1858
Third Seminole War end
1860
​Jupiter Lighthouse lit
1836
Second Battle of the Withacoochee River
Osceola defeats General Gaines in decisive battle
Jan 15, 1838
​First Battle of the Loxahatchee, Powell'sbattle ends in defeat
​1738
Fort Mose established as the first free black community in U.S. (2 mi north of St Augustine)    
1738
First "Underground
Railroad" ran south 
to St Augustine
1513
Ponce de Leon discovers
​Jupiter Inlet
1565
Pedro Menendez de Avilas lands at St Augustine


JUPITER, Florida — A small group of Seminoles had everything at stake when they fought more than 1,500 U.S. troops and volunteers at the Loxahatchee River in 1838.

If defeated, the Seminoles would be forced to head west to Oklahoma reservations on the Trail of Tears. (Yes, the Southern portion of The Trail of Tears starts in Jupiter Florida) Their black allies, who joined the Seminole cause after escaping from Southern plantations, could be sold back into slavery.

Incredibly the battlefield where they fought and died was almost lost forever. The area became a trailer park before Palm Beach County bought the land that is now Riverbend Park in 1978, unaware that the ground still hid the soldiers' buttons and musket balls.

Local historians rediscovered the battlefield in the early 1990s. But for nearly two decades, it had sat empty, unmentioned in guide books, unknown to many locals. That changed when Palm Beach County unveiled the first of three markers to commemorate the Second Seminole War on March 21, 2009.

Early settlers changed the landscape of the battlefield, clearing and draining what was once a nearly impenetrable swamp to plant an orange grove. But south of Indiantown Road, inside the quiet park, it is still possible to imagine the past.

"You actually can feel the spirit of those who fought and died 176 years ago," said Richard Procyk, a former detective who retired to Jupiter and spent years looking for the battlefield. "It would be a disrespect to ignore the sacrifice that was made here."

A 300-year-old oak grows on top of an ancient Indian midden on the far western side of the park. Procyk believes that soldiers laid their dead and wounded on dry land under that tree, dragging them out of the swamp where they fell. (The Tree of Tears)

Farther north, just a few yards south of Indiantown Road, archeologists unearthed musket balls that were never fired. Procyk believes the Tennessee Volunteers crouched there in what was once a dense hammock, dropping the balls as they tried to reload.

Seminoles Staged Bold Uprising

When the United States bought Florida from Spain in 1821, it was a haven for American Indians, who had been pushed out of more settled areas, and black fugitives, who risked their lives to escape slavery. The Seminoles harbored hundreds of black runaways, some of whom had served in Spanish militias. Many of the black Seminoles could speak the native languages along with English and Sanish.

President Andrew Jackson scoffed at the treaties the U.S. had signed granting land in Florida to the Seminoles and ordered them west to Oklahoma. But the Seminole wars were fought not just to take land for white settlers, but to protect the institution of slavery. Maj. Gen. Thomas Jesup warned that if the Seminoles were not removed, more slaves would escape to join the resistance.

"This, you may be assured, is a negro, not an Indian, war," Jesup wrote, "and if it be not speedily put down, the South will feel the effects of it on their slave population before the end of the next season."

For decades, a small band of Seminoles resisted the U.S. military. In the first battle of the Loxahatchee on Jan. 15, 1838, near the eastern edge of Riverbend Park, the Seminoles routed Lt. Levin Powell and his Navy force in a near massacre, killing four and wounding 22.

Nine days later, a few hundred Seminoles, about half of them black, faced Jesup and a force roughly seven times their size in a much larger battle on the west side of Riverbend Park. Experienced guerrilla fighters, the Seminoles drew the soldiers into swamps and hid in the trees, firing down on them at close range.

U.S. Army surgeon Jacob Motte, who witnessed the battle, wrote that the uproar of the battle was "stunning." "The Indians yelled and shrieked; the rifles cracked, and their balls whistled; the musketry rattled; the Congreve rockets whizzed; the artillery bellowed; the shells burst."

At least nine Tennessee Volunteers and two soldiers, along with an unknown number of Seminoles, were killed.

The Seminole warriors resisted removal until the last of the Seminole Wars ended in 1858, and some never surrendered. Archeological digs show that they returned to the river, living in Riverbend Park until well into the 1870s

Lengthy Search Bears Results

​​Some guessed, based on Motte's descriptions, that the battles took place in Martin County, and the state even placed a marker inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park. But no artifacts were ever found there.

But by the early 1990s, Procyk and others knew they had found it. Archeologists submitted a report to the county in 1994 saying they found remains from both the Powell and Jesup's battles at Riverbend Park.

In the late 1980s, Procyk was one of several people who started looking south. He'd always wanted to be an archeologist, but came of age in the Depression, and his father didn't think it was a practical career. Instead, he became a Miami Beach homicide detective, a career that also let him piece together stories and search for clues.

In late 1986 and early 1987, he and his partners discovered the Seminole War-era encampment of the Tennessee Volunteers in his back yard, where The Shores of Jupiter community is today. For years after that, he searched for the battlefield in vain, going up and down the river in a canoe.

But by the early 1990s, Procyk and others knew they had found it. Archeologists submitted a report to the county in 1994 saying they found remains from both the Powell and Jesup's battles at Riverbend Park.

[Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists]

Saving the History of the Loxahatchee Battlefield

Jan 28, 1838
The "first" Fort Jupiter completed
3 miles in from Jupiter Inlet
(Pennock Point)
1620
Mayflower Landing
1817 - 1818
First Seminole War
General Andrew Jackson invades Florida.

