The Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park in Jupiter, Florida is the site of the last great battle of the Second Seminole War. This 64 acre park is one of the most significant multi-level historic sites in Palm Beach County. Gateway to the Loxahatchee River, prehistoric and historic habitation has occurred along the Loxahatchee dating as far back as the Archaic Period over 5,000 years ago. The primary goal of the park is to preserve and protect these cultural resources, while providing education and passive recreation opportunities for the public to experience this beautiful place and its history. The 300 year old oak tree, dubbed "Tree of Tears", sits atop a burial mound, and may have been the place where wounded Seminoles were brought to be treated or buried after the Battle of Loxahatchee.
As soon as the United States acquired Florida in 1821, it began urging the Seminole Indians there to leave their lands and relocate along with other southeastern tribes to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Some Seminole leaders signed a treaty in 1832, and part of the tribe moved. But other Seminoles refused to recognize the treaty and fled into the Florida Everglades. When the U.S. Army arrived in 1835 to enforce the treaty, the Indians were ready for war. The campaigns of the Second Seminole War were an outstanding demonstration of guerrilla warfare by the Seminole. The Second Seminole War (1835-1842), usually referred to as the Seminole War proper, was the fiercest war waged by the U.S. government against American Indians. The United States spent more than $20 million fighting the Seminoles. The war left more than 1,500 soldiers and uncounted American civilians dead. And the obvious duplicity of the U.S. government's tactics marred Indian-white relations throughout the country for future generations.
TWO SIGNIFICANT BATTLES WERE FOUGHT WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THIS PARK
The first battle of the Loxahatchee was commanded by Lieutenant Levin M. Powell, of the United States Navy’s Waterborne Everglades Expeditionary Unit. Referred to as Powell’s Battle, it took place on January 15, 1838. In search of the Seminoles, Powell's unit entered the southwest fork of the Loxahatchee river in small boats, led by a captured Seminole woman. Marching west, they saw smoke trails rise from a cypress swamp encampment and were suddenly met by hot musket fire from Seminole warriors. A running fire fight in the swamp, led by Chiefs Tuskegee and Halleck Hadjo, ended at dark with the Seminoles slowly gaining control. Powell's small force of 80 sailors and soldiers, overpowered by a much larger force of Seminole swamp fighters, barely escaped with severe casualties.
On January 24, 1838, Major General Thomas S Jesup, commanding 1,500 men, the largest army of Second Seminole War. [1835-42], marched to the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River, where he defeated approximately 300 "Red and Black Seminoles" in the last standing battle of the war. The Seminoles attacked General Jesup's advanced guard of Dragoons, leading them into a cypress swamp while they hid and fired from a high, dense hammock. Outnumbered nearly seven to one, the Seminoles retreated to a watery stronghold on the opposite side of the river. They crossed to the east side of the river and waited for the troops to follow, Major William Lauderdale and his Tennessee Volunteers held a position on the west side of the river, putting them in direct line of withering musket fire that stopped their advance. After dismounting and drawing his pistol, General Jesup ordered the Tennesseans to follow him as he charged ahead. Instead, they held their position, and Jesup was shot in the face. The battle ended when Colonel William Harney's Dragoons outflanked the Seminoles, who fled into the Everglades. Seven soldiers were killed and thirty-one wounded. The Seminole casualties are unknown. After the Battle of the Loxahatchee, General Jesup petitioned Washington to allow the Seminoles to remain in the Everglades and end the war. Washington denied Jesup’s request, whereby six hundred Seminoles were captured under a white flag of truce at Fort Jupiter.
LOXAHATCHEE BATTLEFIELD PRESERVATIONISTS
A group of citizens of Palm Beach County, Florida met on February 20, 2007 to form the organization in order to preserve, enhance and protect the Second Seminole War Battlefield, presently known as the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, located in Jupiter, Palm Beach County Florida. The Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting this important land and it's habitats, while educating the public on the significant battles that occurred on this land in 1838 during the Second Seminole Wars.
Each year, October through May, the group provides Walking Battlefield Tours, History in the Park Lectures, Historical Battle Re-enactments, and more programs.
page information credit: Palm Beach County, Historical Markers Database, Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists, Wikipedia, Florida Memory Project, Riverbend Park
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors