The boggy maze of the Everglades long provided a fortress of refuge for the resourceful Seminole Indians. In 1835 the massacre of an Army detachment by the Indians dictated use of naval and Marine forces in the watery environment.
Landing parties from the West India Squadron commanded by Commodore Alexander Dallas relieved Army garrisons enabling them to serve in the interior. In 1836, involvement of the Creek Indians extended the war to southern Alabama and Georgia. Lines of communications were kept secure, and Army troops, reinforced by practically the entire Marine Corps, were supplied by small Navy steamers plying the Chattahoochee and other rivers.
Manned by sailors, soldiers, and Marines, a brown water "mosquito fleet" composed of small sailors, flat bottomed barges and shallow dugouts under Lieutenant J. T. McLaughlin, actively seconded by Lieutenant John Rodgers, penetrated hundreds of miles into swamps and twisting tributaries to find and help defeat the elusive enemy.