Washington City, Feby. 17th, 18381. John Ross, Esq. The Cherokee deputation who were appointed by you to visit the Seminoles of Florida in the character of mediators between the United States and the Seminoles; And to bear to them your talk of friendship and peace, beg leave to lay before you the result of their mission.
It is the wish and design of the deputation to give a connected narrative of all the facts as they have occured, and to draw from them such inferences as the facts will fully authorize and sustain; And to do this, we are enabled to refer to our notes by which every circumstance of the least importance connected with our mission has been carefully noted down.
From these facts and circumstances presented in a form in which they took place, you will be able to judge what the cause was, that led to the failure of the mission.
We met difficulties at the very outset; these had to be overcome, objections at every step had to be combated with; discouragements were presented in various shapes and forms; And the greater part of all their difficulties
1(Footnotes by Grant Foreman). The second Seminole war was caused by the efforts of the Federal Government to remove the Seminole Indians from their homes in Flirida by virtue of a treaty obtained in 1832 which was repudiated by practically all the tribe. When an effort was made to remove the Indians, hostilities were inaugurated by the killing of Charley Emarthla in 1835 by Osceola's followers. Emarthla was killed for his signing the treaty agreeing to the removal of the tribe. This was followed by the murder of Wiley Thompson, Seminole Agent, and by the massacre of Major Francis L. Dade's command of 107 officers and men near the Great Wahoo Swamp. The bitter contest that followed lasted for nearly eight years and cost upwards of $20,000,000.00, the lives of 1500 white soldiers and a much greater number of Indians. This terrible conflict and the appalling amount of suffering endured by the Indians excited the sympathies of the Cherokee Indians; when Chief John Ross, then in Washington, was approached on the subject by a special agent of the United States, some of the most intelligent men of the Cherokee Nation agreed at the request of Ross to go to Florida in an effort to restore peace between the Indians and the Government. The report of this commission to Ross after their return from Florida is here set forth in full. This interesting report is a part of the collection of Ross manuscripts now in the possession of Mr. W. W. Ross of Park Hill, Oklahoma, great grand son of Chief John Ross, by whose courtesy it is reproduced here.
were frivolous and absurd in the extreme. In a word, we did not meet with that free and open cooperation, that we expected, in our efforts to restore peace and harmony with the United States and the Seminole Indians. The cause of peace, justice, and humanity, should ever meet with undisguised advocates, unobscured by false professions, or mean jealousy. Every advance we made in the prosecution of our undertaking, seemed only to produce some new and unexpected objection.
The first interview that was had with Genl. Jesup,2 was by one of the deputation, on the third of November last, at Garey's Ferry, Black Creek; in this interview, Genl. Jesup said that he had been apprised of our intended visit to the Seminoles, by Mr. Poinsett, the Secy. of War. Genl. Jesup spoke freely of what he thought was the causes of the continued difficulties and of the power and influence of the different chiefs amongst their Tribe. He spoke of Oceola3 as having little or no influence with his people, but said, "That his talents would give him great consideration any where." "That he himself was the firm friend of the red man, but that nothing but powder and ball could effect any thing with the Seminoles; that it was his wish to save them from distruction, and that with our assistance he might be enabled to save them." On the fourth, our colleague expressed to Genl. Jesup a desire to proceed to St. Augustine to be in readiness to take such steps as might be deemed expedient, but was told by Genl. Jesup that in a day or two he would go himself, if not, that he would send one of his aid de camps with him to see the Chiefs in prison. On the sixth, our colleague reached St. Augustine in company with Genl. Jesup, and his staff, and the same evening he addressed a note to Genl. Jesup, in which he suggested the propriety, as a preliminary step, of dispatching some of the prisoners in the Fort to the Seminoles, to announce to them our expected visit to their Nation, a copy of which is here-
2Gen. Thomas Sidney Jesup was in command of the United States troops in Florida against the Seminole Indians.
3Osceola, or Powell, while not a chief of the Seminole tribe was a shrewd and influential leader. His capture by General Jesup's forces was affected by treachery. He was confined at Fort Moultrie where he died January 30, 1838.
with transmitted with this report. On the evening of the seventh, our colleague accompanied Genl. Jesup to the Fort, and had an interview with the Chiefs in prison.
Genl. Jesup spoke to them of his great power and his ability to over power them,—the number of his soldiers,—and that their people had better come in and submit; that he did not wish to spill the blood of the red man.
He then informed the Chiefs of the expected arrival of the deputation, as mediators of peace to their people, and then introduced our colleague as one of our number, and requested him to state in substance the object of our visit, which he did, and it was rec'd with expressions of their approbation. On the 8th or 9th, Genl. Jesup returned to Picolata, but before he left he informed our colleague that he had left instructions with Captain Brown for him to visit the Fort, and to be permitted to talk with the prisoners when ever he saw proper to do so; but that he could not permit your Talk to be given them, as it held out expectations to them, that could not be realized, and that he did not wish to deceive them, by holding out any hope that could not be fulfilled on the part of the Govt.
Such was the state of the Mission when the residue of the deputation arrived at St. Augustine on the tenth of November in company with Colonel, I. H. Sherburne, Special Agent of the Govt. Soon after the deputation got together at St. Augustine, they availed themselves of the first opportunity to see Genl. Jesup; And late in the evening of the 12th, we had the honour of an interview with him, he having just returned from Picolata. The subject of our mission was immediately brought up, and we discussed the many objections he opposed to our mission & of our proceeding into the heart of the country, which we proposed to do without hesitation, with such guides or conductors as might be selected for the purpose, but to this proposition he would not give his assent, but objected, because he thought it would be attended with great danger, that it was a hazardous enterprise—that the lives of the messengers, themselves would he sacrificed if they should happen to fall into the hands of the Mackasookies, before they reached the towns of the Seminoles; And said that we had better wait
until the messengers returned before we attempted to go into the hostile camps; that would only be about ten days, when we should hear from the Seminoles.
But preceeding this interview with Genl. Jesup, we visited the Fort to see our brother Indians, on the 11th and was attended by one of Genl. Jesup's aid de camps and Capt. Brown, who strictly had every word examined and qualified before it should go forth to the Chiefs—although it was not our wish to say much to the Chiefs, neither was this vigillence confined to us alone, but extended to Col. Sherburn. Such a scene could but excite feeling of ludicrous disgust, to see and witness this mock show of pretended circumspection, after being permitted to have unrestrained intercourse with the Seminoles; We were watched! Not a word was permitted to be said until it was ascertained what it be after it was said. On the 13th the deputation addressed a short letter to Genl. Jesup, formally announcing themselves to him—the object of their mission and their readiness to proceed to the fulfillment of the duties required by their instructions; a copy of which is herewith inclosed, and also a copy of a letter from Genl. Jesup to the deputation in reply of the same date. After the reception of Genl. Jesups letter on the morning of the 14th, we proceeded to see the Chiefs in the Fort, for the purpose of giving such instructions to the Messengers, as we felt authorized by the special permission of Genl. Jesup, which we read in the presence of the Chiefs, and with their cordial approbation. We give them the substance of their talk to communicate to their people, and sent several Pipes with Tobacco to the most prominent Chiefs as a pledge of Indian sincerity, and token of our good feelings for their welfare in mediating peace between them and their white brothers with whom they were at war.
It is proper to state before we proceed further, that when three of the deputation arrived at Picolota on their way to St Augustine, they met with Genl. Jesup, and in conversation with him, he strongly opposed our mission, because it was taking the affairs of Florida out of his controle; And said many things to discourage and operate upon our fears as we thought. He said that he would never recog-
nize Opoica4 (alias Sam Jones) as a Chief, nor have nothing to do with him in settling the difficulties of the war. He also spoke of your talk as being too indefinite and inexplicit. Before Genl. Jesop returned to Picolata, which was on the 14th, he informed the deputation, that in the course of a few days he would leave Picolota for Fort Mellon and he intended to take some of the Chiefs with him, and if we saw proper, we might go along, and that he would inform us of the day he would leave, that we might be in readiness. Accordingly he informed Col. Sherburne of the time he would set out from Picolata, and we went over from St. Augustine on the 18th, but when we arrived at that place Genl. Jesup had already left some two or three days before, without leaving any directions whether to follow on, nor could we obtain the least information from his aid de camps what to do. We, however, availed ourselves of the first chance that presented to ascend the St. Johns to Fort Mellon; which we did on the 21st of November, and on the 24th we reached Fort Mellon, the very day the Messengers who left St. Augustine the 14th was expected to return, to bring us intelligence of the determination of the Seminoles.
