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  1. #1
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    Dec 2004
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    Search for Seminole war cannon

    Wes Smith | Sentinel Staff Writer
    December 13, 2007
    BUSHNELL

    For 45 years, history buff Frank Laumer has obsessively pieced together minute details of an ambush near here that set off the Second Seminole War in 1835.

    The author of two respected books on the attack known as Dade's Battle even dug up the bones of one participant and discovered the hat size of another.

    Still, there is one major piece of the battle sought by Laumer. But an Orlando bank -- on behalf of a client fed up with artifact seekers -- has threatened to charge him with trespassing if he comes searching for it.

    "Dade's Battle is like a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand pieces," he said. "And this is the last big one."

    Laumer's holy grail is a cannon, a key weapon in the critical but little-known victory over U.S. soldiers by the Seminoles and their black allies, most of them escaped slaves. The loss of 108 soldiers in that battle set off what Laumer and others call "America's first war over slavery."

    "Florida was a refuge for escaped slaves from the 17th century through the Civil War era, and that is at the root of every military conflict in the state," said James Cusik, curator of the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History at the University of Florida.

    Cusik noted that Laumer is viewed as an authority on Dade's Battle.

    "It would not be possible to do serious work on the Second Seminole War without Frank Laumer's books and articles," he said.

    Bill Steele, historic-preservation officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, hailed Laumer as "one of the first modern writers to realize the full significance of Seminole history in Florida."


    A historic battle

    On Dec. 28, 1835, Chief Micanopy and 180 warriors attacked Maj. Francis Dade's troops, killing all but two of them as they marched from Fort Brooke on Tampa Bay to Fort King near Ocala.

    The Seminole victory kicked off the longest Indian war in American history. Many critics, then and now, felt it was waged mostly to recapture slaves and their descendants living among the tribe.

    The battle remains significant today, in part because many Florida places derive their names from participants, including the towns of Micanopy and Dade City, and Dade County.

    After defeating Dade's overmatched forces, the victors disabled the soldiers' "six pounder" cannon and dumped it in a nearby pond, according to historical accounts.

    Today that pond sits in a private, fenced pasture just 100 feet outside Dade Battlefield Historic State Park near Bushnell. The pasture, owned by the Mildred Webb Trust, is guarded by a trust officer at a Wachovia Bank branch in Orlando.

    Laumer, co-founder of the Seminole Wars Historic Foundation, telephoned the bank this summer and asked to search the pond.

    But a banker bushwhacked him, Laumer said.

    "The guy at the bank just blew me out of the water. He said, 'I've heard of you, Laumer, and don't you ever call me again,' " Laumer recalled. "I can't figure out why anybody in the world would be so touchy" about a pond, he said.

    Wachovia spokesman Josh Dunn said that Webb family trustee Patricia Curich claims that the Florida Archaeological Society searched the area in 1976 and found "buttons, musket balls, cannonballs and a Native American breastplate," but no cannon.

    Another private search used "state-of-the-art equipment" in 1998, but nothing was found, Dunn said.

    "Ms. Curich has concerns that additional searches of the property would disrupt livestock and be an unnecessary intrusion onto private property," Dunn said.

    As things now stand, Laumer can only gaze upon the shallow pond, where he suspects Dade's cannon may be buried -- so close, yet so far.

    "This is an artifact of national dimension. And it might lie just 100 feet from the public battleground," he said, noting that the cannon ramrod and other battle artifacts are in the Smithsonian Institution.


    Quest began in 1960s

    Laumer's obsession with Dade's Battle began in 1962. He was at his home on the Withlacoochee River, reading a biography of Zachary Taylor, when he found a reference to a Fort Dade on the same river.

    "I thought, 'My God, I wonder where that fort was?' "

    A land developer by trade, Laumer set off on a two-year search of public records. He determined, for the first time, that Fort Dade had sat a half-mile upstream and across the river from his home.

    Fascinated, he then researched the man for whom the fort was named, which led to his life's quest: to dig up every possible detail about Dade's Battle. Laumer once flew to New York state in winter to exhume the skeleton and examine the wounds of Ransom Clark. One of two soldiers who survived the ambush, Clark crawled to Fort Brooke despite multiple wounds.

    Laumer, who has narrated an annual re-enactment of Dade's Battle for 28 years, twice has trekked through swamps and forests to retrace Ransom's 50-mile path.

    On his second such trek, Laumer was "punk'd" by modern-day Seminoles who staged a mock ambush upon him after hearing about his march.

    "They came out giggling and feeling a little ridiculous about being in war paint," he said.

    But Laumer was thrilled. He countered by pumping the Seminoles for their perspective on Dade's Battle.

    "We sat around a fire, and I thought I'd really get their viewpoint," he said. "But it turned out that I knew more about it than they did."

    Steele, the tribe's historian, countered that the Seminoles likely knew more than they were willing to say.

    "Tribal members don't talk about the dead," he said. "It is not appropriate religiously."

    Wes Smith can be reached at dwsmith@orlandosentinel.com

    kenb




  2. #2
    us
    youtube.com/c/BigCypressSwamp

    Dec 2004
    South Florida
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    Re: Search for Seminole war cannon

    Very interesting. Thanks for posting ken.

  3. #3

    Jun 2007
    283
    6 times

    Re: Search for Seminole war cannon

    This article is not accurate, the cannon was retrieved from the pond and turned vertical in the ground used as a tombstone over a mass grave of eight dead officers who were left dead along with 98 enlisted men who were buried in another mass grave within the breastworks. The cannon simply dissapeared from the battlefield. Captain Hitchcock who was the first officer at the massacre site in his diary said " We buried them all, and ,at my suggestion, the cannon, a six pounder was placed over the grave. The cannon fired 50 shots and I saw one of the cannonballs last week.

 

 

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