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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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Chapter II. — War with the Cherokees.


While these fundamental changes were taking place in the relations and prospects of the northern tribes, those of the south remained quiescent, relying for security on the power of the French. The Cherokees, at that time, occupied the interior of South Carolina, extending from the head waters of the Savannah, and its principal branch, the Keowee, across the Appalachian chain to the Tennessee, then called the Cherokee river. Either instigated by wrong counsels, or indulging their natural proclivities for rapine and murder, these Indians had comitted several outrages on the frontier settlements of this province. At the close of the year 1759, Governor Littleton, having obtained from the legislature authority to raise a large body of men, with which to bring the tribe to terms, promptly marched into the Cherokee country at the head of 800 provincials, and 300 regular troops. This incursion, succeeding, as it did, a long period of inactivity and supineness, so much intimidated and surprised the tribe, that, being then entirely unprepared for open war, they did not hesitate to sue for peace, which was granted them in too much haste, without understanding the tru nature of the Indian character and policy.

At this time the territory of the Cherokees extended from Fort Ninety-Six, on the Carolina frontiers, and Fort Prince George, on the Keowee branch of the Svannah, to the main sources of that river, and across the Appalachian chain to, and down the Cherokee, or Tennessee, river, and its sourthern branches — a country replete with all the resources requisite in Indian life, possessing a delightful climate, and abounding in fertile, sylvan valleys, The tribe has been accused of operating against the southern frontier under the influence of the French, who supplied them with arms and ammunition.

The treaty concluded with Governor Littleton, refers to certain articles of amity and commerce entered into with these people, at Whitehall, September, 7, 1730, as well as to another pacification of November 19, 1758, and then proceeds, with the precision of the legal phraseology of the old black-letter lawyers, to rehearse grievances of a later date, for all which transgressions the tribe stipulates to make amends, and promises future good conduct. They actually delivered up two Cherokees who had committed murders, promised the surrender of twenty more, and gave twenty of their principal

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chiefs, as hostages for the due performance of the terms of the treaty. To this formal document the great chief of the nation, Attakullakulla, and five other principal chiefs, subsequently affixed their assent and guaranty. This matter being accomplished, Governor Littleton returned with his army to Charleston, and the Indians, after a short time, recommenced their depredations. It has been remarked by Major Mante, that "the Indians are of such a disposition, that unless they really feel the rod of chastisement, they cannot be prevailed on to believe that we have the power to inflict it; and, accordingly, whenever they happened to be attacked by us, unprepared, they had recourse to a treaty of peace, as a subterfuge, which gave them time to collect themselves. Then, without the least regard to the bonds of public faith, they, on the first opportunity, renewed their depredations. Negotiations, and treaties of peace, they despised; so that the only hopes to bring to reason their intractible minds, and of making them acknowledge our superiority, and live in friendship with us, must arise from the severity of chastisement." 290

Littleton has scarcely returned home, when the Cherokees renewed their ravages. They attacked with great fury the settlement of Long Canes, sparing neither planter, cattle, buildings, women, nor children. There were particularly severe on English traders. This attack was subsequently repeated by a party of 200 warriors, who extended their depredations to the forks of the Broad river, where they surprised and killed forty men. Inspirited by their success they made an attack on Ninety-Six, but the fort proving too strong, they proceeded to the Congaree, spreading devastation both by fire and sword around them. Littleton, on the receipt of the earliest news of these irruptions, sent an express to General Amherst, asking for reinforcements.

On the 18th of February, 1760, the Cherokees assembled around Fort Prince George, on the Keowee river, and attempted to surprise it. While the garrison was gazing at the force from the ramparts, a noted cheif, called Ocunnasto, approached, and desired to speak to Lieutenant Coytmore, the commandant, who agreed to meet him on the banks of the Keowee river, whither he was acoompanied by Ensign Bell, and Mr. Coharty, the interpreter. Ocunnasto siad he wished to go down and see the Governor, and requested that a white man might be allowed to accompany him. This request being assented to, he said to an Indian, "Go and catch a horse for me." This was objected to; but the chief, making a feint motion, carelessly swung a bridle which he held, three times around his head. This being a secret signal to men lying concealed, a volley was instantly poured in, which mortally wounded Coytmore, who received a ball in his breast, and inflicted deep wounds on the others.

This treachery aroused the indignation of Ensign Miln, commanding the garrison of the fort, who determined to put the twenty Cherokee hostages, and also the two murderers, in irons. But the first attempt to seize the assassins was instantly resisted;

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the soldier who was deputed to effect it was tomahawked and killed, and another one wounded. This so exasperated those within the fort, that all the hostages were immediately put to death. In the evening the Indians fired two signal guns before the fort, and, being ignorant of the manner in which the hostages had been disposed of, shouted to them, "Fight strong and you shall be aided." The works were then invested, and an irregular fire maintained all night, with but little effect. On searching the room which had been occupied by the hostages, several tomahawks were found buried in the ground, which had been stealthily conveyed to the prisoners by their visiting friends.

