Skip to main content

Full text of "Life of General John Sevier"

See other formats



























At r\ -4 j*\ 




WHEN a boy reads the biography of a 
great man, he is especially interested in the 
hero s boyhood days his joys and sorrows, 
struggles and victories; and he is always dis 
appointed if nothing has been said about that 
period of the hero s life. The fact that 
the youthful period of Sevier s life had 
been neglected, led me to write this little 
volume. During my school days, when 
I read about the wonderful battles which 
General Sevier fought with the dusky war 
riors of the forest, and about the terrible 
clash with the British at King s Mountain, 
I wondered if anything reliable had been 
written about his boyhood days. Later 
I was disappointed to find that the biogra 
phy of an American hero, a man who had 
been instrumental in turning the tide of the 
Revolution at King s Mountain, had been sadly 
neglected. In all my early investigations I 
could not find a book that furnished the in 
formation I was seeking. I read Ramsey s 
" Annals of Tennessee " and Gilmore s " Rear 
guard of the Revolution " and " John Sevier 


as a Commonwealth-Builder," the last-named 
not being a biography and very unreliable 
history; these books, though full of interest 
ing matter, did not give me enough about the 
early life of General Sevier and about other 
neglected parts of his interesting career. 

Next I wrote letters of inquiry. By this 
plan I found, in the Draper Manuscript Col 
lection in the State Historical Society of 
Wisconsin, many letters and manuscript 
statements containing much desirable infor 
mation about Sevier. In 1844, Doctor Draper 
visited three sons of General Sevier and had 
personal interviews with them, taking notes 
of the information he gathered. He also re 
ceived many letters from them, some of which 
contain much biographical and genealogical 
material. It was pure love for historical in 
vestigation that led the venerable Doctor 
Draper thus to preserve for mankind much 
information of this kind. This is the first 
time this valuable manuscript matter about 
Sevier s life has been presented in history or 

This book was written for those who love 
to read about the deeds of the heroes who 
fought for our freedom and caused the light 
of peace and civilization to shine upon our 
" land of the free and home of the brave." 


My thanks are due to Mr. L. C. Burke, 
Librarian of the State University of Wis 
consin, who went through the Draper manu 
scripts carefully and copied for me such ma 
terial as I desired. My thanks are also due 
to Doctor Reuben Gold Thwaites, the well- 
known author, who, as Secretary of the State 
Historical Society of Wisconsin, very kindly 
aided me with information concerning the 
Draper manuscripts. I must also thank Doc 
tor E. W. Kennedy, Professor of History in 
the Peabody College for Teachers, Mr. A. V. 
Goo d pasture, author and Secretary of the 
Tennessee Historical Society, Mr. J. W. Shep 
herd, Nashville, Author, and Doctor Arthur 
Howard Noll, of the University of the South, 
Sewanee, who kindly read my manuscript and 
made suggestions and corrections. 






IN THE sixteenth century the town of 
Xavier, in Navarre, in the French Pyrenees, 
gave its name to the family of one of its 
most famous citizens, upon whom the Roman 
Church a century later conferred the title of 
Saint. St. Francis was of noble parentage 
and was born in the castle of Navier on April 
7th, 1506. He was educated at the College 
of St. Barbe, Paris, and during his student 
days he became acquainted with Ignatius de 
Loyola. Some years later these two, with 
others, founded the Society of Jesus, or the 
Order of the Jesuits, as it is usually called. 
St. Francis was afterwards sent by the 
Order to the East as a missionary. He vis 
ited Japan and many of the islands, and, with 
his staff of assistants, baptised in a single 
month ten thousand natives of the little king 
dom of Travancore. He died in 1552 on his 
way to undertake a mission to China. Sev 
enty years later he was canonized, that is, de- 


clared by the Roman Church entitled to be 
called Saint Francis, though he is generally 
known as thr* cr Apostle of the Indies." 

About this time the Protestants of France, 
called Huguenots, werV>becoming numerous 
and powerful, despite the persecutions to 
which they were subjected in the reign of 
Francis I. and the famous massacre of St. 
Bartholomew s Day, August 24th, 1572. 
They were the Puritans of France and were 
generally noted for their virtuous conduct 
and the purity of their lives. In 1598 King 
Henry IV. of France issued the Edict of 
Nantes, which secured to them full political 
and civil rights and protected them from per 
secution. In 1685 Louis XIV. revoked the 
Edict, and the persecution of the Huguenots 
began again and was pursued with such vio 
lence as to force hundreds of them into exile 
in Prussia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, 
England, and America, or wherever the 
rights of Protestants were respected. 

Strange as it may seem, some of the fam 
ily of St. Francis Xavier, living at Xavier, 
and bearing the name of the town as a fam 
ily name, had embraced the Protestant re 
ligion, and one of them, a devout young 
Huguenot, was among the first to leave 
France after the revocation of the Edict of 1 


Nantes. He settled in London and there the 
family name of Xavier was gradually 
changed to Sevier. He married a woman 
named Smith, by whom he had a son, born 
some time in the year 1703. In or before 
1740, this son, Valentine Sevier, 1 ^ ran away 
from home and came to the New World. 
He found a home in the beautiful Shenan- 
doah Valley, Virginia, in what was then 
Augusta County, but is now within the lim 
its of Rockingham County. 1 

In course of time Valentine Sevier met 
Miss Joanna Goade, 2 and some time later mar 
ried her. It was a very happy marriage and 
the two were held in high esteem by all the 
neighbors and friends. On September 23, 
1745, this marriage was blessed with a son, 
to whom the name John was given*" Little 
did these young parents fancy their babe 
would live to be one of the world s heroes; 
little did they think then that he would one 
day help to smite the enemy of his country 
and make way for peace and civilization ; little 
did they dream, perhaps, that he would ever be 
a ruler among his people, General John 

Valentine Sevier, John s father, had a 
country store, a small mercantile business, 

1 Draper MSS. 2 Draper MSS. 


and a farm; and his son John was taught to 
labor in the field, learning the noblest of oc 
cupations. John was very fond of horses 
and dogs, and living on the frontier of the 
colony, near the region of wild game, he also 
became exceedingly fond of hunting. When 
tired of the monotony of farm life, nothing 
pleased him more than to shoot squirrels and 
turkeys in the 1 mountains or, in company with 
his boy friends, to mount his favorite horse 
and ride away into the distant woodlands 
with the pack of hounds for a fox-chase or 
a deer-hunt. The yelping of the hounds was 
fascinating to him, and he would put the 
spurs to his horse and gallop away to some 
high hill to listen to the music of the chase. 
Hunting wild game developed his powers as 
a marksman, and riding the chase gave him 
the fine physical orm for which he was dis 
tinguished in after life as a soldier and 

In Sevier s youth the South had no public 
free schools, though there existed in most 
communities the " old-field school/ supported 
by those who chanced to have an interest in 
it. But at best this was a very poor place 
to obtain an "education." The school-house, 
built of logs and daubed with mud or 
mortar, was often so open in construction 


that school could not be kept in it during 
the winter months. It was furnished with 
benches made of slabs hewed from split logs, 
each slab resting upon four legs driven in 
auger holes, two at each end. An opening 
or two, made in the wall of the building and 
furnished usually with wooden shutters, 
served as windows, and a "stick and dirt" 
chimney formed a very wide fire-place at one 
end of the room. 

As for the teacher, he was usually a stern 
old fellow whom the scholars feared rather 
than loved or respected. He was much more 
skilful in the use of the rod than in imparting 
knowledge, for he had very little learning to 
impart. Spelling and writing, a little gram 
mar, and a smattering of arithmetic were 
about all he could teach. He usually had 
a long list of rules which he read daily to his 
pupils for the regulation of their conduct, and 
often some unfortunate pupil who had vio 
lated the " rules " had to wear the " dunce 
cap " or was caned. There were no copy 
books, except what the schoolmaster and his 
pupils contrived to make of fool s cap paper. 
Pens were made of goose-quills. The school 
master was very skilful in making these pens 
and in " setting copies " for his pupils. The 
pupils studied their lessons aloud, and now 


and then the stern voice of the old master, 
followed by a rap on a bench, awakened some 
idle pupil to greater efforts to get his lesson. 
But there existed throughout the country a 
few academies and private schools in which 
some of our greatest patriots and statesmen 
were educated after they had left the old- 
field schools. Books were rare in the colo 
nies, but well read. Shakespeare, a few vol 
umes of history and biography, and the Bible 
comprised the library of the frontier settle 

In spite of these drawbacks young Sevier 
was fairly well educated for his time. He 
was a student for some time in the academy 
at Staunton, Virginia, and applied himself 
with reasonable diligence and acquired a good 
knowledge of English, as his subsequent cor 
respondence shows. While attending school 
at Staunton, he fell into a mill race one day 
and would have been drowned had he not 
been rescued by two ladies, sisters, one of 
whom was later the wife of Governor Mat 
thews of Georgia. 3 As long as he lived, when 
ever opportunity offered, he showed his grat 
itude to these ladies for their rescue of him 
in his youth. 

When his school days were over, John re- 
3 Draper MSS. 


turned to his home and became a clerk in his 
father s store. 4 His father had become some 
what dissipated and spent a good part of his 
time at Culpeper Court House, gambling 
and drinking. Such indulgences were very 
common in those days and were not regarded 
in the way they are at present. Fortunately 
John never had any such bad habits, and was 
not even addicted to the use of tobacco. He 
had pleasant manners which won him many 
friends, and he was naturally kind and cour 
teous to his customers ; best of all, he was so 
honest and sincere that he had the respect of 
all with whom he was associated. 

About the time young Sevier was attend 
ing school at Staunton, Benjamin Franklin 
was postmaster-general, the mail was begin 
ning to be carried by stage-coaches, cities 
were growing rapidly, and there were seven 
newspapers published in the colonies. Many 
planters read the papers and kept informed 
on the political, social, and religious topics 
of the day. Books by American authors 
were beginning to be read. Franklin s wise 
sayings in " Poor Richard s Almanac " were 
eagerly read by people in all the colonies. It 
was not by any means a time of mental stag 
nation; the tide of political, social, and relig- 
4 Draper MSS. 


ions affairs forced the minds of men to great 

The school days of Sevier ended at Staun- 
ton. William and Mary College was the 
best-equipped of the colonial institutions of 
learning, and it was customary for the sons 
of the better class of planters who desired an 
education to enter that institution for their 
degrees and training for professional life. 
But study was irksome to John Sevier s ac 
tive nature, and he did not enter William 
and Mary. He seems not to have aspired to 
distinction in, a professional career in the 
fields of science or literature. His was the 
mission of the soldier and statesman, and he 
was to become one of the pioneers of civiliza 
tion in its westward journey. 

A great many wild tales are told of 
Sevier s fights with the Indians in his youth ; 
and, while we cannot rely upon them all as 
true, we do know, that he grappled with 
the dusky fellows while yet in his teens. In 
a letter to Doctor Draper in 1844, Major 
James Sevier, son of John Sevier, says of his 
father: "Near the close of the old French 
Avar, Sevier was out on, several scouts on the 
Virginian frontiers and on one occasion, with 
others, came near getting into an ambuscade, 
but fortunately discovered the net in good 


time to escape. This was his first military 
service and experience." 

After leaving the academy at Staunton, 
and while yet a merchant in his father s 
store, young Sevier began to devise plans for 
launching out into the sea of life in his own 
little bark. Like many another American, he 
had learned early to paddle his own canoe. 
The cause of such serious considerations, suf 
fice it to say, "was the fact that he had fallen 
in love. This passion of love, growing 
stronger day by day, may have been one of 
the chief causes of his leaving the acadeniy 
and ending his school days when he did. 
History is silent as to this. He seems to have 
been devoted entirely to the young woman, 
Sarah Hawkins. She was a tender, deli 
cate young lady; and her delicacy and pure 
modesty constituted the youth!s ideal. She 
may have been a schoolmate, and was doubt 
less the first lover of his youth. The wedding 
took place in 1761* 

After this union, which proved a happy 
one, young Sevier tried his hand at farming 
on a tract of land called Long Meadows. 7 
This work was well suited to his taste, as 
he could here indulge his fondness for horses 
and dogs and hunting more freely than he 
5 Draper MSS. Ibid. 7 Ibid. 


could if engaged in the mercantile pursuits. 
Those who have enjoyed the freedom and in 
dependence of farm life, and the peace and 
happiness which dwell in the humble cottage, 
can easily imagine the supreme happiness of 
this young husband and wife on the little 
farm at Long Meadows. 

Sevier s business at Long Meadows was on 
too small a scale to satisfy his ambitions and 
he remained there only a few years. He 
bought a tract of land in the Shenandoah 
Valley, near Mt. Jackson, and laid off town 
lots, founding a little town which he named 
New Market, and which still exists under 
that name, and has a population of about 
seven hundred. In this town he established 
himself as a farmer, inn-keeper, and mer 
chant. He gave the Baptist Church three 
acres of land on which to erect a church 
building. He dealt in dry-goods, groceries 
and such other articles as were in demand, 
the settlers along the valley and from the hills 
proving good customers. It often happened 
that the Indians came down from the moun 
tains and exchanged their peltries for beads, 
looking-glasses, gay-colored cloths, and such 
other things as were attractive to them. 

Sevier remained in New Market several 
years and prospered, but, desirous of doing 


greater things in the world for his wife, and 
rapidly increasing family, he began to yearn 
for a new field of activity. So, in 1770, he 
moved to Millerstown in Shenandoah 
County, 8 only a few miles from New Market. 
While living here he began to travel and ex 
plore. Formerly he had been seeking his 
fortune in the northern part of the Shenan 
doah Valley; now he turned his attention 
towards the wilderness of the great South 
west in the region known to-day as East 

s Draper MSS. 



BEFORE considering the early settlements 
in the regions now known as East Tennessee 
and the advent of our hero into that terri 
tory, it will be well to take a panoramic view 
of the vast wilderness west of the stately 
mountains which tower above the rippling 
waters of the Watauga, and to take a look 
at its early dwellers. 

Standing on these lofty mountain heights, 
the explorer might have beheld a wide ex 
panse of forest, a forest clothing one of the 
richest and most beautiful spots on the face 
of the earth. In the distance vast herds of 
buffaloes grazed, bear lurked in the dense 
cane-brake, and deer fled over the hills. By 
day, the wilderness was flooded with the 
music of countless song-birds; by night, the 
solitude was broken by the howls of wolves, 
the screams of panthers, and the hoots of 
horn-owls. This wild but beautiful country 
was the inter-tribal park and hunting-ground 



of the Red Man of the forest. Living 
among these mountains as the Cherokee did, 
we do not wonder that he left us so many 
poetical names. Think of the sweetness of 
sound in the name Watauga. 

The taste and disposition of the Indians dif 
fered from those of the white men. They 
were naturally very fond of athletic games ; * 
they enjoyed foot-racing and wrestling, and 
dancing was a favorite pastime. The war- 
dance was usually indulged in before going 
upon the war-path. One of their most popu 
lar games was played with balls and rackets, 
somewhat like the modern game of lacrosse. 
The ball, usually about the size of a base 
ball, was made of deer-skin, stuffed hard w T ith 
hair. This ball was knocked by rackets made 
of sticks about two feet long, strung with 
raw-hide. The game was sometimes played 
by select players, but often by all the young 
men of a village. One village frequently 
played against another, or one tribe strove 
for the championship against another tribe. 
When they came together at the appointed 
time and place, every player arrayed in his 
best, they found great crowds of spectators 
assembled to see the contest. All things be 
ing ready, the game was ushered in by sol- 
1 Bartram, Adair. 


emn dances and religious ceremonies. Dur 
ing the game a successful hit was followed 
by loud applause from the enthusiastic 
crowd. The excited players often rushed 
together in a scrimmage, each side eager to 
win, and one or two players came out of the 
contest with broken bones. All these games 
and sports helped to develop the fine physique 
of the Indian warrior. 

Many tribes claimed access to the common 
hunting-ground, but no tribe dared to make 
a home within its boundaries, lest the other 
tribes combine for its complete extermination. 
The particular tribes claiming an interest in 
the coveted hunting-ground were the Creek, 
the Chickasaw, the Uchee, the Shawnee, the 
Chickamauga, and the Cherokee. The last 
two most directly concern us at present. 

In order to appreciate the peculiar diffi 
culties which confronted the white man in 
his attempts to settle in this wilderness, we 
shall have to understand the fiery, martial 
spirit of the Cherokees especially. Their 
tribal name is derived from Cheera, which 
means fire, and fire is regarded their lower 
heaven. They call their medicine men 
Cheera-tahge, or the men possessed of di 
vine fire. Forty years before the break 
ing out of the Revolutionary war, this pow- 


erful tribe had, it is said, sixty- four towns ; 
and old traders estimated the number of their 
warriors to be above six thousand. They 
liked war and were not content unless en 
gaged in martial conflicts. In reply to an 
earnest appeal of the white people, that they 
establish peace between themselves and the 
Tuscaroras, they said : " We cannot live 
without war. Should we make peace with 
the Tuscaroras, we must immediately look 
out for some other, with whom we can be 
engaged in our beloved occupation." They 
loved a brave man and despised a coward. 

Speaking of the Indian s passion for re 
venge, one writer has said : " I have known 
them to go a thousand miles for the purpose 
of revenge, in pathless woods, over hills and 
mountains, through large cane-swamps full 
of grape-vines and briars, over broad lakes, 
rapid rivers, and deep creeks; all the way 
endangered by poisonous snakes, if not with 
the rambling and lurking enemy; while, at 
the same time, they were exposed to the ex 
tremities of heat and cold, the vicissitudes of 
the seasons, to hunger and thirst, . . . 
to fatigues and other difficulties. Such is 
their over-boiling revengeful temper, that 
they utterly contemn all those as imaginary 
trifles, if they are so happy as to get the 


scalps of the murderer or enemy, to satisfy 
the supposed craving ghost of their deceased 
relations." These characteristics, existing 
to a more or less degree in all Indians, were 
fully developed in the Cherokee and the 
Chickamauga. Intellectually, the Cherokee 
tribe was among the strongest of American 
tribes. We shall learn more of this tribe, 
and find that John Sevier was perhaps the 
only man on the frontier who could outgen 
eral its cunning warriors. 

The English pushed into this romantic re 
gion, and established Fort Loudon in 1756. 
This region was included in the grant which 
Charles II. made in 1663 to a company of 
men called Lords Proprietors, the grant in 
cluding the country between the present 
States of Virginia and Florida, and extend 
ing from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. A 
small settlement sprang up under the protec 
tion of this fort, but the old fort has a sad 
story to tell. 

The Cherokees assisted the English in 
their second expedition against the French at 
Fort Duquesne, which brought victory and 
peace to the English, gaining for the crown 
of Great Britain the Ohio country and all the 
territory south to the Gulf of Mexico and east 
2 Adair. 


of the Mississippi River, except the Isle Or 
leans. The Indian warriors had lost many 
of their horses in this expedition, and, as 
they were returning to their homes, they 
caught some horses running at large in Vir 
ginia. The Virginians became offended at 
the Indians and killed some of their warriors, 
and then the Cherokee warriors, of course, 
desired revenge. Gathering together a large 
band of warriors, they took the war-path and 
in 1758 laid siege to Fort Loudon under the 
command of Captains Demere and Stuart. 
The whites sent out for help, but their mes 
sengers were murdered by the Indians. A 
few friendly squaws stole in by a secret pas 
sage at night with a small supply of beans, 
but this was not sufficient to satisfy their 
hunger, and the starving inmates fell to eat 
ing the flesh of their horses and dogs. Fi 
nally Captain Stuart went to Chota to ask for 
terms. It was agreed that the whites should 
abandon the fort, with its guns and powder, 
and return to their homes in Virginia and 
North Carolina. They had the promise of 
a safe passage through the Indian country 
under the protection of an escort of Indian 
warriors. They encamped the night after 
their departure near an Indian village on the 
Tellico plains. The next morning about day- 


light a band of infuriated Cherokees fell 
upon them, and few were left to tell the 
mournful story of the massacre that ensued. 
It is said that the Indians afterwards made 
a fence of the bones of the dead white men 
left upon the plains after this terrible mas 

From this time on, the Indians were very 
jealous of the encroachments of the white 
men upon their lands, but traders continued 
to traffic with them, and hunters and trappers 
frequently crossed over the mountains, ex 
ploring and hunting in the new country. Re 
turning to the East, they fascinated their 
neighbors with glowing descriptions of the 
magnificent region. Daniel Boone, the cele 
brated hunter and explorer, w r as among the 
first to explore and hunt in these western 
wilds. It is said that while standing on the 
summit of the Alleghanies, facing the beauti 
ful region into which he was about to enter, 
he exclaimed to his companion : " I am 
richer than the man in Scripture who owned 
the cattle on a thousand hills. I own the 
wild beasts of a thousand valleys." 

Boone pushed on into the unexplored wil 
derness, hunting the wild beasts \vith his 
flint-lock rifle. He caused the light of his 
bravery and invincible spirit of adventure to 


illuminate the pathway of the pioneer when 
he took his hunting-knife and carved on a 
large beech-tree standing on the bank of 
Boone s Creek the inscription : " D Boon 
Cilled A Bar On Tree in The yEar 1760." 

Story after story about the new country 
was related till it became common talk in the 
towns along the Atlantic. After the French 
and Indian War, a few people, impelled by 
British tyranny and allured by hopes of ob 
taining better lands and more independence, 
made up their minds to move into the new 
country. The French had told the Indians 
that the English, if victorious in gaining pos 
session of the territory claimed by France, 
would take their lands from them and de 
prive them of their hunting-grounds. So, 
when the French were defeated, the Indians 
believed that the English would next fall 
upon them and seize their hunting-grounds. 
To quiet their apprehensions, George III. of 
England issued a proclamation in 1/63 pro 
hibiting any private purchase of land by any 
citizen or any grant of lands, by any gov 
ernor, west of the sources of the streams 
which flow into the Atlantic. He also said 
that none of his subjects should make settle 
ments on individual lands west of the sources 
of these streams. 


This order of the king prevented many 
people from settling in the fertile region ex 
plored by Boone and his companions, but the 
thrilling stories stirred the adventurous spirit 
of a few pioneers who were willing to risk 
the king s displeasure. So they crossed the 
mountains and made their settlements, claim 
ing, as an excuse for violating the proclama 
tion, the treaty of Fort Stanwix, a treaty 
made in October, 1767, which fixed a bound 
ary line for the Indians of the Six Nations 
and conceded to the British the whole coun 
try south of the Ohio River. 

The physical formation of this beautiful 
region was very favorable for an inflow of 
immigration. It was as if some Titanic 
power had plowed a deep furrow in the mid 
dle of the great Alleghanies, forming the 
beautiful long valley extending from Vir 
ginia into the picturesque region explored by 
Boone and others. Along this valley ran 
the old war-path of the various Indian 
tribes. It was an inviting pathway to the 
Southwest, and it received the impress of 
some of the best families of Virginia. 

The North Holston Settlement was founded 
in what is now Sullivan County, Tennes 
see. The leading family in it was the Shel 
bys. General Evan Shelby, who settled at 


King s Meadows, was a noted Indian fighter, 
and his son, Colonel Isaac Shelby, later 
fought heroically in the battle of King s 
Mountain. In Tennessee the family name is 
preserved in Shelby County, in the south 
western part of the State, and in the town 
of Shelbyville, the county-seat of Bedford 
County, near the center of the State. The 
Carter s Valley Settlement, made about 
1770, was in what is now Hawkins County, 
Tennessee, and was a part of the Virginia 
settlement which had been extended down 
from Wolf Hills. 

The most noted of the four western settle 
ments was the one made at Watauga, on the 
Watauga River, near the present Elizabeth- 
ton, Tennessee. The first settler was Wil 
liam Bean, a bold hunter from Virginia, who 
had previously hunted with Boone in this 
region. Their old camping-ground was on 
Boone s Creek, a tributary of Watauga 
River, not very far from that river, and in 
1769 Bean built his hut on the very spot 
where he and Boone had previously camped 
together. There in that lonely cabin his son, 
Russell Bean, was born, the first \vhite child 
born in what is now the State of Tennessee. 
Other people, from Virginia, settled near 
Bean s cabin; and, soon afterwards, came 


many settlers from Wake County, North 
Carolina, in search of homes, many of whom, 
as soldiers, had seen the rich country as they 
went to the relief of Fort Loudon in 1758. 

An important event in the early days of 
Watauga was the arrival of James Robert 
son in the spring of 1770. Though he came 
from North Carolina, he was a native of 
Brunswick County, Virginia. He was taci 
turn and thoughtful, and in every way a man 
well suited to the trying position which he 
was about to assume. He was hospitably en 
tertained by a hunter and recent settler at 
Watauga named Honeycut and by William 
Bean. Deciding at once to make his home 
at Watauga, he selected and cleared a spot 
of ground and planted and raised a crop of 

After harvesting his first crop of corn, 
Robertson set out for North Carolina for his 
family and a few neighbors who were de 
sirous of moving to the new settlements. On 
recrossing the mountains, he got lost. Wan 
dering about for some time, he came to a 
cliff where he had to leave his horse. Heavy 
showers fell and drenched his powder so that 
he could not kill any game for food. For 
fourteen days he trudged about in the moun- 


tains without anything to eat, except a few 
nuts and berries, and became so weak that he 
despaired of ever reaching his home again. 
Accidentally two hunters chanced to find him. 
They gave him food, furnished him a horse 
to ride, and soon he returned to Watauga 
with his family and the neighbors he had 
guided to their new homes. 

British aggression in the colonies since the 
French and Indian war had been arousing the 
spirit of independence and resistance and now 
gave a new impulse to immigration into this 
region from North Carolina. In 1771 this 
impetus was strengthened by the defeat of the 
popular uprising in the eastern colonies. The 
Regulators, citizens banded together to resist 
the imposition of taxes by England, and the 
efforts of Governor Tryon to impose other 
taxes for the building of an executive man 
sion, were defeated in the battle of Alamance 
on the 1 6th of May and forced into retreat 
before the royal troops. They were not 
cowed by their defeat, however, these North 
Carolinians ; " like the mammoth, they shook 
the bolt from their brow and crossed 
the mountain " and were received with glad 
ness by the settlers at Watauga. With this 
voluntary exile to the western wilds began 


the exodus from North Carolina which 
swelled the population of the little settle 
ment, and gave the Wataugans a prominent 
place in history. 

In 1772 Jacob Brown settled on the north 
bank of the Nolichucky River, founding the 
second south Holston, or Nolichucky Settle 
ment, which was one of the most noted of 
the western settlements. By the Indians the 
river was called Nonachunheh, which means 
rapid or precipitous. This beautiful river 
rises high up in the Alleghanies and flows 
down the mountain side through scenery 
beautiful beyond description. Brown was a 
merchant, and in exchange for the small store 
of goods brought with him on a single pack- 
horse, he secured the lease of a large tract 
of land from the Cherokees. He afterwards 
leased portions of his land to other settlers, 
thus making considerable profits. 

The persecuted people living on the At 
lantic seaboard were glad to find such a re 
treat, and the settlements were thronged with 
people of the best blood of North Carolina 
and Virginia. Here they felt secure from 
the oppression of the colonial government. 
Living in the shadow of the Alleghanies as 
they did, we do not wonder that the love of 


freedom swelled every man s bosom; and 
it is not surprising to see them rise up from 
their mountain homes, like the Swiss, when 
the time came to strike a blow for freedom 
and independence. 



ANGLO-SAXONS have always been charac 
terized by a love of law and order and free 
institutions. The settlements on the banks 
of the Watauga lay in the red man s Garden 
of Eden, and peace and friendship prevailed 
in every cabin till fugitives from justice 
crept into the new settlements, fugitives 
from the States along the Atlantic. Then 
the settlers felt the need of a fixed system 
of government, by which violations of the 
law could be punished. They were too far 
back in the wilderness to be under the imme 
diate protection of either North Carolina or 
Virginia, and, as they could not live peaceably 
and prosperously without courts to regulate 
their affairs, the demands of the people be 
came greater with the rapid increase of popu 

Imagine the critical condition of these set 
tlements. When they first settled on the 
banks of the Watauga, they thought they 


were within the bounds of Virginia; but, in 

1771, the boundary line between North Car 
olina and Virginia was surveyed from Steep 
Rock to Beaver Creek, and, much to the dis 
appointment of the Wataugans, it was dis 
covered that the settlements were in North 
Carolina. Virginia at once made a treaty 
with the Cherokees, making the boundary 
line of their lands identical with the new 
State line. The settlers could no longer rely 
upon Virginia for protection ; they were be 
yond the reach of the authority of North 
Carolina and living on Indian lands con 
trolled by the King of England; the King s 
proclamation forbade their purchasing any of 
the land upon which they had built their 
cabins and lawless bands of fugitives and out 
laws from the seaboard annoyed them day 
and night. The whole situation was distress 
ing in the extreme, and the prospects became 
still more gloomy, when, in the spring of 

1772, Alexander Cameron, British Agent of 
the Southern Indians, warned the settlers off 
the Indian lands. 

