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Billy Bowlegs and the Everglades of Florida

Watervliet Arsenal, near Troy, New York, is one of the places where Uncle Sam keeps his guns and powder, and as I was an ordnance officer, that is, an officer whose duty it is especially to look after the things to shoot with, I was on duty at that post when word came to me from Washington that the Indian chief, Billy Bowlegs, had broken out from the Everglades of Florida to go on the war-path, and that Uncle Sam wanted me to stop looking after guns in Watervliet, and to look after them in the South. Little John McCarty, the son of our housekeeper, brought the news in a big envelope to the stone house where we lived, and although it was not long before Christmas, 1856, I had to leave the family, including a little thick-necked, long-maned, hard-bitted Morgan pony, of which we all were very fond, for he had taken us up and down many a long hill. Saying good-by to my little boy, I told his mother, his grandmother, and my brother, Charles to be sure and remind Santa Claus not to forget him on December 25th, and started for the South. It took eight days by train to reach Savannah, Georgia, seven days by boat to Pilatka, and two days and nights in an old-fashioned stage-coach through palmetto roots and over sandy roads to Tampa Bay, Florida, where Fort Brooke, one of Uncle Sam’s Army posts, was situated near the sea-shore. Here I was told that I must go farther, for General Harney was down the coast at Fort Meyers and he wanted to...

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