Rebellion March 17, 1870     
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Seminole Negro Indian Scouts
Seminole Negro Indian Scouts photographed in 1889. Left to right: Plenty Payne, Billy July, Ben July, Dembo Factor (civilian clothes), Ben Wilson (back row), John July, and William Shields. John Horse's grandson, John Jefferson, helped historian Kenneth Wiggins Porter identify the subjects. New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
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On March 17, 1870, a group of Black Seminoles under headman John Kibbetts entered negotiations at Fort Duncan, Texas, to offer their services as scouts for the U.S. Army. The group came at the invitation of the army. Captain Frank Perry, the commander at Fort Duncan, believed the maroons could make excellent scouts; the government approved his plan to enlist them. In official record the blacks were called “Indian scouts” because the army had no other classification. Officers well understood, however, that these were Seminole Negroes, not Native Americans.

Their ranks included men like Dembo Factor, a maroon warrior who had fought the U.S. Army and participated in Dade’s Massacre 35 years earlier in Florida. John Horse did not take part directly in the negotiations that led to the formation of the scouts and he never served in the group. He advised them, however, and served as a bridge to the U.S. Army, staying in contact with regional U.S. commanders and serving as an interpreter during negotiations with Indian tribes in the region.

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Sources: Foster 47, Mulroy 111-115, 147, Porter Black 177-178. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 - Freedom: 1850-1882
+ Cost of Freedom
+ Liberty Foretold
+ Liberty Found
Los Mascogos
Fort Clark
 + Legacy & Conclusion


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