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History of the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842 Paperback – March 24, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The little known Second Seminole War is beyond doubt one of the most dramatic episodes in our history.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 391 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (March 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813010977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813010977
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This superb book will fascinate anyone with a love for American history. The Second Seminole War is almost unknown today, but it was a major conflict in our country's history before the Civil War. The conflict cost more in lives and money than all the famed Indian wars of the western plains, and a number of celebrated American officers (Zachary Taylor, Edmund Gaines, Winfield Scott) cut their teeth in the conflict. They also often failed spectacularly, as Mahon demonstrates. He superbly treats the military strategy of the war, painting a big picture while weaving a skillful narrative which will interest military historians and novices alike. As Mahon shows, the 2nd Seminole War was our country's least successful military engagement of the century -- in fact, the least successful until Vietnam. Readers today will be surprised to learn of the stirring protests that Americans leveled against the war in the 1830s and 40s. We are conditioned to think that American history is one long series of evil white men raping and pillaging innocent blacks and Indians. Mahon's book vividly depicts a few events that conform to this vision of our past, but the book shows how much more complex the 19th century truly was -- how complex was the political situation of the Seminoles, and how Americans of the time expressed widespread dissent, anger, and anguish over the way that the country chose to deal with them. Amazingly, the US officer corps charged with fighting the war was itself in the vanguard of the protest movement agains the conflict. This is a slice of the American past that people rarely see.Read more ›
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A solid, and solidly massive, tome covering in vast detail the facts leading up to, causing and surrounding the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), John K. Mahon's book is a tough but rewarding read. There is so much information to digest, however, that the book (despite the fact that a lot of this material has been covered by many other offerings on the same subject) has its hands full from the start. That makes this book one for the serious scholar, not the historical dabbler looking for a quick and entertaining read.

One of the earlier twentieth century works on the subject, and among the most definitive, Mahon's history tracks and documents the vicissitudes of the Seminole peoples and their allies (escaped slaves of African descent who found refuge among them) as they sought to avoid and then resist the increasing encroachment of American whites on their territory once the old Spanish colony of the Floridas had been ceded to the Americans in the aftermath of Andrew Jackson's destructive incursions (known as the First Seminole War -- circa 1817-18). At the same time Mahon carefully documents the military record of engagements, strategies, losses, logistics and, regrettably, betrayals of the Indians against whom the American military fought.

Jackson, violating international boundaries at the time of the First Seminole War, charged down from Alabama into northern Florida to scatter and destroy the settled Seminole and escaped African slaves' villages that had been built, with Spanish agreement, on the rich Alachua plain. These people would never regain their old prosperity, after those attacks, though they tried desperately to hang on in the face of a subsequent white American settler invasion from the north.
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The Second Seminole War is a nearly forgotten campaign by the United States to subdue the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Most, but not all, Indian Wars in America were vicious, open-and shut bloody affairs where the Indians succumbed to the superior firepower and organizational abilities of the whites. The Pequot Indians were destroyed in nearly a single day, the Sioux of Minnesota were beaten by local militia, Custer's Last Stand was a fluke, the Ghost Dancer's magic couldn't stop the Hotchkiss Guns of the 1st US Artillery.

The Seminole War was different. It took the US Army nearly a decade to clamp down on the tribe and in the mean time, there were several appalling defeats of Americans in the field-most especially was the "Dade Massacre."

This book carefully lays out the situation, the equipment, and the politics of the war. It was the last war where men preferred flintlock muskets to any other firearm. American Industrial prowess was taking off and soldiers were equipped with rugged, machine made cotton uniforms. The infantrymen in this war were called "doughboys." The biggest political difficulties involved "black Seminoles." They were often former slaves who had joined the Indians. Politicians beholden to corporate, plantation economy interests charged the army with returning blacks to slave holders, complicating matters. Indeed it was a war to further slavery and became increasingly unpopular. Do-gooders also complicated matters, blood hounds used by the military to track Indians had to be muzzled and leashed lest they bite an Indian.

By 1842, the United States declared victory. Some Seminoles live in Oklahoma but many more are still in Florida. A deep account of the Second Seminole War, but not a popular history.
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