Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anniversary of Scott's Massacre - November 30, 1817

Today marks the 191st anniversary of the Seminole War battle remembered as Scott's Massacre.
This bloody fight took place on November 30, 1817, on the Apalachicola River in roughly the area of Chattahoochee Landing in Gadsden County.
The battle began when Seminole and Creek warriors attacked a U.S. Army supply boat from the Gadsden County side of the river. The current had forced the boat to navigate close to the shore, allowing the warriors to fire from point blank range.
After firing a volley of musket and rifle fire that killed or wounded most of the able-bodied U.S. soldiers on the boat, the warriors (reportedly led by the refugee Creek chief Homathlemico and others) waded into the river and overwhelmed the survivors. The incident was widely mentioned in 19th century histories of the United States, but has now faded into obscurity. Illustrations like the one shown here were used in a number of books of that era.
The attack resulted in the deaths of at least 34 U.S. soldiers, 6 women (wives of soldiers) and 4 children. Four other soldiers were wounded, but escaped by leaping into the river and swimming away to the opposite bank. Only three people survived without injury. Two of them were soldiers that escaped to the opposite bank. The third, Elizabeth Stewart, was taken captive by the warriors and held in various villages until the following spring when she was rescued by troops under Andrew Jackson.
The event marked the deadliest day in the history of Gadsden County. If you would like to learn more, please consider my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. The book can be ordered by following the link and can also be purchased through the West Gadsden Historical Society. Simply visit for their address and phone number. It is also available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Marianna (downtown across from the Battle of Marianna monument) and will be available through other locations in January.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Scott's Massacre of 1817 - Part Three

This little scene sketch shows Creek and Seminole warriors preparing to ambush Lt. Scott's boat as it nears the east bank of the Apalachicola River at today's Chattahoochee Landing.
The artwork was used as an illustration in a century old book on U.S. history.
Here is more of the story of the massacre from my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County:
By the afternoon of December 30, 1817, Scott’s boat was nearing the present-day site of Chattahoochee. As the boat came around the sharp bend between today’s highway and railroad bridges, the strong current of the Apalachicola forced the soldiers to navigate close to the Gadsden County shore. A force of several hundred Creek, Seminole and African American warriors was concealed there, arrayed along the riverbank in the area just below Chattahoochee Landing. The boat was extremely vulnerable as Scott and his able-bodied men worked to make headway around the bend and the leader of the war party, the Red Stick chief Homathlemico, chose this moment to make his attack.

As General Gaines indicated in his report to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, the assault was sudden and overwhelming:

…It is now my painful duty to report an affair of a more serious and decisive nature than has heretofore occurred, and which leaves no doubt of the necessity of an immediate application of force and active measures on our part. A large party of Seminole Indians, on the 30th ultimo, formed in ambuscade, on the Appalachicola river, a mile below the junction of the Flint and Chattahoochee, attacked one of our boats, ascending the river near the shore, and killed, wounded, and took, the greater part of the detachment, consisting of forty men, commanded by Lieutenant R.W. Scott of the 7th Infantry. There were also on board, killed or taken, seven women, the wives of soldiers. Six men of the detachment only escaped, four of whom were wounded.

The first volley swept the boat and “Lieutenant Scott and his most valuable men fell.” The warriors then splashed into the river and stormed the boat, climbing over the sides and attacking the survivors with knives and hatchets. Only six of the 40 soldiers in the boat escaped. According to their report, the attackers were not seen until they actually opened fire. When the warriors stormed the boat, the survivors – four of whom were already wounded – leaped overboard and swam from the scene.

