05 March 2010

General Duncan L. Clinch In Florida

General Duncan L. Clinch was integrally involved in the Second Seminole War*. An overview of the Seminole War(s) can be found here courtesy of the Florida National Guard. Here is an article from the Seminoles' perspective. [See a post about Andrew Jackson and the First Seminole War here]

Clinch, who was born in North Carolina in 1787, entered the Army as a first lieutenant and participated in the War of 1812. In 1816 he commanded a force of troops and Creek Indians that attacked the Negro Fort (AKA Fort Gadsden) on the Apalachicola River (in the panhandle of Florida). In 1827 Clinch was assigned to command military operations in Florida. [From Handbook of the American Frontier]

In 1827 General Clinch supervised the construction of Fort King. It was abandoned in 1829, but reactivated in 1832 in order to "facilitate removing the Seminoles to the west in agreement with the Treaty of Payne's Landing."

In 1835 General Clinch established Fort Drane on his Florida plantation (near Ocala). Fort Drane was ordered evacuated in favor of Fort Defiance (Micanopy) because of the risk of disease at Drane.

As the Seminole War heated up:

General Clinch made requisitions on the Governors of Georgia, South Carolina,and Alabama to aid the Floridians in their unequal warfare with the Indians. It was felt by the citizens of Florida that the Government at Washington showed great apathy, if not real indifference, to their condition.

A meeting was called in Charleston, S.C., early in January, for the purpose of aiding the people of Florida with men and means, but General Eustis informed the meeting that General Clinch had sufficient force and supplies under his command to subdue any number of Indians and blacks that could be brought to oppose him. On January 12th, intelligence having been received from General Clinch asking for six hundred men, the committee conferred with General Eustis and requested him to send a company of United States troops with arms and ammunition for the defense of St.
Augustine. [Source]

General Edmund P. Gaines, who was in charge of the Western Department of the Army
(General Winfield Scott commanded the Eastern Department), gathered a force and headed to Florida forthwith. Unbeknownst to Gaines, General Scott was ordered to direct the campaign in Florida, regardless of whose Department was technically in charge, since "the line [dividing the two Departments] passed directly through the theater of hostilities in Florida."

General Clinch got in the middle of the "turf war" between Generals Scott and Gaines. On March 6, 1836, Clinch went to the rescue of General Gaines at Camp Izard on the Withlacoochee disregarding the orders of General Scott who had specifically told Clinch not to rescue Gaines.

On April 26, 1836, Duncan Clinch resigned from the Army and retired to his Georgia plantation near St. Mary's. Clinch had married Eliza Bayard McIntosh, who was buried in Mobile, Alabama.

*Note: A member of my Trousdale family (collateral line), later to be Tennessee, Governor William Trousdale, participated in the Seminole War.

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