Mrs. Beatrice O’Rear Treadway, probably about 1900, wrote down this account, narrated by her father, George Washington O’Rear about his experiences in the Seminole Indian war. (Reminisces)
Seminole War in Florida, 1836 - 1837, from a Statement by George Washington O’Rear
"My company was made up in Franklin County, Tennessee in 1837. -- Benjamin Cherry, Captain, Major, Lauderdale.
Came to Ross’ Landing (now Chattannoga) to be mustered into service. Four hundred men, Captain Waterhouse’s company, in reserve at Chattannoga, in Nov. 1837.
Three companies made up in Franklin County but when we got to Chattonooga the muster master would only need two companies. So one company split up and joined the other two companies.
Sanders Farris and Benjamin Cherry were the captains, battalion formed in Chattonooga.
Captain Waterhouse’s company was made up in Chattonooga, and there were other companies were made up near there. These Co’s were enlisted for six months. Each man furnished his own horse and clothing. The government furnished guns and food. Battalion saw many Cherokee Indians all through Georgia as far as St Mary’s river. The Cherokee were not hostile, they already having agreed to move to Arkansas.
From St Mary’s river we went to Jacksonville and from there to Black Creek up St John’s river, staid a week, then crossed St John’s river to Lake Harvey which is two miles wide. We forded it. It was swimming to a horse in places, then we’d struck bottom again.
Crossing Lake Harvey again, went 18 miles east to Indian river -- There we got in among some hostile Indians and had some fights. We kept close to Indians until we got to the edge of Everglades.
After we passed Lake Okechobe we struck a nest of Indians whom we fought on Jan 24, 1838. We lost ten of our men, and only wounded one Indian. Gen. Jessup had about 2000 regular soldiers there -- infantry. We were Cavalry.
Four weeks after this we took 700 warriors and the women and children captive. There were negroes with the Indians, and this battle was commanded by a negro seven feet tall.
This battle was on Turtle Creek about four miles from lake that makes Jupiter Inlet. We sent these captured Indians on board a steamer boat to Arkansas.
We made breastwork out of trees and cut or boxed out chips and portholes to shoot through. We had to shoot across Turtle Creek which was like a ditch about 24 feet wide with perpendicular banks about 8 feet deep.
The Indians’ breastwork logs were on the opposite side of the creek, and when we attempted to cross over this creek, our men would go under the water.
Water and banks were level and when we attempted to cross over it was 8 feet deep and perpendicular bank. It was the meanest ditch I ever tried to cross. A great wonder the horses did not fall backwards in getting out.
General Jessup had sent a boatload of provisions to Jupiter Inlet, and found the Indians there. The Indians led the Marines (100) about four miles from this landing.
Indians thought they would capture us but did not. Were at Fort Pierce then -- a few of us. The rest of our command were hunting the Indians but did not find them.
Marines captured an old Indian woman, and talked of putting her to death -- I could not stand it. They asked her to pilot them to Indians, which she did, and they had a fight at the same place we had a fight on 24th of January, but on the ocean side of the creek.
The Marines did not kill her. We started home in April got home in May 1838.
A wonderful thing that happened there after we captured the Indians. I went one day to the Indian Camp. I found some lead and powder buried close by a pine tree, and looking around I saw a snake as big as my thumb and from 60 to 100 feet long, about the size of a steer-rope or walking stick and 10 to 12 feet from one coil to another. Before I got to the tail part, it disappeared. There was a hole near snake’s head -- I was standing near and looking at the tail when I heard something pop and looking around quickly there was no snake, nothing but a hole in the ground close to where the head had been."
Jessie O’Rear Whitehead wrote in 1946 with reference to the above service: " Uncle George (so Cousin Beatrice, his daughter, records) was in school in Winchester, Tennessee in 1836. His mother gave him a horse, bridle and saddle for a birthday present and he was so happy he promptly quit school, joined the army at Ross’ Landing (now Chattanooga) and went joyously off to fight the Seminole Indians in Florida!"