Date posted:  February 3, 2016

After the Treaty of New Echota was signed, Cherokee people left the Southeast in three different waves. The signers of the Treaty of New Echota and some other families left voluntarily beginning in 1837. When other Cherokee people refused to leave voluntarily, the United States Government began to plan a forced removal. Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson’s successor assigned General Winfield Scott to lead the round up and forced removal of the remaining Cherokee people. General Winfield oversaw four army-operated detachments. The four detachments were made up of more than 2,000 Cherokees and either through desertion or death, 437 did not arrive in Indian Territory. These deaths and desertions led to the suspension of the removal. The Cherokee people were placed in internment camps and were ridden with disease. The people asked to postpone the removal until the weather cooled. General Scott granted the request and later granted Chief John Ross’s request allowing the Cherokee Council to organize and lead the remainder of the removal.

Some of the detachments have muster rolls that take into account the composition of each detachment. A muster roll is an official list of officers and men in a military unit. The Government and Cherokee Council used muster rolls to keep record of the people and their possessions in the detachments. The muster rolls document the conductors of the detachment, males and females with ages, slaves, wagons, and animals of each detachment. Each family is recorded under the head of each household. The muster rolls at Gilcrease Museum are the detachments that were led by Chuwalookee, Peter Hildebrand, George Hicks, and John Benge.