Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!

We were almost at the end of our walk in the forest at Dade Battlefield State Park. The air temperature was growing warmer, so the chill was practically gone. As we walked back to civilization, my beau spied a horse’s hoof prints in the dirt path. We remembered that the main reason we were spending our day here was to see a battle reenactment, so we made our way out of the forest and to the field.  We found a good spot to sit, just behind the yellow cord.

Dade’s Battle (also known as The Dade Massacre)

On December 28, 1835, a column of 107 United States soldiers led by Major Francis Langhorne Dade were ambushed by Seminole warriors at the present site of the Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell, Florida. The men departed from Fort Brooke (present-day Tampa), and headed up the King Highway military road on a resupply and reinforce mission to Fort King (present-day Ocala).

As my beau and I sat on the grass, the reenactment began. A reenactor who represented the sole survivor of the battle, Ransom Clark, began outlining the government side of the story. On the other end of the field, a reenactor representing the Indians’ leader, Chief Jumper, gave the Indians’ side of the story.

The start of the battle.


The wounded fell. In the following photograph, the man on the left in black with the tall hat and white sash represents the field doctor.


More fighting, more cannon fire, and before long, all soldiers were dead, but a couple. The Seminoles lost a handful of men.

Seminole Indians, after the battle:

Afterwards, Private Ransom Clarke and Private Edward Decourcey were able to start walking towards Fort Brooke, but a Seminole found Decourcey and shot him dead. Clarke, hiding in the palmetto fronds, wasn’t found and survived. Another soldier, Private Joseph Sprague, survived but died shortly after; he provided no account of the battle, as Clarke did.

In sum, the Federal government was trying to remove the Seminoles to Indian Territory. The Seminoles were peaceful and wanted to live in harmony with settlers, but the Federal government had other ideas.  This battle in Bushnell began the Second Seminole War which lasted almost seven years(1835-42). To read more about this, here’s the link to Dade Battlefield.

Thursday: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers

Previous articles in the Dade Battlefield State Park series by Susan Marie Molloy
Dade Battlefield State Park: Morning Meditation: Fan Palm
Dade Battlefield State Park: Nature
Dade Battlefield State Park: Dade’s Battle!
Dade Battlefield State Park: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers
Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates
Dade Battlefield State Park: Going Home

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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