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Taylor, Zachary (1784-1850) to Thomas S. Jesup

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05284 Author/Creator: Taylor, Zachary (1784-1850) Place Written: Fort Basinger, Florida Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 25 March 1838 Pagination: 4 p. : address ; 25 x 19.5 cm.

Summary of Content: In a private letter, General Taylor writes to his superior, General Jesup, about plans for suppressing the Seminole Indians in the second Seminole War. Commends Jesup's plan to "forward the Indians & Negroes in question to Tampa" and then on to Fort Pike, especially because it will halt "any improper interference on the part of whites." Mentions recent murders near Fort Lauderdale and agrees that the Seminoles were the perpetrators and suggests that "they ought to be put to death in some way as a terror to others of their nation." Notes learning that Jesup had ascertained "the exact position of Sam Jones [Arpeika], Alligator [Halpatter Tustenuggee] & Coacoochee [Wild Cat]" and hopes he will yet succeed in sending them to the west before it is necessary to put the troops into summer quarters." Believes that the Seminoles must be persuaded to leave the everglades, because by staying, they will be able to elongate out the war for years. If they stay, he recommends a small American force should remain, "sufficient to prevent those people from cultivating the soil, & cutting off their supplies of clothing & amunition." Explains orders for readiness he has given and plans for action he has made. Recommends Col. Foster be given command of the 4th Infantry. Adds some personal commentary. Taylor later replaced Jesup as commander of the army in Florida but failed to pacify the Seminoles and remove them from the everglades.

Full Transcript: Fort Basinger March 25th 1838
Dear Genl,
Your several letters of the 22d. inst. came to hand last night, arrangements have been made to forward the Indians & Negroes in question ...to Tampa without a moments delay; an escort with the necessary transportation & provisions left this morning for Fort Vanserengen to take charge of them on their arrival at that place, where they will relieve the escort & waggons which accompanied them from Camp Jupiter, to which place the latter with their train can immediately return. Your plan of sending those people to Fort Pike as soon as it is convenient to do so I consider a most excellent one, as it will at least have the effect of putting a stop to any improper interference on the part of whites of a certain description who are ever ready to meddle with such matters, & who in fact prefer attending to other peoples affairs & neglecting their own.
I regret to hear of the recent murders committed near Fort Lauderdale, & am satisfied you have fixed on the real perpetrators, the Seminoles, which shews conclusively that no relyance can be placed on their promises or engagements, could the perpetrators of the act be gotten hold of they ought to be put to death in some way as a terror to others of their nation….

I am pleased that you have at length succeeded in ascertaining the exact position of Sam Jones, Alligator & Co.acoo.chee, & that Col, Bankhead succeeded in opening a communication with the two latter, & most sincerely do I hope that they will not be able to elude you, & that you will yet succeed in sending them to the west before it is necessary to put the troops into Summer quarters; [2] The only way I fear this can be effected is to prevail on them through some of their people to come in & leave the country, for
If determined to do so they can avoid you or any one else for years, by keeping in or near the everglades…. as you must be fully convinced is the case from your own observations of the country refered to, as well as from the reports of Cols, Smith Davenport & others. If this war cannot not now be closed in a few months or measurably so by negotiation throug the agency of the chiefs you have employed for that purpose, it may continue for many years, in that event a small but efficient force should carry it on, barely sufficient to prevent those people from cultivating the soil, & cutting off their supplies of clothing & ammunition, which must be done by mounted troops, aided by a few revenue cutters properly arranged around the peninsula, and a small force of Inf[antry]y, judiciously stationed along the frontier or exposed white settlers, to protect them from the attacks & depredations of the enemy; a war of this kind if properly conducted would after a while drive the whole of the Indians from the country, & could be carried on with a moderate expenditure of life & treasure.
I have directed Col. Davenport (who I regret to learn is quite sick, if not ill) to hold the lst. Infy. in complete readiness to join you any moment you might wish [struck: them] it to do so; Should the Cols. health be such as to prevent his accompanying the regt, it will be under the comd. of brevet Majr. Loonees a most excellent soldier - as soon as Holatoochee & the other chiefs join me I shall lose no time in taking in conjunction with them, every possible means to bring in any small or large parties of the hostiles in any direction within striking distance of me [3] and hope shortly to effect something of importance that way.
In a conversation with Col. Foster I learn that he would be gratified if the 4th Infy, remains in Florida, if he could be assigned to the commd. or stationed at Tampa when the campaign closes, should [inserted: it] not interfere [struck: with the interfere] with the interest of the service or the rights of other officers, as he wishes to bring his family there in the event his having to remain in the country; could this arrangement be made on the conditions above stated I should feel highly gratified at it, as I know the Col. to be a most meritorious soldier, one who has seen much hard service & of course should be indulge[d] as far as it was compatible with the public interest to do so; Besides should we continue to prosecute this war, it must if successful, be carried on by detachments [struck: not] for the most part not larger than regts. & the Col. [struck: will] I venture to say will always be found with his whenever it is necessary he should be so.
I flatter myself you continue to receive frequently the most cheering & gratifying news from Locust Grove, particularly as regards the health of your good lady & dear children, as well as other friends; The greatest & I may say the only consolation we can have after knowing that we have done our duty towards our country in the position we are now placed in, is to know those who are so near & dear to us from whom we are separated, are in the enjoyment of a tolerable share of health. When you next write to Mrs. Jesup present me most kindly to her, & say to her from me [4] that she must keep up her spirits & not despond, that all will yet eventuate as it should do well. But I trust you will very soon deliver her [struck: this] the foregoing [inserted: message] in person, you have been already too long separated from your family & nothing should prevent you from joining them as soon as the campaign closed.
Wishing that you may speedily terminate it I remain truly & sincerely
Your Friend
Z. Taylor
Majr. Genl. T.S. Jesup
U.S. Army Comdg. in Fla.
P.S. I hope something has or will ocurr shortly to justify you in ordering [struck: Loomax] Lomax to the East; I have not heard very recently from Mrs Taylor who is still at Baton Rouge.
[Address panel]
Majr. Genl. T.S. Jesup
Comdg. Army of the South
Camp Jupiter
East Florida/
See More

People: Taylor, Zachary
, 1784-1850
Jesup, Thomas Sidney, 1788-1860
Coacoochee, Seminole chief, b. ca. 1810
Taylor, Zachary

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: Seminole WarAmerican Indian HistoryMilitary HistorySlaveryRunaway SlaveFugitive Slave ActAfrican American HistoryAtrocityDeath PenaltyDeathClothing and AccessoriesAmmunitionAgriculture and Animal HusbandryLetter of Introduction or RecommendationPresident

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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