Monday, November 10, 2008

U.S. Marines fight Indian War
Florida Indian War 1836-1847

President: Andrew Jackson
Commandant of the USMC:
Col. Archibald Henderson 1820-1859
Manning of the USMC: 58 Officers, 1,086 enlisted
USMC Causalities*: Dead-8, Wounded-1
Weapons Used:
.50 Cal. U.S. Rifle Model 1819

In 1830, President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which mandated the removal of all Indians including the Seven Civilized Tribes, to land west of the Mississippi River.

While the Supreme Court noted that the removal was unconstitutional, President Jackson is quoted as saying, "...they made the decision, let them enforce it..." Jackson then proceeded to send U.S. forces to effect the eviction.

The American Army, at 4000 strong was not able to comply with the presidential desires and the Marine Commandant offered the Corps. Mustering better than 400 regular troops, fully equipped and combat ready from various posts and stations around the Corps; the offer was readily accepted and the Marines departed for operations in Florida.

In 1834 the Supreme Court reversed it's earlier stand, and on 23 May 1836 Marine folklore states that the Commandant nailed a note on the door of Headquarters Marine Corps stating: "...have gone to Florida to fight Indians. Will be back when the war is over. A. Henderson, Commandant."

On 21 May, Army General Order 33, in part, directed the deployment of 2 detachments of Marines for active duty with the army in the field.

By June 23, Henderson and 462 Leathernecks reported for duty with Army General Winfield Scott. Following a 224 mile march in 14 days the Marines turned to operations as ordered.

Most USMC operations were company sized efforts to gather and deport the Indians. Marines also guarded crucial mail and supply lines. One Marine, 2nd Lt. John T. Sprague was the Officer in Charge of a prisoner detachment of Creek Indians on the Trail of Tears.

1836 saw the Marines involved in the suppression of Seminole warriors fighting a guerrilla war in the swamps and hammocks of Florida. By 1838 the campaign, as far as the Marines were concerned, was finished and the Sea Soldiers returned to their accustomed posts.