13 May 2017 Wilderness Road State Park, Ewing, VA
most photos from Jerry Phillips of the Martin Station Chapter
The Virginia Society and the Martin's Station Chapter hosted the Ceremony at the Raid on Martin's Station this weekend. SAR representatives from 5 states and from 5 Virginia Chapters participated. 1st Vice President Pat Kelly led the Virginia SAR attendees, and also represented the NSSAR. The states represented were Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Alabama. Participating Virginia SAR Chapters were the Culpeper Minutemen, Fairfax Resolves, Martin's Station, Overmountain Men, and Thomas Jefferson.
The ceremony was a joint effort by the Virginia State Parks, JROTC, Militia Re-enactors, SAR, DAR, and C.A.R. Virginia SAR 1st Vice President Pat Kelly was the keynote speaker.. The ceremony began at the Visitor's Center of the Wilderness Road State Park with the normal ceremonies, including a large Combined Color Guard of Militia Re-enactors, JROTC, and SAR. After the ceremonies and speeches at the Visitor's Center, the Color Guard reformed to lead the participants up to the wreath ceremony near the reconstructed fort.
Vice President Pat Kelly's Remarks
All of you are familiar with the names of the major opponents of the American Revolution Gage, Cornwallis, Tarleton, the Howe Brothers.
You should be familiar with the the major opponents whom our forefathers fought here on this hallowed ground. Dragging Canoe, Double Head, Cornstalk, Blue Jacket, Bob Benge and Standing Turkey. These were the Cherokee and Shawnee war chiefs who led the offensive against our ancestors.
Our ancestors here in what is now Lee and Scott County fought these men from 1776 until 1794. Powell Valley was abandoned in 1776 to the attacks by the Shawnee. From Elk Garden near Lebanon to Martin's Station, settlers were under constant attack. Route 58, old Route 23, Hwy 421 and Route 65 follow the old buffalo trails which became the Indian war paths to and from the Ohio River Valley and the Over Mountain towns of the Cherokee. HWY 11 is the Great Warrior Path to which the routes through this area connected. Another path was along the Ohio River, to the Kanawa, up the Big Sandy, through the Beaks to Elk Garden and the Forts along the Clinch. One historian has remarked that perhaps the settlers on the frontier would not have suffered from Indian raids had they not built their settlements on the Indian war paths.
I am descended from James Alley, Sr., who moved from Henrico County to Rowan County, North Carolina, and in 1778 or 1779 moved to the Osborn's Ford (present day Dungannon). His son, my 7th great grandfather was James Alley, Jr. His daughter, Elizabeth Betsy Alley married Jeremiah Hatfield, the son of Joseph Hatfield. Both James, Jr. and Joseph Hatfield served as Indian spies at Blackmore's Fort. James sister, Polly, and Jane Whitaker were taken prisoner by the Indians and escaped to return home. Another sister of James, Fanny Napper, or Napier, and her five children were killed and scalped by the Indians at Blackmore's Fort. The grandmother of the children, Azby Christian Alley, James Sr.'s wife, was the daughter of Anne Macon Christian. Anne's half sister Mary, was the Grandmother of Margaret Dandridge Custis Washington. So there is little reason to see why James, Jr. was an Indian spy and Revolutionary War soldier in this area. He was on General Rutherford's campaign against the Cherokee from North Carolina in 1776, fought at Guilford Courthouse, and fought with Boone at Boonesboro; was on a campaign from Martin's Station with Captain Martin to Lees Town (Jonesville), and fought the Indians at Nashville in 1794.
