The Quartermaster’s Department at the post was in a very bad condition, destitute of nearly everything that was necessary for the comfort of the troops. There was great scarcity of ordnance stores, but, happily, an abundant supply of subsistence stores.
Review of the army by General Gaines—Arrival of General Gaines at Fort King—Lieutenant Izard mortally wounded—Correspondence between General Gaines and Clinch—General Scott ordered to command in Florida—Disadvantages under which he labored—Preparations for movements—Commencement of hostilities against the Indians.
General Gaines reviewed the army on February 13th, and, accompanied by seventy-seven friendly Indians, took up line of march toward the Alafia River, to which point he learned that the hostile Indians had gone. The march was made under many difficulties, the horses of the baggage train breaking down and necessitating the loss of valuable articles of camp equipage. Near dark they encamped six miles from Fort Brooke. The next day they arrived at Warren, on the Alafia River, eighteen miles from the fort, and received two days’ rations, which General Gaines had ordered sent around from Fort Brooke by water. Discovering no traces of Indians, he directed the march toward the grounds where Major Dade and his party were massacred. The boats having arrived at Fort Brooke with the sick and disabled and all superfluous baggage, the army moved in the direction of a deserted Indian village, passing the ruins of many fine plantations, and struck the military road near the Hillsboro River.
On the 17th they arrived at the river and halted. On the 18th, after burning two deserted Indian villages near the Big Ouithlacoochee River, the friendly Indians accompanying the expedition requested permission to return to Fort Brooke. General Gaines assured them that there was no danger to be apprehended; that he only required them to act as scouts and guides, and that they were not expected to go into battle.
The Ouithlacoochee was forded on the 19th, and that night a breastwork was thrown up on the ground which had been occupied by the ill-fated party of Major Dade. At daybreak of the 20th they resumed their march, and buried on their way the remains of Major Dade and Captain Frazier and eight other officers, and ninety-eight noncommissioned officers and privates.
It now became a question of importance whether to continue the march to Fort King, which post was thought to be besieged by the enemy, or to return to Fort Brooke. To Fort Brooke it was sixty-five miles, and to Fort King forty miles north. A large number of the volunteers were destitute of provisions. It would require five days to reach Fort Brooke, and but two to reach Fort King.