First Seminole War, Joe Knetsch

A Summary Of Joe Knetsch’s Book “Flordia’s Seminole Wars 1817 – 1858”

On Christmas Day I finished reading author Joe Knetsch’s book “Flordia’s Seminole Wars 1817 – 1858”.

The First Seminole War was faught under the leadership of General Andrew Jackson, a hero of the War of 1812. In 1817, Native Americans, within the Spanish ruled colony of Flordia, were crossing the border attacking settlers in the state of Georgia. The Spanish provided aid to Seminoles, and other Native American tribes, that were responsible for the attacks. Later, General Jackson found two British men, including one British Marine, who was providing aid to the Seminoles. General Jackson had both men hung, thus risking another conflict with Britain. Later in the war, without Congressional approval, Jackson invaded the Spanish Colony, took over multiple Spanish Forts to stop the trade of arms to the Seminoles, and installed a military Govenor of Flordia. The main consequence of this war was Spain’s decision to sell Flordia to the United States, rather then defending their colony from foreign intrusion. Many wanted the Seminoles to move westward, but a tentative peace was achieved while allowing the Seminoles to remain in Flordia.

The Second Seminole War, which lasted from, Dec 23, 1835 until Aug 14, 1842, while lacking the involvement of the British, was a more complicated affair. The American Navy conducted regular patrols around the Everglades to present the Spanish, in Cuba, from trading with the Seminoles that were attacking and killing settlers in southern and northern Flordia. There were various additional Native American tribes, such as the Creeks and the Miccosukees, whom were involved in this conflict. The Army compelled the Seminoles to abide by a treaty, that yhe U.S. Senate ratified, which mandated that the Seminoles move westward and to not have the free Blacks, some of which were escaped slaves whom were living among the tribes, move with them. A major reason why the second Seminole War dragged on for seven years was not just the ability of the Seminoles to slip away into the swamps, after engaging in guerrilla warfare, or the difficulty of sending the necessary supplies for soldiers stationed at U.S. Army forts that were surrounded by marshes and swamps, but due to the unwillingness of the Secretary of War, and other political leaders, to allow the freed blacks and former slaves to live with the Seminoles. A temporary peace was negotiated, but when Seminoles attacked and killed multiple settlers Flordia politicians encouraged the United States Congress to pass, which historians consider as the predecessor to the “Homestead Act of 1862”, which was the “Armed Occupation Act of 1842”. This law allowed for rations for settlers whom returned to their properties, that Native Americans had driven them away from, and provided free land for settlers who chose to settle as long as they were armed and proved that they could protect their own property. However, while this law was passed in Congress, the continual funding of the war ignited a debate between Democratic and Whig party members over abolition and slavery, some believed that the war was supporting the institution of slavery by seeking the apprehension of escaped slaves living along the Seminoles. During the Second Seminole War Winfield Scott, later a prominent Union leader in the U.S. Civil War, and Colonel Zachary Taylor, who would later be a hero of the Mexican American War and a future U.S. President, were leading some of the U.S. Army forces. While hundreds is Seminole warriors were killed in the second war, there were still a remainder of natives in the Everglades and other parts of southern Flordia.

Another period of peace, which almost led to war again after various attacks led to the deaths of various other settlers. Many Flordian settlers wanted another war because they wanted the remainder of the Seminoles removed from Flordia. Under pressure from politicians, and the settlers that influenced them, the U.S. Army increased it’s patrols of the Everglades and surveyors came out to plot lands for new settlers that were to arrive near the native territories. On December 20th, 1855, Seminoles had already seen growing evidence that they would eventually be driven out of their lands, by new settlers, so they went on the offensive, by attacking Lieutenant George Lucas Hartstuff’s command, which lead to the start of the Third Seminole War. The last Seminole War, which started as Jefferson Davis was ending his term as Secretary of War, did not consist of large battles between hundreds of soldiers and native warriors, like the previous two conflicts, but rather it was a war of attrition. A summer campaign, which was a continuation of Windfield Scott’s strategy in the Second Seminole War, involved soldiers burning down dens, villages, and food storages that the Seminoles had scattered across the Everglades. Many Seminoles, after losing their supplies of food, raised the white flag of surrender and after three years Seminoles, including their leader Billy Bowlegs, were sent westward out of their native lands. In fact, the last of the Seminole Wars was described by Doctor James Covington as “Billy Bowlegs War”.

Fort Pulaski, General Robert Edward Lee, Joseph King Fenno Mansfield, Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski of Ślepowron

Fort Pulaski – Named After A Revolutionary War Hero And Constructed Under The Leadership Of Army Engineers Robert Edward Lee And Joseph King Fenno Mansfield

Fort Pulaski, located in the Cockspur Island in Georgia, is named after an American Revolutionary War Hero, Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski of Ślepowron, who died at the Battle of Savannah on October 9th, 1779. In 1829, Robert Edward Lee, who recently graduated from West Point, was assigned to work as the assistant engineer for the construction of Fort Pulaski. Lee worked on the preliminary construction of the fort until 1831, the same year that he married Mary Custis, when Joseph King Fenno Mansfield, the Second Lieutenant of the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of building southern coastal defenses, took over the construction efforts. Mansfield oversaw the construction of Fort Pulaski, which was designed to mount 146 cannons, until its completion in 1847.

Author’s Note:

The year before Fort Pulaski was completed, Captain Robert Edward Lee was sent to fight in the Siege of Vera Cruz, during the start of the Mexican-American War, where Lee was frequently engaged in reconnaissance behind enemy lines and where he saved a wounded Mexican drummer boy who was trapped under the weight of a dying Mexican soldier.

During the Mexican-American War, Joseph King Fenno Mansfield served as the chief engineer for General Zachary Taylor, a future United States President. Mansfield was promoted to major for his service at Fort Brown, Texas. Later in the war, Mansfield was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after he was wounded in his leg at the Battle of Monterey and he received a third promotion to Colonel after his service at the Battle of Buena Vista.

Photograph of Joseph King Fenno Mansfield during the United States Civil War.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Dorothy Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward, Farmville, Virginia

The Prince Edward County Courthouse – The Site Of A Virginia Court Case That Was Part Of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

In 1939, the most recent version of the Prince Edward County Courthouse was built to replace another courthouse that was built in the 1870s.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the segregated schools for blacks were experiencing overcrowding in Prince Edward County, Virginia. In response, Barbara Jones, a student from the Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, organized a student strike on April 23, 1951, which lasted for four weeks. The Prince Edward County School Board, in spite of the strike, refused to consider building a new school for the black students. Attorney Oliver Hill and Attorney Spottswood W. Robinson III met with the parents of the students and agreed to represent them if they would agree to ask for the abolition of segregation, in addition to the creation of equal facilities. On May 23, 1951, attorney Spottswood W. Robinson III completed and filed, with the Prince Edward County Clerk of Court, the case Dorothy Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward, a court case was later incorporated into the United State Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling.

In 1959, five years after the Brown ruling, the Edward County Board of Supervisors, voted to shut down all of the existing public schools in the county. This resulted in fences and “no trespassing” signs being erected around all of the local public schools. During the period of “mass resistance” to integration between blacks and whites in public schools, the courthouse was the location of legal battles, which were supported by the NAACP and other groups, that were against the public school closures.

Gunston Hall, Lorton, Virginia

October 3rd, 1987 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Speaks At Gunston Hall

Portrait of Justice Sandra Day O’Conner which is located in the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

On October 3rd, 1987, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a speech about the lasting legacy of my relative George Mason IV, on the grounds of Gunston Hall in Lorton, Virginia.

In 2006, Justice O’Connor retired from the U.S. Supreme Court to tend for her husband, whom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Virginia Supreme Court

September 2nd, 2021 – The Virginia Supreme Court Rules That The General Robert Edward Lee Monument In Richmond, Virginia May Be Removed

On September 2nd, 2021, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Governor Ralph Northam’s order to have the General Robert Edward Lee Monument would stand. The plaintiffs, represented by former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat McSweeney, claimed that the original covenant superseded any order for the removal of the General Lee Monument. This lawsuit originally began when a decendant of General Lee filed suit. When the family member dropped out of the case, give additional property owners were added. To date, there is a possibility of this case being appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Charles Carter Lee, General Robert Edward Lee, Winsor Farm

General Robert Edward Lee’s Last Camp Site After His Surrender At The Appomattox Courthouse

After surrendering at the Appomattox Courthouse General Robert Edward Lee skipped the official surrender ceremony. On April 14th, General Lee visited his brother Charles Carter Lee. However, since General Lee did not want to inconvenience his brother, he ended up camping on the property of the Gilliams Family. This was the last time that General Lee camped during his journey from Appomattox back to his family’s home in Richmond, Virginia.

Brigadier General Charles Gustavus Ulrich Dahlgren, Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick, Colonel Ulric Dalhgren, General George Armstrong Custer, Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Major General James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart

The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid Of Richmond

In 1864, Union Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick devised a plan to send hundreds of calvary soldiers to liberate Union prisoners in Belle Isle, burn down the Confederate Capital of Richmond, and to assassinate Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis. Colonel Ulric Dalhgren, the son of Union Navy Rear Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren and nephew of Confederate Brigadier General Charles Gustavus Ulrich Dahlgren, and Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick lead the Union forces during that calvary raid.

