Tennessee AHGP

Attakullakulla and Oconostota

The Cherokees adhere to the English; some of their warriors killed by the Virginians; they take satisfaction in the Carolinas; Governor Lyttleton declares war against them; their peace envoys are imprisoned, and subsequently massacred; Colonel Montgomery's campaign against their Middle towns. 1730-1760. For more information read Papers of William Henry Lyttelton 1756-1760

The Cherokee Indians first became known to the white man in 1540, when the daring Spanish adventurer, Fernando De Soto, entered their country in his fruitless search for gold. They were the mountaineers of the south, and held all the Alleghany region from southwest Virginia to northern Georgia, their principal towns being on the headwaters of the Savannah, Hiwassee, and Tuckasegee, and upon the whole course of the Little Tennessee River, grouped in three main settlements, known as the Lower towns, the Middle or Valley towns, and the Overhill towns. Their hunting ground, whose boundaries were vague and shadowy, and in many places contested, may be said, in a general way, to have embraced all the extensive domain encircled by the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, including the blue grass regions of Kentucky and Tennessee which the Indians called the "dark and bloody ground.'' 1

Their men were large, tall, and robust; in complexion somewhat lighter than the men of the neighboring tribes; while some of their young women were nearly as fair and blooming as European maidens. Their dispositions and manners were grave and steady; their deportment dignified and circumspect. In conversation they were rather slow and reserved, yet frank and cheerful; in council, secret, deliberate, and determined. Like all true mountaineers, they stood ready to sacrifice every pleasure and gratification, even life itself, to the defense of their homes and hunting grounds.

Early in the struggle between France and England for commercial and territorial supremacy in America, the French conceived the scheme of detaching the Indians from England by means of a strong cordon of military posts, extending through the Ohio and Mississippi valleys from Canada to Louisiana. In 1714 they built Fort Toulouse, on the Coosa River, a few miles above the present Montgomery, Alabama. From this southern stronghold they rapidly extended their influence among the neighboring tribes until it was estimated that three thousand four hundred warriors, who had formerly traded with Carolina, had gone over to France, two thousand were wavering, and only the Cherokees could be considered friendly to the English.3

To check this growing influence of the French, Governor Nicholson, of South Carolina, held a treaty of peace and commerce with the Cherokees in 1721. Afterwards the Royal government took the matter up with a view of drawing them into a closer alliance. For this purpose Sir Alexander Gumming was sent to the Cherokee Nation in the spring of 1730, and met the chiefs of all their towns in the council house at Nequassee, on the Little Tennessee River, near the present town of Franklin, North Carolina. He so impressed them by his bold bearing and haughty address that they readily consented to all his wishes, acknowledging themselves, on bended knee, to be the dutiful subjects of King George. He nominated Moytoy, of Tellico, to be their emperor, a piece of trumpery invented by Governor Nicholson nine years before, which was wholly without effect, as the Cherokee Nation made no pretense to a regular government until nearly one hundred years later.4 However, it was agreed to, and they repaired to their capital, Tennessee, a few miles above the mouth of Tellico, on the Little Tennessee River, where a symbol, make of five eagle tails and four scalps of their enemies, which Sir Alexander called the crown of the nation, was brought forth, and he was requested to lay it at the feet of his sovereign on his return.5

The mention by Sir Alexander Cumming of "Tennessee" as the ancient capital of the Cherokees, is the first time the name occurs in history; from it, and not from any fancied resemblance to a "big spoon," the Tennessee River and the State of Tennessee derive their name.6

Seven chiefs accompanied Sir Alexander on his return to England, and there again entered into a formal treaty of friendship, alliance, and commerce with the English. Among these chiefs were two young men who deserve to rank among the greatest leaders of their race; they were Attakullakulla,7 known to the whites as Little Carpenter, and Oconostota, whom the whites called the Great Warrior. The brilliancy, wealth, and power of the English Court made a powerful impression upon them. Attakullakulla perceived with appalling force the defenselessness of his own people as against such an adversary. It became the ruling purpose of his life, chimerical as it was, to keep his nation at peace with the English. Profiting by his friendly disposition, the authorities of South Carolina took up Attakullakulla, and magnified his authority, in order to break the power and influence of Oconostota.8 For fifty years he stood out between the contending races, a sublime and, often, a solitary figure, ever pleading, conciliating, pacifying. He was the grandest and most amiable leader developed by his race; and I doubt whether a nobler character, of any race, could have been found on the border.

Though he came of a race of large men, Attakullakulla was remarkably small, and of slender and delicate frame; but he was endowed with superior abilities.9 He did little to distinguish himself in war, but his policy and address were such as to win for him the confidence and admiration of his people. He was the leading diplomat of his nation, and conducted some of the most delicate missions with singular tact and sagacity.

Oconostota, on the contrary, was a daring and resourceful general, whose achievements won for him the title of the "Great Warrior." It is said that in all his expeditions his measures were so prudently taken that he never lost a man.10 Under his leadership the Cherokees reached their highest martial glory. Less diplomatic than Attakullakulla, he was more bold and aggressive, and, at first, hoped by forcible resistance to stay the flood of immigration that was threatening to over-whelm his country. I know not which course was the wiser; neither could do more than retard the progress of the whites. The inexorable decree had gone forth that the Indian should perish, as the mound builder before him had perished.

