Seminole War
Jackson’s army marches northeast through the Apalachicola National Forest

The Apalachicola National Forest encompasses hundreds of thousands of acres in the “Big Bend” region of Florida.

Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson continued his march 200 years ago today, advancing deeper into Spanish Florida as he headed for Tallahassee Talofa and Miccosukee.

This article is part of our continuing series that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War. Click here to read other articles in the series.

The army left its camp at present-day Sumatra 200 years ago yesterday and began a northeastward march up the path that connected Prospect Bluff with the important Seminole and Miccosukee towns of Tallahassee Talofa and Miccosukee. The first of these stood on the site of today’s Florida capital city while the second, then the largest American Indian town in the colony, was located along the western side of Lake Miccosukee.

The trail used by the army is approximated by today’s State Highway 65 which leads from Sumatra to Hosford by way of the communities of Wilma and Telogia. Much of the route is within today’s Apalachicola National Forest. See the map at the bottom of this page to visualize the route of the march.

Capt. Hugh Young of the U.S. Army chronicled the route of Jackson’s 1818 invasion of Florida.

Jackson’s topographer, Capt. Hugh Young, mentioned crossing Juniper Creek and New River on March 27th. The troops camped that night near today’s community or crossroads of Liberty. Young’s account of the New River crossing indicates that it took place at or very near the modern State Highway 65 bridge:

In this distance the stream [i.e. New River] is close on the right of the path…with six small thickety branches – dry in summer. New river is nearly dry in summer but in winter is sometimes swelled so as to be impassable-bottom sandy – banks somewhat miry. Five and a half miles to a large branch entering N. river with a bad thicket. Country like the last Cross one bad branch in the second mile with a thicket on the east side a quarter of a mile wide – dry in summer. [I]

Jackson continued to march along the same trail on the morning of March 28, 1818 – 200 years ago today – and soon reached Telogia Creek. Young considered it to be a river:

...Seven and a half miles to Toloche creeks – a branch of Okalokina. Swamp one quarter of a mile wide on the west side and a half a mile on the east. Banks and bottom sandy – width fifty feet depth four feet-country same as last with numerous thickets which make the path in many places very intricate. [2]

The crossing took place near today’s community of Telogia. Once across the creek, the soldiers continued on to roughly the site of what is now Hosford where they again made camp for the night. They had covered approximately 30 miles of rough country since leaving the camp where Sumatra stands today. This was a remarkable achievement considering the nature of the terrain, size of the army and the poor condition of the trail. It also shows that Jackson was driving hard hoping to surprise Miccosukee and Tallahassee Talofa.

San Marcos de Apalache (Fort St. Marks) after it appeared to a U.S. officer.

The naval vessels Thomas Shields and James Lawrence, meanwhile, sailed downstream from Fort Gadsden 200 years ago today and entered Apalachicola Bay. Lt. Commander Isaac McKeever, who commanded the schooners, dispatched a letter to New Orleans notifying Commodore Daniel T. Patterson that he was going to cooperate with Jackson’s movements.

The vessels then began to make their way east for Apalachee Bay and the mouth of the St. Marks River. McKeever planned to take up a position there to blockade traffic going to or coming from the Spanish fort of San Marcos de Apalache (Fort St. Marks). In a ruse to draw aboard any chiefs and warriors who might see his ships, he raised the British flag – the Union Jack – and lowered the Stars and Stripes.

The Seminole, Miccosukee and Red Stick Creek forces at war with the United States were desperately hoping for supplies of arms and ammunition from the Bahamas. McKeever reasoned that they would see the British flag flying from his vessels and assume that the munitions had arrived.

This series will continue tomorrow. If you would like to follow the approximate route taken by the army on March 27-28, 1818, please use this map:

[I] Capt. Hugh Young, “Topographical Memoir of East and West Florida with Itineraries of General Jackson, 1818,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jan., 1935), pp. 140-141.

[Ibid.]

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