On this date… August 20, 1705… Florida

Not much remained of the original inhabitants of Florida by 1705.  The villages and towns of the Apalachee, Timucua, Ais, Jeaga, Calusa, Tocobaga, and Matecumbe had all been devastated by the Yamasee, who worked as slavers for the British.  All the way down to Key West, Florida had been depopulated.  Many of its people were taken to Charleston, South Carolina and shipped as slaves to British plantations in the Caribbean.  Between 1670 and 1715, as many as 50,000 Indians were exported from Charleston, more than double the number of African slaves brought in.

An Englishman recounted,  “They have drove the Floridians to the Islands of the Cape, have brought them in and sold many Hundreds of them, and Dayly now Continue that Trade so that in some few years they’le Reduce these Barbarians to a farr less number.  There is not one Indian Town betwixt Charles Town and Mowila Bay [Mobile, Alabama]…”

A few remaining Indian villages sought protection around the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine.  Already, their ways of living and homeland had been turned upside down.  Today we would call them “IDP’s”, internally displaced persons.  On this date, they came under siege.  The men of Chiluque left their village to protect two neighboring villages.  While they were away, their own village came under attack.  Racing home, they discovered their homes had been ransacked and eighty women and children were missing.  The track was easy to follow and they gave chase.  Twenty-five miles north, in a swamp between St. Augustine and the mouth of St. John’s River, they caught them.

The battle raged, with the men of Chiluque fighting side-by-side with the Spanish against the Yamasee, who were armed by the British.  In the heat of the battle, most of the captured women and children crawled through water and grass to freedom.  It was a short-lived victory; today most of Florida’s original tribes no longer exist.

Image

Gallay, A. 2003. The Indian Slave Trade:  The Rise of the English Empire in the American South.

Hann, J.H. 1996.  A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions.

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