Although the seven years' struggle between France and England, known in America as the French and Indian War, was not formally declared until 1756, hostilities actually began in April, 1754, when the French seized the English post at Pittsburg, which they afterwards completed under the name of Fort Duquesne. To" make sure of the cooperation of their Cherokee allies at this juncture, the English determined to profit by the example of the French, and build forts among them. With this view, Governor Glen, of South Carolina, met Attakullakulla on the treaty ground in 1755, and obtained permission to build two forts in the Cherokee country.11

Soon after this cession Governor Glen built Fort Prince George, on the headwaters of the Savannah River, three hundred miles above Charleston, and within gun-shot of the Indian town of Keowee, in the lower settlement. In 1756 the Earl of Loudoun was appointed commander-in-chief of the army throughout the British provinces in America, and the same year he dispatched Major Andrew Lewis to build the second fort authorized by the Cherokee treaty. Major Lewis located it just above the mouth of Tellico, on the south side of the Little Tennessee River, in the midst of the Overhill towns, within five miles of Chota, at that time the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and nearly one hundred and fifty miles in advance of any white settlement.12 A British historian13 asserts that the establishment of these forts was the result of a deep laid scheme on the part of the Cherokees, persisted in with unexampled policy for many years, for the purpose of gaining hostages from the English; which, he says, they had the sagacity to perceive would be the effect of small garrisons located in the midst of populous Indian towns, hundreds of miles removed from their base of supplies, and their hope of succor. While this clearly was not contemplated by the Indians, these forts offered them inviting objects of attack when they became involved in war with their former allies.

The Overhill towns, scattered along the grassy valleys and sunny slopes that skirt the southern bank of the Little Tennessee, were the remotest and most important of the Cherokee settlements. Lieutenant Henry Timberlake, a young Virginia soldier, who spent the winter of 1761-2 with the Overhill Indians, has left an account of his residence among them, with a map of their country,14 in which he gives the name and location of each of their towns, with the number of warriors it was able to send out. Beginning on the west and proceeding up the south bank of the Little Tennessee River, we find Mialaquo, 24 warriors, at the Great Island, just below the mouth of Tellico, and Tuskegee, 55 warriors, under the very wall of Fort Loudon; these were the towns of Attakullakulla. Tomotley, 91 warriors, under Outacite (Judge Friend) and Toquo, 82 warriors, under Willinawaw, appear at short intervals up the river. Then comes Tennessee, 21 warriors, and Chota, 175 warriors, under Oconostota, described as king and governor. Still higher up were Citico, in the shadow of Chilhowee Mountain, 204 warriors, under Cheulah; then Chilhowee, opposite the mouth of Abraham's Creek, 110 warriors, and Tallasee, in the extreme east, with 47 warriors, whose chiefs we are now unable to identify.

Attakullakulla, in his negotiations with Governor Glen, had not dreamed of a fort that would command their beloved town of Chota, the capital and pride of the nation, their only city of refuge. When he perceived the strength and permanent character of the fortress, the great council at Chota, under his leadership, ordered the work to stop, and the garrison, then on its way, to turn back. But it was too late. The fort was completed, and garrisoned by two hundred British regulars, with twelve pieces of artillery. It was named for the Earl of Loudoun, and apart from its melancholy history, is remarkable as being the first Anglo-American structure erected in Tennessee.

For a time everything seemed auspicious for the garrison of Fort Loudon. The old chiefs earnestly desired peace, and courted friendly relations with the whites. Many of their women found husbands among the soldiers of the garrison.15

They invited artisans to their towns, and a number of families settled in the neighborhood of the fortress. It looked then like a permanent settlement was being effected at Fort London.

Braddock's defeat had occurred in the year 1755. That crushing disaster was attributed to the Indian allies of the French. To withstand the French Indians, it became important to enlist the warlike Cherokees on the side of the English; Washington, who had been made commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, thought their presence indispensably necessary. Accordingly, in November, 1755, Colonels William Byrd and Peter Randolph were appointed commissioners to treat with them, and soon afterwards set out for their towns.16

Not long before this Major Andrew Lewis had led a company of Cherokees against the Shawnee Indians, who were allies of the French. After his failure to reach Shawnee Town, the object of his expedition, Washington expressed a desire that the Indians might be persuaded to proceed as far as Fort Cumberland, for "without Indians," he says, "we will be unable to cope with the cruel foes of our country."17 In this, however, he was disappointed, as an event now happened which came near converting them into open and dangerous enemies.

While the Indians who had served with Major Lewis were returning to the Cherokee towns, a back settler in Augusta County entertained a party of them, and when they had taken their leave some of his friends, whom he had placed in ambush for that purpose, fired upon and killed several of them. Those who escaped arrived in their towns just as Colonels Byrd and Randolph were on the point of concluding their treaty. Great excitement ensued, and but for the devotion of Silouee, and the wisdom and tact of Attakullakulla, the treaty would not only have been defeated, but the commissioners themselves would have been murdered.

Attakullakulla hastened to apprise the commissioners of their danger, warning them to keep within their tent, and on no account to appear abroad. But it seems that a number of warriors were about to fall upon the commissioners in their own tent, when Silouee threw himself between them and Colonel Byrd, exclaiming: "This man is my friend. Before you get at him you must kill me," whereupon they desisted, and consented to leave their fate to the deliberations of the council.18 In addressing the council Attakullakulla expressed the indignation they all felt at the treachery of the Virginians, and declared he would have full satisfaction for the blood of his countrymen. "Let us not, however," he added, "violate our faith, or the laws of hospitality, by imbruing our hands in the blood of those who are now in our power; they came to cement a perpetual alliance with us. Let us carry them back to their own settlements; conduct them safely to their confines; and then take up the hatchet, and endeavor to exterminate the whole race of them."19

The council adopted his advice, and the commissioners, being assured of their safety, appear to have made pecuniary satisfaction for the murder of the Indian warriors, and successfully concluded a treaty of friendship and alliance with the Cherokees. Their accounts were audited July 20, 1756, when it was found they had expended the large sum of £1319, 15s. 8d. sterling, besides what the governor had paid out of funds in his hands; one of the important items being for "soothing the Indians."20

Following the treaty concluded by Byrd and Randolph, many warriors rallied to the British standard, under such famous old chiefs as Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter), Outacite (Judge Friend), Scollacutta (Hanging Maw), Ooskuah (Abraham), and Savanukeh (The Raven), and rendered valuable services in defending the extensive frontiers of Virginia, and also in the expedition against Fort Duquesne. They entered heartily into the cause of the Virginians, but the Indian affairs of the army, which were under the control of Edmund Atkin, Indian agent, were so badly managed that, instead of receiving the encouragement their services and bravery merited, they were met by what they considered injustice, neglect, and contempt. At one time ten of them were imprisoned on suspicion of being spies in the French interest; another party, after having undergone the perils and privations of their long march, went to war in their destitute condition, behaved nobly and rendered valuable service to the colony, but on returning with their trophies of honor, found neither agent nor interpreter to reward or thank them; nor anyone who could tell them why they were thus neglected. But for the intervention and kind treatment of Washington, they must have returned to their nation fired with just resentment, if not at open war, against their allies. 21

Fort Duquesne fell November 25, 1758. General Forbes, who commanded the English, was a trained soldier, accustomed to the strict discipline of the regular army; but he did not understand the Indian, nor appreciate his irregular mode of warfare, and was exceedingly impatient with his Cherokee auxiliaries. Moreover, he was then a sick man, fretful and peevish. He died the succeeding March. His Indian allies, whom Washington thought so indispensable, soon began to leave the army and return to their towns. Most of them had gone, and the few left were on the point of leaving, when Attakullakulla arrived at his camp with about sixty good warriors. While General Forbes declared him to be "as consummate a dog as any of them," exceeding all of them in his avaricious demands, he thought it bad policy, after laying out so many thousand pounds, to lose him and all the rest for a few hundred more.22

So he indulged what he terms their extravagant and avaricious demands, but in such an ungracious and impolitic manner that they left the army some ten days before the fall of Fort Duquesne, and set out for their own country. As soon as he was made acquainted with their "villainous desertion," November 19, 1758, he ordered Colonel Byrd instantly to dispatch an express to the commanding officer at Raystown, and, in case Attakullakulla had already passed Raystown, to the commandants at Winchester, Fort Cumberland, and Fort London, requiring them to relieve the Indians of their guns and ammunition, and also of the horses that had been furnished them. They would have been peremptorily stripped of their blankets, shirts and silver truck, had it been deemed of sufficient consequence. This they were to do peaceably if they could, but were authorized to use force if necessary. Being disarmed and dismounted, they were to be accompanied by a sufficient escort to prevent their doing mischief to the frontier inhabitants.23

But not all the care of the escort who accompanied them was sufficient to prevent the Cherokees from picking up a few horses running loose on the range, as they passed through the back settlements of Virginia. It is a pity the offense could not have been overlooked, in view of the great service they had rendered the colony, and especially its back settlers. But the rough frontiersmen, regarding all Indians as their natural enemies, pursued their offending allies and killed a number of them, variously estimated at from twelve to forty.

When tidings of this harsh and unfriendly conduct reached the Cherokee Nation, their young men were fired with resentment, and burned for revenge, but their old chiefs dissuaded them from taking up the hatchet until satisfaction had first been demanded of the colonies, in accordance with their treaty stipulations. Thereupon they sought satisfaction of Virginia, then of North Carolina, and afterwards of South Carolina, but in vain. Having failed to obtain any redress under their treaties, they determined to take satisfaction for the blood of their relations according to their own customs. To this end the old chiefs sent out a company of young warriors, instructed to bring in as many white scalps as would equal the number of their murdered relations. The ambitious young leaders separated into small parties, and without limiting themselves as to number, killed as many of the white people as were so unfortunate as to fall into their hands. Two soldiers of the garrison of Fort Loudon, who chanced to be out hunting were among the victims!24 the white people living in the neighborhood were driven into the fort, and the garrison itself was so threatened that no one was allowed to leave its walls.

When the commander of Fort Prince George informed Governor Lyttleton of these acts of hostility, he ordered the militia of the province to rendezvous at Congarees, and resolved to march to the Cherokee country, and pursue such measures as would bring them to terms. Hitherto the Cherokee depredations were considered as so many murders, and not as acts of war. Twenty-four Indians had been charged with murdering white people; but they claimed only to have taken satisfaction for the blood shed by the Virginians. The Cherokees were really friends of the English, and did not desire war. As soon as they heard of Governor Lyttleton's warlike preparations, thirty-two of their chiefs, headed by Oconostota, head man of the nation, set out for Charleston to settle all differences and prevent war. Governor Lyttleton made them a haughty speech, declaring that he would make his demands known only when he had reached their country, and if they were not granted would take satisfaction by force of arms. He assured them, however, as they had come as friends to treat of peace, that they should go home in safety, and not a hair of their heads should be touched. At the same time he told them that they must follow his troops or he would not be responsible for their safety. The proud chiefs were amazed and indignant; Oconostota immediately arose to reply, but Governor Lyttleton, against the advice of Lieutenant-Governor Bull, stopped him, refusing to hear either a defense of his nation or overtures of peace. The chiefs controlled their rage and quietly marched with the army to Congarees, where some fourteen hundred troops were assembled. When the army left Congarees, the envoys were unexpectedly made prisoners, and a captain's guard was mounted over them to prevent their escape. In this manner they were marched to Fort Prince George, where they were shut up in a hut scarcely sufficient for the accommodation of half a dozen soldiers.

