Billy Bowlegs


Billy Bowlegs
Billy Bowlegs was a Seminole chief during the Second and Third Seminole Wars against the U.S. In 1832, he signed the Treaty of Payne’s Landing at Fort Gibson, which insisted that the Seminoles move westward if suitable land was found. When the time came for their departure, however, Bowlegs and other chiefs refused to leave Florida. The Second Seminole War began soon after, but Bowlegs did not rise to recognition until the battle’s end, when the better-known chiefs were killed and he and his band of 200 warriors became the most prominent survivors. Following the war’s conclusion, Bowlegs and his band lived peacefully until 1855, when a group of surveyors entered Seminole territory and built several forts. The Indian chief immediately led his men in a series of guerilla attacks that lasted for three years, known as the Third Seminole War.

In 1858, Chief Wild Cat of the Western Seminole was sent to Bowlegs to convince him and his tribe to relocate. He was offered $10,000 for the move; warriors and other citizens were offered less. The band initially refused, but later the group, now consisting of 123 Indians, agreed to the relocation. Later that year, Bowlegs and his followers arrived at their new home in the Indian Territory. Shortly after their arrival, Billy passed away, and later Seminoles adopted his name to honor his achievements.

Key events during the life of Billy Bowlegs:

Signed the Treaty of Payne’s Landing.
Second Seminole War.
Third Seminole War.
Relocated to the Indian Territory.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
War with the Seminoles of Florida  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Billy Bowlegs and the Everglades of Florida  in  Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known  by  Oliver Otis Howard

Image Links

Billy Bowlegs
 in Indian History for Young Folks

Billy Bowlegs
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known

Billy Bowlegs and his retinue
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known

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