Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis


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Dade Battlefield State Park: Outtakes and Updates

While on our trip to Bushnell, Florida to observe the annual Dade Battle reenactment, it wasn’t without a little humor and surprising observations.

Remember Kilt Man I wrote about in Dade Battlefield: Nature? As you might recall, as my beau and I sat at a picnic table and ate our lunch, we couldn’t help but hear a very loud talking man two tables over. He was regaling and bragging about his encounters and experiences with kilts. The woman to whom he was giving his monologue, kept giggling. My beau, on to Kilt Man’s bravado and time-worn faux tale of old ladies with umbrellas trying to seek a peek under his kilts (such an old, old joke) walked up to his table, and asked:

“I couldn’t help but hearing you, and as a proud Irishman, I’d like to ask you if you know what’s under an Irishman kilt.”

Kilt Man mumbled the time-worn, old punchline to the joke.

“No, sir, it’s the same thing, only bigger,” was my beau’s snappy comeback.

The day’s reenactment activities were all about authenticity and accuracy. I took this photograph, pleased with the setting. When I uploaded it onto my computer, I spotted the 19th century Seminole eating his lunch from a 21st century Styrofoam container:


A white horse hides behind some brush, but the Seminoles are even more hidden:


I walked over to gaze at some real coonskin caps:

I looked at a necklace made from a real racoon paw and one made from an alligator paw. I didn’t take photos of them, but they were interesting nonetheless.

Under one of the gazebos, a lady was playing a dulcimer with wooden spoons, while a man was playing a one-string washtub.


The back of this Seminole’s dress fascinated me. Then I saw his 19th century pistol:


We spoke to this Seminole, and we asked about his tartan cap. He told us that not only did the Seminole trade with the Spanish, English, and French, they also did business with the Scots-Irish: Therefore, tartans caps and other European commodities made their way to Seminole culture and fashion:

We spied this Seminole on horseback holding a rifle:


The afternoon was ending and getting chilly again. It was time to leave and return home.

Tomorrow: Going Home

Articles from the Dade Battlefield State Park 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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Dade Battlefield State Park: Up Close with the Seminoles, Soldiers, and Trappers

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:

More Seminoles:

Taking a walk:

Soldiers talking and laughing:

A couple of trappers chewing the fat:

Camp:

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.

 


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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.