As Governor Lyttleton's army was ill armed and undisciplined, as well as discontented and mutinous, he dared not proceed further into the Indian country; he had already sent for Attakullakulla, who was recognized as a firm friend of the English: Indeed, he was so determined in his opposition to the war that his young men compared him in derision to an old woman. He came in at once, bringing with him a French prisoner as an earnest of his loyalty to the English. The governor made him a long speech, demanding that the twenty-four Indians who had killed white people should be given up, to be put to death or otherwise disposed of as he might think proper. Attakullakulla promised to do all that he could to persuade his countrymen to give the satisfaction demanded; yet he frankly told the governor it could not be done, as the chiefs and no coercive authority over their warriors. He then requested that some of the imprisoned chiefs might be liberated, to aid him in restoring tranquility; when Oconostota, and, apparently, seven other chiefs were released, as only twenty-four were retained as hostages. The next day two Indians were delivered up, in exchange for two of the hostages and were immediately put in irons, which so alarmed the other Cherokees in the neighborhood that they fled to the woods. Attakullakulla, seeing no hope of peace, determined to retire to his home and there await the issue; but as soon as Governor Lyttleton was informed of his departure, he sent for him, and on his return a formal treaty was entered into, by which it was agreed that the twenty-two imprisoned chiefs should remain as hostages until a like number of Indian murderers were delivered to the English. This treaty was signed December 26, 1759, by Attakullakulla, Oconostota, Otassite, Kitaguste, Oconeoca, and Killconnokea.25

Governor Lyttleton then marched back to Charleston, where he was received as a returning conqueror. But Oconostota still hovered around Fort Prince George with a large number of warriors. The Cherokees were unacquainted with the character and meaning of hostages; to them it conveyed the idea of slaves, whose lives were at the mercy of their captors.26 Oconostota, therefore, determined to surprise the fort and liberate them. February 16, 1760, having concealed a party of warriors in a dark thicket near at hand, he sent a request that the commanding officer come out and speak with him on business of importance. Captain Coytmore, accompanied by Lieutenant Dogharty, Ensign Bell, and their interpreter, Foster, appeared on the bank of the Savannah River. On the opposite bank Oconostota stood, with a bridle in his hand. He told the captain he was going to Charleston to effect the release of the hostages, and desired that a white man might accompany him; and, as the distance was great, he would go and try to catch a horse. Captain Coytmore promised him a guard, and hoped he would succeed in catching a horse. Oconostota then turned and swung his bridle thrice over his head, at which signal a volley of some thirty shots was fired at the officers. All were wounded, Captain Coytmore receiving a shot in the left breast from which he died two or three days later.

The Indians then stormed the fort; the prisoners on the inside sounding the war-whoop, and shouting to their countrymen to fight like strong-hearted warriors, and they would soon carry it. The garrison attempted to put the hostages in irons. A soldier who seized one of them for that purpose was stabbed and killed; and in the scuffle that followed two or three more were wounded and driven out of the hut. Thus had the prisoners repelled their assailants for the moment, but the fort was too strong to be taken by the primitive arts known to their friends on the outside, and when they were repulsed, the garrison fell upon the helpless hostages, and these twenty-two of the Cherokee peace envoys were massacred in the most shocking manner. More than thirty years afterwards Doublehead referred to it as one of three occasions on which their envoys had been treacherously murdered.

This horrible affair inflamed the hearts of the Cherokees beyond all control. Their warriors everywhere dug up the hatchet, and, chanting the weird war-song, rushed down upon the unprotected and defenseless families on the frontiers of the Carolinas, where men, women, and children, without distinction, fell victims to their merciless fury. The back settlers appealed to their governor, who had so lately posed as a conquering hero, but the presence of smallpox, then a desolating plague, made it impossible to assemble the militia. In this extremity an express was hastened to General Amherst, commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, who ordered a detachment of twelve hundred men, under the command of Colonel Montgomery27 afterwards Earl Eglinton, to embark from New York to Charleston, with instructions to strike a sudden blow for the relief of the Carolinas and return to Albany, as the reduction of Canada was the great object then in view. In the meantime Governor Lyttleton was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor Bull, a man of much sounder judgment and discretion.

Colonel Montgomery reached Charleston towards the end of April, 1760; rendezvoused at Congarees; and being joined by the colonial militia and many gentlemen who volunteered for the campaign, he marched against the Lower towns. On his way to Port Prince George, which was still being invested by the Indians, he destroyed a number of towns, killed some sixty Indians, and took about forty prisoners; but their warriors had generally retired to the mountains.

Having arrived at Fort Prince George, Edmond Atkin,28 the agent for Indian affairs under whom they had served in Virginia, dispatched two Indian chiefs to the Middle towns, to inform them that, as the former friends and allies of the English, and especially on account of the many good services of Attakullakulla,29 Governor Bull was ready to grant them terms of peace; at the same time assuring them, if they did not come in, all their towns would be ravaged and destroyed. But these overtures came too late; Governor Lyttleton had contemptuously thrown away the only opportunity offered by the present crisis to restore friendly relations with the Cherokees.

