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Dade’s Fight

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring Southern Early American Forts

The first significant event, which would be considered the start of hostilities, was the defeat of the column commanded by Brevet Major (Captain) Francis Langhorne Dade. This column included a detachment of Company "B", 4th Infantry , Company "C" and detachments from Companies "B" and "H" of the Second Regiment of Artillery and Company "B" of the 3rd Regiment of Artillery, along with a guide, surgeon, and teamsters.

The force totalling approximately 100 men and eight officers bound for Fort King from Fort Brooke, now known as Tampa. Dade's force was told upon leaving Fort Brooke to be ready for any hostilities. There had been reports of recent uprisings north of the reservation and their route would take them into the heart of Seminole country. The messages sent by General Clinch from Fort King were vague in the description of the current situation. In his dispatches he had just stated that he needed troops at Fort King immediately, never stating why. The commanding officer at Fort Brooke took this as the fort was under seige and needed help immediately. He frantically mustered the force and sent them on their way hoping to send reinforcements as soon as they arrived by ship at Fort Brooke, which was reported to him as any day. With the hope that they would be able to join up with the column and break the siege of Gen. Clinch's troops at Fort King.

The real reason for the message was to state that due to the lack of provisions he was forced to relocate his force to his plantation near Micanopy, Fla. and wanted Fort Brooke to supply the men for the garrison of that fortification. In past engagements the Seminoles perferred the hammocks of Florida, due to their hiding capabilities. Once Dade made it to the pine barrens he believed that there would be little to no trouble on his way to Fort King.

On December 28, 1835, near Wahoo Swamp, Chiefs Micanopy, Alligator and Jumper laid in ambush for the column heading to Fort King. This location was one of several sites picked in the pine barrens around the swamp, because the Seminoles knew that the U.S. Forces did not expect to be attacked there. This site was selected primarily because Osceola, who was expected to join in, was late and Micanopy decided to start the engagement there. With swamp land on Dade's flanks the column had only one choice, to fight.

Additional Links

Dade Massacre or Battle at Wahoo Swamp
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