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In December 1837 Colonel Zachary Taylor was on his way to Lake Okeechobee to round up Seminole Indians resisting removal. On Christmas day, 25 Dec 1837, Colonel Taylor and about 1,100 U.S. troops were ambushed by some 400 Seminole Indians under chiefs Alligator, Billy Bowlegs and Abiaca. The Seminoles had carefully prepared the site, even cutting the grass to clear a field of fire. The Seminole fire was devastating and Colonel Taylor's direct approach made the situation even worse. The U.S. forces suffered 26 killed and 112 wounded while the Seminoles had only 11 killed and 14 wounded. The Seminoles carefully selected their targets and many of the officers and NCOs were among the dead and wounded. Colonel Taylor was forced to retire to Fort Basinger in what was a tactical victory for the Seminoles. Strategically, Colonel Taylor had demonstrated the ability of U.S. forces to penetrate deep into Seminole territory with large forces and with improved tactics they would certainly prevail in the removal effort. Colonel Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General soon after the battle and later, in May 1838, assumed command of operations in Florida from Major General Thomas S. Jesup.

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