Soldiers turned Settlers
Many of Jackson's soldiers
were so impressed with the
area that they came back
soon as its first settlers. - Florida Caverns State Park - Florida Caverns State Park
Andrew Jackson at Florida Caverns State Park
Jackson's Crossing of the Chipola River
Andrew Jackson's army crossed the Natural Bridge
of the Chipola during his 1818 march on Pensacola.
Legends of Jackson's Crossing
There is an old legend in Jackson County
that tells of Andrew Jackson's army and its
march through what is now Florida Caverns
State Park during the First Seminole War.

According to the tale, Jackson had divided
his force into two columns so he could move
faster and scout more of the countryside for
refugee Creek and Seminole warriors. The
army was on its way to Pensacola and was
moving fast, but Jackson wanted to run down
as many Indians as possible.

The column to which the general was
attached passed through with no problem,
but the other column was late in reaching a
planned bivouac. The stormy "Old Hickory"
blew his top and demanded to know the
cause for the delay.

He was told that the soldiers had to built rafts
to cross a river (the Chipola). Outraged,
Jackson replied that he had seen no river
and could only be calmed by his guide, the
Native American chief John Blunt, who
explained that the general's column had
crossed over on the Natural Bridge.

The story is quite colorful and is even true,
but did not happen at Florida Caverns State
Park. The incident actually took place at
another natural bridge east of present-day

Jackson did cross through Florida Caverns
State Park. According to the journal of
Captain Hugh Young, a topographer in the
future President's army, the troops crossed
the Apalachicola River and set out from
Ocheesee Bluff in May 1818. They camped
one night at Blue Springs and then crossed
the Natural Bridge of the Chipola River on the
next day.
Young's account indicates that the soldiers
(and General Jackson himself) clearly knew
that they were crossing a Natural Bridge as
they marveled at the sight of the river
disappearing into the earth.

Another local legend, that may have some
validity, indicates that Native Americans
watched the passage of the army from hiding
places in nearby caves. This story is well
known in Jackson County's surviving Creek
population and many current members recall
being shown caves where their ancestors
hid away from Jackson's troops.
Legendary Hiding Places
Local Native Americans
preserve legends that their
ancestors hid in caves and
watched as Jackson passed.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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