Trail of Tears
Cherokee Chief
Cherokee Chief

"Trail of Tears" (Nov 17, 1838 - Mar 26, 1839, 4mths, & 9 days)

Painting by Robert Lindneux, Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, Oklahoma - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Along the Trail of Tears
 Over a period of two years the Cherokee moved from their "Enchanted Land" in Georgia to a new home in Oklahoma. During that time more than 20 distinct groups of Cherokee Indians headed west along three separate routes. Today the general term The Trail of Tears is applied to all three routes, however, to the Cherokee only the northern land route was called "The Trail Where They Cried."
 Date  Description  #Departure  +Add
 May 24, 1836
 May 23, 1838
 People who left the Cherokee Nation in Georgia and emigrated to the Oklahoma Territory before the "Trail of Tears" Most of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota and many of the richer mixed-blood Cherokee.  800    N/A   800 
 Apr 05, 1838  Under the command of Lt. DEAS, US. Army.  250   -2   248 
 Jun 06, 1838  Under the command of Lt. DEAS, US. Army.  800   -311   489 
 Jun 13, 1838  Under the command of Lt. WHITLEY, US. Army.  800   +225 
 Jun 17, 1838  Under the command of Capt. DRANE, US. Army.  1,070   -576   494 
 Oct 11, 1838  Under the command of Lt. DEAS, US. Army and John RIDGE  650   -0   650 
 Oct 01, 1838  NAI Leader - John BENGE, first of the Cherokee controlled parties.
US. Army commander Winfield Scott rode to Nashville with this party.
 1,103   +77 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Elijah HICKS.  748   +110 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leaders - Hair CONRAD; Daniel COLTON.  858   -204   654 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leaders - Jesse BUSHYHEAD & Capt. Old FIELD.  950   +82 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Rev. S. FOREMAN  983   +57 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Choowalooka  1,150   -180   970  
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Mose DANIEL  1,035  +48 
 Oct 04, 1838  NAI Leader - James BROWN  859    +34 
 Nov 04, 1838  NAI Leader - George HICKS  1,118    -79   1,039  
 Nov 04, 1838  NAI Leader - John DREW  231    -12   219  
 Nov 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Richard TAYLOR  1,029    +55 
 Nov 04, 1838  NAI Leader - Peter HILDERBRAND  1,776    -464   1,312  
 Dec 04, 1838  NAI Leader - John ROSS, final party of the Trail of Tears  228       228  
Map by: National Park Service, US Department of the Interiorlick on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Note: The 2,125 negative number of losses includes death & excaped Cherokee Indians..prsjr
The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation
Today Map of Trail of Tears - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Today's Map of "Cherokee Trail of Tears"
In the hard winters of Nov 17, 1838 to Mar 26, 1839, it took some 129 days to complete only 602.5 miles, thats averaging only some 4.7 miles per day?

<---Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!
 1.  Charleston, Bradley Co., Tennessee Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 35.287806,-84.758234  181 miles to: #2
 2.  Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 36.172248,-86.783752  71.5 miles to: #3
 3.  Hopkinsville, Christian Co., Kentucky Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 36.869184,-87.488937  142 miles to: #4
 4.  Cape Girardeau, Cape Girardeau Co., Missouri Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 37.310652,-89.517288  272 miles to: #5
 5.  Springfield, Green Co., Missouri Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 37.219393,-93.299332  186 miles to: #6
 6.  Tahlequah, Cherokee Co., Oklahoma Click on Redball for More Info.<--- 35.917694,-94.96994  602.5 Miles Total

The "Trail of Tears" which started at Chattanooga, Tennessee for the forced exodus of the last Eastern CHEROKEE Indians in fall of [Nov 17, 1838]. This was the Overland passage across North across Tennessee, West across Kentucky, West at the tip of Illinois, Southwest in Missouri to Arkansas, West across Arkansas to Fort Gibson in Oklahoma. Many of the people, especially infants and the elderly, died and were buried along one or another of the trails. About 4,000 of the men, women and children of the 15,000 CHEROKEE who made the journey died of disease and exposure. One of the 14 wagon trains went across central Arkansas from Chickasaw Bluff [Memphis, TN.], which was one of the most direct routes, arriving March 26, 1839.

After the Treaty of 1835 something less than a thousand pro-Treaty people had recently left, thier homeland East of the Mississippi River, going in three groups. Four to five thousand [4 to 5,000] Cherokees had traveled west earlier on their own. Some had gone by riverboat, others by land, and there had been suffering, fatigue and illness and even death. Over the years, the roads to the West had been made and worn by many feet, white, red and black, booted, moccasined, and bare; the roads were burial grounds, particularly preying on the weak, the very old, and the infants.

