Born in Florida in 1791, Harjo belonged to the Echoille band of Seminoles (Harjo means “so brave you are crazy”). He fought in two Seminole Wars in Florida before his family was relocated to Indian Territory in 1842. In 1861, Harjo joined the 1st Regiment, Seminole Mounted Volunteers and saw action at Round Mountain, Middle Boggy and Second Cabin Creek. After the war, he settled in what is now Seminole County, Oklahoma, raised a family and passed away in 1904 at the age of 113.
(Information courtesy: Ron Mitchell via the Forgotten Oklahoma group on Facebook)
Thahlo Harjo – 1st Regiment, Seminole Mounted Volunteers, CSA
“Interestingly the name “Seminole” itself translates into “seceder” or “runaway” from the Creek nation, which occurred under Chief Secoffee. The Seminole tribe initially acquired its African slaves as gift from the British after 1763 or were purchased by them in imitation of the Europeans and held them in “a type of democratic vassalage” to the tribe. Though not considered the equals of the Seminole and living in separate settlements, black runaways were taught to hunt, fish and fight against white settlers living on Seminole land. After the tribe’s defeat in 1839, many of these “black Seminoles” accompanied the tribe to resettlement in the West.
Only twenty-two years later, resettled Seminoles fought bravely against northern soldiers in the three Seminole Mounted Volunteer regiments of the Trans-Mississippi Department, led by Major John Jumper, whose native name was “Hemha Micco.”
Seminoles also fought alongside the victorious Florida and Georgia forces at the Ocean Pond (Olustee) battle on February 20, 1864. One northern soldier wrote a New York friend just after the engagement:
“The most desperate enemy that we have to contend with here is the Florida Indians in roving bands of bushwhackers [who] occasionally steal upon our picket lines under cover of night . . . Many redskins are sharpshooters. During the recent [Ocean Pond] battle they took themselves to the tree-tops and picked off many of the officers of the colored troops.”
(Key West’s Civil War: Rather Unsafe for a Southern Man to Live Here. Bernhard Thuersam. Shotwell Publishing, 2022. pg. 143)