THE CONQUEST OF THE OLD SOUTHWEST: THE ROMANTIC STORY OF THE EARLY PIONEERS INTO VIRGINIA, THE CAROLINAS, TENNESSEE, AND KENTUCKY 1740-1790
BY ARCHIBALD HENDERSON, Ph.D., D.C.L.
Some to endure and many to fail,
Some to conquer and many to quail
Toiling over the Wilderness Trail.
THE CENTURY CO.
TO THE HISTORIAN OF
OLD WEST AND NEW WEST
FREDERICK JACKSON TURNER
WITH ADMIRATION AND REGARD
The country might invite a prince from his palace, merely for the pleasure of contemplating its beauty and excellence; but only add the rapturous idea of property, and what allurements can the world offer for the loss of so glorious a prospect?–Richard Henderson.
The established Authority of any government in America, and the policy of Government at home, are both insufficient to restrain the Americans . . . . They acquire no attachment to Place: But wandering about Seems engrafted in their Nature; and it is a weakness incident to it, that they Should for ever imagine the Lands further off, are Still better than those upon which they are already settled.–Lord Dunmore, to the Earl of Dartmouth.
The romantic and thrilling story of the southward and westward migration of successive waves of transplanted European peoples throughout the entire course of the eighteenth century is the history of the growth and evolution of American democracy. Upon the American continent was wrought out, through almost superhuman daring, incredible hardship, and surpassing endurance, the formation of a new society. The European rudely confronted with the pitiless conditions of the wilderness soon discovered that his maintenance, indeed his existence, was conditioned upon his individual efficiency and his resourcefulness in adapting himself to his environment. The very history of the human race, from the age of primitive man to the modern era of enlightened civilization, is traversed in the Old Southwest throughout the course of half a century.
A series of dissolving views thrown upon the screen, picturing the successive episodes in the history of a single family as it wended its way southward along the eastern valleys, resolutely repulsed the sudden attack of the Indians, toiled painfully up the granite slopes of the Appalachians, and pitched down into the transmontane wilderness upon the western waters, would give to the spectator a vivid conception, in miniature, of the westward movement. But certain basic elements in the grand procession, revealed to the sociologist and the economist, would perhaps escape his scrutiny. Back of the individual, back of the family, even, lurk the creative and formative impulses of colonization, expansion, and government. In the recognition of these social and economic tendencies the individual merges into the group; the group into the community; the community into a new society. In this clear perspective of historic development the spectacular hero at first sight seems to diminish; but the mass, the movement, the social force which he epitomizes and interprets, gain in impressiveness and dignity.
As the irresistible tide of migratory peoples swept ever southward and westward, seeking room for expansion and economic independence, a series of frontiers was gradually thrust out toward the wilderness in successive waves of irregular indentation. The true leader in this westward advance, to whom less than his deserts has been accorded by the historian, is the drab and mercenary trader with the Indians. The story of his enterprise and of his adventures begins with the planting of European civilization upon American soil. In the mind of the aborigines he created the passion for the fruits, both good and evil, of the white man’s civilization, and he was welcomed by the Indian because he also brought the means for repelling the further advance of that civilization. The trader was of incalculable service to the pioneer in first spying out the land and charting the trackless wilderness. The trail rudely marked by the buffalo became in time the Indian path and the trader’s “trace”; and the pioneers upon the westward march, following the line of least resistance, cut out their, roads along these very routes. It is not too much to say that had it not been for the trader–brave, hardy, and adventurous however often crafty, unscrupulous, and immoral–the expansionist movement upon the American continent would have been greatly retarded.
So scattered and ramified were the enterprises and expeditions of the traders with the Indians that the frontier which they established was at best both shifting and unstable. Following far in the wake of these advance agents of the civilization which they so often disgraced, came the cattle-herder or rancher, who took advantage of the extensive pastures and ranges along the uplands and foot-hills to raise immense herds of cattle. Thus was formed what might be called a rancher’s frontier, thrust out in advance of the ordinary farming settlements and serving as the first serious barrier against the Indian invasion. The westward movement of population is in this respect a direct advance from the coast. Years before the influx into the Old Southwest of the tides of settlement from the northeast, the more adventurous struck straight westward in the wake of the fur-trader, and here and there erected the cattle-ranges beyond the farming frontier of the piedmont region. The wild horses and cattle which roamed at will through the upland barrens and pea-vine pastures were herded in and driven for sale to the city markets of the East.
The farming frontier of the piedmont plateau constituted the real backbone of western settlement. The pioneering farmers, with the adventurous instincts of the hunter and the explorer, plunged deeper and ever deeper into the wilderness, lured on by the prospect of free and still richer lands in the dim interior. Settlements quickly sprang up in the neighborhood of military posts or rude forts established to serve as safeguards against hostile attack; and trade soon flourished between these settlements and the eastern centers, following the trails of the trader and the more beaten paths of emigration. The bolder settlers who ventured farthest to the westward were held in communication with the East through their dependence upon salt and other necessities of life; and the search for salt-springs in the virgin wilderness was an inevitable consequence of the desire of the pioneer to shake off his dependence upon the coast.
The prime determinative principle of the progressive American civilization of the eighteenth century was the passion for the acquisition of land. The struggle for economic independence developed the germ of American liberty and became the differentiating principle of American character. Here was a vast unappropriated region in the interior of the continent to be had for the seeking, which served as lure and inspiration to the man daring enough to risk his all in its acquisition. It was in accordance with human nature and the principles of political economy that this unknown extent of uninhabited transmontane land, widely renowned for beauty, richness, and fertility, should excite grandiose dreams in the minds of English and Colonials alike. England was said to be “New Land mad and everybody there has his eye fixed on this country.” Groups of wealthy or well-to-do individuals organized themselves into land companies for the colonization and exploitation of the West. The pioneer promoter was a powerful creative force in westward expansion; and the activities of the early land companies were decisive factors in the colonization of the wilderness. Whether acting under the authority of a crown grant or proceeding on their own authority, the land companies tended to give stability and permanence to settlements otherwise hazardous and insecure.
The second determinative impulse of the pioneer civilization was wanderlust–the passionately inquisitive instinct of the hunter, the traveler, and the explorer. This restless class of nomadic wanderers was responsible in part for the royal proclamation of 1763, a secondary object of which, according to Edmund Burke, was the limitation of the colonies on the West, as “the charters of many of our old colonies give them, with few exceptions, no bounds to the westward but the South Sea.” The Long Hunters, taking their lives in their hands, fared boldly forth to a fabled hunter’s paradise in the far-away wilderness, because they were driven by the irresistible desire of a Ponce de Leon or a De Soto to find out the truth about the unknown lands beyond.
But the hunter was not only thrilled with the passion of the chase and of discovery; he was intent also upon collecting the furs and skins of wild animals for lucrative barter and sale in the centers of trade. He was quick to make “tomahawk claims” and to assert “corn rights” as he spied out the rich virgin land for future location and cultivation. Free land and no taxes appealed to the backwoodsman, tired of paying quit-rents to the agents of wealthy lords across the sea. Thus the settler speedily followed in the hunter’s wake. In his wake also went many rude and lawless characters of the border, horse thieves and criminals of different sorts, who sought to hide their delinquencies in the merciful liberality of the wilderness. For the most part, however, it was the salutary instinct of the homebuilder–the man with the ax, who made a little clearing in the forest and built there a rude cabin that he bravely defended at all risks against continued assaults–which, in defiance of every restraint, irresistibly thrust westward the thin and jagged line of the frontier. The ax and the surveyor’s chain, along with the rifle and the hunting-knife, constituted the armorial bearings of the pioneer. With individual as with corporation, with explorer as with landlord, land-hunger was the master impulse of the era.
The various desires which stimulated and promoted westward expansion were, to be sure, often found in complete conjunction. The trader sought to exploit the Indian for his own advantage, selling him whisky, trinkets, and firearms in return for rich furs and costly peltries; yet he was often a hunter himself and collected great stores of peltries as the result of his solitary and protracted hunting-expeditions. The rancher and the herder sought to exploit the natural vegetation of marsh and upland, the cane-brakes and pea-vines; yet the constantly recurring need for fresh pasturage made him a pioneer also, drove him ever nearer to the mountains, and furnished the economic motive for his westward advance. The small farmer needed the virgin soil of the new region, the alluvial river-bottoms, and the open prairies, for the cultivation of his crops and the grazing of his cattle; yet in the intervals between the tasks of farm life he scoured the wilderness in search of game “and spied out new lands for future settlement”.
This restless and nomadic race, says the keenly observant Francis Baily, “delight much to live on the frontiers, where they can enjoy undisturbed, and free from the control of any laws, the blessings which nature has bestowed upon them.” Independence of spirit, impatience of restraint, the inquisitive nature, and the nomadic temperament–these are the strains in the American character of the eighteenth century which ultimately blended to create a typical democracy. The rolling of wave after wave of settlement westward across the American continent, with a reversion to primitive conditions along the line of the farthest frontier, and a marked rise in the scale of civilization at each successive stage of settlement, from the western limit to the eastern coast, exemplifies from one aspect the history of the American people during two centuries. This era, constituting the first stage in our national existence, and productive of a buoyant national character shaped in democracy upon a free soil, closed only yesterday with the exhaustion of cultivable free land, the disappearance of the last frontier, and the recent death of “Buffalo Bill”. The splendid inauguration of the period, in the region of the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, during the second half of the eighteenth century, is the theme of this story of the pioneers of the Old Southwest.
I THE MIGRATION OF THE PEOPLES
II THE CRADLE OF WESTWARD EXPANSION
III THE BACK COUNTRY AND THE BORDER
IV THE INDIAN WAR
V IN DEFENSE OF CIVILIZATION
VI CRUSHING THE CHEROKEES
VII THE LAND COMPANIES
VIII THE LONG HUNTERS IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE
IX DANIEL BOONE AND WILDERNESS EXPLORATION
X DANIEL BOONE IN KENTUCKY
XI THE REGULATORS
XII WATAUGA–HAVEN OF LIBERTY
XIII OPENING THE GATEWAY–DUNMORE’S WAR
XIV RICHARD HENDERSON AND THE TRANSYLVANIA COMPANY
XV TRANSYLVANIA–A WILDERNESS COMMONWEALTH
XVI THE REPULSE OF THE RED MEN
XVII THE COLONIZATION OF THE CUMBERLAND
XVIII KING’S MOUNTAIN
XIX THE STATE OF FRANKLIN
XX THE LURE OF SPAIN–THE HAVEN OF STATEHOOD
THE CONQUEST OF THE OLD SOUTHWEST
Chapter I. The Migration of the Peoples
Inhabitants flock in here daily, mostly from Pensilvania and other parts of America, who are over-stocked with people and Mike directly from Europe, they commonly seat themselves towards the West, and have got near the mountains.–Gabriel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina, to the Secretary of the Board of Trade, February 15, 1751.
