Friday, August 29, 2014

Last weekend, on August 23, a memorial honoring the end of the Second Seminole War took place at the St. Augustine National Cemetery. The ceremony honored the soldiers who died during the three conflicts 1817-1858. It was reminiscent of the ceremony that officially ended the Second Seminole War in 1842.





The Second Seminole War ended on August 15, 1842, after 7 years and $30 million dollars, with a memorial and internment ceremony at what would become the St. Augustine National Cemetery. Soldiers who were killed at one of the War's first conflicts, the Dade Massacre, were relocated from their original graves at the battle site near Bushnell. Many other soldiers and officers who died during the conflict were also moved and all were reinterred under the three coquina pyramids in National Cemetery, now known as the Dade Memorial.


While St. Augustine's National Cemetery is not the oldest officially sanctioned National Cemetery, it is one of the oldest military cemetery in the United States. When Florida became a US territory, the US Army took over the St. Francis Barracks, renaming it the Post of St. Augustine. Florida was still considered a frontier and due to the distance, it was unfeasible to ship many of the soldiers who died there back to their homes for reburial. The earliest recorded internment dates to 1828. The cemetery became an official national cemetery of the forth class in 1881.

Check out our Cemetery a Day in May post about National Cemetery, or our post about doing a ground penetrating radar survey to investigate the Dade Monument.




 

The War officially ended that day because the US government had decided they were tired of fighting. The 300 or so Seminole left in the state had moved further south, away from the land that the US wanted for settlers. However, the skirmishes and fighting soon continued in a third war between 1855-1858. All together, the Florida Wars became the longest and most costly off all of the Indian Wars. They had a great impact but are frequently overlooked. Here's some quick statistics from the Missals' book Seminole Wars:

  • More than 3,000 Seminoles were relocated. 
  • For each person relocated, roughly $10,000 was spent. 
  • For every two Seminole shipped out west, one US soldier died.  
  • Only around 150 Seminoles remained, from which the current tribal population are descendants.

Special thanks to the West Point Society of North Florida, the Seminole War Foundation, the Dade Battlefield Society, the 450th Military Commemoration Committee and the Veterans Council of St. Johns County for the great ceremony!

For more information on the Seminole Wars, please check out The Seminole Wars: America's Longest Indian Conflict by John and Mary Lou Missal.

For more information on the St. Augustine National Cemetery, check out Sacred Ground: The Military Cemetery at St. Augustine by Greg Moore.

Words and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN staff.

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