Rain fails to stop annual event!
The Scott 1817 Seminole War Battle – relocated to Landmark Park in Dothan, Alabama, this year due to hurricane damage in Chattahoochee – faced the weather again on Saturday, but rain failed to dampen spirits.
The first day of the annual event was curtailed somewhat due to heavy rains, but visitors were able to learn about the history of the original battle as well as life on the frontier in the early 19th century. On hand were reenactors portraying settlers, the U.S. military, Native Americans and maroons (Black Seminoles).
The day also featured an abbreviated battle reenactment in which Seminole, Muscogee (Creek) and maroon fighters attacked a mixed force of U.S. regulars and militia. Smoke filled the woods as the sounds of gunfire, war cries and military orders were heard echoing across the battlefield.
Activities will resume tomorrow (Sunday, 12/2) at 9 a.m. with a church service, historical discussion, living history encampments and a battle reenactment at 1:30 p.m. Central time. The authentic keelboat Aux Arc (Ozark) will be on display at the park.
The annual event commemorates the 1817 battle at Chattahoochee that led to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s 1818 invasion of Florida and the signing of an agreement the next year under which Spain agreed to cede the colony to the United States. It takes place each year on the first weekend in December.
The frontier of Southeast Alabama, Southwest Georgia and Northwest Florida was a place of enormous tensions in the fall of 1817. The United States laid claim to more than 22 million acres of Muscogee (Creek) land under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Jackson. The important chief Neamathla, who headed the village of Fowltown near present-day Bainbridge Georgia, refused to give up his lands and a confrontation grew between him and U.S. Army officers at Fort Scott on what is now Lake Seminole.
When Neamathla refused a final demand to move, Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines ordered soldiers from the 4th and 7th Infantry Regiments to go to Fowltown and bring him back as a hostage. The people of the village resisted and gunfire erupted. Two warriors and one Native American woman were killed.
More fighting took place two days later and warriors from throughout the region flooded to support the people of Fowltown. Seminole and maroon (Black Seminole) fighters came from the Suwannee River. Red Stick Creek forces joined in, as did the warriors of Miccosukee, Tallahassee Talofa, Ekanachatte, Ocheesee Talofa and other American Indian towns of the region. A force of several hundred of these fighters, led by the Red Stick chief Homathlemico, formed along the east bank of the Apalachicola River one mile below the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers where the city of Chattahoochee stands today.
The first U.S. defeat of the Seminole Wars took place at what is now River Landing Park on November 30, 1817. Homathlemico’s force opened fire on a U.S. Army keelboat commanded by Lt. Richard W. Scott of the 7th Infantry. The soldiers resisted but were overwhelmed in a short but bloody battle. Lt. Scott, 33 U.S. soldiers, 6 women and 4 children were killed in the fighting, as were an unknown number of warriors. Several soldiers survived by leaping overboard and swimming to the opposite side of the river. One woman, Elizabeth Stewart, also survived after one of the attacking warriors saved her life. She later settled in Fort Gaines, Georgia.
News of the battle stunned U.S. authorities in Washington, D.C., even though they had initiated the conflict by authorizing troops to march on Fowltown. Jackson was ordered south to “punish” those responsible for the attack. The First Seminole War continued for more than one year and was the first of three conflicts between the United States and the Seminole people. Thousands of lives were lost in the 40 years of fighting that followed.
The annual Scott 1817 Seminole War Battle is held to tell the story of the First Seminole War and the people of both sides who were affected by it. In addition to commemorating the lives lost on both sides in the battle and war, the event allows the public to see and interact with reenactors who portray the time period with great authenticity.
Living history groups taking part in this year’s event include representatives from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe, the Lower Chattahoochee Band of Yuchi Indians, Blue Heron’s Creek Hunting Camp, the Jacksonian Guard, the Whitewater Longhunters, Woodbine’s Third British Colonial Marines, the Early Arkansaw Reenactors Association and a number of individual volunteers.
This year’s event is sponsored by Envision Credit Union’s Focus Foundation, Chattahoochee Main Street, TwoEgg.TV and the City of Chattahoochee. Landmark Park kindly provided a venue for this year after River Landing Park in Chattahoochee suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Michael. The reenactment will return to Chattahoochee next year.
If you plan to come enjoy Sunday’s activities, Landmark Park is at 430 Landmark Drive, Dothan, Alabama. Gates open at 9 a.m. and living history activities will continue until 3 p.m.
Learn more about the event at https://scott1817.com.