Of the 51 men, women and children in the boat, 44 died in the attack. The victims included 34 soldiers from the 4th and 7th U.S. Infantries, six women and four children. Officers at Fort Scott reported in private letters that the children were killed by being picked up by their feet and swung against the sides of the boat until their brains were dashed out. The scalps of the dead, both male and female, were later found hanging in a Seminole village near present-day Tallahassee.
Of the seven survivors, six were the soldiers that escaped to Fort Scott. The seventh was a woman named Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart. According to some sources, her husband, a sergeant, was killed in the attack. Other sources indicate he survived. She was taken prisoner by the warriors. She eventually wound up with the Red Stick band of Peter McQueen and was freed the following spring by Creek warriors fighting on the side of the United States. She moved to Fort Gaines after the war where she married John Dill, an officer in the Georgia militia. They lived out the rest of their lives in the town and tradition holds that her home, now a bed and breakfast inn in Fort Gaines, was built using paper money she picked up from the ground after it was thrown away by her captors. Her grave can be seen in the community’s old pioneer cemetery.
(End of Excerpt)
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of The Early History of Gadsden County, it can be ordered online by clicking here. Copies are also available through the West Gadsden Historical Society. Visit their website at for contact information.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scotts Massacre of 1817 - Part Two

This is a view of the site of Scott's Massacre from Chattahoochee Landing in Gadsden County.
The battle took place on November 30, 1817, and resulted in the deaths of 34 U.S. soldiers, 6 women and four children. Native American casualties are not know.
The following excerpt is from my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County:
(Begin Excerpt) At the time of the Fowltown raids, a small convoy of supply boats was slowly making its way up the Apalachicola River from the Gulf of Mexico. Filled with soldiers and supplies for Fort Scott, the vessels were having great difficulty because water was running high and the current was strong. Major Peter Muhlenburg of the 4th U.S. Infantry commanded the little flotilla and sent a messenger up to Fort Scott with news of his difficulties. General Gaines immediately ordered a detachment of 40 soldiers to head downstream under Lieutenant Richard W. Scott. Their orders were to do what they could to expedite Muhlenburg’s arrival at the fort.

Scott and his men made contact with Muhlenburg somewhere below present-day Bristol. While Gaines’ intention appears to have been for the entire force to remain together, he was not clear about this in his instructions to the flotilla commander. Major Muhlenburg instead took 20 of Scott’s able-bodied men to replace 20 of his own men that had fallen sick with fever. The sick soldiers were then loaded into the lieutenant’s boat, along with 7 women (the wives of soldiers) and 4 children and Scott was ordered to take them upriver to Fort Scott.

Following his orders, the lieutenant started back upstream. By November 28, 1817, just five days after the second attack on Fowltown, he had reached the Spanish Bluff near present-day Blountstown. Here was located the original “Blunt’s Town,” a Native American village led by the chief John Blunt. Blunt had opposed the Red Sticks during the Creek War and had been driven by them from his home in Alabama. He relocated to the Apalachicola River and settled on land adjacent to a large plantation operated by the traders Edmund Doyle and William Hambly.

Hambly and Doyle warned Scott that he was in danger. A large force of Native Americans was assembling higher up the river, they cautioned, evidently with the intention of intercepting the supply boats as they came upstream.
The news alarmed the lieutenant and he immediately sent a courier overland to Fort Scott with a request for help:

…Mr. Hambly informs me that Indians are assembling at the junction of the river, where they intend to make a stand against those vessels coming up the river; should this be the case, I am not able to make a stand against them. My command does not exceed forty men, and one half sick, and without arms. I leave this immediately.

Despite the warning and his own recognition that his force was insufficient to withstand an attack, Scott then cast off from Spanish Bluff and continued his journey up the Apalachicola. Why he did this is difficult to understand. He may have underestimated the time it would take for his written message to reach General Gaines or he may have questioned the validity of the intelligence provided to him by Hambly and Doyle. Whatever his reason, the decision to continue up the Apalachicola River proved disastrous. (End of Excerpt)
I will continue to post more of this story over coming days. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Early History of Gadsden County, it is available for order online by clicking here. It is also available for pick up in Gadsden County through the West Gadsden Historical Society ( for phone and address information) and is carried by Chipola River Book and Tea in downtown Marianna (across Lafayette Street from the Battle of Marianna monument).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Florida State Parks and Historic Sites Facing Closure - Please Speak UP!

A number of important state parks and historic sites in our area are facing either temporary or permanent closure due to budget issues in Tallahassee.