Finding the Indians implacable, Colonel Montgomery determined to carry the war into their Middle towns. June 27, 1760, he advanced to within five miles of Etchoe, the nearest town of the Middle settlements. There he found a muddy river with steep clay banks, running through a low valley so thickly covered with bushes that the soldiers could scarcely see three yards before them. A more advantageous position for ambushing and attacking an enemy, after the manner of Indian warfare, could hardly have been chosen. Captain Morrison was ordered to advance with his company of rangers and scour this dark thicket. Scarcely had they entered it when the Indians raised the war-whoop, sprang from their hiding places, and opened fire upon them, killing the captain and wounding a number of his men. The light infantry and grenadiers gallantly came to the support of the rangers, and charged upon the Indians with great courage. The action now became general and obstinate. Colonel Montgomery ordered the Royal Scots to make a flanking movement and place themselves between the Indians and the rising ground on the right. At length the Indians gave way, and falling in with the Royal Scots, suffered considerably before they reached a neighboring hill, after which they declined to be drawn into a further engagement. The English lost an officer and twenty men killed, and about eighty men wounded. The Indians are supposed to have lost about forty men.

The army then pushed forward to Etchoe, but the Indians had deserted the town, taking with them their most valuable effects. Colonel Montgomery destroyed the deserted town. His pickets, however, were attacked with great fury, and he was much annoyed by volleys from the neighboring hills. Though he had won the field and been able to advance to Etchoe, his victory was little better than a defeat, as he found it absolutely necessary to retreat, though Fort London was then blockaded.30 Having destroyed all his surplus supplies to obtain horses for his wounded, he reached Fort Prince George in safety, though the Indians hovered around and annoyed him to the utmost of their power. Soon afterwards he embarked for New York, in pursuance of his instructions, but he left the frontiers in a more desperate position than that in which he found them.31

The Cherokees besiege Fort London

The Cherokees besiege Fort London; it capitulates and its garrison is massacred; Attakullakulla ransoms and liberates Captain John Stuart; Colonel Grant invades and destroys the Middle towns; the Indians yield and peace is restored. 1760-1761.

While Oconostota was opposing Colonel Montgomery's invasion of the Middle towns, Willinawaw was laying siege to Fort Loudon, in the Overhill towns. All communication with Fort Prince George, the point from which they drew their supplies, being cut off, the garrison was soon reduced to the necessity of eating the flesh of their lean horses and dogs. Many of the soldiers had Indian wives who, notwithstanding Willinawaw's threat to kill any who should assist the enemy, daily supplied them with such food as they could procure. This they did openly, and Willinawaw dared not put his threat into execution, because they told him their relations would make his life atone for theirs.32 With the assistance of these devoted wives, the garrison was enabled to hold out until the beginning of August. The officers endeavored to encourage the men with hopes of relief.

They had sent runners to Virginia and South Carolina, imploring immediate succor, and stating that it was impossible for them to hold out above twenty days longer. The Virginia Assembly at once voted a considerable force for their relief, but as the troops levied were to rendezvous at Fort Robinson, on the Holston, two hundred miles distant from Williamsburg, and afterwards to march two hundred miles further, through an unexplored and trackless wilderness, the garrison might as effectually have been succored from the moon.33

As for South Carolina, the last hope of rescue vanished with the retreat of Colonel Montgomery. Blockaded night and day by the Indians, their provisions being exhausted, and their hope of rescue having failed, the men threatened to leave the fort and die at once by the tomahawk, rather than perish slowly by famine.

In this extremity a council of war was held, and all the officers being of opinion that it was impossible to hold out longer, it was agreed to surrender the fort to the Cherokees on the best terms that could be obtained. With this view Captain John Stuart, the second officer in command, a man of unusual shrewdness and address, who was well acquainted with the Indian life and character, and had many friends among them, was authorized to enter into negotiations for the surrender of the fort. He went to Chota, and held a conference with Oconostota, which resulted in an agreement upon the following articles of capitulation:

That the garrison of Fort Loudon march out with their arms and drums, each soldier having as much powder and ball as their officers shall think necessary for their march, and all the baggage they may choose to carry; that the garrison be permitted to march to Virginia, or Fort Prince George, as the commanding officer may think proper, unmolested; and that a number of Indians be appointed to escort them, and hunt for provisions during their march; that such soldiers as are lame or by sickness disabled from marching, be received into the Indian towns, and kindly used until they recover, and then be allowed to return to Fort Prince George; that the Indians do provide for the garrison as many horses as they conveniently can for their march, agreeing with the officers and soldiers for payment; that the fort, great guns, powder, ball, and spare arms, be delivered to the Indians without- fraud or further delay, on the day appointed for the march of the troops.34

These articles were signed by Paul Demere, on the part of the garrison, and by Oconostota and Cunigacatgoae, in behalf of the Indians.35