On the 23rd, we passed Genl. Jesup at Valausia, but we had no communication with him, and on the 26th he came up at Fort Mellon. The day after we got to Fort Mellon, which was the 25th the Messengers arrived late in the evening, and by them we received a Message from Micanopy the Principal Chief of the Seminoles, to come to their council ground in four days, for the purpose of having an interview with him and his sub-chiefs, and to hear what we had to say as mediators of peace between the United States and themselves. The place designated for holding the meeting, was about fifty miles from Fort Mellon, on Totalousy Hatchy, a small branch of the St. Johns. After nine o'clock at night of the 26th, we received an invitation from Genl. Jesup to call at his quarters, which we did and after taking our seats, we informed him of the word we
4Opoica, or Sam Jones, was the chief of the Tallehassee band of Florida Indians, with whom he resided and fought against the white soldiers until he was more than 80 years of age.
had received from Micanopy and his people, by the hands of the Messengers, and of the appointed time and place to meet the Seminoles in Council, and that in our opinion, it was of the utmost importance to use dispatch and promptness in meeting the chiefs in council at the appointed place. We requesed of him to let us know whether we could be permitted to proceed to the Seminole Indians, but the result was as tantalizing as it was evasive; nor could we extort a direct reply to our question, nor even draw from his manner, whether we might hold ourselves in readiness to go or not. His reply was, that he "had no confidence in anything the Indians said, that they had deceived him too often to be trusted, and that the time was too long, and the place too far off, that he could not stop the movements of the army."
Such was the result of this interview; we were left in a state of extreme uncertainity and perplexity, not knowing what to think or do, whether to hold ourselves ready to proceed, or to return home. On the morning of the 27th, we renewed our application to Genl. Jesup, to permit us to proceed, but we met with no better incouragement; he said that he would make a treaty with the Seminoles, that if he was specially instructed to do so by the Secy. of War, that he would disobey the instruction; such was again the result of this interview, and we were as usual, left to our conjectures, as to what would be the final result of our almost incessant application to know from him his disposition with regard to permitting us to proceed.
It was not until a few minutes before we started from Fort Mellon, that we knew definitely that we were to be permitted to go; and that information was gained only by hearing an order by the quarter master, to have horses ready by such an hour for our use.
About 10 A. M. on the 28th of November, we left the encampment of the army, for the interior; accompanied by Coa Hadjo, one of the prisoner chiefs, as our guide and friend, to conduct us to his people.
We were allowed only six days to go and return and arrange our plans of peace, and only a day and a half remained of the appointed time to meet the chiefs, and a distance of fifty miles to ride through almost impenitrable
hammocks before we could reach the designated place to hold the desirable interview with the chiefs, head men and warriors, of the Seminoles. Just before sun set we took up camp for the night, on the east side of a beautiful lake, and early next morning we set off and rode at good speed until 12 o'clock, when we come to the appointed place, but to our great mortification, when we found not a soul on the ground, nor any appearance of preparation, excepting an old encampment which had long since been abandoned by the Seminoles. Our friend, Coa Hadjo left us to take care of ourselves, while he rode off to see whether or not he could make any discoveries, and obtain such information as might enable us to proceed to the prosecution of our mission of peace.
