George E. Buker


Because Joseph Francis was a good, persistent salesman and General Thomas S. Jesup was knowledgeable about Florida and its Seminole Indians, the United States Army became interested in metallic lifeboats. By December 20, 1855, when Chief Billy Bowlegs’s warriors attacked Lieutenant George Hartsuff’s men in the Big Cypress Swamp, some of Francis’s metallic lifeboats already were in Florida waters. Thus, during the Third Seminole War, the army, for the first time, used metal boats in combat operations.