Skip to the page content Skip to primary navigation Skip to the search form Skip to the audience-based navigation Skip to the site tools and log-in Information about website accessibility

Sequoyah Research Center

JT Sprague to Gibson & Abercrombie — October 2 1836

Camp October 2d 1836

To Messrs Gibson & Abercrombie
Agt Al. Em Co


I have been engaged the last two days in picking up the lame, sick, and blind, belonging to the party of Indians which you, as Agents of the Alabama Emigrating Co are emigrating to Arkansas. Many of the Indians from various causes I found unable to keep up with the waggons. Some of them start with them, but from fatigue, feebleness, or decrepitude they are obliged to fall behind and are left upon the road. Others are taken sick upon the road without any means of assistance or conveyance. The wagons and Agents are always ahead and no one remains to provide for them. Many I am aware are also behind from their own willful laziness. This duty I have been engaged in, and finding the Agents of the Company out of my reach, I relied upon the tenth article of the Contract, which says, “If a remedy can be found in any pecuniary expenditure in contributing to their comfort & convenience to make it, which amount shall be deducted from that due them/the company/by the United States.” This remedy I applied, I saw plainly, there was no one to provide for them, and I also saw, that unless they were brought up with the moving train they must be left upon the road dependant upon the charity of the county through which they passed. The scarcity of water has of late, made our daily marches much longer than they should be, and the poor class of Indians from not having the means to get along, have been left behind. I have seen them coming into camp late at night, losing their rations, and totally unfit to proceed the following day. As one whose duty it is, has been left behind to see to them, and they, as well as myself, have been subject to the insolence and indifference of the waggoners in your employ. With the great inattention which has of late been paid to the proper details of the party, our marches have been too arduous, and these marches have depended too much upon the immediate resources of the country. If corn cannot be provided at a place twelve miles distant, the Indians are by the present arrangement, liable to go until it can be found; & if it is not gathered, they are turned into a corn field after dark to gather it. The supplies of this party, excepting beef, have been obtained too much by chance; greatly to the inconvenience of the Indians. This, however, will be reported to high authority. It is now my duty to have all the Indians that fall in the rear brought up, and kept by some means with the party with which they are enrolled for Arkansas. And if you as the Agents of the Company neglect doing it, the task must necessarily devolve upon me, which I shall without hesitation discharge. The fourth article of the contract says, “that the average daily travel shall not exceed from twelve to fifteen miles, to be determined by the officer & Surgeon,” In accordance with a faithful discharge of my duties to the Indians, you will be pleased to confirm the march of the party in your charge to twelve miles per day.

I regret, that in the unpleasant situation in which I have been placed by the Government, the discharge of my duties, should be considered by any one as the result of ungenerous or improper feelings. My uncalled for acts and illtimed expressions as you have been pleased to refer to them, have been interpreted as an intentional design to make known my authority. This I disclaim with contempt, I deny it, and assure you that my feelings and designs are of the best kind, and assure you, that a mutual understanding I should greatly prefer, not however at the sacrifice of not discharging my duty.

I am very respectfully
Your obt Sevt
J.T. Sprague
Dr & Military Agent
5th Detachment Emgr

Source: Letter from Lt. J.T. Sprague to Messrs. Gibson & Abercrombie, National Archives Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received, Creek Agency Emigration, Roll 238 S 249-D

Updated 3.1.2010