At the opening of the eighteenth century the tide of population had swept inland to the “fall line”, the westward boundary of the established settlements. The actual frontier had been advanced by the more aggressive pioneers to within fifty miles of the Blue Ridge. So rapid was the settlement in North Carolina that in the interval 1717-32 the population quadrupled in numbers. A map of the colonial settlements in 1725 reveals a narrow strip of populated land along the Atlantic coast, of irregular indentation, with occasional isolated nuclei of settlements further in the interior. The civilization thus established continued to maintain a close and unbroken communication with England and the Continent. As long as the settlers, for economic reasons, clung to the coast, they reacted but slowly to the transforming influences of the frontier.. Within a triangle of continental altitude with its apex in New England, bounded on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Appalachian range, lay the settlements, divided into two zones–tidewater and piedmont. As no break occurred in the great mountain system south of the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, the difficulties of cutting a passage through the towering wall of living green long proved an effective obstacle to the crossing of the grim mountain barrier.
In the beginning the settlements gradually extended westward from the coast in irregular outline, the indentations taking form around such natural centers of attraction as areas of fertile soil, frontier posts, mines, salt-springs, and stretches of upland favorable for grazing. After a time a second advance of settlement was begun in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, running in a southwesterly direction along the broad terraces to the east of the Appalachian Range, which in North Carolina lies as far as two hundred and fifty miles from the sea. The Blue Ridge in Virginia and a belt of pine barrens in North Carolina were hindrances to this advance, but did not entirely check it. This second streaming of the population thrust into the long, narrow wedge of the piedmont zone a class of people differing in spirit and in tendency from their more aristocratic and complacent neighbors to the east.
These settlers of the Valley of Virginia and the North Carolina piedmont region–English, Scotch-Irish, Germans, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, and a few French–were the first pioneers of the Old Southwest. From the joint efforts of two strata of population, geographically, socially, and economically distinct–tidewater and piedmont, Old South and New South–originated and flowered the third and greatest movement of westward expansion, opening with the surmounting of the mountain barrier and ending in the occupation and assumption of the vast medial valley of the continent.
Synchronous with the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, significantly enough, was the first planting of Ulster with the English and Scotch. Emigrants from the Scotch Lowlands, sometimes as many as four thousand a year (1625), continued throughout the century to pour into Ulster. “Those of the North of Ireland . . .,” as pungently described in 1679 by the Secretary of State, Leoline Jenkins, to the Duke of Ormond, “are most Scotch and Scotch breed and are the Northern Presbyterians and phanatiques, lusty, able bodied, hardy and stout men, where one may see three or four hundred at every meeting-house on Sunday, and all the North of Ireland is inhabited by these, which is the popular place of all Ireland by far. They are very numerous and greedy after land.” During the quarter of a century after the English Revolution of 1688 and the Jacobite uprising in Ireland, which ended in 1691 with the complete submission of Ireland to William and Mary, not less than fifty thousand Scotch, according to Archbishop Synge, settled in Ulster. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century there was no considerable emigration to America; and it was first set up as a consequence of English interference with trade and religion. Repressive measures passed by the English parliament (1665 1699), prohibiting the exportation from Ire land to England and Scotland of cattle, beef, pork, dairy products, etc., and to any country whatever of manufactured wool, had aroused deep resentment among the Scotch-Irish, who had built up a great commerce. This discontent was greatly aggravated by the imposition of religious disabilities upon the Presbyterians, who, in addition to having to pay tithes for the support of the established church, were excluded from all civil and military office (1704), while their ministers were made liable to penalties for celebrating marriages.
This pressure upon a high-spirited people resulted inevitably in an exodus to the New World. The principal ports by which the Ulsterites entered America were Lewes and Newcastle (Delaware), Philadelphia and Boston. The streams of immigration steadily flowed up the Delaware Valley; and by 1720 the Scotch-Irish began to arrive in Bucks County. So rapid was the rate of increase in immigration that the number of arrivals soon mounted from a few hundred to upward of six thousand, in a single year (1729); and within a few years this number was doubled. According to the meticulous Franklin, the proportion increased from a very small element of the population of Pennsylvania in 1700 to one fourth of the whole in 1749, and to one third of the whole (350,000) in 1774. Writing to the Penns in 1724, James Logan, Secretary of the Province, caustically refers to the Ulster settlers on the disputed Maryland line as “these bold and indigent strangers, saying as their excuse when challenged for titles, that we had solicited for colonists and they had come accordingly.” The spirit of these defiant squatters is succinctly expressed in their statement to Logan that it “was against the laws of God and nature that so much land should be idle while so many Christians wanted it to work on and to raise their bread.”
The rising scale of prices for Pennsylvania lands, changing from ten pounds and two shillings quit-rents per hundred acres in 1719 to fifteen pounds ten shillings per hundred acres with a quit-rent of a halfpenny per acre in 1732, soon turned the eyes of the thrifty Scotch-Irish settlers southward and southwestward. In Maryland in 1738 lands were offered at five pounds sterling per hundred acres. Simultaneously, in the Valley of Virginia free grants of a thousand acres per family were being made. In the North Carolina piedmont region the proprietary, Lord Granville, through his agents was disposing of the most desirable lands to settlers at the rate of three shillings proclamation money for six hundred and forty acres, the unit of land-division; and was also making large free grants on the condition of seating a certain proportion of settlers. “Lord Carteret’s land in Carolina,” says North Carolina’s first American historian, “where the soil was cheap, presented a tempting residence to people of every denomination. Emigrants from the north of Ireland, by the way of Pennsylvania, flocked to that country; and a considerable part of North Carolina . . . is inhabited by those people or their descendants.” From 1740 onward, attracted by the rich lure of cheap and even free lands in Virginia and North Carolina, a tide of immigration swept ceaselessly into the valleys of the Shenandoah, the Yadkin, and the Catawba. The immensity of this mobile, drifting mass, which sometimes brought “more than 400 families with horse waggons and cattle” into North Carolina in a single year (1752-3), is attested by the fact that from 1732 to 1754, mainly as the result of the Scotch-Irish inundation, the population of North Carolina more than doubled.
The second important racial stream of population in the settlement of the same region was composed of Germans, attracted to this country from the Palatinate. Lured on by the highly colored stories of the commercial agents for promoting immigration–the “newlanders,” who were thoroughly unscrupulous in their methods and extravagant in their representations–a migration from Germany began in the second decade of the eighteenth century and quickly assumed alarming proportions. Although certain of the emigrants were well-to-do, a very great number were “redemptioners” (indentured servants), who in order to pay for their transportation were compelled to pledge themselves to several years of servitude. This economic condition caused the German immigrant, wherever he went, to become a settler of the back country, necessity compelling him to pass by the more expensive lands near the coast.
For well-nigh sixty years the influx of German immigrants of various sects was very great, averaging something like fifteen hundred a year into Pennsylvania alone from 1727 to 1775. Indeed, Pennsylvania, one third of whose population at the beginning of the Revolution was German, early became the great distributing center for the Germans as well as for the Scotch-Irish. Certainly by 1727 Adam Miller and his fellow Germans had established the first permanent white settlement in the Valley of Virginia. By 1732 Jost Heydt, accompanied by sixteen families, came from York, Pennsylvania, and settled on the Opeckon River, in the neighborhood of the present Winchester. There is no longer any doubt that “the portion of the Shenandoah Valley sloping to the north was almost entirely settled by Germans.”
It was about the middle of the century that these pioneers of the Old Southwest, the shrewd, industrious, and thrifty Pennsylvania Germans (who came to be generally called “Pennsylvania Dutch” from the incorrect translation of Pennsylvanische Deutsche), began to pour into the piedmont region of North Carolina. In the autumn, after the harvest was in, these ambitious Pennsylvania pioneers would pack up their belongings in wagons and on beasts of burden and head for the southwest, trekking down in the manner of the Boers of South Africa. This movement into the fertile valley lands of the Yadkin and the Catawba continued unabated throughout the entire third quarter of the century. Owing to their unfamiliarity with the English language and the solidarity of their instincts, the German settlers at first had little share in government. But they devotedly played their part in the defense of the exposed settlements and often bore the brunt of Indian attack.
The bravery and hardihood displayed by the itinerant missionaries sent out by the Pennsylvania Synod under the direction of Count Zinzendorf (1742-8), and by the Moravian Church (1748-53), are mirrored in the numerous diaries, written in German, happily preserved to posterity in religious archives of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. These simple, earnest crusaders, animated by pure and unselfish motives, would visit on a single tour of a thousand miles the principal German settlements in Maryland and Virginia (including the present West Virginia). Sometimes they would make an extended circuit through North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Georgia, everywhere bearing witness to the truth of the gospel and seeking to carry the most elemental forms of the Christian religion, preaching and prayer, to the primitive frontiersmen marooned along the outer fringe of white settlements. These arduous journeys in the cause of piety place this type of pioneer of the Old Southwest in alleviating contrast to the often relentless and bloodthirsty figure of the rude borderer.
Noteworthy among these pious pilgrimages is the Virginia journey of Brothers Leonhard Schnell and John Brandmuller (October 12 to December 12, 1749). At the last outpost of civilization, the scattered settlements in Bath and Alleghany counties, these courageous missionaries–feasting the while solely on bear meat, for there was no bread–encountered conditions of almost primitive savagery, of which they give this graphic picture: “Then we came to a house, where we had to lie on bear skins around the fire like the rest . . . . The clothes of the people consist of deer skins, their food of Johnny cakes, deer and bear meat. A kind of white people are found here, who live like savages. Hunting is their chief occupation.” Into the valley of the Yadkin in December, 1752, came Bishop Spangenberg and a party of Moravians, accompanied by a surveyor and two guides, for the purpose of locating the one hundred thousand acres of land which had been offered them on easy terms the preceding year by Lord Granville. This journey was remarkable as an illustration of sacrifices willingly made and extreme hardships uncomplainingly endured for the sake of the Moravian brotherhood. In the back country of North Carolina near the Mulberry Fields they found the whole woods full of Cherokee Indians engaged in hunting. A beautiful site for the projected settlement met their delighted gaze at this place; but they soon learned to their regret that it had already been “taken up” by Daniel Boone’s future father-in-law, Morgan Bryan.
On October 8, 1753, a party of twelve single men headed by the Rev. Bernhard Adam Grube, set out from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to trek down to the new-found haven in the Carolina hinterland–“a corner which the Lord has reserved for the Brethren”–in Anson County. Following for the most part the great highway extending from Philadelphia to the Yadkin, over which passed the great throng sweeping into the back country of North Carolina–through the Valley of Virginia and past Robert Luhny’s mill on the James River–they encountered many hardships along the way. Because of their “long wagon,” they had much difficulty in crossing one steep mountain; and of this experience Brother Grube, with a touch of modest pride, observes: “People had told us that this hill was most dangerous, and that we would scarcely be able to cross it, for Morgan Bryan, the first to travel this way, had to take the wheels off his wagon and carry it piecemeal to the top, and had been three months on the journey from the Shanidore [Shenandoah] to the Etkin [Yadkin].”
These men were the highest type of the pioneers of the Old Southwest, inspired with the instinct of homemakers in a land where, if idle rumor were to be credited, “the people lived like wild men never hearing of God or His Word.” In one hand they bore the implement of agriculture, in the other the book of the gospel of Jesus Christ. True faith shines forth in the simply eloquent words: “We thanked our Saviour that he had so graciously led us hither, and had helped us through all the hard places, for no matter how dangerous it looked, nor how little we saw how we could win through, everything always went better than seemed possible.” The promise of a new day–the dawn of the heroic age–rings out in the pious carol of camaraderie at their journey’s end:
We hold arrival Lovefeast here,
In Carolina land,
A company of Brethren true,
A little Pilgrim-Band,
Called by the Lord to be of those
Who through the whole world go,
To bear Him witness everywhere,
And nought but Jesus know.
