Creek and Seminole slaveholders in the Indian Territory feared Coacoochee
would inspire yet another mass exodus of blacks. Creek chief Roly McIntosh was
one of the territory’s wealthiest slaveowners. Like the corrupt subagent Duval,
McIntosh stood to profit from the capture and sale of Black Seminoles. And like
Duval, he was prone to writing letters of complaint to Gen. Belknap and other
Now he [Coacoochee] come back with enticing
news and want to carry his people in that nation; and the negroes, he told them
if they emigrate to that country, they will all be freed by the government. This
is good news to the negroes. I am told some are preparing to go…. Wild Cat [Coacoochee's
name in English] held
council with his people—bad this talk with them.
McIntosh ordered the arrest of Coacoochee and sent agents after him, but
ultimately the Creeks allowed him to leave unhindered. The wily Seminole chief
may have kept them at bay with reports of a large force of Indian allies south
of the Canadian River. Coacoochee induced 40 men and their families—perhaps 100
people in all, most of them black—to leave the territory. Given the 180 people
riding with Jim Bowlegs, these refugees would have added considerably to the
exodus. But the fugitives were about to encounter a major obstacle.
Foreman Five 264, Roly McIntosh to General Belknap
Sept. 23, 1850, as cited in House Doc. 15, 33rd Cong., 2nd
Sess.: 31-32, Marcellus Duval to Hon. Luke Lea, Commissioner
of Indian Affairs, Oct. 25, 1851, as cited in House Exec. Doc.
2.2, 32nd Cong., 1st Sess.: 405.