Battle of Lake Okeechobee

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Lake Okeechobee


caption=
partof=Second Seminole War
date=December 25, 1837
place=Lake Okeechobee, Florida
result=Seminole victory [William Katz; "Resistance To US Occupation, Florida, 1837"; [http://www.williamlkatz.com/Essays/CurrentEvents/FloridaResistance.php] ]
combatant1=
combatant2=Seminole
commander1=Zachary Taylor
Richard GentryKIA
commander2=Alligator
Billy Bowlegs
Abiaca
strength1=1,100
strength2=400
casualties1=26 killed
112 wounded
casualties2=11 killed
14 wounded|

The Battle of Lake Okeechobee was one of the major battles of the Second Seminole War. It was fought between 800 troops of the 6th Infantry Regiment (under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor) and 400 Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs, Abiaca and Alligator on December 25, 1837. Though both the Seminoles and Taylor's troops emerged from the battle claiming victory, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General as a result, and his nickname of "Old Rough and Ready" came mostly due to this battle.

Taylor's army came up to a large hammock with half a mile of swamp in front of it. On the far side of the hammock was Lake Okeechobee. Here the saw grass stood five feet high. The mud and water were three feet deep. Horses would be of no use. It was plain that the Seminole meant this to be the battleground. They had sliced the grass to provide an open field of fire and had notched the trees to steady their rifles. Their scouts were perched in the treetops to follow every movement of the troops coming up.

At about half past noon, the sun shining directly overhead and the air still and quiet, Taylor moved his troops squarely into the center of the swamp. His plan was to make a direct attack rather than encircle the Indians. All his men were on foot. In the first line were the 300 Missouri volunteers. As soon as they came within range, the Indians opened with heavy fire. The volunteers broke, and their commander, Colonel Richard Gentry, fatally wounded, was unable to rally them. They fled back across the swamp. The fighting in the saw grass was deadliest for five companies of the Sixth Infantry; every officer but one, and most of their noncoms were killed or wounded. When that part of the regiment retired a short distance to re-form, they found only four men of these companies unharmed.

26 U.S. soldiers, including the majority of Taylor's officers and NCOs, were killed, with 112 wounded, against 11 Seminoles killed and 14 wounded. No Seminoles were captured, although Taylor did capture 100 ponies and 600 head of cattle. [ [http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/regional/orl-ojimr2505dec25,0,1809917.story?page=2&coll=orl-news-utility-regional Topic Galleries - OrlandoSentinel.com ] ] Years later Billy Bowlegs visited Washington and on being escorted through the buildings of the Capitol and viewing many statues and paintings, he suddenly halted before a portrait of Zachary Taylor, grinned and exclaimed: 'Me whip!'" [Chelle Koster Walton: "Florida" p170; (WPA Guide to Florida)]

External links

* [http://www.sptimes.com/News/062700/State/Conflict_brews_over_h.shtml Article about preservation of battlesite]

References


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