Edward Deas to George Gibson — November 22 1836
Strong’s Stand at St. Francis Post Office
2 miles west of St. Francis River Crossings
Arkansaw 22nd November 1836
General George Gibson
Commissary General of Subsistence
I take the present opportunity of detailing the operations of the Indian Removal that have come to my knowledge, since I had the honour to address you from Memphis on the 5th instant. On the afternoon of that day, the larger portion of the Party under my charge embarked on board of two steam boats & reached a point on White River, 2 miles below Rock Row, the first within four days & the last within seven days after starting. The latter was detained by running aground. All arrived in good condition, but on reaching Rock Row, we found to our surprise, that no adequate preparation had been made for the reception of our Party. There was Corn sufficient for the subsistence of the Indians to be had in the neighborhood, by the use of a S Boat, but no fresh meat had been provided & for one week after our arrival, none was issued & only a stinted allowance of indifferent Bacon.
Before leaving Memphis a large number of our party, refused to go by Steam, & left that place by land previous to the departure of the Boats. A Sub agent of the company was sent through to conduct them, as I understood, with several assistants, and I consequently hoped they would join the main body of the party, at Rock Row without difficulty. Very different however has been the result, and I have to state that the whole of the land operations, from Memphis to Rock Row have been badly conducted, & in several aspects entirely at variance with the provisions of the Contract. In the first place, there has been an entire failure in the manner of issuing the provisions. There were but two stands established between Memphis and Cache (which place is 8 miles above Rock Row and 95 from Memphis) One of these was 17 miles from Memphis, the other is the place at which I am now writing, and is 56 miles from Cache, and 39 from Memphis.
In the next place the Indians were not conducted from Memphis to Rock Row. The Agent sent in charge of them it seems had other matters to attend to. He accompanied a part of the land Party to this point, and waited here several days, but not until all had come up.
He then issued to those present, and posted on to Rock Row, leaving most of the Indians under his charge, to shift for themselves. I waited near Rock Row until the 19th instant, hoping every day, from the statements of the above mentioned Agents, that the Indians would all come up.
My hopes however were vain, & I therefore determined to return for them, accompanied by an Agent of Company. The Roads from Rock Row, are as bad as possible & I have been 3 days in watching this place. I found between 3 & 4 hundred Indians, encamped at intervals of a few miles along the whole road, many of them belonging to other Parties than that under my charge, and the reasons assigned by them for their desertion was fully sufficient. Some were tired & sick & had no transportation. Others had had no provisions issued to them since leaving Memphis, and I found the whole road from Rock Row full of dead Horses and Indian Ponies. There should have been provisions stands, throughout the whole route or as required by the Contract, and the agents should have remained with the Indians, and continue to urge them on, & assist & encourage them, until the whole of the Swamps had been passed. I believe that all of our Party, & in fact all those now emigrating, are now to the west of this, but it is possible that there may still be a few families to the east of the St. Francis River. I cannot however return further, with a due regard to the interest of the Party under my charge. The main body of our Indians, due out from near Rock Row, on the 20th inst. and are now probably, between that place & Little Rock. Tomorrow I shall return & overtake them, as speedily as possible & will take the proper measures to enable the straggling Indians & overtake the main body of the party, without delay.
It is an unpleasant duty I have to perform, to report the neglect of others, but I shall not shirk from doing so, whenever it becomes necessary.
In conclusion I have to say that unless more regard is paid by the responsible agents of the emigrating Company, to the requirements of the Contract, a due regard to the rights & interests of the Indians, imperiously demands that they should be discharged from all further connection with the emigration of these much oppressed & unfortunate people.
I have the honor to the General,
Your Obedt Servant
Liuet U.S. Army & Disb Agent in the Creek Emmigration