Trail of Tears

Trail of Tears (HM29HY)

Location: Murphy, NC 28906 Cherokee County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 5.162', W 84° 2.213'

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Fort Butler and the Cherokee Removal of 1838

In 1838, the United States government deported more than 16,000 Cherokee Indian people from their homeland in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, and sent them to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Thousands of Cherokee perished during the forced relocation, which has become known as the Trail of Tears. This tragic episode of our history was a result of the 1832 Indian Removal Act, an official government policy to purge native nations from the eastern United States.

Fort Butler, located on a nearby hilltop, was the army headquarters for the Cherokee Removal in North Carolina. Tennessee Mounted Volunteers established the fort as "Camp Huntington" in July 1836. The volunteers occupied the post, which consisted of a single log blockhouse with a few log barracks buildings, through 1837. In the spring of 1838, the U.S. Army added a palisade wall, officers' quarters, a hospital, offices, and other buildings. Brigadier General Abraham Eustis and his staff took command of the post on June 2, 1838; the 1st and 4th U.S. Artillery regiments, along with companies of the 3rd Regiment of North Carolina Volunteer Militia, camped nearby.

On June 12, 1838, state and federal troops began the mass arrests of Cherokees in North Carolina. Some Cherokee prisoners were brought directly from their homes to Fort Butler,

others went to temporary detention at forts Lindsay, Montgomery, Delaney, Hembree, or Camp Scott become to Fort Butler. The prisoner camps at Fort Butler spread north and east of the fort; as many as 1,500 Cherokees at a time awaited transport to the "emigration depot" at Fort Cass (Charleston), Tennessee. During June and July 1838, more than 3,000 Cherokee prisoners from North Carolina and north Georgia passed through Fort Butler at the beginning of their westward exodus along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

Lt. E.D. Keyes' 1838 schematic map of army posts in the Cherokee Nation depicts Fort Butler as the hub for army operations in the "Eastern Division".

This December 1837 drawing of Fort Butler is the only contemporary depiction of an army post in the Cherokee Nation at the time of removal. The drawing indicates a single blockhouse and a row of officers' quarters; other blockhouses and a palisade wall were probably added before the removal operations began.

Lt. John Phelps drew scenes of everyday life in the army encampments around Fort Butler in 1838.
HM NumberHM29HY
Placed ByNorth Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, July 19th, 2018 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 770147 N 3886601
Decimal Degrees35.08603333, -84.03688333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 5.162', W 84° 2.213'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 5' 9.72" N, 84° 2' 12.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)828
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Railroad, Murphy NC 28906, US
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