The American Revolution in North Carolina

Cherokee Expedition 1782

June 1, 1782 thru October 31, 1782


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Charles McDowell
Loyalist/Indian Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

0
Killed:

Unk
Wounded:

0
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

0
Captured:

Unk
Original Counties: 

Burke, Rutherford, Washington
Present Counties:

McDowell, Buncombe,
Haywood, Jackson,
Macon, Clay,
Cherokee + TN

In early 1782, with the British army confined to their singular possession in the two Carolinas at Charlestown in South Carolina, the Militias of the two states could now turn their attention to solving their Loyalist and Cherokee problems, which were linked in the backcountry of both states. Large number of Loyalists had fled their homes in both Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia and took refuge among the Chickamaugas and Cherokees. Here, the Loyalists began inciting the Indians to renew hostilities due to many recent encroachments by Patriot settlers on Indian lands. Soon, the Cherokees protested very loudly; loud enough that Acting Governor Alexander Martin wrote a letter on February 11, 1782 to the leaders of Washington County, and it was addressed to Col. John Sevier:

"Sir, I am distressed with the repeated complaints of the Indians respecting the daily incursions of our people on their lands beyond the French Broad River. 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. By interposing your inflluence on these, our unruly citizens, I think will have sufficient weight, without going to extremities disgraceful to them and disagreeable to the State. You will, therefore, please to warn these intruders off the lands reserved for the Indians by the late Act of the Assembly; that they remove immediately, at least by the middle of March, otherwise they will be drove off. If you find them still refractory at the above time, you will draw forth a body of your Militia on horseback, and pull down the cabins and drive them off, laying aside every consideration of ther entreaties to the contrary. You will please to give me the earliest of your proceedings."

In June of 1782, Col. John Sevier assembled 200 men at the Great Island on the Holston River. Here he waited in vain for supplies that never arrived. He soon gathered what provisions he could and he marched directly upon Echota. Here he held a conference with Old Tassel and the Ottari chieftains, and so won their good will that they laid aside their grievances and also gave him an escort, John Watts, soon to be their head chieftain. Col. Sevier set his sights on the Lookout towns on the Tennessee River and the Chickamaugas.

On the eighth day after departing from the Nolichucky River, he came to their towns, and laid one after another of them in ashes. The Patriots took the "Eschota Towns," then went to the towns on the Hiwassee River and burned those towns and destroyed the crops. From there, they marched to some towns on Shoemake Creek, which empties into the East Tennessee River, and here they burned these towns and also destroyed their crops. The Indians fled as before to their hiding places along the river, where they mistakenly thought the Patriots would not follow. Col. Sevier caught them at Lookout Mountain on September 20, 1782.

In the meantime, Brigadier General Charles McDowell and his Morgan District Brigade of Militia from Burke, Lincoln, Rutherford, Surry, and Wilkes counties also began to assemble in June of 1782. Those from Lincoln County gathered at Ramseur's Mill. It was not until around the first of August when the expedition linked up with Col. Joseph McDowell and his Burke County Regiment at the head of the Catawba River. Here they marched across the Blue Ridge and met with the Rutherford County men under Lt. Col. James Miller and Major Richard Singleton. This merged group now followed essentially the same path that Brigadier General Griffith Rutherford took in 1776, only this time they proceeded a bit further into Cherokee territory. Meeting little or no resistance, this Patriot force destroyed towns, cut down crops, and then returned home with many prisoners. This group of Militia was mostly discharged in mid-October.


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Abraham Forney (W3976) asserted:

"Then in the year 1782, there was a call upon the Militia to go against the Cherokee Indians. We rendezvoused at Ramseur's Mills 1 June 1782. That in this expedition, he substituted in place of his brother, Peter Forney, who had substituted for Captain Nicholas Friday, and being accepted took command of the company. We remained at Ramseur's Mill until about the first of August, when we commenced our march & we joined the troops of Wilkes & Burke near the head of the Catawba River. My company was attached to Colonel Joseph McDowell's regiment. From this we marched across the Blue Ridge and met with the Rutherford troops on the Swannanoa River under the command of [Lt.] Col. [James] Miller - [Brig.] General Charles McDowell taking the command of the expedition - after the juncture of the Rutherford troops, we took up our line of march into the nation nearly on the trail of [Brig.] General [Griffith] Rutherford in the year 1776 and marched some further than where the main army halted in that year. Meeting with no Indian forces of any strength, we destroyed their towns, cut down their corn fields, and with the prisoners we commenced our march home. We were dismissed in October 1782. He states that he finds a memorandum in a Bible stating that he returned home on the 27th of October 1782."


