The Royal Colony of North Carolina


The French and Indian War in the Carolinas

1756 to 1763

Continued conflict between the British and the French escalated into war during the 1750s and 1760s. This conflict was known as the Seven Years War, the Great War for the Empire, or the French and Indian War. In the Carolinas, it was known as the Cherokee War. There is no record of what the Cherokee called it.

The British colonies spanned along the Atlantic Coast and the French colonies stretched from the Gulf Coast up into Canada. This area and the Cherokee were caught in the middle. Any chance of British expansion westward would certainly involve the Cherokee and the French.

The Cherokee, to balance the death of Cherokee warriors in Virginia, began isolated attacks along the frontier of both the Carolinas. As a reaction, the Governor of South Carolina, William Henry Lyttleton, organized approximately 1,300 men and marched into the backcountry of South Carolina in the fall of 1759.

After deciding to march against the Cherokee but before leaving, a group of Cherokee traveled to Charles Town to apologize for raids in the backcountry. The decision was made to take these Cherokee, under protective custody, with Lyttleton into the backcountry.

Lyttleton and his men reached the Cherokee town of Keowee and camped across the river. It was here that they met an enemy other than the Cherokee - Smallpox. When symptoms of Smallpox began to spread throughout the camp, soldiers began to turn back home and eventually, the order to return to Charles Town was given after the fact. Lyttleton had chosen one Cherokee, Little Carpenter or Attakullakulla, to be the sole negotiator between him and the Cherokee.

The Cherokee who had been brought along from Charles Town were left at Fort Prince George as hostages. The returning soldiers took the disease back and Smallpox broke out in Charles Town in 1760.

In February of 1760, an English officer was lured out of Fort Prince George, on the pretense of talking to a Cherokee delegation, and killed. In turn, all captured Cherokee hostages inside the fort were killed.

Again, the Cherokee sought to balance this act with further attacks on white settlers. One instance occurred against a wagon train of refugees which was mired in a swamp near Long Cane Creek. One of those killed by the Cherokee was Catherine Montgomery Calhoun, the grandmother of John C. Calhoun.

A second campaign of the war was led by Colonel Archibald Montgomery in 1760. Marching swiftly into the backcountry, they took the Cherokee by surprise and destroyed the lower towns of the Cherokee Nation.

Montgomery and his men continued on and were ambushed by the Cherokee near Echoe (near what is Franklin, NC today) as they passed through the mountains along the Little Tennessee River. Montgomery, thus, ordered a retreat back to Charles Town.

The third campaign of the war was led by Colonel James Grant who had been Montgomery's second in command in the Spring of 1761. He traveled through the lower and middle towns for thirty-three days, burning the Cherokee towns and raising havoc before returning to Charles Town. In September of 1761, the Cherokee sued for peace and treaties were signed.

A boundary was established, twenty six miles east of Keowee, between Carolina and the Cherokee. Because of his prior negotiation skills, South Carolina recognized Little Carpenter as Emperor, which was accepted with indifference by most Cherokee.

The French and Indian War in the Carolinas was now ended.

In 1754, the Canadian French advanced south and seized the forks of the Ohio River. They began building Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) at the conflux of the Ohio River and the Allegheny River. Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie dispatched 21-year-old George Washington to "warn the French away."

When that didn't work, he called the Virginia militia into service. He also made alliances with various tribes for support of a campaign against the French. Nathaniel Gist (also 21 years old, and recommended by George Washington) was sent to Chota to offer Virginia trade for Cherokee fighting men.

Virginia's Governor Dinwiddie and South Carolina's Governor James Glen had different intentions regarding the Cherokee. South Carolina wanted protection against attack and Virginia desired using the Cherokee in an offensive to drive the French from the Ohio country. The two governors quarreled about the construction of a fort among the Overhills. Virginia only paid one thousand of the seven thousand pounds South Carolina had requested. Fort Prince George was built among the lower Cherokee near Keowee town in the backcountry of South Carolina.

In 1755, whites along the Yadkin and Catawba Rivers were attacked by Cherokee from Settico. Afterwards, Old Hop and Little Carpenter sent peace messengers to the English. Considerable Cherokee land was ceded by warriors and headmen in a meeting with Governor James Glen. The spokesperson for the Cherokee was Chulochcullak at a meeting at Saluda (25 miles northwest of Greenville, South Carolina). Old Hop agreed to cede Cherokee land in South Carolina (amounting to the western fourth of the state).

Governor Glen responded by directing Fort Prince George be built on the land of the Catawbas, far up the headwaters of the Savannah River, on the Cherokee path near Keowee. Fort Moore was built about 170 miles further down, just below and opposite Augusta.

The British and the French were both courting Indian tribes to sway support in their favor. On July 2,1755, Cherokee chiefs, headmen and warriors gathered in a grove of trees near Saluda for a meeting with Governor Glen. It was on this day when Attakullakulla became known as a great orator and spokesperson for his people.

Oconostota led an expedition against the French and their Indian allies in the Illinois-Wabash country. He was the "first warrior" of Chota. He also commanded about 500 warriors in a campaign against the Creek. He drove the Creek out of northern Georgia.

At the battle at Taliwa, Nancy Ward earned her title as "War Woman" of Chota when she fought after her first husband, Kingfisheer, was killed. Nancy was the niece of Attakullakulla and later married Brian Ward, an Irish trader. Ostenaco Outacite or Mankiller (also known as Judd's Friend because he saved the life of a white man) took 130 men north to help protect the Virginia frontier from the Shawnee. John Brown, Sr. was born in Creekpath, Alabama, in 1755 (John Brown I or Yau-nu-gung-yah-ski (Drowned By A Bear) or Sr.).