Chapter II. The Cradle of Westward Expansion
In the year 1746 I was up in the country that is now Anson, Orange and Rowan Counties, there was not then above one hundred fighting men there is now at least three thousand for the most part Irish Protestants and Germans and dailey increasing.– Matthew Rowan, President of the North Carolina Council, to the Board of Trade, June 28, 1753.
The conquest of the West is usually attributed to the ready initiative, the stern self-reliance, and the libertarian instinct of the expert backwoodsmen. These bold, nomadic spirits were animated by an unquenchable desire to plunge into the wilderness in search of an El Dorado at the outer verge of civilization, free of taxation, quit-rents, and the law’s restraint. They longed to build homes for themselves and their descendants in a limitless, free domain; or else to fare deeper and deeper into the trackless forests in search of adventure. Yet one must not overlook the fact that behind Boone and pioneers of his stamp were men of conspicuous civil and military genius, constructive in purpose and creative in imagination, who devoted their best gifts to actual conquest and colonization. These men of large intellectual mold-themselves surveyors, hunters, and pioneers–were inspired with the larger vision of the expansionist. Whether colonizers, soldiers, or speculators on the grand scale, they sought to open at one great stroke the vast trans-Alleghany regions as a peaceful abode for mankind.
Two distinct classes of society were gradually drawing apart from each other in North Carolina and later in Virginia–the pioneer democracy of the back country and the upland, and the planter aristocracy of the lowland and the tide-water region. From the frontier came the pioneer explorers whose individual enterprise and initiative were such potent factors in the exploitation of the wilderness. From the border counties still in contact with the East came a number of leaders. Thus in the heart of the Old Southwest the two determinative principles already referred to, the inquisitive and the acquisitive instincts, found a fortunate conjunction. The exploratory passion of the pioneer, directed in the interest of commercial enterprise, prepared the way for the great westward migration. The warlike disposition of the hardy backwoodsman, controlled by the exercise of military strategy, accomplished the conquest of the trans-Alleghany country.
Fleeing from the traditional bonds of caste and aristocracy in England and Europe, from economic boycott and civil oppression, from religious persecution and favoritism, many worthy members of society in the first quarter of the eighteenth century sought a haven of refuge in the “Quackerthal” of William Penn, with its trustworthy guarantees of free tolerance in religious faith and the benefits of representative self-government. From East Devonshire in England came George Boone, the grandfather of the great pioneer, and from Wales came Edward Morgan, whose daughter Sarah became the wife of Squire Boone, Daniel’s father. These were conspicuous representatives of the Society of Friends, drawn thither by the roseate representations of the great Quaker, William Penn, and by his advanced views on popular government and religious toleration. Hither, too, from Ireland, whither he had gone from Denmark, came Morgan Bryan, settling in Chester County, prior to 1719; and his children, William, Joseph, James, and Morgan, who more than half a century later gave the name to Bryan’s Station in Kentucky, were destined to play important roles in the drama of westward migration. In September, 1734, Michael Finley from County Armagh, Ireland, presumably accompanied by his brother Archibald Finley, settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. According to the best authorities, Archibald Finley was the father of John Finley, or Findlay as he signed himself, Boone’s guide and companion in his exploration of Kentucky in 1769-71. To Pennsylvania also came Mordecai Lincoln, great grandson of Samuel Lincoln, who had emigrated from England to Hingham, Massachusetts, as early as 1637. This Mordecai Lincoln, who in 1720 settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the great-great-grandfather of President Lincoln, was the father of Sarah Lincoln, who was wedded to William Boone, and of Abraham Lincoln, who married Anne Boone, William’s first cousin. Early settlers in Pennsylvania were members of the Hanks family, one of whom was the maternal grandfather of President Lincoln.
No one race or breed of men can lay claim to exclusive credit for leadership in the hinterland movement and the conquest of the West. Yet one particular stock of people, the Ulster Scots, exhibited with most completeness and picturesqueness a group of conspicuous qualities and attitudes which we now recognize to be typical of the American character as molded by the conditions of frontier life. Cautious, wary, and reserved, these Scots concealed beneath a cool and calculating manner a relentlessness in reasoning power and an intensity of conviction which glowed and burned with almost fanatical ardor. Strict in religious observance and deep in spiritual fervor, they never lost sight of the main chance, combining a shrewd practicality with a wealth of devotion. It has been happily said of them that they kept the Sabbath and everything else they could lay their hands on. In the polity of these men religion and education went hand in hand; and they habitually settled together in communities in order that they might have teachers and preachers of their own choice and persuasion.
In little-known letters and diaries of travelers and itinerant ministers may be found many quaint descriptions and faithful characterizations of the frontier settlers in their habits of life and of the scenes amidst which they labored. In a letter to Edmund Fanning, the cultured Robin Jones, agent of Lord Granville and Attorney-General of North Carolina, summons to view a piquant image of the western border and borderers: “The inhabitants are hospitable in their way, live in plenty and dirt, are stout, of great prowess in manly athletics; and, in private conversation, bold, impertinent, and vain. In the art of war (after the Indian manner) they are well-skilled, are enterprising and fruitful of strategies; and, when in action, are as bold and intrepid as the ancient Romans. The Shawnese acknowledge them their superiors even in their own way of fighting . . . . [The land] may be truly called the land of the mountains, for they are so numerous that when you have reached the summit of one of them, you may see thousands of every shape that the imagination can suggest, seeming to vie with each other which should raise his lofty head to touch the clouds . . . . It seems to me that nature has been wanton in bestowing her blessings on that country.”
An excellent pen-picture of educational and cultural conditions in the backwoods of North Carolina, by one of the early settlers in the middle of the century, exhibits in all their barren cheerlessness the hardships and limitations of life in the wilderness. The father of William Few, the narrator, had trekked down from Maryland and settled in Orange County, some miles east of the little hamlet of Hillsborough. “In that country at that time there were no schools, no churches or parsons, or doctors or lawyers; no stores, groceries or taverns, nor do I recollect during the first two years any officer, ecclesiastical, civil or military, except a justice of the peace, a constable and two or three itinerant preachers . . . . These people had few wants, and fewer temptations to vice than those who lived in more refined society, though ignorant. They were more virtuous and more happy . . . . A schoolmaster appeared and offered his services to teach the children of the neighborhood for twenty shillings each per year . . . . In that simple state of society money was but little known; the schoolmaster was the welcome guest of his pupil, fed at the bountiful table and clothed from the domestic loom . . . . In that country at that time there was great scarcity of books.”
The journals of itinerant ministers through the Valley of Virginia and the Carolina piedmont zone yield precious mementoes of the people, their longing after the things of the spirit, and their pitiful isolation from the regular preaching of the gospel. These missionaries were true pioneers in this Old Southwest, ardent, dauntless, and heroic–carrying the word into remote places and preaching the gospel beneath the trees of the forest. In his journal (1755-6), the Rev. Hugh McAden, born in Pennsylvania of Scotch-Irish parentage, a graduate of Nassau Hall (1753), makes the unconsciously humorous observation that wherever he found Presbyterians he found people who “seemed highly pleased, and very desirous to hear the word”; whilst elsewhere he found either dissension and defection to Baptist principles, or “no appearance of the life of religion.” In the Scotch-Irish Presbyterian settlements in what is now Mecklenburg County, the cradle of American liberty, he found “pretty serious, judicious people” of the stamp of Moses, William, and James Alexander. While traveling in the upper country of South Carolina, he relates with gusto the story of “an old gentleman who said to the Governor of South Carolina, when he was in those parts, in treaty with the Cherokee Indians that ‘he had never seen a shirt, been in a fair, heard a sermon, or seen a minister in all his life.’ Upon which the governor promised to send him up a minister, that he might hear one sermon before he died.” The minister came and preached; and this was all the preaching that had been heard in the upper part of South Carolina before Mr. McAden’s visit.
Such, then, were the rude and simple people in the back country of the Old Southwest–the deliberate and self-controlled English, the aggressive, landmongering Scotch-Irish, the buoyant Welsh, the thrifty Germans, the debonair French, the impetuous Irish, and the calculating Scotch. The lives they led were marked by independence of spirit, democratic instincts, and a forthright simplicity. In describing the condition of the English settlers in the backwoods of Virginia, one of their number, Doddridge, says: “Most of the articles were of domestic manufacture. There might have been incidentally a few things brought to the country for sale in a primitive way, but there was no store for general supply. The table furniture usually consisted of wooden vessels, either turned or coopered. Iron forks, tin cups, etc., were articles of rare and delicate luxury. The food was of the most wholesome and primitive kind. The richest meat, the finest butter, and best meal that ever delighted man’s palate were here eaten with a relish which health and labor only know. The hospitality of the people was profuse and proverbial.”
The circumstances of their lives compelled the pioneers to become self-sustaining. Every immigrant was an adept at many trades. He built his own house, forged his own tools, and made his own clothes. At a very early date rifles were manufactured at the High Shoals of the Yadkin; Squire Boone, Daniel’s brother, was an expert gunsmith. The difficulty of securing food for the settlements forced every man to become a hunter and to scour the forest for wild game. Thus the pioneer, through force of sheer necessity, became a dead shot–which stood him in good stead in the days of Indian incursions and bloody retaliatory raids. Primitive in their games, recreations, and amusements, which not infrequently degenerated into contests of savage brutality, the pioneers always set the highest premium upon personal bravery, physical prowess, and skill in manly sports. At all public gatherings, general musters, “vendues” or auctions, and even funerals, whisky flowed with extraordinary freedom. It is worthy of record that among the effects of the Rev. Alexander Craighead, the famous teacher and organizer of Presbyterianism in Mecklenburg and the adjoining region prior to the Revolution, were found a punch bowl and glasses.
The frontier life, with its purifying and hardening influence, bred in these pioneers intellectual traits which constitute the basis of the American character. The single-handed and successful struggle with nature in the tense solitude of the forest developed a spirit of individualism, restive under control. On the other hand, the sense of sharing with others the arduous tasks and dangers of conquering the wilderness gave birth to a strong sense of solidarity arid of human sympathy. With the lure of free lands ever before them, the pioneers developed a restlessness and a nervous energy, blended with a buoyancy of spirit, which are fundamentally American. Yet this same untrammeled freedom occasioned a disregard for law and a defiance of established government which have exhibited themselves throughout the entire course of our history. Initiative, self-reliance, boldness in conception, fertility in resource, readiness in execution, acquisitiveness, inventive genius, appreciation of material advantages–these, shot through with a certain fine idealism, genial human sympathy, and a high romantic strain–are the traits of the American national type as it emerged from the Old Southwest.
CHAPTER III. The Back Country and the Border
Far from the bustle of the world, they live in the most delightful climate, and richest soil imaginable; they are everywhere surrounded with beautiful prospects and sylvan scenes; lofty mountains, transparent streams, falls of water, rich valleys, and majestic woods; the whole interspersed with an infinite variety of flowering shrubs, constitute the landscape surrounding them; they are subject to few diseases; are generally robust; and live in perfect liberty; they are ignorant of want and acquainted with but few vices. Their inexperience of the elegancies of life precludes any regret that they possess not the means of enjoying them, but they possess what many princes would give half their dominion for, health, content, and tranquillity of mind.–Andrew Burnaby: Travels Through North America.
