The battle in Bushnell, Florida between the Seminoles and United States soldiers on December 28, 1835 ended, and although the Seminoles lost a handful of men, all but a couple of the 107 U.S soldiers were dead. Private Ransom Clarke and Private Edward Decourcey were able to start walking towards Fort Brooke, but a Seminole discovered Decourcey shot him dead. Clarke, who was hiding in the palmetto fronds, wasn’t discovered and survived. Another soldier, Private Joseph Sprague, survived but died shortly after; he provided no account of the battle, as Clarke did.
The reenactment we watched was very well organized, and lasted almost an hour. The actual battle’s length is uncertain; accounts differ between Private Ransom Clark and the Seminoles. According to Seminole leader Halpatter Tustenuggee (the soldiers called him “Alligator”), it began at 10 o’clock in the morning, yet Clark asserted it began at 8 o’clock and ended at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The weapons – including the cannon – were loud. Many times I saw the bright white-orange flashes after they were fired. As the reenactment began, several soldiers pulled the canon along; horses weren’t always used.
The soldiers’ uniforms were true to the era, and the doctor wore the appropriate costume and carried a field bag true to the era, too.
After the reenactment ended, park visitors were invited to mingle with the soldiers and Seminoles. It is important to note that some of the Seminoles were black (known as Black Seminoles), including this gentlemen who is a black Seminole in real life:
Taking a walk:
Soldiers talking and laughing:
A couple of trappers chewing the fat:
Officer on horseback:
Tomorrow: Outtakes and Updates
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.