Sketch of Colonel Ulrich Dalhgren.

General George Armstrong Custer led a force to attack the Confederacy, outside of Charlottesville, as a distraction from the main Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid in Richmond. Major General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart took command of the counter attack, against General Custer’s soldiers, after Stuart’s Horse Artillery was captured. General Custer withdrew his forces from the Charlottesville area after hearing train whistle, which he took to be Confederate reinforcements.

Outside of Richmond, the Union Calvary burned down various structures along the way to the city, but faced more resistance than expected. Ultimately, the mission failed as no prisoners were released, the City of Richmond was not burnt down, only buildings outside of the city were burnt, and President Jefferson Davis was not assasinated.

Author’s Note:

While reading the book, “Kill Jeff Davis”, which is about the attempted raid on the Confederate Capital of Richmond, I decided to visit one of the historical markers dedicated to that military action during the United States Civil War.

Charlottesville, Virginia, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center

July 10th, 2021 – The City Of Charlottesville Removed Three Monuments Donated By Paul Goodloe McIntire

Paul Goodloe McIntire donated four monuments to the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. On Monday June 7th, 2021 the Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the General Robert Edward Lee and the Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson Monuments. On July 10th, 2021, the same day that the General Lee and the General Jackson Monuments were being removed, the Charlottesville City Council voted, during a mid day Zoom meeting, to remove the Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea Monument to the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Charlottesville.

Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth, President Joseph Robinette Biden

The Origins Of “Juneteenth”

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19th, the day that Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to issue General Order Number 3, since that is the order that emancipated all slaves in the state of Texas; which was the last Confederate state to surrender to the Union.

Photograph of Union General Gordon Granger.

On June 17th, 2019, U.S. President Joseph Robinette Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, which was the first new federal holiday established since 1985.

Author’s Note:

The Union General Gordon Grander’s General Order Number 3 is stored within the National Archieves in Washington, D.C.

Charlottesville City Council

June 7th, 2021 – The Charlottesville City Council Voted Unanimously To Remove The General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson And The General Robert Edward Lee Monuments

On Monday June 7th, 2021, the Charlottesville City Council held a meeting to determine whether to keep or to remove the General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and the General Robert Edward Lee monuments from two parks within city property. After about 55 individuals spoke, the Charlottesville City Council voted 5 to 0, a unanimous vote, to remove both monuments. The vote triggered a state law, passed by the Virginia legislature in 2020, which mandates 30 days of bidding for parties interested in obtaining the monuments.

Author’s Note:

To date, no bids have been entered for either monument.

Author Philip Andrew Hamilton at studio of the “I Love C’Ville” show.
Battle of New Market

The New Market Battlefield – Where The Thomas “Stonewall” Monument From The Virginia Military Institute Was Relocated To In December 2020

The New Market Battlefield is the site where the Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson Monument, that was originally installed at the entrance of the main barracks within the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute, was relocated to on December 7th, 2020. The Stonewall Monument is currently under restoration, and will be placed by the wooden benches, by the plaques honoring six Virginia Military Institute cadets, in the fall of 2021. Once installed, the Stonewall Monument will be facing the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Charlottesville, Virginia, Henry Merwin Shrady

The General Robert Edward Lee Monument Commissioned By Paul Goodloe McIntire

The General Robert Edward Lee Monument was the last of four monuments dedicated by McIntire in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. New York Sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady, whom also created the General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, which is currently in front of the United States Capital, designed and began the initial work on the General Robert Edward Lee Monument. In 1922, Henry Merwin Shrady died two weeks before the General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial was unveiled to the public.

Photograph of artist Henry Merwin Shrady.

After Henry Merwin Shrady’s death, the General Lee monument was completed by the Italian-American artist Leo Lentelli and transported from New York to Charlottesville, Virginia.

Alexandria, Virginia, George Mason IV

The Huntley Historic Site – The Former Residence Of George Mason IV’s Grandson Thomson Francis Mason

The Huntley Historic Site contains the former home of Thomson Francis Mason, a grandson of George Mason IV, and various other buildings associated with the former plantation. On December 21st, 1838, Thomson Francis Mason passed away and was buried at Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery in Alexandria City, Virginia.

After Thomas Francis Mason’s death, his widowed wife Elizabeth “Betsy” C. wife carried on an effort to preserve President George Washington’s home Mount Vernon.