Our Georgia History

Wildes Massacre

The last Indian massacre that occurred in Georgia happened in the northwest corner of the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross, Georgia on July 22, 1838 in the midst of the Second Seminole War. Maximillan and his family had spent a sleepless night worrying about Seminole warriors who had been watching them over a period of several days. Small object pelted the house during the night, keeping the Wildes awake.

Billy Bowlegs, who grew up in the Okefenokee Swamp, assumed leadership of the Seminole Indians following the death of Osceola, who was detained under a white flag of truce and died in prison. By the time of the Wildes Massacre Bowlegs was in the Everglades and there is no evidence he ordered or knew of the attack. The Seminoles may have chosen the Wildes family for a number of reasons, but no one knows exactly why.

The attack came early Saturday morning. Reports as to what happened vary, but during the attack the Seminole killed most of the family. Four Wildes boys and a neighbor's daughter (who was one of four visiting the Wildes) survived. Neighbors heard the gunfire and headed to the farm with guns, but too late to help the family. Immediately, the settlers prepared for additional attacks. Women and children were sent to the fort in Waycross, and men began an armed search for the Seminoles who had defiled the Wildes family to no avail.

In December, 1838, General Charles Floyd led Georgia militia against the Seminoles remaining in the Okefenokee Swamp, but by this time they had fled the swamp.

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