Two young men were killed within 600 yards of the walls of Fort Scott on this date 200 years ago. The fort stood on the Flint River arm of what is now Lake Seminole in Decatur County, Georgia.
This article is part of a continuing series that we are publishing to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first year of the Seminole War. Please click here to access the entire series.
Parties of Seminole, Miccosukee and Muscogee (Creek) warriors had been hovering around the perimeter of the fort since the outbreak of the war at the Battle of Fowltown on November 21-23, 1817. They fired into the fort on numerous occasions and on February 9, 1818, succeeded it cutting off two men who remained outside of the fort after the picket guard came in:
…[T]he two Boys, Gale & West, were killed by a small party of Indians within five or six hundred yards of the fort, the Boys having remained out hunting after the picket guard came in at noon, as soon as it was reported, a command, accompanied by yourself, was sent in pursuit of the Indians, they were pursued three or four miles and the command returned in about two hours without effecting the object of the pursuit.[i]
Both of the young men, one of whom was a soldier and the other a civilian, were scalped by the warriors who then retreated in the direction of Spring Creek before a pursuit could be organized. Major E. Cutler reported that the attack took place near the “lower” or western side of the fort and not far from the “outer picket work” or stockade.[ii]
Lt. Gordon Leftwich was closer to the scene of the attack and reported a short time later that the picket guard had seen the unfortunate men as it was returning to the fort at around noon:
…They were passed by the picket guard within sight of the Fort, and the guard had not more than reached the Fort when several guns was heard in the direction of the Boys, and the alarm given, two Companies were immediately detached in pursuit of the Indians. I was also detached with eight or ten mounted men, and pursued the Indians four or five miles, to the swamp of Spring Creek. The horses were so poor that I am confident an Indian could have out run one half of them on command. Consequently I could not overtake them. [iii]
The condition of the horses was so bad because of the supply shortage at Fort Scott that had both soldiers and livestock on the verge of starvation. The fact that Gale and West were willing to stay out hunting even after the picket guard went into the fort is likely an indication that they were desperate for food.
Both of the men were buried in the post cemetery.
This series will continue.
[i] Capt. G. Vashon to Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle, June 25, 1818.
[ii] Maj. E. Cutler to Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle, June 1818.
[iii] Lt. G. Leftwich to Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle, July 11, 1818.