The Water Route of the Captain John Drew Detachment
The Captain John Drew detachment was the last group of Cherokee to leave the east. The detachment consisting of just 231 Cherokees left the Agency near Calhoun on December 5, 1838. By this time the drought in Tennessee was over, resulting in higher water in the rivers. This detachment left the Agency on four flatboats and floated down the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers to Ross’s Landing. During the month of December the detachment floated down the Tennessee River paying for pilots to safely transport them through the “Suck” and other hazardous areas below Chattanooga.
This detachment also paid tolls to use a canal which bypassed the worst of the rapids in the Muscle Shoals area. At Tuscumbia, John Ross purchased the steamboat Victoria for $10,000. The Victoria followed the route previously followed by the other water route detachments and passed by Paducah and Memphis before entering the Arkansas River. It was the intent of Drew and Ross to proceed upriver to Fort Gibson but low water forced the Victoria to stop at the mouth of the Illinois River near present-day Gore, Oklahoma. The detachment completed the 40 mile overland route to the Illinois Campground near Tahlequah, Oklahoma on March 18, 1838.
Major General Scott reported to General Roger Jones on July 3, 1838 that the round up of the Cherokee people was essentially finished. The last party in the western District, according to Scott “has by this time no doubt been taken to Fort Morrow twenty miles from me. Indian command may be safely relied upon to bring in any stragglers who may yet remain out, in my part of the late Cherokee country.”
On July 5, 1838, with enlistments running out, Scott wanted to consolidate the camps with Cherokee prisoners. He ordered Cherokees encamped at Cleveland and Red Clay to be concentrated at or within a mile around the old Indian Campground 12 miles south of the Agency on the road to Red Clay. Captain Vernon’s mounted company would accompany their prisoners there and then report to the Agency to be discharged. Lieutenant Colonel Hunter’s battalion would stay at the new camp later called Camp Ross until relieved by Federal troops. Captain Morrow’s company was also ordered to the Agency for discharge. The quartermaster was ordered to dispose of or sell the public property at Red Clay and Fort Morrow since that post would soon be abandoned.