[M234, roll 238, frame 701]
Fort Gibson, Aks.
December 20th 1836
I have the honour of informing you, that the whole number of the 5th detachment of emigrating Creek Indians in my charge, amounting to two thousand and eighty seven, are here, and received by Capt. Stephenson U.S. Army and are encamped within a mile of the Fort by order of General Arbuckle.
When my last communication to the Department of the 21st of October was written, arrangements were made at Memphis for all the Indians to be landed at Rock Rowe [halfway between Arkansas Post and Little Rock] immediately, west of the Mississippi swamp. Two parties were to precede mine and I saw that our detention would be longer than could be desired. The Indians being very impatient, the Agents of the Company accepted my proposal to take the Party to Little Rock by water, as all reports respecting the stage of the Arkansas River were favorable. I consulted the chiefs who readily acquiesced. A good sized steam boat [the "John Nelson"] was procured, and this, with two large flats, were found sufficient to contain all that were not going through the swamp, which were mostly women and children. On the 26th of October about six hundred men and women with all the ponies belonging, to the Party, started for the swamp in charge of my assistant Mr. Freeman. The Agents of the Company assured me that abundant provisions were made for them on the route, which proved to be the case. On the following morning, the 27th the party in my immediate charge left Memphis, having on board all the boats, as near as could be estimated, fifteen hundred souls. When we arrived at the mouth of the Arkansas the waters being so high and the current so strong, it was impossible to proceed with both flatboats in tow, and the only alternative was, to leave one and go up as fast as possible with the other. Every provision was made for the wants and comfort of the Indians that remained.
The 3rd of November we arrived at Little Rock and the next day the boat returned and brought up those left behind. The Indians that came through the swamp joined us sixty miles from Little Rock. I halted the party at the Dandanelles, a point on the Arkansas River to give all an opportunity to get up with us, while there, one of the companies steam boats belonging to the Company came up bound to Fort Gibson, on board of which, I succeeded in getting the lame, sick, and aged, and so many more of the party as were disposed to go. This detachment, amounting to three hundred and ninety five arrived in their new country twelve miles from Fort Gibson, on the 21st Ultimo, where they were received by Capt. Stephenson.
This boat on its return met us again near the river Spadra. I urged the Indians to go on board as the severity of the weather and the bad state of the roads would make them suffer severely. About twelve hundred consented and the remainder continued on by land. When we arrived opposite Fort Smith we learnt that the boat had grounded owing to the rapid fall of the river and that the Indians were on shore. Waggoners were immediately procured and the party were soon together and on the way to Fort Gibson, which we soon reached after a fatiguing journey of ninety five days from Chambers county, Alabama.
The health of the Party has been very good, and the feeling, on the part of the Indians is of the most friendly character. On our own arrival here, Genl. Arbuckle, deeming it necessary that a perfect understanding should exist between the Indians and the hostiles who were emigrated last summer, ordered the Party to halt until every thing could be amicably arranged. This has been done, and as soon as they received their blankets they start for their new homes. In my letter to the Department of the 21st of October I expressed my dissatisfaction of the course pursued by the Agents of the Alabama Company. The duties of the officer in charge being so much at variance with the interests of the company differences of opinion will unavoidably occur. It, however, now affords me pleasure to say, that, they have adopted every measure which I deemed expedient, and done all in their power to contribute to the comfort and convenience of the Indians. A stupid indifference to the stipulations of the contract, and a disposition to break down the authority of the officer, and drive the Indians far beyond their powers, seemed to be the determination of these Agents; but though this did exist, I cannot now, in justice, withhold from them my arrival, that they have complied with the contract and endeavored to act up to its letter and spirit.
I am, with great respect
You obt servant
J. T. Sprauge
Lt & Milty Agt 5th Detachment Emgt C. Indian
C. A. Harris Esqr.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
War Department, Washington, D.C.