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.
Sources: Foster 47, Mulroy 111-115, 147, Porter Black 177-178.
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