When Sarah Anderson and her sons owned Dunlawton, Mosquito County settlers formed a militia unit called the Mosquito Roarers. Even with its fine name, this group reportedly lacked anyone who had ever "seen a gun fired in anger." By the mid-1830's, the Andersons and other planters were in trouble. Distrustful of the U.S. government and tired of broken promises and relocation schemes, Seminole raiders attacked Florida's coastal plantations.
Dunlawton itself was wrecked in December 1835 after the Andersons reluctantly left their lands. Militiamen returned to the burned-out property in January 1836, found Indians present, and started a running skirmish between here and the Halifax River. They escaped with several casualties - including one man shot in the "sitting down place" when he exposed his backside to the Seminoles. "So ended the fight of Dunlawton," wrote a participant, "in which we were completely whipped by the Indians."
Unfortunately for these green volunteers, their company had taken on a warrior. Along with his father (known as Philip), Coacoochee, or Wildcat, was operating in lands he knew and loved. Regular army officers found the young leader handsome and eloquent. But one also called Coacoochee "by far the most dangerous chieftain in the field."
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Coacoochee (Wildcat), a raider of frontier settlements during the Second Seminole War.
Limited-edition print (from an original painting) by James Hutchinson. Used by permission of the artist.