Thomas Sidney Jesup and the Second Seminole War (Part Two)

General Thomas Sidney Jesup commanded military operations against the Seminoles in Florida during the early stages of the conflict now known as the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). The Second Seminole War was the longest and costliest American Indian War in American history. Jesup’s field diary, available on Florida Memory, contains his perspective on the war from October 1, 1836, to May 30, 1837. This series of blog posts places significant entries from the Jesup diary in the context of the Seminole Wars and the history of Anglo-American Indian-African relations in the American South. Below is the second post in the series.

On November 27, 1836, Jesup learned of his appointment as commander of all U.S. troops operating in Florida against the Seminoles.

“They brought newspapers which announced that Gen. J[esup] had been ordered to take command of the Army and that an officer had been sent from Washington on the 4th with orders to that effect.”

“They brought newspapers which announced that Gen. J[esup] had been ordered to take command of the Army and that an officer had been sent from Washington on the 4th with orders to that effect.”

When he first arrived in Florida in October 1836, General Thomas Sidney Jesup assumed command of U.S. troops operating south of the Withlacoochee River. Governor Richard Keith Call commanded troops north of the Withlacoochee and presided over military operations in the territory of Florida.

Jesup arrived in Florida amidst controversy. While serving in the Second Creek War, Jesup disagreed with General Winfield Scott, his superior officer, on how to conduct the campaign against the Creeks. Jesup argued for swift action against Creek towns hostile to the United States. Frustrated by inaction on the part of Scott, Jesup went ahead without orders in hand.

In a fortunate turn of events for Jesup, his campaign worked and likely shortened the war. Scott, on the other hand, received criticism for his delay. In order to defend his reputation, Scott challenged Jesup to a review by a court of inquiry. Several months later, while Jesup was serving in Florida, the court of inquiry ruled in Jesup’s favor. Jesup’s bold move against the Creeks likely paved the way for his appointment as commander of military operations against the Seminoles in Florida.

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