Joe Cooper was a weird kid. Whenever he got angry at someone, he would get dressed up like Daniel Boone and point his rusty old rifle at the object of his anger. Why hasn’t anyone told this kid that you shouldn’t point a firearm at someone else?
One day, he sneaked up on Encyclopedia and Sally and gave him the “I’m pissed, so I’m going to ambush you and point my gun at you” treatment. No, he wasn’t angry at them. He was actually angry at Buck Calhoun, but since Calhoun had been dead for decades, Joe was determined to point his rifle at someone that day; it might as well be someone innocent.
The nearby Fort Hope had recently unveiled a statue honoring Buck Calhoun. Joe hated Calhoun because he believed his stupidity caused his great-grandfather to be injured during battle. He hired the agency to prove that Calhoun was a phony.
Encyclopedia and Sally, treating it like any other case, accepted the job and hopped on the next bus to Fort Hope. While there, they went on a tour and learned the story of how Calhoun earned his fame.
It all happened one night in July of 1872 when Calhoun, a former scout for the Fourth Cavalry, was leading a wagon train with 500 settlers. However, it was a dangerous time to be travelling the area because of Seminole attacks. As the wagon train approached Fort Hope that rainy night, Calhoun was able to see that the American flag was waving proudly, so he knew it was safe. Unfortunately, the fort was actually filled with those tricky, tricky Seminoles who wore U.S. Army uniforms taken from the soldiers they had just killed. Calhoun unwittingly led half the settlers in the group to their death but with some quick thinking, he was able to save the other half and get the Seminoles out of the fort.
And that, explained the tour guide, was why Calhoun was honored with a statue. Encyclopedia spoke up and pointed out that Calhoun didn’t save half of the settlers. Instead, he should be blamed for the deaths of the other half. He should have known that there was trouble in the fort when he saw that the American flag was flying 1) at night 2) while it was raining. That wouldn’t have happened in a fort occupied by Americans, but Seminoles would have been unfamiliar with the rules and customs of flying the American flag.
There’s more going on here that I don’t understand. How is Encyclopedia the first person to bring up the discrepancy with the flag flying? Encyclopedia noted that a former scout for the cavalry should have known that the flag shouldn’t have been flying at that point. What about the people who have been in charge of raising and lowering the flag every day in that fort for nearly a century after that attack? They’re familiar with the flag-flying customs, why didn’t they think the story was fishy? Apparently no one did, because he was regarded as such a hero that they made a statue of him. Statues aren’t cheap. Before commissioning a statue, didn’t anyone think to see if the Calhoun story actually checked out?
And though an exact location has not been stated yet, it has been implied that Idaville is in Florida. This story, alone, mentioned Seminoles and palmetto palms. I mention this because between the Indian Removal Act, signed in 1830, and the three Seminole Wars – the third and final one ending in 1858 – the Seminoles had been killed, removed from the area or lived quietly and stayed in Florida by 1872. They weren’t killing American soldiers and then wearing the dead soldiers’ uniforms in a ruse to trick settlers to their death.
The people who are working at this fort have no idea about its own history, and they don’t seem to feel bad about keeping myths alive.