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Years after the Cherokee removal, the ethnologist James Mooney
interrogated participants, both Indian and white, and he condensed
their accounts into one of his own. Families at dinner were startled
by the sudden gleam of bayonets in the doorway and rose up to be
driven with blows amid oaths along the trail that led to the stockade.
Men were seized in their fields or going along the road, woman were
taken from their (spinning) wheels and children from their play....

To prevent escape the soldiers had been ordered to approach and
surround each house, as far as possible, so as to come upon the
occupants without warning. One old patriarch when thus surprised
calmly called his children and grandchildren around him, and kneeling
down bid them pray with him in their own language, while the astonished
soldiers looked on in silence. Then rising he led the way into exile. A
woman, on finding the house surrounded, went to the door and called up
the chickens to be fed for the last time, after which taking her infant
on her back and her other children by the hand, she followed her husband
with the soldiers.

But behind the soldiers came white looters who plundered the homes
and graves the Cherokees left behind and stole their livestock.

The Cherokees fell sick in the holding camps. The main body departed
west in the midst of drought that made water and food scarce. They
continued to travel into a viciously cold winter. People sickened and
died and were burried along the way. The journey took an especially
terrible toll of woman and children. The road they travelled was the
"road they cried": the bitter Trail of Tears.

Artwork by Silverhawk Creations.©