Seventeen detachments left from the three main emigrating depots between June 6 and December 5, 1838. Two of the depots were in Tennessee and the third was eight miles south of Fort Payne, Alabama. The journey took place over various land and water routes and averaged over 1,000 miles. The first three detachments departed from Rossís Landing in June of 1838. They were accompanied by military escorts and were Cherokees captured by the Georgia militia. The first group under Lieutenant Edward Deas left Rossís Landing on June 6 by steamboat. The second group under Captain R.H.K. Whiteley, left Rossís Landing by flat boat on June 12, and the third group under Captain Gus Drane traveled overland from Rossís Landing to Waterloo, Alabama, and from that point traveled by river and land routes to the Indian Territory. Only one other detachment received a military escort, a ďpro-treatyĒ group under John Bell who left the Cherokee Agency on October 10, 1838 and traveled overland through Chattanooga, Memphis, Little Rock before disbanding at Vinyard Post Office, Arkansas on January 7, 1839.
The remaining Cherokees were transferred under the supervision of Cherokee Chief John Ross, who had made an arrangement with General Scott to allow the Cherokee to conduct the removal themselves. Scott also agreed to delay the removal until the fall and improved weather conditions. Between October and December of 1838, 14 detachments of Cherokee left the emigrating depots for the Indian Territory. All but the Bell Detachment were under the supervision of John Ross. One party under Ross, which consisted mainly of elderly and infirm individuals, traveled by river. The remainder made the journey overland. Eleven of the detachments followed the route taken by the Cannon party in 1837, now known as the Northern Route. A variation of this route was made in southeast Tennessee by the Taylor and Brown detachments. (The Benge route is not included in the following)