Our friend Coa Hadjo was absent just two hours, when he returned accompanied by Nocosi Yahola, a Creek Chief of rank and a young warrior; these were the first hostile Indians we had seen. They informed us that in consequence of discovering a party of troops landing on Lake Harney, they had concluded that the message we sent them was intended to decieve them, and consequently they had determined not to meet us as had been previously agreed upon, and that their people were making their way to the south. After explaining to them the cause of their alarm, and telling them they had no cause to fear an attack, we urged the importance of our obtaining an early interview with the Chiefs. It was determined that we should proceed on in the morning about twelve miles farther, where it was expected the Seminoles had made a stop, and that a messenger be dispatched to inform the chiefs of our expected arrival amongst them, and that we expected to meet them in council at their encampment. Such was the understanding and at about nine o'clock A. M. on the 30th of Nov., we set off, and at a few minutes past twelve o'clock, we came up with a part of the Mackossokies; they seemed quite glad to see us, and after halting a few minutes, we passed on, and a little after one o'clock, we reached the main encampment of our brother Indian. A short time after our arrival at the council ground, we understood that Micanopy had just come, and a short time after two young chiefs came to in-
form us that the chiefs were ready to receive us, and requested us to attend the place of meeting.
In a short time we were at the place; took our seats in front of the chiefs, and after a short pause, the Principal Chief came up and cordially took us by the hand, and was followed by the other chiefs. Our Pipe of Peace with tobacco was then produced and laid on the ground between us and the chief; when a short introductory address was made by Mr. Conrad, after which, we presented your written talk. It was read by Mr. Fields, interpreted by Mr. Bushyhead to our interpreter, and by him to the Seminoles. It was listened to with the utmost attention; the profoundest silence prevailed, and feelings of the deepest import seemed to be instilled, and marks of evident satisfaction was exhibited by every countenance.
The next day (Dec. 1st) just before twelve o'clock, we was again requested to attend at the council ground to read your Talk and to explain more particularly and fully some points which was not properly understood the evening before, and as other chiefs had arrived through the night, that had not heard the address. We read and explained at length, and endeavored to impress the importance of their adopting the course recommended in your address as the surest plan of adjusting the unhappy difficulty that existed between the United States, and their people.
We spoke of the different Tribes of Indians, who had recently visited the seat of govt. for the object of settling their difficulties by peaceable and friendly means, and of the great hopes and expectations that prevalied for the friendly settlement of their difficulties,—and of the disappointment that would be experienced, not only by our people, but by all the better class of whites, if they refused to accept the propositions of peace, as presented by your Talk to them. We endeavored to impress on their minds, that the best of feelings prevailed among the liberal class of the white people for their welfare, and that it was the wish of almost very body to see the war brought to a close. We spoke of war as the greatest of evils, that it ought not to be resorted to, only in the last extreamity; that its consequences would reduce them to ex-
treme hardships, and the deepest distress and want;—that it would subject them and their wives, children, and their old men to the worst condition, and expose the safety of their chiefs, and waste the blood of their brother warriors.
We stated to them, that their Nation and the Cherokees, were now the only southern Indians east of the Mississippi river, and as brother Indians, we ought to settle our difficulties together with the United States, in a peacable and friendly way.
On the second of Dec, at eleven o'clock we started on our return for Fort Mellon, accompanied by Micanopy,5 Cloud (alias Yoholachee) and eleven other sub chiefs, and warriors, amounting to the number of twenty five or thirty in all. Nothing of interest occured on our way back,—friendship and the best of feelings appeared to pervade our whole party.
Late in the evening of the third we reached the encampment of the Army before Fort Mellon with the white scarf of peace rippling over our heads, and after partaking of some refreshments, we called on Genl. Jesup, and informed him of every thing that had taken place, and all that we had said to induce the Seminoles to come in and make peace. Our reception was cold, and almost repulsive; not a symtom of approbation was exhibited. He asked us a great many questions about the Indians, the nature of the country, the number of the Seminoles.—their situation, and what were our ideas then with regard to their real disposition to come into terms. We frankly told him our opinion of their disposition so far as we could learn,—that we believed we had fully gained their confidence and friendship and that if a judicious course was persued, we had not the least hesitation in saying, that the difficulty would be settled amicably, and we believed the desire of the Seminoles to make peace to be sincere, and that as an evidence of that belief we would refer him to the fact of the Chiefs coming in under our persuasion. To these re-
5Micanipy was a powerful chief of the Seminole Indians who aided his people in maintaining themselves in Florida until his family were captured when he surrendered and moved to the west. Here he was a useful and influential leader in his tribe during the period of their readjustment to their new homes.
marks he flatly said, "That he did not believe one word the Indians had said to us, that they only wanted to delay time, and that the Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee volunteers were on their way to join him, and that it would be impossible to hold them back, and that his force was very great." &c. Such was the precise nature of his language, and we inferred that he regretted that we had been so successful in bringing in the Chiefs to ascertain what terms could be attained.
