This time of year dozens of Floridians and volunteers from across the nation dress up as United States Enlisted Soldiers to reenact the longest and most costly (in today’s money) war in American history.
It is the Seminole Indian Wars, which we divide into three wars, but to the Seminole Indians it was one continuous conflict from 1821 to 1855, when the United States decided it wasn’t worthwhile chasing a few hundred Indians in the Everglades. The United States Government paid Indians to surrender, captured Osceola under a white flag of truce (Ow!), and argued over a conflict that delayed Florida statehood for two decades.
Since 25 to 35% of the Seminoles were actually runaway slaves from plantations in North Florida and Georgia, the Seminole Wars could also be called the longest and largest slave insurrection in American history.
The Stage Is The Real Place Where the Event Took Place
This time of year is an ideal time temperature wise and rain wise for outdoor events. Some of these Seminole War reenactments have grown into multi-activity fairs honoring life on the violent Florida frontier.
Fort Foster Is Also Open On Weekends
On December 9th and 10th there is an unusual night reenactment at Fort Foster, a full size replica of the fort built near the actual 1836 site off US301 at Hillsborough River State Park. The fort was attacked several times as well as the key bridge built over the Hillsborough River on the Road to Fort King.
On January 7th and 8th the most famous event of the wars – the Dade Massacre – takes place on the actual site in Bushnell, just a few miles off Interstate 75 in Sumter County. On January 24, 1838, Major Francis Dade and 107 tired men marched north to reinforce Fort King (Ocala) and came into a trap set by Halpatter Tustenuggee (Alligator) and Jupiter in which just 3 soldiers escaped death.
Until an idiot named George Armstrong Custer came along, it was the worst Indian attack in American history and forced the U.S. Congress to pour troops into Florida. The Dade Battlefield Historic State Park has a fine museum with artifacts and camping facilities.
The Dade Massacre Is Not G-Rated
On January 28-29 there will be a historic presentation at the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park outside Jupiter. Here on January 24, 1838, Major Thomas S. Jessup with a massive 1500 man army attacked the Seminoles in the Battle of Loxahatchee.
A battle that helped make a President – Zachary Taylor – is presented on the original site at Okeechobee Battle State Park off 38th Avenue in Okeechobee. This event in what was the beginnings of the Everglades has developed into an extensive festival honoring Florida folk culture and pioneer life.
The Battle That Is Now A Festival