Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Second Seminoles War Re-enactment

We arrived at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park (DBHSP) on New Years eve.  Our trip down from Virginia Beach went uneventful.  The weather was cool, but warm compared to home in Virginia.  The very next weekend, January 4-5, just happened to be the annual crown jewel event for the Park, the Second Seminole War genesis or as some refer to it, Dade's Massacre. Here is what Wicki says about this event: 
On December 23, 1835, two U.S. companies of 110 troops (including soldiers from the 2nd Artillery, 3rd Artillery and 4th Infantry Regiments) under Major Francis Langhorne Dade departed from Fort Brooke (present-day Tampa), heading up the King Highway (military road) on a resupply and reinforce mission to Fort King (present-day Ocala). The Native Americans in Florida had grown increasingly furious at attempts by the U.S. army to forcefully relocate them to a reservation out west and Dade knew his men might be attacked by the Seminole Indians who were shadowing his regiment, but believed that if an attack were to occur, it would occur during one of the river crossings or in the thicker woods to the south. Having passed these, he felt safe and recalled his flanking scouts in order that the command could move faster.  To read Wicki's full account of this battle, here is the link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dade_Massacre
In 1935, Lake County judge J. C. B.  Koonce promoted the idea to conduct a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Dade Massacre. To mark the centennial of the Dade Massacre, organizers planned a reenactment of the battle. The Seminoles were to be invited to join and to formally sign a peace treaty with the United States government. Plans eventually changed to include a parade, a barbecue, concerts, addresses by dignitaries, and a full reenactment. On December 28, 1935, over 5,000 people, including Florida’s governor attended the ceremony.  And the Park has been hosting the battle re-enactment ever since.
Here are a few pics I took of the Sunday (Jan 5) battle.  The re-enactment is always the first weekend in January and is conducted both days.
We parked the folks in a large hay field next to the park, and trammed them in to the battlefield area.  We had four different trams operating over the weekend.
Above are the soldiers organizing for the march thru the Palmetto-Pine flat area, right into the ambush by the Seminole warriors.  Our motorhome is in the background.  Note how the flintlocks & Spencer Rifles were stacked.
Above, soldiers marching in period uniforms to the staging area.
Battlefield post-re-enactment.
Audience in bleachers ready for the battle to begin.  In the foreground is the sound setup for the narrators.
The Seminole warriors post battle.
The battle rages on.  Many casualties already.  Breastworks being built, but to no avail.  All but three (some accounts say four) massacred.
The victorious Seminoles win again, and celebrate with their famous war whoops!  Darn it, they win every battle...:-)
Here a couple of paintings from the Park museum.
Above, a Seminole re-enactor.
Soldiers limbering the 6-pounder.
Above, Nancy welcoming the visitors to the Park and the battle weekend.
Re-enactors
These re-enactors take this seriously.  The performance is really life-like, to the period of 1835.
Soldier camp for the weekend.
Major Dade and his officers in front of the museum.
Steve Rinck, Dade Battlefield Society President, presenting a plaque & certificate to Frank Laumer, author of Dade's Massacre, a book on the events of the massacre at DBHSP.  He also role-plays Ransom Clark, one of the survivors of the massacre, by narrating the 25 minute battle re-enactment.
Well, I must share with my readers that this was a very long weekend.  We had over 2500 visitors for the two days, as the weather was just beautiful.  The novelty and food vendors were kept busy as well.  Each day had us on our feet about 10 hours.  We just love this volunteer gig.  That about wraps up this blog.  To see the rest of the pics from the weekend, just click on our motorhome header pic at the top of this blog, and it will send you to our photo website.  Till the next blog, RVing Beach Bums in Bushnell, FL.