Federal removal agent General Nathaniel Smith, knowing of the difficulties of land travel over long distances in this case almost a thousand miles had assembled a fleet of keelboats constructed by the government, and they were on the Tennessee River awaiting use. The boats were 130 feet in length, each with a house one hundred feet long, twenty feet wide, and two stories high, with banister rails around the top deck. Each floor was partitioned into rooms fifty by twenty feet, and each room had windows and a stove. For cooking, there were five hearths on the top deck. The fleet could carry more than a thousand Cherokees and blacks, returning for others, so that the entire tribe could be moved in this way by winter.

For the first voyage, [1838] however, only three hundred [300] Indians voluntarily registered. Others drifted in, but fifty [50] deserted on feeling the shifting of the keelboat's deck under their feet and hearing stories of shipwreck and cholera along the river. Cherokees attached mystic powers to rivers and both feared and respected them. More than four hundred persevered, but once they reached Ohio, waves pounded the boat and the passengers all swarmed onto the small smelter, believing the big one to be sinking. They would not, even after the storm, return to quarters, so the big boat was cast adrift and the little boat steamed on, reaching Arkansas before its increased draft threatened it with grounding.

Lieutenant Edward Deas, the government conductor, led the passengers onto a steamer with less draft, and for a week that boat chugged along, negotiating shallows. Once it could go no farther, Deas led the Indians ashore, hired wagons and oxen, and moved them overland to their property in the Arkansas territory. The trip took twenty-one days. Two infants, who were ill at the start, died. One was Cherokee, the other black. It had not been an easy trip, and it was certainly eventful and dangerous, but it was fast and easy when compared to land travel, which might take three months.

General Smith had received reports from Lt. Deas occasionally and was pleased. Before Deas had arrived in Arkansas, Smith had sent out a second group by water, Indians and slaves leaving on the seventeenth [17th] of June, 1838. All of these passengers had registered to go west, had sold most of their possessions, and had packed the remainder, and they had come voluntarily with their families to the dock. They were not in that respect typical of the Indians who remained.

For those recalcitrant ones, it was decided that soldiers would be needed. The government put General Winfield SCOTT, a six-foot-four-inch, big-bodied veteran of wars and skirmishes, in command. John Ross, who was in Washington at the time of the appointment, rushed to meet him and discussed the impropriety of the mission. SCOTT listened politely, but did not change his plans.

He arrived at New Echota in early May, established headquarters, and converted the Council House into a barracks. In the four states he assembled an army of seven thousand men, regulars and volunteers, infantry, cavalry, artillery. He was respected by President Van Buren and ex-President Jackson. In fact, some years previously, he had accepted Jackson's challenge to a duel. He appeared at the grounds, where the two shook hands and returned home, each satisfied with the other's courage. After that they were friends. General SCOTT had met Indians in three cam- paigns, one in 1812 when he was in his mid-twenties, in the Black Hawk war of 1832, and during a conflict with the Seminoles two years before.
His soldiers' nickname was "Old Fuss and Feathers."

He divided the Cherokee territory into three parts—western, central, and eastern districts—and in each he ordered his men to construct several immense collection camps affording shade, water, and security, to which in the next little while the Indian families could be brought; whenever a small number was gath- ered in a camp, they would be led to one of three river ports: Ross's Landing on the Tennessee, Gunter's Landing on the Tennessee, and the Cherokee Agency on the Hiwassee, where new federal boats would transport them to the Mississippi, down that river to the Arkansas, and thence upstream to their destination.

His first proclamation to the Cherokees proved to be jarring. As he said, it was the message of a soldier:

 - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Date: May 10, 1838.
 From: Major General SCOTT, of the United States Army,

