Battle of Ocheesee, Florida
The red clay bluff where the attack
took place remains a landmark on
the west bank of the Apalachicola
River.
THE BATTLE OF OCHEESEE
Calhoun and Liberty Counties, Florida
The Battle of Ocheesee - Calhoun & Liberty Counties, Florida
The Battle of Ocheesee - Calhoun & Liberty Counties, Florida
Battle of Ocheesee, Florida
A view of the battlefield as seen from Ocheesee
Landing in Calhoun County, Florida. The fight took
place at a sharp bend of the Apalachicola River.
Fight on the Apalachicola River
As the Apalachicola River sweeps around a
series of bends between
Torreya State Park
and Ocheesee Landing in Florida, it flows by
the site of an important battle of the First
Seminole War.

The Battle of Ocheesee began on December
15, 1817, when a large force of Seminole
and Creek warriors attacked a small flotilla of
U.S. supply boats making its way around the
bend and up the river. The important frontier
posts of
Fort Scott and Fort Gaines had been
cut off by American Indian forces and were
facing starvation.

The war had started three weeks earlier
when U.S. troops attempted to surround the
Creek Indian
village of Fowltown in what is
now Decatur County, Georgia. The chief and
warriors of the town resisted capture and
were accused by the United States of inciting
the conflict.

Infuriated that they had been attacked without
provocation, the residents of Fowltown called
for help from other Creek and Seminole
towns in the Florida borderlands and a full
scale war soon erupted.

On November 30, 1817, the Creek chief
Homathlemico avenged the attacks on
Fowltown by capturing a U.S. Army boat at
present-day
Chattahoochee and killing 44
men, women and children. The one-sided
battle became known as the
Scott Massacre
of 1817.

A different force of warriors attacked Blunt's
Town, a U.S. allied Creek village at present-
day Blountstown on December 13, 1817. The
chief, John Blunt, had sided with the whites
in the conflict and barely escaped with his life.

With the war quickly turning in their direction,
the alliance of Creek, Seminole and African
(or Black Seminole) warriors now focused on
ending any possibility of resupply for Forts
Scott and Gaines via the Apalachicola River.
Led by the Creek Prophet Josiah Francis,
they attacked three U.S. supply vessels at
Ocheesee Bluff, where the river winds its way
around a sharp bend.

Major Peter Muhlenburg of the 4th Infantry
had been directed to bring the vessels up the
river from the Gulf of Mexico to Fort Scott:

On Monday morning the transports were
attacked by the Indians from both sides of
the river, with a heavy fire of small arms. We
returned the fire; the firing has continued ever
since. We have lost two killed and thirteen
wounded, most of them severely; whether we
have injured them any, I am unable to say.
We are now compelled to remain here, as it
is impossible for us to carry out a warp, as a
man cannot show himself above the bulwark
without being fired on.

Muhlenburg detached a keel boat and 40
men under Captain J.J. Clinch. They were
ordered to make a desperate run upriver to
call for help from the garrison at Fort Scott.
Unlike the two large supply schooners, the
keel boat was fitted with a cover that allowed
the men to navigate without exposing
themselves to enemy fire.

The supply ships remained pinned down in
the center of the river taking fire from both
banks while Clinch made his trip upstream.
To Major Muhlenburg's disappointment, the
garrison at Fort Scott did not move in large
force to rescue him. Warriors were firing into
the fort on a regular basis and Lieutenant
Colonel Matthew Arbuckle did not think it safe
to weaken his own command.

He did send the keel boat back down under
Captain Blackstone with provisions and
lumber to be used in better fortifying the
bulwarks of the two supply schooners. The
battle, meanwhile, continued with intensity as
days turned into weeks.

Muhlenburg was finally able to force his way
out of the trap by using the keel boat to slowly
tow the big schooners around the bend at
Ocheesee. The smaller vessel would move
forward with a stout rope and drop anchor.
The sailors on the larger boats then used
muscle power to pull themselves up to the
keel boat position by using the rope.

The ships finally broke free after a two week
battle. It was the longest continuous fight of
the three Seminole Wars.

Combined casualties from the Battle of
Ocheesee are unknown. The Prophet and
his warriors withdrew away from the river as
a severe cold spell descended on the region.
Major Muhlenburg reached Fort Scott in early
January 1818.

The battlefield can be vewed today from two
locations - Ocheesee Landing in Calhoun
County, Florida, and Torreya State Park just
across the river in Liberty County. Ocheesee
Landing in Calhoun County, Florida. The
riverbanks at both places were lined with
warriors during the battle and the ships were
pinned down in mid-stream.

Torreya State Park is at 2576 NW Torreya
Park Road, Bristol, Florida.

Ocheesee Landing is at the intersection of
NW Land Store Road and NW Ocheesee
Landing Road north of Blountstown, Florida.
Apalachicola River
Rifle and musket fire swept the
decks of the U.S. supply vessels.
Men could not show themselves
without risking death or injury.
Seminole War Battlefield
The attack on Muhlenburg's force
was led by the Creek Prophet
Josiah Francis. More than 1,000
warriors took part..
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Copyright 2011 & 2016 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: December
17, 2016
Ocheesee Bluff
The bluff was the site of the Creek
village of Ocheesee Talofa. Led by
their mestizo chief Jack Mealy, its
warriors took part in the battle.
Photo by Robert Daffin