Beyond Tourism: Florida's Yesteryear

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John Horse: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War March 4, 2010

John Horse, leader during the Second Seminole War

John Horse also known as Juan Cavallo, Gopher John, and John Cabayo. His mother was a black slave woman and his father/owner was part Hispanic and part Indian. He was twenty-five years old when the Second Seminole began in 1837 and was a completely free man having neither a white master or a Seminole master. By age fourteen he had escaped to a maroon village and freed himself from his father/owner and joined a Seminole village. When the Second Seminole War began he decided to fight and he fought against the white man. During his skirmishes with the whites, the Seminoles haild him as a war-chief. On December 28, 1835 John Horse and his followers ambushed Major Francis Langhorn Dade’s 105 man command. It was a massacre with no survivors. This is said to have caused the Second Seminole War. This occurred two years after the rejection of the Treaty of Fort Gibson and is perhaps in retaliation for the forced acceptance of the Treaty of Fort Gibson.

He is said to have been a good war chief and cared for the warriors that were under his command. He was fluent in English and the Seminole language, and the dialect spoken among the slaves on the majority of the plantations. He was also knowledgeable about medicine and it was thought that he learned it from his mother who was from West Africa. All of these features made him a good leader that the maroon blacks wanted to follow.

During the time of the failed peace conference at Fort Izard with John Caesar and the other failed attempt at peace between Abraham and General Jesup John Horse did not settle for peace but continued fighting on. He was eventually captured along with his ally Wild Cat, or Coacoochee, during one of these peace offerings that was staged by the white man in order to capture Seminoles and Maroons. They were thrown into prison at Fort Marion in St. Augustine. They escaped prison in November 1837. They, with their followers, made their way south to Lake Okeechobee where they fought but lost against General Zachary Taylor. It was fought on Christmas day in 1837 and is thought to be the bloodiest contest within all the Seminole Wars.

After losing the Battle at Lake Okeechobee, John Horse, along with Coacoochee, retreated to the Everglades, but white U.S. forces did not give up. They were constantly on the run  and faced disease and starvation. Finally in 1838 only out of fear for the well being of his wife and children did John Horse surrender. He was sent to Indian Territory.

*information about John Horse is from Philip Thomas Tucker and  found in The Journal of Negro History Vol. 77 No. 2 Spring 1992.

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Colonel William Jenkins Worth January 27, 2010

Colonel William Jenkins Worth

Military Career and Legacy
Colonel William Jenkins Worth fought in the War of 1812, the Second Seminole War, and the Mexican-American War where he died at the Alamo in San Antonio. Lake Worth in Florida and Fort Worth in Texas are named after him, according to Palm Beach Photo Tour.

Role in the Second Seminole War

According to the History of the Second Seminole War written by John K. Mahon, Colonel Worth accomplished three things. He lowered the expenses of the United States Army by eliminating or replacing roles that were, in earlier campaigns, held by militia and civilians. At the end of a year which ended April 30, 1842 the quartermaster estimated a savings of $174,923.90.

He was able to coerce Seminole Indian leader Coacoochee, also known as Wildcat, to convince other Seminoles to surrender. This was after Coacoochee was captured and shipped to New Orleans with fifteen other Seminole Indians. Colonel Worth had him sent back to Florida where he was held prisoner in Tampa.

Colonel Worth finally brought the war to an end by not resting during the hot summer months, but not without a price. The majority of South Florida was still marsh and everglades. This was before the everglades were drained for settlement. Mosquitoes were still a huge problem. Many soldiers died from disease and heat exhaustion.

The end of the War
The war ended in 1842, sort of. Not all the Seminoles were sent west. A few hundred of them were allowed to stay in Florida on reservations made for them. White settlers were not happy with this outcome and a few of the Seminoles were not happy with the out come either. Small skirmishes lasted through the 1840s and early 1850s. The outcome was finally settled during the Third Seminole War which lasted from 1855-1858.

Read another article about Lake Worth.  (Link forthcoming.)