General Winfield Scott hired wagons, teams, and drivers from the Chattanooga, TN area to carry the Cherokees to their holding camps at Ross’s Landing (now downtown Chattanooga). One of the hires was William Cotter, whose family was hired to furnish supplies at around $5 a day. He was a young boy at the time. In his autobiography, Cotter wrote:
After all the warning and with soldiers in their midst, the inevitable day appointed found the Indians at work in their houses and in their fields. It is remembered as well as if it had been seen yesterday, that two or three dropped their hoes and ran as fast as they could when they saw the soldiers coming into the fields. After that, they made no effort to get out of the way. The men handled them gently, but picked them up in the road, in the field, anywhere they found them, part of a family at a time, and carried them to the post. Everything in their homes was left alone for a day or two and then hauled to the post. When a hundred or more families had been collected, they were marched to Ross’ Landing. It was a mournful sight to all who witnessed it—old men and women with gray hairs, walking with the sad company. Provisions were made for those to ride who could not walk…
In hauling the stuff from the cabins a file of six or more men went with me as a guard. They forced open the doors and put the poor, meager household effects into the wagons, sometimes the stuff of two or three families at one load. After following a mile or two the guards galloped away, leaving me in worse danger than anyone else; for if there had been an Indian hiding out, I would have been the one to suffer.
But few of the Indians even went back to their homes. We turned the cows and calves together, as they had been apart for a day or two. Chickens, cats and dogs all ran away when they saw us. Ponies under the shade trees fighting the flies with noise of their bells; the cows and calves lowing to each other; the poor dogs howling for their owners; the open doors of the cabins as we left them—to have seen it all would have melted to tenderness a heart of stone. And in contrast there was a beautiful growing crop of corn and beans.”
General Scott may have desired “humane” treatment to the Native Americans, but sometimes they were dragged from their homes. And, a lawless group of White scavenger frontiersmen followed the troops around, pillaging and destroying Cherokee homes. Sometimes the Natives Americans could see the “hungry wolves” as they stole all of their possessions.
((via Chattanooga Country: 1540-1951 and Voices from the Trail of Tears)