Sunday, October 24, 2021

THE STORY OF THE NEW RIVER: Blueridge PBS documentary

A new documentary that touches on some topics and locations mentioned elsewhere in this blog just premiered on Blue Ridge PBS and may be of interest to some of the readership. "The Story of the New River" is currently streamable (for a limited time) here for free and is also available for purchase from Blue Ridge PBS.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

An interview with Wayne Trout, Gunsmith.

Although this post is a departure from my usual content and scope, I thought an interview with my good friend and gunsmith Wayne Trout would be of interest to the readers here. Wayne is a talented, humble and helpful man; I always enjoy visits with him at his shop. For inquiries, Wayne can be reached at:
What is your professional background and where are you from?

I was born in Norfolk VA and lived there 57 years. I graduated from VA Tech in 1973 with a BS in biology. I played VHSL sports in high school and NCAA sports in college. After graduation I finally found full time employment in April 1974 in the City Real Estate Assessor's office. I spent my entire professional career, 32 years, in the office. I was appointed to the chief position, City Assessor, in 1989 and held that position for 17 years until my retirement in 2006. In 2008 my wife of 43 years- Margo, and I moved to Giles County Virginia where we currently reside. We have a daughter and son, both of whom are married, and 8 grandchildren.
How did you get started building muzzle loaders?

I joined up with one of the North South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) teams in 1975 and competed in the N-SSA for about 35 years. I had the good fortune of shooting on several national championship teams during that time. It was the N-SSA competition that got me started building guns. A good friend and I were having to rework the internal parts on our reproduction locks at least twice a year. We noted that the guys shooting original guns never had to do lock work. So, we decided to buy original locks and build rifles around them. When I had finished my rifle the chair of the N-SSA small arms committee expressed interest in buying it from me. I told him I had no interest in selling the gun and gave him what I thought was an outrageous price and he said that if I decided to let it go to tell him! Because I enjoyed doing the rifle build I purchased parts and started another one. Before I had finished it someone had said they wanted to buy it when I was done. As a result I estimate that I built around 30 copies of civil war rifles for shooting competition. Around 2008 I bought a flint long rifle kit and built it. While that rifle will never see the light of day, the ability to utilize a degree of artistic license in building a gun really appealed to me, especially since the civil war rifles had to be exact reproductions of the original guns.. So, I thought I would do another. When I had completed the second kit I took it to a show in Harrisonburg VA. I walked into the showroom and almost immediately someone asked me if it was for sale and they bought it! I guess that pretty well sums up how I got to where I am today.

Who have you learned the most from?

Living in Norfolk I had the good fortune of being about 45 minutes away from Colonial Williamsburg. Almost once a week I would drive there and go to the gun shop and aggravate the guys in there. At the time Richard Frazier, Clay Smith and Richard "Sully"Sullivan were the journeyman smiths and George Suiter was the shop master. All four men were of great help and encouragement to me. Even now I maintain regular contact with George Suiter and have annual contact with Clay and Sully. At George's insistence I started taking classes at the NMLRA gunsmithing school at Western Kentucky University. I have had the distinct pleasure and privilege of working under masters like Jack Brooks, Art DeCamp, Jim Kibler, Mark Silver and my good friend George Suiter.. I have also had the good fortune of getting to know Jim Chambers, Mark Thomas and many other people who are at the top of the long rifle art. Lastly, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to spend extended time with my dear old friend Bob Harn. I was able to work in Bob's shop while my wife Margo and I vacated the winter climate of the Virginia mountains for Florida. I have been very fortunate to receive instruction and critique from folks I consider the best at what they do.

Trout's 2019 Contemporary Longrifle Associatioin show display via the Contemporary Makers blog

What is it about building rifles vs. fowlers or muskets that intrigues you?

