The Scott Massacre of 1817 (Kindle $9.95)
It is a little known fact that this bloody but almost forgotten battle on the eastern border of Jackson County led directly to the transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States. Had it not taken place, we might still be under Spanish rule and the Seminole Nation might still reign supreme.
The book details how a war of words between U.S. Army officers and the Creek Indian chief Neamathla escalated into a shooting war when Major General Edmund P. Gaines ordered his forces to attack the chief's village of Fowltown in what is now Decatur County, Georgia. The Battle of Fowltown ignited what is remembered today as the First Seminole War of 1817-1818 and so outraged a loose alliance of Seminole, Red Stick Creek and African (Black Seminole) that hundreds of warriors converged on the Apalachicola River.
The first target of opportunity to present itself to them was a large wooden boat slowly making its way up the river. Commanded by Lieutenant Richard W. Scott of the 7th U.S. Infantry, the vessel carried 50 men, women and children. As it reached the stretch of the river just south of today's U.S. 90 bridge between Chattahoochee and Sneads, the boat was attacked by hundreds of warriors who had ambushed themselves along the banks of the river.
By the time the smoke had cleared, Scott was dead along with most of his command. Of the 50 people on board the boat when the attack was launched, only one man escaped without injury. The total U.S. loss in the battle was 43 killed, 5 wounded, 1 captured.
The massive defeat ignited outrage in Washington, D.C. and led President James Monroe to order Major General Andrew Jackson to the frontier with authorization to invade Spanish Florida. Jackson's 1818 campaign all but destroyed the Seminole Nation west of the Suwannee River and easily demonstrated that Spain could not defend its old colony. Within three years, Florida would become part of the United States.
The Scott Massacre of 1817 benefits the historic preservation efforts of the West Gadsden Historical Society. It is now available through Amazon.com and soon will be available at the society's normal book retailers throughout Gadsden County as well as at Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna (same block as Watson's and the Gazebo Restaurant).