We, upon every occasion avoided to hold out any expectations to the Seminoles, except what was plainly authorized by your address, knowing that it had underwent the review of the Secy. of War, and sanctioned by him. Knowing this, we had every season to believe, that whatever was therein held out to the Seminoles, would be faithfully confirmed and realized to them by Genl. Jesup, as the sole Commissioner of the United States to adjust the difficulty of the unhappy and unequal contest in Florida. But instead of confirming anything contained in your address he did not care to allude to the provisions or suggestions which it contained, when he held his talk with the chiefs, on the fifth of Decr; but he required an unconditional submission to the stipulations of the Treaty made at Fort Dade, and against which, he well knew, the great body of the Seminoles were violently opposed. In this Council, Genl. Jesup wanted to know what assurances the Chiefs could give him of their sincerity in their application for peace; Micanopy replied, and referred him to the circumstance of their having come in with us; that they had received our talk and fully believed what we said to be true. He then asked Micanopy what Opiacca (alias Saml. Jones) had said to him in regard to our visit, he replied again and said that he was sincere and wished for peace, that the Cherokee had come along ways to see them, and that they had received them as friends, and engagements made between Indians under their ancient customs was considered inviolate by all Indians. Genl. Jesup required the Chiefs to send for their respective families as pledges for themselves, and for each warrior to come in and give up his rifle, before he would take any further steps to arrange the difficulty. Such was
the substance of this interview, and a most important one too, but it was but too well calculated to disgust and disappoint the expectations that had been created by the inducements held out by your talk to them. Disappointment was quite visable on every face, and the warrior feeling was no doubt embittered by thus reducing his native pride to such an alternative and submitting to an act of self abasement, and but too well calulated to degrade them, in the estimation of their people.
It was however agreed to by the Chiefs, that were present, to send for their families, and each chief had the privilege of sending after their friends, and was allowed from six to ten days to go and return.
On the morning of the sixth Mr. Bushyhead and our interpreter set out to visit the camp of Opiacca to assure him of the strong desire of Genl. Jesup to have him come in and enter into terms of peace, but when Mr. Bushyhead arrived at the encampment of this chief, he found him and his people already dissatisfied with the proposed terms of Genl. Jesup, and marks of evident hostility wars defused amongst the Seminoles, by the escape of Wild Cat, a dareing young chief, who had instilled feelings of strong dislike against us, by circulating reports of a reproachful character against the object of our Mission. Opiacca was quite encensed against the deputation, and charged us with being leagued with the whites to deceive them, and said that he never knew that women and children had to go and make peace before, that it was the duty of the chiefs and men to do such business, and then asked what all this meant by coming again the second time; that we must by acting the double part of deceivers. Tuskeegee here interposed and vindicated our course as consistent throughout and after an explanation from Mr. Bushyhead he appeared more satisfied, but rather incredulous to his statements.
The prospects of a friendly pacification of the difficulty with the Seminole people now began to present a discouraging appearance, the indication of blasted hopes, and sad disappointment was too obvious to be mistaken. They had been induced to believe from what we had said to them, as authorized by your address to expect a different mode of
adjusting the existing troubles between the United States and themselves, but they were entirely deceived, and disappointed, when Genl. Jesup required of them an entire surrender of their arms, their wives, and their children, and to conform unconditionally to the provisions of a former treaty against which they stood in open hostility, and disavowed all moral obligations to acknowledge its binding force.