As I alluded earlier, the art of long rifle building is much different than reproducing an 1861 Springfield rifle, 1855 Harpers Ferry or any other civil war shoulder arm. All I did was make an exact duplicate of the original military weapon. The artistic skills needed to complete a longrifle and the ability to apply some degree of personal interpretation far exceeds and is considerably more rewarding than making an exact copy of a military gun that is no different than any other weapon of its kind. While I greatly enjoy building and decorating long rifles I would say that there really is not any part of the build that is easier from me than others, they're all difficult! I do, however, enjoy the finishing work of carving and engraving, but it takes a long time to get there.
Who is your favorite historic gunsmith or rifle style and why?

Because I am a native Virginian, I gravitate primarily to the work of early Virginia gunsmiths. While I appreciate the arms from throughout the long rifle era, I prefer the early work, say from 1760-1790. The graceful lines of an early Virginia or Lancaster County gun with their clean, crisp lines I find very appealing.
What advice would you give an aspiring gun maker?

If I were to advise an aspiring gunmaker I would say to find someone who has original guns. The ability to handle originals provides a tremendous amount of "tactile memory" that will prove invaluable in moving forward in the art. The study of originals will help to add that third dimension that is often needed when studying flat photos in a book.

What is your most frequently used reference book/resource?

Spending time looking at and studying those "flat" photos in books like Shumway's Rifles of Colonial America Volumes 1 and 2 and Kindig's Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age is of great benefit. Also, don't be afraid to take classes. Learning from those who have mastered the skills of barrel inletting, stock shaping, furniture inletting, making patch boxes and furniture, carving, engraving and any other associated skills will prove much more beneficial than the school of "hard knocks".

Monday, February 1, 2021

"A List of the Negroes at the Lead Mines" The enslaved workforce of Virginia's Revolutionary War lead mine.

Our American liberty was won in part, using leaden bullets mined by men and women who were themselves denied freedom. One of the regrettable ironies of our fight for Independence from Britain is that approximately 33 enslaved men and women labored at Chiswell's lead mines in southwest Virginia (located in modern Austinville Virginia, near Wytheville) during the Revolutionary war. The mines had been a private commercial concern, but in wartime were administered by the State of Virginia due to their strategic importance.

The labor of these slaves was generally voluntarily "hired" by their masters for a term of eight years; however in one case a runaway named Bristol who had been caught attempting to join "Lord Dunmore's fleet when at Gwynn's island" was sent to the mines as a prisoner. Bristol's lost wages were petitioned for by his former owner, William Mountague of Lancaster County, Virginia in 1779. Bristol again attempted to gain his freedom in 1785 and a runaway ad for him was published in the Virginia Gazette.

Virginia Gazette or American Advertiser (Hayes), Richmond, May 14, 1785.

TWENTY POUNDS REWARD WILL be given, for apprehending and delivering to me, two negro men, CAESAR and BRISTOL, alias BRISTER, or Ten Pounds for each of them. Caesar is about 5 feet 7 inches high, of a square athletic make, and supposed to be near 30 years of age; he had on, a blue regimental coat, faced with white, and I believe, a white cloth waistcoat and breeches. He was purchased by the State, of William Robinson, Esq; of Princess Anne, the agent of John Hancock, and has for some years past been employed at the lead mine. BRISTOL, or BRISTER, is about 5 feet 9 inches high; of a spare make, and about the age of CAESAR. He was formerly the property of Mr. William Mountague of Lancaster, and has been employed for some years at the lead mine. He wore at the time he ran away, an old brown cloth coat, and an old pair of leather breeches. He carried with him, a new blue coat faced with white or red, a new white cloth waistcoat and breeches, and a new blanket.
THOMAS MERIWETHER. Richmond, May 10, 1785.

A conjectural sketch of the issued clothing worn by enslaved mine workers circa 1780. Illustration by Jim Mullins.

The names of the enslaved workforce were recorded in a manuscript now held in the Library of Virginia and are included below in hopes that they will be properly remembered for their contribution to our Nation as an integral part of the forging of our Republic, even while being denied freedom and the fruits of their labor themselves.

