Although the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, sporadic conflict between the Seminoles and white settlers continued. Billy Bowlegs and other Seminole chiefs frustrated repeated federal attempts to remove them and their bands to reservations west of the Mississippi River. News of the Seminoles’ resistance received national attention, as people read about the ongoing fight in the swamps and forests of south Florida.
In the first of the following two letters, a group of students from the University of Virginia want to volunteer for military service in Florida against the Seminoles. Governor Brown’s reply to them is less than enthusiastic.
The following transcription contains all of the original text (no changes have been made in spelling or grammar).
University of Virginia
Febry 25 th 1853
To His Excellency
The Governor of Florida
Having heard of the many outrages which Indians under Billy Bowlegs are perpetrating in the heart of your state and being desirous to participate in their expulsion, we offer ourselves to your Excellency hoping that you will receive us. Our company consists of 40 students of the Univ. of Va, men of talent and worth. We are willing to pay our own expenses. All we wish is that you will favor us with your authority and this is all we need to whip Billy Bowlegs and a hundred others like him.
B. A. Vaughan
T. S. Rogers (Committee)
T. B. Goldsby