The two streams of Ulstermen, the greater through Philadelphia, the lesser through Charleston, which poured into the Carolinas toward the middle of the century, quickly flooded the back country. The former occupied the Yadkin Valley and tile region to the westward, the latter the Waxhaws and the Anson County region to the northwest. The first settlers were known as the “Pennsylvania Irish,” because they had first settled in Pennsylvania after migrating from the north of Ireland; while those who came by way of Charleston were known as the “Scotch-Irish.” The former, who had resided in Pennsylvania long enough to be good judges of land, shrewdly made their settlements along the rivers and creeks. The latter, new arrivals and less experienced, settled on thinner land toward the heads of creeks and water courses.
Shortly prior to 1735, Morgan Bryan, his wife Martha, and eight children, together with other families of Quakers from Pennsylvania, settled upon a large tract of land on the northwest side of the Opeckon River near Winchester. A few years later they removed up the Virginia Valley to the Big Lick in the present Roanoke County, intent upon pushing westward to the very outskirts of civilization. In the autumn of 1748, leaving behind his brother William, who had followed him to Roanoke County, Morgan Bryan removed with his family to the Forks of the Yadkin River. The Morgans, with the exception of Richard, who emigrated to Virginia, remained in Pennsylvania, spreading over Philadelphia and Bucks counties; while the Hanks and Lincoln families found homes in Virginia–Mordecai Lincoln’s son, John, the great-grandfather of President Lincoln, removing from Berks to the Shenandoah Valley in 1765. On May 1, 1750, Squire Boone, his wife Sarah (Morgan), and their eleven children–a veritable caravan, traveling like the patriarchs of old–started south; and tarried for a space, according to reliable tradition, on Linville Creek in the Virginia Valley. In 1752 they removed to the Forks of the Yadkin, and the following year received from Lord Granville three tracts of land, all situated in Rowan County. About the hamlet of Salisbury, which in 1755 consisted of seven or eight log houses and the court house, there now rapidly gathered a settlement of people marked by strong individuality, sturdy independence, and virile self-reliance. The Boones and the Bryans quickly accommodated themselves to frontier conditions and immediately began to take an active part in the local affairs of the county. Upon the organization of the county court Squire Boone was chosen justice of the peace; and Morgan Bryan was soon appearing as foreman of juries and director in road improvements.
The Great Trading Path, leading from Virginia to the towns of the Catawbas and other Southern Indians, crossed the Yadkin at the Trading Ford and passed a mile southeast of Salisbury. Above Sapona Town near the Trading Ford was Swearing Creek, which, according to constant and picturesque tradition, was the spot where the traders stopped to take a solemn oath never to reveal any unlawful proceedings that might occur during their sojourn among the Indians. In his divertingly satirical “History of the Dividing Line” William Byrd in 1728 thus speaks of this locality: “The Soil is exceedingly rich on both sides the Yadkin, abounding in rank Grass and prodigiously large Trees; and for plenty of Fish, Fowl and Venison, is inferior to No Part of the Northern Continent. There the Traders commonly lie Still for some days, to recruit their Horses’ Flesh as well as to recover their own spirits.” In this beautiful country happily chosen for settlement by Squire Boone –who erected his cabin on the east side of the Yadkin about a mile and a quarter from Alleman’s, now Boone’s, Ford–wild game abounded. Buffaloes were encountered in eastern North Carolina by Byrd while running the dividing line; and in the upper country of South Carolina three or four men with their dogs could kill fourteen to twenty buffaloes in a single day.” Deer and bears fell an easy prey to the hunter; wild turkeys filled every thicket; the watercourses teemed with beaver, otter, and muskrat, as well as with shad and other delicious fish. Panthers, wildcats, and wolves overran the country; and the veracious Brother Joseph, while near the present Wilkesboro, amusingly records: “The wolves wh. are not like those in Germany, Poland and Lifland (because they fear men and don’t easily come near) give us such music of six different cornets the like of wh. I have never heard in my life.” So plentiful was the game that the wild deer mingled with the cattle grazing over the wide stretches of luxuriant grass.
In the midst of this sylvan paradise grew up Squire Boone’s son, Daniel Boone, a Pennsylvania youth of English stock, Quaker persuasion, and Baptist proclivities. Seen through a glorifying halo after the lapse of a century and three quarters, he rises before us a romantic figure, poised and resolute, simple, benign–as naive and shy as some wild thing of the primeval forest–five feet eight inches in height, with broad chest and shoulders, dark locks, genial blue eyes arched with fair eyebrows, thin lips and wide mouth, nose of slightly Roman cast, and fair, ruddy countenance. Farming was irksome to this restless, nomadic spirit, who on the slightest excuse would exchange the plow and the grubbing hoe for the long rifle and keen-edged hunting knife. In a single day during the autumn season he would kill four or five deer; or as many bears as would snake from two to three thousand pounds weight of bear-bacon. Fascinated with the forest, he soon found profit as well as pleasure in the pursuit of game; and at excellent fixed prices he sold his peltries, most often at Salisbury, some thirteen miles away, sometimes at the store of the old “Dutchman,” George Hartman, on the Yadkin, and occasionally at Bethabara, the Moravian town sixty odd miles distant. Skins were in such demand that they soon came to replace hard money, which was incredibly scarce in the back country, as a medium of exchange. Upon one occasion a caravan from Bethabara hauled three thousand pounds, upon another four thousand pounds, of dressed deerskins to Charleston. So immense was this trade that the year after Boone’s arrival at the Forks of Yadkin thirty thousand deerskins were exported from the province of North Carolina. We like to think that the young Daniel Boone was one of that band of whom Brother Joseph, while in camp on the Catawba River (November 12, 1752) wrote: “There are many hunters about here, who live like Indians, they kill many deer selling their hides, and thus live without much work.”
In this very class of professional hunters, living like Indians, was thus bred the spirit of individual initiative and strenuous leadership in the great westward expansionist movement of the coming decade. An English traveler gives the following minute picture of the dress and accoutrement of the Carolina backwoodsman.
“Their whole dress is very singular, and not very materially different from that of the Indians; being a hunting shirt, somewhat resembling a waggoner’s frock, ornamented with a great many fringes, tied round the middle with a broad belt, much decorated also, in which is fastened a tomahawk, an instrument that serves every purpose of defence and convenience; being a hammer at one side and a sharp hatchet at the other; the shot bag and powderhorn, carved with a variety of whimsical figures and devices, hang from their necks over one shoulder; and on their heads a flapped hat, of a reddish hue, proceeding from the intensely hot beams of the sun.
Sometimes they wear leather breeches, made of Indian dressed elk, or deer skins, but more frequently thin trowsers.
On their legs they have Indian boots, or leggings, made of coarse woollen cloth, that either are wrapped round loosely and tied with garters, or laced upon the outside, and always come better than half-way up the thigh.
On their feet they sometimes wear pumps of their own manufacture, but generally Indian moccossons, of their own construction also, which are made of strong elk’s, or buck’s skin, dressed soft as for gloves or breeches, drawn together in regular plaits over the toe, and lacing from thence round to the fore part of the middle of the ancle, without a seam in them, yet fitting close to the feet, and are indeed perfectly easy and pliant.
Their hunting, or rifle shirts, they have also died in a variety of colours, some yellow, others red, some brown, and many wear them quite white.”
No less unique and bizarre, though less picturesque, was the dress of the women of the region–in particular of Surry County, North Carolina, as described by General William Lenoir:
“The women wore linses [flax] petticoats and ‘bedgowns’ [like a dressing-sack], and often went without shoes in the summer. Some had bonnets and bedgowns made of calico, but generally of linsey; and some of them wore men’s hats. Their hair was commonly clubbed. Once, at a large meeting, I noticed there but two women that had on long gowns. One of these was laced genteelly, and the body of the other was open, and the tail thereof drawn up and tucked in her apron or coat-string.”
While Daniel Boone was quietly engaged in the pleasant pursuits of the chase, a vast world-struggle of which he little dreamed was rapidly approaching a crisis. For three quarters of a century this titanic contest between France and England for the interior of the continent had been waged with slowly accumulating force. The irrepressible conflict had been formally inaugurated at Sault Ste. Marie in 1671, when Daumont de Saint Lusson, swinging aloft his sword, proclaimed the sovereignty of France over “all countries, rivers, lakes, and streams . . . both those which have been discovered and those which may be discovered hereafter, in all their length and breadth, bounded on the one side by the seas of the North and of the West, and on the other by the South Sea.” Just three months later, three hardy pioneers of Virginia, despatched upon their arduous mission by Colonel Abraham Wood in behalf of the English crown, had crossed the Appalachian divide; and upon the banks of a stream whose waters slipped into the Ohio to join the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, had carved the royal insignia upon the blazed trunk of a giant of the forest, the while crying: “Long live Charles the Second, by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, Ireland and Virginia and of the territories thereunto belonging.”
La Salle’s dream of a New France in the heart of America was blotted out in his tragic death upon the banks of the River Trinity (1687). Yet his mantle was to fall in turn upon the square shoulders of Le Moyne d’Iberville and of his brother–the good, the constant Bienville, who after countless and arduous struggles laid firm the foundations of New Orleans. In the precious treasury of Margry we learn that on reaching Rochelle after his first voyage in 1699 Iberville in these prophetic words voices his faith: “If France does not immediately seize this part of America which is the most beautiful, and establish a colony which is strong enough to resist any which England may have, the English colonies (already considerable in Carolina) will so thrive that in less than a hundred years they will be strong enough to seize all America.” But the world-weary Louis Quatorze, nearing his end, quickly tired of that remote and unproductive colony upon the shores of the gulf, so industriously described in Paris as a “terrestrial paradise”; and the “paternal providence of Versailles” willingly yielded place to the monumental speculation of the great financier Antoine Crozat. In this Paris of prolific promotion and amazed credulity, ripe for the colossal scheme of Law, soon to blow to bursting-point the bubble of the Mississippi, the very songs in the street echoed flamboyant, half-satiric panegyrics upon the new Utopia, this Mississippi Land of Cockayne:
It’s to-day no contribution
To discuss the Constitution
And the Spanish war’s forgot
For a new Utopian spot;
And the very latest phase
Is the Mississippi craze.