Fortunately, the Cherokees had been en 
gaged in war with the Creeks and Chicka- 
saws so incessantly that their ranks were 
thinned and their martial spirits quieted for 
a time. Having been terribly beaten by the 


Chickasaws, they were in a state of mind to 
be friendly toward the settlers, and they even 
expressed a desire that the settlers be allowed 
to remain in their new homes, provided, of 
course, they would not make any further en 

This act of kindness on the part of the 
Cherokees gave some relief to the settlers, 
who were determined to remain in their cab 
ins, for the hardships of the frontier-life did 
not affect them as much as the acts of the 
English authorities east of the Alleghanies. 
Finally they decided to form a free govern 
ment of their own, and in 1772 came to 
gether to try their hands at commonwealth- 
building. The meeting was held at Watauga. 
They drew up and adopted the " Articles of 
the Watauga Association," and formed the 
first written constitution ever adopted by 
American-born freemen. They incorporated 
such of the laws of Virginia as they deemed 
sufficient to carry on their little common 
wealth successfully, and every man in the 
little settlement signed the constitution. A 
committee of thirteen was elected to make 
such additional laws as the welfare of the 
settlement required. This committee ap 
pointed five commissioners from their own 
number to settle disputes, punish offenders, 


and perform the legal business common to 
the courts. Thus law and order were es 
tablished, and the people began to prosper 
under their free government. A whipping 
post was established for the punishment of 
offenders, and graver offences were punished 
by hanging. As an example of the prompt 
action and unfaltering determination of 
these pioneers in putting down crime, we find 
on record the case of a horse-thief, who was 
captured on Monday, given a fair trial on 
Wednesday, and hanged on Friday of the 
same week. It is to be regretted that the 
articles of this association have not been pre 
served. Doctor Ramsey claims that John 
Sevier was elected by the Watauga settlers 
as one of the thirteen commissioners ; he be 
lieves, also, that Sevier was chosen as one 
of the committee of five to act as a court. 1 
It is true that Sevier was at Watauga in 
1772, the year the Watauga Association was 
formed, but it seems rather strange that they 
should choose him, as he was a stranger and 
there on an exploring trip only. As Sevier 
did not move into these settlements until De 
cember 25, 1773, he certainly was not in a 
position to render the Association any service 
for more than a year. 
1 Ramsey s " Annals of Tennessee," p. 107. 


The people next turned their attention to 
the question of leasing 1 land from the Indians. 
The king s proclamation prevented the pur 
chase of land, but the pioneers reasoned that 
if they only leased the lands for a specific 
period of time that would not be in violation 
of the king s proclamation and would suit 
them much better than returning to the un 
happy conditions in the States which they had 
just left. John Boone and James Robertson 
were selected by the settlers to negotiate with 
the Indians. Many of the chiefs and war 
riors assembled near Watauga and leased to 
the white men for ten years all the lands on 
the waters of the Watauga, the Indians re 
ceiving for the lease five or six thousand dol 
lars worth of merchandise, including a few 

In the midst of the celebration which fol 
lowed the successful negotiation of the lease, 
there was an important occurrence that 
came near being attended with serious con 
sequences. Some lawless intruders upon the 
settlements, men from Wolf Hills, Virginia, 
it is supposed, killed one of the Indians who 
was taking part in the sports held in celebra 
tion of the cordial relations established be 
tween the Indians and the white men. To 
the Cherokees this seemed a serious breach 


of faith. All their war spirit was aroused. 
To the great alarm of the settlers, they im 
mediately left the settlement with the mer 
chandise assigned to them as consideration 
for their lease, and showed every sign of 
seeking revenge for the affront that had been 
offered them in the slaying of one of their 

The occasion demanding immediate action 
on the part of the settlers, James Robert 
son went to the Indian towns ; a distance of 
one hundred and fifty miles, in order to pac 
ify the warriors and again secure their friend 
ship. Explaining to the head-men that the 
crime was committed by an outlaw from Vir 
ginia, and that the Wataugans intended to 
punish the culprit if they could lay hands on 
him, the chiefs and warriors were satisfied 
and were again ready to smoke the pipe of 
peace with their white brother. The journey 
was an extremely hazardous one, but the 
safety of the settlements demanded it. Rob 
ertson was, therefore, ever afterwards held 
in especial esteem for the noble service to his 

Sevier s life as a small merchant at New 
Market and subsequently at Millerstown was 
rather too monotonous for his active, restless 
nature, and he longed for more stirring 


scenes. He had listened eagerly to the 
stories of the adventurers and settlers on the 
Holston and the Watauga, he had heard 
much of the rich soil of the well-watered 
region, and he longed to visit the new set 
tlements. So, arming himself and mounting 
his favorite horse, he took leave of his family 
at Millerstown and went out to Holston 
River in 1771 on an exploring trip, passing 
the mouth of the Watauga River. 2 He was 
so delighted with the country, the wild game, 
and the rich soil that he came again in 1772. 
This time he visited the settlers at Watauga, 
probably about the time of the establishment 
of the Watauga Association, and formed a 
life-long friendship with Robertson, Bean, 
Honeycut, and others of like prominence in 
the settlement. 

Having thus seen much of the frontier, 
Sevier decided to settle at Holston, as that 
settlement seemed to present the most favor 
able prospects. He built his cabin about one 
mile north of the Holston River and returned 
to Virginia for his family. He carried the 
news of his plan to his father and mother 
and brothers and sisters, and all, without 
hesitation, decided to move into the same 
country with him. It is quite probable that 
2 Draper MSS. 


John s brother, Valentine, was with him on 
the former s first exploring trip, as he was 
the first of the Sevier family to move to the 
new settlements, having moved there with his 
family in 1772. 

In December, 1773, John Sevier, with his 
own family, his parents, his three brothers, 
Robert, Joseph, and Abraham Valentine 
having preceded them and his two sisters, 
Polly and Catherine, took his departure from 
his Virginia home, from the hills and val 
leys where the happiest part of his youth was 
spent, and began the slow, fatiguing journey 
towards his new home. He had certainly 
not lost his interest in the mercantile business, 
for he brought with him a store of goods 
on pack-horses. 

On Christmas day, 1773, the Seviers came 
to the end of their journey, and each family 
went to its own cabin. Seviers parents fin 
ally settled upon a rich tract of land near 
Watauga. His father s subsequent life was 
one of great industry and influence. He 
lived to the ripe old age of one hundred 
years, dying in Carter s City on Friday, De 
cember 30, i8o3- 3 

It has been a subject of speculation as to 
Sevier s motive in removing to these extreme 
3 Draper MSS. 


frontier settlements. He had explored the 
country before deciding to remove, and no 
doubt foresaw the possibilities in the devel 
opment of the great Southwest. He felt too, 
perhaps, that there was promise of future 
distinction for him in the new country. 

A look into those western settlements will 
show us many strange sights. The people 
were hardy, resolute, fearless; they expected 
to face dangers and endure hardships. The 
cabins were very rude in appearance, com 
fort being the chief aim of the builders. 
Built of logs cut from the forests, these cab 
ins were made strong to resist the sieges of 
the Indians, having port-holes through which 
the occupants could aim their flint-locks in 
case of an attack. The planks for the doors 
and floors were hewn with the broad-ax, the 
windows had no glass and were fitted with 
wooden shutters, the chimney was naturally 
"stick and dirt," but was sometimes built of 
rough stone, and the fire-place was wide and 
held a great quantity of wood. Most of the 
furniture was home-made, but sometimes a 
chair, table, or stool imported from England 
was brought into the settlement. Every 
household had a spinning-wheel and a loom 
which the women used very skilfully in the 
manufacture of cloth. At night the cabin 


was lighted by the candle. The men, return 
ing from the fields or from the hunt, tired 
and hungry, ate with thankful hearts the 
plain healthful meals set before them. After 
supper, the family spent the first hours of 
the night in conversation and story-telling. 
Sometimes, during the autumn months, they 
spent the hours profitably by spinning thread, 
weaving cloth, and making shoes to keep 
themselves comfortable during the winter. If 
there were no other amusements for the chil 
dren, the grandfather or grandmother nar 
rated interesting stories to them till bed-time. 

The people were cheerful. The brisk, pure 
air was Nature s tonic and they partook 
freely. Their social gatherings kept them in 
a pleasant humor towards each other. The 
men and boys delighted in shooting-matches, 
corn-huskings, horse-races, bear-hunts, and 
deer-drives; the women often came together 
at quilting bees and spent many a pleasant 
hour together. Occasionally the young peo 
ple met at night in social gatherings and en 
joyed their games and sports, sometimes 
dancing to the music of the fiddle. 

Their style of dress is interesting. The 
men and boys wore short pantaloons, leather 
leggings reaching above the knees, and the 
famous hunting-shirts. These hunting-shirts, 


made sometimes of heavy cloth, but usually 
of deer-skin, were worn over the other cloth 
ing. They were cut and made like ordinary 
shirts, but were open their entire length, and 
were girt with belts, in which were carried 
the hunting-knife and the tomahawk. 

On his first appearance among the settlers 
of North Holston and Watauga, Sevier at 
tracted considerable attention on account of 
his handsome face, manly bearing and re 
markably winning manners. No man ever 
had a more symmetrical, well-knit frame. He 
was five feet nine inches in height and 
weighed one hundred and ninety pounds. 4 
His complexion was ruddy, indicating his 
perfect health; he had small, keen, dark-blue 
eyes, expressive of vivacity and fearlessness; 
his nose was prominent; his mouth and chin, 
the model of firmness; his hair, fair, and his 
face was expressive of sympathy for human 
ity. His wonderful personal magnetism at 
tracted the friendship of all. 

Immigration continued to pour into the 
new settlements, and business among the set 
tlers gradually increased, and Sevier s little 
store helped to supply the people with goods. 
The peltries he bartered were sent on pack- 
horses to eastern markets and exchanged for 
* Draper MSS. 


goods for his store. He was scarcely settled 
in his mercantile business, however, when in 
1774 a quarrel arose between Lord Dunmore 
and the Shawnees. Thus far Sevier had not 
distinguished himself as a warrior among the 
western settlers. He was better known as a 
useful citizen and business man, but his fame 
as an Indian fighter in his younger days on 
the Virginia frontiers had doubtless reached 
the Wataugans. Indeed he was not unknown 
to Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Vir 
ginia, who was so impressed with his bravery 
that he appointed him captain in the Vir 
ginia line, at the outbreak of the war with 
the Shawnees. 



THE battle of the great Kanawha, fought 
October loth, 1774, was one of the most 
sanguinary and hotly contested battles in the 
annals of Indian warfare; and it is especially 
interesting to us because in it the Wataugans 
first showed to the world their wonderful 
skill in battle. 

The Shawnees, becoming greatly enraged 
at the surveyors sent out from Virginia to 
mark out lands given under royal grants and 
military warrants, murdered several of them. 
Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Vir 
ginia, at once declared war against the Shaw 
nees. Hence the war is sometimes known, as 
Lord Dunmore s War. 

Open hostilities had already begun in Octo 
ber, 1773, when a war-party of Indians at 
tacked Boone and his companions, who were 
enroute to Kentucky in search of homes. Be 
fore this time no wonien and children of the 
white race had ever crossed the Cumberland 


Mountains. Boone had induced several fam 
ilies to join in the journey with him and his 
family, and the party was moving on slowly 
towards the Cumberland Gap. \Yhen they 
reached Powell s Valley, they were joined by 
forty bold hunters. The company, now eighty 
in all, moved onward, wending their way 
through the rugged mountain passes with a 
feeling of greater safety, but on October 5th, 
while passing through a narrow, rocky defile, 
they were assaulted by a band of Indians ly 
ing in ambush. At the flash of the Indians 
first fire, six white men fell and a seventh was 
wounded. Among the killed was a son of 
Boone, about twenty years of age. Some of 
the hunters hurried to the rescue of the 
women and children ; the others quickly put 
the Indians to flight. Boone and his party 
then fell back to Watauga, where they re 
mained till the close of the war. They then 
pushed on into Kentucky and made their set 

Almost daily deeds of violence were com 
mitted. Murder followed murder, and doubt 
less wrongs were committed on both sides, 
through misunderstandings or otherwise. 
Butler, a trader with the Indians, was robbed 
of his peltries by the Cherokees. He sent two 
friendly Shawnees to recover his peltries, but 


they were ambushed and killed by white men, 
probably through a mistake, an outrage which 
met with the severest disapproval of the better 
class of pioneers. 

A party of Indians, including the family of 
Logan, a famous Iroquois warrior and chief, 
noted especially for his friendliness to the 
white men, crossed the river on a visit to Mr. 
Greathouse. The simple-minded savages were 
intoxicated with liquor and massacred by 
Greathouse and others. The unfortunate 
Logan, manly and dignified in appearance, 
was a noted hunter and a skilful marksman. 
On his face was stamped nobility of charac 
ter. He was declared by one white hunter to 
be the best specimen of humanity he ever met 
with, either white or red. But the murder of 
his kinsmen aroused the rage of Logan, and 
led him to relinquish all love and friendship 
for the white men, and to do all he could to 
destroy them. 

The acts committed against the Indians by 
a few unprincipled white men were often un 
just, but the Indians committed graver crimes 
by murdering helpless women and children, 
and certainly deserved the fate they met in 
Dunmore s War. Several other tribes joined 
the Shawnees in their awful deeds of slaugh 
ter, and the war extended the length of the 


frontier. The pioneers rushed eagerly to 
Dunmore s army for the protection of their 

The army of the white men marched in 
two wings, the right wing being commanded 
by Dunmore himself, and the left by General 
Andrew Lewis. The two wings were to unite 
at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River. 

Dunmore led his wing to Fort Pitt, where 
he foolishly changed his plans, abandoning the 
scheme agreed upon by him and Lewis, and 
took his army down the Ohio in boats and 
canoes to the mouth of the Hockhocking. 
Thence he went to the Scioto and fortified 
himself. Lewis met his men at the levels of 
the Greenbrier. Each had done what he 
could in this hasty preparation for war. 

Impatient for action, General Lewis did 
not wait for all his men to arrive, but marched 
on to the mouth of Elk Creek, which empties 
into the Great Kanawha, and set to work mak 
ing dug-out canoes to descend that river. 

Meanwhile John Sevier had not been idle. 
He was one of the most active in raising men, 
provisions, arms, and ammunition for the 
war, but he thought it wise to remain at Wa- 
tauga to defend the settlers against any In 
dian attack that might be made in the ab 
sence of the volunteers. Captain Shelby 


commanded the company of fifty or more 
brave men, among whom was Valentine Se- 
vier, raised at Watauga. He joined the 
regiment of Colonel Christian on New River; 
and outtraveling the regiment, hastened on 
with his company to the army of General 
Lewis on the Great Kanawha. 

By the first of October, the army of Gen 
eral Lewis began to move down the river. A 
part of the soldiers descended the river in 
canoes, while the other division went by land, 
all reaching the mouth of the river on the 
6th of October. Though in good spirits and 
anxious for battle, some of the soldiers were 
not satisfied with their rations, claiming that 
favoritism was shown in the issue of beef; 
and select parties of hunters went into the 
woods each day to kill game for meat. 

Affairs in camp went on w r ell for awhile, 
but, on the Qth, Simon Girty arrived with a 
message from Dunmore, ordering Lewis to 
break up camp and join him near Pickaway 
Plains. General Lewis was not pleased with 
the change, but decided to comply with the 
order next morning. That night, while the 
soldiers slept, the old Shawnee Chief, Corn 
stalk, was busy ferrying his men over the 
river on rafts some six or eight miles above 
them, coming to make an attack upon Lewis. 


On the morning of the loth, small parties 
went out to hunt game for breakfast, and two 
men from Russell s company, breasting the 
woods not far apart, came suddenly upon 
Cornstalk s warriors, nearly a thousand 
strong, marching in the direction of the camp 
of General Lewis. Russell s men saw the 
warriors first and fired. The Indians re 
turned the fire, killing one of the men. The 
other man ran into the camp. The echo of 
the first fire had scarcely died away when 
Valentine Sevier and James Robertson also 
fired and fled to camp, reaching it about as 
soon as the other refugee. 

Drum-beats aroused the slumbering sol 
diers. Two detachments, under command of 
Colonel Charles Lewis and Colonel William 
Fleming, were ordered out to check the ad 
vancing foe. The two armies met in the 
dense forest about sunrise, and battle ensued. 
The wild war-whoops of the Indians and the 
sharp cracks of the pioneers rifles filled the 
brisk morning air with a deafening noise 
which convinced General Lewis that a strong 
force of the enemy was at hand. He, there 
fore, hurried Colonel Fields, with two hun 
dred men, into the battle. 

The contest lasted all day ; all day the armies 
surged to and fro, the grim-visaged warriors 


yelling themselves hoarse. The situation taxed 
the genius of General Lewis, and the chance 
of victory seemed uncertain. In the after 
noon he ordered Captains Shelby, Stewart, 
and Matthews to move their companies up 
the Kanawha and fire upon the Indians 
from the rear. As they were passing 
along the bank of the river, they were 
fired upon by some Indians concealed behind 
a breast-work of logs and brush. The pas 
sage was difficult on account of the wither 
ing fire from the ambush, but John Sawyer, 
one of Shelby s men, took a few riflemen and 
made a gallant charge upon the Indians. The 
warriors fled, and three pioneer companies 
gained the rear and poured a shower of lead 
into the ranks of the Indians, forcing them 
into a hasty retreat. Again they halted in an 
other position, sheltered by a dense under 
growth, and kept up an occasional firing till 
nightfall, when they recrossed the river and 
hastened to their towns on the Scioto. 

Thus ended the bloody battle. The Watau- 
gans had behaved themselves well in the whole 
engagement. It was their vigilance that dis 
covered the advancing enemy and sounded the 
alarm of danger, and it was the gallant charge 
of Shelby s men that turned the tide of battle 
and brought victory to the white men. 


Peace was established with the Shawnees, 
but the brave Logan was absent from the 
council at which the pipe of peace was smoked. 
He was so hurt over the murder of his fam 
ily and kin that he did not feel disposed to 
attend, but he sent the following pathetic, yet 
truly eloquent, message on paper to Lord 
Dunmore : 

" I appeal to any white man to say, if ever 
he entered Logan s cabin hungry and he gave 
him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked 
and he clothed him not? During the course 
of the last long and bloody war, Logan re 
mained idle in his camp, an advocate for 
peace. Such was my love for the whites that 
my countrymen pointed as I passed and said, 
* Logan is the friend of the white man. I 
had even thought to have lived with you but 
for the injuries of one man, Colonel Cresap, 
the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, 
murdered all the relations of Logan, not even 
sparing my women and children. There runs 
not a drop of my blood in the veins of any 
living creature. This called on me for re 
venge. I have sought it. I have killed many. 
I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my 
country I rejoice at the beams of peace; but 
do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy 
of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not 


turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there 
to mourn for Logan? Not one/ 1 

The Wataugans returned to their homes and 
resumed their occupations. Having fought 
heroically, they now rejoiced over the victory 
and many a household was stirred by the 
thrilling stories of the Kanawha. 

The affairs in the settlements went on suc 
cessfully. The population continued to in 
crease, and the little cabins were hives of in 
dustry. No drones were permitted among 
them, and for a while after the battle of Kan 
awha the settlers followed their pursuits in 
peace. But again the dark clouds of war be 
gan to rise in the East, and the affairs of the 
Wataugans were again disturbed. The pow 
der-horn and the flint-lock rifle were again 
taken from the rack; the sword again drawn 
from the scabbard; and the drum-beats for 
war were heard. And every man of Anglo- 
Saxon blood, born with the love of freedom 
and unwilling to be fettered \vith the chain 
of British tyranny, felt in every fiber the 
wrong done him by the English king. 

Within a little more than a century, twenty- 
five Navigation Acts, acts unjust to the Amer 
ican colonists, had been passed by the British 
Parliament. The Colonists were compelled to 

i " The Winning of the West," Vol. I. p. 288. 


ship their goods in English vessels to English 
ports, and as this gave the English the monop 
oly of the American trade, the Colonists soon 
became resentful of such unjust legislation. 
Consequently smuggling became so prevalent 
in New England that " Writs of Assistance " 
were issued by the courts of the king, giving 
revenue officers the right to enter ware 
houses and dwellings in search of smuggled 

The continued slave-trade in the colonies 
carried on entirely by England was a griev 
ous annoyance to every loyal American. The 
treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, gave England en 
tire control of the American slave-trade; as 
it was a profitable business, she would not al 
low any laws to go into effect which were 
made by her subjects to prohibit the importa 
tion of slaves. The troubles with the Indians 
had been caused by England s bad manage 
ment or entire neglect. The inter-colonial 
wars had heaped a heavy debt upon the Crown, 
and now Parliament passed the Stamp Act 
with the intention of forcing the Colonists to 
help lift the debt, claiming as their justifica 
tion that the Colonists reaped benefits from 
the wars. 

Opposition to British aggression arose on 
every side, and remonstrances were heard 


from every quarter. Everywhere the trum 
pet-blasts of the Revolution were sounded by 
noble patriots. 

"English people cannot be taxed," said 
Judge Drayton of South Carolina in charg 
ing a grand-jury, " nay, they cannot be bound 
by any law, unless by their consent, expressed 
by themselves or by the representatives of 
their own election. I charge you to do your 
duty; to maintain the laws, the rights, the 
constitution of your own country, even at the 
hazard of your lives and fortunes. In my 
judicial character I know no law; I am a 
servant, not to the king, but to the constitu 

Doctor Warren, one of the earliest martyrs 
to the cause of liberty, said: " It is the united 
vcuce of America to preserve their freedom 
or lose their lives in the defence of it. Their 
resolutions are not the effects of inconsiderate 
rashness, but the sound result of sober inquiry 
and deliberation. I am convinced that the 
true spirit of liberty was never so universally 
diffused through all ranks and orders of peo 
ple in any country on the face of the earth, 
as it now is through all North America." 

Patrick Henry, as he stood before the Vir 
ginia Convention, assembled in St. John s 


Episcopal Church, Richmond, sounded the 
voice of prophecy when he said, " The next 
gale that sweeps from the North will bring 
to our ears the clash of resounding arms." 

That prophecy was fulfilled when, on the 
1 9th of April, 1775, at Concord and Lexing 
ton, Massachusetts, " the embattled farmers 
stood, and fired the shot heard round the 
world." The Revolution had begun. Pa 
triots throughout the colonies enlisted in their 
country s cause. The Continental Congress 
proceeded to place the colonies upon a war 
basis, and, by the election of General George 
Washington as commander-in-chief of their 
armies, gave definite form and organization 
to their resistance to British aggression. 

The patriots in North Carolina were neither 
listless nor idle. As we have seen, the Regu 
lators had resisted the aggressions of Gov 
ernor Tryon; and, in the May following the 
battles of Concord and Lexington, and be 
fore the battle of Bunker Hill, the people of 
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, meet 
ing at Charlotte, the county seat, adopted cer 
tain resolutions which were a vigorous pro 
test against the British colonial policy as ex 
hibited in North Carolina, and which were 
couched in language subsequently claimed to 


have been the original of the famous Declara 
tion of Independence. 2 

A!s has been already noted, British aggres 
sions in North Carolina had stimulated emi 
gration to the settlements west of the moun 
tains. A sturdy class of patriots, men who 
preferred the hardships of the wilderness and 
perils from the Indians to the sacrifice of their 
freedom in the more favored eastern country, 
moved to the new settlements. They built 
their cabins in the shadows of the great moun 
tains along the Holston, the Watauga, and 
the Nolichucky, hoping that they would be 
able to enjoy the freedom which is the in 
heritance of every Anglo-Saxon. 

But the Wataugans had no intention of en 
joying their safety in their secluded frontier 
homes regardless of the dangers encountered 
by the Americans on the seaboard. They 
fully recognized their close relationship to 
the patriots of the colonies, and, when the first 
clash of arms was heard from the North, they 
espoused the cause of liberty and showed their 
sympathy with that cause by naming their 

2 The present writer has no intention of taking either 
side in the controversy which has long been waged 
over the so-called " Mecklenburg Declaration of In 
dependence." Any discussion of the subject would be 
out of place here. The reference is given solely to 
show the temper of the North Carolinians at that time. 


country Washington District, in honor of the 
new commander-in-chief. Their population 
had grown to nearly six hundred, and they 
began to feel strong enough to render assist 
ance to the common cause. In order to put 
themselves in a position to render greater 
service to their country, they appealed to 
North Carolina for recognition. The peti 
tion proved successful; in the following year, 
Washington District became Washington 
County, and the laws of North Carolina were 
extended to its courts. 

John Sevier, who had already won the es 
teem and respect of his neighbors, and two 
other citizens from Watauga were chosen as 
delegates to the Constitutional Convention 
which met at Halifax, North Carolina, No 
vember 12, 1776. In the Declaration of Rights 
adopted by the Convention, we find, in the 
clause defining the State limits, this sentence : 
" That it shall not be so construed as to pre 
vent the establishment of one or more govern 
ments westward of this State, by consent of 
the Legislature." This clause, introduced by 
Sevier himself, shows clearly that he was thus 
early musing a project for founding a com 
monwealth in the great Mississippi Valley. 



THE British Superintendent of Southern 
Indian Affairs at this time was John Stuart, 
a man well aware of the opposition to British 
aggressions developing in the Watauga settle 
ments and of the activity of the Wataugans 
in their preparations for resistance. To de 
feat these preparations, he conceived a plan 
for a simultaneous attack of the British and 
the Indians upon the Americans. According 
to this plan, Sir Peter Parker was to capture 
Charleston, South Carolina, with the king s 
fleet, and land an army here under Sir^Htenry 
Clinton, to sweep everything along the coast, 
while the Indians were to fall upon the fron 
tier settlements. The plan was laid before 
the British Cabinet and was adopted by the 
British Parliament despite the opposition of 
Lord Chatham. Alexander Cameron, a 
Scotchman, and a subordinate of John Stuart, 
was sent among the Indians with such mer 
chandise and trinkets as would appeal to them 
in order to gain their sympathy and support. 


News of the British war-plan reached the 
ears of Nancy Ward, a Cherokee squaw, who 
was well known to the settlers, and whose 
home was at Echota, the chief village of the 
Cherokees. This woman was the prophetess 
of the Cherokees, but she always had a kindly 
feeling for the white people and befriended 
them in every way she could. Her father was 
an English officer, and her mother was a sis 
ter of the Indian chief, Atta-culla-culla. She 
sent news of the intended attack to the white 
men by her old friend Isaac Thomas, a trader, 
and the settlers made hasty preparation for 

Though most of the western settlers were 
Whigs, patriots espousing the cause of the 
colonists, it was rumored among the Watau- 
gans that several Tories, as those in sympathy 
with the British were called, were living at 
Nolichucky. Without delay a large number 
of men from Holston, Carter s Valley, and 
Watauga went to Brown s store and forced 
the suspected Tories to take the oath of al 
legiance to the common cause. About this 
time the murder of Boyd and Dogget, two 
traders who were returning from the Indian 
villages, served to inflame the people still 
more and to hurry their defensive measures 
to completion. Several forts were built, and 


the people hurried into them for safety. 
Everything in the Indian villages was astir 
with the preparations for war. War-belts 
were received from other tribes, and a con 
certed movement was developing rapidly. 
Early in July, 1776, messengers brought to 
the Wataugans tidings of the Indians ap 
proach. John Sevier at once sent the follow 
ing message to the Virginia Committee: 

Fort Lee, July n, 1776. 

Dear Gentlemen: Isaac Thomas, William Falling, 
Jaret Williams, and one more, have this moment come 
in by making their escape from the Indians, and say 
six hundred Indians an$ whites were to start for this 
fort, and intend to drive the country up to New River 
before they return. 


