Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park - Bushnell, Florida

On December 28, 1835, one of the most significant battles in American history was fought in the open pine country of Central Florida.

A column of 108 U.S. soldiers led by Major Francis Dade was ambushed by a large force of Seminole warriors in the first major battle of the Second Seminole War. By the time the smoke cleared, Dade and more than 100 of his men were dead.

Although Dade's Battle (often known as Dade's Massacre) was small in comparison to the battles fought thirty years later during the Civil War, it was highly significant. The "Little Bighorn" of its day, it brought the United States and Seminole nation into open conflict. The war would prove to be the costliest and longest Indian war in American history. And, in the end, the United States was unable to totally defeat a Native American nation for the first time in its history.

Many of America's greatest 19th century military leaders fought in the Second Seminole War. On the side of the whites there were officers like Winfield Scott, Edmund P. Gaines, William Tecumseh Sherman, etc., while on the side of the Seminoles leaders including Osceola, Jumper, Alligator and Abraham proved themselves to be more than a match for their white counterparts.

The site of the battle is now preserved at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell. The park is an easy drive from Orlando, Tampa and Ocala and protects the ground on which the ambush took place. A museum, reconstructed log barricade and interpretive trail help visitors understand what happened here. To learn more, visit

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