However great might be the wish of some of the chiefs to conform to the treaty, it is a well known fact, that they cannot control the mass of their people into a measure, that they cannot reasonably sanction and no doubt upon the assurances we gave the Seminoles, based upon what we thought good authority, they did, and had a right to expect a different state of things.
When Mr. Bushyhead and our interpreter parted with Oppiacca and his people, his hopes of seeing their difficult ties happily brought to a close had almost entirely vanished, yet, it did not delay our exertions to bring them to a sense of their best interest. On the 12th of Decr, Mr. Bushyhead returned accompanied by a young Seminole Indian, who had overtaken him on the way and entrusted with a message from some of the chiefs of a favorable character. Upon the information thus obtained from the young Seminole Indian, we thought it our duty to return immediately to see the chiefs, and remain with them until they should get into headquarters, for the purpose of removing any false impression which might defeat our plans of mediation. After seven o'clock P. M. Mr. Bushyhead, Mr. Fields, and our interpreter started back to visit again the camp of the Seminoles accompanied by the young Seminole Indian. We rode until after one o'clock and stope for the remainder of the night,—in coming on, we passed an Indian camp where we stoped a few minutes; we directed them to go to Fort Melton, which they did. We arose early the next morning in a hard rain, wet and cold, and started. We passed two or three camps of the Seminoles, who we also advised to go to Fort Mellon. We continued our ride until twelve o'clock when the rain abated, and the sun shone out pleasantly and warm. We were but a short distance from the place where we expected to find our red brothers, already on their way
to Fort Mellon, when the young Seminole Indian, stopped all of a sudden, and said to our interpreter, "that it was reported that Wild Cat had destroyed all the plans of peace, and, that this report was true,—that we had come here with the expectation of finding all the chiefs and people, but there was no one to see,—that they had all left and gone south as soon as Mr. Bushyhead had left, and that he was instructed to tell the story by the chiefs for the purpose of deceiving us. When we heard this intelligence, there was no alternative for us, but to return immediately, we could not be otherwise than sadly disappointed, and felt some apprehensions for our own safty, after discovering this act of open deception on the part of a people whom we had honestly tried to benefit. We asked this youth if we were in any danger, he said not in the least; we however asked him to return part of the way back, which he willingly did, and before we parted he told us that the Seminoles had determined to fight and die on the land that the Great Spirit had given them,—that not far from the place where we was, he expected there would be a battle fought. We expressed our deep regret at the course his people had determined to persue, and still hoped that they might change their minds, and adopt the advice we had given them to come in and make peace.
On our way back, we met two other Indians whom we knew, they told us that they had obtained permission to go after their wives and children, and would return in a few days, but this we had but little reason to expect. We told them to inform their people of our disappointment, and hoped that they would yet come to a different conclusion.
We continued our way back, until after nine o'clock at night, when we concluded to stop. We were too much fatigued to ride further. We laid down, both wet and cold, hungry, and slept until morning. Between 8 and 9 o'clock on the morning of the 14th we reached Fort Mellon. We soon called on Genl. Jesup and informed him of all that had taken place; of the entire failure of our Mission, from causes over which we could not exercise any controle whatever. Immediately after we had reported to Genl. Jesup,
he ordered Micanopy, and all who had come in with him, to be sent off instantly to St. Augustine as prisoners of war, or rather, as captives, who had come in under a flagg of peace, by our persuasion, and under the auspicies of our mediation. On the 15th Decr we addressed a letter to Genl. Jesup, in which we acknowledged our gratitude for his kindness; and in conclusion, we directed his attention to the circumstance of sending the chiefs and their followers to a place of confinement and security.