The news of the intended invasion had been 
imparted to Isaac Thomas by Nancy Ward 
by night. Thomas in turn gave the informa 
tion to Falling and Williams and the other 
messenger, and they all set out for Watauga, 
each by a different route to make sure the de 
livery of the message. The other settlements 
were informed of the coming danger. Spies 
and scouts were kept in the woods to watch 
for the Indians. The attack was to be made 
all along the frontiers of the southern colo 
nies. The Creeks were to fall upon Georgia; 


the Shawnees, Mingoes, and Delawares, upon 
Virginia; and seven hundred Cherokees and 
Chickamaugas, upon the Watauga settlements. 
The Cherokees were to advance upon the set 
tlers in two divisions of equal numbers, to be 
commanded respectively by Old Abraham and 
Dragging Canoe. Old Abraham of Chilhowee 
was to march along the foot of the mountains 
and attack Watauga; Dragging Canoe was to 
march upon Fort Heaton, which was between 
the north and south branches of the Holston 
River, about six miles from where they unite ; 
and, after the destruction of these forts, they 
were to invade the western settlements of Vir 

In answer to Sevier s message, five small 
companies, made up largely of Virginians, 
reached Fort Heaton, where they remained 
two or three days to protect the people and 
to find out, if possible, the designs of the 
Indians. The corps in the fort consisted of 
one hundred and seventy men, a very small 
army to resist the vast Indian forces. 

At last the scouts returned from the woods 
with tidings that the Indians were near and 
that they were marching directly upon Fort 
Heaton. A council was held to determine 
whether to wait in the fort for the Indians 
to make the attack or to march out and meet 


them in the woods. Some of the garrison pre 
ferred to wait for them, but Captain Cocke 
argued that the Indians would not attack the 
fort, but would fall upon the settlements in 
small parties and murder helpless women and 
children who had not reached the fort. His 
argument having prevailed, the little army 
marched out towards Island Flats in two divi 
sions, flankers on each side and scouts in 

The advance-guard of about twelve men 
met a small band of Indians on Island Flats 
and fired upon them. The Indians returned 
the fire, but the fire from the white 
men forced them to flee. Anticipating 
a large force of Indians near at hand, a 
halt was made, and as night was coming on, 
it was decided best to return to the 
fort. Before the soldiers had gone very 
far, the Indians rushed upon their rear, 
amid the din of war-whoops, yelling to their 
comrades, " The Unacas are running ! Come 
on and scalp them ! " Captain Thomas, the 
chief officer, heading the left line, ordered the 
right and left lines to face the enemy for 
battle, and the conflict was on. When it was 
discovered that the Indians were trying to out 
flank them, Lieutenant Robert Davis took a 
part of the right line and placed it across the 


flats to a ridge, thus making it impossible for 
the enemy to get around the flank, and Cap 
tain James Shelby, stationed on a rise, pre 
vented the Indians from surrounding them. 
The fight now became general, the armies 
meeting in a hand-to-hand conflict. Both of 
ficers and privates fought heroically. 

The most interesting scene during the con 
flict was the fight between Lieutenant Moore 
and a very large, strong Indian chief. Moore 
fired at the chief, wounding him in the knee, 
but not so badly as to prevent his standing, 
then rushed towards him. The chief threw 
his tomahawk at Moore, but missed him. 
Then Moore assaulted him with a large 
butcher-knife, the blade of which the chief 
caught with his right hand, and then both men 
clinched with their left hands. The old sav 
age held the sharp blade of the knife so firmly 
that his hand was almost severed from his 
arm, the blood flowing in a stream. Moore, 
still holding to the handle of his knife with his 
right hand, managed to get his tomahawk 
from his belt with his left hand and crush the 
old chief s skull. 

The death of their brave chief caused the 
Indians to lose spirit and they retreated into 
the woods, carrying off many of their wounded 
as they retreated. In this regiarkable battle, 


fought July 20, 1776, none of the white men 
were killed, and only five were wounded. 

This battle was followed by the attack upon 
Fort Watauga. The fort was defended by 
about forty men, with Captain James Robert 
son first in command and Lieutenant John 
Sevier second. A large number of women 
and children had fled into the fort for pro 
tection. Horses and cattle and such property 
as could be easily moved were brought under 
the protection of the guns of the fort. 

Old Abraham, a cunning old chief noted 
more for strategy than for bravery, marched 
his army along the mountains, through the 
Nolichucky settlements, hoping to massacre 
the unprotected people before they learned 
that he was on the war-path. The people had, 
however, been warned of his coming in time 
to get safely into Fort Watauga, but they left 
their cabins and corn-fields to the mercy of 
the Indians. The surly old warrior, reach 
ing the Nolichucky settlements, was surprised 
to find the cabins deserted. Presuming that 
the settlers had just learned of his approach 
and were fleeing through the forest to Wa 
tauga, he ordered his disappointed warriors 
to overtake them. Thus in his great anxiety 
to find the settlers, he left the cabins and corn 
fields unmoles^d. On the next day, after 


the battle of Island Flats, Old Abraham 
reached Watanga. He was greatly disap 
pointed when he found out his mistake. 

The people in the fort were not so fearful 
of a sudden attack, as the Indians had been 
defeated at Island Flats, and at day-break the 
women were out milking. Suddenly a deaf 
ening war-whoop came from the woods. The 
frightened women saw the Indians coming 
upon them at full speed, and ran screaming 
into the fort. One beautiful dark-eyed girl 
was cut off from the fort by her pursuers ; yet, 
active and swift on foot as a frightened doe, 
she ran with all her might, her dark-brown 
hair streaming behind her, evaded her pur 
suers at every turn, and reached the palisades 
of the fort. The gates had been closed, but 
she made a long leap for the top of the pali 
sades. Having heard the screams of the flee 
ing girl, the gallant Lieutenant Sevier leaped 
to the top of the wall to help her over. With 
one hand he shot down the foremost pursuer; 
with the other, he assisted her in the long 
leap over the wall. She fell into his arms 
out of breath and nearly exhausted. This 
heroine was Catherine Sherrill. 

In this memorable siege of July 21, 1776, 
the savages poured balls and arrows into the 
fort till about 8 o clock in the morning with- 


out effect. The inmates of the fort returned 
the fire with such deadly aim that many In 
dian warriors were killed. A random firing 
was kept up for some time without effect, but 
the Indians retreated. 

During the attack, a messenger escaped 
from the fort and hurried off for reinforce 
ments. One hundred Rangers came under 
the command of Colonel William Russell, 
but when Russell reached the fort he found 
that the Indians had retreated. 

During this attack at Watauga, James 
Cooper and a boy, Samuel Moore, went out 
after some boards to cover a hut. At the 
mouth of Gap Creek, they were attacked by 
a band of Indians. Cooper plunged into the 
river and tried to escape by swimming and 
diving, but the water became too shallow and 
the Indians scalped him. The noise of the 
guns and the screams of young Moore were 
heard at the fort. Sevier attempted to go to 
the rescue, but Robertson, believing the firing 
and screaming to be a feint to draw his men 
from the fort, prevented him from the at 
tempt. The lad was taken to the Indian towns 
up in the mountains and burnt at the stake. 

Mrs. Bean was also captured by Old Abra 
ham s warriors near Watauga. She had al 
ways been so kind and friendly to the Indians 


that she felt safe on the outside of the fort. 
She was first carried to Old Abraham s sta 
tion-camp on the Nolichucky. A white man 
was also held a prisoner there, and he in 
formed Mrs. Bean that she was to be mur 
dered. At that moment a savage warrior 
cocked his gun and moved towards her as if 
he intended to shoot her. Then the chiefs, 
through her fellow-prisoner, began to ask her 
how many forts the whites had and how many 
soldiers were at each, where they were, how 
much powder they had, and if they could be 
starved out. She answered their questions in 
such a manner as to convince them that the 
white men could not be conquered. Then the 
chiefs requested the prisoner to tell Mrs. Bean 
that her life would be spared, but that she 
would be taken to the Indian towns to teach 
their women how to make butter and cheese. 
Later, she was taken to one of their villages 
on the Tellico and condemned to die. She 
was, therefore, taken to the top of a burial- 
mound and tied to a stake, around which was 
piled wood and brush. The flames were about 
to be kindled when Nancy Ward interceded 
and commanded the warriors to loose her 
from the stake. Mrs. Bean s life was spared, 
and she was finally sent under a safe escort to 
her husband at Watauga. 


The incursions of the Indians continued. 
The chief Raven marched across the country 
with the intention of surprising the people of 
Carter s Valley, but when he got there he 
found them in the forts. Disheartened by the 
defeats of Old Abraham and Dragging Canoe, 
he returned to his villages. A fourth party, 
divided into small bands, carried the toma 
hawk and scalping-knife to the people along 
the Clinch River up as far as the Seven Mile 
Ford, in Virginia. The Wolf Hills settle 
ment was attacked. The Reverend Charles 
Cummings and four others were fired upon 
while on their way to work in a field. At the 
first discharge of the Indians guns, William 
Creswell, who was driving a wagon, was 
killed, and two other men were wounded. As 
soon as the firing was heard in the fort, sev 
eral men ran out to the assistance of Mr. Cum 
mings and his servant, and drove the Indians 
from their ambush and carried the dead and 
wounded into the fort. 

Two churches had been built in the vicin 
ity of Wolf Hills about 1772, and Mr. Cum 
mings preached regularly to the people. Every 
man and every boy old enough to bear arms 
carried his arms to church. On Sunday 
morning Mr. Cummings, dressed in his neat 
est clothes, put on his shot-pouch, shouldered 


his rifle and rode to church. He walked 
through his congregation with a grave, digni 
fied bearing, placed his weapons within easy 
reach, and began the solemn services. This 
pious preacher carried the gospel of " peace 
on earth, good will towards men," yet he 
fought as desperately as any other man. Af 
terwards, as chaplain, he accompanied Sevier 
in a campaign against the Indians. 

England s war-plan had now become well 
known, and the southern colonies combined 
against the brutal savages for revenge. Sev 
eral armies went against the tribes of Indians 
which had helped in the execution of the 

Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, or 
dered Colonel William Christian, of Virginia, 
to collect the frontier soldiers and march to 
Tellico and Chilhowee with fire and sword. 
The gathering was at the Great Island in the 
Holston, and by the first of August several 
companies had assembled. This in-gathering 
of soldiers drove away the Indians from the 
settlements. Colonel Christian was reinforced 
by three or four hundred militia from North 
Carolina under the commands of Colonel 
Love, Colonel Joseph Williams, and Major 
Winston. Crossing the Holston at the Great 
Island, the army marched to Double Springs 


and waited for reinforcements from Wa- 
tauga. James Robertson was at the head of 
the Wataugans, and John Sevier had charge 
of a select company of scouts. The whole 
army, including the pack-horse men and the 
cattle-drivers, was now eighteen hundred 
strong and well armed. It was made up of 
infantry, with the exception of one company 
of light-horse. The old trader Isaac Thomas 
acted as guide into the Indian country, a dis 
tance of about two hundred miles, and Charles 
Cummings was chaplain. 

Sevier was making himself famous in these 
eventful days. His bravery and presence of 
mind at Watauga in repelling the attack of 
Old Abraham and his gallant rescue of Cath 
erine Sherrill, had endeared him to all the 
community. In this invasion of the Indian 
country, he gained distinction as a scout and 
as an expert woodsman. 

The Indians had declared that the white sol 
diers should never cross the French Broad, 
and they determined to defend it to the last 
extremity. Being aware of this determina 
tion, Colonel Christian sent Sevier with six 
teen spies in advance of the main army to the 
ford to locate the .enemy. 

Slowly the army moved on through the 
tangled woods and dense cane-brakes towards 


the French Broad. Alexander Harlan came by 
night into Colonel Christian s camp and told 
him that a band of Indians, three thousand 
strong, was stationed at the ford, where the 
war-path crossed the French Broad, ready 
to dispute the passage. Spies returned and 
told Colonel Christian that the camps in the 
bend of the Nolichucky were deserted; but 
the signs were evidences of the large number 
of warriors somewhere upon the war-path. 
The army resumed its march very cautiously 
and was soon afterwards met by a man bear 
ing a white flag in his gun. His name was 
Fallen, a trader. The Colonel gave orders 
that no notice be taken of this man; he soon 
departed, returning to the Indians and inform 
ing them that the pale-faces marching to in 
vade their country were as numerous as the 
trees of the forests. The army finally reached 
the French Broad, and Colonel Christian or 
dered his soldiers to set up their tents and 
kindle camp-fires, as if he intended to remain 
there several days. 

During the darkness of the following night, 
Christian ordered a strong detachment from 
his army to move down the bank to an island 
and cross the river. The ford was deep, the 
water sometimes reaching almost to the shoul 
ders, and the current so swift that the soldiers 


had to wade four abreast to brace each other. 
Next morning the main army forded, and 
joined the detachment, the soldiers marching 
in order for battle, expecting every moment 
to be attacked. The Indians had a few days 
before gathered a thousand strong at the ford, 
and it was from this place that they had sent 
Fallen to Colonel Christian with a message in 
tended only to deceive. But after Fallen s 
departure, Starr, another trader, made an 
earnest talk to the Indians, showing the folly 
of their attempt to resist the armies of the 
white men. He told them that the white 
man was made of white clay and the 
red man of red clay, and that the Great 
Spirit had ordained that the white man 
would conquer the red man. He closed his 
talk by telling the Indians they had better 
escape to their mountain villages. This 
harangue, together with the general feeling 
of depression over the defeat of Old Abra 
ham and Dragging Canoe, influenced them to 
return to their mountain fastnesses. 

Finding no enemy to fight, the army, hav 
ing crossed the river, halted to dry their 
clothes, baggage, and food, for everything, ex 
cept their guns and powder, was wet. Then 
the army marched on, meeting very little op 
position, and came to Great Island Town, 


which they took without hearing the twang 
of a bow. The hungry soldiers feasted upon 
the abundant supply of corn and potatoes 
which the Indians had left behind and slept 
in their wigwams at night. The main army 
\vas divided into small divisions, and Tellico, 
Chilhowee, and many other villages, were re 
duced to ashes. 

But the soldiers came to one village differ 
ent from the rest. As they entered it, they 
saw a circular tower about thirty feet in diam 
eter and twenty feet high, covered with 
dirt. It had but one door, a narrow entrance 
covered with a curtain made of the skins of 
animals, and no windows, no chimneys. In 
it were seats, or places for lounging, made 
of cane arranged around the wall. This 
strange village was Echota, the home of 
Nancy Ward, and the chief village of the 
Qierokee nation. The round tower was used 
for a council-house and for celebrating their 
national ceremonials, such as the Green Corn 
Dance. None of the soldiers dared or even 
desired to set fire to this village. By such 
acts Christian hoped to convince the Indians 
that he wished to punish only the villages that 
had been led to mistreat the white men 
through the influence of the British. In a 
few days Christian sent some of his men with 


flags of truce to the hiding-places of the chiefs 
and warriors, requesting them to come and 
talk with him, and a few of them came in, 
begging for peace. It was agreed that the 
Indians assemble the following May at Long 
Island and make a treaty by the voice of their 
whole nation. It was further agreed that 
war should not be waged against the Indians, 
except those living high up in the mountain 
towns where young Moore had been burnt at 
the stake. Against these mountain warriors, 
Lieutenant Sevier at a later date carried fire 
and sword with such vengeance that their 
power was broken. 

Christian s army was marched back to Long 
Island, where most of the troops were dis 
banded. A new fort, called Fort Henry, was 
built and garrisoned by a small army, for 
Dragging Canoe, chief of the Chickamaugas, 
was still burning for revenge and was likely 
at any moment to go on the war-path again. 
Not a man was lost during the three months 
campaign. The march, though difficult to 
make, was one of pleasure to the soldiers, as 
they were in a strange land, and seeing the 
strange ways of a strange people. The fer 
tile soil of this well-watered region, enclosed 
by mountains grand and steep, influenced 
many of the soldiers to decide, as they trudged 


along, that they would one day make their 
homes here. Many of them afterwards moved 
into this fertile region with their families, 
and helped to develop the beautiful Valley of 
East Tennessee as we see it to-day. 

These stirring times along the frontiers, and 
the prospect of conflict with the British east 
of the Alleghanies, caused Sevier to give up 
his mercantile business at North Holston Set 
tlement, and offer his services to his country. 
After Christian s campaign, he removed to 
Watauga, now the most important of the set 
tlements, and continued fighting Indians in 
his splendid way a way which made him 
famous as one of the greatest of all Indian 

According to promise, Oconostota, with 
many of his chiefs and warriors, met the set 
tlers at Watauga in the spring of 1777, to 
make peace. But however desirous of peace 
himself, he could not induce all the red men 
to come with him to make the treaty. Drag 
ging Canoe still fostered his passion for re 
venge, and while Oconostota was at Watauga 
arranging terms of peace, he thought it a 
good time to strike a blow at his white brother. 
He believed that the settlers would not ex 
pect an attack at that time, and decided to 
fall upon them while he had a chance. How- 


ever, he changed his plan of attack. Reaching 
the settlements, he divided his men into small 
parties with orders to fall upon the exposed 
settlers at midnight. One of his warriors 
shot and scalped Frederick Calvert, one of the 
settlers, but Calvert recovered from the 
wound, only to meet a sadder fate in later 
years. Old Dragging Canoe himself, with a 
party of selected warriors, went to Robert 
son s barn before daybreak and stole ten of 
his finest horses. Robertson and a few men 
followed the Indians and surprised them, 
killing one of the warriors and recapturing all 
the stolen horses. The old chief, not willing 
to be outdone by so small a force of the white 
men, got his braves together and pursued Rob 
ertson, overtaking him near his home. They 
fired a volley and wounded two of the white 
men, but Robertson escaped with all his men 
and horses. 

This mode of warfare was kept up for a 
long time, and the settlers formed themselves 
into vigilance committees to baffle the designs 
of the savages. Scouts searched the woods 
day and night for signs of the Indians. One 
of the most active leaders in the defence of 
the settlements was John Sevier. He was 
ever active, ever watchful, always in the sad 
dle dashing through the woods with lightning 


speed always to be found wherever the great 
est danger threatened. After the treaty at 
Watauga, Robertson was sent to Echota with 
the Indians to act as agent for North Caro 
lina, and a greater weight of responsibility 
fell upon Sevier. His personal magnetism, 
his cool bravery and presence of mind, and 
his sound judgment won the confidence and 
admiration of his neighbors. At the head of 
his men, he met the Indians almost daily, and 
left them dead or dying upon the battlefield, 
without the loss of any of his own men. 

The Chickamaugas were perhaps the most 
formidable of the southern Indians. They 
dwelt along Chickamauga Creek, near Chat 
tanooga, and on down the banks of the Ten 
nessee, even below the mouth of the Nick-a- 
jack Cave. This tribe was one of many 
bloods, being a mixture of the Cherokee, the 
Creek, and lawless thieves and cut-throats of 
the white race who had escaped the laws of 
civilized life and settled in these Indian towns 
and adopted Indian customs, habits, and lan 
guage. These Chickamauga warriors had the 
sagacity of the white race and the cunning 
bravery of the red race. They had built 
their towns along the cliffs and in the caves 
of the mountains along the Tennessee, and felt 
that the white soldier could never reach them. 


Standing on the top of Lookout Mountain, 
near Chattanooga, the observer gets a view of 
the country once occupied by the Chickamau- 
gas and beholds one of the most picturesque 
views in America. The view extends into 
several different States. The whole expanse, 
lined with beautiful streams, is now dotted 
with magnificent towns, making it a historical 
region sought annually by pleasure-seekers 
and lovers of the beautiful in nature. The 
great river cuts through the mountains, mak 
ing a narrow pass-way appropriately termed 
the Southern Gate- way of the Alleghanies, and 
winds its way along the foot of Lookout. 
Here, looping itself into the shape of a moc 
casin, it forms Moccasin Bend, then moves 
along amid the beautiful mountain scenery, 
past the Nick-a-jack to the Mussel Shoals. 
Here it loses its calmer motion and dashes into 
foaming roaring whirlpools too dangerous for 
the canoe of the red man or the boats of the 
white man. 

Fearing the white men, the Chickamaugas 
continued to leave their villages and move 
down the river. They built up Running 
Water, Nick-a-jack, Long Island Villages, 
Crow Town, and Lookout, afterwards known 
as the Five Lower Towns. Realizing the se 
curity of these hiding-places of the Chickamau- 


gas and the ease with which they could make 
a raid upon the white men and then get safely 
into these fastnesses, Dragging Canoe con 
tinued to stir up his warriors against the white 
men. If the white men went down the river 
to settle lands secured by land-warrants, the 
Indians would attack and murder them. The 
Nick-a-jack Cave, called by the Indians Te- 
calla-see, was the greatest retreat and store 
house for the Indians of the Lower Towns. 

The Cherokees were held faithful to their 
treaty by the presence of Robertson at Ech- 
ota, who always kept his eyes open to all 
movements of both the British and the In 
dians ; but the Chickamaugas became so trou 
blesome that Colonel Evan Shelby was sent 
to destroy their towns. In the expedition, 
Shelby commanded three hundred and fifty 
men, and Colonel Montgomery, one hundred 
and fifty. The armies constructed boats, and, 
guided by Hudson, one of their number who 
knew well the Indian country, they descended 
the Holston and the Tennessee to the mouth 
of Chickamauga Creek. Turning up this 
stream, they captured an Indian whom they 
forced to guide them to the Indian towns. 
They waded through a cane-brake partly 
sunk under the water and entered Chicka 
mauga Town so suddenly that the Indians, 


five hundred in number, fled into the moun 
tains for safety without offering any resist 
ance, During this invasion the troops de 
stroyed eleven towns and twenty thousand 
bushels of corn, drove away large herds of 
cattle, and seized goods valued at 20,000. 
These goods had been brought to the towns 
by British agents, and were to be used to 
bribe the Indians at a council to be held at 
the mouth of the Tennessee. The object of 
this council was to effect a cooperation of the 
northern and the southern Indians with the 
British. Thus a second time a simultaneous 
front and rear attack by the British and In 
dians was baffled by the hardy backwoodsmen. 
The expedition quieted Dragging Canoe. 

While these events were taking place, Se- 
vier was busy with affairs in the settlements. 
He sent men and supplies for the relief of 
Captain Logan, who was besieged at Logan s 
Station by northern Indians. 

A wagon road had recently been opened 
from Burke County, North Carolina, to the 
Watauga settlements, and immigration was 
augmented. The population grew so rapidly 
that Washington County was divided, a part 
being cut off and formed into Sullivan County. 
The opportunities for Sevier gradually in 
creased, and he watched the progress of events 


so assiduously that he was prepared to act 
promptly when the time came. 

The years of 1778-9 were prolific of notable 
events in th.e western settlements. Jonesboro, 
the oldest town in Tennessee and county seat 
of Washington County, was laid out, a court 
house and a jail were erected, and the courts 
of North Carolina were established. Isaac 
Shelby was appointed coloneft of Sullivan 
County, and John Sevier w^s soon afterwards 
appointed to the same position in Washington 

The establishment of courts was, however, 
ineffective in checking the depredations of 
Tories who came to the western settlements. 
But the frontiersmen arose with the dangers 
and hardships that surrounded them and dealt 
promptly with the disturbers of their rights 
to life and property. They were, as a rule, 
men of principle and religion; but, when the 
safety of their country demanded it, they 
could act with great sternness towards law 
breakers. Kidnapping the patriotic Whigs 
was of frequent occurrence. In one instance 
a party of Tories carried a Watauga Whig 
to a high bluff up the river and threatened to 
throw him over if he did not give them all his 
property. Rather than lose his life he yielded 
to their demand. The leader of the kidnap- 


pers on this occasion was Captain Grimes, 
who was afterwards captured at King s Moun 
tain and hanged. 

Sevier was perhaps the most active and de 
termined leader in putting down these lawless 
acts. The measures he resorted to . were 
harsh, but necessary; for otherwise the peace 
and happiness of the settlements would have 
been destroyed and the plan of the British 
might have been carried out. 

The history of the Watauga settlements 
reads like fiction. The small number of peo 
ple in the hands of Providence did wonders 
for the cause of freedom, and very appropri 
ately have they been called the " Rear-guard 
of the Revolution." 

Sevier had taken a fancy to the Nolichucky 
Settlement and the fertile land along the Noli 
chucky River. In 1778 he removed with his 
family from Watauga and settled upon the 
south bank of the Nolichucky, at a place called 
Mount Pleasant. Here, on his rich plantation, 
he began farming with slave labor, though 
there were not many slaves in the settlements 
at this time. Again Sevier was in a position 
to indulge his fondness for horses and dogs. 
As there was not quite so much disturbance 
in the settlements, he was at liberty to attend 
to his plantation with some interest. 


But day and night there was a feeling of 
restlessness thrilling his ngjves, for he had 
still to scout the woods to keep advised of the 
movements of the Indians. The Indians, al 
ways skilled in woodcraft, had learned so per 
fectly to bleat like the fawn, hoot like the owl, 
gobble like the turkey, and scream like the 
wild-cat, that they could deceive the most 
skilful hunter. Often an. unsuspecting settler, 
hearing, a few yards distant in the woods, the 
calls and gobbles of turkeys, would take his 
rifle and creep cautiously through the under 
growth to kill a turkey for food. But soon 
the noise of his creeping among the leaves and 
brush was heard and the gobbling ceased ; and, 
as he crept on, the bullet of a rifle would strike 
him lifeless to the ground. But the white 
hunters and settlers became even more skil 
ful than the Indians in such games of strategy, 
and led many an Indian into the snare of 

Sevier s new l^utie in Mount Pleasant, .built 
of huge, heavy logs, was made large and com 
modious to accommodate his large family and 
the friends who chanced to visit, him. In 
spite of the constantly besetting dangers of the 
frontier life, everything in this log mansion 
upon the Nolichucky was peaceful and happy 
till the early days of 1780. Then death came 


into his home and took away his wife, who 
had borne him ten children Joseph; Jaftie^, 
John, ValeatineT^Ricr^ird; etse/ Dolly, 
M*ary Ann, Nan^cy, and Rebecca. 1 * 
* Sevier s temperament would not allow him 
to sit down and nurse sorrow, so he kept up 
his scouting in the woods. The spring months 
passed, and the summer, and he began to feel 
sensibly the need of a wife to care for his 
little ones at home. He fell in love with 
Catherine Sherrill, whom he had rescued at 
Watauga four years before. This young 
woman, whom he playfully called his " Bonny 
Kate," became his wife on the I4th of Au 
gust, 1780, the marriage ceremony being per 
formed by Joseph Wilson, a justice of the 
peace. 2 Her affection for Sevier was shown 
in her saying, after her rescue at Watauga, 
that she used to feel ready to have another 
such race and leap over the pickets to enjoy 
another such an introduction. 3 " Bonny Kate " 
bore to Colonel Sevier eiejto children Rutji, 
Catherine, George Washin^on, Joanna Goade, 
Sarquel, Robert, Polly Preston, and "Elizafyetli 
Conw-ay. Sevier was* a careful father in bring 
ing up his children, and they made useful citi 

1 Draper MSS. 2 Ibid. 

3 Wheeler s " North Carolina," p. 450. 


It was while living on his plantation on the 
Nolichucky that Sevier s successful scouting 
and Indian fighting gained for him the nick 
name of " Nolichucky Jack," or, as abbrevi 
ated, " Chucky Jack." 



AFTER the uprising of Dragging Canoe had 
been quelled, Robertson returned home from 
Echota. At that time affairs in the western 
settlements seemed to be improving; families 
of the best blood from the colonies continued 
to swell the ranks of the settlers, and the 
land, rich and very cheap, was eagerly sought 
by the homeless and poor. The Reverend 
Doctor Samuel Doak, a graduate of Prince 
ton College, came over the mountain and es 
tablished in Washington County the first in 
stitution of learning in the Mississippi Val 
ley. This was about 1780. He brought his 
library with him, in sacks thrown across the 
back of a pack-horse. This apostle of religion 
and learning taught the sons of the pioneers 
the more important branches of learning and 
the principles of religion at a little school 
building on his own farm. His school was 
incorporated under the laws of North Caro- 


lina as Martin Academy, and later it was 
chartered as Washington College, and Doctor 
Doak became its first president. 

During the ten years of their existence, the 
settlements had made some progress in civil 
ization. The habits and customs of the settlers 
were becoming more polished by the elevating 
influences of education and religion. The 
ministers of the various churches vied with 
each other in the spread of their doctrines. 
These educational and religious influences 
among the strong-minded, brave-hearted 
pioneers built up the powerful forces which 
have produced so many great Tennesseeans. 

Robertson next went into the region of the 
Cumberland River, where Nashville now 
stands, exploring in company with several 
men. During the spring and summer this 
company planted and raised a crop of corn, 
and then, leaving three men to keep the buf 
faloes off the unfenced fields, returned to Wa- 
tauga for their families. 

