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A True and Authentic Account of the Indian War in Florida

A True and Authentic Account of the Indian War in Florida, Giving the Particulars Respecting the Murder of Widow Robbins, and the Providential Escape of Her Daughter Aurelia, and Her Lover, Mr. Charles Somers, After Suffering Almost Innumerable Hardships. The Whole Compiled From the Most Authentic Sources . . . New York: Saunders & Van Welt, 1836. 28 pp.

This rare item is a reprint, with slight alterations, of An Authentic Narrative of the Seminole War; and of the Miraculous Escape of Mrs. Mary Godfrey and her Four Female Children published in Providence, Rhode Island in 1836. An examination of both texts reveals that this volume is an almost word for word copy of the first edition, with the addition of the murder story of the Widow Robbins. Servies, in his bibliography, describes the book as a "sanguinary recital of Indian savagery during the Seminole War." His point is well illustrated in the first paragraph:

The present Indian war in Florida has been stamped with butcheries and cruelties altogether without a parallel in modern times. It has been a war of extermination, the Indians seeming not inclined to give or receive quarter. In such discriminate slaughter, many poor, innocent, defenceless and inoffending women and children have fallen a sacrifice to the tomahawk and scalping knife! Mothers have been brutally butchered in the presence of their offspring, and children have been torn from the maternal embrace of their parents to share a similar fate! At considerable expense and labor we have compiled from public documents and other authentic sources a short history of this bloody contest, which we have thought would be acceptable to the public.

The volume was originally published with a hand-colored woodcut illustration entitled "The Indians and Negroes massacreing the whites in Florida, in January 1836." The item in our collection retains only one-third of the foldout illustration. The 28 pages in this small book relate several stories of attacks on white settlers by the Seminole Indians and the murder of many men, women and children. Those who survived by flight are reported to have suffered from extreme hunger, thirst and insect bites as they hid in the dense underbrush and swamps of southern Florida. The book also includes a call for volunteers to revenge these deaths and describes the battle of December 28, 1862. Major Dade and 108 others met their deaths. The subsequent engagement on the Withlacooche River is depicted, as are peace meetings with Indian Chief Osceola. The volume concludes:

After the arrival of Gen. Clinch, the Indians separated into straggling parties, and so far from having been beaten and compelled to sue for peace, the small parties which have been since met with, have fiercely resisted, until put in danger of the bayonet. The face of the country, interspersed with hammocks and cyprus swamps and marshes, impenetrable to the white man, presents serious obstacles to the prosecution of a campaign in Florida; and while these fastnesses constitute the natural defence of the Indians, they present difficulties almost insurmountable to their pursuers. As the insupportably warm and unhealthy weather will prevent further operations on the part of the whites, the regular forces have retired into summer quarters in St. Augustine; and thus have ended this unfortunate campaign. The savages, unsubdued, continue to fearlessly stalk over the graves of Major Dade and his brave companions.