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While the focus today on the "Trail of Tears" is mainly focused on the route traveled and the journey. For several years before the event of Removal the Cherokee were confronted with their future.
Illegal stockades were being built intended for housing the Cherokee people, built on Cherokee lands. As more settlers moved into the area these forts were built for the express purpose of housing the Cherokee before their removal. As stories of the conditions of these stockades (Forts) many Cherokee refused to report to the forts. Conditions were unbelievably horrible. Manned by the "Georgia Guard" who passed their days by tormenting and abusing the Cherokee. Food intended for the captives was sold to settlers, what little the Cherokee had brought with them was stolen and sold. Those Cherokee that refused to report voluntarily to the forts the Georgia Guard considered them renegades and they were hunted down like animals, Fair game to the Guard and soldiers.
Many Cherokee and the aggressors keep journals, wrote letters and told the stories of the happenings. The reality of the horrors that took place became fact! (Remember also that the Cherokee had slaves, many of these slaves were on the "Trail of Tears" also with their Cherokee Masters.)
Cherokee Removal Forts
Originally built to keep out white settlers from Cherokee Lands during the 1827 gold rush. Also used during the Cherokee Removals of 1838.
Six miles east of Canton, GA. - Fort Buffington, built in the 1830's by local militia. It was one of about 25 stockades in the Cherokee Indian Nation used by Federal and State troops during the Cherokee Removal in 1838
(1835 - 1838) Built for Cherokee Removal. Calhoun, Tenn.Fort Cass was used as one of the eight removal forts in Tennessee. It was on the south side of the Hiwassee, 0.5 miles east of U.S. 11 in Charleston. It was the principal Cherokee agency on the Hiwassee and served as the primary emigration depot for the removal. The site is on private property.
Cherokee were numerous enough that Fort Cedartown was built near the center of town. This was only briefly used to house local Cherokee prior to their removal
A Cherokee Removal Fort was located in LaFayette, on the site of the present-day water plant (Big Spring). Captain Samuel Farriss of the Georgia Guard was in charge and local volunteers augmented members of his unit. The stockade was a large enclosure of upright logs; the trenches where the logs were placed can still be plainly seen. There was a rifle tower in each corner after the manner of frontier forts, port holes were formed by sawing flared notches in the logs before they were put in the building. Strangely missing from detailed physical description of the fort is any mention of the horrors that occurred inside the walls.
Also known as Fort Embry. Dahlonega meaning "Gold" in Cherokee. One of the infamous Cherokee Removal Forts, the structure stood near present-day downtown Dahlonega.
Camp (Fort) Gilmer:
Built in 1838 to garrison U.S. troops ordered to enforce the removal from this region of the last Cherokee Indians under terms of the New Echota treaty of 1833. The temporary headquarters of Gen. Winfield Scott, under whose command the removal was effected. The reluctant Indians were brought here and guarded until the westward march began
Fort Hetzel (East Ellijay):
Walking Stick, also of Gilmer County, joined Ross in a failed attempt to abrogate the Treaty of New Echota in 1836. By this time Fort Hetzel was being expanded to house an estimated 1100 Cherokee from the area. Fort Hetzel housed no less than 1100 Cherokee for nearly 6 months with little food and no sanitation, many Native Americans died. More died on the march, which began down the Dahlonega to Tennessee Road roughly following Route 52 west of Ellijay. Some letters seem to indicate that the road was improved specifically for the forced march. Fort Hetzel was operated until 1842 in what is now the chity of East Ellijay, was abandoned March 24, 1842.
One of the first structures built after the lottery was Fort Hoskins, not far from Chief Vann's House. This was one of the infamous Cherokee Removal Forts. Housed here, then moved further north to Rattlesnake Sprints before the forced march, the Cherokee suffered horribly.
Fort Means (Kingston):
Fort Marr:Fort New Echota (Fort Wool):
1814 - unknown, the only remaining stockade fort of 23 used for the Cherokee Removals in 1838. Originally a settlers fort.
Built in the town to house the Cherokee before moving west.
After Major Ridge and other members of the Treaty Party sign the Treaty of New Echota, The Principal People hoped their leaders would get it modified so they might stay on their ancestral land. Even while a Cherokee delegation was in Washington Governor George Gilmer of Georgia and Secretary of War Joel Poinsett were plotting the invasion.
Local operations began on May 18, 1838, mostly carried out by Georgia Guard under the command of Colonel William Lindsey. The first Cherokee round-up under orders from United States General Winfield Scott started on May 25, 1838 with General Charles Floyd in charge of field operations.
General Scott was shocked during a trip to inspect Fort New Echota when he overheard members of The Guard say that they would not be happy until all Cherokee were dead. As a result, he issued meticulous orders on conduct and allowed actions during the action. Troops were to treat tribal members "with kindness and humanity, free from every strain of violence." Each Cherokee was to receive meat and flour or corn regardless of age. Scott's orders were disobeyed by most troops that were not directly under his control.
Fort Newnan (Talking Rock Fort):
A stockade encompassing about four acres erected at the Fort was used beginning 26 May 1838 as an internment camp for several hundred Cherokee Indians who were gathered and imprisoned by White troops. In the spring of 1838 the tribe was rounded up, along with other Cherokee and herded into Talking Rock Fort and Fort Buffington (near Canton, Ga.)
Fort Red Clay:
1838, The Red Clay State Historical Area is on Blue Springs Road South of Cleveland. It is managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The Cherokee tribal government met here between 1832 and 1838. Eleven general councils were held here, with as many as 5,000 Cherokees attending. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also called Fort Eaton
Also known as Camp Hinar Sixes - Previously called Camp Hinar Sixes. This was the first removal fort built in Gerogia. Built in September 1830, shortly after the Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This camp was used to house members of the infamous Georgia Guard
Hamilton County, Tenn.
The site of Ross's Landing is near the Market Street bridge over the Tennessee River at Chattanooga. Altogether some 2,000 Cherokees were held at this internment camp, 970 of whom made up the 11th detachment, conducted overland by Richard Taylor. Three large groups departed by water from this point.