The “King’s Highway.” This piece of American history is haunted. It wandered its way from Fort Brook (Tampa, FL today) to Fort King (Ocala). A bloody massacre occurred on the sands pictured here.
Have you ever been on a spot that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck? I’ve been to several, but I’ve never been to one that had my ESP on alert more than the one pictured above. My fur, and I have plenty of that, was at full attention during my entire stay at this place.
You might ask why. The shaded, sandy lane is the place a war started. It was one that those who fought its battles, at the time, saw as necessary. History would add “unjust” as a descriptor of the conflict, but would also have to add “inevitable” during the era it was fought. On December the 28th, 1835, Major Francis L. Dade and a group of 108 soldiers were attacked and defeated by 180 Seminole warriors under Chief Micanopy. Only three of Dade’s command survived; Seminole losses were later reported to be less than a dozen braves.
The reason the Seminoles attacked was fear that Dade’s troops were there to enforce a treaty that some of their leaders signed agreeing to relocate to west of the Mississippi in what is now Oklahoma. The soldiers were on their way to strengthen Fort King which settlers feared wasn’t strong enough to protect them. Reality, harshly stated, was 30,000 settlers wanted access to the lands belonging to 5,000 Seminoles. Tricked, bribed or coerced, some Seminole chiefs signed treaty papers ceding their lands to the US Government at Fort Gibson after visiting Oklahoma in 1833. Legality and morality became opponents.
My human, the Geezer, is doing research for a four book historical series he’s writing on the birth of modern Florida. It was a pregnancy that covered a period from the 1780’s through the 1950’s. Ohhhhh, my! That makes the canine gestation period of 9 weeks and the human pregnancy of 9 months, pieces of cake.
We walked over the well-documented battle site trail at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. I could feel cold hands reaching out, touching my coat. The dead’s spirits hadn’t left this spot.
I asked, “Geezer, do you feel something?”
“Like what?” he answered. He grinned at me. His expression was wry, not mirthful. The old boy knew and felt their presence, too.
“Ghosts!” I said and he simply nodded, yes. It is a haunted, hallowed place.
There is a great museum there and the battlefield is very well marked. I’ve included a few photos.
Flintlock rifle, bayonet, and sword in the Dade Battlefield Museum.
An artist’s recreation of the battle scene. The Seminoles wait, hidden, as Dade’s column approaches.
Recreation of the log revetment the survivors of the initial assault built. They made their last stand behind the logs they cut down.
1835 soldier in uniform
Seminole ready for battle.
These two figures are in the museum on site. The information provided is excellent and portrays both sides fairly.
The Dade Battlefield park is well worth making a trip to visit or swinging by if you’re traveling past. It is just a few miles off I-75 near the town of Bushnell, Florida. The address is 7200 County Road 603 (Battlefield Parkway). You can get more info from the website – http://www.dadebattlefield.com.
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