Today we visited Dade Battlefield State Park for their 32nd Annual Reenactment of the battle of December 28, 1835. The weather was perfect and we were very excited to attend this event. We had been to a few Civil War Reenactments but never one dated prior to. Many persons traveling Interstate 75 mistake this park as a Civil War Battlefield. They would not be correct. Before the Civil War was event thought of there was wars over Indian Territory. This is the story of one of those battles. We were walking on hallowed ground.
Upon arriving we walked through period camps of both the soldiers and the Seminole Indians. It was wonderful seeing so many participants! There was much activity in both of the camps. Women were cooking, children playing, men cleaning their guns and telling stories. After muzzle loader and primitive archery demonstrations we walked through the trader’s camp. There was so much to see and learn there as well, the food was pretty good to!
Soon it was time for the battle to start. Benjamin Dehart “The Cracker Tenor” started out the festivities with folk songs about the soldiers, Indians and the wilds of Florida. Park staff then came out and told us about the park and its history followed by Seminole Dress and Soldier Uniform Demonstrations. Then we were told the battle from both sides by wonderful narrators that stood along the battlefield as the fight commenced.
As the soldiers approached the battle began, Here is part of the story:
Not long after Spain sold Florida to the United States, settlers began encroaching upon these new lands. Settlers wanted land and escaped slaves wanted freedom…no one asked the Seminoles what they wanted. Over the next 30 years their lands were claimed and taken acre by acre. Black people were returned to slavery. When the Seminoles and the blacks began to resist, the settlers called for government help, that’s when the soldiers came. Forts were built roads were cleared. Two of these forts were Fort Brooke and Fort King. The Seminoles were asked to leave – this was no longer their home.
Fort Brooke at Tampa Bay was to send reinforcement up to Fort King (now known as Ocala) 100 miles away. On the morning of December 23rd, 1835, 108 soldiers led by Brevet Major Francis Langhorne Dade left Ft Brooke to march north 100 miles. On the sixth day they were attacked by Seminole Indians. At the end of a day long battle, the officers and men of Dade’s command had been destroyed. The Second Seminole War had begun.
We learned a lot about Florida history today. Things school books did not provide, or that we had forgotten since our school days. It was hard to put yourself in the shoes of either person, on either side of this battle. So next time you are driving past this park on I 75. Take a few minutes to take the exit at Bushnell and travel a few minutes off the highway. Take a trip back in time. Park Rangers and volunteers will be more than happy to show you around the visitor’s center and point out memorials of the fallen soldiers. Even better – visit them for the next reenactment event. This is fun for the whole family!
For more information on Dade Battlefield State Park visit: http://www.dadebattlefield.com
We do have other events coming up in the area as well!
41st Alafia River Rendezvous – Jan. 20 and 21st, 2012 for more information visit http://www.floridafrontiersmen.org
Fort Foster Rendezvous at Hillsborough River State Park/Fort Foster Feb. 9-12th for more information visit: http://www.floridastateparks.org/hillsboroughriver/events.cfm?viewevent=6819#6819
Big Cypress Shootout Feb 24-26, 2012 for more information visit: http://www.BCShootout.com
For information on other state parks in Florida please visit http://www.floridastateparks.org
To hear more of the music of Benjamin Dehart check out http://www.thecrackertenor.com/
Don’t forget to visit our website as well http://www.notaclueadventures.com
Videos for event posted on our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Notacluegal
Additional Photos will be posted at : http://www.facebook.com/notaclueadventures?sk=photos
See you on the trail!