INDIAN AND WHITE ENGAGEMENTS
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
The year 1775
had been a peaceful one along the western waters of Virginia, with not
a single recorded incidence of Indian violence. This year of peace had
been brought about by Lord Dunmore's War against the northern Indians
with the end of the Point Pleasant Campaign. 1776 dawned with a fury
of Indian depredations hitherto unknown from the Cherokees whose proximity
to the western settlements made them a more formidable foe than the
Shawnee, although the Shawnee attacks did not cease. The Revolutionary
war was raging and the western settlers were faced with an enemy to
the east, one to the south and another to the north, with British agents
abetting and arming the hostile Indians, and in the midst were Tory
traitors waiting and ready to strike.
Indian foraging parties, both large and small,
were constantly prowling along the rivers and valleys of the Clinch,
Holston and Powell Rivers. Not only were their sudden and unexpected
appearances dangerous, but not knowing when and where they would strike
next the settlers were forced to live in the forts the entire spring,
summer and fall, thus preventing their growing any crops and suffering
was perhaps more acute in this year than any along the western waters.
Official records and contemporary writings of that time give an inkling
of the situation on the frontiers in the many appeals for flour and
ammunition which had to be sent in from the east by pack train and heavily
guarded by troops through the dangerous gaps and valleys of Southwest
In the spring all of Powell Valley had
been evacuated and the forts closed with the settlers moving into the
forts further into the interior. The Battle of Long Island Flats (near
Kingsport, TN) fought on July 20, 1776, and the Cherokee Campaign under
Col. William Christian in the fall, somewhat relieved the dangerous
situation, but not a single year passed from 1776, until the half-breed
Chief Benge was killed in Wise County, Va., in 1794 without settlers
along the frontier being killed and captured.
John Anderson of near Long Island, (Kingsport)
Sullivan Co., TN, who settled there in the year 1773, sums up very well
the frontier situation of 1776 in his unpublished memoir.
The Cherokee Indians in the year 1776
came with a force of three or four hundred to within ten miles of my
father's house before they were repulsed. The spys came in great speed
and the news was given. (We could) hear their voices and our men and
boys went out to meet them and they had sixteen or eighteen killed,
and the number wounded not known. Our people had three wounded, none
killed, notwithstanding we had 150 and the Indians more than double
The author of these remarks recollects well to have seen, on the next
day or two, after the battle, the scalps taken by some of our boys.
He remembers to have seen one of the said scalps in the hands of a certain
Mr. Moore, who took it off himself. My father and his family was then
in Shelby's Fort (near Bristol) where there was at that time, upwards
of 100 families in Shelby's Fort.
Immediately after the battle aforesaid
the Indians traveled all over the country in small parties aiming to
do us all the harm in their power. They killed a considerable quantity
of people in different parts of the country that would venture out of
the forts to get something to subsist no. After my father and his family
had been at Shelby's Fort a number of days, we went back to Looney's
Fort, that being more convenient to our home than Shelby's Fort. We
continued at Looney's until an army commanded by Col. Christian went
against the Cherokee Nation. Shortly after the army passed our fort
we moved home, and nearly all the families that was in said fort, which
was a large quantity. Several men was killed there during the time we
was forted and some wounded.
Adventures of Gen. Joseph Martin.
In speaking of the conditions
at Martin's Station (in now Lee Co., VA) in 1776, John Redd, who had
come to that Station with Col. Joseph Martin in January of 1775, from
Henry Co., VA states:
In May, 1776, General Martin returned
home, (to Henry Co., VA) promising to return in four weeks. The four
weeks expired and we heard nothing from General Martin. The settlers
from Priest's and Mump's Forts had all left, and some of our men. Days
rolled on and we could hear nothing from Martin or the settlement. We
became alarmed at our situation. We knew that something of great moment
had taken place or Martin would have returned or sent a messenger out
to let us know why he did not come at the appointed time. As our number
had decreased to about ten (men) and we could not hear from Martin,
we held a council, determined to remain three days longer, and, if we
could hear nothing from the settlement in that time, to start home.
The day we held our council, William Parks,
one of our number, insisted on going some eight miles below the fort,
and put up a few poles in the shape of a house, kill some trees, dig
some holes in the ground, and plant some corn, so as to secure a "corn-right",
and return the third morning time enough to start with us if we should
leave for the settlement. We very reluctantly gave our consent. On the
same evening, Parks, his nephew Thomas, and his Negro man set out to
secure the corn-right. The third morning after Parks left, the day he
promised to return, to our great surprise young Parks came and informed
us that his uncle had left the evening before to kill some meat. Shortly
after his leaving he heard him about, and had heard nothing from him
since. I, and two others set out with young Parks, and, on arriving
at his cabin, he showed us the way his uncle went. We found his track
and followed it with great care. After going about one mile we came
to where some Indians had been lying among some limestone rocks on the
About fifty yards from where the Indians
had been, we saw old Parks lying dead on his face. On examining him
we found he was shot through the heart. From his tracks he must have
run some thirty yards from where he was shot. He was scalped, and a
war club left sunk in his brain. We skinned some tough bark and with
it lashed old Parks to a pole, and two of us, with an end of the pole
on our shoulders, carried him to his cabin and buried him.
The same evening we returned to the fort.
On arriving there, we found an express sent out by General Martin, informing
us that the Indians (Cherokee) had declared war, and were doing a great
deal of mischief. The morning after the arrival of the express we broke
up and came to Blackmore's Fort on Clinch River. At this fort, we found
the greater part of the men who had left Mump's and Priest's forts.
was taken from the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the
Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, by Emory L. Hamilton)