Among these are:
  • Three Rivers State Park, Sneads
  • John Gorrie Museum, Apalachicola
  • Constitution Convention Museum, Port St. Joe
  • San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, St. Marks

While I certainly understand the need for the state to live within its means, it seems to me a bit ridiculous that a few state parks in North Florida could be such a drain on the budget when they have been in operation for decades. I suspect that more than enough fat could be cut in a few departments in Tallahassee to fund these little parks for generations to come.

Please join me in raising our voices to oppose the closure of our state parks and historic sites. Not only would closing these treasures break a trust between our government and generations of Floridians, it would deprive our children and grandchildren of places where they can go and learn about our area's history, environment, wildlife and more.

Please write to Gov. Christ at and urge him to work with other leaders to save our state parks and historic sites. Also, please contact Rep. Marti Coley through her website regarding Three Rivers State Park. This park in Sneads has been a good neighbor for the residents of Jackson and Gadsden County for nearly fifty years and brings 23,000 people annually to the Sneads/Chattahoochee area.

Please also consider writing to your local state senators and representatives. You can obtain their email addresses at

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Breaking News: State Saves Natural Bridge Battlefield!

There is major news on the historic preservation front from Tallahassee. Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the cabinet have voted to save nearly 55 acres of vital land adjoining the Natural Bridge Historic State Park.
The land includes key areas of the Natural Bridge battlefield that have been in private hands for many years.
The Battle of Natural Bridge was a one of the last significant Confederate victories of the Civil War and resulted in Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union troops. The battle played a significant role in the history of Gadsden County as large numbers of men and boys traveled by rail and horseback from the county to join in the fighting at Natural Bridge. Gadsden County's role in the battle is featured in the concluding chapter of my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County.
If you are interested in learning more about the battle, please visit my Battle of Natural Bridge website at You might also be interested in my 2007 book, The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida.
Here is today's official statement announcing the purchase:
~Florida Forever acquisition preserves 54.74 acres adjacent to Natural Bridge
Historic State Park~

TALLAHASSEE— Governor Crist and Cabinet today approved the purchase of 54.74 acres of land adjacent to the Natural Bridge Historic State Park in Leon County. The acquired parcel is significant to the protection of a first magnitude spring and features a Civil War battlefield.

“This important purchase is a part of the Florida First Magnitude Springs project and one of the top projects on the Florida Forever priority list,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard. “This acquisition ensures that the geological, historical and cultural integrity of this property and the surrounding water resources are preserved for Floridians and visitors from all over the world to enjoy for years to come.”

This Florida Forever project focuses on land that provides increased protection for Florida’s First Magnitude Springs that discharge more than 100 cubic feet of water per second. Florida’s springs, scattered through northern and central Florida, draw from the Floridan aquifer system, which is the state’s primary source of drinking water. Springs, with clear, continuously flowing waters, are among the state’s most important natural resources and are famous attractions. This acquisition brings the Florida First Magnitude Springs project closer to completion, with 7,844 acres of the 14,081 acre project remaining.

The property contains many karst features such as sink holes, natural bridges, swallets, karst windows and submerged cave systems. By preserving the surrounding land, this project will preserve the area’s geological significance and protect Florida’s water resources from the effects of commercial, residential and agricultural runoff and other potential impacts.

The property is also the site of Florida’s second largest Civil War battle. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and cited as one of the top ten endangered Civil War sites in the United States by the Civil War Preservation Trust. In 1865, during the final week of the Civil War, the battle at natural bridge preserved Tallahassee as the only Confederate Capitol east of the Mississippi that did not surrender to Union forces. Today, important historical and cultural, resources can be found on the property dating from the Paleo-Indian period (10,000 B.C.) to the Civil War. The property will eventually be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as part of the Natural Bridge Historic State Park.

