Lt. Edward Deas to C.A. Harris — April 11 1838
Little Rock Arkansas
11th April 1838
To C. A. Harris Esq.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
On the 4 inst. I had the honor to forward to you from Tuscumbia my accounts for the 1st quarter of 1838, and stated that I expected to be assigned by the Superintendent, as Conductor to a Party of Emigrating Cherokees when it reached Waterloo Ala. The Party reached Waterloo on the 5th inst, and on the 6th left that place under my charge, on board of the S. Boat Smelter & one keel, made and finished on the plan mentioned in the contract for Transportation. As far as I am able to judge the Smelter appears to be a very good Boat, over 150 tons burthern, a fast-runner, and well adapted to the business of the Removal of Indians. We proceeded rapidly and without any occurrence of importance to the mouth of Tennessee River, and anchored a short time near Paducah. On then attempting to set out again, some water was washed into the Keel, owing to waves in the Ohio, and the Indians in it, were seized with a panic, in consequence of supposing the keel to be sinking, and rushed out of it into the Steam Boat. There was no danger, but I found it would be impossible to convince them of that fact, and therefore determined to proceed without the keel, the S. Boat being large enough to transport the Party, by giving them the main cabin & lower & forward decks. They prepare their food on temporary hearths onstructed on the forward decks, and there is also a cooking stove in the steerage. We passed Memphis at 12 o’clock on the night of the 8th, entered the Arkansas River about 3 o’clock PM on the 9th, and reached this place to-day, about noon. We shall make as little delay here as possible and will probably set out again before sun-set. It is uncertain however how high a point on the Arkansas River we shall be able to reach on board of the Smelter there not being water enough at present to admit of any but the smallest Boats reaching Forts Coffee & Gibson. The present Party is not so large as I supposed when I last wrote. There are about 350 in all, and a few of that number are removing to the new country on their own resources. There has been but little sickness up to this time, and no deaths have occurred. Whether the remainder of the journey be by land or water I shall continue to see every precaution taken to ensure the health and comfort of the people.
Yo. Mo. Ob. Servt
Lieut USA &
Source: Lt. Edward Deas to C.A. Harris, April 11th 1838, National Archives Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received, Cherokee Emigration, Roll 115, D209.