Meantime, Amherst, immediately on the receipt of Governor Littleton's express, had despatched to his relief 600 Highlanders, and an equal number of Royals, under Colonel Montgomery. On reaching Charleston, Montgomery immediately took the field. The celerity of his movements against the Cherokees took them completely by surprise. On the 26th of May he reached Fort Ninety-Six, and, June 1, passed the Twelve mile branch of the Keowee, with his baggage and stores, and, conveying them up amazingly rocky steeps, he pushed on, night and day, marching eighty-four miles before taking a night's rest. Having progressed forty miles further, he constructed a camp on an eligible site, and leaving his wagons and cattle, with his tents standing, under a suitable guard of provincials and rangers, he took the rest of his troops, lightly-armed, and directed his course toward the Cherokee towns. Thus far his scouts had discovered no enemy, and his rapid advance had been unheralded. His first object was to attack Estatoe, a town some twenty-five miles in advance, and for this purpose he set out at eight o'clock in the evening. After marching sixteen miles, he heard a dog bark on the left, at the town of Little Keowee, about a quarter of a mile from the road, of the location of which his guides had not informed him. He immediately detached a force with orders to surround it, and to bayonet every man, but to spare the women and children. This order was strictly executed; the men being found encamped outside the houses, were killed, and their families captured, unharmed. In the mean time the main force marched forward to Estatoe, in which they found but ten or twelve men, who were killed. This town comprised about 200 houses, which were well supplied with provisions and ammunition. Montgomery, determining to make the nation feel the power of the colonies, immediately attacked the other towns in succession, until every one in the lower nation had been visited and destroyed. About seventy Cherokees were killed, and, including the women and children, forty were taken prisoners. Only four English soldiers were killed, and two officers wounded. Montgomery then returned to Fort Prince George, on the Keowee, where he awaited proposals of peace from the Cherokees, but hearing nothing from them, he resolved to make a second incursion into the middle settlements of the nation. He marched his army from the fort on the 24th of June, and using the same despatch as on the previous occasion, in three days he reached the town of Etchowee.

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The scouts having discovered three Indians as they approached this place, took one of them prisoner, who attempted to amuse the colonel with the tale of their being ready to sue for peace; but he, not crediting the story, marched cautiously forward for a mile, when his advanced guard was fired on from a thicket, and in the melee its captain was killed. Montgomery, hearing the firing, ordered the grenadiers and light infantry to advance; who steadily pushed forward through an ambuscade of 500 Indians, rousing them from their coverts. As they reached more elevated and clearer ground, the troops drove the Indians before them at the point of the bayonet. Placing himself at the head of his force, he proceeded toward the town, following a narrow path, where it was necessary to march in Indian file, the surrounding country being well reconnoitered in advance by his scouts. On reaching Etchowee it was found to have been abandoned. After encamping on the open plain, Montgomery ordered out detachments in several directions, who performed gallant services, driving the enemy across a river, killing some, and taking several prisoners, when, scattering their forces, they inflicted upon the Indians a severe chastisement. He then returned to Charleston, by way of the fort on the Keowee, and rejoined Amherst in the north.

The Cherokees being disposed to retaliate these severe irruptions of Colonel Montgomery, the month of August had not elapsed before they began to give unmistakeable proofs of unabated hostility. Fort Prince George they had found too strong for them, but the garrison of Fort Loudon, on the confines of Virginia, being reduced in numbers, and in great want of provisions, was immediately besieged. After sustaining the siege until reduced to extremity, the commanding officer, Demere, with the concurrence of all his subordinates, very unwisely surrendered the fortification to his savage foe, August 6, 1760. The result of this ill-advised capitulation soon became apparent; the garrison and men being ruthlessly attacked before they had proceeded any distance from the fort, and both officers and privates cruelly massacred. Captain Stuart was the only officer who escaped, his salvation being due to the intervention of Attakulla-kulla himself, the leader of the attacking party.

Notwithstanding the reduction of Canada, the Indians in remote districts still continued their opposition to the English power. This was particularly the case with the Cherokees. To curb this tribe, Colonel Grant was, in 1761, ordered to march against them with an adequate body of troops, who soon compelled them to sue for peace. 291 Nothing further of note marked the military operations of this year. Major Rodgers was sent to take possession of the forts at Presque Isle and Detroit. General Monckton commanded at Fort Pitt.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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