Over coming days I will trace the history of the First Seminole War in Southwest Georgia and North Florida, but it was 195 years ago today that Major General Edmund P. Gaines gave the fateful order that would open a series of wars that would continue for forty years, claim thousands of lives and cost the treasure of the United States hundreds of millions of dollars.
|Major General Edmund P. Gaines|
Neamathla, however, had not signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson and did not consider himself bound by it. He informed first Major David E. Twiggs and later General Gaines himself that the land in Georgia below the Flint River was his and that he was "directed by the powers above to defend it" and would do so. After sending his message of refusal, he declined to meet with the army officers at Fort Scott indicating that he had nothing more to say on the matter.
With the arrival of the 4th and 7th Infantries at Fort Scott on November 19-20, 1817, Gaines found himself with a sufficient force to arrest the defiant chief and bring him to the post by force for a conference. His original orders are preserved today at the National Archives:
Fort Scott 20th November 1817
The hostile character & conduct of the Indians of the Fowl Town, settled within our own limits, rendering it absolutely necessary that they should be removed, you will proceed to the town with the detachment assigned you, and remove them. You will arrend and bring the chiefs and warriors to this place, but should they oppose you, or attempt to escape, you will in that event treat them as enemies. Your men are to be strictly prohibited, in any event, from firing upon, or otherwise injuring women and children.
You will return to this place with your command as soon as practicable.
|Major David E. Twiggs|
I am with great esteem
your obdt. servt.
Major Genl. Comng.
To Major Twiggs
of U.S. troops.
P.S. Should you receive satisfactory information that any considerable number of the neighboring Indians have joined those of Fowltown, you will in that event immediately return to this place without making any further attempt to execute the first above written order.
The orders were issued to Major David E. Twiggs, who had commanded Fort Scott from July 1817 until the arrival of General Gaines in November. He was assigned a force of 250 men from the 4th and 7th Regiments and on the night of November 20, 1817, marched out from the walls of the fort and started up the west or north side of the Flint River for the old crossing point at present-day Bainbridge.
The Seminole Wars would begin the following morning.
To learn more about Fort Scott, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortscott1.