History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

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 Virginia.

     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Sullivan Co., TN, who settled there in the year 1773, sums up very well the frontier situation of 1776 in his unpublished memoir.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 that number.
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 Kentucky Trace.

     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.

     (This article was taken from the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, by Emory L. Hamilton)

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