The bizarre story of a Georgia soldier and the destroyed Miccosukee towns made its way down the Flint River to Andrew Jackson’s army 200 years ago today.
This article continues our series commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the First Seminole War.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Glascock and his brigade of Georgia militia reached Fort Early on April 30, 1818. He immediately wrote to Gen. Jackson to report his arrival there and share a strange story:
The Gods have proved equally propitious to us, on our return as on our advance at Mickasukie some of my men were nearly out of corn and searching about some old houses that had not been consumed to see if they could make any discovery. In entering one of them to their great astonishment and surprise they came across the man who was lost from Capt. Watkins’ Company on the 2nd day of April. [I]
The man was not identified by Gen. Glascock, who described him as something of a “wild man.” The discovery of a missing soldier at Miccosukee is intriguing because no report of the operation and battle there mentions that any Americans were missing in action. In fact, there are strange stories from locations all along the route of Jackson’s march of former soldiers being found sometimes even years later. In each case, they were living in a state of “wildness” in caves or swamps.
This was the state to which the mysterious soldier at Miccosukee had fallen in a matter of just weeks:
…It appears from his statement that he was taken with a kind of cramp and was unable to move and became senseless. When he recovered he became completely bewildered and never could reach the camp. He therefore concluded it was prudent to secret himself in some swamp and after wandering about sometime came across a parcel of corn on which he subsisted until we found him. He was very much reduced and apparently perfectly wild. [II]
Some scholarship suggests that Jackson or more correctly his adjutant Col. Robert Butler intentionally downplayed the number of casualties suffered by the army during the First Seminole War. The “wild man of Miccosukee” might well be an example of that. Additional examples can be found by comparing U.S. reports of the campaign with those of Spanish officers, particularly after the American attack on Fort Barrancas several weeks later.
On the same night as their discovery of the missing man, Glascock’s men found a “hut” containing 50-60 bushels of corn, some potatoes and peas. This provided them with enough food to reach the Flint River, on which they emerged at the crossing that led over to the recently destroyed Chehaw village.
This series will continue tomorrow with Gen. Glascock’s discovery of what Georgia troops had done to the peaceful people of Chehaw and his reaction to the brutal Chehaw Massacre.
This short video clip will show you Lake Miccosukee, near which the “soldier gone wild” was found:
[I] Brig. Gen. Thomas Glascock to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, April 30, 1818, Jackson Papers, Library of Congress.