It was a cold day in Florida, when multiple gun shots were fired, sending the blue-coated Federal soldiers scrabbling for cover.
Just five days before on December 23, 1835, Major Francis Dade led his men out of Fort Brooke (Tampa) to reinforce the troops stationed at Fort King (Ocala). Fort King was one hundred miles to the north, and Dade commanded 107 soldiers armed with the best modern weapons. On December 28th, he announced to his men that they could relax because they had successfully passed through Seminole territory. “Have a good heart. Our difficulties and dangers are over now, and soon as we arrive at Fort King you’ll have three days and keep Christmas to rest gaily.” Filing into two single lines, the men put their flintlock rifles under their standard cold weather “Great Coats” to protect them from the rain.
Near the Little Withlacoochee River, just 25 miles from their destination, 180 Seminoles lead by chief Micanopy struck with surprise from the palmetto bushes. Micanopy fired the first shot, killing Major Dade. This was followed with a volley, killing 50 more. The remaining soldiers struggled furiously to get their weapons out, and a guerrilla-style battle was waged for eight hours. At the end, only two soldiers survived the ambush to tell of the “Dade Massacre.” That morning when the soldiers set out on their journey, they were reassured that they were safe, but Micanopy’s coming was a complete surprise.
How many will be eternally surprised when our Lord returns? (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11) His coming will be like a thief in the night, yet every eye will see him. One day, we will hear the voice of the archangel, hear the trumpet call of God, and we will see the dead in Christ rise, followed by the living. What shall we do to prepare for this surprise?
Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Christian, are you up for the task?
“Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon.
Many will meet their doom. Trumpets will sound.
All the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies,
going where no one dies, heaven-ward bound.” R.E. Winsett