Dade’s Last Command, by Frank Laumer, consisting of 285 pages of remarkable history, is the definitive study of the march and annihilation of Brevet Major Francis Langhorne Dade’s column of 108 United States regulars on 28 December, 1835 — an act precipitating the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842. The author has conducted extensive and exhaustive research on the soldiers in this command, the Seminoles, and the terrain of the battle and massacre. He has personally hiked the entire march in period uniform as a re-enactor.
This detailed, vivid, historically accurate account of this United States military defeat rivets the attention of the reader. Major Dade and his command were composed principally of artillerymen and one six pounder cannon with train. They were en route from Fort Brooke, Tampa Bay, to Fort King (today Ocala, Florida) — a distance of about 100 miles in order to re-enforce the troops therein. An outbreak of hostilities was foreseen. It was hoped that war could be averted by a demonstration of force. Ruefully, a force of a hundred artillerymen armed with only one six pounder and infantry muskets was too little, too late. It should be mentioned that these men were well trained as artillerymen; they were essentially inadequately trained in infantry tactics and the use of the musket! The Seminoles under Chief Micanopy overwhelmingly outnumbered the troops, knew the terrain, and in fact had superior fire power via their rifles — accurate at a range of 100 yards, a distance that the notoriously inaccurate muskets could not even reach with any ability of inflicting damage. The Seminole ambush was well placed killing Major Dade and almost one-half of his command with the opening shots. The ambush, attack, and ultimate massacre of Dade’s column was coordinated with the warrior Osceola who personally killed Seminole Indian Agent Wiley Thompson at Fort King on this same day.
This work is strongly recommended by your reviewer. The research is impeccable. The detail of action is noteworthy. There will never be a finer book on this topic.
Availability of the Book.
Obtainable from the Dade Battlefield Society, Inc., 35247 Reynolds Road, Dade City, Florida 33523, telephone numbers 352-583-2974 or 352-793-4781 or www.dadebattlefield.com for a donation of $35.00 to the Dade Battlefield Society. A look at Amazon might bear fruit, too.