Interest in the new colony led to a great development of southwesterly trade from New France. Already the French coureurs de bois were following the water route from the Illinois to South Carolina. Jean Couture, a deserter from the service in New France, journeyed over the Ohio and Tennessee rivers to that colony, and was known as “the greatest Trader and Traveller amongst the Indians for more than Twenty years.” In 1714 young Charles Charleville accompanied an old trader from Crozat’s colony on the gulf to the great salt-springs on the Cumberland, where a post for trading with the Shawanoes had already been established by the French. But the British were preparing to capture this trade as early as 1694, when Tonti warned Villermont that Carolinians were already established on a branch of the Ohio. Four years later, Nicholson, Governor of Maryland, was urging trade with the Indians of the interior in the effort to displace the French. At an early date the coast colonies began to trade with the Indian tribes of the back country: the Catawbas of the Yadkin Valley; the Cherokees, whose towns were scattered through Tennessee; the Chickasaws, to the westward in northern Mississippi; and the Choctaws farther to the southward. Even before the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the South Carolina settlements extended scarcely twenty miles from the coast, English traders had established posts among the Indian tribes four hundred miles to the west of Charleston. Following the sporadic trading of individuals from Virginia with the inland Indians, the heavily laden caravans of William Byrd were soon regularly passing along the Great Trading Path from Virginia to the towns of the Catawbas and other interior tribes of the Carolinas, delighting the easily captivated fancy and provoking the cupidity of the red men with “Guns, Powder, Shot, Hatchets (which the Indians call Tomahawks), Kettles, red and blue Planes, Duffields, Stroudwater blankets, and some Cutlary Wares, Brass Rings and other Trinkets.” In Pennsylvania, George Croghan, the guileful diplomat, who was emissary from the Council to the Ohio Indians (1748), had induced “all-most all the Ingans in the Woods” to declare against the French; and was described by Christopher Gist as a “meer idol among his countrymen, the Irish traders.”
Against these advances of British trade and civilization, the French for four decades had artfully struggled, projecting tours of exploration into the vast medial valley of the continent and constructing a chain of forts and trading-posts designed to establish their claims to the country and to hold in check the threatened English thrust from the east. Soon the wilderness ambassador of empire, Celoron de Bienville, was despatched by the far-visioned Galissoniere at Quebec to sow broadcast with ceremonial pomp in the heart of America the seeds of empire, grandiosely graven plates of lasting lead, in defiant yet futile symbol of the asserted sovereignty of France. Thus threatened in the vindication of the rights of their colonial sea-to-sea charters, the English threw off the lethargy with which they had failed to protect their traders, and in grants to the Ohio and Loyal land companies began resolutely to form plans looking to the occupation of the interior. But the French seized the English trading-house at Venango which they converted into a fort; and Virginia’s protest, conveyed by a calm and judicious young man, a surveyor, George Washington, availed not to prevent the French from seizing Captain Trent’s hastily erected military post at the forks of the Ohio and constructing there a formidable work, named Fort Duquesne. Washington, with his expeditionary force sent to garrison Captain Trent’s fort, defeated Jumonville and his small force near Great Meadows (May, 1754); but soon after he was forced to surrender Fort Necessity to Coulon de Villiers.
The titanic struggle, fittingly precipitated in the backwoods of the Old Southwest, was now on–a struggle in which the resolute pioneers of these backwoods first seriously measured their strength with the French and their copper-hued allies, and learned to surpass the latter in their own mode of warfare. The portentous conflict, destined to assure the eastern half of the continent to Great Britain, is a grim, prophetic harbinger of the mighty movement of the next quarter of a century into the twilight zone of the trans-Alleghany territory:
CHAPTER IV. The Indian War
All met in companies with their wives and children, and set about building little fortifications, to defend themselves from such barbarian and inhuman enemies, whom they concluded would be let loose upon them at pleasure.–The Reverend Hugh McAden–Diary, July, 1755.
Long before the actual outbreak of hostilities powerful forces were gradually converging to produce a clash between the aggressive colonials and the crafty Indians. As the settlers pressed farther westward into the domain of the red men, arrogantly grazing their stock over the cherished hunting-grounds of the Cherokees, the savages, who were already well disposed toward the French, began to manifest a deep indignation against the British colonists because of this callous encroachment upon their territory. During the sporadic forays by scattered bands of Northern Indians upon the Catawbas and other tribes friendly to the pioneers the isolated settlements at the back part of the Carolinas suffered rude and sanguinary onslaughts. In the summer of 1753 a party of northern Indians warring in the French interest made their appearance in Rowan County, which had just been organized, and committed various depredations upon the scattered settlements. To repel these attacks a band of the Catawbas sallied forth, encountered a detached party of the enemy, and slew five of their number. Among the spoils, significantly enough, were silver crucifixes, beads, looking-glasses, tomahawks and other implements of war, all of French manufacture.
Intense rivalry for the good will of the near-by southern tribes existed between Virginia and South Carolina. In strong remonstrance against the alleged attempt of Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia to alienate the Cherokees, Catawbas, Muscogees, and Chickasaws from South Carolina and to attach them to Virginia, Governor Glen of South Carolina made pungent observations to Dinwiddie: “South Carolina is a weak frontier colony, and in case of invasion by the French would be their first object of attack. We have not much to fear, however, while we retain the affection of the Indians around us; but should we forfeit that by any mismanagement on our part, or by the superior address of the French, we are in a miserable situation. The Cherokees alone have several thousand gunmen well acquainted with every inch of the province . . . their country is the key to Carolina.” By a treaty concluded at Saluda (November 24, 1753), Glen promised to build the Cherokees a fort near the lower towns, for the protection of themselves and their allies; and the Cherokees on their part agreed to become the subjects of the King of Great Britain and hold their lands under him. This fort, erected this same year on the headwaters of the Savannah, within gunshot distance of the important Indian town of Keowee, was named Fort Prince George. “It is a square,” says the founder of the fort (Governor Glen to the Board of Trade, August 26, 1754), “with regular Bastions and four Ravelins it is near Two hundred foot from Salient Angle to Salient Angle and is made of Earth taken out of the Ditch, secured with fachines and well rammed with a banquet on the Inside for the men to stand upon when they fire over, the Ravelins are made of Posts of Lightwood which is very durable, they are ten foot in length sharp pointed three foot and a half in the ground.” The dire need for such a fort in the back country was tragically illustrated by the sudden onslaught upon the “House of John Gutry & James Anshers” in York County by a party of sixty French Indians (December 16, 1754), who brutally murdered sixteen of the twenty-one persons present, and carried off as captives the remaining five.”
At the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754 North Carolina voted twelve thousand pounds for the raising of troops and several thousand pounds additional for the construction of forts–a sum considerably larger than that voted by Virginia. A regiment of two hundred and fifty men was placed under the command of Colonel James Innes of the Cape Fear section; and the ablest officer under him was the young Irishman from the same section, Lieutenant Hugh Waddell. On June 3, 1754, Dinwiddie appointed Innes, his close friend, commander-in-chief of all the forces against the French; and immediately after the disaster at Great Meadows (July, 1754), Innes took command. Within two months the supplies for the North Carolina troops were exhausted; and as Virginia then failed to furnish additional supplies, Colonel Innes had no recourse but to disband his troops and permit them to return home. Appointed governor of Fort Cumberland by General Braddock, he was in command there while Braddock advanced on his disastrous march.
The lesson of Braddock’s defeat (July 9, 1755) was memorable in the history of the Old Southwest. Well might Braddock exclaim with his last breath: “Who would have thought it? . . . We shall know better how to deal with them another time.” Led on by the reckless and fiery Beaujeu, wearing an Indian gorget about his neck, the savages from the protection of trees and rough defenses, a pre pared ambuscade, poured a galling fire into the compact divisions of the English, whose scarlet coats furnished ideal targets. The obstinacy of the British commanders in refusing to permit their troops to fight Indian fashion was suicidal; for as Herman Alriclis wrote Governor Morris of Pennsylvania (July 22, 1755): ” . . . the French and Indians had cast an Intrenchment across the road before our Army which they Discovered not Untill they came Close up to it, from thence and both sides of the road the enemy kept a constant fireing on them, our Army being so confused, they could not fight, and they would not be admitted by the Genl or Sir John St. Clair, to break thro’ their Ranks and Take behind trees.” Daniel Boone, who went from North Carolina as a wagoner in the company commanded by Edward Brice Dobbs, was on the battle-field; but Dobbs’s company at the time was scouting in the woods. When the fierce attack fell upon the baggage a train, Boone succeeded in effecting his escape only by cutting the traces of his team and fleeing on one of the horses. To his dying day Boone continued to censure Braddock’s conduct, and reprehended especially his fatal neglect to employ strong flank-guards and a sufficient number of Provincial scouts thoroughly acquainted with the wilderness and all the wiles and strategies of savage warfare.
For a number of months following Braddock’s defeat there was a great rush of the frightened people southward. In a letter to Dinwiddie, Washington expresses the apprehension that Augusta, Frederick, and Hampshire County will soon be depopulated, as the whole back country is in motion toward the southern colonies. During this same summer Governor Arthur Dobbs of North Carolina made a tour of exploration through the western part of the colony, seeking a site for a fort to guard the frontier. The frontier company of fifty men which was to garrison the projected fort was placed under the command of Hugh Waddell, now promoted to the rank of captain, though only twenty-one years old. In addition to Waddell’s company, armed patrols were required for the protection of the Rowan County frontier; and during the summer Indian alarms were frequent at the Moravian village of Bethabara, whose inhabitants had heard with distress on March 31st of the slaughter of eleven Moravians on the Mahoni and of the ruin of Gnadenhutten. Many of the settlers in the outlying districts of Rowan fled for safety to the refuge of the little village; and frequently every available house, every place of temporary abode was filled with panic stricken refugees. So persistent were the depredations of the Indians and so alarmed were the scattered Rowan settlers by the news of the murders and the destruction of Vaul’s Fort in Virginia (June 25, 1756) that at a conference on July 5th the Moravians “decided to protect our houses with palisades, and make them safe before the enemy should in vade our tract or attack us, for if the people were all going to retreat we would be the last left on the frontier and the first point of attack.” By July 23d, they had constructed a strong defense for their settlement, afterward called the “Dutch Fort” by the Indians. The principal structure was a stockade, triangular in plan, some three hundred feet on a side, enclosing the principal buildings of the settlement; and the gateway was guarded by an observation tower. The other defense was a stockade embracing eight houses at the mill some distance away, around which a small settlement had sprung up.
During the same year the fort planned by Dobbs was erected upon the site he had chosen–between Third and Fourth creeks; and the commissioners Richard Caswell and Francis Brown, sent out to inspect the fort, made the following picturesque report to the Assembly (December 21, 1756):
“That they had likewise viewed the State of Fort Dobbs, and found it to be a good and Substantial Building of the Dimentions following (that is to say) The Oblong Square fifty three feet by forty, the opposite Angles Twenty four feet and Twenty-Two In Height Twenty four and a half feet as by the Plan annexed Appears, The Thickness of the Walls which are made of Oak Logs regularly Diminished from sixteen Inches to Six, it contains three floors and there may be discharged from each floor at one and the same time about one hundred Musketts the same is beautifully scituated in the fork of Fourth Creek a Branch of the Yadkin River. And that they also found under Command of Cap’ Hugh Waddel Forty six Effective men Officers and Soldiers, the said Officers and Soldiers Appearing well and in good Spirits.”
