great difficulty the Indian forced his body through the aperture. Great strips of skin were torn from him. But with a capacity for the endurance of physical suffering which only an Indian could have, he resolutely persisted. He lay hold of the rope on the outside with his hands, and descended head foremost till he had dragged his feet through the embrasure, and at last leaped to the ground.
Though terribly wounded he was unconscious of the pain, and turned all his thoughts to the arrival of his comrade. At length he heard the struggle of his companion far above him. There was a low gasp of despair. The man had forced his head and shoulders into the hole and was caught fast, being unable to move either backward or forward. Coacoochee called to him in the lowest possible tone to keep calm and rest for a moment, then to force out all his breath and at the same instant endeavor to move an inch or so. For a few moments, Coacoochee could hear his friend following his advice, when suddenly he was alarmed to find him tumbling head foremost down the whole distance. Extricating himself with a sudden jerk, the rope had broken.
As he lay on the ground a confused and bloody mass, Coacoochee thought him dead. Nevertheless, in spite of the danger of discovery, he dragged his companion to a pool of water, which revived him. The poor fellow was so lame that he could not walk a step. It was almost dawn. In a short time their escape would be discovered. Although himself weak from emaciation and wounds, Coacoochee placed his friend on his back, and started to the nearest woods. Before long he caught sight of a mule, which he captured. The two Indians mounted. Forcing the animal to its highest speed, and guiding it solely by seizing its ears, Coacoochee and his friend hurried across the country with which they were so familiar. After five days they arrived among their people.
Coacoochee's emaciation and wounds spoke eloquently of what he had endured. Nevertheless he rested not until he had told them the story of the treachery by which he and Osceola had been betrayed, and of their confinement in loathsome cells. Alarmed and suspicious, the other chiefs at once abandoned all idea of further conference or communications with the Americans.
Poor Osceola, the master-spirit of the war, who had risen from the ranks of the humblest warriors by dint of his lofty genius, had at least twice confronted not only the Americans, but all of the leading chiefs of his own people, and, overcoming the latter, had resisted the demands of the enemies of the Seminoles for their exile from Florida; who had hurled the united nation against the Americans for two years, foiling all their efforts and defeating all their armies, languished and pined in his lonely cell at St. Augustine. The high Independence of feeling, which had never before known restraint, became enfeebled, and sunk as the chances of escape passed away. His proud spirit was broken be defeat and imprisonment. For greater security he was removed from St. Augustine to Fort Moultrie, Charleston Harbor. This removal plunged him into a melancholy which never left him. Hope was gone, and the conviction that he was forever banished from his native land weighed upon his spirits until nature became exhausted. He declined to see visitors, and, refusing all sustenance, sat alone in his dark dungeon brooding, brooding over the mighty sorrows of his people and the overwhelming disasters which had befallen him.
One morning, when his keeper came to the cell, he called to Osceola, but the young chieftain did not reply. He called again, louder and more sharply, but no answer came save the mocking echo from the stone walls of the dungeon. Suspicious and alarmed, the man procured help and opened the door of the dungeon. Groping around by the light of a tallow candle to the spot where lay a heap of mouldy straw, which formed the bed of the prisoner, there they found him cold and unresponsive in death. At the age of thirty-three years, the young, the brilliant, the great Osceola, a brave and generous enemy, a proud and manly man, the noblest offspring of his suffering people, died thus of a broken heart.
In December, 1837, Colonel Zachary Taylor, at the head of a thousand men advanced one hundred and fifty miles into the enemy's country, through an unexplored wilderness of jungles and bayous, crossing a dozen streams every day, over which there were no bridges, and traveling without guides in the face of a numerous and powerful foe. Toward the latter of the month they came up with a large body of warriors, commanded by Alligator. The Indians were encamped on the hard sandy beach on the north side of the great Lake Okeechobee. Between the whites and the Indians lay a morass three quarters of a mile wide, covered with a thick growth of saw-grass five feet high and three feet deep in mud and water. The swamp extended on either side as far as the eye could reach. It was totally impassable for horses, and nearly for men.
The soldiers dismounted, and relieving themselves of all unnecessary weight, prepared to cross the morass and give battle to the enemy. In spots where the mire was deep enough for a man to sink out of sight in its treacherous depths, the Indians had cut down the grass, so as to lure the troops into the fatal trap. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Americans gave battle, and after several hours of hard fighting came out victorious. At nightfall it was necessary to commence the inevitable retreat, which no victory, however complete, could prevent; for in this remarkable war the impossibility of transporting provisions for more than a few days through the aqueous wilderness embarrassed and crippled the American army from first to last. In order to retrace their steps through the swamp in the darkness and transport one hundred and twelve wounded men, rude litters were constructed, and a small foot-way built across the swamp. Colonel Taylor brought back his command without further loss, and on the 15th of May, 1838, succeeded General Jessup as commander-in-chief.
We may not trace the irregular, laborious, and indecisive warfare of the ensuing year. In May, 1839, the Indians agreed to a cessation of hostilities, and to confine themselves to a designated part of the peninsula. Many of the settlers, supposing the war was at an end, returned to their homes.
The throngs of unemployed and starving people, who had fled to the crowded villages for safety, again ventured on their plantations. Their hopes, however, were soon scattered to the winds. In July the Indians Irrepressible and invincible, again began their outrages. Colonel Harney, with twenty-six dragoons and three traders, had proceeded to Charlotte's Harbor, to establish a trading post in pursuance of the agreement with the Indians. They were encamped, with a large supply of Indian goods, in a pine barren on the Coloosahatchee river. At dawn on the 22d of July, they were attacked by a band of warriors commanded by Bow Legs. The men were overpowered in their beds, and, embarrassed by their mosquito-bars, were unable to make any effectual resistance. Twenty-four were killed, and two captured. Colonel Harney and two companions escaped, and, after living for days on crabs and oysters, made their way home.
And so the war was renewed. As before, the Indians were driven from swamp to swamp, from jungle to jungle, and from bayous to lagoons, leading the exhausted, famished, and fever-stricken troops hither and yon in fruitless chases over a region of country embracing more than 45,000 square miles.
The territorial legislature saw, as every one saw, that the Indians, hemmed in by the sea and unable to fly, would fight until the last brave was exterminated. This war would cost the lives of four or five white men to every Indian that was killed. So the legislature resolved upon an expedient. They sent to Havana, and purchased at an enormous expense the most famous kennel of blood-hounds in the world. With these animals, which had been trained to the pursuit of fugitive slaves, it was proposed to hunt out the Indians, and by this means track, overpower, and kill. Five experienced Spaniards accompanied the troop of blood-hounds. They were attached to each column of troops, attended by their keepers. The animals were fed liberally upon bloody meat, to supply which young calves accompanied each detachment, and then, being put upon the Indian trail, started forward in the horrible and fiendish pursuit. Such were the means adopted in the nineteenth century to drive a people from a land which was their own.
The Spanish Indians inhabiting the southern extremity of the peninsula, finding themselves encroached upon more and more by their brethren from the north, who, amid hardships which it was impossible to imagine, much more to describe, were gradually beaten back by the whites, now began to take a hand in the war. They pillaged certain unfortunate vessels which were wrecked upon their coast, and murdered the seamen. They even attacked the little settlements on the islands along the western coast. Indian Key was a small island about twenty miles from the mainland. Here, among others, lived Doctor Perrine, a scientific man of high literary attainments, who, inspired by an enthusiasm for scientific research, had, with his family, made this spot his hone, in order to carry forward an investigation of the botanical species of Florida.
On the 7th of August, 1840, about two o'clock in the morning, the Perrines, in common with the other people of the island, were awakened from their sleep by Indian yells, and a number of shots fired. At that moment the glass in their windows was crushed by missiles from without. Mrs. Perrine and her three children hurried down stairs to a room from which a trap-door led to the cellar. The cellar was used for bathing, the tide filling it twice a day. Doctor Perrine saw his family safely down into this place, and hen returned to the piazza to find out what was the matter. Mrs. Perrine and her daughters passed through the water and crawled into a small place about three feet high and ten feet long, constructed of plank and rocks, through which the tide had access to the cellar. No sooner were they secreted in this hole than they heard the doctor talking with the Indians in Spanish, and telling them that he was a physician. At this the Indians ran off with a shout, joining the others in the work of pillaging, firing other houses on the island, and massacring the inhabitants. Doctor Perrine then shut the trap-door, and placed a heavy chest over it, determined if possible, to conceal the retreat of his family and brave the worst himself.