A List of the Negroes at the Lead Mines


These are able & fit for Labor when well }


Old & Super annuated

Luke [i]
Luke [ii]
Sam [i]
Sam [ii]
Dick Run away

Clothing and bedding was issued to the enslaved workers from the Virginia Public Store (excerpts from Colonial Williamsburg MS)

Virginia Public Store Daybook June 1, 1778-Nov. 13, 1778 M-1016.1
Williamsburg 6th Nov. 1778
Lead Mines per Order Governor Dr
To Sundry Clothing for 33 Negroes imployed in that work del Colo. Charles Lunch Viz
To 264 Yds Tartaine
231 do Linen
33 pr Stockings
allowing [illeg] shirts [per] man...

Nov.1 1779
Lead Mines Ord Board of Trade
Sundr furnished Negroe Dick belonging to the Mines Vizt.
1 Coat
1 pr Breeches
1 Waistcoat
1 Shirt
3 1/2 Yd Linen 1pr Stockings
1 Cap 1 pr Shoes
1 Baize Blanket

Daybook Williamsburg Public Store
July 1, 1779-July 12,1780
[Nov. 3 1779]
"...Publick Lead Mines and B. of Trade
Sundr. for Clothing the Negroes at the Mines: Viz.
195 Yds 5/8 Coarse Cloth @ 25/... 243..15-
32 1/2 do. Green baize @ 10/... 16..5-
35 Pair Stockings @ 15/ 26...5-
30 hunting shirts @ 12/6 18..15..-
4 Baize blankets @ 90/ 18..
8 Small dutch do. @ 9L... 72..-...-
23 better do.
2lb Sewing thread
8 doz Pewter butts
30 ditto vest
Pr Christopher Irvine

Richmond 28th November 1780 p138
M-1169.5 Richmond
Public Lead Mines pr Ord Governor
For Sundry Clothing furnished for the use of Thirty Three Negroes belonging to the Public [illeg] works at the Mines-Vizt
10 Sailor's Jackets
45 Yds coarse Cloth for 15 uper Jackets
33 Sailors under Jackets
33 pr Breeches
261 Yds Osnabrigs for 66 Shirts & Linings
for 20 pr Breeches
7 yds Negroe Cloth
40 yds do do
Pr Harry Terrece [?]

Unlike Bristol, who was carried to the mines as a prisoner after attempting to join the British forces with Lord Dunmore at Gwynne's Island; an enslaved man named Aberdeen left his master (a Loyalist named John Goodridge, possibly the infamous privateer John Goodrich ) when Goodridge sought to join the British at Norfolk in 1776. Aberdeen presented himself to one James Hopper and was subsequently sent by Colonel Lynch to the mines where he "labored Honestly" until 1783, at which time he successfully petitioned for his freedom (thanks to both April Danner and Sarah Nucci for bringing Aberdeen's story to light). In addition to Aberdeen, the slaves who had served in the army were then legally emancipated.

CHAP. III. [Chapter CXC in original.] An act directing the emancipation of certain slaves who have served as soldiers in this state, and for the emancipation of the slave Aberdeen.

Chan. Rev. p. 210. I. WHEREAS it hath been represented to the present general assembly, that during the course of the war, many persons in this state had caused their slaves to enlist in certain regiments or corps raised within the same, having tendered such slaves to the officers appointed to recruit forces within the state, as substitutes for free persons, whose lot or duty it was to serve in such regiments or corps, at the same time representing to such recruiting officers that the slaves so enlisted by their direction or concurrence were freemen; and it appearing further to this assembly, that on expiration of the term of enlistment of such slaves that the former owners have attempted again to force them to return to a state of servitude, contrary to the principles of justice, and to their own solemn promise. Preamble reciting that many slaves, during the war, were enlisted into the army, as substitutes, being tendered as free men. II. And whereas it appears just and reasonable that all persons enlisted as afosesaid, who have faithfully served agreeable to the terms of their enlistment, and have thereby of course contributed towards the establishment of American liberty and independence, should enjoy the blessings of freedom as a reward for their toils and labours; Be it therefore enacted, That each and every slave, who by the appointment and direction of his owner, hath enlisted in any regiment or corps raised within this state, either on continental or state establishment, and hath been received as a substitute All slaves so enlisted, by appointment of their masters, and serving their term, emancipated.

