Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Osceola

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OSCEOLA, or AS-SE-HE-HO-LAR (Black Drink), Seminole chief, b. on Chattahoochee river, Ga., in 1804; d. in Fort Moultrie, S. C., 30 Jan., 1838. He was the son of William Powell, an English trader with the Indians, and his mother was the daughter of a chief. In 1808 he removed with his mother to Florida, where he was early distinguished for ability, courage, and hatred of the whites, attained great influence among the Seminoles, and strongly opposed the cession of the tribal lands in Florida. In 1835, while on a visit to Fort King, his wife, the daughter of a fugitive slave, was stolen as a slave, and Osceola, in demanding her release of Gen. Thompson, the U. S. Indian agent, used threatening language. He was seized by order of the agent and put in irons, but was released after six days' imprisonment. Six months later, on 28 Dec., he avenged himself by killing Thompson and four others outside the fort, and thus began the second Seminole war. Osceola immediately took command of a band of Indians and fugitive slaves who on the same day had surprised and massacred Maj. Francis L. Dade and a detachment of 110 soldiers. On 31 Dec., with 200 followers, he encountered Gen. Duncan L. Clinch and 600 U. S. troops at the crossing of the Ouithlacoochee, and after a hard-fought action was compelled to retreat, having been wounded early in the battle. He afterward had several engagements with the troops under Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, and on 8 June, 1836, led a daring and well-conducted assault upon the fortified post at Micanopy, which was repelled with difficulty by the garrison of 300 regular troops. He made an unsuccessful attack on Fort Drane on 16 Aug. and narrowly escaped capture. For more than a year he contended with skill and energy against overwhelming odds; but on 21 Oct., 1837, while holding a conference under a flag of truce with Gen. Thomas S. Jesup near St. Augustine, he was seized with several of his followers and confined at Fort Moultrie, where he died. He was a brave and generous foe, and always protected women and children. Jesup asserted that his act was necessary, as Osceola had repeatedly shown that he would not regard the sanctity of a treaty.