We herewith insert the part in relation to the subject and make it a part of this report. We feel it due to ourselves to call your attention to one circumstance. We have been in some degree instrumental in inducing Micanopy and the other chiefs who came in with him, to expect any thing like stratagem on our part, or, that they would be taken and thrown into confinement, as they come in under a flag of peace, and under our auspicies. We are apprehensive that we are suspected of a design to entrap them. We have avoided every thing that would in the least lead them to suspect our motives in our intercourse with them, and notwithstanding the Seminoles have turned a deaf ear to our advice for their best good, yet we should regret extremely, that just on this eve of our departure, they should be under any improper impression that after all we had said to the contrary, that we should be suspected of having them sent to a place of security. A word from you to them on the subject, would be sufficient to remove any improper impression that they might be under with regard to us. A copy of the letter is herewith enclosed and also a copy of Genl. Jesup's reply. We insert the part of his letter in answer to that part of our letter that refers to the imprisonment of the chiefs. "As to the Chiefs Micanopy and Cloud, they came in to remain,—they were hostages under the treaty of Fort Dade, and forceably carried off, and Micanopy at last was on his way to join me at Tampy Bay, where he supposed he would find me, before he heard of our arrival. He is aware that I have sent him and the warriors who accompanied him to St. Augustine, in consequence of the recent conduct of Oppiacca and other chiefs and their people."
The 16th of Decr, we took our leave of Genl. Jesup at Fort Mellon, and left for our homes; the next day we crossed over from Picolata to St. Augustine for the express purpose of vindicating ourselves before the captive chiefs by presenting our correspondence with Genl. Jesup about their imprisonment. We told them that we would do all that lay in our power to relieve them from their confinement, and that we would lay the whole affair before you, for the purpose of having the same fully communicated to the Secry of War; that we felt bound to remonstrate against such exercise of power, in violation of the sacred insigna of peace, under the extraordinary circumstance of an embassy of pacification and friendship.
The 19th we left the abode of our captive chiefs, and returned to Picolata; thence to Savannah, Charlston, at which place we reached on the 25th of December. At the earnest solicitation of Col. Sherburne, the deputation determined to come on to Washington, and on the 30th, we arrived here. We should not have come to this conclusion had it not been for the earnest manner that Col. Sherburne pressed the importance of our doing so, for the purpose of "sustaining him," and to finish the duties of our mission.
In conclusion, we beg to refer to the causes which in our humble opinion retarded and defeated the object of our mediation. In the first we did not meet with that cordial and frank cooperation that was due to the great object of peace; and unnecessary delay was imposed by Genl. Jesup from our first arrival at St. Augustine, which was on the 10th of November, to the 28th, in which time we could have effected much with the Seminoles, and in all probability brought the whole difficulty a happy close. In the next place, when we was permitted to proceed to the hostile camps of the Seminoles, the time alloted was too short, only six days was given us to accomplish an arduous and complicated undertaking. In the third place when we had succeeded in persuading the chiefs to comply with our solicitations, and had effected all the essential preliminaries of peace, the unfortunate escape of Wild Cat took place, and from the bad treatment he had received, after he had performed an important trust for the commanding officer,
he was determined, it would seem, from the bitterness of his feelings to frustrate every plan to capture his people no matter in what way it should be attempted to be effected, whether under the waving banner of peace or in open battle field.
In the last place, if after all Genl. Jesup had persued a more liberal and judicious course with the chiefs after they had thrown themselves upon his justice and magnanimity and not have required the terms which he knew from the very nature of things would only make the difficulty greater, and aggrevate deeper their sense of all their wrong, and oppressions. We do not hesitate to say, that if Genl. Jesup had persued a more just course toward the Indians, that an end might have been effected to the war.
We have now, Sir, stated what is literally a full statement of facts and circumstances in relation to the important mission that your confidence intrusted for our performance to the Seminoles of Florida; with the confident assurance of having done all that any individuals could have done under the same circumstances. We left nothing untried, or unresorted to, that would have in the least advanced, or, furthered the desirable objects of peace. (Signed) Richd Fields, Hair Conrad, his X mark, Jesse Bushyhead,6 Thos. Woodard, his X mark. Test. Pole Cat his X mark, Interpreter for the Mediation to the Seminoles.
6The members of this delegation were influential men of the tribe; outstanding among them was the Rev. Jesse Bushyhead who was the leader of one of the emigrating parties to the west in the winter of 1838 and 1839, and afterward served as Chief Justice of the Cherokee Nation during the days of the reestablishment of their government. He died July 17, 1844, and is buried in the Baptist Mission cemetery north of Westville, Oklahoma.