Rebellion January 1836     
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These two details from the "Map of the Seat of War in Florida" reveal the Army's lack of geographic knowledge of the region during the Second Seminole War. Note the absence of detail around Lake Okeechobee, where vast spaces are filled with vague drawings of trees and open savannah. Original map commissioned by the Army in 1838.  David Rumsey Map Collection,
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Compounding problems, white men in 1836 had almost no solid knowledge of Florida's interior. Maps detailed the coastal edges of the territory, but offered only vague descriptions of the vast inland spaces. Especially daunting were the swamps, like Wahoo and the mysterious Everglades. The Seminoles gained a distinct advantage from their familiarity with the terrain, as Lieutenant Sprague detailed:

"Forty-seven thousand square miles in the territory of Florida, was occupied by an enemy by nature vindictive and revengeful, treacherous and subtle, striving for their rights.... Every hammock and swamp was to them a citadel...." [Continuation of excerpt]

"... to which and from which they could retreat with wonderful facility. Regardless of food or climate, time or distance, they moved from one part of the country to the other, in parties of five and ten, while the soldier, dependent upon supplies, and sinking under a tropical sun, could only hear of his foe by depredations committed in the section of the country over which he had scouted the day before."

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Sources: Carter 25: 385-87, ASPMA 5: 575, Sprague Origin 273.
Part 2, War: Outline  l  Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 - War: 1832-1838
+ Prelude to War
+ Revenge
spacer spacer War Erupts
Key Actors
Slave Uprising
Army Response
National Mood
Seminole Success
+ Deceit
+ Liberty or Death
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 + Freedom: 1850-1882
 + Legacy & Conclusion


More on Florida in the 1830s