More than 1,500 soldiers died and $20 million was spent in the Second Seminole War. It was the most costly of three conflicts between the U.S. and the Seminoles in Florida. Fought from 1835-1842, the war broke out when Seminoles resisted government attempts to relocate them to Oklahoma, under the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Skirmish at Fort Cooper
In the spring of 1836, Citrus County was the site of a two-pronged attack against the resistant Seminoles. Led by General Winfield Scott, a force of 380 soldiers employed maneuvers designed to trap the Seminoles near the Cove of the Withlacoochee.
A large number of soldiers were wounded or became sick. Major Mark Anthony Cooper was left behind to hold the position. Five companies of the Macon Volunteers and a small artillery company were under his command. They built a sizable fort of pine logs—later named in Cooper's honor—on a low bluff overlooking Lake Holathlikaha. From this encampment, the soldiers defended themselves against attacks by Chief Osceola and his warriors. Later in the war, the fort was used as a reconnaissance, observation and dispatch post.
Digging Up the Past
An excavation of the Fort Cooper site in 1971 unearthed old pickets, hand-forged nails, musket balls, a tin cup, a soldier's
grave, and bone fragments from the war. Pot sherds and prehistoric arrow points revealed an even earlier history.