The Cherokee Front During the War
Explanatory Note by Doug Wood
These are the places representing Cherokee action along the 1100 mile front:
Extract from The Indian Tribes of North America, by John R. Swanton, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145-1953; Smithsonian Institution. "Breed Camp, an Upper Creek town, probably meant for the Chickasaw settlement of Ooe-asa." [probably Chickasaw Landing; it was the jumping off point for Cherokee delegations and war parties heading southward towards Creeks allied to French and to Fort Toulouse.] "Ooe-asa, in Creek Nation near Sylacauga." [Sylacauga is along Coosa River, just southeast of Birmingham, Alabama.]
In a letter from him to Capt. Demere at Fort Loudoun (among the Over Hill Cherokee towns), dated January 4, 1758, Ata’gulkalu [or Attakullakulla] (Little Carpenter) detailed his war effort at the end of 1757. Note that Little Carpenter went to both the Breed Nation (same as Breed Camp) and Fort de L’Ascension:
"Friends And Loving Brothers At Fort Loudoun, This is to let you know of my Journey. We went down the River and could see nobody till we came opposite the Breed Nation. There we espied a white Flagg [the French flag], which gave us all great Pleasure. We all stripped and painted for Battle. When we came up to the Place, we found a red Pipe and some Tobacco and three Boats marked upon a Tree. We did not meet with our Prey there, but pursued till we cam to the Mouth of a small River. There we held a Council of War. The Great Warriour went off with 19 Men and I pursued towards the French Fort [Fort De L’Ascension built earlier that year near the mouth of Tennessee River]. About 2 Miles above the Fort, we came up with a French Lieutenant and five Soldiers. We killed them first, and then went and way laid the Fort. We saw 4 great Guns. We took two Prisoners there and came off two Days’ March of this Side..."note#1
The rest of the story of this successful Cherokee expedition is hinted at in a letter dated February 21, 1758 sent from Paul Demere at Fort Loudoun (near Echota) to Col. Henry Bouquet:
"on the 15th ulltimate arrived here the little Carpenter and the great Warrior of Chotee [Oconostota], with their Party, they brought with them, two Frenchmen, and Twictwee [Miami] Indian Women Prisoners, Six Frenchmen’s and Six Twectwee Indians Scalps. I reciv’d them with all the Marcks of Honour & Friendship I could, by Saluting them with the Fort’s Guns, & having the Garison under Arms..."note#2
Demere equipped, as best he could, another gang of 21 Cherokees who were headed toward the French fort (de L’Ascencion), and he advised Bouquet that “about 130 Cherakees [sic] are gone lately to the assistance of Virginia…as to the Talico People I can venture to assure you, Sir, that they are entirely reformed, and behave Extreamly [sic] we...”note#3
In July, August, and September of 1755, Cherokees went westward and northward to war. From Echota, John Elliott wrote Governor Glen on September 25, 1755:
"... in the first of August the Men of Taheo [Tellico] came in from Warr and brought in five Men…[who] told them that they were run away from the French. Likewise the Warrior Oucanostola [Oconostota] on the fifteenth of this Month brought in five more that told the same Story..."note#4
The Little Carpenter had revealed to Elliott even more details of these war excursions:
"The Great Warriour [Oconostota] and his Gang went out to War down the River [Tennessee] against the French and took five Frenchmen within two Days Journey of our Town…they run away from their Fort at the Cuscusseers [Fort De Chartres near the French settlement of Kaskaskias] […] In the Beginning of August the Telliquo People brought in six French Men Prisoners and said they run away from the same Fort..."note#5
Although the Cherokees did not take these deserters from the vicinity of Fort de Chartres (since they were captured only two days away from Echota by canoe downriver), the Cherokees did operate near Fort de Chartres on other occasions. Corkran referred to a Maryland Gazette article dated January 10, 1760 describing successful Cherokee military activity between that French fort and de L’Ascencion. From page 183 of Corkran’s book,
Elliott also brought news that the Little Carpenter had returned from a successful foray into the Illinois country between Fort Chartres and Fort de l’Assomption [Ascencion]. On September 18 the Little Carpenter’s scouts had spotted near the Mississippi eight Frenchmen seated about a fire eating buffalo steaks. The Cherokees crept up on them, fired, and rushed, taking eight scalps and losing one man. They finished the meal themselves with great satisfaction. They also fired from ambush upon a boat which came close to shore. At the end of October they had come into Fort Loudoun, displayed their scalps, told their story, and received presents.
