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This Day in Georgia History

June 06, 1838

First Group of Cherokees Departed on Riverboat

The forced removal of Cherokees to the West began when a party of 800 Cherokees escorted by a contingent of U.S. Army soldiers under Lt. Edward Deas left Ross’s Landing by riverboat headed downstream on the Tennessee River. Their trip would take them to the Ohio River, then westward to the Mississippi River, then southward to the Arkansas River, then upstream to the river’s head of navigation. Here, they would transfer to wagons for the final leg of the journey to the Indian Territory west of Arkansas. Though the Cherokees on this trip did not go voluntarily, this was not part of what came to be known as the “Trail of Tears” - the massive removal that left late in 1838 and resulted in so many Cherokee deaths. Still, Gen. Nathaniel Smith was moved to write Gen. Winfield Scott, “It has happened to me here to witness more distress within the last two days than in all my life before.”