As to the erection of a fort on the Tennessee, promised the Cherokees by South Carolina, difficulties between the governor of that province and of Virginia in regard to matters of policy and the proportionate share of expenses made effective cooperation between the two colonies well-nigh impossible. Glen, as we have seen, had resented Dinwiddie’s efforts to win the South Carolina Indians over to Virginia’s interest. And Dinwiddie had been very indignant when the force promised him by the Indians to aid General Braddock did not arrive, attributing this defection in part to Glen’s negotiations for a meeting with the chieftains and in part to the influence of the South Carolina traders, who kept the Indians away by hiring them to go on long hunts for furs and skinns. But there was no such contention between Virginia and North Carolina. Dinwiddie and Dobbs arranged (November 6, 1755) to send a commission from these colonies to treat with the Cherokees and the Catawbas. Virginia sent two commissioners, Colonel William Byrd, third of that name, and Colonel Peter Randolph; while North Carolina sent one, Captain Hugh Waddell. Salisbury, North Carolina, was the place of rendezvous. The treaty with the Catawbas was made at the Catawba Town, presumably the village opposite the mouth of Sugaw Creek, in York County, South Carolina, on February 20-21, 1756; that with the Cherokees on Broad River, North Carolina, March 13-17. As a result of the negotiations and after the receipt of a present of goods, the Catawbas agreed to send forty warriors to aid Virginia within forty days; and the Cherokees, in return for presents and Virginia’s promise to contribute her proportion toward the erection of a strong fort, undertook to send four hundred warriors within forty days, “as soon as the said fort shall be built.” Virginia and North Carolina thus wisely cooperated to “straighten the path” and “brighten the chain” between the white and the red men, in important treaties which Have largely escaped the attention of historians.”
On May 25, 1756, a conference was held at Salisbury between King Heygler and warriors of the Catawba nation on the one side and Chief Justice Henley, doubtless attended by Captain Waddell and his frontier company, on the other. King Heygler, following the lead set by the Cherokees, petitioned the Governor of North Carolina to send the Catawbas some ammunition and to “build us a fort for securing our old men, women and children when we turn out to fight the Enemy on their coming.” The chief justice assured the King that the Catawbas would receive a necessary supply of ammunition (one hundred pounds of gunpowder and four hundred pounds of lead were later sent them) and promised to urge with the governor their request to have a fort built as soon as possible. Pathos not unmixed with dry humor tinges the eloquent appeal of good old King Heygler, ever the loyal friend of the whites, at this conference:
“I desire a stop may be put to the selling of strong Liquors by the White people to my people especially near the Indian nation. IF THE WHITE PEOPLE MAKE STRONG DRINK, LET THEM. SELL IT TO ONE ANOTHER, OR DRINK IT IN THEIR OWN FAMILIES. This will avoid a great deal of mischief which otherwise will, happen from my people getting drunk and quarrelling with the White people. I have no strong prisons like you to confine them for it. Our only way is to put them under ground and all these (pointing proudly to his Warriors) will be ready to do that to those who shall deserve it.”
In response to this request, the sum of four thousand pounds was appropriated by the North Carolina Assembly for the erection of “a Fort on our western frontier to protect and secure the Catawbas” and for the support of two companies of fifty men each to garrison this and another fort building on the sea coast. The commissioners appointed for the purpose recommended (December 21, 1756) a site for the fort “near the ‘Catawba nation”; and on January 20, 1757, Governor Dobbs reported; ” We are now building a Fort in the midst of their towns at their own Request.” The fort thereupon begun must have stood near the mouth of the South Fork of the Catawba River, as Dobbs says it was in the “midst” of their towns, which are situated a “few miles north and south of 38 degrees” and might properly be included within a circle of thirty miles radius.”
During the succeeding months many depredations were committed by the Indians upon the exposed and scattered settlements. Had it not been for the protection afforded by all these forts, by the militia companies under Alexander Osborne of Rowan and Nathaniel Alexander of Anson, and by a special company of patrollers under Green and Moore, the back settlers who had been so outrageously “pilfered” by the Indians would have “retired from the Frontier into the inner settlements.”
CHAPTER V. In Defense of Civilization
We give thanks and praise for the safety and peace vouchsafed us by our Heavenly Father in these times of war. Many of our neighbors, driven hither and yon like deer before wild beasts, came to us for shelter, yet the accustomed order of our congregation life was not disturbed, no, not even by the more than 150 Indians who at sundry times passed by, stopping for a day at a time and being fed by us.–Wachovia Community Diary, 1757
With commendable energy and expedition Dinwiddie and Dobbs, acting in concert, initiated steps for keeping the engagements conjointly made by the two colonies with the Cherokees and the Catawbas in tile spring and summer of 1756. Enlisting sixty men, “most of them Artificers, with Tools and Provisions,” Major Andrew Lewis proceeded in the late spring to Echota in the Cherokee country. Here during the hot summer months they erected the Virginia Fort on the path from Virginia, upon the northern bank of the Little Tennessee, nearly opposite the Indian town of Echota and about twenty-five miles southwest of Knoxville.” While the fort was in process of construction, the Cherokees were incessantly tampered with by emissaries from the Nuntewees and the Savannahs in the French interest, and from the French themselves at the Alibamu Fort. So effective were these machinations, supported by extravagant promises and doubtless rich bribes, that the Cherokees soon were outspokenly expressing their desire for a French fort at Great Tellico.
Dinwiddie welcomed the departure from America of Governor Glen of South Carolina, who in his opinion had always acted contrary to the king’s interest. From the new governor, William Henry Lyttelton, who arrived in Charleston on June 1, 1756, he hoped to secure effective cooperation in dealing with the Cherokees and the Catawbas. This hope was based upon Lyttelton’s recognition, as stated in Dinwiddie’s words, of the “Necessity of strict Union between the whole Colonies, with’t any of them considering their particular Interest separate from the general Good of the whole.” After constructing the fort “with’t the least assistance from South Carolina,” Major Lewis happened by accident upon a grand council being held in Echota in September. At that time he discovered to his great alarm that the machinations of the French had already produced the greatest imaginable change in the sentiment of the Cherokees. Captain Raymond Demere of the Provincials, with two hundred English troops, had arrived to garrison the fort; but the head men of all the Upper Towns were secretly influenced to agree to write a letter to Captain Demere, ordering him to return immediately to Charleston with all the troops under his command. At the grand council, Atta-kulla-kulla, the great Cherokee chieftain, passionately declared to the head men, who listened approvingly, that “as to the few soldiers of Captain Demere that was there, he would take their Guns, and give them to his young men to hunt with and as to their clothes they would soon be worn out and their skins would be tanned, and be of the same colour as theirs, and that they should live among them as slaves.” With impressive dignity Major Lewis rose and earnestly pleaded for the observance of the terms of the treaty solemnly negotiated the preceding March. In response, the crafty and treacherous chieftains desired Lewis to tell the Governor of Virginia that “they had taken up the Hatchet against all Nations that were Enemies to the English”; but Lewis, an astute student of Indian Psychology, rightly surmised that all their glib professions of friendship and assistance were “only to put a gloss on their knavery.” So it proved; for instead of the four hundred warriors promised under the treaty for service in Virginia, the Cherokees sent only seven warriors, accompanied by three women. Al though the Cherokees petitioned Virginia for a number of men to garrison the Virginia fort, Dinwiddie postponed sending the fifty men provided for by the Virginia Assembly until he could reassure himself in regard to the “Behaviour and Intention” of the treacherous Indian allies. This proved to be a prudent decision; for not long after its erection the Virginia fort was destroyed by the Indians.
Whether on account of the dissatisfaction expressed by the Cherokees over the erection of the Virginia fort or because of a recognition of the mistaken policy of garrisoning a work erected by Virginia with troops sent from Charleston, South Carolina immediately proceeded to build another stronghold on the southern bank of the Tennessee at the mouth of Tellico River, some seven miles from the site of the Virginia fort; and here were posted twelve great guns, brought thither at immense labor through the wilderness. To this fort, named Fort Loudoun in honor of Lord Loudoun, then commander-in-chief of all the English forces in America, the Indians allured artisans by donations of land; and during the next three or four years a little settlement sprang up there.
The frontiers of Virginia suffered most from the incursions of hostile Indians during the fourteen months following May 1, 1755. In July, the Rev. Hugh McAden records that he preached in Virginia on a day set apart for fasting and prayer “on account of the wars and many murders, committed by the savage Indians on the back inhabitants.” On July 30th a large party of Shawano Indians fell upon the New River settlement and wiped it out of existence. William Ingles was absent at the time of the raid; and Mrs. Ingles, who was captured, afterward effected her escape. The following summer (June 25, 1756), Fort Vaux on the headwaters of the Roanoke, under the command of Captain John Smith, was captured by about one hundred French and Indians, who burnt the fort, killed John Smith junior, John Robinson, John Tracey and John Ingles, wounded four men, and captured twenty-two men, women, and children. Among the captured was the famous Mrs. Mary Ingles, whose husband, John Ingles, was killed; but after being “carried away into Captivity, amongst whom she was barbarously treated,” according to her own statement, she finally escaped and returned to Virginia.” The frontier continued to be infested by marauding bands of French and Indians; and Dinwiddie gloomily confessed to Dobbs (July 22d): “I apprehend that we shall always be harrass’d with fly’g Parties of these Banditti unless we form an Expedit’n ag’st them, to attack ’em in y’r Towns.” Such an expedition, known as the Sandy River Expedition, had been sent out in February to avenge the massacre of the New River settlers; but the enterprise engaged in by about four hundred Virginians and Cherokees under Major Andrew Lewis and Captain Richard Pearis, proved a disastrous failure. Not a single Indian was seen; and the party suffered extraordinary hardships and narrowly escaped starvation.
In conformity with his treaty obligations with the Catawbas, Governor Dobbs commissioned Captain Hugh Waddell to erect the fort promised the Catawbas at the spot chosen by the commissioners near the mouth of the South Fork of the Catawba River. This fort, for which four thousand pounds had been appropriated, was for the most part completed by midsummer, 1757. But owing, it appears, both to the machinations of the French and to the intermeddling of the South Carolina traders, who desired to retain the trade of the Catawbas for that province, Oroloswa, the Catawba King Heygler, sent a “talk” to Governor Lyttelton, requesting that North Carolina desist from the work of construction and that no fort be built except by South Carolina. Accordingly, Governor Dobbs ordered Captain Waddell to discharge the workmen (August 11, 1757); and every effort was made for many months thereafter to conciliate the Catawbas, erstwhile friends of North Carolina. The Catawba fort erected by North Carolina was never fully completed; and several years later South Carolina, having succeeded in alienating the Catawbas from North Carolina, which colony had given them the best possible treatment, built for them a fort at the mouth of Line Creek on the east bank of the Catawba River.
In the spring and summer of 1758 the long expected Indian allies arrived in Virginia, as many as four hundred by May–Cherokees, Catawbas, Tuscaroras, and Nottaways. But Dinwiddie was wholly unable to use them effectively; and in order to provide amusement for them, he directed that they should go “a scalping” with the whites–“a barbarous method of war,” frankly acknowledged the governor, “introduced by the French, which we are oblidged to follow in our own defense.” Most of the Indian allies discontentedly returned home before the end of the year, but the remainder waited until the next year, to take part in the campaign against Fort Duquesne. Three North Carolina companies, composed of trained soldiers and hardy frontiersmen, went through this campaign under the command of Major Hugh Waddell, the “Washington of North Carolina.” Long of limb and broad of chest, powerful, lithe, and active, Waddell was an ideal leader for this arduous service, being fertile in expedient and skilful in the employment of Indian tactics. With true provincial pride Governor Dobbs records that Waddell “had great honor done him, being employed in all reconnoitring parties, and dressed and acted as an Indian; and his sergeant, Rogers, took the only Indian prisoner, who gave Mr. Forbes certain intelligence of the forces in Fort Duquesne, upon which they resolved to proceed.” This apparently trivial incident is remarkable, in that it proved to be the decisive factor in a campaign that was about to be abandoned. The information in regard to the state of the garrison at Fort Duquesne, secured from the Indian, for the capture of whom two leading officers had offered a reward of two hundred and fifty pounds, emboldened Forbes to advance rather than to retire. Upon reaching the fort (November 25th), he found it abandoned by the enemy. Sergeant Rogers never received the reward promised by General Forbes and the other English officer; but some time afterward he was compensated by a modest sum from the colony of North Carolina.