At daylight the Indians returned. They commenced battering in the doors and windows. The doctor fled to the cupola, which was entered by a heavy trap-door. The Indians swarmed through the rooms in search of the occupants. They turned over beds, broke open closets, and tried every door without success. At last they concentrated their efforts on the heavy door leading to the cupola. For a time it resisted their efforts. At last it gave way beneath their terrific assaults, and with wild yells the Indians rushed up into the cupola and massacred the unfortunate man who had retreated to that spot. All this the family heard from their concealment in the cellar.
At last the savages were heard to descend the steps and commence smashing the crockery, glass, and doors of the house, taking savage joy in the mere act of destruction. Trunks and chests of clothing were dragged out of the house and loaded into boats. Two Indians came around the house to the place where the plank covered the spot in which Mrs. Perrine and her children were concealed. One of them lifted a board and looked in, but fortunately the family were crouched at the farther end of the hole, and escaped discovery in the darkness.
In a little while the unhappy people detected a smell of smoke. It grew stronger and stronger. They could hear the roar of the flames in the dwelling above. In a half an hour the rafters gave way, and the whole flaming structure fell with a terrific crash into the cellar. The smoke became intolerable. The planks above them took fire. To avoid suffocation they plastered their heads with mud, and threw the water constantly over their faces as well as upon the planks, in a vain attempt to extinguish the flames.
From the spot where the family were concealed, by chance there led a turtle-crawl. Henry Perrine, a lad, in spite of his mother's entreaties, began to scream with the agonies of suffocation. Discovering the turtle-crawl through an opening between the posts, he proceeded to push the posts aside, and declaring that he would rather be killed by the savages than burnt to death, attempted to get out. The aperture, however, was too small. With his fingers and nails he tore away the mud into which the palmetto post was sunk, and by most strenuous efforts pulled it out of its socket. The boy instantly passed into the turtle-crawl and out into the open air.
Mrs. Perrine and her two daughters, fearful to follow the boy, yet unable to remain where they were, dug away another post and passed under a wharf which was constructed at the spot. On this structure three cords of wood were burning. The floor over their heads was almost consumed, and the coals dropped through upon them as they passed. As they reached the shore the whole structure fell in. Had they been a moment later they would have been buried in a grave of fire.
Mrs. Perrine at once caught sight of a launch, and beckoning to her son, who was crouching near by, they waded out to it and sprang aboard. The launch was grounded. The boy and the largest girl at once jumped into the water up to their necks, and managed slowly to push the launch off the shoal. With a paddle and two poles they proceeded about a mile, when they were picked up by a schooner, to which a number of inhabitants of the place had already fled for refuge. The launch in which they had made their escape was one which the Indians had been loading with plunder. In a few days the unhappy family were transported to St. Augustine.
The Seminoles were certainly the most tantalizing of all the American Indians. The entire territory of Florida was divided up among their chiefs, each of whom operated in his own respective section. Sometimes the blow was one of open violence, sometimes of secret stealth, and not infrequently it was an exasperating prank. Of course the whole country was tired of the war. The officers bit eagerly at submission by the Indians.
In November, 1840, after infinite pains, Halleck-Tustenuggee and Tiger Tail were to come to Fort King. They remained three or four days. They pretended the utmost humility, and from their words one would have thought the whole Indian force was about to surrender. They ate very heartily of the provisions of the fort, and several times a day would request the commander to make some of their band, who appeared to have straggled into the fort by accident, a present of food. These stragglers would at once disappear with the supplies; no doubt carrying them to a hidden camp, where many a chuckle was indulged in at the expense of the Americans.