Who were the settles here on the Virginia Frontier? Scotch-Irish, English and German, and from published accounts, 2nd and 3rd generation Americans, not "European Settlers" as today's politically correct historians would have us believe. Additionally, none of these families were "immigrants", as all were English subjects, who had moved from one part of the English crown to colonize English colonies. Many came from Henrico County, such as the Alleys, Others came from Culpepper, Albemarle, Augusta and Botetourt Counties. The average woman was 5'2", the average man was 5'6". The average Indian warrior was 5'10 to six feet tall. The men generally hunted, fished, planted the major crops and cleared land. The women, who were expected to be married by the age of 20, else they be labeled a "thornback", and was expected to produce 7-9 children; kept house, tended the garden, took care of the livestock, made cloth, cooked, cleaned, nursed. Both sexes fought Indians as the need arose. The settlers were usually clothed in linen or homespun shirts, hunting shirts, and trousers, and leggings and shirts of deer skin. Settlers and Indians were usually armed with a long rifle, butcher knife, and tomahawk. Indians would also use war clubs and bows and arrows. The Indian braves would paint themselves in various patterns of black and red paint, and would clothed in loin cloth with leggings and a long shirt.
The major tribes confronting the settlers in this area were the Cherokee, Shawnee, Wyandot (Huron) and the Mingo. Except for the Cherokee, the other three tribes had been pushed into the Ohio River Valley by the Iroquois League, a powerful confederation of six tribes. The Shawnee claimed that the Delaware were their grandfathers and the Wyandot were their uncles. The Shawnee claimed everything north of the Clinch River as their hunting grounds, the Cherokee had the land to the South of the Clinch. Dragging Canoe, one of the most famous Cherokee War chiefs, stated that after Judge Henderson closed the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, that the area of East Tennessee, and what would become Scott and Lee counties would become a "dark and bloody ground". Judge Henderson bought what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky from the Cherokee, probably a big surprise to the Shawnee and Wyandot who also claimed it as their hunting ground. One of the biggest misunderstandings between the whites and the Indians was the concept of ownership of land. The Indians were of the opinion that land belonged to all, and it was used until the owner had no need of it, then it reverted to the common ownership of the tribe. This area was rich in elk, buffalo, bear, deer and turkey. The Cherokee would range all over present day East Tennessee, down into in North Georgia, and into present day Russell, Washington, Lee and Scott counties.
The Cherokee and Shawnee then allied with each other and the British to oppose our ancestors here on the Virginia frontier. The Cherokee and Shawnee had previously allied with the British during the French and Indian War. The Indians had their own code of warfare concerning warriors, children, and women. Captured warriors would be burned alive at the stake or adopted. The object of Indian warfare was to decimate an enemy tribe by killing the warriors and absorbing the women and children into the attacking tribe, thus erasing the enemy tribe. This was the object of Indian warfare against the settlers. The captured Indian warriors or white male captives were expected to sing their death song and shout at their tormentors while being tortured. Children, women, and teenagers would be adopted into the tribe or made slaves. Captured women were never raped. This was considered taboo by the Indians who revered women. One account stated that the leader of a war party tomahawked and killed a warrior who tired to rape a woman prisoner. It is also ironic to note that the Muslims give non-believers the same choices as the Indians: death, slavery or conversion.
Treatment of Prisoners
After being taken prisoner, the prisoners were usually bound. On the march back to the Indian towns, the prisoners may or may not be fed or allowed to drink. It was during this first four days after capture that the Indians in the war party were deciding who would live and who would die.This period is much like the first four days of Survival, Escape, Rescue and Evasion (SERE) school. The prisoner psyche and the prisoners' body was adjusting to the shock of capture and lack of food and water. How one reacted could determine one's fate. It was easier to carry a scalp than guard a human, and the Indians could tire of maintaining a prisoner in tow. The French had started the custom of paying for scalps during the French and Indian war and the British continued to the payment for scalps during the American Revolution. One young girl, who was red headed, was scalped during a raid, but survived. She was captured the next year and upon arriving at an Indian village, a warrior emerged from his house and place her scalp on her head. Scalps were war booty and were often exhibited from poles outside a warrior's house. Babies were not assured of survival. Many were dispatched during the march. Young children and the old or anyone who could not keep up with the pace were not assured of survival on the march. Some captured white women were singled out to be burned at the stake. This choosing was made by the elder women of the tribe, who usually administered the coup de grace with a tomahawk to the burned victim at the end of the torture. Many prisoners would escape, or be ransomed and exchanged, often many years after their capture. Many young whites refused to leave their adopted Indian families, or were never heard from again.
