Florida, why not let them have it, many people conceded.
Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Jesup, the top general in charge of the
Florida War, thought American settlers would never be interested
in anything below the 28th parallel. On a map today,
that would mean all the land south of a line drawn between
0elbourne and Tampa. ,t was nothing but useless swamp, he
argued, so let the Seminoles keep it. William Tecumseh Sherman,
who would become a famous Union general during the
Civil War, thought the entire peninsula was worthless. Sherman
served a long tour of duty as a lieutenant in Fort Pierce
when he was 21. He wrote in his memoirs that the country
should have allotted all of Florida to 1ative Americans,
instead of giving them better lands out West.
PRESIDENTS INSISTED ON MOVE
The administrations of 3residents Andrew -ackson and
Martin Van Buren insistently disagreed. The soldiers had to
make Florida ,ndianfree. That·s how Fort 3ierce and Fort -upiter
came into being. There were actual frontier forts set up
in both locations. And in between was a supply depot on the
St. Lucie River, which was too small and temporary to retain
an ocial name.
Among the soldiers who Àrst came to the swampy wilderness
of the Treasure Coast was Jacob Rhett Motte, a young
Harvard-educated army surgeon. Motte, who exhibited a
literary flair, kept a detailed Mournal of his eperiences during
the “inglorious war,” as he called it. That’s how we know that
on Dec. 31, 1837, at 4 p.m., a regiment led by Lt. Col. Benjamin
.. 3ierce ³ brother of a future president ³ Àrst arrived
on steamboats. ,t disembarked near a narrow inlet, that was
situated a mile or so north of where Fort 3ierce ,nlet is today.
Soldiers pitched their tents on the beach and the next morn-
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American public’s admiration.
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during the Florida War.