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COACOOCHEE [WILD CAT]

COACOOCHEE [WILD CAT] (ca. 1810–1857). Coacoochee (Wild Cat), Seminole war chief, was born around 1810 to a sister of Micanopy, chief of the Seminole Nation, and King Philip (Emathla), chief of a Mikasuki band, in Mosquito County, Florida. He was captured with Osceola on October 21, 1837, under a white flag of truce and imprisoned in Fort Marion but escaped and became the war chief most respected by the United States Army after Osceola's death. From 1837 to 1840 he was effective in fighting and remaining free in the swamps of Florida. But Lt. Col. William S. Harney captured Coacoochee's daughter and mother, whom Col. William Jenkins Worth used to induce Coacoochee to come for negotiations. Coacoochee agreed to bring in the remainder of his band but took extensive advantage of his freedom and was captured by Maj. Thomas Childs and placed in irons. In October 1841 Colonel Worth finally sent Coacoochee to the Indian reservation in Arkansas Territory.

In December 1845 Indian agents took him to Texas on a peace mission to the Comanches, after which he devised a scheme for the confederation of tribes. Coacoochee spent four years traveling in Texas and Mexico promoting his scheme among various hostile Indian groups. In 1848 Maj. Robert S. Neighbors, Texas superintendent of the Indian agency, accused Wild Cat of inciting the hostile Indians and thus hindering negotiations to move them to a Texas reservation. Coacoochee continued his promotional trips from the Arkansas reservation until December 1849. He had failed to obtain appointment as chief of the Seminole Nation, so with his following of Seminoles and blacks he went to the Brazos valley for the winter and for another attempt at recruiting. He managed to recruit some southern Kickapoo warriors, whom he led with the deserters from the reservation through Eagle Pass to Mexico. He and his followers were welcomed by the state of Coahuila, where they were placed on military reservations with supplies to defend the area against the forays of other hostile Indians. Coacoochee and his warriors were successful in this venture. They also fought against José M. J. Carbajal in the so-called Carbajal's war and against Callahan's invasion of 1855 (see CALLAHAN EXPEDITION). The Black Seminole Indians and their sons became the Black Seminole Scouts at forts Duncan and Clark in the 1870s. In January 1857 Coacoochee contracted smallpox and died at Alto, Coahuila, Mexico.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Arrell M. Gibson, The Kickapoos, Lords of the Middle Border (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963). John K. Mahon, History of Second Seminole War, 1835–1842 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1967). Edwin C. McReynolds, The Seminoles (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957). Kenneth Wiggins Porter, "Seminoles' Flight from Fort Marion," Florida Historical Quarterly 22 (January 1944).

Donald A. Swanson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Donald A. Swanson, "COACOOCHEE [WILD CAT]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcoaz), accessed October 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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