SS.4.A.3.10: Identify the causes and effects of the Seminole Wars.
The United States waged three wars against the Seminoles in the 19th century.
This episode describes Andrew Jackson’s raid into Spanish Florida, now known as the First Seminole War.
Episode Three: The First Seminole War
Episode Three describes the conflict known as the First Seminole War.
The First Seminole War originated from ongoing tensions between Creeks, Seminoles, and the United States over trade, land, and runaway slaves.
The resources for Episode Three are two maps created by historian Dr. Mark F. Boyd. The maps show Andrew Jackson’s route through East and West (slide three) Florida during the First Seminole War.
In November 1817, tensions erupted along the border between Spanish Florida and the state of Georgia.
Following a land dispute, American soldiers attacked the Seminole settlement known as Fowltown, located near modern day Bainbridge, Georgia.
One week later, in retaliation, the Seminoles attacked a vessel on the Apalachicola River carrying supplies destined for Fort Scott in Georgia.
When news of the attack reached Washington, D.C., Secretary of War John C. Calhoun ordered General Andrew Jackson to invade Spanish Florida and pursue the Seminoles.
In March 1818, Andrew Jackson’s army—made up of Creek Indians friendly to the United States, regular U.S. soldiers, Georgia militia, and volunteers from Tennessee—traveled down the Chattahoochee River into the Apalachicola River to the site of the former Negro Fort.
Jackson’s men built a new fort on the site and named it Fort Gadsden.
After building Fort Gadsden, Jackson’s army proceeded north and east towards the Miccosukee towns, located near modern-day Tallahassee.
Jackson's army torched villages, fields, and drove off livestock.
The invaders then marched south to the Spanish Fuerte San Marcos de Apalache, reaching the fort on April 6.
There, the army captured Alexander Arbuthnot, a British citizen rumored to be supplying firearms to the Seminoles.
The army continued towards the Suwannee towns, believed to contain many escaped slaves and Black Seminoles.
Along the way, on April 12, Jackson’s army destroyed a Seminole settlement on the Econfina River.
Once the army reached the Suwannee River towns they declared victory and turned back towards San Marcos de Apalache.
Before returning to San Marcos, Jackson apprehended Robert Ambrister, another Englishman accused of aiding the Seminoles.
In late April, when Jackson returned to San Marcos de Apalache, he convened a military trial and executed Ambrister and Arbuthnot.
Finally, Jackson marched west to Pensacola. His army exchanged cannon fire with the Spanish garrison at Fort Barrancas. The Spaniards surrendered on May 28.
After taking Pensacola, Jackson left Florida and returned north.
Jackson’s campaign against the Seminoles is now known as the First Seminole War. Major battles and places of note are indicated on this map by blue triangles.
Spain recognized that they were losing control of Florida and in 1819 agreed to sell the territory to the United States for $5 million. The transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States became official in 1821.
The arrival of American settlers into the newly acquired Florida territory would shortly spark another conflict that became the longest and costliest Indian war in U.S. history.