Search for Seminole War cannon haunts expert

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Orlando | For 45 years, history buff Frank Laumer has obsessively pieced together minute details of an ambush near here that set off the Second Seminole War in 1835.

The author of two respected books on the attack known as Dade's Battle even dug up the bones of one participant and discovered the hat size of another.

Still, there is one major piece of the battle sought by Laumer. But an Orlando bank -- on behalf of a client fed up with artifact seekers -- has threatened to charge him with trespassing if he comes searching for it.

At 80, a frustrated Laumer fears time is running out for his quest, which has earned honors and praise from historians.

"Dade's Battle is like a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand pieces," he said. "And this is the last big one."

Laumer's holy grail is a cannon, a key weapon in the critical but little-known victory over U.S. soldiers by the Seminoles and their black allies, most of them escaped slaves. The loss of 108 soldiers in that battle set off what Laumer and others call "America's first war over slavery."

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