The Soldiers

The Soldiers

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U.S. soldiers at Fort King found themselves hundreds of miles from home in a hostile frontier environment.

The Florida landscape was unlike anything they had experienced previously. Life was hard in Florida with long marches through the heat and swamps, and rampant infectious diseases. The work was hard and the rations often inadequate. In addition to enlisted soldiers, many volunteers and members of other state militias joined the fight in Florida.

The soldiers were principally charged with securing the interests of the United States settlers and protecting them from possible conflict with the Seminole. Soldiers at Fort King faced certain hardships. To ease the burden, they would surround themselves with many of the comforts of home. This would include beautiful ceramics, intricate pipe stems and bottles that contained champagne and other types of alcoholic beverages to amuse the officers and perhaps some of the troops. All their supplies and equipment had to be transported over land by cart or on the backs of the soldiers.

Many of the domestic items needed by the soldiers would have been supplied by the Sutler’s store, which was set up near U.S. military installations to sell the soldiers supplies that were not provided as a part of their army provisions. While the soldiers at Fort King likely enjoyed the benefits of the luxuries they could find in the store, there is no denying they still experienced considerable discomfort in their station here.

The soldiers at Fort King would have had regular contact with both the settlers and the Seminole, leading to a level of understanding and sympathy between these groups in some cases. Once hostilities erupted, the veneer of civilization that had prevailed to this point at Fort King was gone, and the terrain around them was much more familiar to the now hostile natives.

The soldiers found themselves quite isolated in a forbidding land.