Woman shot, scalped, set ablaze, then walked to Jacksonville

Date Written

Sept. 20, 1836

John Henry Miller was 26 years old when this was written.
John Henry Miller died 13 years, 11 months, 23 days after writing it.
It was written 182 years, 4 months, 3 days ago.
It was a Tuesday.

St. Augustine
Sept. 20, 1836

Dear Alex,

I received your letter of the 18th August about a week ago and as a good opportunity offers tomorrow morning by a steamboat bound for Charleston, I have thought that it would not be amiss to write a few lines.

I am gradually regaining my wonton strength and hope to be well enough in a couple of weeks from this time to resume my duties at Garey’s Ferry. A person recovering from an attack of the bilious fever does not in the south gain strength as rapidly as in the north. Here 2 or 3 months are required to establish your usual health. In the north a few weeks only are necessary for this purpose.

You ask a great many questions about the Indians etc., etc---I have little to say with regard the Indians except that it is highly probable that in a few months from this time the yellow rascals will be brought to terms. The Governor of the territory who directs everything connected with the war is making great exertions to bring it to a speedy close—800 friendly Creek Indians and 1200 Tennessee Volunteers are to join the troops now in Florida. Operations will commence about the middle of November—probably a little sooner. I hope not November as it would be at the risk of the health of the troops. Should operations commence before the middle of November. At present nearly all the regular troops are sick and it will require until the middle of Nov. to restore them to their usual strength. The weather will be warm to do anything in the field before that time. The officers of the army who are in Florida are with the exception of one or two more or less sick—all of them I believe [?] are convalescents, but in a very debilitated state and unfit for service—they must have time to recruit.

You wish to know how far I am (when at Garey’s Ferry) from the scene of war. I answer directly in the midst of it—persons have been killed by the Indians east, west, and north of Garey’s Ferry—but a few days ago I heard from an authentic source that a man residing on the north side of Black Creek was murdered by a party of 7 or 8 Indians—the Indians shot his wife through the neck and arm, scalped her or in fact skinned her head and as she lay on the ground seemingly dead, the Indians took a bundle of raw cotton which was near at hand, covered the woman over with it, and then set fire to it. Her clothes took fire but the woman lay perfectly still—dead as the Indians supposed—in this situation they left her. As soon as the Indians men [were] out of sight she [?] went to a stream and bathed her head and found her way to Jacksonville about 20 miles off—I believe the woman is still living.

I have not heard from our family in Michigan yet—If you have heard from them let me hear what they are about. I have given up all ideas of hearing from them. Write to them and say that I have not received a letter yet, probably they have miscarried. I have written frequently to them direction to Niles Michigan. I suppose this the proper directions. I am at present making exertions to get a place under Sen. Knight as Engineer and should I get the promise of a place, I shall resign from the Army before spring in [?] to prepare myself for the business. Ante Ann if she will let me live with her for a few months if I should conclude to leave the army. I take it Somerset would be an excellent place for the study of mathematicks to advantage. Ask her how much she will charge me for board and lodging!!! I want come if she is not moderate. I should go down and live with Julia for nothing. I like the idea of a farm house—plenty to eat and no pay. Remember me to [?] and Rebecca if with you.

Sincerely,
J.H.M.

I have three months pay due me now but no one to pay it.—I am mighty rich am I not?
With regard to Rebecca’s piano. I have no money to spare at present but as soon as a payment comes I shall. I hope you will not get Rebecca an inferior instrument. Who is to make the choice? It ought to be someone accustomed to the business. You cannot depend upon the salesman.

Scans of Letter