Colonel Charles Lynch, who managed the lead mine during the Revolution, became an advocate of manumission in his later years. A 1792 document signed by Lynch read:

“All men who are by nature free and agreeable to the command of our Lord and Savior Christ believe it is our duty to do unto all men as we would have them do unto us.”

For further information on the lead mines, I encourage you to have a look at my article "Chiswell's Lead Mines" which appears in the March/April 2021 issue of Muzzleloader magazine.

My sincere thanks to April Danner, Sarah Nucci, Michael Gillman, Spenser D. Slough and Joel Anderson for their generosity in sharing primary source information on this often overlooked topic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Setting a Genteel table: William Preston's Imported Ceramics in the Virginia Backcountry

One of the most prominent figures in the history of the 18th-century Virginia backcountry was William Preston. During his lifetime, Preston wore many hats, serving as a Surveyor, a Soldier in two wars (both as a County Militia Officer as well as a Ranging company officer during the French and Indian War) and as a Politician: fulfilling several roles in Virginia's Colonial Government. Preston became one of the most wealthy men in the region, amassing large amounts of land and experimenting in numerous revenue streams including land speculation, farming, the slave trade and running a distillery. Preston lived at "Greenfield", in Botetourt county during the 1760s and around 1773 began building a new home named "Smithfield", in what would become Blacksburg in Montgomery County, Virginia near the site of Draper's Meadow.
Smithfield is an (unusual for the area) 18th century timber frame building that would look more at home in Virginia's Tidewater region than in the Virginia backcountry, and as such was a powerful demonstration of his wealth and status when compared with the more common small log structures of his neighbors.

A 19th century copy of an 18th century drawing depicting Colonial era military Officers and Gentry carousing while an exhausted enslaved Servant stands by the wall in Charleston, South Carolina. " Mr. Peter Manigault and his friends drawn by one of them (Mr Roupell) about the year 1754 from which this copy is now made in August 1854 by his Great- Grand - Son Louis Manigault Charleston So.Ca." Gibbes Museum of Art Gift of Mr. Joseph E. Jenkins 1968.005.0001

Recent excavations at his Greenfield property uncovered portions of a mid 18th-century Earthenware "clouded" or "Tortoiseshell" glazed plate as well as other artifacts including an English trade gun buttplate. Preston's choice of ceramics for his table at Greenfield mirrored that many of his middling neighbors who utilized sturdy utilitarian pewter and stoneware tablewares; the lower sort perhaps treen.

"Tortoise Shell Cups and Saucers" Advertised alongside a variety of ready made slop clothing and common goods in the North Carolina Gazette (October, 1759, page 4)

A mid 18th century molded "clouded" plate similar to fragments excavated at Greenfield in 2016-2018 (Private collection).

The mottled and molded clouded or tortoiseshell glazed plates from Greenfield were evidently replaced by the more fashionable "Creamware" style of molded earthenware in the upwardly mobile Preston family household by 1771. Preston was a very early adopter of this style in Virginia.

A ca. 1770-80 Creamware plate (Private collection).

Ann Smart Martin's Buying Into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia mentions that: "The earliest reference to Queen's ware- also known as cream-colored ware- in Virginia dates from 1768; by the summer of 1771, a wealthy Tidewater planter had reported that Queen's ware had attained popularity among his peers. That [William] Preston also purchased "Queen's ware" on his 1771 trip [from Botetourt to Williamsburg] simultaneously illustrates his awareness of fashion and the absence of large sets in his own local market."

The earliest mention of "Queen's sets of cream coloured ware..." from the Virginia Gazette also references the universality of stone wares in the past and the novelty of the new cream wares. Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon June 30, 1768 page 2.

Although he was one of the first to procure it in the backcountry; Preston wasn't the only man in Southwest Virginia who would own creamware. McCorkle's store in what is now Pulaski County, Virginia carried "Queen's china" around the eve of the Revolution, and scattered references are found in local estates and probate inventories, such as a 1773 court case involving the debts of a deceased blacksmith in Fincastle county and the 1776 will of Welsh immigrant and Chiswell's lead mine manager William Herbert.