 To: the Cherokee people, remaining in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama
     The President of the United States has sent me, with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the Treaty of 1835, to join that part of your people who are already established in prosperity, on the other side of the Mississippi. Unhappily, the two years which were allowed for the purpose, you have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow, and now, or by the time that this solemn address shall reach your distant settlements, the emigration must be com- menced in haste, but, I hope, without disorder. I have no power, by granting a farther delay, to correct the error that you have committed. The full moon of May is already on the wane, and before another shall have passed away, every Cherokee man, woman and child, in those States, must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.
     My Friends! This is no sudden determination on the part of the President, whom you and I must now obey. By the treaty, the emigration was to have been completed on, or before, the 23rd of this month, and the President has constantly kept you warned, during the two years allowed, through all his officers and agents in this country, that the Treaty would be enforced.
     I am coming to carry out that determination. My troops already occupy many positions in this country that you are to abandon, and thousands, and thousands are approaching, from every quarter, to render resistance and escape alike hopeless. All those troops, regular and militia, are your friends. Receive them and confide in them as such. Obey them when they tell you that you can remain no longer in this country. Soldiers are as kind hearted as brave, and the desire of every one of us is to execute our painful duty in mercy. We are commanded by the President to act towards you in that spirit, and such is also the wish of the whole people of America.
     Chiefs, head-men and warriors! Will you, then, by resistance, compel us to resort to arms? God forbid! Or will you, by flight, seek to hide yourselves in mountains and forests, and thus oblige us to hunt you down? Remember that, in pursuit, it may be impossible to avoid conflicts. The blood of the white man, or the blood of the red man, may be spilt, and if spilt, however accidentally, it may be impossible for the discreet and humane among you, or among us to prevent a general war and carnage.
     Think of this, my Cherokee brethren! I am an old warrior, and have been present at many a scene of slaughter; but spare me, I beseech you, the horror of witnessing the destruction of the Cherokees.
     Do not, I invite you, even wait for the close approach of the troops; but make such preparations for emigration as you can, and hasten to this place, the Ross' Landing, or to Gunter's Landing, where you all will be received in kindness by officers selected for the purpose. You will find food for all, and clothing for the destitute, at either of those places, and thence at your ease, and in comfort, be transported to your new homes according to the terms of the Treaty.
     This is the address of a warrior to warriors. May his entreaties be kindly received, and may the God of both prosper the Americans and Cherokees, and preserve them long in peace and friendship with each other!
            Signed: Major General Winfield SCOTT, Cherokee Agency,

 - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Date: April 19, 1838.
 Office of Commanding General of Subsistence, Washington, DC.
 To: Major General Winfield SCOTT:

     To ensure to your command in the Cherokee country a full supply of hard bread and other subsistence stores, I have dispatched Lieut. A. E. SHIRAS to Pittsburgh, Cincinnatti, and Louisville. He will procure supplies and accompany them up the Tennessee river to their destination. . . .
     Issue to Captain Connelly's Company 2 wall tents, 12 common tents, 12 camp kettles, 24 mess pans, 6 axes. Oh yes, and 4 spades.

Gen. SCOTT issued many orders specifying just how the roundup is to take place, and with what respectful attitude. He directed the soldiers to be polite and kind. The work itself would be perceived as treacherous by a people unwilling to leave their homes.

In Order #25, May 17, he set up the various district commands and gave his view of the Indians:

 - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Date: May 17, 1838, Order #25
 From: Major General SCOTT, of the United States Army,

 To: Company Commanders
     The Cherokees, by the advances which they have made in Christianity and civilization, are by far the most interesting tribe of Indians in the territorial limits of the United States. Of the 15,000 of those people who are now to be removed— (and the time within which a voluntary emigration was stipulated, will expire on the 23rd instant)— it is understood that about four fifths are opposed, or have become averse to a distant emigration; and altho' some are in actual hostilities with the United States, or threaten a resistance by arms, yet the troops will probably be obliged to cover the whole country they inhabit, in order to make prisoners and to march or to transport the prisoners, by families, either to this place, to Ross' Landing or Gunter's Landing, where they are to be finally delivered over to the Superintendant of Cherokee Emigration.

      Considering the number and temper of the mass to be removed, together with the extent and fastness of the country occupied, it will readily occur, that simple indiscretions—acts of harshness and cruelty, on the part of our troops, may lead, step by step, to delays, to impatience and exasperation, and in the end, to a general war and carnage—a result, in the case of those particular Indians, utterly abhorrent to the generous sympathies of the whole American people. Every possible kindness, compatible with the necessity of removal, must, therefore, be shown by the troops, and, if, in the ranks, a despicable individual should be found, capable of inflicting a wanton injury or insult on any Cherokee man, woman or child, it is hereby made the special duty of the nearest good officer or man, instantly to interpose, and to seize and consign the guilty wretch to the severest penalty of the laws. The Major General is fully pursuaded that this injunction will not be neglected by the brave men under his command, who cannot be otherwise than jealous of their own honor and that of their country.

      By early and persevering acts of kindness and humanity, it is impossible to doubt that the Indians may soon be induced to confide in the Army, and instead of fleeing to mountains and forests, flock to us for food and clothing. If, however, through false apprehensions, individuals, or a party, here and there, should seek to hide themselves, they must be pursued and invited to surrender, but not fired upon unless they should make a stand to resist. Even in such cases, mild remedies may sometimes better succeed than violence; and it cannot be doubted that if we get possession of the women and children first, or first capture the men, that, in either case, the outstanding members of the same families will readily come in on the assurance of forgiveness and kind treatment.

      Every captured man, as well as all who surrender themselves, must be disarmed, with the assurance that their weapons will be carefully preserved and restored at, or beyond the Mississippi. In either case, the men will be guarded and escorted, except it may be, where their women and children are mainly secured as hostages; but, in general, families, in our possession, will not be separated, unless it be to send men, as runners, to invite others to come in.

      It may happen that Indians will be found too sick, in the opinion of the nearest Surgeon, to be removed to one of the depots indicated above. In every such case. one or more of the family, or the friends of the sick person, will be left in attendance, with ample subsistence and remedies, and the remainder of the family removed by the troops. Infants, superannuated persons, lunatics and women in a helpless condition, will all, in the removal, require peculiar attention, which the brave and humane will seek to adapt to the necessities of the several cases.

      All strong men, women, boys & girls, will be made to march under proper escorts. For the feeble, Indian horses and ponies will furnish a ready resource, as well as for bedding and light cooking utensils all of which, as estimated in the Treaty, will be necessary to the emigrants both in going to, and after arrival at, their new homes. Such, and all other light articles of property, the Indians will be allowed to collect and to take with them, as also their slaves, who will be treated in like manner with the Indians themselves.

      If the horses and ponies be not adequate to the above purposes, wagons must be supplied. Corn, oats, fodder and other forage, also beef, cattle, belonging to the Indians to be removed, will be taken possession of by the proper departments of the Staff, as wanted, for the regular consumption of the Army, and certificates given to the owners, specifying in every case, the amount of forage and the weight of beef, so taken, in order that the owners may be paid for the same on their arrival at one of the depots mentioned above. All other moveable or personal property, left or abandoned by the Indians, will be collected by agents appointed for the purpose, by the Superintendant of Cherokee Emigration, under a system of accountability, for the benefit of the Indian owners, which he will deliver. The Army will give to those agents, in their operations, all reasonable countenance, aid and support.

      White men and widows, citizens of the United States, who are, or have been intermarried with Indians, and thence commonly termed, Indian countrymen; also such Indians as have been made denizens of particular States by special legislation, together with the families and property of all such persons, will not be molested or removed by the troops until a decision, on the principles involved, can be obtained from the War Department. A like indulgence, but only for a limited time, and until further orders, is extended to the families and property of certain Chiefs and head-men of the two great Indian parties, (on the subject of emigration) now understood to be absent in the direction of Washington on the business of their respective parties.
      This order will be carefully read at the head of every company in the Army.
      By Commanding General Winfield SCOTT

In Order 34, issued May 24, 1838, he set dates for the roundup to begin, the twenty-sixth in Georgia and ten days later in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama:

 - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  Date: May 24, 1838 ~ Order #34
 From: Major General SCOTT, of the United States Army,

 To: Company Commanders
     The commanding officer at every fort & open station will first cause to be surrounded and brought in as many Indians, the nearest to his fort or station, as he may think he can secure at once. & repeat the operation until he shall have made as many prisoners as he is able to subsist and send off, under a proper escort, to the most convenient of the emigrating depots, the Cherokee Agency, Ross Landing, and Gunter's Landing. . . .
AFTER Orders: To each Indian prisoner will be issued daily without regard to age or sex, one pound of flour and half a pound of bacon.       By Commanding General Winfield SCOTT
      In Order #35 General SCOTT decreed that in lieu of " a pound of flour", a pint of corn could be issued.

He was in command of every detail. And he was distrustful of many of his soldiers' "attitudes". The Georgia state militia was made up of volunteers temporarily on duty, composed in part of the same men who had come to the gold fields or who were awaiting their portion of Cherokee land; General SCOTT was watchful of the Georgians particularly. As a general rule. North Carolinians and Tennesseans were evenly disposed toward the Indians; the Alabamans were less so. He was aware that some of the white Georgians on arrival at New Echota were vowing never to return home without killing at least one Indian. Their ferocious language surprised him, coming from supposed Christians, and he decided to remain personally with the Georgian division of the operation in order to control it. Georgians seemed to deny, General SCOTT noticed, that Indians were human beings, an attitude he found reprehensible.

General SCOTT appealed to his men on the basis of Christianity to deal gently with this assignment, but it fell upon deaf ears. He was present in the camp on the Hiwassee all the first day of the roundup, that was the only day he "observed" for any cruelity..

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Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.! - Click on Thumbnail for Larger Photo!  These records are part of the "Genealogy Computer Package" *** PC-PROFILE *** Volume - II. Sarratt/Sarrett/Surratt Family Profile© Compiled and self Published in Oct. 31, 1989 by Paul R. Sarrett, Jr. with the assistance of my late mother Click on Redball for More Info. Mrs. M. Lucille (WILSON) SARRETT (1917-1987) These 1989 "Work-Books" were compiled by listing the various families, born, married, died, and a history of that family branch. In 1996 I started "Up-Loading" this material on the now called SFA© Series...prs
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Text - Copyright © 1996-2011 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Sep 25, 2004;  Jan 25, 2005;  Jun 01, 2005;  Sep 02, 2007;  Sep 23, 2008;  Sep 10, 2009;  Dec 13, 2010;  May 09, 2011;