Originally established in 1999, the 10-year, $3 billion Florida Forever program is the largest land-buying initiative in the nation, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites. More than two million acres throughout the state have been placed in public ownership under Florida Forever and its predecessor program, Preservation 2000 (P2000). For more information on the Florida Forever program, visit

To view maps that outline the subject parcel in this purchase, visit the following links:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Scott's Massacre of 1817 - Part One

In my last post, I discussed the unusual life of Elizabeth Stewart Dill, the only female survivor of the 1817 "Scott's Massacre" in Gadsen County, Florida.
The old print at right is an artist's conception of Scott's Massacre prepared for use as an illustration in an early history of the United States. It is now housed in the collections of the New York Public Library.
A native of Virginia, Richard W. Scott had entered the military service during the War of 1812 when he was commissioned as an Ensign in the 35th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
Scott received his appointment on March 31, 1813, and was promoted to third lieutenant by the end of the year. He was promoted to second lieutenant the following October.
When the size of the army was dramatically reduced following the end of the war, Lieutenant Scott was reassigned to the 7th U.S. Infantry.
Sent to Fort Scott on the Flint River arm of today's Lake Seminole with the First Brigade (4th and 7th Infantry Regiments) in response to growing tensions between U.S. Army officers and Neamathla, chief of the nearby village of Fowltown, Scott was dispatched with 40 men in a flatboat to assist a supply flotilla slowly making its way up the Apalachicola River to the fort.
The series of events that followed rank among the most tragic in the history of Florida. Over coming days, I will post excerpts from the chapter on "Scott's Massacre" in my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. Please check back later today for more of the story.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Story of Elizabeth Stewart Dill

This beautiful old home in Fort Gaines, Georgia, was built during the 1820s by John and Elizabeth Stewart Dill.
Mrs. Dill was the sole civilian survivor of the bloodiest battle in Gadsden County history.
On November 30, 1817, she was aboard a U.S. Army flatboat making its way up the Apalachicola River under the command of 1st Lieutenant Richard W. Scott of the 7th U.S. Infantry. As the boat rounded the river bend at present-day Chattahoochee, it was attacked by hundreds of Creek and Seminole warriors.
Lieutenant Scott and most of his 20 able-bodied soldiers were killed in the first volley. The warriors then waded out into the river and stormed the boat, overwhelming the survivors with hatchets, knives and war clubs. By the time the smoke had cleared, 34 men, 6 women and 4 children were dead.
Only six soldiers survived by leaping overboard and swimming underwater to the Jackson County shore. Four of them were seriously wounded. The only other survivor was Elizabeth Stewart, the 26-year-old wife of a soldier who was on her way to Fort Scott (on the Flint River arm of today's Lake Seminole to join her husband). Taken captive by the warriors, she was carried away to a series of Native American villages and was kept in slavery for several months.
In April of 1818, Mrs. Stewart was freed by Andrew Jackson's army at the Battle of Econfina Natural Bridge, Florida. Reports from the time indicate that she was rescued by Timpoochee Barnard, a prominent Creek warrior who had sided with the United States in the First Seminole War.
There is some confusion over the fate of her husband. According to some writers, he was a sergeant killed during Scott's Massacre. The Native American leader General William McIntosh said, however, that her husband and father were present with Jackson's army at the Battle of Econfina Natural Bridge and that she was returned to their care. Available death records for the U.S. Army also do not show that a Sergeant Stewart was killed during the massacre.
Whatever the truth, he died at some point prior to the early 1820s. A widow, she settled in Fort Gaines, Georgia, where she married a local merchant named John Dill. They became one of the wealthiest couples in the region and two of their homes still stand in the community.
If you would like to learn more about Mrs. Dill's remarkable story, please visit The story of the massacre is one of the chapters in the new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. Please click here for more information on ordering the book.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The McLane Massacre of 1840 - Part Three

This is the original "lightard" or pine knot used by Native American warriors in the attack on the McLane cabin.
It is still in the possession of members of the family.
In this post, we continue to excerpt the chapter on the McLane Massacre from my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. For more information on purchasing the book, please visit
McLane Massacre Excerpt - Part Three
Disappointed in their effort to set the cabin on fire, the warriors now tried to decoy McLane from the cabin by pretending to leave, but he did not emerge so they returned for one final attack. A group of warriors appeared on the west side of the house and began making as much noise as they could in order to distract his attention while a lone warrior with a torch approached the cabin from the east:

…Finally the Indian on the east end left his pine tree and came hopping as it were in a stooping posture toward the house. I had my old musket pointed in the loop-hole, and waited until he had got within twenty or twenty-five feet from the house, when I pulled the trigger and let the big charge of slugs loose. I had aimed at his breast, but I think he hopped just as I pulled the trigger, for he got the whole load in the bowels. The recoil of the old musket set me backward sprawling on the floor, but as I fell I heard the most unearthly screech and yell that ever came from a human throat, and I knew enough about Indians to know it was his death-scream.

The other warriors rushed to the aid of their fallen comrade and McLane soon heard a “low, plaintive wail” and became convinced that he had shot either a chief or the son of a chief. The war party soon disappeared, but the young man had no way of knowing whether they had really gone or if it was merely another ruse.

To his relief, however, he soon saw his step-father returning home with his mule and cart and rushed to the door to signal him to be careful. After learning the situation, the older man instructed McLane to ride for help while he went out to search for the missing women. The warriors were still in the vicinity and pursued the younger man, but he outdistanced them on horseback and soon made it safely to the nearby settlements. His father also escaped and, although he had been unable to locate the females of the family, he arrived safely at the neighboring settlement during the night.
A courier was sent to Fort Braden on the Ochlockonee and a company from there reached Pickett’s settlement the next morning. Riding warily back to the McLane home, they found the cabin in ashes and the farm thoroughly looted. After a thorough search of the surrounding area, the bodies of the mother and children were found:

The next day we found them near the bank of the creek, where they had been murdered. My mother was shot in the forehead and her throat was cut. My sister was shot in the breast, her throat was also cut and she was scalped. She had long, beautiful hair. The two little ones had been brained with a lightwood knot. No language could possibly express my feelings at this moment, knowing that my dearest relatives were lying out there brutally murdered by those red devils.

John K. McLane’s account, given to Rev. Woodward sixty-two years after the fact, mirrors remarkably well with the newspaper reports that appeared within days of the attack. Memories often fade or change over time, but the events of that day were obviously so intense that he remembered them without change for the rest of his life.
The troops from Fort Braden immediately tried to track down the war party responsible for the attack, but once again the warriors disappeared into the swamps and could not be found. The chagrined editor of the Tallahassee Floridian lamented, “We know not how or when these depredations are to be ended.”

The attacks, in fact, were far from over. While the McLane Massacre is well-remembered in Gadsden County, largely because John K. McLane went on to live a long and productive life, it was not the only attack that took place that spring. In fact, within days Pascofa’s warriors unleashed a flurry of violent attacks on Gadsden County, a possible indication that McLane’s surmise about killing the son of a chief may have been correct.
(Note: As mentioned above, this post was excerpted from the new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. The book is available online directly from the printer at and can also be ordered by mail from the West Gadsden Historical Society. To obtain their address, please visit their website at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The McLane Massacre of 1840 - Part Two

This is the monument erected during the 20th century on the site of the McLane Massacre in Gadsden County, Florida.
The site is now located deep in a wooded area on private property near Greensboro, but the story is one of the best remembered from the early days of Gadsden County.
In this post I will continue with the story of the massacre as told in my new book, The Early History of Gadsden County. You can visit for ordering information or check with the West Gadsden Historical Society, Inc. (visit their website at for contact information).
Continuing now with the excerpt from the new book:
McLane Massacre Chapter Excerpt, Continued...
Many years later, when he was a man in his eighties, John McLane gave a vivid account of the attack to Rev. A.L. Woodward. After providing information on the community as it appeared at that time and location of the cabin, McLane described how he had just gone out to find herbs for tea when he heard an unexpected sound:

I had gone out and was between the house and the cowpen when I heard a ripping in the low bushes northwest of the house. At first I thought it was some of our cattle, which had taken fright at something and were running to the pen, but upon turning around, what was my horror to see a band of eighteen Creek warriors in full war costume, armed with guns, scalping knives and bows and arrows, coming toward the house in a run.
I screamed to my sister, `run to the house, the Indians! the Indians!' She sprang off like a deer and soon gained the house. I also ran in the direction of the house, but before I reached it the foremost warrior stopped, threw his rifle upon me and fired. The ball grazed my left shoulder, inflicting a trifling wound.