Ostenaco and Oconostota led war gangs in September 1758note#6 along Ohio River from Kentucky upstream toward Fort Duquesne, while the Round O Warrior and others led gangs from the Potomac forts to Fort Duquesne and beyond.note#7 Captain Demere wrote from Fort Loudoun (among the Over Hill Cherokees) to South Carolina Governor Lyttleton on November 27, 1758:
"Accordingly yesterday, judge Friend [Ostenaco] with his Gang Came, and told me that the great Warrior [Oconostota] and him, with the rest would wait on me, which they did, j [I] recived them with the Honour that they expect on Such Occasion, j [I] gave them an Entertainment, and the two warriors dined with me, they brought three Scalps, and by what they found in the Enemy’s Camp, they were Tweecktwees [Miamis], and are the Same that killed our Hunters and the White Man about 31 Days 40 miles from us. Great Warrior told me that they had been great way up la belle Riveire [Ohio River], that they found the Tracks of great many Men, that had been Scouting the Bateaux that went to Du Quine, but could never find an Opportunity to Signalize themselves till they came to the French hunting Ground; where they discovered frech [fresh] Tracks they followed them, and a Dog that they had with them, gave the Enemy the Alarm, on which they Run, and they firing on them, they killed three, and wounded another on the Arm, who made his Escape, tho followed very close."note#8
We learn from this letter that Ostenaco and Oconostota had been ranging Allegheny River upstream of Fort Duquesne, since that river (considered a continuation of la Belle Riviere) and its tributary, French Creek, were the main bateaux supply routes from the French Forts between Duquesne and Fort Niagara. These war gangs were actually over 600 miles from their homes.
References in the article show the Cherokee actions in the vicinity of Fort Duquesne.
A letter dated June 5, 1758 from Hugh Mercer to Bouquet stated:
"A Party of Six Cherrokee Indians Arriv’d Yesterday from the Westward, they have been gone Six Weeks from thence & have lost One of their Number in an Engagement near Fort Priscisle on Lake Erie..."note#9
Another letter dated June 7, 1758 from Col. Adam Stephen to Bouquet:
"Eleven [Cherokees] are come in to day belonging to a party in Winchester, who have been out at the Presquisle Settlement, gives us an Acct. that the French are busy about Strengthening that Fort & that there are great Numbers of Indians about it."note#10
This was a party of around 19 Cherokees who went to Fort Presque Isle, then split after the first engagement, five or six returning while 14 or so stayed to take prisoners or scalps. The first return party advised Capt. William Trent that they killed three enemy Indians in the engagement, but were fired upon before they could recover scalps or capture prisoners.note#11
1. McDowell, William L., Jr., Editor. 1958. Colonial Records of South Carolina Documents Relating to Indian Affairs 1754-1765. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 434-435. (Hereafter referred to as McDowell 1958).
2. Stevens, S. K., Donald H. Kent, and Autumn L. Leonard. 1972. The Papers of Henry Bouquet, Volume I. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. p. 306. (Hereafter referred to as Stevens et. al. 1972).
3. Stevens et. al. 1972:307.
4. McDowell 1958:79.
5. McDowell 1958:78.
6. Access Geneaology 1999-2005, Demere to Lyttleton 9/30/1758. Letterbooks of William Henry Lyttleton 1756-1760. www.accessgenealogy.com/lyttelton.htm
7. Browne, William Hand, editor. 1911. Archives of Maryland Volume XXXI, Proceedings of the Council of Maryland August 10, 1753 - March 20, 1761. Letters to Governor Horatio Sharpe 1754-1765. Lord Baltimore Press, Baltimore, Maryland. pp. 268 & 270. (Hereafter referred to as Browne 1911).
8. Access Geneaology 1999-2005.
9. Stevens, S. K., Donald H. Kent, and Autumn L. Leonard. 1951. The Papers of Henry Bouquet, Volume II. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. p 34. (Hereafter referred to as Stevens et. al. 1951).
10. Stevens et al. 1951, pp. 52-53.
11. Stevens et al. 1951, p. 37.