Photo by John Stanton via Creative Commons License.
By Spring of 1835 trouble between the Florida indigenous population was brewing again. The U.S. government was trying to force the Seminoles to leave Florida for the Indian Territory of present day Oklahoma. The enticement to move was flimsy (a blanket per man and a pittance paid to the tribe), so the Seminoles ignored the Treaty of Payne’s Landing which spelled out the conditions of removal. The Seminoles found their voice in a firebrand, Osceola, who had fought with the Creeks against Andrew Jackson. What followed was the Second Seminole / Florida War.
Attack Camp Monroe
On 8 February 1837, two Seminole leaders, Emaltha (King Philip) and his son, Coacoochee (Wildcat), led 200 Seminoles on a strike on the fledgling Camp Monroe, near present day Sanford, Florida, on the south lip of Lake Monroe. The camp was caught off guard, but was able to fight off the assault with the help from a steamboat on the lake that was equipped with a canon. The toll was an undetermined number of Seminole killed, one U.S. soldier killed and eleven wounded. The U.S. soldier was Captain Charles Mellon of the 2nd U.S. Artillery. The camp was later named Fort Mellon in his honor. The area was later renamed Sanford. More can be found at The History of the Second Cavalry (Dragoons at that time).
The Seminoles delivered many of these blows to the U.S. Army during this classic guerilla war. The war often seemed unwinnable and the costs became a real problem for the new republic. Congress debated the war ad nauseum. If this seems familiar, you might want to read an analysis of the military strategy of the Second Seminole War by a modern day warrior. Major White’s conclusion sounds pretty familiar,
“Eventually the Army did remove over 3OOO Seminoles to the West. Even though only a relative few managed to evade capture, the government fell short of accomplishing the political end state. The real lessons from the war concern how the Army preferred to view itself as a conventional power and was totally unprepared to fight an unconventional war. Even as they gained valuable lessons on Indian fighting, they lacked the institutions to pass these lessons along to the officers and men. Therefor[e], throughout the 19th century, the Army offered not one shred of training in preparation for an enemy it would ultimately end up fighting throughout the period of western expansion.”
Attack Camp Monroe Motorcycle Ride Recommendation
When you are next in the Orlando area, leave the kids and the wife at Disney World, rent a bike and check out this ride around Lake Monroe, through some of central Florida’s wilder areas and over to Ponce de Leon inlet where the European began his conquest of Florida.