The McLane cabin, like most of those days, was stoutly built. It measured about 12 by 15 feet, had a door on the east side, a shuttered window and a fireplace. Loopholes had been cut in the logs to allow the inhabitants to fire through in the event of attack and McLane was quick to take advantage of these:

I succeeded in getting into the house and fastening the door when the Indians, with their usual cowardice, fearing they would be shot from the loop-hole, retreated to the kitchen and proceeded to hold a big feast with what they found there. We had plenty of bacon, meal and other provisions, and there was also a quantity of cooked food. We could plainly hear them as they cooked and feasted, but they were careful not to expose themselves to fire from the loop-holes.

Due to fear of fire, kitchens were often detached from homes during the 19th century and this was the case at the McLane cabin. The kitchen was a separate building behind the cabin and nearby was the farm blacksmith shop. Staying clear of McLane’s gunfire from the cabin, the warriors ate the food in the kitchen and began to collect provisions and other supplies to take with them. The attack might well have ended there, with the well-armed family barricaded in the stout little log cabin, but events were just beginning to unfold:

…Then occurred the awful tragedy of the day, the memory of which will never fade from my mind. My mother had taken up the idea that she could take the children and escape to the east, keeping the house between her and the Indians in the kitchen, until she got across the branch, when she could then reach the Pickett or McDougal settlement, four miles away. I pleaded with her not to make the attempt, telling her that the Indians always had pickets out, who would see her, and begged her to remain and all die together. But she was determined to go, and I think her judgment was overcome by terror and excitement.

McLane pleaded with his mother not to go, but she climbed from the window of the cabin with the three girls, one of thirteen, one of two and one that was still a baby. As the young man watched, they started to run down the sloping ground to a small branch or creek that flowed into the Telogia:

Looking through a loop-hole my worst fears were realized, for I saw two Indians running around on the north side to head her off. I opened the door and jumped out and was taking aim at one of those Indians when a bullet from the rear whistled past my head and I was forced to jump back into the house and fasten the door. In another moment I heard the screams of my mother and sister and then two shots rang out and all was still.

There was little doubt in McLane’s mind as to what had happened and he knew that his mother and sisters were dead. But, in his own words, “I did not have much time to think.” The silence that had followed the attack on the women was followed by a loud roar from the cabin and he quickly realized that the kitchen had been set on fire, evidently in hopes that the flames would spread to the main house. The effort failed, however, and the warriors now tried a new ploy:

There was a quantity of cotton in the workshop, and they rolled this into balls which they set afire and threw upon the roof of the house by means of long poles, which they cut near the branch. But the balls of burning cotton rolled off the steep roof without igniting it. This I did not know at the time, and, thinking that my jig was about up, I determined to sell my life dearly, and made preparations accordingly. Pulling the heavy dinner table across the room to act as a sort of breastwork or barricade, I laid my musket, heavily loaded with slugs, upon it. Then taking my rifle, I placed the muzzle to my forehead to see if I could pull the trigger with my naked toe, having determined to kill myself rather than be captured. As I lowered the rifle I discovered to my dismay that it was cocked and the trigger sprung, and I had actually touched it with my toe in experimenting. It was a wonder I did not discharge it and kill myself prematurely.