A series of unfortunate occurrences, chiefly the fault of the whites, soon resulted in the precipitation of a terrible Indian outbreak. A party of Cherokees, returning home in May, 1758, seized some stray horses on the frontier of Virginia–never dreaming of any wrong, says an old historian, as they saw it frequently done by the whites. The owners of the horses, hastily forming a party, went in pursuit of the Indians and killed twelve or fourteen of the number. The relatives of the slain Indians, greatly incensed, vowed vengeance upon the whites. Nor was the tactless conduct of Forbes calculated to quiet this resentment; for when Atta-kulla-kulla and nine other chieftains deserted in disgust at the treatment accorded them, they were pursued by Forbes’s orders, apprehended and disarmed. This rude treatment, coupled with the brutal and wanton murder of some Cherokee hunters a little earlier, by an irresponsible band of Virginians under Captain Robert Wade, still further aggravated the Indians.
Incited by the French, who had fled to the southward after the fall of Fort Duquesne, parties of bloodthirsty young Indians rushed down upon the settlements and left in their path death and desolation along the frontiers of the Carolinas. On the upper branch of the Yadkin and below the South Yadkin near Fort Dobbs twenty-two whites fell in swift succession before the secret onslaughts of the savages from the lower Cherokee towns. Many of the settlers along the Yadkin fled to the Carolina Fort at Bethabara and the stockade at the mill; and the sheriff of Rowan County suffered siege by the Cherokees, in his home, until rescued by a detachment under Brother Loesch from Bethabara. While many families took refuge in Fort Dobbs, frontiersmen under Captain Morgan Bryan ranged through the mountains to the west of Salisbury and guarded the settlements from the hostile incursions of the savages. So gravely alarmed were the Rowan settlers, compelled by the Indians to desert their planting and crops, that Colonel Harris was despatched post-haste for aid to Cape Fear, arriving there on July 1st. With strenuous energy Captain Waddell, then stationed in the east, rushed two companies of thirty men each to the rescue, sending by water-carriage six swivel guns and ammunition on before him; and these reinforcements brought relief at last to the harassed Rowan frontiers.” During the remainder of the year, the borders were kept clear by bold and tireless rangers-under the leadership of expert Indian fighters of the stamp of Grifth Rutherford and Morgan Bryan.
When the Cherokee warriors who had wrought havoc along the North Carolina border in April arrived at their town of Settiquo, they proudly displayed the twenty-two scalps of the slain Rowan settlers. Upon the demand for these scalps by Captain Demere at Fort Loudon and under direction of Atta-kulla-kulla, the Settiquo warriors surrendered eleven of the scalps to Captain Demere who, according to custom in time of peace, buried them. New murders on Pacolet and along the Virginia Path, which occurred shortly afterward, caused gloomy forebodings; and it was plain, says a contemporary gazette, that “the lower Cherokees were not satisfied with the murder of the Rowan settlers, but intended further mischief”. On October 1st and again on October 31st, Governor Dobbs received urgent requests from Governor Lyttelton, asking that the North Carolina provincials and militia cooperate to bring him assistance. Although there was no law requiring the troops to march out of the province and the exposed frontiers of North Carolina sorely needed protection, Waddell, now commissioned colonel, assembled a force of five small companies and marched to the aid of Governor Lyttelton. But early in January, 1760, while on the march, Waddell received a letter from Lyttelton, informing him that the assistance was not needed and that a treaty of peace had been negotiated with the Cherokees.
CHAPTER VI. Crushing the Cherokees
Thus ended the Cherokee war, which was among the last humbling strokes given to the expiring power of France in North America.- -Hewatt: An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia. 1779.
Governor Lyttelton’s treaty of “peace”, negotiated with the Cherokees at the close of 1759, was worse than a crime: it was a crass and hideous blunder. His domineering attitude and tyrannical treatment of these Indians had aroused the bitterest animosity. Yet he did not realize that it was no longer safe to trust their word. No sooner did the governor withdraw his army from the borders than the cunning Cherokees, whose passions had been inflamed by what may fairly be called the treacherous conduct of Lyttelton, rushed down with merciless ferocity upon the innocent and defenseless families on the frontier. On February 1, 1760, while a large party (including the family of Patrick Calhoun), numbering in all about one hundred and fifty persons, were removing from the Long Cane settlement to Augusta, they were suddenly attacked by a hundred mounted Cherokees, who slaughtered about fifty of them. After the massacre, many of the children were found helplessly wandering in the woods. One man alone carried to Augusta no less than nine of the pitiful innocents, some horribly mutilated with the tomahawk, others scalped, and all yet alive.
Atrocities defying description continued to be committed, and many people were slain. The Cherokees, under the leadership of Si-lou-ee, or the Young Warrior of Estatoe, the Round O, Tiftoe, and others, were baffled in their persistent efforts to capture Fort Prince George. On February 16th the crafty Oconostota appeared before the fort and under the pretext of desiring some White man to accompany him on a visit to the governor on urgent business, lured the commander, Lieutenant Coytomore, and two attendants to a conference outside the gates. At a preconceived signal a volley of shots rang out; the two attendants were wounded, and Lieutenant Coytomore, riddled with bullets, fell dead. Enraged by this act of treachery, the garrison put to death the Indian hostages within. During the abortive attack upon the fort, Oconostota, unaware of the murder of the hostages, was heard shouting above the din of battle: “Fight strong, and you shall be relieved.”
Now began the dark days along the Rowan border, which were so sorely to test human endurance. Many refugees fortified themselves in the different stockades; and Colonel Hugh Waddell with his redoubtable frontier company of Indian-fighters awaited the onslaught of the savages, who were reported to have passed through the mountain defiles and to be approaching along the foot-hills. The story of the investment of Fort Dobbs and the splendidly daring sortie of Waddell and Bailey is best told in Waddell’s report to Governor Dobbs (February 29, 1760):
“For several Days I observed a small party of Indians were constantly about the fort, I sent out several parties after them to no purpose, the Evening before last between 8 & 9 o’clock I found by the Dogs making an uncommon Noise there must be a party nigh a Spring which we sometimes use. As my Garrison is but small, and I was apprehensive it might be a scheme to draw out the Garrison, I took our Capt. Bailie who with myself and party made up ten: We had not marched 300 yds. from the fort when we were attacked by at least 60 or 70 Indians. I had given my party Orders not to fire until I gave the word, which they punctually observed: We rec’d the Indians’ fire: When I perceived they had almost all fired, I ordered my party to fire which We did not further than 12 steps each loaded with a Bullet and 7 Buck Shot, they had nothing to cover them as they were advancing either to tomahawk us or make us Prisoners: They found the fire very hot from so small a Number which a good deal confused them: I then ordered my party to retreat, as I found the Instant our skirmish began another party had attacked the fort, upon our reinforcing the garrison the Indians were soon repulsed with I am sure a considerable Loss, from what I myself saw as well as those I can confide in they cou’d not have less than 10 or 12 killed and wounded; The next Morning we found a great deal of Blood and one dead whom I suppose they cou’d not find in the night. On my side I had 2 Men wounded one of whom I am afraid will die as he is scalped, the other is in way of Recovery, and one boy killed near the fort whom they durst not advance to scalp. I expected they would have paid me another visit last night, as they attack all Fortifications by Night, but find they did not like their Reception.”
Alarmed by Waddell’s “offensive-defensive,” the Indians abandoned the siege. Robert Campbell, Waddell’s ranger, who was scalped in this engagement, subsequently recovered from his wounds and was recompensed by the colony with the sum of twenty pounds.
In addition to the frontier militia, four independent companies were now placed under Waddell’s command. Companies of volunteers scoured the woods in search of the lurking Indian foe. These rangers, who were clad in hunting-shirts and buckskin leggings, and who employed Indian tactics in fighting, were captained by such hardy leaders as the veteran Morgan Bryan, the intrepid Griffith Ruthe ford, the German partisan, Martin Phifer (Pfeiffer), and Anthony Hampton, the father of General Wade Hampton. They visited periodically a chain of “forest castles” erected by the settlers–extending all the way from Fort Dobbs and the Moravian fortifications in the Wachau to Samuel Stalnaker’s stockade on the Middle Fork of the Holston in Virginia. About the middle of March, thirty volunteer Rowan County rangers encountered a band of forty Cherokees, who fortified themselves in a deserted house near the Catawba River. The famous scout and hunter, John Perkins, assisted by one of his bolder companions, crept up to the house and flung lighted torches upon the roof. One of the Indians, as the smoke became suffocating and the flames burned hotter, exclaimed: “Better for one to die bravely than for all to perish miserably in the flames,” and darting forth, dashed rapidly hither and thither, in order to draw as many shots as possible. This act of superb self-sacrifice was successful; and while the rifles of the whites, who riddled the brave Indian with balls, were empty, the other savages made a wild dash for liberty. Seven fell thus under the deadly rain of bullets; but many escaped. Ten of the Indians, all told, lost their scalps, for which the volunteer rangers were subsequently paid one hundred pounds by the colony of North Carolina.
Beaten back from Fort Dobbs, sorely defeated along the Catawba, hotly pursued by the rangers, the Cherokees continued to lurk in the shadows of the dense forests, and at every opportunity to fall suddenly upon way faring settlers and isolated cabins remote from any stronghold. On March 8th William Fish, his son, and Thompson, a companion, were riding along the “trace,” in search of provisions for a group of families fortified on the Yadkin, when a flight of arrows hurtled from the cane-brake, and Fish and his son fell dead. Although pierced with two arrows, one in the hip and one clean through his body, Thompson escaped upon his fleet horse; and after a night of ghastly suffering finally reached the Carolina Fort at Bethabara. The good Dr. Bonn, by skilfully extracting the barbed shafts from his body, saved Thompson’s life. The pious Moravians rejoiced over the recovery of the brave messenger, whose sensational arrival gave them timely warning of the close proximity of the Indians. While feeding their cattle, settlers were shot from ambush by the lurking foe; and on March 11th, a family barricaded within a burning house, which they were defending with desperate courage, were rescued in the nick of time by the militia. No episode from Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales surpasses in melancholy interest Harry Hicks’s heroic defense of his little fort on Bean Island Creek. Surrounded by the Indians, Hicks and his family took refuge within the small outer palisade around his humble home. Fighting desperately against terrific odds, he was finally driven from his yard into his log cabin, which he continued to defend with dauntless courage. With every shot he tried to send a redskin to the happy hunting-grounds; and it was only after his powder was exhausted that he fell, fighting to the last, beneath the deadly tomahawk. So impressed were the Indians by his bravery that they spared the life of his wife and his little son; and these were afterward rescued by Waddell when he marched to the Cherokee towns in 1761.
