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In Their Own Words

June 08, 1838

Regret over Hardship of Cherokee Removal

From the Cherokee Agency is southern Tennessee, Gen. Winfield Scott wrote Gen. Nathaniel Smith:

“I am glad to hear that you have already dispatched a party of emigrants and expect to send off another by the 12th instant. I am pleased that you have detained for a time certain Indians whose families are broken to wait the arrival of absent members.

“The distress caused the emigrants by the want of their bedding, cooking utensils, clothes and ponies I much regret as also the loss of their property consequent upon the hurry of capture and removal. All this I am sorry for, and much of it I am persuaded was unavoidable, so far as the troops were concerned. The fault was mainly in the Indians themselves, who believed in John Ross’s assurances and gave the lie to my address. Hence they waited for the arrival of the troops and were even then wholly unprepared for removal. I am no angry with them, but infinitely regret their infatuation. I endeavored, in my printed order, to guard against the infatuation by directing that the troops should allow the Indians to gather up whatever could be used on the route to the West and desiring you to devise the means of securing for their benefit all other articles of property left or abandoned. I recall all this to show that I have done everything in my power to save the unfortunate Indians from loss and distress.”

Source: Edward J. Cashin (ed.), A Wilderness Still the Cradle of Nature: Frontier Georgia (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1994), p. 143.