McLane remembered that he was “praying with all my soul” through the ordeal and that “my prayers were answered.” The wind that had been blowing from the west, pushing the flames from the kitchen closer and closer to the cabin, suddenly shifted.
(Note: This posting is excerpting from the book, The Early History of Gadsden County. I will have more on the McLane Massacre in the next post).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The McLane Massacre of 1840 - Part One

Note: The following is excerpted from The Early History of Gadsden County. The new book is available in both paperback and hardcover. For ordering information, please click here.
The early months of 1840 signaled a renewal of hostility between Pascofa’s Creeks and the white settlers in the region. U.S. troops had built Fort Yates at Estiffanulga Bluff following the attacks there the previous year, but when the subsequent campaign failed to uncover the hiding places of the Creeks, the fort was abandoned and a stockade and blockhouse named Fort Preston were built at Bristol. Fort Braden at Jackson Bluff also remained occupied and additional forts were constructed to the east near Wakulla Spring and at the natural bridge of the St. Marks River. The arsenal at Chattahoochee, of course, also remained occupied.

Pascofa seems to have viewed the growing military presence as an opportunity rather than a danger. The presence of the new fort at Bristol required the army to send supplies and provisions across Gadsden County by wagon and the Creeks quickly decided to appropriate a shipment for their own use. In late January they struck at a site a few miles west of Greensboro:

On Saturday last, a wagon, loaded with provisions for one of the posts, was attacked, near Carnochan’s plantation, by a party of twenty or thirty Indians. The guard, consisting of three men, attempted a defence, but were driven off, and one of their number wounded. The wagon was captured and burnt. Capt. Bullock, with his company of dragoons, is in pursuit of the savages. A few days previous, a party of Indians, supposed to be the same that attacked the wagon, were fallen upon by our troops, and so closely pursued as to abandon their packs and plunder.

The Carnochan’s plantation referred to in the dispatch was the one located near Bristol and Fort Preston, but an army map dated 1841 shows the attack site to have been well to the north at about the point where the old Federal Road passed from Liberty into Gadsden County.[ii]
The attack near Greensboro was followed by the destruction of Rowlett’s Mill to the south and a bloody massacre of the Harlan family across the Apalachicola near Iola. Troops pushed back into the rugged country between the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee Rivers in pursuit of the warriors, but again results were minimal and the militiamen returned home.
No sooner had the troops withdrawn, however, than one of Pascofa’s war parties carried out what for Gadsden County residents has become the best known incident of the Seminole/Creek wars – the McLane Massacre.
John K. McLane, then twenty years old (although newspapers of the time described him as 16), was at home with his mother and three younger children in a little log cabin not far from Telogia Creek when they were suddenly set upon by Creek warriors. One of the young girls first saw them and ran to the house to give the alarm:

…Mrs. McLean took her children, three in number, and made for the hammock, when they were overtaken and inhumanly butchered by the Indians. Mrs. McLean’s throat was cut, and her children beaten to death with pine-knots. The Indians returned to the house, where Mr. McLean’s son, about 16 years of age, had determined to defend himself, and fired frequently at the Indians.
(I will continue to excerpt the chapter on the McLane Massacre over the coming days. Please check back for more!)

[i] Tallahassee Floridian, February 1, 1840, p. 1.
[ii] Map of Operations, Middle Florida, 1841, National Archives.
[iii] Tallahassee Floridian, May 2, 1840.

Aspalaga Bluff - Gadsden County, Florida

This is a view of Aspalaga Bluff. Fronting the Apalachicola River just south of today's Interstate 10 bridge, the bluff is one of the most significant historic sites in Gadsden County.
In prehistoric times, Native Americans built a ceremonial complex of three mounds here. One of the most important archaeological sites in Florida, the mound complex dates from roughly A.D. 400- 900.
In 1818 the bluff was crossed by General Andrew Jackson's army during the U.S. invasion of Spanish Florida remembered today as the First Seminole War. Jackson's topographer, Captain Hugh Young, described the rocky escarpment where the bluff fell off into the river.
In the years that followed, as early settlers drifted into Gadsden County, Aspalaga became the site of an early settlement. An important riverboat landing, the community boasted a store, houses and a water-powered mill.
It was here that early botanist Hardy Bryan Croom first noticed that an unusal tree grew in large groves. Upon closer examination he realized that the tree, called "stinking cedar" by local residents, had never been classified. He named it the Florida Torreya (torreya taxifolia) after Dr. John Torrey, a prominent 19th century American scientist. Now one of the rarest trees in the world, the Florida Torreya can still be found growing along the Apalachicola River from Aspalaga south to Torreya State Park and the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in neighboring Liberty County.
Aspalaga Bluff was the site of Fort Barbour, a U.S. Army post that guarded the ferry over the Apalachicola River here during the Second Seminole War. During the Civil War, the landing here was visited by the Confederate warship C.S.S. Chattahoochee and Southern soldiers often spent the night here while making their ways up or down the Apalachicola.
The community at Aspalaga eventually faded and died away completely with the end of steamboat traffic during the mid-20th century. The bluff today is protected as a part of Torreya State Park. The adjacent landing area is open to the public.

