FORT NEGRO MASSACRE vs. CUSTER’S LAST STAND
Fort Negro, is a topic that I must connect to America’s big picture because I am a Maroon Descendant of the Freedom Fighters for whom Fort Negro would have been a symbol of. The alliance between Blacks and Indians was a beacon of hope to those enslaved African-Americans yearning to escape to Fort Negro. My Seminole Maroon g-grandfather Caesar Bruner was married to and had several children with the daughter (“Mama” Nancy”) of “Prophet Abraham who was believed to have helped build Fort Negro. My grandfather Pompey Bruner Fixico was a half-brother to all 8 of Prophet Abraham’s grand children by his daughter Nancy with Caesar Bruner.
Fort Negro was in fact a Maroon Community that U.S. Government leaders feared would inspire a Haitian like revolution.In all the history of U.S. military operations, to the U there are two engagements that stand out in my mind . These two deadly clashes deserve that comparisons be made of them and the results studied in our educational systems . The most, well known of the two events was “Custer’s Last Stand”. Custer’s forces lost 268 trooper’s (all male). Fort Negro’s, tragic body count was approximately 300, it is believed, that 200 of the doomed occupants, of the fort, were women and children. It is speculated that there were possibly 130 male , defenders. Thirty were a mix of Seminole and Choctaw Indians and the other defenders, as well as the women and children were African-Americans or Africans in the Americans. They were mostly Blacks who had connections to the Seminole Indians, some were former members of Britain’s Black Colonial Corp of Marines or they were recent escapees, from the Southern, U.S. Slave System. They all faced a ” Black Alamo” like situation, as they waited for ,the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and their Creek Allies to come.
They came violating Spanish Territorial Rights, they had been ordered to go there by Manifest Destiny’s Super Star , General Andrew Jackson. General Jackson and his forces were sent there by President James Madison who , also sanctioned covert attempts to appropriate Florida in the 1812 “Patriot War”. Two weeks before Gen. Jackson petitioned the Spanish Governor of Florida to attack Fort Negro, he sent U.S. Forces to the Creek Nation, “to destroy the fort and restore the stolen negros and property to their rightful owners”. The Fort Negro Massacre took place on July 27th, 1816, for Seminole Indians and their Maroon Allies this event marked the beginning of the 1st Seminole War, which ended in 1819. It was hidden from public knowledge for 20 years. It was finally revealed in a 1837 investigation by U.S. Congressman William Jay. Another high-level government tactic to hide the loss of Public treasure and lives, was known as the Congressional “Gag” rule of 1836. It ran the full course of the 2nd Seminole War (1835-1842) it prevented the use of the word SLAVERY, on the Congressional floor for 7 years. While the war raged on, Ohio Congressman and Abolitionist Joshua Giddings battled the “Gag” rule until it’s repeal in 1844. His book the “Exiles of Florida” is an important look at what was happening in Florida during this era.
Gen. Armstrong Custer, moved on, to the Indian Wars of the West, after a storybook career during the Civil War. He was, made a Colonel in the regular Army his new Command was the much vaunted, but ill-fated 7th Cavalry. When offered the Buffalo Soldiers units, of the 9th and 10th regiments, he said that he would not serve ,with “Brunettes”. His conduct as a leader, at the Washita River in 1868, included attacking a sleeping village , killing non-combatant women and children, in Indian Territory while they were under a White flag. He used the survivors as a Human Shield as warriors returned to the scene of his crimes. It has been speculated, that Colonel Custer was attempting to kidnap non-combatants at the Little Big Horn , but was unsuccessful. These techniques, must have met with the approval of, General Phil Sheridan, Custer’s Commanding General, because he brought Colonel Custer out of a forced leave of absence which was, the punishment given him by Court-Martial findings. It’s not surprising that Gen. Phil Sheridan would do this, his stated policy was : “The only Good Indian, is a Dead Indian”.
The British left Fort Negro, fully stocked, with 2,500 muskets, 500 carbines, 200 pistols and almost 500 casks and barrels of rifle and cannon powder. Blacks living around the fort established farms stretching along the Appalachicola river for miles. They began to enjoy the autonomy, that living in the shadow of the Fort provided. These people had no desire to return to attack plantations in the South. They were focused on protecting the Freedom that they found in Florida. The U.S. Forces and their Creek Allies, who converged on the well-built Fort needed the artillery that the U.S, Gunboats could provide. When the Gunboats arrived, and began shelling, it became clear, that the walls were too thick. The Naval Forces, then heated the balls and shot them over the walls with disastrous effect. One “Hot Shot” landed in the powder magazine. It destroyed Fort Negro leaving only 3 persons uninjured. 60 were seriously or fatally wounded, 270 were killed. Any other survivors or those captured in the area were sold to Georgia Plantation owners, who claimed ownership because they said that they had previously owned their Ancestors. It has been called a Government Slavery Expedition, financed by U.S. Taxpayers. I hope that President Barack Obama, publicly recognizes, the Bicentennial Observation, of The Fort Negro Massacre in 2016. We have made progress and this, is one more thing that must be done under President Barack Obama’s Policy of “Reconciliation”.
“Through Warm Tears Of Gratitude”, Phil “Pompey Bruner” Fixico, Seminole Maroon Descendant and Private-Sector-Partner for the National Underground Railroad/Network to Freedom 1998 Act.