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Battle of Miccosukee – Leon County, Florida
The Battle of Miccosukee was fought for control of the largest Native American town in Florida.

The Battle of Miccosukee was fought for control of the largest Native American town in Florida.

Destruction of the largest Native American town in Florida

The Battle of Miccosukee (also called Mikasuki or any of several other spellings) was a key action of the First Seminole War of 1817-1818.

Fought in eastern Leon County, Florida, just northeast of Tallahassee, the battle was a victory for both the whites and the Indians. Andrew Jackson claimed it as a tactical victory because his army captured and destroyed the major Miccosukee villages. For the warriors of Miccosukee, meanwhile, the encounter was a successful delaying action that gave them time to evacuate their women and children.

Neamathla (Eneah Emathla) relocated to a site near Miccosukee after U.S. troops destroyed his village of Fowl Town near Bainbridge, Georgia.

Neamathla (Eneah Emathla) relocated to a site near Miccosukee after U.S. troops destroyed his village of Fowl Town near Bainbridge, Georgia.

The First Seminole War developed after U.S. troops broke a verbal confrontation with Neamathla, chief of the Lower Creek village of Fowltown in Southwest Georgia, by attacking the village on November 21 and November 23, 1817. The unprovoked attacks brought an alliance of Creek, Seminole and Black Seminole warriors into war against the United States.

The American Indian alliance retaliated with Scott’s Massacre and the Battle of Ocheesee on the Apalachicola River and by attacking Fort Scott and Fort Hughes in Georgia.

Outraged by these attacks, which they believed were unwarranted, U.S. officials ordered Major General Andrew Jackson to the frontier with an army of regular and militia troops. “Old Hickory” invaded Spanish Florida in March of 1818 and pushed down the Apalachicola River to the site of the Fort at Prospect Bluff. Fort Gadsden was built on the site of the old fort.

Using this new outpost as a base for his movements, Jackson turned northeast through today’s Apalachicola National Forest on a march for the towns of Miccosukee and Tallahassee Talofa in what is now Leon County.

Tallahassee Talofa, from which Florida’s capital city takes its name, was found abandoned on March 31, 1818, and was burned by Jackson’s forces. The next day he pushed for Miccosukee, the largest and most influential Native American town in Florida.

The women and children of Miccosukee escaped by wading across the shallow lake.

The women and children of Miccosukee escaped by wading across the shallow lake.

The Miccosukee towns stretched for ten miles up and down the western shore of Lake Miccosukee northeast of Tallahassee. Home to thousands of Native Americans and hundreds of warriors, the towns were the seat of power for Cappachimico (Kenhajo), the principal chief of the Seminoles.

The warriors of Miccosukee knew that they were heavily outnumbered by Jackson’s army, which now included more than 3,000 men. They began a mass evacuation of their women, children and elderly as the American soldiers approached.  To provide time for this operation to take place, a party of several hundred warriors moved out to fight a delaying action against the oncoming army.

The warriors took a strong position on a point of land that extended into a swampy pond just east of Lake Miccosukee. There they awaited Jackson’s attack.

The U.S. Army, meanwhile, sent forward a regiment of Tennessee volunteers and a large force of allied Creek Warriors to form a line of battle. The Miccosukee warriors opened fire as their enemy approached and a sharp battle developed.

U.S. officers realized that the defending warriors were in a strong position so they moved to swing part of their force around their flank. Realizing that such a maneuver would lead to their destruction, the Miccosukee warriors fell back slowly. Jackson ordered his army forward.

Traces of Seminole presence have been found at Letchworth-Love Mounds, a state park that preserves a much older mound center.

Traces of Seminole presence have been found at Letchworth-Love Mounds, a state park that preserves a much older mound center.

The Tennessee and Creek troops pushed forward as the retreating Miccosukee warriors continued to resist. The delaying action ended once the noncombatants were safely evacuated. The last of the defenders followed them across the shallow waters of the lake and the Battle of Miccosukee came to an end. Final losses were 1 Tennessee volunteer and 14 Seminoles killed. A number of other men were wounded.

The soldiers moved into the towns, which extended for miles along the west side of the lake. Hundreds of head of cattle were captured and some 300 Seminole homes were destroyed. A tall pole bearing hundreds of scalps was found in the square of the town. Many of these were the trophies of previous wars, but a number were recognized as belonging to the members of the ill-fated party of Lieutenant Richard W. Scott.

Scott’s command had been attacked on the Apalachicola River in November 1817 and 34 men, 6 women and 4 children were killed.

His destruction of Miccosukee over, General Jackson turned his army south to the Spanish fort of San Marcos de Apalache (Fort St. Marks).

The exact site of the Battle of Miccosukee is not known, but the Indian village stretched along virtually the entire west side of the lake. Traces of the Seminole village have been found have been found at nearby Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park, which preserves a much older Native American mound complex.

Nice views of Lake Miccosukee can be enjoyed from the boardwalk along U.S. 90 between Tallahassee and Monticello.