In 1756, Virginia commissioners Peter Randolph & William Byrd were sent to the Catawba and the Cherokee to recruit more fighters. They met the Cherokee on the French Broad River in North Carolina. They offered to build a school for Cherokee boys, but the elders wanted a fort instead, explaining that once the men knew their women and children would be safe, they would be willing to leave them and go fight.

Ostenao joined with a 250-man Virginia force in a campaign against the Shawnee. The Virginia force fell apart after their canoes overturned and dumped much of their armament and supplies into the river. Major Andrew Lewis was sent by Virginia to Chota to build a fort. Although he was welcomed by Old Hop, there was dissension.

With the French and Indian War came fierce competition among various tribes. Major Lewis built a log fort on the north bank of the Little Tennessee, a mile above Chota. Afterwards he recommended to Virginia Governor Dinwiddie that he crush the Cherokee into submission. South Carolina Governor James Glen was being replaced.

Before leaving office Governor Glen sent Captain Raymond DeMere to Fort Prince George for repairs. Then DeMere was assigned to move on to Chota. He arrived there with two hundred troops and a long packhorse train loaded with materials, supplies, and gifts.

Old Hop's captive servant, French John, was considered a French agent. Attakullakulla had risen in power dramatically. There was rivalry between him and Old Hop. William De Brahm, a german engineer, was part of DeMere's party, as was Captain John Stuart. Stuart was commander of a company of South Carolina provincials.

De Brahm began constructing a fort on a narrow ridge near the conflux of the Tellico and the Little Tennessee Rivers (south of present day Knoxville). The new post was named Fort Loudoun in honor of the Earl of Loudoun. Fort Loudoun was the westernmost English outpost for three years. It was abandoned at the outbreak of the Cherokee War and reoccupied after 1761.

Of the older John Brown’s character, Daniel Pepper wrote the new South Carolina Governor William Henry Lyttleton from Ockchoy, Upper Creeks in 1756: “I have known Brown from a boy. He is a sober and careful man, has distinguished himself bravely in war with the Chickesaws against their enemies and has conduct and courage sufficient in their way."

Also in a letter to Governor Lyttleton, Daniel Pepper spoke of John Brown as "being a half-breed by a Cherokee woman." In his letter, Pepper requested that Brown be given a commission as captain and command over a company of Chickasaw at Bread Camp.

In 1760, a major military expedition under Colonel Archibald Montgomery with 1,200 soldiers marched from Charles Town to relieve Fort Loudoun. The column was ambushed in the mountains north of Keowee town. The army burned a few towns and hastily fell back to Charles Town.

Twenty-three settlers were killed three miles outside the present site of Troy, South Carolina, in what is known as the Long Canes massacre. John Brown was now commander of the Chickasaw at Bread Camp. Also, he is now called Captain.

The Cherokee War went from 1760 to 1762. No doubt this was a difficult situation for the "half-breed" Cherokee soldier. Brown was at the signing of a peace treaty after this war. So was a John Ross. They were listed under Head Men, Warriors, etc. in the Ockchoy Square present for Governor Lyttleton’s talk.

Hiwassee and Nottelies Cherokee killed trader John Kelley, quartered his body and set his head and hands on stakes. Elliott's post at New Keowee was attacked. At the middle settlement of Tuckaseegee, James Russell and James Crawford were killed. Creek Indians of the Upper Nation murdered upwards of twenty of the English traders among them. A few only are supposed to have made their escape to the Alabama fort and Pensacola and some have reached Augusta.

In 1763, the Cherokee began migrating into northern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri after the French defeat by the British. They were given land and welcomed in by Spain. Francis Breton settled near Potosi and began to operate a mine bearing his name. This was the first permanent European settlement in Missouri. The territory west of the Mississippi was ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Paris at the end of the French and Indian Wars. It stayed that way until 1800.

North Carolina's first expedition of militiamen was sent out to support Maj./Col. George Washington in 1754. Col. James Innes had 450 men with him, but his men were poorly equipped and poorly funded. Innes had been a veteran of the Cartegena Expediton of 1740. This first new expedition was disbanded in August of 1754.

In 1755, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized more land to further complete Fort Johnston at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and for the creation of Fort Granville at Ocracoke Inlet. Fort Granville was never completed. Another fort was planned for Topsail Inlet, but it too was never completed.

In the Spring of 1755, a company of 85 men under Capt. Edward Brice Dobbs, Gov. Arthur Dobbs's son, went to Virginia and marched with Gen. Edward Braddock in his humiliating defeat on the Monongahela in July of 1755. Most of the North Carolina militia deserted after that disaster. The remainder joined with Col. James Innes, the new commander of Fort Cumberland on the western Potomac River.

Soon thereafter, Gov. Arthur Dobbs raised three companies of militia in North Carolina. The first permitted conscription of vagrants between the ages of 21 and 50. The second drafted unmarried militimen for service outside North Carolina. The third authorized the Governor and Executive Council to order militiamen to serve in Virginia or South Carolina.

In 1757, the Hawk, a North Carolina Privateer, captured a French cargo ship valued at £5,000.

North Carolina also provided militiamen in the Fort Duquesne expedition of 1758, but how many is not currently known. In late July, it was noted that two companies of North Carolina troops, down to only 96 men, had arrived, and that a third company of 46 men was soon expected. Apparently, about 300 men had been sent, but most had deserted along the way. These that did arrive participated in September of 1758.

In 1760, Gov. Arthur Dobbs reported to the British Secretary of State, William Pitt, that of the 500 men ordered out, all but about 80 men had deserted.

In 1762, 48 men enlisted and were assigned to the 17th Regiment of Foot in the Regular British Army.

By the end of the French & Indian War, North Carolina had authorized and spent over £102,00 in proclamation money, at that time the rate was 4 proclamation to 3 sterling.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved