Q: How did Military Trail get its name?
- Tony & Gaylene Vitale, Walled Lake, Mich., and Greenacres
A: While South Florida is full of streets whose names have little to do with history, location or local flavor, Military Trail really was a military trail.
During the Second Seminole war, the longest and costliest of the Indian wars and one of the most unpopular in U.S. history, Maj. William Lauderdale was leading troops of Tennessee Volunteers. Lauderdale, a longtime colleague of Andrew Jackson and a fellow Tennessean, was in ill health but had answered the call of his old friend, now the President of the United States.
After the battle of Okeechobee in December 1837, which involved Missouri volunteers, Lauderdale’s Tennessee Volunteers made their way from Central Florida to what is now Jupiter, where they fought the battles of Lockahatchee (Loxahatchee), Jan. 15 and 24.
Nearly 1,700 volunteers and regular soldiers squared off against 200 to 300 Seminoles and black allies along the banks of the Loxahatchee.
The Seminoles were scattered.
About 600 were forced west as part of the “Trail of Tears.” The rest slipped into the Everglades. The soldiers went on to build Fort Jupiter, three miles west of Jupiter Inlet, on Jan. 26. It would be abandoned three months later.
After finishing Fort Jupiter, the volunteers then hacked a supply trail southward; it would become Military Trail. They worked their way from Fort Jupiter to “the new river,” where they built a fort that was later named for Major Lauderdale.
Lauderdale would be dead by May 1838. The otherwise obscure military figure would have slipped from the history books if not for his municipal namesake.
Richard Procyk, a retired Miami Beach homicide lieutenant, is helping push an effort to have the locations, in and around Riverbend Park, named as official historic battlefield sites and saved from development.
Read More: Richard J. Procyk, Guns Along the Loxahatchee
Historical Society of Palm Beach County: 832-4164