Oval creamware platter from Fort Chiswell. Detail figure 48 from Excavations at Fort Chiswell (Funk/Hoffman/Holup/Revwer/Smith UVA Laboratory of Archaeology 1976).

At Fort Chiswell, "Creamware was one of the more common ware types found at the site and was included in every structure...But an earlier mottled glazed cream-colored ware (refined earthenware) known as "clouded" ware was produced in 1740. We have just one sherd of this type, located in Structure #2 in a sealed eighteenth century level..." (Excavations at Fort Chiswell p61).

Creamware became immensely popular and despite being fairly new in the remote Virginia backcountry in 1774 English Potter Josiah Wedgewood foreshadowed that "I apprehend our customers will not much longer be content with Queen's Ware it being now render'd vulgar and common everywhere". Wedgewood's prediction would eventually prove truthful, and feather edge creamware fragments were recovered at Fort Boonesborough, among numerous other Revolutionary War era frontier sites.

Friday, October 30, 2020

A Timeline of the Virginia Cherokee Expedition 1760-1761

 A Timeline of the Virginia Cherokee Expedition 1760-1761


Hostilities broke out between the once allied Cherokees and British Colonies in 1759. Friction between the two parties (encouraged by French diplomacy) spiraled into sporadic back country violence and escalated into an outright war following the killing of Lt. Richard Coytmore and the retaliatory execution of Cherokee hostages being held at Fort Prince George in early 1760.  The garrisons at Fort Prince George, 96, and Fort Loudon (Tennessee) were subsequently under attack; the latter cut off. British authorities responded to requests of military assistance from South Carolina by sending approximately 1,400 British regulars (composed of the 1st Royal Regiment and the 77th) under the command of Colonel Archibald Montgomery of the 1st Highland Battalion (77th) from New York in March of 1760. 


Left: Private of the 1st Royal Regiment from the 1742 Cloathing book (NY Public Library).  

Right: Grenadier of the Royal Regiment ca. 1751 by David Morier (Royal Collection Trust).

Bottom: Brass hilted infantry hanger matching the style depicted by Morier above (Private collection).

 Montgomery's regulars saw initial success against the Cherokee lower towns but received a serious check at the battle of Etchoe in June as he advanced on the Cherokee middle towns. Montgomery and his second in command Major Grant (of Grant's defeat infamy) withdrew and returned to New York by August, failing to rescue the garrison at Fort Loudon.


Detail from  Copley's ca. 1780 portrait of Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton (National Galleries, Scotland)

While the regulars were ordered to attack the lower Cherokee towns from South Carolina, Amherst ordered the under-strength, neglected, and scattered Virginia Provincial Regiment under Col. William Byrd "to hold the regiment in readiness to march." from garrison duty in the Virginia and Pennsylvania back country (March 30, 1760 Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover Virginia 1684-1776 Volume 2).

 Col. William Byrd III (link)

Colonel Byrd's family had been involved in the Southern Indian trade since the 17th century and he had served as an envoy to the Cherokees and Catawbas in the Carolinas for the Colony of Virginia in 1755 and 1756. After the resignation of Colonel Washington, he took command of the Virginia Provincial Regiment in 1759 (he commanded the short lived 2nd Battalion for the 1758 Forbes campaign against Fort Duquesne). Upon being ordered to march to the relief of the besieged Fort Loudon Garrison, Byrd wrote Brigadier General Monkton on May 24th, 1760  that "...You will judge of the impossibility of the attempt when I tell you that this fort [Loudon] is six hundred miles beyond our outermost inhabitants & not a post in the whole way; no men are yet levy'd for that purpose, neither are any provisions or carriages engaged. These men [of the Fort Loudon garrison] must unavoidably fall into the hands of the savages who will shew them no mercy." (Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover Virginia 1684-1776 Volume 2). Despite his protests and attempt to resign from the expedition, Byrd did his best to muster a relief party. The experienced Byrd recommended a plan to advance in stages along the lines of the "Protected Advance" utilized by Forbes in the campaign prior. Byrd's ill equipped forces slowly moved southward, many of them without regimental clothing and unarmed. By the time his under-strength regiment was fully armed in late August (with the assistance of Colonel Chiswell), the Garrison at Fort Loudon had already surrendered to the Cherokee and many of the men had been massacred. Byrd continued his route towards the Big Island (Kingsport Tennessee), and advanced parties encountered survivors of the garrison and a party of Cherokees under Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter) who had ransomed Captain Stewart and removed him to the safety of the Virginian's lines. 