The officers of the fort innocently believed that peace was at hand. One morning they found that their artful guests had fled. The whole thing was a trick to secure a few days of high living! The next move of these scamps was more tragic. Fifteen soldiers were escorting Mrs. Montgomery from Micanopy to a point eight miles distant, when they were attacked by Indians. Mrs. Montgomery was killed by a ball in her breast. The handful of men fought hand to hand, but were overpowered and slain. Considerable plunder fell into the hands of the greedy savages. Strange as it may seem, Cosa-Tustenuggee was frightened at this atrocity, for "conscience doth make cowards of us all." He came in soon after and surrendered to the whites, consenting to exile.
All attempts to track these marauding parties seemed futile. The trail was lost in the nearest marsh, and the clue could not be regained. The Indians made their homes in the center of immense hummocks or jungles. Here, unseen and unsuspected, their squaws cultivated considerable patches of land, and to retreats they fled for concealment after some outrage.
Halleck-Tustenuggee's operations, as we have seen, filled the country, north, west, and south of St. Augustine with perpetual alarm. In March, 1841, he appeared in the neighborhood of Fort Brooks, on the Oklawaha River. A soldier came out for a hunt, and was shot. The Indians danced and yelled over his body, hoping to tease the garrison into coming out of the fort for an attack. The garrison, believing that a long expected provision train was being attacked, sallied forth, resolving to die in battle rather than of starvation. The valor of the men availed to beat off the Indians with heavy loss, a circumstance which gave their chief food for thought.
Waxehadjo was a chief, whose face was as ugly as his name, who carried on his bloody warfare near Tampa, on the West Florida coast. One day word was brought to Fort Brooke, at Tampa, of the murder of a mail carrier on the road to Fort Cross. A party of mounted soldiers at once started in pursuit of the murderers. The pursuers came upon them early in the morning. The chief and two Indians were sitting by a camp-fire, having just breakfasted on the provisions in the poor mail man's pouch. In the midst of the coals on which the meal had been cooked they had placed the gory head of the murdered victim, where the soldiers were horrified to see it. The two common Indians succeeded in escaping. The chief took refuge in a pool. The white men discovered his hiding place by some bubbles coming up through the water. Several rifle balls were fired, and a soldier wading in found him grasping the grass in the bottom, in the last agonies of death. His body was nailed to a tree, "as a warning to his companions." Had an Indian done as much to the body of a white enemy, it would have been spoken of as "horrid brutality."
All ordinary methods of scouting failed, the Americans organized "canoe bands," which threaded the inland waters of Florida to their innermost recesses to track out the Indians. This plan, which is another illustration of the fact that genius for warfare is really a genius for adaptation to the peculiar circumstances of the war, was, in a measure, successful.
The ordinary movement of troops was entirely inadequate to deal with the problem. "Marches of weeks and months, through deep sand and muddy water, burdened with a knapsack and musket, exposed to a vertical sun and drenching rains, brought the troops no nearer the enemy, who, with his rifle and a few companions, watched their weary progress from day to day, intercepting detachments at every point, with a fleetness, unexampled, eluding and misleading by their intimate knowledge of the country. Hardly could the troops reach their destination, before the section of the country which the had just left would be alarmed by the inroads of the Indians."
In January, 1841, four hundred men set out from Tampa toward the Kissimmee River. On the way the men built Fort Carroll, and encamped later at Fort Gardner. The whole country was found to be overflowed. Finding it impossible to proceed with their plan, it was resolved to attempt an interview with the great Coacoochee, or Wild Cat, who was believed to inhabit an island in Lake Tohopekaliga. Micco, an aged Indian, friendly to the Americans, undertook to hunt up the chief, and try to arrange for a council. As a special reason for believing that this might be secured, the whites had in their camp the daughter of Coacoochee, who had been captured in a skirmish. The chief himself had been committing a new outrage, having killed and robbed a party of strolling actors near St. Augustine, and was concealed with unusual care.
