Blog written by: John Welch, Riverbend Park Naturalist
The morning silence was broken the morning of Saturday, January 28th with the sound of artillery erupting from the battlefield here as we began a special event that recognizes the two battles that occurred at the site of Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park in January of 1838.
The event itself spread out over two days with Friday being an educational day for schools to visit and get a new view of what the battles were about and who was involved. By noon on Friday, 230 students had cycled through the battlefield and visited a US Army camp, interacted with Seminole re-enactors as well as representatives from the Seminole Nation Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki museum and an exhibit on pioneer life in Florida. The students came away with a better idea of what the Second Seminole War was about, who the Seminole were, what life was like as a soldier in the field and on the battlefield and how the army moved about. Pioneer life exhibitor Gina Sauber gave them a better idea of family life in Old Florida. Two artillery/weapons demonstrations ensured that they were ready to return for the re-enactment on Saturday.
Saturday was the main exhibition day for the public. Exhibitors and guest speakers addressed the crowd covering topics from the interaction that occurred between Jesup and Lauderdale to battlefield archaeology to pioneer Florida. Weapons demonstrations and battlefield tours provided a glimpse into the engagements that occurred here and food trucks filled empty bellies.
This was the very first actual re-enactment attempted in the park and anticipation was high. This was indicated by the steadily growing attendance from early morning until re-enactment time at 2:00 pm. The re-enactment started as the Seminole moved out and fired on Jesup’s advancing troops who were approaching from the Northwest. Narration was provided by Guy Bachmann, president of the Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists who kept the crowd informed about what was taking place on the field. The Seminoles held down the Tennessee Volunteers until General Jesup, (Dick Kazmar, Loxahatchee Preservationist member), advanced to urge the troops on only to have his spectacles shot off his face. The battle raged on until Colonel Harney outflanked the Seminole and they gathered up their families, ( Girl Scouts Troop 20646), and retreated South.
By re-enactment start, the cars were lined up through the park all the way to Indiantown Road. The day ended with Mr. Bachmann giving a talk on the aftermath of the battle which was followed by a weapons demonstration.
A day of beautiful weather added to the success of the event. Both regular visitors as well as first timers in the park all reported that they had a great day.
Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park is operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and is located at 9060 Indiantown Road, Jupiter. Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park is one of the most significant multi-level historic sites in Palm Beach County. Gateway to the Loxahatchee River, prehistoric and historic habitation has occurred along the Loxahatchee dating as far back as the Archaic Period over 5,000 years ago. The primary goal of the park is to preserve and protect these cultural resources, while providing education and passive recreation opportunities for the public to experience this beautiful place and its history. For more information on this park, and to view other parks and upcoming events, visit www.pbcparks.com.