 Site plan showing the various building footprints from Sayer's plantation, which would later become known as Fort Chiswell and later McGavock's Tavern or Ordinary. The last structure on the site before road construction is the 20th century Davis house at center. Interim Report Archaeological Excavations at Fort Chiswell, Wythe county Va. 1976 David K. Hazzard and Martha W. McCartney.

 Sayer's Plantation/Fort Chiswell

 View showing the approximate location of the original Sayers era buildings from the general area of the magazine (from left to right: Sayer's log House, log kitchen and smokehouse).

 Sayer's Plantation/Fort Chiswell

Byrd encamped at the abandoned plantation of a Virginia officer named Alexander Sayers, who is mentioned in passing in Timberlake's Memoirs  (Lt. Timberlake recounts him concerning a dangerous crossing of the rain swollen Youghiogheny River; Sayers later drowned crossing the New River in 1765) and had already removed his family from the area for greater safety in New London while he was with the army at Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania. When Byrd's command reached the "Camp at Sayer's" on Reed's creek (near modern Wytheville, Va), they encountered a small farm consisting of a log house, a log kitchen and a small four foot square smokehouse (the bricks used in the foundation were excavated in the 1970s). 

Firearms related artifacts from the Fort Chiswell site dig, including parts from a "Brown Bess" type musket. Interim Report Archaeological Excavations at Fort Chiswell, Wythe county Va. 1976 David K. Hazzard and Martha W. McCartney.

At some point from 1760-62, the Virginia Provincials added a dug out powder "magazine" similar to the one unearthed at Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania. Contradicting local lore, this magazine was the only purely military architectural feature discovered by Archaeologists working a salvage dig at the site prior to highway construction. Although incongruous with the modern use of the word "fort", it should be remembered that this site was first considered a way point  on the protected advance towards the site of the yet un-built Big Island fort. 

Reconstructed Powder magazine at Fort Ligonier

The next year Byrd was ordered to proceed to Stalnacker's plantation  "to erect a small log-house fort for the security of provisions, ammunition & etc." so it appears likely that the Virginia Provincials simply made use of the existing structures at the camp, and the log house was sufficient to earn the name "Fort Chiswell" (named for Col. John Chiswell, a business associate of Byrd's, who was partners with Byrd and Chiswell's son in law, John Robinson in a nearby mine that would later become an important source of lead for Virginia during the Revolutionary War) with the addition of an underground powder magazine to secure their stores. Later Revolutionary war accounts of proper blockhouses at Chiswell's nearby lead mines in Austinville, Virginia likely added to the confusion about a proper fortification at the Sayer's site. The 1976 Hazzard/McCartney dig report notes that a February 1761 letter from William Fleming to John Bullitt is the earliest reference to "Fort Chiswell" but the same letter also refers to the site as "their camp."

Brass Dutch musket sideplate fragment found near Fort Chiswell; courtesy, GM “Doc” Watson.

Brass Dutch musket sideplate. Private Collection.

Negotiations with the Cherokees began and an agreement to cease hostilities until the following March were agreed to with the condition that the Virginia army did not press further towards the Cherokee towns. Provincials overwintered at the Sayer's/Ft. Chiswell site, and the campaign against the Cherokee upper towns began anew the next spring. The loss of crops, the lack of ammunition and casualties from the campaign began to take a heavy toll on the Cherokee who were heavily dependent on the now disrupted deerskin trade with South Carolina.

