1835- Second Seminole War

A Drawing from the time

Under the leadership of Chief Osceola, the Seminole Indians refused to be forcibly moved to Oklahoma territory. Instead, they retreated to the Florida Everglades. The Seminoles continued to resist relocation for seven years, until the backbone of their resistance was broken when their chief was captured under the guise of a flag of truce.


Relations between the U. S. government and the Seminole Indians had always been contentious. Those relations became even more strained when many African-American slaves would run away from plantations to the North and make it to those areas of Florida controlled by the Seminole. Once in Florida, the escaped slaves would either gain their freedom, or be enslaved by the Seminole. However, in either case, they would never be returned to their “southern masters”.

In accordance with Jackson's "Indian Removal Act", the Seminole were expected to move west with the remainder of the Southern Native American tribes. In 1832, all of the Seminole leaders met with representatives of the U. S. government at Paynes Landing. At the gathering the Seminole agreed to move west– if suitable land could be found for them. This process took time. When the prospective location was identified, a delegation of Seminole Chiefs headed west to inspect the land. Finally, in March 1833, after inspecting the land, a group of eight chiefs declared the land suitable. Though when they returned to Florida, the chiefs denied they had agreed to move. The chiefs claimed they had been tricked or coerced.

It took the U. S. Senate two years to ratify the Treaty of Paynes Landing. As a result, it was not until 1834 that the treaty was ratified. This treaty gave the Seminoles three years to move. The U. S. government counted the three years starting from 1832 (The first meeting between the sides on the topic). The Seminoles were expected to move as of 1835. However, when 1835 came around most of the Seminole made it clear they had no intention of moving.

What followed was a long and difficult war– the longest and most costly Indian War that the U. S. government ever fought. The Seminole war lasted for eight years. It resulted in the deaths of 1,500 U. S. soldiers and unknown numbers of Native Americans, and cost $15 million. The list of U. S. commanders called to serve as a result of this ill-fated war included all the Major Generals of the U. S. Army: Alexander Macomb, Jr., Edmund Gaines, Winfield Scott and Thomas Jessup. None could decisively defeat the Seminoles. The war had its ups and down for the US Army, as well as for the Native Americans. There were betrayals, promises and pledges. There were temporary truces and peace agreements, followed by renewal of war. There were battles, small and large –massacres by the name of "Dade Massacre", an battles by the name of "Lake Okeechobee" and "Loxahatchee".

Ultimately, the Seminole war was a Batte of Attrition. Along the way various groups surrendered and agreed to be transferred to the West. The U. S. government had superior forces (at times, totaling 9,000). Still the U. S. always found it difficult to defeat the Seminole. In the end, both sides were exhausted. The U. S. government agreed to allow the small number of the remaining Seminole on a small unofficial reservation in the southern part of Florida.