An 1823 Map of the Gadsden County, Florida

This is a map of the Gadsden County as it appeared in 1823, before the county was actually established by the Florida Territorial Legislative Council. It is from the collections of the National Archives.
It is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it shows a number of the early "roads" or trails that crossed through Gadsden County before the establish of communities such as Quincy, Chattahoochee, Havana and Greensboro.
In the upper left, where the Georgia State Line intersects with the Apalachicola River, can be seen a symbol for "Nichols' Old Fort." This was an outpost built by the British at present-day Chattahoochee during the War of 1812. Armed with two pieces of artillery and occupied by as many as 800 men, the fort was held by English in 1814-1815 and was intended for use as a base for a planned invasion of Georgia. The war ended before the campaign could take place.
Notice also symbols for a number of Native American villages and other points of interest.

The Confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers

This early photograph, taken before construction began on the Jim Woodruff Dam during the late 1940s, shows the confluence or "forks" of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers as it appeared before the completion of Lake Seminole.
This was an important intersection on one of the most significant early "super highways" in the United States.
The Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola Rivers provided water access to the modern states of Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Used by Native Americans as well as early Spanish and English explorers, the "Tri-Rivers System" was vital to the history of Gadsden County and tens of thousands of square miles of adjoining country.
This view shows four counties and two states. The left bank of the river is Jackson County, Florida. The point of land visible in the distance between the mouths of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers is Seminole County, Georgia. The right bank includes a small section of Decatur County, Georgia, and Gadsden County, Florida.
The earliest descriptions of the confluence appear in the records of Spanish missionaries and soldiers. Bishop Gabriel Diaz Vara Calderon visited this point in 1675. Although he did not mention the Flint, he described both the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers as a single stream - the "Apalachicoli." He officiated at the dedication of a mission called La Encarnacion a la Santa Cruz de Sabacola on the point of land formed by the Chattahoochee (flowing in from the left) and Flint (flowing in from the right).
The area was also described in Spanish reports and journals dating from 1677, 1686 and 1693. In 1716, Lieutenant Diego Pena traveled to the confluence from St. Augustine and visited a village of Apalachicoli (Lower Creek) Indians living on the former site of the Sabacola mission. He described the combined Apalachicola/Chattahoochee Rivers as the Apalachicola and the Flint as the "Pedernales."
If you are interested in learning more, please consider purchasing a copy of The Early History of Gadsden County. The book is available in both paperback and hardcover and profits benefit the West Gadsden Historical Society. For more information, please visit

Welcome to my new History of Gadsden County, Florida page!

Welcome and thank you for visiting my new page on the history of Gadsden County, Florida!
This beautiful county is located in the "Big Bend" region of Florida, just west of Tallahassee. Gadsden County is named for James Gadsden, a 19th century American soldier and diplomat, and was the fifth county established in Florida after the transfer of the territory from Spain to the United States. The county seat is Quincy.
The goal of this page is to share free information on the history, historic sites, folklore, culture and people of Gadsden County. I hope you will feel free to ask questions or make comments by using the "comment" feature available at the end of each post.
I will share articles and photographs throughout the week, so please check back in daily for the latest!
Dale Cox