Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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.
…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)
Monday, November 24, 2008
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 Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com 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 www.MyFlorida.com.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
AND FLORIDA SPRING
~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 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/acquisition/FloridaForever/.
To view maps that outline the subject parcel in this purchase, visit the following links: www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2008/11/files/rakestraw_springs76.pdf
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
…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.
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 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.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
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.
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.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
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.[i]
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]
…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.[iii]
[i] Tallahassee Floridian, February 1, 1840, p. 1.
[ii] Map of Operations, Middle Florida, 1841, National Archives.
[iii] Tallahassee Floridian, May 2, 1840.