The Second Seminole War began amid the longleaf pines at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, where on December 25, 1835, Major Francis Dade left Fort Brooke – located in what would become Tampa -and led his troops north on the military road to Fort King, Ocala.
Fees: $3 per vehicle
Open: Grounds open 8 AM until sunset daily. Museum open daily 9-5.
Leashed pets welcome
Several days out, the troops fell into an unexpected trap at this very site: 180 Seminole warriors waited, angered by the federal Indian removal policy. After six hours and two waves of attacks, more than 100 soldiers lay dying. Only three escaped, Ransom Clark being the one to recount the story when the men were found.
During the annual reenactment, chills ran down my spine as the ghost of Ransom Clark stood before us to speak. “This is where they killed us all,” he said, striding out of the piney woods to meet us. “And I got to keep coming back.”
Every December, the reenactment of the battle is a colorful testament to Florida history, unfolding in a drama narrated by an actor playing the ghost of Ransom Clark. If you enjoy living history, this is one spectacle you shouldn’t miss. The rest of the year, the battlefield and its graves are a quiet place to roam beneath the oaks and pines and reflect on the past.
Explore the park
- Dade Battlefield Pine Flatwoods Trail - Walk a gentle loop through the longleaf pine forest that saw one of the bloodiest moments in Florida history, the Dade Massacre that sparked the Second Seminole War on December 28, 1835.