On the 7th of August, 1760, the garrison delivered up the fort, and marched out with their arms and drums, escorted by Oconostota and Judge Friend, with a number of their followers. Judge Friend was a chief of great influence, who had an interesting career. His Indian name was Outacite. He was one of the imprisoned chiefs who was liberated along with Oconostota, by Governor Lyttleton, and signed the treaty of Fort Prince George. The first day the garrison moved fifteen miles in the direction of Fort Prince George, and encamped on Tellico Plains. That night the Indians deserted them, and their officers, fearing treachery, placed a strict guard around the camp. Next morning about daybreak a picket came running in, and reported that he had seen a large number of Indians, armed, and painted in the most frightful manner, creeping among the bushes, endeavoring to surround the camp. Scarcely had the officers time to order their men to stand to their guns, when the Indians raised a terrific yell, which struck panic into the hearts of the enfeebled and dispirited soldiers; and at the same time poured a heavy fire in upon them from all directions. Captain Demere, with three of his officers and about twenty-six men, fell at the first onset. Some fled to the woods, where they were hunted down and carried prisoners to the Middle towns. Captain Stuart and those who remained with him, were seized, pinioned, and carried back to Fort London. The discovery that the garrison had, in bad faith, concealed a large part of their military stores before evacuating the fort, has been assigned as the cause of this massacre;36 but the manifest purpose of the Indians was to take satisfaction for the massacre of their peace envoys, at Fort Prince George, which Oconostota and Judge Friend had barely escaped.37

The story of Captain Stuart's escape is one of the most delightful romances of Indian warfare. As soon as Attakullakulla heard that he had survived the massacre and had been made a prisoner, he hastened to the fort, and purchased him from his captor, giving all he had, including his rifle and clothes, by way of ransom. He then took his prisoner to Captain Demeré's house, which he had taken possession of on the surrender of Fort London, and there kept him as a member of his family.

In the meantime Oconostota, intoxicated by the successful termination of the siege of Fort London, and inspired by the possession of its great guns, which he expected his prisoners to man, resolved again to undertake the reduction of Fort Prince George. To this end Captain Stuart was brought before the great council at Chota, and informed that he would be expected to take charge of the men selected to manage the great guns, and to write such letters as they should dictate; at the same time reminded of the great obligation he owed them for sparing his life. Captain Stuart was so alarmed at this information that he resolved to make his escape or perish in the attempt. He told Attakullakulla how uneasy he was at the thought of being compelled to bear arms against his countrymen; acknowledged that he had been a brother to him in the past; and begged him to help him out of his present perilous position. The old warrior took him by the hand and told him he was his friend; that he had already given one proof of his regard, and intended to give another as soon as his brother should return.

Attakullakulla now claimed Captain Stuart as his personal prisoner. As soon as his brother returned he gave it out that he was going on a few days' hunt, and would take his prisoner with him to eat venison, of which he had long been deprived. Accordingly they departed, taking the direction of the Long Island of Holston. After traveling nine days and nights through the dreary wilderness they fell in with a party of three hundred men, who had been dispatched by Colonel Byrd to reconnoiter in the direction of Fort London. On the fourteenth day they reached Fort Robinson. Here Captain Stuart was delivered to his friends, and Attakullakulla, loaded with presents and provisions, went back to his people, to exert his influence for the protection of the unhappy prisoners, and for the final restoration of peace.

At the conclusion of the war Attakullakulla asked the governor of South Carolina to appoint his friend, Captain Stuart, to reside among the Indians; assuring him that, if he should be appointed, the province would suffer no further molestation from them. The assembly likewise tendered Captain Stuart a vote of thanks, together with a reward of 1,500, for his heroic defense of Fort Loudon, and recommended him to the governor as a man worthy of preference in the service of the province. When, therefore, the Royal government found it expedient that the southern district should have a superintendent of Indian affairs, with powers similar to those exercised by Sir William Johnson, in the northern district, the appointment was given to Captain John Stuart,38 who discharged the duties of the office with distinguished ability and fidelity until the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

The escape of Captain Stuart, and the good offices of Attakullakulla, prevented the investment of Fort Prince George, which was immediately warned of its danger, and victualed with ten weeks' provisions; while the fury of the Indians was somewhat appeased by the distribution of goods of a considerable value, by way of ransom for the survivors of Fort Loudon. But their warriors were still in an ugly mood, and the province, being apprehensive that the apparent calm would soon be broken by a new eruption, Governor Bull again applied to General Amherst for assistance. As he had completed the conquest of Canada, he could now spare an adequate force for the subjugation of the Cherokees, who were then the only people disturbing the peace of America.39

Colonel Montgomery, who conducted the former expedition, having returned to England, the command of the Highlanders devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel James Grant, who was ordered to return with them to the relief of the Carolinas. He arrived at Charleston in January, 1761, and went into winter quarters, until the opening of spring should permit him to take the field. After being joined by the provincial militia and the Chickasaw and Choctaw allies, his army numbered about twenty-six hundred men.

On May 27, 1761, Colonel Grant arrived at Fort Prince George. Here he was met by Attakullakulla, who made an earnest plea in behalf of his people. He said he had always been and would continue to be the firm friend of the English; though he had been called an old woman by the mad young men of his nation, who delighted in war. The outrages of his countrymen covered him with shame, and filled his heart with grief; yet he would gladly interpose in their behalf in order to bring about peace. Often he had endeavored to get his people to bury the hatchet; and again and again he entreated Colonel Grant to proceed no further until he had made one more effort to persuade them to consult their safety and agree to terms of peace.