The kindly Moravians had always entertained with generous hospitality the roving bands of Cherokees, who accordingly held them in much esteem and spoke of Bethabara as “the Dutch Fort, where there are good people and much bread.” But now, in these dread days, the truth of their daily text was brought forcibly home to the Moravians: “Neither Nehemiah nor his brethren put off their clothes, but prayed as they watched.” With Bible in one hand and rifle in the other, the inhabitant of Wachovia sternly marched to religious worship. No Puritan of bleak New England ever showed more resolute courage or greater will to defend the hard-won outpost of civilization than did the pious Moravian of the Wachau. At the new settlement of Bethania on Easter Day, more than four hundred souls, including sixty rangers, listened devoutly to the eloquent sermon of Bishop Spangenberg concerning the way of salvation–the while their arms, stacked without the Gemein Haus, were guarded by the watchful sentinel. On March 14th the watchmen at Bethania with well-aimed shots repelled the Indians, whose hideous yells of baffled rage sounded down the wind like “the howling of a hundred wolves”. Religion was no protection against the savages; for three ministers journeying to the present site of Salem were set upon by the red men–one escaping, another suffering capture, and the third, a Baptist, losing his life. A little later word came to Fort Dobbs that John Long and Robert Gillespie of Salisbury had been shot from ambush and scalped–Long having been pierced with eight bullets and Gillespie with seven.
There is one beautiful incident recorded by the Moravians, which has a truly symbolic significance. While the war was at its height, a strong party of Cherokees, who had lost their chief, planned in retaliation to attack Bethabara. “When they went home,” sets forth the Moravian Diary, “they said they had been to a great town, where there were a great many people, where the bells rang often, and during the night, time after time, a horn was blown, so that they feared to attack the town and had taken no prisoners.” The trumpet of the watchman, announcing the passing of the hour, had convinced the Indians that their plans for attack were discovered; and the regular evening bell, summoning the pious to prayer, rang in the stricken ears of the red men like the clamant call to arms.
Following the retirement from office of Governor Lyttelton, Lieutenant-Governor Bull proceeded to prosecute the war with vigor. On April 1, 1760, twelve hundred men under Colonel Archibald Montgomerie arrived at Charleston, with instructions to strike an immediate blow and to relieve Fort Loudon, then invested by the Cherokees. With his own force, two hundred and ninety-five South Carolina Rangers, forty picked men of the new “levies,” and “a good number of guides,” Montgomerie moved from Fort Ninety-Six on May 28th. On the first of June, crossing Twelve-Mile River, Montgomerie began the campaign in earnest, devastating and burning every Indian village in the Valley of Keowee, killing and capturing more than a hundred of the Cherokees, and destroying immense stores of corn. Receiving no reply to his summons to the Cherokees of the Middle and Upper Towns to make peace or suffer like treatment, Montgomerie took up his march from Fort Prince George on June 24th, resolved to carry out his threat. On the morning of the 27th, he was drawn into an ambuscade within six miles of Et-chow-ee, eight miles south of the present Franklin, North Carolina, a mile and a half below Smith’s Bridge, and was vigorously attacked from dense cover by some six hundred and thirty warriors led by Si-lou-ee. Fighting with Indian tactics, the Provincial Rangers under Patrick Calhoun particularly distinguished themselves; and the bloodcurdling yells of the painted savages were responded to by the wild huzzas of the kilted Highlanders who, waving their Scotch bonnets, impetuously charged the redskins and drove them again and again from their lurking-places. Nevertheless Montgomerie lost from eighty to one hundred in killed and wounded, while the loss of the Indians was supposed to be about half the loss of the whites. Unable to care for his wounded and lacking the means of removing his baggage, Montgomerie silently withdrew his forces. In so doing, he acknowledged defeat, since he was compelled to abandon his original intention of relieving the beleaguered garrison of Fort London.
Captain Demere and his devoted little band, who had been resolutely holding out, were now left to their tragic fate. After the bread was exhausted, the garrison was reduced to the necessity of eating dogs and horses; and the loyal aid of the Indian wives of some of the garrison, who secretly brought them supplies of food daily, enabled them to hold out still longer. Realizing at last the futility of prolonging the hopeless contest, Captain Demere surrendered the fort on August 8, 1760. At daylight the next morning, while on the march to Fort Prince George, the soldiers were set upon by the treacherous Cherokees, who at the first onset killed Captain Demere and twenty-nine others. A humane chieftain, Outassitus, says one of the gazettes of the day, “went around the field calling upon the Indians to desist, and making such representations to them as stopped the further progress and effects of their barbarous and brutal rage,” which expressed itself in scalping and hacking off the arms and legs of the defenseless whites. Atta-kulla-kulla, who was friendly to the whites, claimed Captain Stuart, the second officer, as his captive, and bore him away by stealth. After nine days’ journey through the wilderness they encountered an advance party under Major Andrew Lewis, sent out by Colonel Byrd, head of a relieving army, to rescue and succor any of the garrison who might effect their escape. Thus Stuart was restored to his friends. This abortive and tragic campaign, in which the victory lay conclusively with the Indians, ended when Byrd disbanded his new levies and Montgomerie sailed from Charleston for the north (August, 1760).
During the remainder of the year, the province of North Carolina remained free of further alarms from the Indians. But the view was generally entertained that one more joint Effort of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia would have to be made in order to humble the Cherokees. At the sessions of the North Carolina Assembly in November and again in December, matters in dispute between Governor Dobbs and the representatives of the people made impossible the passage of a proposed aid bill, providing for five hundred men to cooperate with Virginia and South Carolina. Nevertheless volunteers in large numbers patriotically marched from North Carolina to Charleston and the Congaree (December, 1760, to April, 1761), to enlist in the famous regiment being organized by Colonel Thomas Middleton. On March 31, 1761, Governor Dobbs called together the Assembly to act upon a letter received from General Amherst, outlining a more vigorous plan of campaign appropriate to the succession of a young and vigorous sovereign, George III. An aid bill was passed, providing twenty thousand pounds for men and supplies; and one regiment of five companies of one hundred men each, under the command of Colonel Hugh Waddell, was mustered into service for seven months’ duty, beginning May 1, 1761.
On July 7, 1761, Colonel James Grant, detached from the main army in command of a force of twenty-six hundred men, took up his march from Fort Prince George. Attacked on June l0th two miles south of the spot where Montgomerie was engaged the preceding year, Grant’s army, after a vigorous engagement lasting several hours, drove off the Indians. The army then proceeded at leisure to lay waste the fifteen towns of the Middle Settlements; and, after this work of systematic devastation was over, returned to Fort Prince George. Peace was concluded in September as the result of this campaign; and in consequence the frontier was pushed seventy miles farther to the west.
Meantime, Colonel Waddell with his force of five hundred North Carolinians had acted in concert with Colonel William Byrd, commanding the Virginia detachment. The combined forces went into camp at Captain Samuel Stalnaker’s old place on the Middle Fork of Holston. Because of his deliberately dilatory policy, Byrd was superseded in the command by Colonel Adam Stephen. Marching their forces to the Long Island of Holston, Stephen and Waddell erected there Fort Robinson, in compliance with the instructions of Governor Fauquier, of Virginia. The Cherokees, heartily tired of the war, now sued for peace, which was concluded, independent of the treaty at Charleston, on November 19, 1761.
The successful termination of this campaign had an effect of signal importance in the development of the expansionist spirit. The rich and beautiful lands which fell under the eye of the North Carolina and Virginia pioneers under Waddell, Byrd, and Stephen, lured them irresistibly on to wider casts for fortune and bolder explorations into the unknown, beckoning West.
CHAPTER VII. The Land Companies
It was thought good policy to settle those lands as fast as possible, and that the granting them to men of the first consequence who were likeliest and best able to procure large bodies of people to settle on them was the most probable means of effecting the end proposed.–Acting-Governor Nelson of Virginia to the Earl of Hillsborough: 1770.
Although for several decades the Virginia traders had been passing over the Great Trading Path to the towns of the Cherokees and the Catawbas, it was not until the early years of the eighteenth century that Virginians of imaginative vision directed their eyes to the westward, intent upon crossing the mountains and locating settlements as a firm barrier against the imperialistic designs of France. Acting upon his oft-expressed conviction that once the English settlers had established themselves at the source of the James River “it would not be in the power of the French to dislodge them,” Governor Alexander Spotswood in 1716, animated with the spirit of the pioneer, led an expedition of fifty men and a train of pack-horses to the mountains, arduously ascended to the summit of the Blue Ridge, and claimed the country by right of discovery in behalf of his sovereign. In the journal of John Fontaine this vivacious account is given of the historic episode: “I graved my name on a tree by the river side; and the Governor buried a bottle with a paper enclosed on which he writ that he took possession of this place in the name and for King George the First of England. We had a good dinner, and after it we got the men together and loaded all their arms and we drank the King’s health in Burgundy and fired a volley, and all the rest of the Royal Family in claret and a volley. We drank the Governor’s health and fired another volley.”
By this jovial picnic, which the governor afterward commemorated by presenting to each of the gentlemen who accompanied him a golden horseshoe, inscribed with the legend, Sic juvat transcendere montes, Alexander Spotswood anticipated by a third of a century the more ambitious expedition on behalf of France by Celoron de Bienville (see Chapter III), and gave a memorable object-lesson in the true spirit of westward expansion. During the ensuing years it began to dawn upon the minds of men of the stamp of William Byrd and Joshua Gee that there was imperative need for the establishment of a chain of settlements in the trans-Alleghany, a great human wall to withstand the advancing wave of French influence and occupation. By the fifth decade of the century, as we have seen, the Virginia settlers, with their squatter’s claims and tomahawk rights, had pushed on to the mountains; and great pressure was brought to bear upon the council to issue grants for vast tracts of land in the uncharted wilderness of the interior.
At this period the English ministry adopted the aggressive policy already mentioned in connection with the French and Indian war, indicative of a determination to contest with France the right to occupy the interior of the continent. This policy had been inaugurated by Virginia with the express purpose of stimulating the adoption of a similar policy by North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Two land companies, organized almost simultaneously, actively promoted the preliminaries necessary to settlement, despatching parties under expert leadership to discover the passes through the mountains and to locate the best land in the trans-Alleghany.
In June, 1749, a great corporation, the Loyal Land Company of Virginia, received a grant of eight hundred thousand acres above the North Carolina line and west of the mountains. Dr. Thomas Walker, an expert surveyor, who in company with several other gentlemen had made a tour of exploration through eastern Tennessee and the Holston region in 1748, was chosen as the agent of this company. Starting from his home in Albemarle County, Virginia, March 6, 1750, accompanied by five stalwart pioneers, Walker made a tour of exploration to the westward, being absent four months and one week. On this journey, which carried the party as far west as the Rockcastle River (May 11th) and as far north as the present Paintsville, Kentucky, they named many natural objects, such as mountains and rivers, after members of the party. Their two principal achievements were the erection of the first house built by white men between the Cumberland Mountains and the Ohio River a feat, however, which led to no important developments; and the discovery of the wonderful gap in the Alleghanies to which Walker gave the name Cumberland, in honor of the ruthless conqueror at Culloden, the “bloody duke.”