Micco at last returned, saying that Coacoochee was his in a cypress swamp, four days' journey from the camp, but that he had consented to come in and have a talk. On the appointed day he was seen approaching the camp, accompanied by seven trusty warriors. A curious sight presented itself. From the plunder of the theatrical party the Indians had rigged themselves out in all the gaudy finery of the stage. Coacoochee was dressed in the toga of imperial purple, which cloaked the form of Julius Caesar. Another wore the hideous costume of Richard III. Horatio in modest garb walked swiftly by the side of Falstaff. Scarlet vests and glittering spangles were distributed freely among the singular company.
At the sound of her father's voice Coacoochee's daughter sprang past the guard at the door of her tent, and ran to his open arms. With the instinct of a savage she gave him at once a handful of broken cartridges and bullets, which she had picked up around the camp. The young chief won the confidence of the whites by his noble and open bearing and eloquent tongue. "The white man comes; he grows pale and sick here, while his red brother thrives in the land of the Great Spirit has given him. Why may we not live here in peace? The white men are as thick as the leaves in the hummock. They come upon us thicker every day; they may chain our hands and feet, but the red man's heart will always be free." Yet he ended by promising to assemble his people at Tampa, and take them into exile.
Coacoochee was perhaps sincere in his professions. For many months he claimed to be working to induce his tribe to emigrate. But the patience of the whites was exhausted. On the 21st of May, 1842, he came to Fort Pierce, as he had been accustomed to do to request supplies of whisky and food. His arrest, previously decided upon, was put into execution. He was at first taken to New Orleans, but was returned in chains to Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile the war proceeded somewhat more favorably for the Americans, but with the usual number of romantic incidents. In June an expedition of forty trained scouts set out to surprise the camp of Halleck-Tustenuggee. The men, after a fatiguing journey, arrived at the edge of a swamp, six miles wide, on the opposite side of which the Indians were supposed to be encamped. It was the hour midnight. The horses were hastily picketed, and every useless burden left on the margin of the morass. To the dense shades of the cypress swamp was added the darkness of a moonless night. Guided by stalwart negroes, unable to see their hands before them, the force of two hundred men started across the swamp.
At daybreak a halt was called. Just forty-six men were present. The rest were struggling through the swamps, or had ceased all struggles forever. The men crawled stealthily toward the cluster of Indian huts, which was in sight. A gun was fired when close to the lodges to rouse the occupants, but the breathless watchers were chagrined to discover not a sign of life. The dull rubble of the explosion died away among the cypress-trees, but no war-whoop met the ears of the white men and no savages attempted to escape. Not a human being occupied the huts. The men could only express their chagrin and disappointment, after all their fruitless toil, by setting fire to the sheds. The weary march back, through the shades of death, was all that remained for them.
Another band of scouts scoured the Wahoo swamp. Four large corn-fields with growing crops were found hidden in the recesses of the vast morass. While destroying these, early one morning, an Indian was discovered approaching in a canoe. Perceiving the white men, he instantly put about and using his paddle with wonderful effect, made every effort to escape. Finding himself unable to avoid his pursuers, he sprang from his canoe and disappeared in the swamp. Several shots were fired at him, and he was believed to have fallen. The soldiers jumped from their boats into four feet of water, and searched the swamp in all directions. His canoe floated idly on the stagnant water, and the spot where the Indian had jumped was marked by the break in the heavy green scum, but the savage himself was nowhere to be seen. Months afterward this man was captured. He said that the soldiers on this occasion had passed right by him while he lay concealed in the water, covering his face with a leaf of a pond lily.
Coacoochee reached Tampa Bay early in July, 1841. On the morning of the 4th he and his warriors, loaded with chains, were brought up on the deck for transport, which was anchored in the harbor, for a council with Colonel Worth, who had become commander-in-chief of the Florida army. The council was a dramatic occasion. The spirit of the Indians was utterly broken by their misfortunes. Colonel Worth spoke firmly but kindly to his great captive, giving him to understand that the war must end, and that unless Coacoochee induced his tribe to emigrate within a certain time to Arkansas, that he and his warriors should be hung. At the close of his speech there was a long silence.
