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The Historic Battle at Wahoo Swamp

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The history of this area has many references to the Wahoo Indians. The Istachatta New Hope Church/Blockhouse was built to protect against the Wahoo Indians. The Wahoo Indians were from the Wahoo Swamp area. Wahoo Swamp was a major Indian settlement and it was located near present day Wahoo, Florida. 

Several battles of the Second Seminole War were fought around the Wahoo Swamp. In the largest of these battles General Richard K. Call, who was also governor of the territory of Florida, led the 2500 Tennessee Volunteers, regular army artillery, Florida militiamen, and hundreds of Creek Indians against the Seminole stronghold. 

The soldiers advanced across the swamp (south of where the battle’s historic marker is now located) driving the Indians before them. In the battle, Creek Indian Major David Moniac, the first Native American to graduate from West Point, was killed as he led the men across the swamp on Nov. 21, 1836. The battle ended at dusk with the army only suffering a few casualties. The battle was considered a defeat for the US Army as a smaller force of 500 to 700 Seminole Indians was able to hold off their attack. Shortly after this battle General Call was replaced by General Thomas Sidney Jesup as leader of the troops in Florida.

There is a historical marker on 48 a little west of Bushnell at the Wahoo Community Park. The marker is a stone built monument with a historic plaque telling of the battle at Wahoo Swamp. It is only six miles from the site of the Dade Battlefield.

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The name Wahoo is thought to come from the Muskogee word ‘vhahwu’ which was converted by English speakers to ‘wahoo.’  Describing the meaning of ‘vhawhu,’ Martin and Mauldin, 2000 said the word referred to the walnut, wood, nut and tree and was adapted into English by 1770. It is thought that the name ‘vhahwu’ originated from winged elms that grew around the Wahoo Swamp. Winged Elms are common in the woods from around Chinsegut north to the Wahoo Swamp. 

The Wahoo Indians are little known outside of the local area. There is a famous Wahoo Indian, the Cleveland Indians former mascot Chief Wahoo- who was retired this year. The mascot does not appear to have any connections with the local Wahoo Indians, but it makes it difficult to find information about real Wahoo Indians.

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