Rozema, Vicki, editor, Voices from The Trail of Tears, John F. Blair,
Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 2003, pages 166-169
Excerpt from a letter from John Adair Bell and Stand Watie to the Arkansas Gazette on the murders of the Ridges and Boudinot:
On Saturday of the same week, it being the 22d of June, a party of 20 to 25 Indians proceeded to the house of John Ridge, on Honey creek, in the north part of the Cherokee nation, and having surrounded the house with their rifles, three of them forced his doors, drew him from his bed amidst the screams of his wife and children, and having given him 25 stabs in his body, left him dead n his yard. Maj. Ridge had started on the previous day, to Vineyard, in Washington county, Arkansas. He stayed on Friday night at the house of Mr. Ambrose Harnage, forty miles south of his son’s residence. He was waylaid about 10 o’clock on the same morning, by a party of Indians, five miles west of Cane-hill, and shot from a high precipice which commanded the road. It is reported that about 10 or 12 guns were fired at him; only five rifle balls, however, penetrated his body and head. Thus was the aged chief murdered from am ambush, without knowing the dastardly hands who sought his life. The murder occurred in Washington county. About the same hour, four Indians came to Mr. Boudinot, and after a friendly salutation, asked Mr. Boudinot to walk from where his hands were at work, and give them some medicine. Mr. B. who was ever found foremost in acts of charity, obeyed the summons. Shortly after he left the workmen he was struck by these Indians in the back and head, and brought to the earth, with tomahawks, and then stabbed several times in the back with a bowie knife. These are the circumstances attending the deaths of these individuals.
It is notorious, that although the Ridge’s and Boudinot resided at the distance of seventy miles apart, yet report of John Ridge’s murder was circulation all through the rank of Ross’s party, before B’s death was known to his immediate friends. This can perhaps be best explained by the fact that Boudinot and Ross residing about one mile apart. It is equally true that a strong guard were collected around Ross and Gunter [Edward Gunter, a prominent leader of the Ross faction] on the same morning; and Ross has kept a guard of from 200 to 600 persons about his person ever since. It is worthy of remark that Ross promises this guard at the rate of 25 dollars each per month, and gives his due bills to individuals, payable of the faith of the national treasury. These due bills are bought by his son-in-law and brother with goods. As soon as the undersigned, and some others of the proscribed, could pay the duties of interment to the bodies of their friends, the repaired to Fort Gibson, where they remained for ten days. They there learned upon good authority that they were unsafe while in the power of Ross and his partizans. Since that time they have been generally embodied, for their protection.
The convention of John Ross assembled, or rather his guard increased, on the first of July, as anticipated. The subjoined manifesto or decree [giving amnesty to the murderers of the Ridges and Boudinot] will show how far their proceedings were intended to affect the remaining victims of their malice. At the same time these papers were drawn up, a resolution was passed, freely pardoning the murderers of Messrs. Ridges and Boudinot, and all this, too, after Mr. Ross’s denial of any knowledge or participation in the matter, and his promise to aid in securing the murderers. Of the documents everyone will judge for himself; but to us they sound very much like the language of an usurper, who first seizes upon the throne, and then requires all the people who have rightly opposed him to swear allegiance to his pretensions. How far the Cherokees west united with the assumptions of Ross and his faction, they will in due time disclose for themselves. If Mr. Ross expects us to purchase our lives by swearing to the infamous oath which he put in our mouths, he very much mistakes the blood which runs in our veins. Sooner let us fall by the hand of the midnight assassin, than have our names loaded with infamy, and handed down to posterity as traitors, who had ‘saved their country from total destruction, by making the best treaty ever made for any Indians!” – The historian will do justice to the memories of the fallen. We will never cause their blood to ride in judgment against us, by casting obloquy on their characters. Eight of our friends have abandoned us. [Eight Treaty Party members apologized for signing the treaty in return for amnesty from the Ross faction.] Be the matter with them and their God. We are conscious that we have gained many where we have lost one. The threatened denunciation still hangs over us. Well, if the impending vengeance must fall, let it come upon us with clear consciences.