Sevier and Robertson had been as brothers 
at Watauga, and it was a sad parting; but 
Robertson, feeling that Sevier was able to 
defend the people of the Watauga settlements, 
determined to go, and set out over-land with 
several men. Their route was through Cum 
berland Gap and the southern part of Ken- 


tucky. They went slowly with their droves 
of cattle and loads of goods. The severe win 
ter of 1779-80, ever since known as the 
" cold winter," made their journey slow and 
painful. When they reached the Cumberland 
River, the stream was frozen over so solidly 
that they drove their cattle over on the ice 
an unusual thing in that latitude. 

In the meantime, John Donelson, with a few 
armed men, was to take the women and chil 
dren and what goods he could in boats from 
Fort Patrick Henry, down the Holston and 
Tennessee and up the Ohio and Cumberland 
to French Lick, where he expected to meet 
Robertson and his men. He sailed in his 
own boat, which he called the Adventure, ac 
companied by a fleet of such vessels. 

The voyage was begun December 22, 
1779. The weather was excessively cold, and 
hard frosts added to the discomforts of the 
voyagers. During the voyage there were 
many accidents and narrow escapes. After 
sailing for some time the boats came to an 
Indian village on the south bank. The In 
dians showed signs of friendship, calling the 
white men brothers, and inviting them ashore. 
John Caffrey and Donelson s son got into a 
canoe and paddled towards the village. They 
were met by Coody, a half-breed, who ad vised 


them to return to their boats. A large num 
ber of Indian warriors, with their faces painted 
red and black, were seen on the other shore 
embarking in canoes and making warlike dem 
onstrations. Seeing this, Coody urged the 
white men to move off at once for their safety. 
He sailed with them a short distance, then, 
telling them that they had passed all the vil 
lages and were out of danger, he returned to 
his village. 

But the boatmen soon came to another vil 
lage and were again shown signs of friend 
ship and invited ashore. Some of the voy 
agers, sailing too near the opposite bank in an 
effort to get out of danger, were attacked by 
some Indians in ambush, and one man was 

Among the voyagers was a man named 
Stewart, whose family was ill with small 
pox. His boat was kept at some distance in 
the rear of the others, in order to prevent the 
spread of the disease. The Indians, observ 
ing a boat so far separated from the others, 
fell upon it and murdered the occupants, 
twenty-eight in all. The cries of the victims 
were heard by the other voyagers, but they 
were prevented from going to the rescue. 

The Indians continued to march down the 
river. Finally the boats sailed out of view 


of the Indians and the vigilant voyagers felt 
that they were out of danger. But by this 
time the little fleet had sailed into the Nar 
rows below Chattanooga, and one of the 
boats was capsized. While trying to rescue 
the lost goods and restore the boat, the boat 
men were fired upon by the Indians who sud 
denly appeared on the opposite cliff. Every 
body retreated hastily to the boats and rowed 
away as fast as possible. After they had 
passed out of the reach of danger, they missed 
the boat containing a man named Jennings 
and his family, which consisted of his wife 
and son, a negro man and woman, and a 
white man. It appeared that in trying to 
make their escape their boat had run upon a 
rock and had become partially submerged. 
What had become of its occupants could not 
be learned, until one morning, about 4 o clock, 
a voice was heard up the river calling, " Help 
poor Jennings!" It wa,s Jennings himself. 
After he was landed, he told the story of his 
narrow escape. He said that the Indians 
turned their whole fire upon him when they 
saw he was in distress, and while he returned 
the fire upon the Indians, he ordered those 
who were with him to cast the goods over 
board and get the boat off the rock. The 
firing from the Indians became so hot that 


the son, the young man, and the negro man 
deserted the boat. Despite the shower of 
bullets falling around them, Mrs. Jennings 
and the colored woman succeeded in empty 
ing the boat, and Mrs. Jennings shoved the 
boat off so suddenly that she came near being 
left on shore to the mercy of the Indians. 
The negro man was drowned, and the two 
young men swam to a canoe and floated down 
the river. They were met next day by five 
canoes of Indians, taken prisoners, and car 
ried to Chickamauga, where the young man 
was burned at the stake, it was afterwards 
learned. Young Jennings was spared through 
the intervention of an Indian trader named 
Rogers who had been released from Indian 
captivity by Sevier only a short time before. 

Again the voyagers moved their boats out 
into the current. After rowing a few miles, 
the crowing of cocks was heard in another 
Indian village. Again they were fired upon 
by the Indians as they passed, but this time 
without injury. 

The next danger to face was the Mussel 
Shoals in the southern bend of the Tennessee. 
The boats were landed at the upper end of 
the Shoals to see if Robertson had left any 
sign for them, as he had promised to leave 
a sign in case it was safe for them to leave 


their boats and go through by land. Find 
ing no sign, they decided to continue their 
journey by water. The boats were put in the 
best possible condition, and the voyage was 
resumed. The Shoals were very dangerous 
and their roaring noise added the more dread 
to the voyagers as they approached them. 
Gurgling, boiling, dashing into foam and 
spray, the angry waters roared so loudly that 
they could be heard for miles away. At 
times the boats would drag on the rocks, 
again they would ride the angry waves like 
ships in a storm. They were three hours in 
passing over the Shoals and reached the lower 
end before night. 

Below the Shoals the river again widens 
and the current is not so swift, and here the 
men were able to take a much-needed rest 
after laboring so valiantly at the oars. Float 
ing down the stream quietly for some time, 
two boats advancing too near the shore were 
fired upon by a party of Indians, and five of 
the boatmen were wounded. Reaching the 
mouth of the creek, the company landed to 
camp on its banks. After the camp-fires were 
kindled, the dogs began to bark as if danger 
were near. Presuming that a band of In 
dians was coming upon them, the company 
fled to their boats, leaving behind their cook- 


ing utensils. They dropped down the river 
about a mile and encamped on the opposite 
shore. Next morning Caffrey and Donelson s 
son crossed the river in a canoe and returned 
to the deserted camp-fires to see what had 
happened. They found the negro left behind 
the evening before sound asleep by the camp 
fires. Finding no danger of an attack, the 
voyagers recrossed the river for their utensils, 
then sailed to the mouth of the Tennessee 
without further encounters \vith the sav 

The voyagers were here made sad by the 
separation of some of their companions, 
some to descend the Ohio and the Mississippi 
to Natchez, others bound for Illinois. The 
rest of the people had much to cast a gloom 
over their spirits, for they were without food, 
worn out by the voyage, and they had yet to 
stem the Ohio to the Cumberland, then row 
up that stream to French Lick. 

But they never lost courage, and now 
pushed onward. When they reached the 
mouth of the Cumberland, it seemed so small 
that they did not believe it to be the river 
they were seeking; but, after going a short 
distance up its current, they were convinced 
that they were on the right stream. Some of 
their men had to hunt game for food, and 


they gathered from the swamps an herb which 
they called Shawnee salad. At one place some 
of the hunters found a pair of hand-mill stones 
set up ready for grinding, but the mill had not 
been in use for a long time, a fact which con 
vinced them that no Indians were in that 

The company was rejoiced over meeting 
with Colonel Richard Henderson several 
miles below French Lick, for he gave them 
much information that they were anxious to 
obtain. Colonel Henderson was surveying the 
line between Virginia and North Carolina. He 
informed Donelson that a large quantity of 
corn had been bought for the Cumberland 
settlers. The company reached the end of 
their journey on April 2, 1780, and found 
Robertson and his men anxiously awaiting 
their arrival. The tired and hungry voyagers 
went to their little homes built upon the bluff, 
where they were rested and refreshed with 
such food as was common to the pioneer 

Thus ended this remarkable voyage. It 
may be of interest to remark here that the 
future wife of Andrew Jackson, the daughter 
of John Donelson, was with her father on 
this voyage. 

Here we leave Captain Robertson, the 


loved and faithful friend of the Wataugans, 
to found and develop a new settlement, while 
his friend Sevier manages the affairs at Wa- 
tauga and takes an active part in the resistance 
to British tyranny. 

While Robertson was exploring upon the 
Cumberland, and making the settlements, the 
thunderbolt of the Revolution fell upon the 
South. In 1779 the royal army took Savan 
nah and overran Georgia. The Americans, 
under General Lincoln, assisted by the French 
fleet under Count D Estaing, tried to recap 
ture Savannah, but were unsuccessful. Then 
Sir Henry Clinton sailed from New York 
and assisted in taking Charleston, the fall of 
which fixed the fate of South Carolina. 

Clinton sent out three expeditions through 
the country to complete the subjugation of 
the people. One, under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Brown, was to occupy Augusta and supply 
the Indians with guns and ammunition for 
another uprising; another, under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Cruger, was to subdue the country 
around Ninety-six; the third and largest 
force, under Lord Cornwallis, was to move 
northward, subjugating and plundering the 
colonies as it proceeded; then, the three 
armies were to unite their forces to subdue 
North Carolina and Virginia. Clinton felt 


that his services were no longer needed in the 
South, and so, leaving the military affairs in 
the hands of the above-named officers, he set 
sail for New York. 

The country was full of Tories. These 
now flocked to the royal standard and swelled 
the ranks of the British, carrying destruc 
tion wherever they went. They left no 
homes, no food for the widows and orphans. 
Women, children, and aged men often hid 
their scanty supply of food in caves. 

The whole of South Carolina seemed to 
be in the hands of the British; but Colonel 
Charles McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, 
Burke County, North Carolina, had a very 
small, but invincible, force of mounted militia 
at Cherokee Ford, on Broad River. With 
him was the brave Elijah Clarke, of Georgia, 
and Colonel James Williams, of South Car 
olina, each with a small body of brave men 
ready to die in the defence of their country 
and of their rights. 

On account of the intense summer heat, 
Cornwallis decided to wait awhile before tak 
ing up his northward march, and, in the 
meantime, he busied himself supplying the 
Indians west of the mountains with the ma 
terials of war, and in enlisting the Tories. 
He sent Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Fergu- 


son to the mountain counties to win and 
enlist the Tories there in his army, for Fer 
guson was very active and loyal to his maj 
esty s cause. He had winning manners which 
made him a skilful organizer among the 
Tories, he was an expert rifleman, and he 
understood well the arts of war. 

McDowell soon discovered the plan of 
Cornwallis and sent dispatches to Shelby 
and Sevier for help. The fame of these two 
men had rapidly spread to the seaboard. As 
the Wataugans were expecting an invasion 
from the Indians, who were being armed by 
the British, Sevier did not deem it prudent 
to leave Watauga, but he at once collected 
two hundred mounted riflemen and placed 
them under the command of Major Charles 
Robertson and hastened them to South Caro 
lina to McDowell s assistance. A like num 
ber under Colonel Isaac Shelby was also sent 
without delay. 

The valiant mountain men added much 
strength to the little army of McDowell. 
Together the combined forces now pursued 
a guerilla warfare. They were few in num 
bers at all times, but they were like a moun 
tain torrent dashing down the rugged rapids 
right into British ranks. Every Wataugan 
had learned Sevier s mode of warfare, and 


when the order for battle was given each 
gave the famous war-whoop and mowed 
down the enemy with the Deckard. It was 
the policy of the little army to change camp 
often and to swoop down upon the enemy 
like an eagle upon his prey, then dash into 
the swamps, riding day and night, if neces 
sary, to evade or avoid the pursuing troops 
of the enemy. 

At Thickety Fort, on the Pacolet River in 
South Carolina, some twenty miles from Mc 
Dowell s camp at Cherokee Ford, on Broad 
River, Patrick Moore, a Tory colonel, was 
organizing and drilling a force of loyalists 
to be joined to Ferguson s army. Moore s 
men became so cruel in plundering the help 
less that McDowell determined to capture 
them before they could join Ferguson, and 
accordingly he sent Shelby with his Wa- 
taugans, and Clarke of Georgia with his 
small force, about six hundred in all, to at 
tack Moore. The little army mounted their 
horses about dusk and by dawn of next day 
surrounded the fort. Shelby sent in a de 
mand for surrender, but Moore would not at 
first yield ; he, however, finally surrendered 
and the garrison w r as paroled not to serve 
again during the \var. The fort could have 
been defended easily, but terror seized Moore 


when such a bold demand from Shelby was 

Ferguson, hearing of the bold movements 
of Shelby, determined to catch him and cut 
his army to pieces. He at once sent a de 
tachment of several hundred soldiers to force 
him to battle. Shelby and Clarke, learning 
of his desire, stationed themselves at a point 
not far from Spartanburg, South Carolina, 
and prepared for battle. The British advance 
under Dunlap came up, and a sharp skirmish 
of about half an hour followed. The Ameri 
cans fired their loaded pieces ; and then, when 
charged, fought with knives, swords, and the 
butts of their guns till their faces were so 
cut and covered with smoke and blood that 
it was difficult for the men themselves to dis 
tinguish each other from the enemy. The 
battle was hard fought. Sometimes one 
American engaged two British at once in a 
hand-to-hand fight. Soon the first advance 
of the British was put to flight; but, on 
Ferguson s coming up with his reserves, the 
Americans retired from the field with twenty 
prisoners, including two British officers. 

McDowell now moved his camp to Smith s 
Ford on Broad River. As soon as Shelby 
and Clarke had reached his camp and rested 
their men a little, they were sent with Colonel 


Williams of South Carolina, and other re 
inforcements, among whom was Valentine 
Sevier, brother of John Sevier, to Musgrove s 
Mill, on the south side of the Enoree River, 
a distance of forty miles, to rout a large 
band of Tories stationed there. They took 
up the line of march before sundown and 
traveled through the woods till dark, then 
took a road leaving Ferguson s camp only a 
short distance to the left and marched all 
night. Next morning at dawn they met a 
patrol party, and after a brief skirmish the 
enemy fled to their camps, which were about 
half a mile away. 

Just then a man who lived in the vicinity 
approached Shelby s men with an import 
ant message. He informed Shelby that the 
Tories had, the evening before, been re 
inforced with six hundred regulars under 
Colonel Ennes. The presence of the riflemen 
was now known to the enemy, their number 
small, their men and horses much fatigued 
with the night s ride, and retreat before a 
large force of rested men and horses was im 
possible. Shelby was a man of iron will and 
quick decision. He decided to meet the 
enemy in battle. A breast-work was made 
of logs and brush. In a short time the scouts 
reported the advance of the enemy. Captain 


Inman was sent to skirmish with the enemy 
as soon as they had crossed over the Enoree, 
and instructed to retreat in the direction of the 
breast-work. The British came on. Captain 
Inman s men fired and retreated as ordered. 
The British rushed after them in disorder, 
believing that the entire American force was 
retreating. They galloped at full speed till 
they were within seventy yards of Shelby s 
army. Then the war-whoop was sounded, 
and a shower of lead was poured into the 
faces of the British. They staggered, but 
rallied again, and the soldiers on both sides 
fought like tigers for more than an hour. 
The Americans yielded at a few points along 
the breast-works; but they finally wounded 
the British commander, Colonel Ennes, killed 
or wounded all his subalterns, and hurled the 
broken forces into rapid retreat. The gallant 
Americans pursued them hotly, driving them 
across the river. In the pursuit of the enemy 
Captain Inman was killed, and the hard- 
fought battle of Musgrove s Mill was ended. 
After the battle, the Americans returned to 
their horses tethered in the woods, for Shelby 
was determined to be at Ninety-six before 
night. Just after the men had mounted their 
horses, a messenger from McDowell galloped 
up and presented a letter from Governor 


Caswell, announcing that the American 
army under General Gates had been defeated 
at Camden, and advising McDowell to get 
out of the enemy s way the best he could. 
Shelby knew the hand- writing of the Gover 
nor, and there could be no question as to the 
authenticity of the letter. He ordered his 
men to the mountains, and all day and all 
night and all the next day they pressed on 
with as much speed as tired horses can 
make. For forty-eight hours the men sat in 
their saddles without a halt till they were far 
away in the mountains. The men could 
scarcely be recognized, for their eyes were red 
and swollen from loss of sleep and exposure 
to heat and dust. The poor horses had eaten 
nothing, except what they could nibble from 
the undergrowth as they hastened along. It 
was fortunate that they had traveled even so 
rapidly, for they had been hotly pursued by 
a strong British force till late in the after 
noon of the second day. They now halted 
for a rest. They were at home in the rugged 
fastnesses of the great mountains and they 
did not fear for their safety. They could 
easily defend themselves in the midst of these 
bold cliffs. 

The little army was now divided. Shelby 


went back to Watauga ; Williams carried 
the prisoners to a place of safe keeping, and 
Clarke, with one hundred men, went south, 
determined, if possible, to wrest Augusta 
from the hands of the British captors. 



McDowELL and his men, chased by Fergu 
son, later crossed the mountain and took 
refuge among the Wataugans. Ferguson, 
giving up the fruitless chase, stationed him 
self at Gilbert Town, North Carolina, and 
sent an insolent message to the Wataugans 
by Samuel Philips, a paroled prisoner, threat 
ening to march his army over the mountains, 
to burn their cabins, to lay their country 
waste, and to hang their leaders if they did 
not cease their opposition to the British. In 
his army were a few Tories from Watauga 
who were familiar with the rough passes 
across the mountains. These men agreed to 
guide his soldiers to the over-mountain 
country. Some of them, too, were well 
acquainted with Colonel Sevier and were 
eager to betray him into the hands of the 

The message reached Shelby about the last 
of August, 1780. As soon as he had read 
it, he mounted his horse and rode to Sevier 


on the Nolichucky, a distance of fifty or sixty 
miles. When he dashed up to Sevier s home, 
his poor horse flecked with foam, to his sur 
prise he found feasting and merry-making 
going on. Sevier was giving a great bar 
becue, and a horse-race was to be run. Many 
people w r ere there enjoying the hospitality 
of the kind-hearted, great-souled colonel, but 
the people saw in the stern face of Shelby 
that some portentous event was impending. 

Sevier took no further part in the merry 
making. In two days he and Shelby dis 
cussed the state of affairs and carefully laid 
their plans, for there were many things to 
think about and many plans to consider. The 
question was whether or not it would be ad 
visable to fortify themselves at home and 
wait for Ferguson s visit. To this plan there 
was objection, as they were also expecting an 
invasion from the Indians which might take 
place at the same time they were repelling 
Ferguson. Besides, this plan was too slow for 
Sevier. His idea was to pounce upon the 
enemy, dart swiftly away, and get ready for 
another sudden attack, just as the smaller birds 
drive the hawks from their nests. This mode 
he had often used against the Indians. It was 
now decided by the two colonels that it would 
be the best plan, therefore, to collect all the 


riflemen they could and hasten across the 
mountains and cripple or overwhelm Fergu 
son before he could either reach their humble 
cabins or join the army of Cornwallis. They 
decided to sound the alarm and call upon the 
brave pioneers to rendezvous at the Syca 
more Shoals on the 25th of September, ready 
to defend their homes. The two men then 
separated, Shelby returning to his home to 
gather his rifle rangers and secure the as 
sistance of the Virginia militia of the upper 
Holston region, while Sevier was to collect 
his riflemen and secure the aid of McDowell 
and his refugees, who were still in the west 
ern settlements. 

Colonel Shelby sent his brother Moses with 
a letter to Colonel William Campbell, stating 
the critical condition and urging him to unite 
his force with the Wataugans in their efforts 
to crush Ferguson. To Shelby s disappoint 
ment Colonel Campbell did not at first ap 
prove of the plan and refused to cooperate 
with him and Sevier. Shelby at once sent 
another letter urging more earnestly his as 
sistance. This time the brave old Virginian 
yielded and brought four hundred of his best 
riflemen to the rendezvous. Shelby collected 
two hundred and forty men in Sullivan 
County, and Sevier the same number in 


Washington County. To these were added 
the refugee Whigs of McDowell. 

This ingathering of the western settlers for 
the defence of their country presents an in 
teresting picture. They were a handful of 
militia, not a thousand strong, unknown to 
the world, but they were brave and thor 
oughly determined to fight Ferguson. The 
men, women, and children of the whole set 
tlement were at the rendezvous at Sycamore 
Shoals to bid a loving farewell to those they 
loved, for it was not certain that the soldiers 
would ever return from the expedition. Pro 
visions for the march had been collected from 
the little farms. Every boy able to bear a rifle 
was there, eager to go to war. It was an 
odd-looking little army. Officers and sol 
diers were clad only in their hunting-shirts, 
but they were well armed with tomahawks, 
butcher-knives, and Deckard rifles. Some of 
them had never seen war, but many of them 
had grappled with the Indian warriors, and 
some had measured swords with the British 
in Shelby s campaigns, a short time before. 
Campbell, stern and dignified; Shelby, taci 
turn and determined; McDowell, easy, digni 
fied and courageous; Sevier, vivacious, ener 
getic and gallant, moved about among their 
soldiers like gentlemen at a social gathering. 


Everybody felt at ease, yet all caught the spirit 
which thrilled the nerves of the commanders. 
None feared the British. 

It was decided to leave the old men to de 
fend the women ,and : children against any 
Indian attack that might be made while they 
were away. The younger fathers and older 
sons were to go upon the march. One of 
Sevier s sons was chosen to go with the 
army, and a younger one, not yet sixteen, 
wanted to go with his father and brother and 
begged his mother so earnestly that she called 
to Sevier, saying, " Here, Mr. Sevier, is an 
other of our boys that wants to go with his 
father and brother to war; but we have no 
horse for him, and, poor fellow, it is a great 
distance to walk." A horse was secured for 
the little soldier boy, and he went to war 
and afterwards fought like a little hero. 

Old and young came together, eager for 
war; but who was to defray the expenses of 
the expedition? Every dollar had been spent 
in taking up public lands and was then in the 
hands of the entry-taker. Sevier tried to bor 
row the money on his own credit, but he 
could not find a dollar. He went to John 
Adair, the entry-taker, and told him that the 
expedition was about to prove a failure for 
the lack of money to pay the expenses and 


suggested that the public money be used for 
that purpose. 

" Colonel Sevier," said Mr. Adair, " I have 
no authority by law to make that disposition 
of this money. It belongs to the impover 
ished treasury of North Carolina, and I dare 
not appropriate a cent of it to any purpose. 
But if the country is overrun by the British, 
liberty is gone. Let the money go too. Take 
it. If the enemy, by its use, is driven from 
the country, I can trust that country to 
justify and vindicate my conduct. Take 

On the morning after the ingathering at 
Sycamore Shoals, the soldiers arose long be 
fore sunrise and began the preparation for 
the march. While the loving house-wives 
and daughters prepared breakfast, the men 
fed their horses. The sound of voices was 
everywhere heard, the grim war-worn com 
manders planning the march, the fond wives 
talking over the affairs of the homes now to 
be left to their care, the children playing with 
each other, little thinking of the long absence 
of their fathers and brothers. The breakfast 
was served hastily, the horses were saddled, 
and every soldier made ready for the march. 
But, before the march was begun, all the 
armed soldiers assembled and stood with 


bowed heads while the Reverend Doctor Doak, 
with uplifted hands, invoked the blessings of 
Heaven upon them and besought God to fight 
their battles. The spirit of war thrilled the 
bosom of every brave soldier leaning in rev 
erence on his long rifle as the grave old min 
ister called on them to be brave in battle and 
to smite their enemy with the sword of the 
Lord and of Gideon. 

Then the little army took up the line of 
march. No drum beat the advance, no mar 
tial music stirred their brave souls. Only 
love of home, liberty, and country prompted 
them to face the dangers and hazards of war. 
There was no chaplain, no physician, none of 
the accommodations of modern warfare. "A 
shot-pouch, a tomahawk, a knife, a knapsack 
and a blanket, composed the soldier s outfit. 
At night, the earth afforded him a bed and 
the heavens a covering; the mountain stream 
quenched his thirst; while his provision was 
procured from supplies acquired on the 
march by his gun." 

A few cattle for beef were driven in the 
rear of the army for a while, but their prog 
ress was so slow that they had to be left 

The little army, marching up Doe River, 
soon reached the mountains. Here they en- 


camped. Next morning, traveling up the 
pass between Roane and Yellow mountains, 
after hard marching, they reached the top. 
The bald table-land was covered with snow, 
and the air was brisk and cool. 

At roll-call it was found that two men 
from Sevier s command, who were undoubt 
edly Tories, had deserted, and were then, it 
was thought, hurrying to Ferguson s camp 
to warn him of the coming danger The 
situation was taxing to the genius of the 
commanders, but they turned quickly to the 
left of the usual road and went down untrod 
den passes, than which no more difficult ways 
were ever followed by an army of horsemen. 
They descended the mountain into a wild 
region and crossed the Blue Ridge at Gil- 
lespie s Gap. From this place they beheld, 
in the region of the upper Catawba, the scat 
tered cabins of the settlements which had been 
made by the Carolinians in the shadows of 
the mountains. From here they pushed 
boldly down the river to Quaker Meadows, 
the home of McDowell. Here they fell in 
with three hundred and fifty militia under 
Colonel Cleveland and Colonel Winston. 
Other recruits eager for war were added to 
their ranks from day to day. 

But they had no chief commander, and 


the officers met in council to determine who 
should be their leader. Some feared that the 
command would fall upon Colonel McDowell, 
who was too old and inactive for the place. 
To quiet their fears, Shelby told them that 
the enemy would likely soon be encountered 
and that something must at once be done. 
Accordingly, he suggested that Colonel 
Campbell be chosen their commander, as he 
had the largest regiment and was a strong 
man, every way worthy of the position. 
Furthermore, it was agreed that Colonel Mc 
Dowell go in person to General Gates and 
apply for an officer to be assigned to the com 
mand of the little army. No officer from 
Gates army ever came, but the riflemen 
marched on after Ferguson. The several 
officers met in council each night to decide 
upon the action for the following day. 

The two deserters succeeded in reaching 
Ferguson s camp, and so, when the riflemen 
arrived at Gilbert Town, they found that 
Ferguson had fled. His army at this time 
was somewhat reduced, a part having been 
sent towards Augusta in pursuit of Elijah 
Clark; others being off on furloughs to visit 
their families. Ferguson was a brave man, 
but he had a dread of these Watauga sol 
diers, and could not remain inactive at Gil- 


bert Town and await the return of his men. 
He broke up camp and retreated through 
the woods and swamps towards Cornwallis, 
calling upon the loyalists all along the line of 
march to hurry to his assistance. But they 
did not rush rapidly to his standard, for many 
of them seemed to realize that it was useless. 
As he hastened along, he sent out a circular 
letter containing this appeal: "If you wish 
to live and bear the name of men, grasp your 
arms in a moment and run into camp. The 
Backwater men have crossed the mountain; 
McDowell, Hampton, Shelby, and Cleveland 
are at their head, so that you know r what to 
depend upon. If you choose to be degraded 
forever and ever by a set of mongrels, say so 
at once, and let your women turn their backs 
upon you, and look out for real men to pro 
tect them." 

Ferguson sent runners to Lord Cornwallis, 
informing him of the critical situation and 
begging him for reinforcements. At the 
same time he was marching in the direction 
of Cornwallis. 

The riflemen, however, had gained a more 
exact knowledge of Ferguson s route and 
moved on in haste to the Cowpens, where 
they were joined by a few men under Colonel 
Williams, Major Chronicle, and Colonel 


Hampbright. The sun had already sunk be 
hind the hills when the soldiers arrived, and 
being very hungry, they fell to skinning 
beeves and roasting the flesh on the blazing 
camp-fires for their supper. Both men and 
horses feasted upon the sweet juicy ears of 
a fifty-acre corn-field which belonged to the 
rich old Tory who owned the Cowpens. 

While here the crippled spy, Joseph Kerr, 
came into camp with tidings that Ferguson 
was within six miles of King s Mountain. It 
was deemed proper, however, to obtain more 
exact information of his position. So, Major 
Chronicle suggested Enoch Gilmer as the 
most suitable man in the army, " for " said 
he, " Gilmer can assume any character that 
occasion may require; he can cry and laugh 
in the same breath, and all who saw it would 
believe he was in earnest; he could act the 
part of a lunatic so well that no one could 
discover him; above all, he was a stranger to 
fear/ Gilmer accepted the commission and 
at once set out on his journey. Within a 
few miles of the Cowpens, he entered the 
house of a Tory, and told his host he was a 
loyalist seeking Ferguson s headquarters. 
Gilmer drew from the old Tory the exact 
movements of Ferguson and the communica 
tion he was carrying on with Cornwallis. A 


few hours later, Gilmer was back in camp 
relating the facts he had gathered. 

