By Guy Miller

I'll warn you up front- this article and the inclusive plan are aimed at the Seminole reenactors of the Dade battle. We get together ever year to remember the men of December 28, 1835 and perform a time-compressed reenactment of it for the public- achieving in about an hour what took about eight hours in 1835. But despite the time compression, we have to remember that our objective is to portray the battle as authentically as possible. To that end, the Dade Battlefield Society is planning to institute the concept of battle leaders within the Seminole ranks.

What are battle leaders and why do we need them?

To begin, this is a historical battle reenactment, not a skirmish. In my view, what today's reenactors call a skirmish is usually more of an unscripted "us vs. them" have fun free for all. That is not what the annual Dade reenactment should be. The soldiers, of course, have less choice in the matter. As men required to follow the commands of their leaders, they pretty much portray the events of December 28 as we would wish them to.

We pesky Seminoles, however? (Yes, I am one of the perennial winning warriors...)

Well, other than knowing when to start shooting, we kinda, sorta, dribble to a cease fire in the middle and also at the end and pretty much run around individually doing our own thing in between. Maybe that is how it really did happen in 1835 but that was a one time event. Our modern portrayals should be more consistent today- less haphazard and more geared for the public's appreciation of what happened to Dade's command. For that reason, we believe we should have battle leaders.

On battle days, the Seminole warriors will be divided into some as yet undetermined number of groups--each under the direction of a seasoned veteran reenactor. What about the currently designated Seminole leaders? We are not trying to replace their leadership but to augment it with additional leadership on the ground. Our current mounted leaders cannot easily direct the movement of individual warriors. The purpose of having leader-led groups is many fold:

  • To ensure Seminole coverage of the entire battlefield- not just the near wing and center

  • To ensure that the Seminoles start and stop firing appropriate to the script of the battle

  • To ensure that the Seminoles advance and retreat appropriate to the script of the battle

  • To ensure the safe conduct of the Seminole side of the battleBnot just staying away from the marked ground charges but also preventing bunching up and firing too close to other warriors

  • To ensure that warriors who are still working on getting their clothing up to 1835 standards of authenticity are not those most visible to the public

Having designated Seminole battle leaders who are in charge of directing assigned warriors in the conduct of the battle will achieve these stated goals which are, after all, just an enforcement of long standing rules regarding the battle reenactment.

The Society believes that implementation of this plan will make the battle more authentic for the public and will actually be more enjoyable for the participants since they will not have to worry about other warriors getting in their way or firing too close from behind.



The Well Dressed Seminole

Seminole Women Reenactors Guide