1821
Spain sells Florida to U.S. for 5M

Dec. 28, 1835 
Second Seminole War begins with
"Dade's Massacre", Chief Osceola's killing of General Wiley Thompson at Fort King.

1836
Second Battle of the Withacoochee River: Osceola and 1500 warriors defeat General Edmund P. Gaines in a decisive battle of the war.

Jan. 15, 1838
The First Battle of the Loxahatchee River:
Lt. Levin M. Powell's (U.S.N), water-borne Everglades Expeditionary Unit is defeated by the Seminoles in Jupiter.

Jan 24, 1838
The Second Battle of the Loxahatchee:
Major General Thomas S. Jesup commanding 1500 troops defeated 300 Seminoles on the banks of the Loxahatchee River in the last standing battle of the 2nd Seminole War.

Jan 28, 1838
The "first" Fort Jupiter was completed. It was 3 miles in from Jupiter Inlet on the Loxahatchee River. It was on what is now known as Pennock Point.

Feb 11, 1838
General Jesup and his staff requested that Washington permit the Seminoles to remain in te Everglades. On March 20th the reply was a strong refusal. Instead of peace the war went on until 1842.

March 2, 1838
Major William Lauderdale, Commander of the Tennessee Battalion of Volunteers, cut a trail south of Jupiter to "New River". The trail he blazed is now known as "Military Trail" and the fort he built carries his name
"Fort Lauderdale".

March 11, 1838
Samuel Colt - demonstrates his new repeating rifle to the officers at Fort Jupiter.

March 17, 1838
Washington refuses General Jesup's request to allow the Seminole's to exist in the Everglades. The war was extended another 2 years.

May 1, 1841
Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman captures Chief Coacoochee (Wild Cat) who was shipped west with his followers.

1855
Third Seminole Indian War begins after years of sporadic conflict.
Second Fort Jupiter built closer to Jupiter Inlet.

1858
Third Seminole War ends, but Sam Jones (Arpeika),the Mikasuki medicine man and  war leader refuses to be sent west and instead took his small band of less than 200 Mikasuki followers and disappears into the Big Cypress Swamp where e died a free man,
Because of him 3600 Seminoles now enjoy freedom and the profits from the Hard Rock Casinos & Hotels.
As Max Osceola says, "we'll buy back Manhatten, one hamburger at a time."

1860
Jupiter Lighthouse is lit for the first time.
1492
Columbus discovers the New World and brought small pox to the Lucayne Islanders in the Bahamas.

1493
Ponce de Leon joins Columbus on his second voyage to the West Indies.

1513
Ponce de Leon discovers Jupiter Inlet and records it in his ship's log.

1521
Ponce de Leon returns to Florida bringing horses, and other domesticated animals. All new to the Western Hemisphere.

1565
Pedro Mendez de Avilas establishes first permanent Spanish settlement at St. Augustine.

1620
​Mayflower Landing

1680's
Escaping black slaves from the plantations in Georgia and the Carolinas' begin trek to Florida for freedom land.

1730's
Native American Tribes and escaping black slaves begin moving South into North Florida; Creeks, Yamassee, Oconee, Yuchee and Maroones, later became know as Seminoles

1738
First Underground Railroad ran south to St. Augustine.

Fort Mose - First legally sanctioned free black community in what is now the United States. (2 miles north of St. Augustine)

1763
Spain cedes Florida to England and sends the last of the indigenous people to the Bahamas and Cuba.

1764
Black militia from Fort Mose (St. Augustine) joined the Seminoles in the interior of Florida.

1765
English Prime Minister, Lord George Grenville sent an English colony to settle the Jupiter Inlet. They changed the name to "Grenville Inlet". Most died of starvation.

1775
Tribes people of North Florida become known as the Seminole Nation.

1783
Florida is returned to Spain after the Treaty of Paris.
Jan 24, 1838
​Second Battle of the Loxahatchee River
Gen Jesup defeats 300 Seminoles
1835
​Second Seminole War
begins Dec 28th with Dade's Massacere
1783
Treaty of Paris
Florida returned to Spain
1763
Spain cedes 
Florida to England
1680's
Escaping slaves 
begin to trek to Florida for freedom

1521

Ponce de Leon returns
to Florida with horses and other domesticated animals




May 1, 1841
Chief Wildcat and followers sent  West by Lt William Tecumseh Sherman 
Mar 2, 1838
​Major William Lauderdale cuts trail (Military Trail) south from Jupiter to the
 (Ft Lauderdale)
1817-1818
First Seminole War
General Andrew Jackson
​invades Florida
1765
English Colony attempts,and fails 
settling Grenville Inlet ​(Jupiter Inlet)
​1730's
Native American Tribes and escaping black slaves begin migrating South into North Florida
Feb 11, 1838
​Gen Jesup request that Washington permits Seminoles to remain in Everglades
Mar 17, 1838
​Washington refuses Gen Jesup's request to allow Seminoles in Everglades
War extened till 1842
1821
Spain sells Florida
to U.S. for 5M
1775
Northern Florida 
Tribes become 
​Seminole Nation
1764
Black militia from Ft Mose joined the Seminoles in the interior of Florida
1855
Second Fort Jupiter built closer to Inlet
1855
​Third Seminole Indian War begins
Mar 11,1838
​Samual Colt demonstrates his new repeating rifle at Fort Jupiter