After supper, a council of officers was held 
in which it was decided to choose the freshest 
soldiers, the swiftest horses, and the surest 
rifles, and fall upon Ferguson before he could 
flee to Cornwallis or be reinforced. The 
choice was soon made, and nine hundred and 
ten expert riflemen mounted the refreshed 
horses a little after 9 o clock, and plunged 
into the wilderness in pursuit of Ferguson. 
A few eager footmen followed close on the 
heels of the horsemen and reached the bat 
tlefield in time to do their share of the fight 
ing. The other less able men and horses fol 
lowed more leisurely. 

On October 6, Ferguson reached King s 
Mountain and pitched camp on a rocky, half- 
isolated spur of the main mountain. The 
summit of the ridge is about five hundred 
yards in length, from seventy to eighty yards 
in width, and not more than sixty feet above 
the surrounding country. Here he felt safe 
from danger and decided to wait for rein 

After leaving the blazing camp-fires at 
Cowpens, the backwoodsmen had a hard 
night, for it was dark and drizzling. It was 
so dark and foggy that many of the riflemen 


got scattered in the woods, but fortunately 
reached their ranks next day. That very 
night Ferguson and his men lay quietly slum 
bering in their tents on King s Moun 

In the morning, just before the break of 
day, Gilmer was sent to the crossing of Broad 
River to reconnoiter. As the soldiers ap 
proached the river, they heard him singing 
" Barney Linn," a popular song of that day. 
They knew now that the way was safe. About 
sunrise the little army forded Broad River 
at Cherokee Ford. At the outset they had 
learned that about six hundred Tories had 
assembled at Major Gibbs , only four miles 
to their right, and were arranging to join 
Ferguson next day. Some of the officers 
desired to destroy them before finding Fergu 
son, but to this Shelby and Sevier would not 
consent. They had conceived the plan for 
catching Ferguson and they were determined 
to carry it out. 

The clouds turned into a drenching rain ; 
and, during the forenoon of the 7th, the sol 
diers could keep their guns and powder dry 
only by wrapping them in their sacks, blan 
kets, and hunting-shirts. The roads became 
so muddy that some of the horses gave out. 
But Ferguson s trail became fresher and 


fresher, and the little army, both horse and 
foot, pushed eagerly onward in the rain. 

At Ferguson s former camping place the 
soldiers halted in the pouring rain long 
enough to eat some roasted beef for breakfast; 
then they pushed forward again. Gilmer had 
been sent on ahead to secure what information 
he could. The patriots now came within view 
of King s Mountain. Halting at a house by 
the roadside, Campbell learned that Fergu 
son s camp was only nine miles distant. As 
he was riding off in full gallop, Campbell 
heard the voice of a girl calling him. 

"How many of you are there?" asked the 

" Enough to whip Ferguson if we can find 
him," answered the Colonel. 

Pointing her finger at King s Mountain, 
she said, with a smile, " He is on that 
mountain." And he was. 

The fresher the scent of the fox, the more 
eagerly the hounds pursue, so the riflemen 
pushed onward with greater speed. A few 
miles farther on, Campbell halted at the house 
of a Tory. Entering, he found Gilmer din 
ing and hurrahing for King George, w r hile an 
old woman and her two daughters were wait 
ing upon him. To have some fun, Campbell, 
in a stern voice, ordered a rope put around 


the spy s neck and commanded that he be 
hanged a short distance up the road. The 
girls wept bitterly and begged earnestly for 
his life. 

After getting out of sight, Gilmer began 
to laugh heartily and said to Shelby, " Col 
onel, I found them such loyal friends I 
couldn t help, from pure sympathy, giving 
both the girls a smack." Gilmer had obtained 
all the information about Ferguson s position 
and forces the officers desired, and a short 
halt was called to plan the attack. 

Some of the riflemen had hunted deer in 
the region around King s Mountain, and dur 
ing the previous fall some of them had 
camped on the spot where Ferguson s army 
was now perched, hence they were perfectly 
familiar with the region. From the informa 
tion they furnished, it was decided to sur 
round the hill and hold the enemy on top and 
destroy them by pouring into their ranks, 
from all sides at once, a deadly fire. There 
could be no danger of shooting each other, 
as they would all fire up hill and the British 
would most likely overshoot them. 

Before the march was again resumed, a 
messenger galloped hurriedly up to the army 
to inform Colonel William Graham that his 
wife was at the point of death. By Camp- 


bell s advice and consent Graham left to at 
tend her bedside. 

Orders having been given to march, the 
soldiers again put spurs to their horses. When 
within two miles of Ferguson s camp, John 
Ponder, a man whom Colonel Hampbright 
well knew to be a Tory, was captured. Search 
ing him, they found a dispatch from Fer 
guson to Cornwallis explaining his dangerous 
situation and begging for help. On being 
questioned about the British commander, the 
youthful messenger said that Ferguson was 
dressed in a full uniform, but wore a check 
ered shirt over it. At this information the 
Dutch commander, Colonel Hampbright, 
burst out with a hearty laugh and exclaimed, 
" Poys, hear dot? Shoot for the man mid 
the pig shirt!" 

Laughing at the Dutchman s \vords, the 
jaded soldiers pressed onward with lighter 
hearts into the very shadow of the mountain. 
Here they met Henry Watkins, a Whig 
prisoner just released by Ferguson, from 
whom they gained exact details of the British 
fortifications and strength. The soldiers were 
at once drawn up in two lines to surround 
the hill, the right line being led by Colonel 
Campbell, the left by Colonel Cleveland. 
Then "they moved up a branch and ravine, 


between the rocky knobs, beyond which the 
enemy s camp was in full view, one hundred 
poles in front of them," purposely to cut off 
Ferguson s retreat if he should attempt re 



IT WAS now 3 o clock in the afternoon. 
The rain had ceased, and the sun had dis 
pelled the rain-clouds and thrown a glorious 
light upon the battle-hill. The horses were 
tethered in the woods, just after crossing 
King s Creek. Every man was ordered to 
" tie up his overcoat and blanket, throw the 
priming out of his pan, pick his touch -hole, 
prime anew, examine his bullets, and see that 
everything was in readiness for battle." A 
few men were detailed to take care of the 
horses; but afterwards, when the battle 
opened, they hurried up the hill to take part 
in the struggle, leaving the horses to take 
care of themselves. 

Ferguson had not yet discovered the rifle 
men. He was perched on the summit of the 
mountain feeling as secure as an eagle in his 
eyrie. A sentinel had just returned to his 
camp and stated that there was no danger at 
hand. His fighting force numbered a thou 
sand, more or less, and was made up of New 


Jersey Volunteers, King s Rangers, Queen s 
Rangers, and many Tories all well armed 
and well disciplined in the use of the rifle, 
the sword, and the bayonet. At the foot of 
the hill were the backwoodsmen, about nine 
hundred and fifty strong, clad in their hunt 
ing-shirts and skin-caps and armed with 
Deckards, tomahawks, and long knives. They 
had had no sleep for many hours and very 
little rest or refreshment, but every man had 
energy for a hard battle. The sides of the 
battle-hill, steep and rugged, were covered with 
trees and shrubs, making it difficult to climb. 
On top it was level, but was well fortified with 
rock-ledges and baggage-wagons. 

All things now ready, the regiments of the 
mountaineers began to move up and around 
the hill. Orders had been given that when the 
riflemen were ready to begin the attack they 
should give the signal by raising the Indian 
war-whoop. For a few minutes everything 
was quiet, and the men made haste to encircle 
the hill. The right column, however, while 
passing through a gap just below the sum 
mit, was discovered by a British sentinel, who 
gave the alarm. Mounting his horse, Fer 
guson sounded a silver whistle; drums beat 
to arms; everything was astir in the British 


camps; and the soldiers were soon at their 
respective posts, ready for fighting. 

Fire was opened on Shelby first. His men 
begged to return the fire, but the Colonel said, 
" Press on to your places and your fire will 
not be lost." Onward they pressed amid the 
whizzing bullets till they reached their places. 
Then in thunder-tones Shelby shouted, 
" Here they are, boys ! Shout like hell and 
fight like devils!" Instantly the war-whoops 
from every regiment around the hill rent the 
mountain air; and, before the echo from the 
distant hills could be heard, the sharp cracks 
of Shelby s riflemen announced that the battle 
was on. " These are the same yelling devils," 
said De Peyster to Ferguson, " that were at 
Musgrove s Mill." 

The British charged down upon Shelby s 
men, backing them to the foot of the hill; 
then, reloading their rifles, the riflemen drove 
the British bayonets back to the top. Camp 
bell, after some little delay caused by cross 
ing a marshy swamp, got up into position on 
the other side and poured a galling fire into 
the backs of the British. The Rangers 
charged desperately, forcing Shelby s men 
down the hill, but the reloaded Deckards 
belched fire and lead into Ranger ranks, hurl- 


ing the men lifeless to the ground or sending 
them headlong over their breastworks. 

The firing now became general around the 
hill; the whole mountain seemed volcanic. 
Every time the Americans advanced to the 
breastworks to pour into British ranks their 
deadly volleys, the regulars leaped over with 
fixed bayonets and dashed down the moun 
tain sides with such an avalanche charge that 
they forced the riflemen to the foot. But ev 
ery time, in turn, the regulars, scarred and 
bleeding from wounds, were forced to the 
summit with their ranks thinned and broken. 
The rocks and trees which obstructed the bay 
onet charges furnished splendid protection for 
the riflemen. The charges were frequent, 
brave regulars dashing, scrambling, falling 
headlong over rocks and rubbish in mighty 
efforts to thrust their bayonets into the bosoms 
of the riflemen. But these backwoodsmen 
were fleet and active and generally avoided 
the bayonets. 

The battle s roar reached Colonel Graham 
who was hurrying to the bedside of his dy 
ing wife. He forgot his mission and turned 
his horse at full speed towards the mountain 
to take part in the battle, but he did not arrive 
till the victory was won. 

On every side men fought like tigers 


fought till their faces were black with smoke 
and their hair was singed with fire. All 
around the hill lay the dead and dying. The 
great-hearted old Dutch commander, Colonel 
Hampbright, received a ball through his 
thigh, and the blood filled his boot leg. His 
men besought him to retire. " No, poys," 
said he, " I vill stay as long as I can sit up." 
Colonel Williams, pushing into the thickest 
of the fight, received a wound and was borne 
unconscious to the rear. Water was sprinkled 
on his face to revive him. Gasping for breath 
and looking at his men, he exclaimed, " For 
God s sake, boys, don t give up the hill ! " 

Ferguson s men were falling fast, and he 
darted from place to place. When his men 
staggered and faltered, he cheered them with 
the shrill blasts of his silver whistle. The 
riflemen drew the line of attack near the top. 
The broken ranks of the regulars charged and 
recharged, and the conflict was terrible. 

Slowly the riflemen forced their way to the 
summit. Sevier and his invincible Watau- 
gans pressed against the enemy s center and 
received a bayonet charge from the regulars. 
The conflict here became so stubborn that the 
regulars were compelled to concentrate their 
forces in a mighty effort to cripple or destroy 
Sevier s division. But the Wataugans did not 


yield, and were the first to reach the summit 
and hold their position. Captain Robert Se- 
vier, brother of Colonel Sevier, was mortally 
wounded in the abdomen and died two or 
three days later. 

As the riflemen closed in their forces on 
Ferguson s thinned and crippled ranks, the 
smoke became more stifling, the fighting more 
stubborn, and the hoarse war-whoops more 
deafening and frightful. The aim of the 
backwoodsmen now became so deadly and the 
British fell so fast that two white flags were 
hoisted as a token of surrender. But Fergu 
son dashed up to the flags and cut them down 
with his sword, swearing that he would never 
surrender to such banditti. 

Captain De Peyster, second in command, 
seeing the British troops huddled together and 
shot down like cattle at a slaughter-pen, beg 
ged Ferguson to surrender. Realizing that all 
was lost, Ferguson, with a few chosen com 
panions, made a desperate effort to break 
through the American lines and escape. He 
dashed his horse into Sevier s line, cutting and 
slashing with his sword till it was broken off 
at the hilt. Gilleland, one of Sevier s men, 
first detected the man " mid the pig shirt." He 
quickly aimed at him, but his powder only 
flashed in the pan. Turning to one of his 


comrades, Robert Young, he shouted, "There 
goes Ferguson shoot him ! " Several rifles 
fired about the same time, and Ferguson, 
pierced by six or eight balls, tumbled from 
his saddle and lived only a few minutes. The 
British broke and ran in among their baggage- 
wagons for protection against the fatal balls 
of the riflemen. 

The command now fell upon De Peyster, 
who soon hoisted the white flag for surren 
der. Following his example, his men raised 
their handkerchiefs. Most of the firing ceased 
along the American line, but some of the young 
men did not understand the meaning of the 
white flag in battle and kept firing with fatal 
aim. Others, who did understand the mean 
ing, had seen two or three other flags hoisted 
and cut down, and so they kept firing. One 
of Sevier s sons, having heard of the fatal 
wound of his uncle Robert, was so angered 
that he kept firing into the ranks of the sur 
rendering troops, until he was finally stopped. 

De Peyster dismounted and handed his 
sword to Colonel Campbell. The prisoners 
laid down their arms and were placed under 
a double guard. The battle was over. The 
brave Colonel Williams lived to hear the 
shouts of victory, then breathed his last with 
perfect satisfaction. The victory was decisive. 


Sevier and Shelby with their over-mountain 
men had come to capture or overwhelm Fer 
guson ; now the brave Highlander lay cold and 
silent at their feet. The Americans killed or 
captured the whole of the British force, ex 
cept a very few who escaped by wearing white 
paper badges such as some of the Americans 
used. The whole fight lasted about an hour. 
The loss of the British in killed and wounded 
probably amounted to more than three hun 
dred, while that of the Americans was not 
more than ninety. 1 

Thus ended the battle of King s Mountain, 
fought October 7, 1780. General Bernard, 
an aid-de-camp to Napoleon, on examining 
this battle-ground at a later time, said : " The 
Americans, by their victory in that engage 
ment, erected a monument to perpetuate the 
memory of the brave men who had fallen 
there; and the shape of the hill itself would 
be an eternal monument of the military genius 
and skill of Colonel Ferguson, in selecting a 
position so well adapted for defence; no other 
plan of assault but that pursued by the moun 
tain men, could have succeeded against him." 

The Americans camped the following night 
on the battle-hill. The next day was Sunday. 
At early dawn the Americans buried the dead. 

1 Schenck s " North Carolina," p. 174. 


Ferguson was buried in a shallow ditch near 
where he fell. Tradition says that his burial 
robe w r as nothing more than a beef s hide. The 
wolves in countless numbers later went among 
the graves and scratched up some of the dead 
soldiers. The place, therefore, became a great 
center for wolf hunting. 

Casting lots for Ferguson s personal effects 
as souvenirs of the battle, Captain Joseph Mc 
Dowell received his set of china dinner plates 
and a small coffee cup and saucer; Colonel 
Shelby got his silver whistle ; Colonel Camp 
bell was allotted his papers and correspond 
ence; Colonel Cleveland, who had lost his 
horse in the battle, was awarded his white 
horse, and his silken sash and his commission 
as lieutenant-colonel fell into the hands of 

After the burial of the dead and attention 
to the wounded of both armies, the victorious 
riflemen burnt the British tents and baggage- 
wagons and began to march in the direction of 
their homes. The prisoners trudged along on 
foot, bearing their own arms, care being taken 
to remove all the flints from the locks. They 
were at all times kept under a close guard, but 
they had been so cowed by their defeat that 
they felt it useless to attempt to escape. The 
victors pressed on as fast as possible, keeping 


near the mountains, for they feared an attack 
from Cornwallis. There was no danger, how 
ever, for Cornwallis was then retreating from 
Charlotte towards the coast. He had received 
one of the messages from Ferguson and had 
ordered Tarleton to go to his rescue; but, 
when he heard of the defeat at King s Moun 
tain and of the exaggerated number of the 
mountain victors, he quickly recalled Tarle 
ton and sought safety in retreat. 

On October I4th a halt was called and a 
court-martial held at Bickerstaff s Old Field in 
Rutherford County to try some of the prison 
ers for desertion and graver crimes. Some 
of the soldiers and commanders, still remem 
bering the unmerciful treatment which befell 
the unfortunate Americans while the British 
were in possession of the South, were burning 
for revenge. Thirty of the prisoners were 
brought under the gallows, and the work of 
execution commenced. After nine of these 
had been hanged, Sevier and Shelby inter 
fered and saved the lives of the remainder. 
Among the executed was Captain Grimes 
from Watauga, who, as we have seen, was the 
leader of a band of Tory kidnappers in the 
western settlements. 

/The army was now broken up. Nolichucky 
Jack and his braves hurried across the moun- 


tains to their homes, for they were expecting 
an Indian attack upon the Watauga settle 
ments, and Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland 
carried the remaining prisoners to Virginia. 
Passing through Hillsboro, they made an of 
ficial report of the battle to General Gates, 
who was there brooding over his own terrible 
defeat at Camden. The report must have 
cheered his broken spirit and animated his 
shattered forces now idle in their tents. 

On the arrival of the victorious riflemen at 
Watauga, there was much rejoicing. We may 
imagine the solemn mien of Doctor Doak as 
he greeted them with his benediction, for his 
earnest prayer had been fully answered in the 
victory at King s Mountain, which was, in the 
language of Thomas Jefferson, "the joyful 
enunciation of that turn in the tide of success, 
that terminated the Revolutionary War with 
the seal of our independence." 



UPON his return from King s Mountain, 
Colonel Sevier was not surprised to hear that 
the Indians were upon the war-path. He had 
not reached the settlements an hour too soon. 
The old Indian trader, Isaac Thomas, and an 
other trader, named Harlan, were there await 
ing his return; for they had had a message 
of warning from Nancy Ward. The country 
was alarmed, and the people from the remote 
cabins had left their homes and garnered crops, 
and fled to the forts for protection. On the 
march home, Colonel Sevier had sent Captain 
Russell in advance to hold the Indians in check 
in case they should attack the settlers before 
his return. Russell hurried across the moun 
tain and organized the militia to meet the ex 
pected invasion. 

Without a day s rest, Sevier again sprang 
into his saddle to lead a campaign against the 
Indians. He knew they had been armed by 
British agents, so he proposed to lose no time 
in discomfiting them. Notwithstanding the 


fact that he had been in the saddle almost day 
and night for more than three weeks, riding 
among the craggy peaks and dismal swamps 
without substantial food to eat, he started the 
first week in December, 1780, upon a march 
with over two hundred expert riflemen, ex 
pecting to meet Colonel Arthur Campbell of 
the Virginia border with his riflemen at the 
French Broad. 

On the second night of the march, he camped 
at Long Creek, Captain Guess being sent 
forward with scouts to look for Indians. 
Ascending a small knoll, the scouts found 
themselves face to face with a large band of 
Indians only forty yards distant. They fired 
upon the savages from their horses and gal 
loped back to camp with the tidings. The In 
dians returned the fire, but without effect. Se- 
vier prepared to receive a night attack. His 
soldiers lay on their arms, but were undis 
turbed. During the night the riflemen were 
joined by about seventy Wataugans who had 
come up by forced marching. Next morning 
the march was resumed, with spies in front, 
the army pursuing the Indians very cautiously, 
for fear of an ambush. They found the body 
of an Indian killed by the scouts the evening 
before. As it is the custom of the Indians to 
bear off their dead and \vounded, the Wau- 


taugans, were, therefore, fully convinced that 
the Indians had made a rapid retreat, and they 
pushed on with a more vigorous pursuit. They 
reached the French Broad; but, not finding 
Colonel Campbell as expected, crossed the 
river at Big Island and camped at Boyd s 

Early next morning the advance-guard un 
der Captain Stinson found, about three miles 
away, the place where the Indians had recently 
camped. Their camp-fires were still burning. 
As soon as Colonel Sevier was informed of 
the fact, he ordered his army to march to the 
front in three divisions, the center commanded 
by himself, the right wing by Major Jesse 
Walton, and the left wing by Major Jonathan 
Tipton. The scouts were ordered to fire upon 
the Indians when they discovered them and 
then retreat towards the main army to draw 
the enemy into ambush. By and by the sol 
diers, hearing vigorous firing in the distance, 
quickly formed in a half moon and concealed 
themselves in the grass and undergrowth. The 
stratagem worked well. The Indians followed 
the scouts furiously right into the center. Se- 
vier s men lay quiet till they were close, then 
broke their ranks with a destructive fire from 
the fatal Deckards. Walton s wing fell heavily 
upon the dusky fellows, but Tipton was too 


slow, and the panic-stricken warriors fled 
through the opening thus made to a dense 
swamp, and escaped. Not one of the soldiers 
was killed or even wounded, but several In 
dians fell. Many weapons and all of their 
plunder fell into the hands of the victors. Let 
ters from Sir Henry Clinton and other British 
officers were found in the captured bundles. 
This battle has ever since been known as the 
battle of Boyd s Creek. 

After this battle, Colonel Sevier led his men 
back to the French Broad and awaited the ar 
rival of Colonel Campbell and his men. His 
prompt action and swift movement had saved 
the settlements from an invasion. Had he 
waited for Colonel Campbell, the Indians by 
this time would have been in the settlements 
burning, slaying, and scalping. 

The Indians now concentrated their forces 
at the main ford of the Little Tennessee, one 
mile below Chota, where they expected the 
combined forces of the enemy would attempt 
to cross. But the army crossed at the lower 
ford. Climbing the opposite bank, one of the 
horsemen saw a large party of Indians sta 
tioned on a high place watching their move 
ments. These soon retreated before the rifle 
men and disappeared from view. The army, 
after crossing the river, separated into two 


divisions and burned Chota, Chilhowee, and 
other towns along the streams. The Indians 
fled before the cavalry, and the hungry troops 
feasted upon the corn, beans, pumpkins, and 
other things which the fleeing Indians had left. 

While it was destroying the Indian wig 
wams, Nancy Ward met the army with a mes 
sage from Watts and Noonday, who begged 
for peace. But Campbell and Sevier wished 
first to reduce to ashes all the Hiawassee vil 
lages. On their way to these villages, they 
frequently skirmished with the Indians, sev 
eral of whom were killed. In one skirmish 
Captain Elliot was killed. His body was bur 
ied at Tellico beneath a hut, which was burned 
down over his grave to hide it from the In 
dians. The Hiawassee villages were burned, 
the cattle killed, and the grain supplies de 

Although the Indian country had been laid 
waste, their towns burned, their food supplies 
destroyed, many of their braves killed, and 
many of their w r omen and children captured, 
and although the old chiefs, John Watts and 
Noon Day, had sued for peace, the young 
warriors showed no disposition to discontinue 
their warfare. Such stubborn conduct caused 
Colonel Sevier, Colonel Campbell, and Joseph 
Martin to send to the chiefs and warriors the 


following appeal, signed at Kai-a-tee, January 
4, 1871: 

"Chiefs and warriors, we came into your 
country to fight your young men. We have 
killed many of them and destroyed your towns. 
You know you began the war by listening to 
the bad councils of the King of England and 
the falsehoods told you by his agents. We are 
now satisfied with what is done, as it may con 
vince your nation that we can distress you 
much at any time, when you are so foolish as 
to engage in war against us. If you desire 
peace, as we understand you do, we, out of 
pity to your women and children, are disposed 
to treat with you on that subject. 

"We, therefore, send you this by one of 
your young men, who is our prisoner, to tell 
you, if you are disposed to make peace, six 
of your head men must come to our agent, 
Major Martin, at the Great Island, within two 
moons, so as to give him time to meet them 
with a flag-guard, on Holston River, at the 
boundary line. To the wives and children of 
those men of your nation who protested 
against the war, if they are willing to take ref 
uge at the Great Island until peace is restored, 
\ve will give a supply of provisions to keep 
them alive. Warriors, listen attentively! If 
we receive no answer to this message until the 


time already mentioned expires, we shall then 
conclude that you intend to continue to be our 
enemies. We will then be compelled to send 
another strong force into your country, that 
will come prepared to remain in it, to take 
possession of it as a conquered country, with 
out making you any compensation for it." 

But the treaty was not made for some time 
after the "two moons," and the Indians con 
tinued to prowl and murder in the settlements. 

Sevier felt that the warriors of the towns he 
had just destroyed would not be so soon on 
the war-path without the help of some other 
tribe, and he suspected the Cherokees living 
high up in the mountains to be the cause of 
the continued hostilities, and at once resolved 
to carry the war to their mountain towns. 
The undertaking was hazardous. The distance 
was about one hundred and fifty miles, and the 
trail wound about through the deep, rugged 
defiles and up the craggy peaks of the highest 
mountains east of the Mississippi. Sevier se 
lected about one hundred and thirty choice 
riflemen and began the march. None of the 
soldiers had ever been in the mountain towns. 
The faithful old trader, Isaac Thomas, the 
only man in the settlements who had ever been 
among the towns of the mountain Indians, 
acted as guide, but even he had never been 


over the route they were to travel. He al 
ways ascended the mountain from another 
side. Indeed, it is doubtful if any white man 
ever tried the region through which their 
route ran. It was so exceedingly wild and 
rugged that it had been secure from the in 
vasion of the most adventurous hunter. The 
mountain streams w r ere apt to be swollen from 
snow and rain at this season of the year. 

Colonel Sevier followed the French Broad, 
crossed the Ivy and the Swannanoa, two swift 
streams dashing into the French Broad, and 
climbed the mountain heights. The trail was 
at times so steep and rugged that his men had 
to dismount and help their horses up. By and 
by the little army reached the neighborhood 
of the Indians, and the old trader s services 
were in requisition. He guided the army to 
Tuckasejah, a village on the headwaters of 
the Little Tennessee. Sevier fell upon this 
village with his usual swift dashing charge and 
soon reduced it to a heap of smoldering em 
bers. He carried fire and sword to their other 
villages with the same vigorous energy, spar 
ing neither homes nor food, the Indians flee 
ing panic-stricken. Many of their bravest war 
riors were slain, and fifty women and children 
were taken prisoners. His work now done, 
Sevier resumed the line of march and disap- 


peared in the mountains with his captives as 
suddenly as he had appeared. Returning by 
the same route by which they had come, the 
little army reached their homes after an ab 
sence of twenty-nine days, having accom 
plished the most remarkable campaign in the 
history of our Indian warfare. Colonel Se- 
vier kept ten of the prisoners for three years 
and then exchanged them for white prisoners. 

Settlers had followed close on the heels of 
Sevier s campaigns, and this enraged the In 
dians and caused them very frequently to at 
tack the cabins of the advanced settlers. Dur 
ing the summer of 1781, a party of Cherokees 
attacked the new settlement on Indian Creek. 
Colonel Sevier took one hundred riflemen and 
went down to put an end to the struggle. He 
struck the trail of the Indians and managed 
to surround them by his quick movements and, 
without the loss of a single man, killed seven 
teen of their braves and drove the remainder 
into retreat. 

Scarcely had the troops reached their homes 
from the Indian campaign and disbanded, 
when a messenger came to Sevier s home with 
a dispatch from General Greene. The dispatch 
was dated September 16, 1781, and urged 
Sevier to cross the mountains and help cut off 
the retreat of Cornwallis, in case he should 


attempt to make his way back to Charleston. 
The message had been a long time in reaching 
its destination, and Sevier lost no time in re 
sponding to its call. Collecting two hundred 
mounted riflemen, he crossed the mountains 
for another swoop upon the British. Reach 
ing Charlotte, North Carolina, he learned of 
the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, a 
surrender which virtually closed the war. 

General Greene now suggested that Sevier 
join General Francis Marion in driving the 
British general, Stuart, into Charleston. Al 
ways eager for action, Sevier and his men 
sprang into their saddles and were soon with 
the " Swamp Fox " at Davis s Ferry, on the 
Santee. The arrival of the over-mountain 
men gave encouragement to General Marion 
and swelled his little army into a splendid 
body of cavalry with which he could now in 
flict a blow upon the enemy. 