At last a clanking of chains announced that Coacoochee was struggling to his feet to reply. In eloquent words he reviewed his life and the misfortunes of his people, and at last came to the practical question of the moment. "You say I must end the war! Look at these irons! Can I go to my warriors? Coacoochee chained? No; do not ask me to see them. I never wish to tread upon my land unless I am free. If I can go to them unchained, they will follow me in; but I fear they will not obey me when I talk to them in irons. They will say my heart is weak; that I am afraid. Could I go free they will surrender and emigrate."
Of course this was impossible. Once more Colonel Worth assured him that unless his people would come in by an appointed day, the setting sun would witness his execution. The vessel lay two miles from the shore. The prisoners were surrounded day and night by strong guards. Escape was impossible. So Coacoochee accepted the terms.
Five trusty messengers were released to carry his talk to his people. To them he said: "If your hearts are bad, let me see them now; take them in your hands and let me know that they are false; but do not, like dogs, bite me as soon as you turn your backs. Say to my band that my feet are chained, yet I send them my word as true from the heart as if I were with them. The great white chief says when my band comes in, I shall again walk free. He has given you forty days to do this business in. take these sticks; here are thirty-nine, one for each day; this, much larger than the rest, with blood upon it, is the fortieth. When the others are thrown away, and this only remains, say to my people that with the setting sun Coacoochee hangs like a dog, with none but white men to hear his last words."
The voice of the speaker had sunk almost to a whisper. The awed bystanders heard some broken words, by which he sent a remembrance to his wife and child. With this the scene was ended. The chains were taken from the five messengers, and they stepped over the side of the vessel into a row-boat. The chief, whose fate they held in their hands, stood unmovable, following them with his eyes as far as they could seen. During the days that followed the lines of anxiety in his face deepened perceptibly. He would sit all day with his eyes turned landward, looking eagerly for the appearance of his people. When the sun set each day far across the lonely gulf, without the arrival of any Indians, he sighed heavily, and sank into deeper melancholy.
Coacoochee's people were loyal to him. In time they began to gather on the low shores of Tampa Bay. The chief's spirits revived. At last the full number of his band were present. When the news was announced the whole bearing of the man changed. From the humble and gloomy captive, he altered suddenly into the proud and haughty chief. "Take off my irons," he cried, "that I may once more meet my warriors like a man." This, though hazardous, was done, that the promise of Colonel Worth might be filled. Coacoochee dressed himself in his grandest attire. His breast glittered with silver ornaments. A red sash was bound around his waist. Three ostrich plumes ornamented his crimson turban. Impatiently springing into the boat, he started for the shore. As his foot touched the soil, he drew his manly form to its utmost height, waved his arms, and uttered a terrific whoop.
Though Coacoochee's tribe had thus submitted, the work was but begun. His wide influence was yet to be exerted over other bands and chiefs. Eighty miles south of Tampa Bay, the Americans had pitched a camp on Pease Creek, for the purpose of having a basis for an invasion of the Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades. To this camp Sole-Micco, a friendly Indian, one day came for refuge. Four months previous he had gone to carry a friendly talk to Hospetarke. Just before his arrival among the latter's band, a council had been held which had decreed that the bearer of any message from the whites should be put to death.
Sole-Micco was suspected, but swore that he was hunting for his mother, who was believed to reside somewhere in Big Swamp. The prophet of the tribe announced that he would find out whether the story was true. He built ten fires in a circle, divided his time between praying and dancing, got out his supplies of roots, snake skins, and young alligators, examined the palm of the Indian, and at last announced that the latter had lied. Had not Sole-Micco had some relatives in the band who prepared to fight in his behalf, he would have been killed.
When Sole-Micco reported to Coacoochee the hostility of this band and the vicious influence of the prophet, the chief feared lest he might render other bands unmanageable. He at once sent his younger brother to the band with a peace-talk. Hospetarke agreed to come into the camp on Peace Creek and hold a council. For a week the old rascal kept sending word to the camp every day that he was coming, but was very old, very sick, and very tired, and required whisky, food and tobacco to give him strength to make the journey. His statements must have been true, as he could only travel two or three miles a day without sending in for more supplies. While he was advancing at a snail's pace, Coacoochee was also on his way to Pease Creek. The latter arriving, was suffered to go alone to the old Indian's camp and bring him in.