Settler Reaction to Indian Attacks
In response to the Indian threat, forts were established all over the frontier. One must remember that the front line of this warfare stretched from New York, thru Pennsylvania to what is now Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Families were expected to "fort up" if Indians were in the vicinity. Indian war parties consisted from 5 to 200 warriors, traveling at a jog along the war paths. They were most active from early April to October (Indian summer). During an attack, men were usually killed, along with children and wives. Those not tomahawked and scalped at the cabin were taken prisoner. When the alarm was given, families would run to the nearest fort. Daniel Boone was appointed Captain at Moore's Fort in Castle's Woods (Castlewood) in 1774. "An amusing story is told of the Boone family while they were living in Moore's Fort by Mrs. Samuel Scott of Jessamine County, Kentucky, who was also at the time living in the fort. Mrs. Scott says the men had become very careless in guarding the fort, lounging outside the gate, playing ball and in general lax in their duties. One day Mrs. Boone and her daughter, Mrs. Hannah Carr and some of the other ladies loaded their guns lightly, went out from the fort, shut the gates and shot their guns off in rapid succession like the Indians. The men all scrambled for the fort, but finding the gates shut none could get in, but one young man who managed to climb over the stockage wall. So great was their consternation that some of the men ran right through the pond in front of the fort. After they were finally let in at the gates Mrs. Scott says the men were so mad some of them wanted to have the women whipped." (Description of Moore's Fort on the Russell County, VA homepage.) Another account was reported that the smell of unwashed bodies and bear greased hunting shirts made for for an unpleasant stay at one of the smaller forts. Indian attacks on forts were usually successful if the families near the fort were surprised, but rarely successful with a siege. The Indians would slaughter or set loose cattle and steal all of the available horses in the area.
Men termed "Indian Spies" were detailed to range out from the settlements, to look for signs of Indians. They usually operated in pairs, living on bear meat and venison. They would be active during the months the Indians were active, their job was to provide early warning and not necessarily engage the Indians war parties. Once an attack was made, parties of militia would chase the Indians and attempt to rescue the prisoners. This would sometimes take up to two weeks. The Indians had pre-determined stops along the paths they took back to their villages, and, according to some accounts, would not post sentries (back spies) on their camps. Acting as an Indian spy was dangerous at best, one could be surprised by the Indians and killed, one was subject to the elements and lack of food. Indian spies were also the last line of defense for the Virginia frontier when the majority of the men left to fight at King's Mountain. The leaders at King's Mountain took a huge risk in denuding the frontier of fighters, leaving only a thin line of defenders for the families left on the frontier. Had the Indians chosen to attack during the march to King's Mountain, the battle of the frontier would have been a defeat for the rebel forces from which they may have not recovered. Fortunately, this occurred in January, when the Indians seldom ventured from their villages.
It is sad to note that one cannot find many references to Revolution on the Virginia Frontier during the Revolution. George Rogers Clark is the subject of most of the topic matter if you search the Internet, the pension statements at Southern Campaign Pension Claims and the Russell County Virginia genealogy home page, you begin to understand the contribution of the courageous men and women here on the Virginia Frontier. I submit to you Ladies and Gentlemen, that our ancestors here on Virginia the frontier were just as instrumental in the defeat of the British as the men at Yorktown, and at Lexington and Concord. Not only did the men on the Virginia frontier fight with their fellow frontiersmen from Tennessee and North Carolina at Kings Mountain and Cowpens, they were a bulwark against the Indian threat allied with the British. Had the Indians been successful in pushing the frontier families away from the frontier, this area would have been abandoned as it was in 1776. Many families did leave in 1776 thru 1778, some families settled in what is now in Scott County on the Clinch rather than face the Indian threat in Kentucky. This fight continued until 1794, with the defeat of the Cherokee at Nashville, and the death of Chief Benge at the head of Powell's Valley. We are indeed on standing on hallowed ground.
At the wreath ceremony each organization presented their wreath, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace and Taps, and a rifle volley was fired.