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Sequoyah Research Center

Captain G.S. Drane to Major General Winfield Scott — October 17 1838

Cherokee Agency, Tennessee
17th October 1838


I have the honor to report that I was detailed for duty in the Indian Department as Disbursing agent on the 10th June 1838 ordered to report myself for duty to Genl. N Smith, principal Superintendent Cherokee Emigration on or before the 18th June 1838, I received orders to join & accompany a party of Cherokee Emigrants, about to leave Ross’ Landing on the 17th June, not having received the necessary funds I was not able to join the party until it reached Bellefonte, Alabama on the 25th June, on the morning of the 26th June when about to commence my march with the party, a Cherokee Indians arrived in camp from the Agency with a letter to one of the Surgeons accompanying the party, he informed the emigrants that he had brought orders for them to return back to Ross’ landing. A large majority of them positively refused to proceed any further & unloaded the wagons & left the company exertion was on the part of the agents to bring them back, but with little success. A small company of mounted volunteers was assembled, with their assistance a large number was brought back—yet 225 escaped. The feeling of discontent among the Emigrants were so great that Genl N. Smith thought it advisable to accept the services of the volunteers as a guard to accompany the Indians to Waterloo, Alabama, & ordered me to muster them in to the service of the Unites States for one month, unless sooner discharged, I am of the opinion this guard was of great service in preventing desention & keeping the Indians from spreading through the country committing depredations, on my arrival at Waterloo, Alabama I was ordered to muster the company out of the service, to discharge my teams & embark on board the Steamboat Smelter & proceed to Fort Gibson by the way of the Arkansas river, I believed that route unhealthy, & requested Gel Smith to allow me to take the route by Boonesville, Missouri, the route selected previous to the party’s leaving Ross’ Landing. I was again positively ordered to proceed by the way of the Arkansas river, on the 14th July 1838 I embarked on board the Steamer Smelter in obedience of his orders-nothing of importance occurred until the 22d July when the steamer Smelter grounded 30 miles below Little Rock, she could proceed no further owing to the low stage of the water, here I was obliged to land the party on the bank of the river, the Steamer Smelter left me early next morning, the same day I sent an express to Capt. Collins at Little Rock Arkansas for means of transportation, on the 25th July the steamer Tecumseh arrived & took the party on board, owing to low water, all the Indians able to walk was obliged to land at the sand bar & walk, I however reached Little Rock, Arkansas, on the 26th July here I perceived I could proceed no further by water, I immediately made arrangements to proceed no further by water, I immediately made arrangements to procure wagons to proceed by land, with great difficulty I had collected near wagons sufficient but owing to the arrival of the steamer Itaska from Fort Coffee & slight rise in the river on the 2d of August the Indians refused to go by land. I had no means to compel them, I was compelled to discharge the wagons & charter the steamer Itaska, on the 4th August, I embarked the party & proceeded by water on my route, with great difficulty the steamboat reached Lewisburg bar 6 miles below the town on the 13th August, I immediately sent agents to collect wagons to proceed by land, with great labor & fatigue, I landed the party on the north bank of the river one mile below the town on the 17th August & on the 18th commenced my march up the north side of the river in hopes to find water more plenty, on the 4th September 1838 I arrived at Mrs. Webbers plantation in the Cherokee nation west-with the party amounting to 635-which were mustered & received on the 7th September 1838

The strength of the detachment leaving Ross’ Landing, Tennessee, on the 17th June 1838 1072
Number of births while on the march 2
Total number 1074
Desertions while on the march between Ross’ Landing Tennessee, & Waterloo Alabama 293
Number of deaths between Ross Landing Tennessee & Waterloo Alabama also from Waterloo to the Cherokee Nation West 141
Number received & mustered in the Nation 635

I am now busily employed in arranging settling my account to enable me to furnish you with a statement of the average cost of each individual of the party. I am, sir, very respectfully

Yo. Obt Sevt

G.S. Drane

Capt. U.S.A.

Conductor & Disbursing Agent

Source: Capt. G.S. Drane to General W. Scott, October 17, 1838, National Archives Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received, Cherokee Emigration, Roll 115, S1555 No. 3

Updated 2.25.2010