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Fort Gatlin, as the Orlando area was once known, was established at what is now just south of the city limits by the 4th U. S. Artillery under the command of Ltc. Alexander C. W. Fanning on November 9, 1838, during the construction of a series of fortified encampments across Florida during the Second Seminole War. The fort and surrounding area were named for Dr. John S. Gatlin, an Army physician who was killed in Dade's Massacre on December 28, 1835. The site of construction for Fort Gatlin, a defensible position with fresh water between three small lakes, was likely chosen because the location was on a main trail and is less than 250 yards from a nearby Council Oak tree where Native Americans had traditionally met. King Phillip and Coacoochee frequented this area and the tree was alleged to be the place where the previous 1835 ambush that had killed over 100 soldiers had been planned. When the U. S. military abandoned the fort in 1839, the surrounding community was built up by settlers.

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