Colonel Grant, however, declined to give him any assurances, and on the 7th day of June, moved out of Fort Prince George, carrying with him provisions for a thirty days' campaign. He marched rapidly towards the Middle towns, which could be reached only by the gap in the mountains, where Colonel Montgomery had been engaged the year before. At this point the men were ordered to load their guns and prepare for action. Lieutenant Francis Marion, afterwards so distinguished in the Revolutionary War, was sent forward with thirty men to explore the pass. Scarcely had he entered the gloomy defile when a sheet of fire blazed forth from behind the rocks and trees all around him. Twenty-one of his men fell at the first discharge; the remainder were barely able to effect their retreat to the main body.40 The action then became general.

The Indians had Colonel Grant's army between a hill, which was occupied by their main force, and a river, on the opposite bank of which a large party maintained a brisk fire. They were repeatedly driven from the heights, but only to return with redoubled ardor; while the low grounds were disputed with determined obstinacy. No sooner did Colonel Grant gain an advantage in one quarter, than the Indians appeared in another. While his attention was occupied in driving them from their lurking place on the river side, his rear was attacked, and so vigorous an effort made to capture his supplies that he was obliged to order a party back for the relief of the rear guard. The battle raged from eight o'clock until eleven in the morning, when the Cherokees gave way. They were pursued for some time, random shots continuing until two o'clock in the afternoon, when the Indians disappeared. The loss of Colonel Grant's army was between fifty and sixty men, killed and wounded; and that of the Indians was probably not greater.

Though the victory was far from decisive, Colonel Grant followed it up with a punishment which, while cruel and heartless, was thoroughly effective; and it furnished a precedent by which the subsequent Indian fighters of the Old Southwest did not fail to profit. He burned every town in the Middle settlements, destroyed their storehouses and ravaged their fields, leaving them absolutely without food or shelter. Being reduced to the greatest misery, they abandoned all thought of war, and sought refuge for their old men, their women and children, among their more fortunate brothers west of the mountains. This ruthless ruin touched the generous heart of Marion, who thus describes it, in a letter to a friend:41

We arrived at the Indian towns in the month of July. As the lands were rich and the season had been favorable, the corn was bending under the double weight of lusty roasting ears and pods of clustering beans. The furrows seemed to rejoice under their precious loads the fields stood thick with bread. We encamped the first night in the woods, near the fields, where the whole army feasted on the young corn, which, with fat venison, made a most delicious treat. The next morning we proceeded, by order of Colonel Grant, to burn down the Indian cabins. Some of our men seemed to enjoy this cruel work, laughing very heartily at the curling flames, as they mounted, loud crackling over the tops of the huts. But to me it appeared a shocking sight. Poor creatures! thought I, we surely need not grudge you such miserable habitations. But when we came according to orders, to cut down the fields of corn, I could scarcely refrain from tears. For who could see the stalks that stood, so stately with broad green leaves and gaily tasseled shocks, filled with sweet milky fluid and flour, the staff of life; who, I say, without grief, could see these sacred plants sinking under our swords with all their precious load, to wither and rot untasted in their mourning fields?"42

This work of destruction occupied Colonel Grant the better part of a month. A few days after his return to Fort Prince George, Attakullakulla, attended by several chiefs, again appeared at his camp, and sued for peace. Colonel Grant drew up a treaty, to all of which Attakullakulla agreed, except the following article: "That four Cherokee Indians be delivered up to Colonel Grant at Fort Prince George, to be put to death in front of his camp; or four green scalps to be brought to him in the space of twelve nights." This he said he had no power to concede, and Colonel Grant consented that he might go to Charleston and see whether Governor Bull would yield this demand.

Governor Bull met him, September, 1761, at Ashley's Ferry, and addressed him, in a friendly spirit, as follows:

Attakullakulla, I am glad to see you, and as I have always heard of your good behavior, that you have been a good friend to the English, I take you by the hand, and not only you but all those with you also, as a pledge of their security whilst under my protection. Colonel Grant acquaints me that you have applied for peace; now that you have come, I have met you with my beloved men, to hear what you have to say, and my ears are open for that purpose.43

Then a fire was kindled, the pipe of peace was lighted, and for some time smoked in silence, when Attakullakulla arose and made this pathetic appeal for his people:

When I came to Keowee, Colonel Grant sent me to you. You are on the water side, and are in the light. We are in darkness; but hope all will be clear. I have been constantly going about doing good; and though I am tired, yet I am come to see what can be done for my people, who are in great distress. As to what has happened, I believe it has been order by our Father above. We are of a different color from the white people. They are superior to us. But one God is father to us all, and we hope what is past will be forgotten. God Almighty made all people. There is not a day but that some are coming into, and others going out of the world. The great king told me the path should never be crooked, but open for everyone to pass. As we all live in one land, I hope that we shall all live as one people.44

This conference resulted in an agreement that put an end to the war, and ushered in a long era of peace.

About the same time that Colonel Grant set out on his campaign against the Middle towns, Colonel William Byrd marched from Virginia against the Overhill towns. Colonel Byrd left the regiment at Stalnaker's, and the command devolved upon Lieutenant Colonel Stephen, who advanced as far as the Long Island of Holston. Here he halted and began the erection of a fort. While he was still engaged in this work, about the middle of November, 1761, Oconostota, accompanied by four hundred of his people, came in to ask for terms of peace, which were concluded on the 19th of November, 1761.

From the execution of this treaty the colonies were at peace with the whole of the Cherokee nation, but in the meantime Fort Loudon had been permanently abandoned, and the settlement of Tennessee delayed for ten years.

