ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.
After three months of strenuous preparation under Colonel Twiggs at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the regimental headquarters and Companies B, C, and K left there by marching September 5, 1837, for the field of action in Florida. The line of route passed through Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Rosses Landing, Tennessee, and Milledgeville, Georgia, and they arrived in Jacksonville, east Florida, October 31. Leaving that place the next day, they reached Fort Mellon on Lake Monroe, east Florida, November 26, where they remained only a few weeks before beginning the campaign.
Headquarters of the Army,
Washington, July 31, 1837
GENERAL ORDERS No. 50
1. The First Regiment of Infantry and that portion of the Second Regiment of Dragoons at Jefferson Barracks will be prepared for service in Florida, and the respective colonels will take up the line of march in time to arrive at Tampa Bay between the 10th and 15th of October.
By order of ALEXANDER MACOMB,
R. JONES, Adjutant-General
The entire Second Dragoons as a part of a force under General Jesup moved out from Fort Mellon December 19, 1837. Two companies of the regiment with a battalion of the Fourth Artillery were sent ahead to construct bridges and clear the way through the dense hummocks. Moving up the St. Johns River, they reached Lake Harney (recently discovered by Major Harney, Second Dragoons) December 25. General Jesup now pushed ahead of the main command, taking with him the Second Dragoons, except Companies C, F, and H, and some artillery and Tennessee volunteers, in all about 500 men. After a severe march through cypress swamps and saw palmetto, much of the time wading in water, this force came upon the enemy January 24, where the Locha Hatchee River empties into Jupiter Inlet. The troops were arranged with the dragoons on the right, the artillery in the center and the Tennesseans on the left. As most of the Indians were posted along the stream which was over ones head in depth, the troops had difficulty in coming to grips with them. Some of the Indians soon gave way and fled among the hummocks.
General Jesup had protested to the War Department that he did not believe that continuation of the war upon the Indians in Florida was worth while. In reply he was instructed either to capture or to destroy them wherever met. Consequently he directed the chiefs to meet him in council to arrange a surrender. When they refused to attend, he directed Colonel Twiggs to capture all the savages who were present at Fort Jupiter upon this occasion, about 500 in number. This order was carried out so well by the Second Dragoons that the General complimented the regiment in G.O. No. 77, March 25, 1838, upon the admirable manner in which it was executed.
Brigadier General Zachary Taylor relieved General Jesup May 15, 1838, and the troops were rearranged into districts and subdistricts so that all the area would be patrolled. Small bodies of troops were stationed at many posts all over the peninsula. One of these detachments under Captain Beall, consisting of thirty dragoons from Companies C and F, met the enemy at Kanahapa Prairie, near Newnansville, June 17, 1838. Since the Seminoles did not know of the approach of the troops, Captain Beall made a reconnaissance of their position and decided to conceal twelve men in their front and attack their rear dismounted with the remainder. Before this force got behind the enemy, the latter discovered the troops and opened a heavy fire. In a sharp contest which lasted two hours the troops finally retired, having run low on ammunition. The guide, Captain Walker, was killed and six men wounded, while the Indians lost four killed.