Stuart was at a place called " Ferguson s 
Swamp," on the public highway leading to 
Charleston. Marion crossed over to the south 
side of the Santee and advanced towards the 
enemy. Having learned that several hundred 
Hessian soldiers, stationed at Monk s Corner, 
about ten miles beyond the camp of Stuart, 
were in a state of mutiny, he sent a detach 
ment of about five hundred of the best rifle- 


men, among whom were Sevier and Shelby 
with their best marksmen, under the com 
mand of Colonel Mayhem to capture the Hes 

Leaving the main army of the enemy a 
short distance to the left, the riflemen in May 
hem s charge pressed rapidly through the 
woods and swamps, and on the evening of the 
second day s ride got within about two miles 
of Monk s Corner. The riflemen threw them 
selves across the public road and slept on their 
arms in order to cut off the retreat of the Hes 
sians in case they should attempt in the night 
to escape to Charleston. Early in the morn 
ing, Mayhem sent in a demand for surrender, 
but the British commander declared that he 
would defend his post at all hazards, where 
upon Shelby decided to take in person the sec 
ond demand for surrender. So, taking his 
flag of truce, he advanced to the fort and in 
formed the commander that if he was so mad 
as to allow his post to be stormed, every one 
of his men would be put to the sword. He 
further told him that several hundred of the 
over-mountain riflemen were at hand and 
would soon be upon them with tomahawks. 
The British officer then asked if the riflemen 
had any artillery? Shelby said, "We have 
guns that will blow you to atoms in a minute ! " 


In a calmer tone the British officer said, " I 
suppose I must surrender," and threw open 
the gate of the fort. 

While taking charge of the prisoners at 
Monk s Corner, the riflemen saw another 
British post. It was a large brick house, five 
or six hundred yards east of them, enclosed 
within a strong abatis, and in it were about 
one hundred soldiers and fifty dragoons, who 
could have defended themselves easily. Re 
sorting to strategy, some of the soldiers dis 
mounted and marched in, as infantry, while 
others, as a body of cavalry, rode boldly up to 
the house and demanded surrender. The fort 
was surrendered without the crack of a rifle; 
and, in addition to the prisoners, three hun 
dred stands of arms fell into the hands of the 
riflemen. Ninety prisoners were carried be 
hind the horsemen to Marion s camp, but the 
officers and men who were unable to march |o 
far were paroled. 

Stuart tried to recapture the prisoners and 
advanced to the outer edge of the swamp 
which surrounded Marion s camp. Sevier and 
Shelby were sent out to skirmish with him and 
lure him into the swamp for a fight, but, 
hearing that the over-mountain men were in 
the swamp with Marion, he retreated in dis 
order nearly to the gates of Charleston. 


The British cooped up in Charleston, and 
civil government once more restored to South 
Carolina, Sevier and his men set out for their 
homes west of the Alleghanies, for they knew 
not at what hour the Indians would again be 
upon the war-path. When they reached their 
homes, they found affairs in a ferment. Some 
Tories from the Carolinas had escaped the 
vengeance of the Whigs, and were among the 
Chickamaugas, inciting them to open hostili 
ties. Settlers kept crossing the French Broad 
and building cabins. The Indians had sent 
complaints to Governor Martin, and he wrote 
Sevier about the matter. " Sir," he wrote, 
" I am distressed with the repeated complaints 
of the Indians respecting the daily intrusions 
of our people on their lands beyond the 
French Broad. I beg you, sir, to prevent the 
injuries these savages justly complain of, who 
are constantly imploring the protection of the 
State, and appealing to its justice in vain." 

Another appeal was made to the Governor 
by the old chief, Tassel. The appeal was as 
follows, a "talk," full of pathos not common 
to the Indians : 

" Brother, I am now going to speak to you. 
I hope you will listen to me. A string. I in 
tended to come this fall and see you, but there 
was such confusion in our country, I thought 


it best for me to stay at home, and send my 
talks by our friend Colonel Martin, who 
promises to deliver them safe to you. We are 
a poor, distressed people, in great trouble, and 
\ve hope our elder brother will take pity on us 
and do us justice. Your people from Noli- 
chucky are daily pushing us out of our lands. 
We have no place to hunt on. Your people 
have built houses within one day s walk of 
our towns. We don t want to quarrel with our 
elder brothers; we, therefore, hope our elder 
brother will not take our lands from us, that 
the Great Man above gave us. He made you 
and he made us ; we are all his children, and 
we hope our elder brother will take pity on us, 
and not take our lands from us because he is 
stronger than we are. We are the first people 
that ever lived on this land. It is ours, and 
why will our elder brother take it from us? 
It is true, some time past, the people over the 
great water persuaded some of our young men 
to do some mischief to our elder brother, 
\vhich our principal men were sorry for. But 
you, our elder brothers, came to our towns 
and took satisfaction, and then sent for us to 
come and treat with you, which we did. Then 
our elder brother promised to have the line 
run between us agreeably to the first treaty, 
and all that should be found over the line 


should be moved off. But it is not done yet. 
We have done nothing to offend our elder 
brother since the last treaty and why shcuM 
our elder brother want to quarrel with us? 
We have sent to the Governor of Virginia on 
the same subject. We hope that, between you 
both, you will take pity on your younger 
brother, and send Colonel Sevier, who is a 
good man, to have all your people moved off 
our lands." 

Old Tassel did not express the feelings of 
the Cherokees and Chickamaugas as a whole. 
At the very moment he was making his piteous 
appeals to his "elder brother," the Chicka 
maugas were raiding in the settlements as far 
up as Virginia. Hence, instead of obeying 
the Governor s order by pulling down the set 
tlers cabins, Sevier was again compelled to 
take up arms against the Indians. He col 
lected one hundred men from his county, and 
was joined by nearly as many from Sullivan 
County under Colonel Anderson. All the 
troops came together at Big Island, on the 
French Broad. After a few days march 
ing in the direction of the enemy, they 
crossed the Tennessee at Citico, where they 
met a large number of Indians, among whom 
were Hanging Maw and John Watts. All the 
chiefs and warriors in council agreed to re- 


main on friendly terms, and John Watts even 
went with the riflemen to assist in peace nego 
tiations with the whole nation. 

After crossing the Hiawassee, the soldiers 
entered the territory of the hostile Chicka- 
matigas. They soon destroyed the Lookout 
towns and pushed on to the Coosa River, burn 
ing the towns and slaying the warriors. Then, 
leaving the smoldering embers of the deso 
lated country, the Wataugans set out for their 
homes. At Chota they held another council 
with the friendly Indians. After listening to 
their peace talks and smoking the pipe of 
peace with the chiefs and warriors, Sevier and 
his army went quietly to their homes. 

For a time the Wataugans engaged in peace 
ful pursuits. Land offices were opened, and 
immigrants of wealth and culture crossed the 
mountains to seek new homes; the forts were 
deserted, larger and more comfortable houses 
were built for the settler, gristmills and saw 
mills were built along the streams, and schools 
and church buildings were erected wherever 
the people had need of them. Jonesboro was 
fast becoming a center of wealth and political 
influence. A large log court-house twenty- four 
feet square was built. With the increase of 
population and the execution of the law, open 
ings were made for the doctor and the lawyer. 


For a while peace and happiness dwelt in the 
rustic homes, and the people were free to en 
gage in their sports of horse-racing, and to 
attend their log-rollings and quilting-bees with 
out fear of danger. 

The war of the Revolution had closed with 
the surrender of the British at Yorktown, fol 
lowed by the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 
1783, \vhereby England acknowledged the in 
dependence of the colonies on the North 
American continent. There was as yet no 
" United States," but only a confederation of 
States of which North Carolina was one, and 
one having a poorly defined western border. 



IN June, 1784, the Legislature of North 
Carolina passed an act ceding to the Continen 
tal Congress all of what is now Tennessee. In 
other words, the parent State was giving its 
western lands to pay its share of the recent 
war debts, which were very heavy. The rep 
resentatives from the four western counties 
Washington, Sullivan, Greene, and Cumber 
land were present and voted for the cession. 
Congress was given two years in which to ac 
cept or reject the gift. During this time, how 
ever, the jurisdiction of North Carolina was 
to continue in force. 

North Carolina had always neglected her 
western citizens, and a general feeling now 
prevailed that they would suffer greater neg 
lect and would be exposed to lawlessness and 
Indian depredations for two years. No offi 
cers had been appointed to call out the militia 
in time of danger, and the people felt that the 
time had come for them to act upon their own 
authority. So they assumed the task of devis- 


ing a government of their own. Each military 
company of the three eastern counties elected 
two delegates to a convention which was to 
adopt a plan for a new commonwealth. This 
convention was held at Jonesboro, August 23, 
1784. Sevier was chosen president. The 
delegates were unanimously in favor of a sepa 
ration from North Carolina, and passed a 
resolution declaring themselves independent. 
A- large crowd thronged the street in front of 
the little building in which the convention was 
sitting, anxiously awaiting the result of the 
deliberations. As soon as the resolution was 
passed, it was announced to the crowd and was 
received with hearty applause. It was further 
agreed that another convention be held at 
Jonesboro September 16, for the purpose 
of forming a constitution and giving a name 
to the new State. This convention was made 
up of five men elected from each of the same 
three counties. For some reason the conven 
tion did not meet until November, and by that 
time two factions had arisen in the ranks of 
the seceders. One faction wished to act at 
once; the other was in favor of waiting awhile 
longer in hopes that matters would right them 
selves in the end. Sevier belonged to the latter 
class. In the meantime, having heard of the 
bold intention of the settlers, the Assembly of 


North Carolina met at Newbern, October 
22, 1784, and repealed the cession act, cre 
ated the people a new judicial district, ap 
pointed an assistant Judge and an Attorney- 
General for the Supreme Court, formed the 
militia into a brigade, and appointed Colonel 
Sevier brigadier-general. 

Sevier himself felt that there was now no 
need of going further in the secession move 
ment. On December 14, 1784, when the 
people were assembled at Jonesboro, he made 
a short speech on the action taken at New 
bern by the Assembly. " Our grievances/ said 
he, " are redressed, and we have nothing more 
to complain of; my advice is to cease all ef 
forts to separate from North Carolina, but 
remain firm and faithful to her laws." But 
the people were more determined on secession 
than Sevier fancied, and on the very day he 
made his address, the five delegates from each 
county met in convention at Jonesboro. Se 
vier was again chosen to preside over the con 
vention. After he was conducted to the chair, 
the Reverend Samuel Houston arose and 
addressed the convention on the object of their 
meeting, and offered a prayer that they might 
receive counsel and wisdom from on high in 
the undertakings in which they were then en 
gaged. A constitution for a new State was 


submitted and agreed upon, subject to the rati 
fication of a convention to be chosen by the 
people to meet at Greeneville November 14, 
1785. Before adjourning, the convention took 
action for the immediate election of all the 
State officials as provided for in the constitu 

Soon after the election, the Legislature met 
and chose General Sevier Governor. Landon 
Carter was chosen Speaker of the Senate and 
Thomas Talbot, Clerk; William Cage was 
chosen Speaker of the House of Commons 
and Thomas Chapman, Clerk. David Camp 
bell, who was elected Judge of the Supreme 
Court, was to be aided in his courts by two as 
sistant judges, Joshua Gist and John Ander 
son. At this session of the Legislature, four 
new counties were created, and many acts were 
passed for the good of the country, among 
which was one " for the promotion of learning 
in the County of Washington." In accord 
ance with this last act, Doctor Doak established 
his school, the first academy founded in the 
Mississippi Valley. Doak was a graduate of 
Princeton College, as before stated, and he 
became a famous teacher. His school build 
ing was a plain log house built upon his own 

The currency was rudely fixed, the value of 


the dollar being rated at six shillings. Money 
was scarce, and a scale of prices was fixed 
upon almost everything raised or manufactured 
by the backwoodsmen. The skins of animals 
constituted the common currency, and were 
made a legal tender. The salaries of the State 
officers, taxes, marriage licenses, in fact every 
thing, could be paid in skins or the commod 
ities rated by the Legislature. 

Governor Sevier wrote the Governor of 
North Carolina, informing him in a friendly 
manner of the action of the western settlers 
and giving all the reasons for such actions. 
The Governor of North Carolina replied in a 
public letter, using his strongest arguments to 
refute Sevier s vindication of the secession. 
He firmly declared that the revolting people 
must return to the parent State, or be brought 
back by force of arms. He further stated that 
North Carolina would consent to the forming 
of a new State at the proper time, but the 
time, he argued, was not at hand for such an 

The authorities of the new government next 
sent a memorial to Congress by the Honor 
able William Cocke, setting forth the condi 
tion of the western people and asking to be re 
ceived by the Federal Union as a State, but 
Congress turned a deaf ear to their petition. 


To make the situation more trying, an unfor 
tunate incident occurred at this time in the 
Indian country which exposed the people to 
further Indian depredations and called forth 
graver censure from North Carolina. An In 
dian chief, Untoola, was killed by Col. James 

The circumstances of the homicide were 
these: a large inflow of immigrants had con 
sumed nearly all the corn of the settlements, 
and Colonel Hubbard and a companion had 
gone to the Indian country to buy corn. 
Hubbard s parents and brothers and sisters 
had all been murdered by a band of Shaw- 
nees, and he had ever since been an enemy 
to the Indian race. He had doubtless killed 
more Cherokees than any other white man. 
In one of these furious combats, he had 
unhorsed the chief Untoola, better known 
among the white men as Butler. Butler had 
become so disgraced in his nation on account 
of his defeat that he yearned to kill Hubbard. 
So, as soon as he learned of the Colonel s visit 
to his country, he took with him a warrior and 
galloped off to meet Hubbard in the woods. 
The warriors met Hubbard and his companion 
walking and leading their horses. Butler rode 
up and demanded the object of their visit. 
" As the war is over," answered Hubbard, 


"we have brought some clothing which we 
desire to barter for corn." Then he showed 
the Indians the contents of one sack and drew 
out a bottle of whiskey, which he offered them. 
To convince the Indians of his peaceable in 
tentions, he had leaned his gun against a tree. 
He then inquired about corn, but Butler gave 
him no answer. The savage countenance of 
the old warrior betrayed his wicked intentions. 
He turned his horse about, as if he intended to 
make a dash between Hubbard and his gun, 
or else to get the white men in line so as to 
kill them both at a single shot. But Hubbard s 
eagle eyes were fixed upon the maneuvers of 
the chief; he dared not take up his gun, as 
that would be regarded as a breach of the 
peace and renewal of war. However, he 
reached his hand to the muzzle of his gun, 
leaving the breach upon the ground, and 
awaited the attack. Whirling his horse around, 
Butler aimed a blow at Hubbard with his gun, 
but missed him. Angered at his failure, the 
chief then quickly fired at Hubbard, the ball 
cutting off a thick lock of his hair and stun 
ning him slightly. Both Indians retreated so 
rapidly that they got eighty yards away be 
fore Hubbard could recover himself and fire. 
But he took sure aim, and at the crack of his 
rifle, the old chief tumbled to the ground fa- 


tally wounded. He begged to be let alone, but 
allowed Hubbard to lift him up against a tree 
so he could breathe easier. On being asked 
if his nation was for peace, the old chief said, 
" No. They are for war, and if you go any 
further they will take your hair!" To this 
Hubbard answered that the Indians would be 
beaten if they again went to war with the 
white men. " It is a lie, it is a lie," said the 
chief. Hubbard then finished him with a blow 
from his heavy rifle. Meanwhile, Hubbard s 
companion had his attention so fixed on the 
combat with the chief that he let the other In 
dian escape. Hubbard highly censured him 
for such conduct for he knew the fleeing In 
dian would soon break the news of Butler s 
death, and then the Indians would fall heavily 
upon the settlers for revenge. 

On being fully informed of the secession 
movement at Watauga, the Governor of North 
Carolina issued a manifesto to the western 
counties, urging the people to return to the 
parent State. Governor Sevier issued a coun 
ter manifesto to his people, urging them to 
stand their ground firmly. He endeavored to 
refute every argument of Governor Martin s 
manifesto. In November, 1785, the consti 
tutional convention met at Greeneville as or 
dered to ratify or reject the constitution which 


had been submitted by Samuel Houston at 
Jonesboro in November of the previous year. 
The Commons met in the log court-house ; the 
Senate, in a room of the town tavern. There 
was bitter rivalry between the parties new 
headed by Sevier and John Tipton. Tipton s 
faction was in favor of the constitution sub 
mitted by Houston. This constitution called 
the new State " The Commonwealth of Frank 
lin," and it provided that no person was eligi 
ble to office, unless he believed in the Bible, 
in the Trinity, and in heaven and hell. It 
further provided that clergymen, doctors, and 
lawyers should not be allowed to hold office. 
This strange constitution was rejected, and, 
on motion of Sevier, a constitution modeled 
after that of North Carolina was adopted. 
The new commonwealth was called " The State 
of Franklin," in honor of Benjamin Franklin, 
and Greeneville \vas made the capital. 

The affairs of the new State ran well for 
more than a year, but early in 1786 Tipton and 
his party boldly espoused the cause of North 
Carolina. They held elections for represen 
tatives and local officers, and reestablished the 
laws of the mother State. Grave were the con 
ditions that followed. Both parties held 
courts, and each was in turn broken up by 
armed men of the other party. Often the men 


fought each other savagely. On one occasion 
Sevier and Tipton themselves engaged in a 
fist fight, but their friends interfered and pre 
vented any serious injuries. Matters grew 
from bad to worse, and many people were 
getting tired of such civil strife. The Legis 
lature of North Carolina took advantage of 
the situation and passed an act declaring that 
the western counties would at the proper time 
be erected into an independent State if they 
would return to their allegiance and wait. A 
free pardon was offered to all who would re 
turn. Many did return, but the majority still 
stood firm. 

The neighboring States watched eagerly the 
steps taken by the Franks, most of them hop 
ing that their downfall might soon come, as 
their success might encourage similar revolts 
in their own western borders. Benjamin 
Franklin had been informed of the movement, 
and his advice was asked. He expressed his 
appreciation of the honor conferred upon him 
by naming the new State after him, but his ad 
vice, like the oracles of the Greeks, was given 
in vague terms. The old philosopher knew 
very little of the real story of the western 

Learning of the wild confusion and the fre 
quent combats between the two factions of 


Franklin, Evan Shelby attempted to restore 
quiet. Even his stern efforts brought no 
change. He advised that North Carolina raise 
one thousand militia to force the Franks into 
submission, but the Governor of North Caro 
lina opposed such a rash plan. Then Sevier 
persuaded the Governor of Georgia to appeal 
to the sympathies of the Executive of North 
Carolina in behalf of the Franks, but these ef 
forts accomplished nothing. The friendly 
spirit evinced by a manifesto issued by Gov 
ernor Caswell successor of Martin caused 
the people one by one to return to the citizen 
ship of North Carolina. The Legislature of 
Franklin met for the last time in September, 
1787. Matters had reached such a dangerous 
condition that the citizens of Franklin could 
not hold an election. It soon became evident 
that nothing could be done except by force of 
arms, and Governor Sevier had not the heart 
to resort to arms. His term of office expired 
in March, 1788, and with the expiration of his 
office the ill-fated State of Franklin collapsed. 
The state of affairs was a grievous one to 
the brave Governor. At first he had advised 
the people against the establishment of the 
new State; but, upon finding them determined 
to revolt, he had cast his lot with them and 
determined to use his utmost energy for main- 


taining an independent State. Upon the fall 
of the little State of Franklin, he doubtless felt 
that his dearest friends had forsaken him, but 
they had not. The people probably thought 
that, as he had advised them not to revolt in 
the beginning, he would now return to his old 
allegiance to North Carolina. But they were 
certainly in error as to their notion of what he 
would do. 

North Carolina, regarding Governor Sevier 
as guilty of treason, issued a writ against his 
estate about the time his term of office expired. 
His slaves on his farm at Nolichucky were 
seized by the sheriff and carried to Tipton s 
house on Sinking Creek for safe-keeping. Se 
vier was at this time on the frontiers of Greene 
County taking action for the defense of the 
inhabitants against a threatened invasion of 
the Indians. Hearing of the act, he at once 
raised one hundred and fifty men, and with his 
characteristic promptness marched to Tipton s 
house to rescue his slaves. It was in the cold 
winter days of February when he reached Tip- 
ton s cluster of log buildings on Sinking Creek. 
A few days before Tipton had sent a number 
of his men to capture Sevier, and he had now 
only time enough to call in about fifteen men 
to guard his house and defend the slaves. 

It was in the afternoon when Sevier halted 


in a swamp two or three hundred yards from 
the house. He had brought a small cannon 
with him and this he planted in front of the 
house. Having moved his force to this small 
battery, he sent in a demand for surrender. 
Doubtless preferring death to an honorable 
surrender to Sevier, Tipton would not yield, 
and sent back the reply, " Fire and be 
damned ! " He was so angry he \vould per 
mit no correspondence with Sevier. 

The next day, the weather being rather icy, 
Tipton s wrath cooled down a little, and he al 
lowed one of his own men, Colonel Love, to 
carry on a paper war w r ith Sevier. Love ad 
dressed his letter to Colonel Sevier, carefully 
ignoring General Sevier s official title. In re 
ply, General Sevier stated that Colonel Sevier 
was not in camp, meaning of course his brother 
Valentine, who bore that title. Night com 
ing on, the correspondence ended. Sevier s 
men moved back to their camp-fires, and Tip- 
ton hurried out messengers for help. Next day 
some of Sevier s men stationed themselves 
upon a bluff within shooting distance of the 
house. During the day a few men joined 
Tipton. The following night, Robert Love, 
with a single companion, went to his own 
neighborhood for help. On the way he met 
his brother Thomas and about a dozen other 


men on their way to join Tipton. He warned 
them of the guard stationed on the bluff near 
the road. Before it was yet daylight, Love 
rode his horse ahead of his men, but was not 
hailed. When he reached the bluff, he found 
it unguarded. The night was excessively cold, 
and the guards had gone to warm themselves 
a few minutes by the camp-fires. Love hur 
ried back to his men with the news and then, 
raising a whoop w r hich rent the air, they dashed 
with full speed to Tipton s house. Major 
Elholm, second in command to General Se- 
vier, proposed the erection of a light movable 
battery, under cover of which the soldiers 
could reach the walls of the house. In the 
meantime, some of the soldiers fired upon the 
men passing into and out of the house, killing 
one and wounding another. At last the morn 
ing of the 28th of February, 1788, began to 
dawn. The weather was cold, and the snow 
fell thick and fast. Several men under the 
command of a man named Maxwell arrived 
and marched cautiously within gunshot of Se- 
vier s camp and waited for daylight. 

Notwithstanding the fast falling snow and 
the cold gales which swept from the north, 
Sevier s men, at the break of day, filed out to 
attack Tipton s men. Maxwell s troops fired 
a volley and raised a deafening shout. The 


men in the house, knowing that deliverance 
was at hand, sent up another shout which filled 
Sevier s shivering, half-clad troops with ter 
ror, and caused them to flee pell-mell into the 
woods. The sheriff of Washington County 
was mortally wounded. The cannon of Se 
vier s battery fell into the hands of Tipton, 
and many of the Franks were taken prison 
ers, among them two of Sevier s sons, James 
and John. Tipton declared that he would 
hang them both. Learning of Tipton s threat, 
the two boys sent for Mr. Thomas and others 
with whom they were on good terms, and 
asked them to appease the wrath of Tipton 
and save their lives. These men went at once 
to Tipton and pleaded their cause well. They 
pictured to him the wretchedness of his own 
sons, whom he supposed to be in the hands of 
Sevier and about to be hanged for deeds im 
puted to himself, their father. With tears 
streaming down his cheeks, Tipton declared 
that he was too womanish for any manly of 
fice, and refrained from carrying out his 

Maxwell s men did not pursue Sevier s men 
more than two hundred yards. It was indeed 
a curious kind of warfare, not often met with 
in history, and seems ludicrous though it is 
significant of the conditions in those frontier 


settlements. The casualties were probably the 
result of accident. It was a sham battle in 
which Sevier tried to regain his slaves from 
Tipton. Although shamefully mistreated and 
insulted by the acts of Tipton, Sevier did not 
go there to shed blood. He could easily 
have taken Tipton on the day of his arrival, 
and his little battery could have blown the 
houses to pieces. " We did not go there ta 
fight," said Doctor Taylor, who was there 
during the siege, " neither party intended to 
do that. Many on both sides were unarmed, 
and some who had guns did not even load 
them. Most of us went to prevent mischief, 
and did not intend to let the neighbors kill 
one another. Our men shot into the air, and 
Sevier s men into the corner of the house. As 
to the storms of snow keeping the men from 
taking sure aim, it is all a mistake. Both sides 
had the best marksmen in the world, men who 
had often killed a deer, and shot it in the head, 
too, when a heavier snow was falling. The 
men did not try to hit anybody. They could 
easily have done so if they had been enemies." 
Forebodings of this curious battle might 
have been read in the face of John Sevier as 
he had sat the previous night in grim silence 
by his camp-fire. He had often drawn his 
sword for his country and triumphed over his 


enemy, but to draw his sword against his fel 
low-citizens was more than he had a heart to 
do. " The men under his command," says 
Doctor Ramsey, "exhibited the same altered 
behavior. In all their campaigns, order and 
enthusiasm attended the march, care and vigi 
lance the bivouac, the mirthful song and the 
merry jests were heard in every tent. On 
these occasions it was the custom of Sevier to 
visit every mess and to participate in their 
hilarity. He spoke of the enemies and dan 
ger before, and friends and homes behind 
them. He was the companion and friend and 
idol of his soldiery. But now the camp of 
the Governor of Franklin was dreary and 
cheerless. No merry laugh was heard nor 
song nor jest. Little care and less vigilance 
was taken in placing out the sentinels. Sevier 
was silent, appeared abstracted, thoughtful, 
and, at this time only in his whole public life, 
morose and ascetic. Elholm s vivacity failed 
to arouse him. He communicated little to that 
officer; he said nothing to his men. He took 
no precaution, suggested no plan, either of at 
tack or defence." 

Had Tipton had the feeling of brotherly 
love which throbbed in the sympathetic heart 
of John Sevier, they could have met without 
the flag of truce and grasped each other s 


hands in mutual friendship, forgetting all the 
struggles of the little State of Franklin. Tip- 
ton was at first a strong advocate of the 
Franklin movement, but, when he found that 
Sevier was determined to cast his life and for 
tune with the lot of his friends and com 
rades, he espoused the cause of North Caro 
lina, and did all in his power to undermine 
Sevier and cause his downfall, for he knew 
that Sevier was the idol of the people. 



SLOWLY, listlessly, and sadly, Sevier and his 
men wended their way toward their homes as 
if they were in a funeral procession. He 
doubtless felt that as many of his best friends 
had turned their backs upon the State of 
Franklin, they had also lost their friendship 
for him as well. In this, however, he was mis 
taken, as we shall see. And then, too, he was 
returning home without his slaves, which cir 
cumstance bore heavily upon his melancholy 
feelings. But while he trudged along, nurs 
ing his grief, messengers from the border set 
tlements rode up and apprised him of a re 
cent uprising of the Indians, and urged him to 
hurry to the defense of the settlers. The 
weight of despondency at once fell from him. 
" In a moment," says Doctor Ramsey, " Sevier 
was himself again, elastic, brave, energetic, 
daring, and patriotic. At the head of a body 
of mounted riflemen he was at once upon the 
frontier to guard and protect its most defence 
less points." 



While Sevier was on the border defending 
the settlers, his enemies were accusing him of 
deeds which he never committed, of crimes of 
which he never dreamed, of intentions which 
never entered his mind. These misrepresenta 
tions, so numerous and base, were not long in 
reaching Governor Johnson of North Caro 
lina. He wrote to General Martin, an enemy 
of Sevier s in the western settlements, these 
words: "Sevier, from the state of his con 
duct set forth in your letter, appears to be in 
corrigible, and I fear we shall have no peace 
in your quarter till he is proceeded against to 
the last extremity." Governor Johnson was a 
good man and supposed the news he was re 
ceiving to be true. 