Little more remains to be told of the two famous old chiefs who were the central figures in this war; the one as a warrior, and the other as a peacemaker. For the next fifteen years their talks were white, and their people kept the path straight. They prevented Cameron from removing the Watauga settlers in 1772; and when the British persuaded their young warriors to dig up the hatchet in 1776, they still counseled peace. Both signed the treaty of Holston in 1777, and from that time held the Americans firmly by the hand. They, with Willinawaw were appointed by the nation to wait upon the governor of North Carolina, for the purpose of inducing him to open trade with the Cherokees, and thereby counteract the influence of Cameron, who refused to trade with them as long as they were at peace with the Americans.45 Attakullakulla must have died soon afterwards, as this is the last time his name is mentioned in the records.

Oconostota lived a few more stormy years. Chota, which had been spared by Christian in 1776, was destroyed by Campbell and Sevier during the last days of 1780, and Oconostota was compelled to flee to the mountains, where he established a temporary residence, 46 though he afterwards returned to his beloved town. In the fall of 1781, the British agent in Georgia nominated the Raven as principal chief in opposition to Oconostota, and gave him a medal as a token of his authority. 47 After this revolt of the war party, Oconostota undertook to resign his position in favor of his son, Tuckasee, a friendly chief, and asked Colonel Martin to assist at the ceremony of his installation, in the name of Virginia.48 Although Oconostota claimed the consent of the whole nation, Tuckasee was never received as its principal chief, that honor having fallen to another friendly chief, called the Tassel.

Oconostota died in the spring of 1785, and his influence was greatly missed by the American agent. 49 His death as well as the death of Attakullakulla, was spoken of at the treaty of Hopewell, in 1785, as an event well known to the whites as well as the Indians.50"

Footnotes:
1. Myths of the Cherokee, By James Mooney, p. 14
2. Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulgees or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Choctaws. By William Bartram, pp. 482-3
3. Mooney's Myths of the Cherokee, p. 35.
4. Opinions of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The State vs. James Foreman, Nashville, 1835, pp. 34-5.
5. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, pp. 46-7; Drake's Indians of North America, 15th edition, pp. 366-7.
6. Ramsey, p. 47, note.
7. Hewat's Historical Account of South Carolina and Georgia, Vol. 2, p. 221.
8. Adair's American Indians, p. 81.
9. Bartram's Travels, p. 482.
10. Timberlake's Memoirs, p. 72.
11. Ramsey, p. 50.
12. Ramsey, p. 51.
13. History of the Revolt of the American Colonies. By George Chalmers. Vol. 2, pp. 363-4, 366.
14. The Memoirs of Lieut. Henry Timberlake (who accompanied the three Cherokee Indians to England in the year 1762), containing whatever he observed remarkable, or worthy of public notice, during his travels to and from that nation; wherein the country, government, genius and customs of the inhabitants are authentically described. Also the principal occurrences during their residence in London. Illustrated with an accurate map of their Overhill settlements, etc., London. MDCCLXV.
15. Timberlake's Memoirs, p. 65.
16. "Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. 2, p. 114.
17. Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. 2, p. 135.
18. Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, p. 99.
19. Burnaby's Travels Through North America, Ed. 1904, pp. 193-195. The writer gives his account on the authority of one of the gentlemen engaged in the embassy; but he is in error in supposing that the Cherokee war began at that time; it did not commence until 1760. The accounts of the origin of this war are so confused and contradictory that it is impossible to reconcile their statements, and sometimes difficult to reach a satisfactory conclusion from them.
20. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1, p. 252.
21. Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. 2, pp. 245, 260-61, 269, 270.
22. Forbes to Peters, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 33, p. 93.
23. Forbes to Byrd, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 33, pp. 95-6.
24. Adair's American Indians, pp. 246-7.
25. Drake's Indians of North America, p. 375.
26. Adair's American Indians, p. 252.
27. Adair's American Indians, p. 250.
28. Hewat's Historical Account of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, Vol. 2, p. 231.
29. Trumbull's General History of the United States of America, Vol. 1, p. 435.
30. Chalmers' History of the Revolt of the American Colonies, Vol. 2, p. 375.
31. In this account of the first Cherokee war I have followed, in the main, Alexander Hewat's "An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and! Georgia." In two volumes. London, 1779.
32. Timberlake's Memoirs, pp. 65-6.
33. Burnaby's Travels Through North America. Ed. 1904, p. 56, note.
34. Hewat's Historical Account of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, Vol. 2, pp. 237-8.
35. Drake's Indians of North America, 15th Ed., p. 377.
36. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, p. 60.
37. Hewat, Vol. 2, p. 243.
38. Hewat, Vol. 2, p. 276.
39. Sparks' Writings of Washington, Vol. 2, p. 336.
40. Horry and Weems' Life of Francis Marion, pp. 22-3.
41. Horry and Weems' Life of Marion, pp. 24-5.
42. Hewat, Vol. 2., p. 252.
43. Hewat, Vol. 2, p. 252.
44. Hewat, Vol. 2, p. 253.
45. James Robertson to Governor Caswell, October 17, 1777. State Records of North Carolina, Vol. 11, p. 654.
46. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1, p. 602.
47. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1, pp. 446-7.
48. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 3, p. 234.
49. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 4, p. 54. The story that he was still alive in 1809, a victim of strong drink, as repeated in Thwaites and Kellogg's Dunmore's War, pp. 38-9, is, of course, apocryphal, as he had then been dead nearly a quarter of a century.
50. American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. 1, p. 42.

 AHGP Tennessee

Source: Tennessee Historical Society, Volume IV, Indian Wars and Warriors of the Old Southwest, 1730-1807, Nashville, 1918.

 

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