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John G. Reynolds Journal


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Reynolds, John G.

John G. Reynolds (1801-1865) was an officer in the U.S. Marines. He was born in New Jersey and attended West Point before leaving in his third year. He served in the Indian Wars in Georgia and Florida, and in 1837, as a lieutenant, Reynolds participated in an emigration expedition of Creek Indians from their lands in the Southeast to west of the Mississippi River. He later served on the U.S.S. Constellation with Lawrence Kearney, in the Mexican War, as well as in the Civil War, and commanded a Marine post in Brooklyn, New York. He died in 1865.

This collection consists of journal entries and copies of correspondence between John G. Reynolds, First Lieutenant of the United States Marine Corps, Military Agent and Acting Superintendent of Creek Removal, and his military superiors, camp physicians and surgeons, two contractors for the Alabama Emigrating Company, and the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs during an emigration expedition of Creek Indians from their lands in the Southeast to west of the Mississippi. The 1837 journal, beginning on February 19th and ending on October 19th when Lieutenant Reynolds requested to be relieved of his assignment because of ill health, documents the logistical process and bureaucracy involved in the relocation and transportation of the Creek Indians from Fort Morgan, Mobile Point, Alabama to La Granve, Florida to Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Lieutenant Reynolds was responsible for enacting the requests made by the camp physicians and surgeons on behalf of the Creek Indians. These requests ranged from providing bed planks for the Indian Infirmary to relocating the entire group to a new campsite with better health conditions. The camp physicians and surgeons also advised Lieutenant Reynolds on transportation policies, which resulted in an unresolved argument between Reynolds and the steamboat providers, the Alabama Emigrating Company, regarding the number of passengers to be transported on each steamboat, sanitation, and the provision for fresh air and exercise during the trip. As Reynolds negotiated these requests, he was faced with reconciling two different attitudes towards the health and safety of the Native Americans: the camp physicians and surgeons, which mirrored his own, and many military officers and the Alabama Emigrating Company.

Lieutenant Reynolds and the camp physicans and surgeons were not alone in their defense of the Creek Indians. Major W.E. Freeman writes to Reynolds that his commanding general, Major General Thomas Sydney Jesup, was "exceedingly anxious that every attention be paid to the wants of the Indians, so that all may reach their new homes with no other feeling than those of friendship towards the whites," (Letter, September 18, 1837). Despite this goal of friendship, Lieutenant Reynolds witnessed other attitudes, not only in his daily work planning the relocation of the Creeks, but also when he visited the site of a recent massacre and describes in a letter, "the inhumane butcher[ing]" of the women and children of a Native American community which was enacted "with the sanction of the Commanding Colonel (Brown)," (Letter, June 1837).

Many of Reynolds letters and journal entries describe the illnesses that the Native American population suffered during the relocation process, including fever, diarrhea, bilious fever, ague, and dysentery. Efforts were made by Lieutenant Reynolds and the camp physicians to improve the health of the Native Americans, and to prevent them from exposure to known illness, particularly in New Orleans.

Lieutenant Reynold's letters and journal entires are largely devoid of his own opinions and emotional investment in the Creek Indians. However, his correspondence proves a determination on his part ot make certain that the Creek Indians were treated as humanely as possible during their relocation. The collection documents a pivotal time in American history, when Native Americans were forced to abandon their homes and often some of their family members to relocate west of the Mississippi.

This collection consists of the original journal, a photocopy of the journal, and a transcription of the journal.

AM 78-32.

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Processed by Kelly Rafey.

No materials were removed during 2013 processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
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The collection is open for research.

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Collection Inventory

Lt. John Reynolds Journal (Photocopy), 1837 February 19-October 19. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Lt. John Reynolds Journal (Transcript), 1837 February 19-October 19. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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Lt. John Reynolds Journal (Original), 1837 February 19-October 19. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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