But however he might be slandered, Sevier 
was still popular among the western settlers 
and their chief dependence in the hour of dan 
ger. We see him now on the frontier calling 
out the bordermen and leading them to battle 
as one having authority. From Major Hous 
ton s Station, he and James Hubbard issued 
this address " to the inhabitants in general," 
on July 8th, 1788: 

" Yesterday we crossed Tennessee with a 
small party of men, and destroyed a town 
called Toquo. On our return we discovered 
large trails of Indians making their way to- 


wards the place. We are of the opinion their 
numbers could not be less than five hundred. 
We beg leave to recommend that every sta 
tion be on their guard; that also, every good 
man that can be spared will voluntarily turn 
out and repair to this place, with the utmost 
expedition, in order to tarry for a few days 
in the neighborhood and repel the enemy, if 
possible. We intend waiting at this place some 
days with the few men now with us, as we 
can not reconcile it to our own feelings to leave 
a people who appear to be in such great dis 

In the month of May the Indians massacred 
John Kirk s family, which lived on the south 
west side of Little River, twelve miles south 
of Knoxville. Mr. Kirk was absent from his 
home, and an Indian by the name of Slim 
Tom, well known to the family, came into the 
cabin and asked for food. Mrs. Kirk thought 
the Indian was still friendly and gave him the 
food and he departed. But he had come as a 
spy. After a short time he returned with a 
band of Indians who had been hiding in the 
woods and massacred the whole family, eleven 
in all, leaving their mangled bodies in the yard. 
When Mr. Kirk and his eldest son returned, 
they at once sounded the alarm in the neigh 
borhood and the bordermen gathered quickly 


to punish the Indians. At this time Joseph 
Martin was living among the Cherokees. He 
did not believe the Cherokees were responsi 
ble for all the crimes committed against the 
white men in the lower settlements. The 
Creeks and the Chickamaugas were generally 
the ones that stirred up the strife; but the 
white men suspected, of course, that the Chero 
kees were the guilty ones, as they lived clos 
est to the settlements. A council was held, 
and the Cherokees stated that the Creeks kept 
passing through their country to war on the 
white men and swore that they were not guilty 
of the crimes of which they had been accused. 
The outrages continued. While passing 
down the Tennessee, a large boat containing 
forty white men was captured by the Chicka 
maugas, and all but three of the white men 
were murdered. Martin left Chota on the 
24th of May and went to the French Broad 
to prevent mischief. There he found the 
militia gathered, with Sevier at their head, 
ready to invade the Indian country. Seeing 
this martial array, Martin deemed it useless 
to attempt further to prevent war. So he 
hurried back to Chota to look after his slaves 
and other property. Then Sevier made a dash 
through the Indian country with a hundred 
mounted men, destroyed a town on the Hia- 


wassee, and killed many of the Indians. His 
swift dashes carried the same work of destruc 
tion to a few other towns. 

But on one occasion the record of his brave 
riflemen was stained with crime. Abraham, 
a friendly Indian, and his son, remained in 
their cabin on the north bank of the Tennes 
see and openly declared that they would not 
go to war against the white men. When the 
troops came to the south bank, Hubbard sent 
for Abraham to come over the river to the 
troops. After he had crossed over, Hubbard 
sent him back after Corn Tassel, and others, 
stating that the white men wished to talk with 
them. Flags were held out to lure the In 
dians across. But, as soon as the Indians were 
crossed over, they were thrust into a house; 
and, during Sevier s absence, young Kirk, son 
of John Kirk, whose family had been mur 
dered by Slim Tom, entered the cabin and 
slew all the Indians with his tomahawk. When 
Sevier returned, he was enraged at this breach 
of faith and rebuked young Kirk severely. 
Kirk retorted that Sevier himself would have 
done the same if his family had been mur 
dered by the Indians. With no power as an 
officer, except to lead to battle, Sevier was un 
able to punish the boy. Most of the better 
class of the bordermen disapproved of this 


deed of Kirk, and some went so far as to for 
sake Sevier temporarily. The terror arising 
from Chucky Jack s raids and the news of the 
murder of the chiefs on the Tennessee, created 
such a panic among the Indians that many of 
them fled across the mountains to North Caro 
lina for food and protection. Some also 
joined the Chickamaugas. As soon as a much 
exaggerated report of the raid reached the 
Governor of North Carolina, he ordered Judge 
Campbell to issue a warrant for the arrest of 
Sevier, but, being a true friend of Sevier s, 
Campbell refused to issue the warrant. 

The Indians, especially the Chickamaugas 
and a few Cherokees, became desperately furi 
ous in their rage after the murder of their 
chiefs, and fell upon the frontier cabins. The 
people ran into the forts and relied upon Se 
vier to protect their lives and their homes. 
Martin had succeeded Shelby as commander 
of the militia and was the officer directed by 
North Carolina to put down the Indian up 
risings. But he was better with the use of his 
tongue than with his sword, and tried to keep 
the Indians quiet by talks. However, on one 
occasion, he led a body of militia into the 
Chickamauga country, near Chattanooga, 
burning a town or two, but he was worsted in 
a fight on Lookout Mountain. When he de- 


parted from the region, he was followed and 
harassed for a great distance by the bold 
Chickamaugas. Sevier was the only leader in 
the Southwest who could successfully wage 
war against these brutal savages. The other 
officers were slow and depended too much upon 
large forces. The Indians could commit their 
murders and be in their hiding places before 
their cumbrous armies could strike a blow. 
With a hundred or two of his riflemen, Sevier 
could dash through the forests with lightning 
speed and strike the savages with such force 
that they would flee in wild confusion in every 

After quelling the Indians, Sevier decided 
to return to his home. He had a true forgiv 
ing spirit and surely fancied he would be for 
given by a people he had so often saved from 
ruin. But it was not so. Judge Spencer, one 
of North Carolina s principal judges, who had 
recently held court at Jonesboro, had already 
ordered his arrest for high treason. Sevier 
appeared freely in all public places. With a 
few friends he entered Jonesboro. Here he 
found that Martin had been holding a coun 
cil with his militia officers, and that Tipton 
was there. The council was just breaking up 
as Sevier arrived. During the day he had an 
altercation with one Caldwell. After leaving 


the town, Sevier was followed by Caldwell, 
Tipton, and eight or ten others of like char 
acter. They went to the house where Colonel 
Love lodged and got him to go with them to 
Colonel Robertson s. Here Tipton had a close 
search made, as he expected to find Sevier 
concealed somewhere about the place. The 
night was far spent; and, failing to find the 
object of their search, they hurriedly set out 
to Widow Brown s home, reaching her house 
about sunrise. Mrs. Brown had just risen 
when Tipton and his men galloped up to her 
door. She knew Tipton well and doubtless an 
ticipated the object of his visit, for she sat 
down in the door-way to prevent his entering 
the house. The bustle between her and Tip- 
ton awoke Sevier, who slept near one end of 
the house. He sprang from his bed and looked 
through a key-hole in the door to see what the 
trouble was about. At a glance he understood 
it all. Seeing Colonel Love, he opened the 
door and held out his hand, saying, " I sur 
render to you," and Colonel Love led him to 
the place where Tipton was contending with 
Mrs. Brown for entrance into her house. 

On seeing Sevier, Tipton swore that he 
would hang him. Sevier was really afraid 
that he would be shot on the spot by the mad 
dened demagogue who held a pistol in his 


hand. But he finally calmed down and ordered 
Sevier to get his horse, for he was eager to 
be off with his prisoner to Jonesboro. At Se 
vier s request Colonel Love accompanied him 
to Jonesboro. On the way he requested the 
Colonel to use his influence to have him im 
prisoned at Jonesboro, instead of being sent 
so far across the mountains. Love did not ap 
prove of this. " Tipton," said he, " will place 
a strong guard around you there ; your friends 
will attempt a rescue, and bloodshed will be 
the result." Sevier assured Love that he 
would dissuade his friends from rash meas 
ures. It was a bitter trial to Sevier to be 
taken from his family and friends, without a 
just cause; but, under the circumstances, it 
was impossible to prevail upon his captors to 
yield to his request. 

When they reached Jonesboro, Tipton or 
dered hand-cuffs to be put on Sevier. This 
being done, he went a short distance with his 
prisoner and then left him in the custody of 
the deputy sheriff and two other men, George 
French and Gorley, with orders to carry him 
to Morganton or lower down, if necessary, and 
put him in jail. 

Colonel Love traveled with Sevier till late 
in the afternoon, then returned home. Before 
his departure, Sevier requested him to send 


word of his capture and imprisonment to 
"Bonny Kate," and to tell her to send him 
some money and clothes. There is a tradi 
tion that George French had orders from Tip- 
ton to kill Sevier and that, while on Iron 
Mountain, on their way to North Carolina, 
Gorley revealed the f)lot. On learning the in 
tentions of his captors, Sevier attempted to 
escape, but during the flight his horse got 
entangled in some trees and brush thrown 
down by a recent storm and could get no far 
ther. French pursued and fired his pistol in 
Sevier s face, doing no harm, however, except 
to burn his face with the powder. It appears 
that the ball had dropped out of the pistol in 
the pursuit. 

The officers moved down the mountain and 
in due time reached Morganton, where they 
delivered their prisoner to William Morrison, 
the sheriff of Burke County. Here Sevier 
was met by tw r o of his old friends, Generals 
Charles and Joseph McDowell, who became 
his bondsmen for his appearance at court, and 
he visited his brother-in-law, several miles 
from town. He made his visit and returned 
to the sheriff at Morganton on the second 
day after leaving. Sheriff Morrison had had 
the good fortune to share in the honors of 
King s Mountain, and of course was as lenient 


towards Sevier as he could be, consistent with 
his duty. 

The news of the capture and supposed im 
prisonment of Sevier had by this time spread 
among the western settlements, and the people 
there were excited and angry. They were fully 
determined to rescue him. They could see the 
State of Franklin fall, but they could not stand 
in silence and see such men as Tipton take 
their friend and imprison him on false 

The story of the rescue of Sevier has been 
told in different ways, colored more or less by 
tradition. One of them runs that he was res 
cued during his trial in court by his friends 
and sons who had brought his favorite race 
horse. When he understood the plot, he es 
caped from court, mounted his horse, and was 
soon out of reach of danger. This tale, how 
ever, is only romance, for there was no court 
in Morganton at this time. Sevier s son John 
was with the crowd that went to Morganton 
to secure his father s release, and has left a 
statement of the circumstances under which 
he made his escape, which is here printed for 
the first time : 

" Immediately after the fall campaign of 
1788, Colonel Sevier was arrested and taken 
to North Carolina. Gourley and French 


guarded him, and French shot at him. When 
they delivered their prisoner to the jailer at 
Morganton, who had fought at King s Moun 
tain, he knocked off the irons from his hands 
and told him to go where he pleased, not, how 
ever, to leave the place. Joseph Sevier, the 
Colonel s brother, John Sevier, Jr., (the in 
formant), George North, Doctor James Cozby, 
Jesse Green, and William Matlock went after 
the Colonel ; when within a few miles of Mor 
ganton, they stopped one night with Uriah 
Sherrill, brother-in-law to Colonel Sevier. 
from whom they learned that the Colonel was 
not confined and \vas treated with great len 
ity. Next morning they rode into town all to 
gether, no court sitting, the sheriff absent, went 
to a tavern, there found Colonel Sevier in 
company w r ith Major Joseph McDowell; told 
him frankly they had come for him and that 
he must go. After tarrying an hour or two, 
without any fear from the jailer or any one 
else, Colonel Sevier ordered his horse and all 
started off before noon, in the most open and 
public manner, and returned home. They did 
not know but the sheriff might possibly fol 
low them, when he heard of Colonel Sevier s 
return home, but he did not." 

The backwoodsmen were much rejoiced 
1 Draper MSS. 


over Sevier s return, and Tipton, aware of the 
hostile feeling along the frontier over his act, 
never again attempted to have him put in 

It may be remarked here that Andrew Jack 
son, 2 then a young lawyer about twenty-one 
years old, who had crossed the mountains 
riding his race-horse, a pair of holsters buckled 
across the front of his saddle, leading another 
horse on whose back was a shot-gun and a 
well filled pair of saddle-bags, and followed 
by a large pack of hounds, was at Jonesboro, 
just beginning his career. If he took any part 
either for or against Sevier, no mention is 
made of it in any of the records. 

Sevier was still technically an outlaw, but 
he was held in the highest esteem by all his 
neighbors, and, at the very first election, he 
was chosen to represent his district in the State 
Senate of North Carolina. No man dared to 
arrest him again for high treason, because all 
feared the vengeance of the backwoodsmen. 
In November, 1789, he went to Fayetteville, 
then the State capital, to take his seat. At 
first he was not allowed to take it, because the 
act offering pardon and oblivion to the Franks 
who returned as citizens of North Carolina ex 
pressly stated that it " should not entitle John 

2 Allison s " Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History." 


Sevier to the enjoyment of any office of profit, 
of honor or trust, in the State of North Caro 
lina." When Mr. Amy, from Hawkins 
County, introduced a resolution to withdraw 
the charges against Sevier, and to restore him 
to the full rights of citizenship, Tipton, who 
was also a member of the Legislature, opposed 
it so strongly that a personal encounter with 
Mr. Amy would have resulted had it not been 
for the intervention of friends. 

Colonel Roddy, from Greene County, cen 
sured Mr. Amy for using words so sarcastic 
as to offend Mr. Tipton, stating that he 
should be cautious to use such language as 
would " soothe his feelings." It was sug 
gested, and finally agreed, that Colonel Roddy 
continue the discussion the next day. But, 
as the story goes, the Colonel had not been 
upon the floor long till he had infuriated Tip- 
ton, who instantly sprang from his seat and 
seized him by the throat. Being amused at 
the turn of affairs, Amy chuckled out, 
" Soothe him, Colonel soothe him ! " We can 
only suppose that the Colonel did soothe him, 
for the resolution was passed and Mr. Sevier 
took his seat in the Senate of North Carolina. 
From this time on, Tipton s name seems to 
become less and less important, but that of 
"Nolichucky Jack" rises higher and higher. 


As soon as North Carolina ratified the Federal 
Constitution, in 1789, Sevier was elected to 
the Federal Congress without opposition and 
took his seat in the following June, as the first 
representative in the National Congress from 
the Mississippi Valley. While in Congress he 
was a modest but faithful member and served 
the best interests of his people and his country 
in whatever capacities he chanced to be placed. 



THE citizens of the State of Franklin were 
in no better condition when they came out of 
the trouble occasioned by their secession from 
North Carolina than when they went into 
it. The people living south of the French 
Broad and the Holston were left exposed to 
the Indians. During the existence of the State 
of Franklin, they had lived in an organized 
county, but now North Carolina refused to 
recognize them, claiming that they were in 
truders upon Indian lands. They were trou 
bled, furthermore, by lawless men who were 
lurking about in the settlements and com 
mitting frequent outrages. Fortunately the 
Indians were at peace in their wigwams since 
Nolichucky Jack had humbled their passion 
for war. The exposed and neglected people 
appealed to General Sevier for help, which 
he promptly and cheerfully gave. By his help 
they were organized into an association for 
protection, and order was restored. The peo- 


pie in this little republic, which we will desig 
nate as the Settlement South of the Holston 
and the French Broad, signed the Articles 
of Association under which they continued to 
live till February 25th, 1/90, when North 
Carolina again ceded to Congress all her terri 
tory west of the Alleghanies. The gift w r as 
accepted this time on April 2, and, by Au 
gust 7, the land ceded was formed, with all 
other lands south of the Ohio River, into the 
"Territory Southwest of the River Ohio." 

President Washington nominated Honor 
able William Blount as Governor of the Ter 
ritory, and the choice was a wise one. Mr. 
Blount was a gentleman of Cavalier ancestry, 
descended from a Royalist baronet, a man of 
handsome presence, manly bearing, courtly 
manners, eloquent address, indeed, a man of 
rich culture and commanding influence. He 
was well known to Washington and was doubt 
less appointed to the new position on account 
of their friendly relations. As soon as Gov 
ernor Blount arrived to fill his new position, 
he made his residence at the home of William 
Cobb, a wealthy farmer who had emigrated 
from North Carolina. Mr. Cobb s backwoods 
mansion was plain, but well supplied with such 
furnishings as were common to the wealthy 
pioneer homes. He kept his horses, dogs, and 


rifles available for the use of his visitors. He 
was himself rather courtly, in his rough way, 
and his entertainment was just such as suited 
the taste of Governor Blount. 

David Campbell and Joseph Anderson were 
appointed judges for the Territory. Wash 
ington gave to John Sevier and James Robert 
son each the rank of brigadier-general. Se 
vier was to command the militia of Washing 
ton District, and Robertson, that of Miro Dis 
trict. All the powers of government were 
thus held and administered by five officers, but 
provision was made for a Legislative Coun 
cil and a House of Representatives when the 
number of adult free men should reach five 
thousand. Provision had also been made to 
admit the Territory into the Union as a State 
when the census showed a total population of 
sixty thousand white inhabitants. 

Governor Blount entered at once upon the 
active discharge of his duties. After appoint 
ing the officers for Washington District, he 
went to the Cumberland Settlement and ap 
pointed the officers for Miro District. Ev 
erywhere he won the esteem and confidence of 
the people by his honesty of purpose and 
courteous manners. 

At New York, Washington had made a 
treaty with the Creek Nation, the famous 


chief, McGillivray, being the most prominent 
Indian present. In order to dispel the clouds 
of war which continually hung over the set 
tlers south of the Holston and the French 
Broad, it was necessary to obtain from the In 
dians all the lands upon which the w r hite men 
had settled. Governor Blount sent a messen 
ger to Echota inviting the Cherokees to a coun 
cil to be held in the month of May at White s 
Fort on the Holston River. 

White s Fort was on the spot where the 
beautiful city of Knoxville now stands. The 
place was first visited in the summer of 1787 
by two soldiers of the Revolution, James Con 
nor and James White, from Iredell County, 
North Carolina. These old soldiers held land- 
warrants as pay for their services in the Revo 
lution and were exploring to find a place suita 
ble for their future homes. The fertile soil, 
the noble hills, the good supply of water, the 
stately trees of the ancient forest, at once led 
these old heroes to build White s Fort, clear 
the forest for cornfields, and return for their 
families and friends. This furnished the nu 
cleus of an important settlement which grew, 
in time, to be a handsome city. When the 
month of May came, the Indians failed to 
meet Governor Blount in council. Some men 
had spread the rumor among them that the 


Governor intended to draw them into a treaty 
and award them the same fate that had be 
fallen Old Tassel. To convince the Indians 
of the falsity of this rumor, Robertson rode 
from Nashville to Echota to talk with them. 
They still had the utmost confidence in Rob 
ertson and, after hearing his talk, decided to 
attend the council at a later date. 

It was, consequently, late in June when the 
Cherokees assembled at White s Fort for the 
council. The weather was fair, and fully 
twelve hundred Indians came with the chiefs. 
Even several squaws, with their papooses, were 
there. The treaty-ground was at the foot of 
what is now Water Street, Knoxville, under 
the tall trees shading the banks of the Holston. 
Here, tradition tells us, the Governor, in full 
military dress, with his three-cornered hat and 
gold-mounted sword, met the Indians and was 
introduced to the chiefs. Many white people 
\vere gathered in groups on the ground to be 
hold the council. None came armed. The 
white men gave way to the custom of the In 
dian council house. The Indians sat upon the 
ground in a circle around the speaker, listen 
ing in silence with fixed attention to what was 
said. The warriors were decorated with 
eagles feathers. Governor Blount sat near his 
tent, and his civil and military officers stood 


near him with their hats off in token of re 
spect to the Governor and the chiefs and war 
riors. In the midst of the officials stood a 
gallant hero whom every Indian there loved 
and feared. This hero was the famous Noli- 
chucky Jack. They gazed with interest upon 
this man, who had so often scattered their 
savage forces to the winds by his lightning 
dashes, and they must have been surprised to 
see so great a soldier now with such a quiet, 
modest bearing. 

On July 2nd, a treaty was signed and the 
pipe of peace was smoked. By this treaty the 
\vhite people got from the Indians the lands 
upon which the settlements had been made. 
The white men then returned to their planta 
tions to engage in the various pursuits of farm 
life; the Indians, to their wigwams to brood 
over what had been done. In this treaty the 
Indians acknowledged themselves under the 
sole protection of the United States and agreed 
to a perpetual friendship with its citizens. All 
prisoners were to be exchanged. The citizens 
of the United States were to have free naviga 
tion of the Tennessee River and the undis 
turbed use of a road from Washington County 
to Miro District. For the lands secured, the 
Indians were given presents and valuable goods 
and an annuity of one thousand dollars. Af- 


terwards five hundred dollars more were added 
to the annuity. 

"Soon after the treaty, White s Fort settle 
ment grew larger. Many of the people who 
had attended the treaty were impressed with 
the fertile soil and the favorable location of 
the growing settlement, and moved their fam 
ilies there. The population increased so rapidly 
that a large settlement was formed along the 
banks of the Holston, and Governor Blount 
established the capital of the Territory there. 
James White, the venerable proprietor, laid 
out a town and called it Knoxville in honor of 
General Knox, who was then Secretary of 
War. A court-house and a jail were built of 
heavy hewn logs. 

Negotiation with Spain for the free naviga 
tion of the Mississippi was still pending, and 
the United States desired to maintain friendly 
relations with the Spaniards, who had worked 
themselves into the good graces of most of the 
Creeks and Cherokees. The Spaniards traded 
with the Indians freely and told them that the 
king of Spain would protect them against the 
encroachments of the Americans on their hunt 
ing-grounds. They thus made a cat s paw of 
the Indians, working out their own selfish 
policy in trying to force the western people 
to secede from the United States, in order that 


they might get for Spain all the rich land 
within the present limits of Tennessee. The 
officers of the Territory treated the Spaniards 
with courtesy, and were commanded to act only 
on the defensive against the Indians. This 
policy seemed good and wise, as one rash act 
might cause the balance of friendship to trem 
ble. But the Spanish traders and agents in 
the Indian towns soon caused the faithless 
warriors to forget the pledges made at White s 
Fort. Hostilities broke out on the frontiers, 
and the settlers were again threatened with 
depredations from the Indians. Sevier could 
not use his former tactics against the foe, for 
he had to act strictly on the defensive. He 
built a chain of blockhouses along the frontier 
and moved his family to his own station, which 
was about five miles south of Knoxville. His 
log residence was large and comfortable and 
strongly built to resist the attacks of the In 
dians. For nearly three years of Blount s ad 
ministration Sevier was kept busy ranging the 
woods in search of the Indian depredators or 
marching into their country burning their vil 
lages and destroying their crops. He did not 
adhere solely to defensive tactics; indeed he 
could not, as we shall soon discover. 

After Sevier had moved to his new home, 
Governor Blount moved with his family to 


Knoxville, the new capital. At first he lived 
in a plain log-house, but later built a large 
frame house on the slope between the fort and 
the river. The new mansion was surrounded 
by a large yard which Lady Blount kept well 
adorned with rare flowers. The Governor 
was ever ready to entertain strangers as well 
as friends, giving a cordial welcome to the 
rich and poor alike. 

In 1792 Governor Blount met the Indians 
in council at Coyatee. When he and his es 
cort arrived they saw the American flag wav 
ing in the air and two thousand Indians drawn 
up in two columns ready to receive them. The 
Indians fired several salutes. They were re 
joiced because the Governor had come to dis 
tribute their goods and pay their annuity. The 
Governor, after the distribution of the goods, 
took advantage of the occasion to remind the 
chiefs of their frequent violations of their 
treaty. John Watts, Hanging Maw, and the 
Breath of Nickajack assured the Governor that 
their people were for peace. Under a strong 
guard, Blount then went to Nashville and 
made a treaty with the Chickasaws and Choc- 
taws, distributing among them their goods and 
receiving assurance of renewed friendship. 

But the Indians, unchecked by their chiefs, 


were upon the warpath day and night. They 
soon learned the tactics the officers were or 
dered to follow and became very bold in their 
attacks. They fell upon the settlers with 
shocking barbarity, then hurried beyond the 
frontiers without fear of being pursued and 
punished for their crimes. No man under 
stood the Indian s character better than Noli- 
chucky Jack, who was thoroughly convinced 
that the final peace with the dusky fellows 
must be achieved by fire and sword, and that 
it would take battle after battle and expedi 
tion after expedition to subdue their passion 
for warring against the citizens of the Terri 
tory. After the Indians had stormed and de 
stroyed Fort Gillespie, it was impossible to 
repress the citizens of the Territory any longer. 
Rumors were in air that a large force of In 
dians intended to strike a heavy blow at the 
people all along the frontier, and that they 
were already on the war-path. It was thought 
that they intended to fall upon Knoxville es 
pecially and to seize the arms and ammunition 
which they knew to be stored there. 

Captain Harrison s light-horse had scouted 
through the country in every direction, but had 
seen no sign of the Indians. But that very 
day the chiefs, John Watts and Double Head, 


led a band of a thousand warriors across the 
Tennessee below the mouth of the Holston 
and marched all night in the direction of 
Knoxville. Seven hundred Creeks were in 
the band, and one hundred of their number 
were mounted on fleet horses. They intended 
to reach Knoxville by daylight, but were de 
layed in crossing the river and by the bitter 
rivalry between the two chiefs, Double Head 
and Van, each of whom aspired to be the 
leader of the invasion. The chiefs were un 
able to decide whether they should massacre 
all the inhabitants in Knoxville, or the men 
only. Van desired to spare the women and 
children, but Double Head wished to put all 
alike to the tomahawk and scalping-knife. In 
their haste to reach Knoxville, the Indians 
passed Campbell s Station (in which were 
twenty families) undisturbed. Onward they 
rushed, but as they rode out of a valley to the 
top of a hill, just at sunrise, they heard the 
roar of a cannon. It was the sunrise gun of 
the United States troops stationed at Knox 
ville. This caused the Indians to believe their 
attack was expected and threw them into con 
fusion and caused them to give up their plan. 
Near them and in sight was Cavet s Station 
in which were only three armed men and Mr. 
Cavet s family. Mortified over the failure of 


their plans, the Indians attacked this station. 
The armed men returned the fire and held the 
warriors at bay for a while. A half-breed 
Creek who spoke English was sent to Cavet s 
Station to tell the men that if they would sur 
render they would be spared and exchanged 
for Indian prisoners. They yielded, but had 
scarcely left their door when Double Head 
and his party fell upon them and murdered 
them all, save one whose life was spared by 
Watts. Cavet was afterwards found dead in 
his garden with seven bullets in his mouth. 
He had put the bullets there so that he could 
reload his rifle quickly. 

News of the disaster at Cavet s Station was 
not long in finding its way to Knoxville. Here 
the fighting force was only forty armed men. 
They believed the Indians were then march 
ing to attack their fort and resolved to de 
fend themselves or die in the attempt. Leav 
ing two of the oldest men to mould bullets 
and look to the loading of the guns in the fort, 
the remainder of the men marched out to a 
ridge a little more than a mile from Knoxville 
and stationed themselves about twenty yards 
apart on the side next to town. On the ap 
proach of the Indians, each man was to fire 
with sure aim and then retreat to the fort and 
make a final desperate stand. But the Indians 


never came, and the men returned quietly to 
their stronghold. 

Upon receiving news of the disaster at 
Cavet s Station, General Sevier, at Ish s Sta 
tion, hurried out reinforcements. In the mean 
time, not knowing where the Indians would 
make the next attack, he sent Captain Harri 
son across the Holston with his light-horse to 
discover their movements. The Captain went 
to the smoldering heap at Cavet s Station and, 
following the trail of the warriors for some 
distance, soon found that they had gone south. 

In the absence of Blount, Daniel Smith, act 
ing governor of the Territory, gave Governor 
Sevier permission to follow his favorite mode 
of fighting the Indians, and Sevier was himself 
again. Receiving reinforcements he advanced 
immediately upon the Indians. Crossing the 
Little Tennessee, he destroyed Estimaula, one 
of their largest villages, and that night he 
camped on the banks of the Estimaula River, 
the horses being hidden in the woods near the 
camp. His army was very close to the fleeing 
warriors and he expected them to attempt a 
night attack. The woods echoed with noises 
which convinced the General that danger was 
near. The sentinels were doubled and the 
troops slept on their arms. Late in the night 
the warriors came stealthily creeping through 


the high sedge-grass so near that the sentinels 
heard them cock their guns. The soldiers fired, 
the warriors returned the fire, then retired. 
Next night the camp-fires were left blazing, 
but the troops camped some distance away. 
Again the Indians came and fired, but this time 
into the deserted camping-ground. Seeing 
their mistake, they again took flight. Next 
morning General Sevier dashed onward like 
a hurricane through the choicest part of the 
Indian country. He even pushed on to the 
Creek country, leaving only flames and smoke 
behind. At Etowah, on October I7th, he 
found the combined forces of the Creeks and 
Cherokees drawn up ready to dispute the pas 
sage of the High Tower River. The General 
himself tells the story of the battle that fol 
lowed in these words : 

" On the I7th inst., in the afternoon, we 
arrived at the forks of Coosa and High Tower 
rivers. Colonel Kelley was ordered, with a 
part of his Knox regiment, to endeavor to 
cross the High Tower. The Creeks and a 
number of Cherokees had entrenched them 
selves to obstruct the passage. Colonel Kelly 
and his party passed down the river, half a 
mile below the ford, and began to cross at a 
private place, where there was no ford. Him 
self and a few others swam over the river. 