In his 1832 penson application affadavit, John Weaver (R11239) asserted:

"His Captain was Thomas Woods. The name of his Lieutenant he has forgotten. William Murphy was the Ensign. John Sevier, at this time, likewise, had the chief command. They marched against the Cherokees, and took the towns called "the Echota Towns." From there, they continued their march to some towns on the Hiwassee River, and burned the towns and destroyed the crops. From there, they marched to some towns on Shoemake Creek, which empties into the East Tennessee River. They also burnt these towns and destroyed the crops. From there, they marched up the Hightower River to some towns, which in like manner they destroyed - killed seven Indians. From there they returned by the way of the Coosawhatchie River and burnt and destroyed some more towns. From there they came to the three forks of Hiwassee, and held a treaty and made peace. From there, they went to Little Tennessee, traveled down yet to its mouth, and then ascended the Big Tennessee to Eschota, and there also held a treaty and made peace. They sent some spies to the Chickamauga towns, with the hope of ascertaining their willingness to treat, but ascertained that there was no hope of effecting it, nor were they able to fight them, the Indians there had a large body of effective men and continued hostile. From the town of Echota, on being dismissed after the treaty, this declarant returned home."


In his 1834 pension application affadavit, Jesse Byrd (R1574) asserted:

"In the summer of the same year [1782], applicant again volunteered under Captain Cornelius McGuire in the regiment commanded by Colonel John Sevier against the hostile Indians. We passed the Tennessee River at or near old Chota, called by the Indians the beloved town. From thence, we crossed the Hiwassee River about eight miles below what is now called Calhoun. From thence to a town called Vans Town, which we burnt. From thence to Bulls Town on Chickamauga Creek, where we took some prisoners & burnt said town. From thence our course was towards the junction of the Coosa & Hightower rivers. On our way to the last-mentioned place at an Indian village our advanced guard surprised & took a white man prisoner by the name of Hemins or Clemins, but he attempting to make his escape was shot by one of our company (Isaac Thomas) and died immediately. From an examination of his papers, he appeared to have been a Sergeant in the British service. From the last-mentioned place, we proceeded to destroy the Indian towns and villages on the Coosa River, and as we believe burnt & destroyed every town and village on said river & killed a number of Indians & penetrated further into the Indian country that even an army had before. Having gone up as far as in the neighborhood of what is now called the Talking Rock, we marched from there by way of Conasauga, burned some villages at and on that river [creek] and came back by way of Hiwassee, Tennessee & returned home afer having to the best of his recollection at least six months."


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, John Gorsage (S2579) asserted:

"... and marched under Captain [Robert] Koil [Kyle] to the Cherokee nation, a part of which was aligned to Great Britain & was commanded by Colonels Sevier & Anderson [?] & was marched almost all over said nation. I assisted in burning their towns, retaking property, &s. He recollects of being at the Chota towns, Hiwassee towns, Wills town, and at the Lookout Mountain, &c., &c."


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Abraham Sevier (S1589) asserted:

"About the last of June 1782, he again volunteered for a tour of 3 months and joined a company commanded by Captain George North, and the company joined the regiment commanded by Colonel John Sevier, and marched to Hiwassee River in the Cherokee nation. They were out some over 2 months, during this time they killed some Indians, took some prisoners, and burned some Indian towns."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Morgan District Brigade of Militia led by Brigadier General Charles McDowell

Washington County Regiment of Militia led by Col. John Sevier, Lt. Col. Joseph Martin, Lt. Col. Charles Robertson, Major Joseph Bullard, Major Valentine Sevier, Jr., and Major Jonathan Tipton, with twenty-eight (28) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Robert Bean
- Capt. Isaac Butler
- Capt. Joseph Casey
- Capt. Nathaniel Davis
- Capt. George Doherty
- Capt. Joseph Ford
- Capt. James Gibson
- Capt. Thomas Hardeman
- Capt. Harden
- Capt. James Hubbard
- Capt. John Hunter
- Capt. Robert King
- Capt. Robert Kyle
- Capt. Cornelius McGuire
- Capt. George North
- Capt. John Patterson
- Capt. James Richardson
- Capt. James Robertson
- Capt. John Scott
- Capt. William Smith
- Capt. Christopher Taylor
- Capt. John Tipton
- Capt. Thomas Vincens
- Capt. Samuel Wear
- Capt. James Wilson
- Capt. Thomas Wilson
- Capt. Thomas Wood
- Capt. Young

Burke County Regiment of Militia led by Col. Joseph McDowell, Lt. Col. James Miller (Rutherford County), Lt. Col. William Wofford, and Major Richard Singleton (Rutherford County), with fifteen (15) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Abraham Forney (Lincoln County)
- Capt. Peter Hedrick (Rowan County)
- Capt. Henry Highland
- Capt. Alexander Irvin
- Capt. Samuel Killian
- Capt. John McDowell
- Capt. John Miller (Rutherford)
- Capt. William Neill
- Capt. Robert Patton
- Capt. Daniel Smith
- Capt. William Smith
- Capt. John Watson
- Capt. John Watson (Rutherford County)
- Capt. Henry Whitener (Lincoln County)
- Capt. James Wilson (Rutherford County)

Wilkes County Regiment of Militia led by Col. Benjamin Herndon, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Beverly (Surry County)
- Capt. John Kees
- Capt. Edmund Sams (Surry County)
- Capt. William Sloan

Cherokee Indians - Unknown Leader

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