acquainted with many of the Indians and able to fluently speak
their language, I was sent as interpreter into the Smoky Mountain
Country in May, 1838, and witnessed the execution and the most
brutal order in the history of American warfare. I saw helpless
Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven
at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of
a drizzling rain on an October morning, I saw them loaded like
cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started
toward the west.
can never forget the sadness and solemnity of that morning.
Chief John Ross led in prayer and when the bugle sounded and
the wagons started rolling many of the children rose to their
feet and waved their little hands good-by to their mountain
homes, knowing they were leaving them forever. Many of these
helpless people did not have blankets and many of them had been
driven from home barefooted.
the morning of November the 17th we encountered a terrific sleet
and snow storm with freezing temperatures and from that day
until we reached the end of the fateful journey on March the
26th, 1839, the sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The
trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They had to sleep
in the wagons and on the ground without fire. And I have known
as many as twenty-two of them to die in one night of pneumonia
due to ill treatment, cold, and exposure.
Burnett's entire story here: