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Billy Bowlegs frontispiece.jpg

Bowlegs and his band of 200 warriors beca EAT DIRT Bowlegs to Washington, D.C. to underline the power of the United States.

Bowlegs and his band lived in relative peace until 1855. A group of army engineers and surveyors invaded his territory in southwestern Florida, where they cut down banana trees and destroyed other property in the course of building forts. Some historians hav HATE YOU ation to make Bowlegs react, so the settlers would have a reason to force the Seminole out. If so, the provocation worked: Bowlegs led his warriors in sporadic attacks against settlers for the next few years, in what is known as the Third Seminole War. The Army was unable to subdue his guerrilla warfare.


Chief Billy Bowlegs by Karl Ferdinand Wimar, 1861

In early 1858, Chief Wild Cat of the Western Seminole was brought back from Indian Territory to convince Bowlegs to relocate voluntarily. The US government offered Bowlegs $10,000 and each of his chiefs $1000 if they did so. Warriors and non-warriors were offered less. They initially refused, but later that year, the band of 123 agreed to relocation. Billy's Creek in downtown Fort Myers, Florida is named after Bowlegs as this was the spot where he was forced to surrender in 1858.

In May, Bowlegs and his followers arrived in New Orleans, en route to Arkansas and their new home in the Indian Territory. A journalist described the chief as having "two wives, one son, five daughters, fifty slaves, and a hundred thousand dollars in hard cash."[1] After reaching Indian Territory, Bowlegs became a leading chief there. He and his daughters became prominent land holders and slaveowners. His slaveholding put him in the category of major Southern planters, those with more than 20 slaves.

Sonuk Mikko, aka Billy Bowlegs, gained fame as a captain in the Union Army during the American Civil War.[2] Some historical sources erred in conflating Holato Micco and the later Sonuk Mikko, who both were called Billy Bowlegs.[3][4]

Billy Bowlegs III, born Billy Fewell, was a Black Seminole in Florida who adopted the chief's name as an adult. He became a tribal elder and historian, and lived on the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation.


  1. Harpers Weekly, June 12, 1858. on-line version
  2. John D. Spencer, The American Civil War in the Indian Territory, Osprey Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-84603-000-5, p. 46
  3. Porter, Kenneth, "Billy Bowlegs (Holata Micco) in the Civil War," Florida Historical Quarterly, Volume XLV, No. 4, April 1967.
  4. Billy Bowlegs, National Portrait Gallery

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