[ASP, Mil. Aff., v.6, p. 773]
Steamboat Alpha, twenty-six miles above Little Rock, Arkansas, January 9, 1836.
It was my intention to have written yesterday from Little Rock, but after reaching that place it was found expedient to make our time of stopping so short as not to admit of my doing so properly. There is a small town a short distance above us where I shall have an opportunity of mailing this. I had the honor last to address you from Memphis on the 31st ultimo, reporting the progress of the party now emigrating up to that time. We did not leave that place until the next morning, the 1st instant, about nine o'clock, at which time, also, the ponies were assembled on the west bank of the river, ready to proceed towards Fort Gibson, through the Mississippi swamp. Since that time nothing of consequence has occurred to the party on board the boats. The Arkansas is not high, but is on the rise, and we hope to reach the end of our journey without being again obliged to travel by land. The boats have stopped every night since entering this river, and we have averaged about forty miles a day. The weather has been remarkably mild and favorable to our progress, and the Indians are healthy and apparently well satisfied. The horses and ponies were not all ferried over the Mississippi at Memphis until the evening of the 31st ultimo, and until this was done their numbers could not be ascertained. I then found that out of 154 that had left Tuscumbia on the 23d ultimo, upwards of twenty had not crossed the Mississippi. They had been disposed of on the way, with the exception of two, which were lost. This sacrifice of property the agent who accompanied them informed me was owing to a want of sufficient forage, the allowance of two quarts of corn not being sufficient to support them. I ascertained the above facts from the agent who had charge of the ponies, and as soon as I had done so, finding that the average rate at which they had travelled from Tuscumbia to Memphis had more than doubled that laid down in the contract, I stated to the agent of the company that it was my opinion that when the average rate exceeded that laid down, the amount of forage should be increased by them in proportion; and that unless it was their intention to do so, I explicitly objected to the ponies being obliged to travel more than an average of twelve miles a day. After some discussion my proposition was acceded to, and directions were accordingly given that for the future four quarts of corn should be issued, as it was expected they would probably travel between twenty and thirty miles a day. We hoped to hear from them yesterday at Little Rock, but did not. We shall probably do so at Dardanelle, about one hundred miles above. The above embraces all the facts of interest that have occurred since I last wrote, and I have nothing further at present to communicate upon the subject of the emigration.
I have the honor, &c.,
EDW. DEAS, 2d Lieutenant and Disbursing Agent of Creek Emigration.
Gen. George Gibson, Commissary General of Subsistence.