The Indians, discovering this movement, im 
mediately left their intrenchments, and ran 
down the river to oppose their passage, ex 
pecting, as I suppose, the whole intended 
crossing at the lower place. Captain Evans 
immediately, with a company of mounted in 
fantry, strained their horses back to the upper 
ford and began to cross the river. Very 
few had got to the south bank before the 
Indians, who had discovered their mistake, 
returned and received them furiously at 
the rising of the bank. An engagement in 
stantly took place, and became very warm, and, 
notwithstanding the enemy were at least four 
to one in numbers, besides [having] the ad 
vantage of the situation, Captain Evans, with 
his heroic company, put them entirely to flight. 
They left several dead on the ground, and 
were seen to carry others off both on foot and 
horse. . . . Trails of blood from the 
wounded were to be seen in every quarter. 
Their encampment fell into our hands, with 
a number of their guns, many of which were 
of the Spanish sort. . . . The party 
flogged at High Tower were those which had 
been out with Watts. . . . We took and 
destroyed near three hundred beeves, many of 
which were of the best and largest kind. Of 
course, their losing so much provisions must 


distress them very much. Many women and 
children might have been taken ; but, from mo 
tives of humanity, I did not encourage it to 
be done, and several taken were suffered to 
make their escape. Your excellency knows 
the disposition of many who were out on this 
expedition, and can readily account for this 
conduct." * 

Thus ended the last military service of Gen 
eral Sevier. For nearly twenty years he had 
been constantly engaged in expensive expedi 
tions against the enemy, yet he never received 
pay from the government for any of them, 
except this Etowah campaign. In this last 
campaign he was serving as an officer of the 
United States, hence the reason for his re 
ceiving pay for himself and his soldiers this 
time. In thirty-five battles he had wielded his 
sword and swept the enemy from the battle 
field, and so careful was he in all his plans 
of assault that he lost in all his engagements 
only fifty-six men. Every time he charged, 
the ranks of the enemy were broken and vic 
tory was his. By his vigilance and swift cam 
paigns with fire and sword, he broke the power 
of the Creeks and Cherokees and forced them 
to bury their tomahawks, which they never 
again dug up to wield against his people. 

1 Ramsey s " Annals of Tennessee," p. 587. 


About this time the Indians of the lower 
towns along the Tennessee \vere giving great 
distress to the settlers along the Cumberland 
at Nashville. Sevier, now no longer acting 
upon the defensive, the crippled warriors 
turned their forces against Robertson, who 
was still careful to use the defensive tactics. 
He feared that one battle with the Indians or 
the death of a Spanish trader might destroy 
the friendly relations with Spain and put an 
end to the negotiations for the free navigation 
of the Mississippi River. One campaign against 
the towns would break the power of these In 
dians, and the people clamored to storm them 
and teach them the lesson that Sevier had 
taught them at Etowah, but Robertson would 
not yet consent. Scarcely a week passed for 
nearly four years without the murder of some 
settler. The three sons of Valentine Sevier 
were killed, and Robertson himself was 

Every day the feeling of indignation among 
the people grew stronger, and Robertson finally 
decided to follow the example set by Sevier at 
Etowah. Soon an opportunity came. The 
Creeks had been stirred up by one of their 
chiefs, who had falsely reported Robertson as 
having said, " There has been a great deal of 
blood spilt in our settlement, and I will come 


and sweep it clean with your blood." This 
report caused a general uprising of the Creeks. 
A force of six hundred Indians invaded the 
Cumberland Settlement and attacked Buch 
anan s Station, which was defended by only 
fifteen men, but by their almost superhuman 
efforts the Indians were repulsed with heavy 
loss. A succession of fights followed and the 
white men determined to give the Lower 
Towns their Etowah. The Nick-a-jack expe 
dition resulted. 

While raising troops for the expedition, the 
question came, "Who is to be our guide?" 
and Joseph Brown was selected as the most 
suitable man. This man s life was an inter 
esting one. When he was only a boy, his 
father, Colonel James Brown, an officer in the 
American Revolution, undertook a voyage 
down the Tennessee to settle upon the Cum 
berland. He took with him his family, sev 
eral negroes, and five young men. His boat, 
built on the Holston, was walled around above 
the gunwales \vith oak planks two inches thick. 
Port holes were made in the sides, and a swivel 
was placed in the stern for a defence. As 
soon as they had passed the Chickamauga 
towns, Indian runners were sent across the 
mountains to warn the \varriors at Nick-a-jack 
and Running Water of the coming of the boat. 


The Indians paddled up the river in their 
canoes to meet the boat. They held up white 
flags, but this was a ruse, for their guns and 
tomahawks were concealed in the bottom of 
their canoes. Brown wheeled his boat and 
faced them with the swivel, ordering them 
not to come near. But Van, one of their num 
ber, came on board to talk with him, stating 
that his men only wanted to see where he was 
going and to trade with him. Accordingly 
Brown ordered his men not to fire. The In 
dians then moved up to the boat and began 
to rob it. Brown asked Van to prevent the 
mischief, but Van only stated that the head 
man was then away and that as soon as he 
returned the goods would all be restored. 
Then a dirty, black-looking savage with a 
sword in his hand took young Joseph by the 
arm and was about to kill him, when Mr. 
Brown interfered. Joseph was released, and 
Mr. Brown turned to see what else was being 
done. As soon as Brown s back was turned, 
the brutal savage drew his sword and cut his 
head nearly half off, and another Indian threw 
him overboard. Poor little Joseph saw his un 
fortunate father thrown overboard and ran 
to tell his brothers. The scene that followed 
was horrible. Little Joseph, his poor mother, 
and the rest of the family left alive, were 


taken prisoners and scattered among the 
Creek and Cherokee towns as slaves. 

Little Joseph expected to be murdered. The 
Indians really intended to kill him and had 
stripped off his clothes when an old French 
woman begged them not to kill him there nor 
along the road she had to pass in carrying her 
water from the spring. While they were mut 
tering and stripping him of his clothes, the 
poor lad fell upon his knees and cried, like the 
dying Saint Stephen, " Lord Jesus, into thy 
hands I commend my spirit." He was spared, 
but had a hard life among the Indians. Holes 
were bored in his ears, and his hair was cut 
short, leaving only a scalp-lock. He was com 
pelled to wear Indian clothing which exposed 
his body to the burning sun; and he was sent 
to hoe corn in the hot sun till he was blistered 
with the heat. He at first became sick and 
faint and would have perished had it not been 
for the approach of a rain cloud which drove 
the laborers from the field. After several 
years of slavery and untold hardships, the lad 
and his mother and sisters were rescued by 
General Sevier. 

But Joseph had learned well the locations 
of the lower towns, and after a lapse of a 
few years he was employed as a guide of an 
army which was determined to crush the 


power of the warriors who had killed his 
father and enslaved his mother. 

Brown found a route from Nashville to the 
Indian towns, and Major Ore began the march. 
Crossing Duck River below the Old Stone 
Fort, an Indian monument of some archaeolog 
ical interest, belo\v Manchester, Tennessee, 
the army pushed across the Cumberland 
Mountain and reached the Tennessee, near the 
mouth of the Sequatchie. Here the soldiers 
constructed rafts and canoes and crossed the 
Tennessee in the rear of the town. The troops 
were formed into two divisions, one to go 
above Nick-a-jack, the other below, to make a 
simultaneous attack. The Indians felt so se 
cure that they had no sentinels posted. There 
was only one way for them to escape to the 
river and this was by a small creek that 
emptied into it below the town. All 
this Brown carefully explained to the sol 

At the first fire of the soldiers, the Indians 
took alarm and made a sudden rush for the 
river. As they huddled together, the soldiers 
poured streams of lead into their crowded 
ranks and but few escaped. Running Water 
next fell, and the power of the Indians was 
completely broken. Thus ended the last 
struggle between the Indians and the white 


settlers for the possession of this fertile re 

A quiet, peaceable, liberty-loving, indus 
trious, God-fearing people now bore the ban 
ners of civilization through the western wil 
derness and converted the forests into waving 
fields of golden grain. Their example was 
slowly followed by the Indians. They aban 
doned to a great extent the arts of war and 
began to till the soil. 

From this time till 1796, the population in 
creased with wonderful rapidity. Scarcely a 
day passed without the arrival of families of 
immigrants. The towns grew as if by magic. 
In the older settlements more stately man 
sions were built, and the manner of living be 
came more refined. Post offices were estab 
lished and mail was regularly received from 
the seaboard, but it took a long time to get a 
reply to a letter addressed to any one living 
east of the Alleghanies, as the carrier was 
many days in making his trip. Besides, the 
postage rates were so high that very few let 
ters were written. When a letter was re 
ceived at the post office, it often passed through 
many hands before it reached its owner. 

On November 5th, 1791, a newspaper was 
published by Mr. George Roulston, first at 
Rogersville, and soon afterwards moved to 


Knoxville, where it took the name of " The 
Knoxville Gazette." It was the first news 
paper west of the Alleghanies. 

Everywhere the people manifested a fresh 
religious zeal and enthusiasm, and the churches 
vied with each other in spreading the doctrines 
of their faiths. The Methodists began to hold 
their conferences in the troublous times of the 
State of Franklin and their " circuit riders " 
did much for the spiritual welfare of the pio 
neers and much to make them better citizens. 
The Baptists and the Presbyterians were 
equally zealous in their services. The people 
were careful in their attendance at church, of 
ten going a distance of fifteen miles to attend 

In the older settlements, the schools were 
growing better, and more interest was being 
shown in education. The example and efforts 
of Doctor Doak were an inspiration to the 
citizens. General Sevier took an active part 
in establishing Washington College and Blount 
College, the latter of which has grown into the 
University of Tennessee, one of the best in 
the South. There was set in motion at this 
time that interest in education which is to 
day the life of Tennessee. 

The sports and pastimes of the people were 
about the same as in earlier days. Log-roll- 


ings, quilting-bees, corn-huskings, shooting- 
matches, hunting-trips, and horse-racing were 
time-honored sports which brought the people 
together on many an occasion. A wedding 
was an event of importance. The cere 
mony, very simple in kind, was performed 
sometimes at church, but more often at 
the bride s home. Sometimes a bounti 
ful supper was served, followed by a social 
gathering of relatives and friends. There 
were no buggies and carriages to accommo 
date the happy pair ; when they took a wedding 
trip, it was on horseback. It frequently hap 
pened that the young husband had only a sin 
gle horse, and in such case he would take his 
young wife up behind him. 

This was nearly a century before the tele 
phone, yet it is astonishing to observe how 
rapidly news traveled through the country. 
Every family was careful to entertain 
strangers. The larger and wealthier families 
living near the road would often send a cour 
teous old slave to invite traveling strangers to 
stay all night and tell them the news. Many 
a night they would sit up till late hours telling 
thrilling tales, perchance of some ancestor s 
voyage, beset with storms and shipwrecks, or 
of the swift campaigns of Nolichucky Jack 
against the Indians. 


Such was the life among the people of the 
Territory. The men were honest and lived 
by the sweat of the brow. Their labor in the 
out-door air gave them strong, healthful 
bodies, and it was not an uncommon thing for 
a man to live to the ripe old age of one hun 
dred years. From this sturdy, honest people 
many prominent Americans have sprung, men 
whose names adorn the pages of our nation s 

Everywhere the hardy settlers were blessed 
with peace and plenty. It was an Arcadia 
with its barns filled with plenty, the schools 
flourishing, religion prevailing, and the peo 
ple happy. There was marrying and giving in 
marriage, and the growth of the population 
was so rapid that the census of 1795 showed 
that there were more than sixty thousand 
white people in the Territory, more than the 
required number to entitle the Territory to 
become a State. 



THE proposition of creating a new State out 
of the Territory was left by Congress to a vote 
of the people. The era of good feeling that 
had existed under the Territory caused many 
people to oppose the formation of a new State, 
but the wiser everywhere were enthusiastic 
for the change. The reason was obvious. 
They loved Governor Blount, but they did not 
like to live under even good laws and the best 
of rulers in the selection of which they had 
no voice. As it was, they had no voice in 
making the laws and no vote in the Presiden 
tial elections. 

On January nth, 1796, a convention met 
at Knoxville to form a constitution. There 
were by this time eleven counties in the Terri 
tory, and each of these counties furnished five 
men to the convention. On the first day of 
the meeting, Governor William Blount was 
chosen president of the convention, and the 
other officers were elected. The next day the 



actual work of the convention began with a 
prayer and a sermon delivered by Reverend 
Samuel Carrick. Perfect harmony prevailed 
among the members. It was proposed by An 
drew Jackson that the new State be named af 
ter the magnificent river which winds across 
the Territory. This river was first called the 
Cherokee, but gradually become known as the 
Tenasee, or Tennessee. From the convention, 
a committee of two members from each county 
was selected to draw up a bill of rights and a 
constitution for the State. So well did this 
committee do its work that Mr. Jefferson de 
clared it to be " the least imperfect and most 
republican " constitution among the States. 
The whole session lasted only twenty-seven 
days, and it was marked throughout by rigid 
economy on the part of the members. They 
were paid $1.50 a day for their services and 
3^ cents a mile for traveling expenses; they 
paid the clerks $2.50 a day, and the door 
keeper $2.00 a day, and the entire incidental 
expenses amounted to only $12.62. 

A fter the work of the convention was fin 
ished, Governor Blount issued an order for 
the election of Governor and members of the 
Legislature for the new State. The people 
responded to the order, and the first Legisla 
ture of Tennessee met at Knoxville, the first 


capital of Tennessee, March 28th, 1796. The 
election returns, examined by the Legislature, 
showed that John Sevier was elected Governor 
without opposition. 

On March 3Oth, 1796, Mr. Sevier was 
sworn into office in the presence of both houses 
of the Legislature, by Judge Joseph Anderson. 
The Legislature then elected William Maclin, 
Secretary of State ; Landon Carter, Treasurer 
of Washington and Hamilton Districts; Wil 
liam Black, Treasurer of Miro District ; John 
McNairy, William Blount, and Archibald 
Roane, Judges of the Supreme Court ; Hop 
kins Lacy, John Lowry, and Howell Tatum, 
Attorneys for the State; William Blount and 
W 7 illiam Cooke, Senators in Congress. 

In Congress there was much opposition to 
the admission of the Territory. It was 
claimed by some that the people of the Terri 
tory could not take the census themselves, but 
that it must be done by an act of Congress. 
It was suspected that the friends of Mr. Jef 
ferson desired the admission of Tennessee 
that its vote might be cast for him to succeed 
Mr. Adams as President. But the bill finally 
passed the Senate. On June ist, 1796, Presi 
dent Washington signed the act of Congress 
that created the State of Tennessee, which, on 
account of the vast number of volunteers in 


war, has been very appropriately called the 
Volunteer State. The Senators were re- 
elected in August, and Andrew Jackson was 
elected the first Representative in Congress 
from Tennessee. Jackson was a man of iron 
and an ardent supporter of Mr. Jefferson s 
party. In fact the majority of the people in 
the State were of this party. 

The first message sent by Governor Sevier 
to the Legislature was brief: 

" Gentlemen of the Senate and House of 
Representatives: The high and honorable 
appointment conferred upon me by the free 
suffrage of my countrymen fills my breast 
with gratitude, which, I trust, my future life 
will manifest. I take this early opportunity 
to express, through you, my thanks in the 
strongest terms of acknowledgment. I shall 
labor to discharge with fidelity the trust re 
posed in me; and, if such my exertions should 
prove satisfactory, the first wish of my heart 
will be gratified. 

" Gentlemen, accept of my best wishes for 
your individual and public happiness; and, re 
lying upon your wisdom and patriotism, I 
have no doubt but the result of your delibera 
tions will give permanency and success to our 
new system of government, so wisely calcu 
lated to secure the liberty and advance the 


happiness and prosperity of our fellow- 

By a wise stroke of policy, Governor Sevier ^ 
began to reconcile his enemies by bestowing""" 
favors upon them. Among the first officers 
appointed was John Tipton, his bitterest 
enemy. The new Governor ordered a seal 
for the State. In this seal, the cotton-plant, 
the sheaf of wheat, the plow and the sailing 
vessel were adopted as emblems of the great 
resources of Tennessee. He secured compen 
sation from the United States government for 
the soldiers who had fought in the Etowah 

The white men were encroaching daily upon 
the Indians lands, and the relations between 
the Indians and the white men were again 
becoming sorely strained. The treaty be 
tween the United States and Spain, in the 
previous year, had secured the free naviga 
tion of the Mississippi River and put an end 
to Spanish intrigues; and the Governor, by 
the help of Congress, settled the difficulty 
without bloodshed. 

After his election to the Senate, William 
Blount was accused of having entered into a 
conspiracy with the British to draw Tennessee 
out of the Union and help England organize 
an empire in the great Southwest. On this 


charge he was expelled from the Senate, July 
8th, 1797. An officer of the United States 
was sent to Knoxville to arrest him and take 
him to Philadelphia for trial. Blotint refused 
to go; the officer himself could not take him, 
and the men summoned to help arrest him 
absolutely refused to do so. So the matter 
ended. An investigation proved to the Sen 
ate that no case could be sustained against 
Mr. Blount. He was at once elected to the 
State Senate and was made Speaker of that 
body. He died at Knoxville, March 2ist, 
1800, and was buried in the yard of the First 
Presbyterian Church in that city. 

In 1798 Sevier was re-elected Governor 
without opposition. These years of the Gov 
ernor were busy and full of care for the wel 
fare of the new commonwealth. He en 
couraged manufacturing and commerce, for 
he knew that the wealth of a country de 
pends upon its skilful laborers and its trade 
relations. There were no railroads, of course, 
to carry on trade with other States, but boats 
went down the Tennessee and the Mississippi 
to New Orleans with heavy cargoes, and 
wagon trains went regularly to the eastern 
cities with loads of farm products and bought 
goods and articles of every kind to supply the 
wants of the people. Schools were growing 


better everywhere, books were more plentiful, 
and the people read more than they had for 
merly done. 

In the midst of peace and prosperity, 
Sevier s second term of office expired in 1799; 
and the people elected him again. His third 
term was characterized by the same degree of 
prosperity. Three times in succession had he 
been elected Governor without opposition, 
and now, according to the constitution, he was 
ineligible till some other man had served a 
term. So, in the election that followed, 
Archibald Roane was elected. 

Governor Sevier now retired to his farm 
south of Knoxville, where he remained for 
two years in the enjoyments of his home. He 
lived the life of a plain country gentleman. 
He went to church regularly. His farm was 
tilled by his slaves, and it was his chief voca 
tion to superintend their work. As he rode 
among them, his slaves greeted him cour 
teously, for they had a deep affection for him. 
Scarcely a day passed at his hospitable home 
without the entertainment of some friend. 
Sometimes it \vas an Indian chief or a dusky 
warrior against whom he had drawn his 
sword in a more evil time ; but the Indians 
ever remembered Nolichucky Jack as a good 
man. But it was more generally the battle- 


scarred veterans who had come to visit their 
old general, whom they had never forgotten to 
love. Many a night did they sit before the 
roaring fire in the huge fireplace, recounting 
the exploits of Sevier s thirty-five battles and 
thirty-five victories. 

At the expiration of Roane s term of of 
fice, the people again called for the re-election 
of Sevier. Again the "Good Old Governor" 
was elected and again he assumed the weight 
of responsibility as the chief magistrate of 
the State. 

Although Sevier was elected by the popular 
vote, there were those who, jealous of his 
popularity, tried to destroy his political favor 
by circulating false reports about him. They 
accused him of speculation in land-warrants 
and even of forgery. John Tipton, a member 
of the Legislature at the time, made strenu 
ous exertions for his downfall. These re 
ports caused a committee of investigation to 
be appointed to look into the matter. This 
committee found the charges to be without 
foundation. Sevier s popularity seems not to 
have been affected by these efforts to injure his 
reputation. But his indignation was aroused 
against Andrew Jackson, whom he had ap 
pointed Judge of the Superior Court. Jackson 
was of a very different temper from Sevier. 


Sevier s temper was fiery, but he was ever 
ready and eager to atone for any wrong he 
had done, while, on the other hand, Jackson 
rarely forgave an enemy. 

Jackson was so bold in his attacks upon 
Sevier s character that the old Governor be 
came deeply angered and used some abusive 
language in his speeches about Jackson. Not 
long after the State election, Sevier and Jack 
son met on the public square in Knoxville, 
where Jackson was holding court. A quarrel 
ensued and Sevier accused Jackson of having 
been the prime-mover of the attacks upon his 
reputation, and further made a reference to an 
incident in Jackson s domestic life, upon which 
point Jackson was very sensitive. Jackson 
tried to attack Sevier on the spot, but was 
restrained through the intervention of his 
friends. The next day Jackson challenged 
Sevier to fight a duel. 

Dueling was a somewhat common practice 
of those early days. When a challenge was 
received, it was considered unmanly and 
even cowardly to refuse to accept it. Each 
of the incensed men selected some favorite 
friend for his second, and the time and place 
for the duel were arranged by these seconds. 
Everything being in readiness, the duelists, 
accompanied by their respective seconds, met 


upon the selected ground. Men were sure 
marksmen in those days. Previous to the day 
set for the duel, the antagonists often spent 
much time at practicing with their pistols. 
When the hour came, each man took his place 
at a specified distance apart from the other. 
Here they stood, their pistols pointing towards 
the ground. There was silence for a moment ; 
then the silence was broken by the order, 
" Fire ! " Such was the duel as understood 
by both Sevier and Jackson. But Sevier 
wrote in a firm hand the following reply to 
Jackson s challenge : 

KNOXVILLE, Oct. 2, 1803. 

"Sir, your to-day, by Andrew Whithe, Esq., I have 
received, and am pleased with the contents, so far as 
respects a personal interview. 

" Your ungentlemanly and gasconading conduct of 
yesterday, and, indeed, at all other times heretofore, 
have unmasked you to me and to the world. The 
voice of the Assembly has made you a Judge, and this 
alone renders you worthy of my notice, or that of any 
other gentleman. To the office I have respect, and this 
only makes you worthy of notice. 

" I shall wait on you with pleasure at any time and 
place not within the State of Tennessee, attended by 
my friend, wih pistols, presuming you know nothing 
about the use of any other arms. Georgia, Virginia, 
and North Carolina are in our vicinity, and we can 
easily repair to either of those places and conveniently 
retire into the inoffending government. You cannot 
mistake me or my meaning. 

" Yours, etc., etc., 

" Hon. A. Jackson." " JOHN SEVIER. 


Jackson insisted upon fighting the duel 
near Knoxville, and, of course, was not 
pleased with Sevier s reply. But Sevier 
would not consent to violate the laws of his 
State and again wrote Jackson: "An inter 
view within the State you know I have denied. 
Anywhere outside, you have nothing to do 
but to name the place and I will the time. I 
have some regard for the laws of the State 
over which I have the honor to preside, al 
though you, a Judge, appear to have none." 

It seemed that a duel was inevitable; but, 
through negotiations of friends on both sides, 
matters were finally adjusted, and the two 
heroes were induced to join hands in friend 

During his first succession of terms of 
office, Governor Sevier undertook to huild 
in Knoxville a brick mansion for his resi 
dence. After the walls had been raised above 
the basement, he gave up the plan and sold 
his property ; it was too expensive for his in 
come. The building was finished by the pur 
chaser and is standing to-day in sight of St. 
John s Episcopal Church, Knoxville. 

Sevier continued to live on his plantation, 
and his friends, rich and poor, continued to 
share his bountiful hospitality. Distinguished 
visitors to this country from abroad were 


sometimes hospitably entertained at his simple 
country home. On one occasion, three sons 
of the Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe and 
two brothers, were entertained by Governor 
and Mrs. Sevier. In fact, it took about all 
his salary, in addition to the resources of his 
plantation, to enable him to keep up his un 
limited hospitality and expensive entertain 
ments of all who chose to lodge with him. 
Is it a wonder, then, that he was always 
poor P 1 

Governor Sevier, with his family, attended 
church at Lebanon, about four miles east of 
Knoxville. Reverend Samuel Carrick was 
the pastor. On such occasions Sevier laid 
aside his military uniform, wearing his three- 
cornered hat and citizen s clothes. At church 
he had his usual cordial greetings for his 
friends and always listened to the sermon 

1 The following, given to Doctor Draper in 1844 
by George Washington Sevier, son of John Sevier, 
shows another cause of the General s straightened 
circumstances: "Notwithstanding he had settled in 
Tennessee at an early day and had much of the fine 
lands in the country, yet he died comparatively poor. 
From his natural, obliging way, he had become secur 
ity for friends and had many thousand dollars to pay 
of security debts, and in order to meet them sold sev 
eral thousand acres of his choicest lands for 40 cents 
an acre that have since commanded well-nigh as many 
dollars." Draper MSS. 


with a grave, reverential demeanor, for he 
held the most sacred regard for everything 
moral and religious. But he never became a 
member of any church, as he did not approve 
of the doctrinal opinions which he had thus 
far been taught. In his old age, when flat 
tered by friends on his useful career and great 
achievements for western civilization, he in 
formed them that he was only an instrument 
in the hands of Providence and was always 
led and guided by His Infinite Goodness. 

In 1805 and again in 1807 he was re- 
elected, and so six more years of his life 
were spent in the gubernatorial office. Again 
he became ineligible and sought the retire 
ment of the quiet country life. But his 
friends, feeling grateful for the great services 
he had rendered to the State and to America 
in his earlier years, wished to bestow other 
honors upon him. So, in 1811, they elected 
him to Congress, and again in 1813, and 

While he was in Congress, the War of 
1812 was declared and waged. During this 
time he was usually a silent worker, but ac 
complished much. From his long experience 
in the tactics of war, he was placed on the 
Committee of Military Affairs and rendered 
valuable services to the nation during the 


whole war. President Madison offered him a 
generalship in the army, but Sevier declined 
to accept it. 

In 1815, the year of the battle of New 
Orleans, President Madison appointed Sevier 
a commissioner to run the boundary line of 
the lands which the Creeks had just ceded to 
the United States. In June, he left his Bonny 
Kate, never again to see her. He was in his 
seventy-first year, and his body was weak 
ened by his lifetime of struggles and hard 
ships. While at work in the Creek country, 
he contracted a fever. 

During the time of his illness he lay in his 
tent near Fort Decatur, Alabama, and Bonny 
Kate knew nothing of his confinement and 
suffering. For fifteen days he suffered with 
the fortitude of a Christian hero; then, on 
September 24, 1815, surrounded by anxious, 
watchful friends, he drew his last breath. 

He was buried with the honors of war, by 
the troops commanded by Captain William 
Walker, on the east bank of the Tallapoosa 
River, at an Indian village called Tuckabat- 
chee, near Fort Decatur, Alabama. His 
grave was subsequently marked by a simple 
grave-stone on which was carved, " John 

Unaware of Sevier s illness at Fort Deca- 


tur, the Tennesseeans had a few weeks before 
re-elected him to Congress without opposition. 
At the news of his death the whole State 
mourned. The Legislature of Tennessee 
passed a resolution that each of the State 
officials wear for thirty days a badge of 
mourning out of respect for his memory. 

Strange to say, the citizens of Tennessee 
neglected the grave of John Sevier for many 
years. Not until 1889 was the body of the 
first governor of the State brought back to 
Tennessee. In June of that year the body 
was interred in the court-house yard at Knox- 
ville with imposing ceremonies. To-day a 
beautiful marble monument towers above his 
grave, bearing the following inscriptions : 
"John Sevier, Nolichucky Jack, September 
23d, 1744; September 24th, 1815; pioneer, 
soldier, statesman, and one of the founders 
of the republic; Governor of the State of 
Franklin; six terms Governor of Tennessee; 
four times elected to Congress; the typical 
pioneer who conquered the wilderness and 
fashioned the State; a projector and hero of 
King s Mountain; thirty-five battles, thirty- 
five victories ; his Indian war-cry, Here they 
are ! come on, boys, come on ! 

Mankind delights to honor with monu 
ments, busts, statues, and paintings, the he- 


roes whom the world has learned to love ; but 
the most intrinsic mementos to the world are 
the noble deeds of the heroes themselves. But 
let the world sing its paeans of praises; for 
they are grand and glorious to hear. The 
painter, the poet, and the sculptor have built 
beautiful memorials to these great and good 
heroes. May the day come when they shall 
adorn the Hall of Fame with a fitting memor 
ial to that good man, that true hero, that un 
selfish statesman, " Nolichucky Jack " ! 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

.- us APR 8 1977 

OCT 24 1961 

13Dee 62WW 3 


DEC 1* 


LI) 21-100m-ll, 49(B7146sl6)476 

MAR 7 1983 


JUl 1 6 1993 


JUL 8 1995