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On December 28, 1835, just hours before he and his men would all be killed, Major Francis L. Dade told his men that their dangers were over and soon they would be celebrating Christmas at Fort King (which was located in what is now Ocala). Little did the major know that the Second Seminole War was about to begin.

The past several decades had seen several skirmishes over cattle, slaves and land, but by 1830, these problems were strengthened with the passing of the Indian removal policy.

The Seminoles, unknown to Dade, had been observing the progress of the marching army for the past five days. A cold rain, and the fact that they had made it past the most dangerous ambush points on the Tampa to Ocala trip, lulled Dade into a bit of false confidence. He failed to post flanking scouts, and that is just what Osceola's Seminole warriors needed to ensure a successful ambush. The 180-strong Seminole army took the 108 man European force completely by surprise, and the initial rifle volley took out Dade and several of the officers and men. Within eight hours, all the men were dead, save three, who escaped. Two made it alive to Fort Brooke in Tampa. The Seminoles headed to Wahoo Swamp to celebrate--they only lost three warriors.

The battlefield site is an extremely interesting place to go if you are at all interested in military history, or just curious as to what life was like in the frontier days. An interpretive trail marks the battlefield, and an exhibit center contains artifacts and displays regarding the clash.

  • The battlefield site is located just southwest of downtown Bushnell at hwy 476 and 63.

  • The park is a beautiful place to picnic, hike and nature watch, and it even has a meeting hall with a kitchen available for a small rental fee. Call (904) 793-4781 for more information and rental reservations.

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