05 January 2008

Dade Massacre

Ok, so this is the site of Dade's Massacre, a very important site in the history of Florida and the Antebellum US. It was here that the Second Seminole War, America's longest and most expensive Indian War, began. On Dec 23, 1835, 107 men and officers under command of Major Francis Dade, set out from Fort Brooke, in modern day Tampa. They were travelling the King's Road to Fort King, in present day Ocala. Seminole Warriors trailed them until Dec 28, when they launched an ambush. Seminole leader Alligator describes the battle, "We had been preparing for this more than a year... Just as the day was breaking, we moved out of the swamp into the pine-barren. I counted, by direction of Jumper, one hundred and eighty warriors. Upon approaching the road, each man chose his position on the west side... About nine o'clock in the morning the command approached... So soon as all the soldiers were opposite... Jumper gave the whoop, Micanopy fired the first rifle, the signal agreed upon, when every indian arose and fired, which laid upon the ground, dead, more than half the white men. The cannon was discharged several times, but the men who loaded it were shot down as soon as the smoke cleared away... As we were returning to the swamp supposing all were dead, an indian came up and said the white men were building a fort of logs. Jumper and myself, with ten warriors, returned. As we approached, we saw six men behind two logs placed one above another, with the cannon a short distance off... We soon came near, as the balls went over us. They had guns, but no powder, we looked in the boxes afterwards and found they were empty". Major Dade fell in the first rifle volley, along with half his command. Contributing to the panic following, was the fact that most of the soldiers had their rifles inside their uniform coats to protect them from moisture, but making them much more difficult to arm in a hurry. Only three soldiers survived, Edwin DeCourey, Joseph Sprague, and Ransom Clarke. Sprague and Clarke returned to Fort Brooke alive. This event enraged the country and would probably be remembered better, except less than two months later, a mishap occured at a place called the Alamo. It was not until Feb 20, 1836, that an expedition under General Edmund Gaines returned to the site and buried the dead, to mass graves for the enlisted, one for the officers. The canon that the command had with them had been thrown in the swamp by the Seminoles, but gaines command retrieved it, and placed it barrell down into the ground as a monument. In 1842, the bodies were reinterred at St Augustine. The photo above shows the original road the command was travelling, and a marker modeled after the original canon, marking where one of the command's offiders fell.

Reproductions of what the soldiers and Seminole warriors would have worn at the battle.

An example of the type of rifle the soldiers would have carried.
Above, a diorama representing the Seminoles setting their ambush for the approaching army. Below, an artist's rendering of the battle, after the small log fort had been hastily put together.

Above, artifacts found on the battlefield. Below, the only weapon known to have been at the battle. The Seminoles took all the weapons they could find, but this sword was found later at the site.

Modern reconstruction of the hastilly built fort. below, looking down the road the other way.

This monument marks where Major Dade himself fell. There are three of these monuments marking where individual officers were killed. They are modeled after the canon placed in the ground by General gaines. Below, a nearby marker for a fort named after Major Dade. note that the much later fort built on Egmont Key in Tampa was also named Fort Dade.
The Dade Massacre(Will McLean)
Lawless men, they were to blame.
From the Georgia line they came.
Burning, killing, stealing slaves,
From the Seminole Indian braves.
Major Dade and his hundred
Were marching along,
By the edge of a thick swamp.
It was shortly past dawn.
Through scrub and palmetto
Their harnesses did ring.
They were marching from Tampa
On the way to Fort King.
Oh, the sun's rays were burning,
Dade's temper was short
His scout had deserted
Somewhere to the north.
The men had a feeling,
The land was too quiet.
They held their guns tightly
Their eyes showed their fright
Well, it came of a sudden,
That wild cry of craze,
From the screaming throats
Of the Seminole braves.
Black smoke, thudding bullets
From Indian guns.
I'll tell you, the Dade
Massacre had begun.
Major Dade, he fell first
With a deep mortal wound.
'Twas from Jumper's rifle
That he met his doom.
His men were all killed
Without mercy or plea.
This legend lives ever
In our history.
Now the land is all serene,
There's a marker at the scene.
Where Major Dade sleeps
Among his hundred men.

No comments: