Tom Knotts


The Animosity between the Florida Seminoles and the American settlers moving in from Georgia and the Carolinas which had been brewing for decades erupted into bloody conflict on December 28, 1835, when Major Francis L. Dade’s command was massacred near Wahoo Swamp, while enroute from Fort Brooke to Fort King. Osceola and a detachment of warriors murdered Wiley Thompson, Indian agent at Fort King, and Constantine Smith the same day as Dade’s massacre. Brigadier General Duncan L. Clinch, commander of the regular forces in Florida, clashed with the Indians three days later as he attempted to cross the Withlacoochee River. The battle was not decisive and both sides withdrew. Two months later a unit of nearly 1,000 men under Major General Edmund P. Gaines was attacked near Clinch’s battleground on the Withlacoochee. The Seminole force, reportedly over 1,100 strong, surrounded Gaines troops for eight days. A rescue party led by General Clinch ended the siege March 6, 1836.