In the last part of this narration, we left off with Lydia Bean being captured and taken to an Indian Village. The plans were for her to be burned. Fortunately, for her Nancy Ward stepped in to save her. Thankfully, her life was spared. Lydia stayed with Nancy for a short time and she taught the squaws how to make butter and cheese.
The Wataugans having so few men, (some say around 40, others 75), could not go after the estimated 350 Native Americans warriors under Old Abram and consequently stayed in the fort. On the morning of July 21st the women had gone out to milk the cows when they spotted the warriors. They ran screaming back to the fort and roused the men. One of the young women had her way to the fort gate blocked by the warriors and she tried to scale the wall. John Sevier reached over the wall to help her into the fort. This was Catherine Sherrill, who later became Sevier’s “Bonny Kate” when he married her four years later after the death of his first wife.
Another woman, Ann Robertson, sister of James helped the cause by getting the women to pour boiling water from the wash pots over the warriors who got too close to the wall. This worked and the warriors stayed back. Old Abram stayed in the area conducting small raids but withdrew when he heard that Dragging Canoe had been wounded and the warriors defeated.
Finally, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina sent men to aid the settlers, but the Native American had already been routed. The troops met in September 1776 and General Griffith Rutherford of North Carolina led 2,400 men down the French Broad River where he met 1,200 men under Colonel Andrew Williamson of South Carolina. They combined forces to destroy the Cherokee’s Middle and Valley Towns. The Cherokees then asked for peace and the agreement was signed July 20, 1777.
One interesting event during this time was the first ever “Fourth of July” celebration on Tennessee soil, described by Samuel Cole Williams on page 70 in Tennessee During the Revolutionary War: The minutes of the commissioners recite: Brothers, Just one year ago the thirteen United States declared themselves free and Independent, and that they would no longer be in subjection and slavery to the King of Great Britain. The Americans have now for one year since their freedom fought against their enemies that came in ships over the great water, and have beat them in many battles; have killed some thousands of them and taken many prisoners, and the Great Being above hath made them prosperous. We hope, therefore, that this day every year hereafter will be a day of rejoicing and gladness. Brothers, as this is a day of general rejoicing throughout the thirteen united colonies from Canada to the Floridas, we hope our brothers, the Cherokees, will now rejoice and be merry with us.
The young warriors then closed the entertainment with a dance. These men whom the British had tried to incite against the Americans thus joined in a celebration of the freedom of the American people from British rule! No counterpart can be found in American history.
Dragging Canoe refused to participate, moved down the Chickamauga River, and with only dissidents, become the core of the Chickamauga Indians.
Our next installment will explore how Tennessee went from a Territory to Statehood.
If you enjoyed this bit of history you can find more interesting articles from the publication it was taken from in:
History of Washington County Tennessee 1988, Watauga Association of Genealogists ~ Northeast Tennessee, 1988, Walsworth Publishing Co., Inc. Print
The above information copied and used with permission of WAGS. You can find the book mentioned above at some local libraries and many genealogical societies.