It was evident that the old Chief was simply playing a game, and that he must be met with a counter-stratagem. A council was appointed to be held in the cabin of the vessel which had brought Colonel Worth and Coacoochee down the coast. The Indians assembled in the apartment at the appointed hour, and were secretly surrounded by soldiers. At a given signal the doors were closed and every Indian was made a prisoner. Wild and fierce was the storm of abuse which raged when the Indians discovered the treachery. At this moment Coacoochee, in order that he might not be believed to have a share in the conspiracy, came into the cabin with a whisky bottle in his hand, pretended to be drunk. He railed at the white men for betraying his friends, while he was enjoying his bottle, and succeeded in diverting all suspicion from himself. The warriors selected a few messengers to bring in their women and children, and the whole band was taken to Tampa Bay in chains.
The assemblage of Indians at Tampa Bay became restless. Coacoochee had exhausted his ingenuity in the way of ball-plays, dances and games, to content the Indians and occupy their minds while the plans for securing the submission of others were being executed. The assemblage was becoming impatient and explosive. Numbers of troops guarded the camp at every point. At night a space of two miles' square was lit up by lines of beacon fires, so that the movements of every person were distinctly visible. Coacoochee was anxious to bring the long delay to a close. The eleventh day of October was set as the day for sailing.
As soon as the announcement was made, the camp became the scene of strange activities. Young and old, little and big, set to work pounding corn for the journey. The fabulous stories which had so long been current were revived. A dozen times a day Coacoochee, who had been to New Orleans and back, was called upon to reassure his people that when at sea, beyond the sight of land, they were not to be cast overboard.
The departure from their native land into exile was a sorrowful experience, yet the interests and feelings of the multitude, packed into the little vessel, were widely different. First there were the Seminoles, of whom we have heard so much. Then there were the negroes. These latter were isolated by a barbarism, a savagery peculiar to themselves. They were mostly runaways, or captives taken by the Indians from their masters in Georgia and Alabama. They had their own sorrows, which it does not fall within the scope of this book to detail. If the records of time are to be believed, they were far more blood-thirsty, more fiercely brutal, more utterly inhuman, than the Indians themselves. They gloried in the war because peace meant to them simply slavery, while war meant wild and hideous license. "Ten resolute negroes," it is said, "with a knowledge of the country, were sufficient to desolate the frontier from one end to the other."
Besides these two unhappy peoples there were also a small number of Mickasukie Indians. These were the original occupants of Florida. They regarded with equal bitterness and hatred the negroes, the Seminoles, and the whites. To them they were all alike, invaders and enemies. Halleck Tustenuggee was their chief. In camp they had obstinately refused rations, when issued with those of the Seminoles or negroes. Even when packed on board the filthy vessel they refused to share the society of the unhappy wretches about them, but shut themselves off in one corner of the ship in the solitude of sorrow.
Thus, loaded with people of such different varieties of wretchedness, the vessel moved slowly down the bay. In the dense throng now and then a convulsive sob came from the negroes or squaws, but in general the crowd preserved a profound silence. Hour after hour they watched the receding shores with fixed and melancholy gaze until twilight hid them from their view. In the morning no land was in sight. With the departure of Coacoochee the most dangerous and the most noble of all the Indian chiefs was removed from Florida.
The war in Florida continued to rage for a year or two longer. Little by little the genius of Colonel Worth availed to detach separate bands of Indians from the rest, obtain their submission, and transport them to Arkansas. The American troops who had become rather scouts than soldiers, threaded their way to the darkest and most inaccessible spots in Florida, hunted the Indians from their hiding places, captured the warriors, and humiliated their chiefs. Of all the Indians in the territory at the beginning of the war only one hundred and twenty, capable of bearing arms, remained at its close. The policy of the United States in this war has always been regarded as a blot on her fame. Such a policy has never been pursued toward any other tribe of Indians. The Sorrows of the Seminoles did not end with their exile to Arkansas. It is safe to say that they will not do so until the last unhappy descendant of the tribe which produced Osceola and Coacooche shall have passed to the happy hunting grounds.
Retyped and reformatted by Ray and Kathy Leigh