Virginia Provincial Officer Lt. Henry Timberlake's map of the Overhill Cherokee towns

 In South Carolina, Montgomery had been replaced by James Grant, who proceeded against the middle towns with an enlarged force of around 1400 regulars and about 500 South Carolina provincials; again engaging them near the Etcho pass in June and burning fifteen middle towns. Grant's victory drove many of the remaining warriors to the upper towns, which the significantly smaller Virginia Provincial force was supposed to assault from the North.

Militia soldier by George Townshend, 4th Viscount and 1st Marquess Townshend
pen and ink, 1751-1758NPG 4855(63) © National Portrait Gallery, London

Virginia troops again massed at Fort Chiswell, and then on to Stalnaker's plantation on the Holston river. By July 1761,  Byrd reported that "My whole force is only six hundred and seventy men fit for duty. Those I have employ'd since I came here in building a block-house, & throwing up an intrenchment round it, for the security of themselves & provision." This fort at Stalnaker's was named after Attakullakulla and was near the modern town of Chillhowie Virginia, about 58 miles from the Great Island. Twenty years later visitor described this fortification as "a kind of a wretched stockade." (A tour in the United States of America: containing an account of ..., Volume 1 By John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart).



Detail from the 1755 Mitchell Map showing the site of Stalnaker's cabin, the furthest western English settlement in Virginia, which was erected in 1750 with the help of Dr. Thomas Walker.

By October the long awaited (and mostly unarmed) North Carolina provincials and a party of Tuscaroras arrive at Fort Chiswell. Around this time the Virginia Provincials had reached and fortified a position at the Great Island (Kingsport, Tennessee) and have constructed a proper 120 foot log fort with four bastions. By November a peace treaty was concluded.

Below is a rough timeline of events taken from:

Amherst Papers, 1756-1763: The Southern Sector : Dispatches from South Carolina, Virginia, and His Majesty's Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Edith Mays, Ed. Heritage Books, 1999 

Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover Virginia 1684-1776 Volume 2

The Official Papers of Francis Fauqier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginai 1758-1768, Vol. 1


Feb 1, 1760 Cherokees kill settlers at Long Cane Massacre in SC

February 16, 1760, a Cherokee war-party attacked Fort Prince George to free the hostages.
The British executed all hostages and repulsed the assault after  Lt. Richard Coytmore was killed in an ambush while coming out to parlay with the Cherokees.

Feb/March Fort 96 attacked in SC

March 20 Fort Loudon garrison in Tenn attacked by Cherokees

May 29 Byrd asked to be excused from Cherokee expedition

June 23rd Byrd called down from Fort Bedford, PA to command (in a Sept 16th letter to Abercromby) says was mortified to be told to command “this ill-concerted expedition”

July 4, Byrd at Augusta CH/Staunton says everything deficient but provisions

July 7 Fort Loudon (TN) garrison runs out of corn

July 9 (in a Sept 16th letter to Abercromby) Byrd says levies/recruits complete but not armed or clothed.

July 11 Byrd tells Gov and Council in a letter that he is at Bryan's and will need posts every 25 miles to the Big Island and a big fort should be built at Big Island. Asks what the
Ft Loudon (TN) relief plan is, should the garrison hold out until he arrives, is he to reinforce or withdraw/abandon it.

July 18 Byrd at Camp on Roanoke to Monkton "2/3rds of the mob I command (I cannot call them nothing else) are new rais'd men, who at this moment are neither cloathed or armed..."
mentions Montgomery hit lower towns and only has 30 days provisions must want to raid Loudon and abandon if so.

August 8 Fort Loudon surrenders

August 25th Byrd's "musketts came up" (in a sept 16th letter to Abercromby) so his troops are now all armed

August 27th Byrd marches towards Big Island

Sept 3 Byrd crosses the New River, meets 4 starving men who escaped Ft Loudon on August 1 (in a Sept 16th letter to Abercromby)

Sept 9 Maj. Andrew Lewis advanced party above Big Island encounters Little Carpenter with Cpt. Stewart, friendly Cherokees and small party of British survivors from Fort Loudon

Sept 16th Byrd letter to Abercromby mentions above letter from Lewis

Sept 17th Byrd proposes articles of peace delivered via Little Carpenter to Chota, demanding return of Ft Loudon and prisoners, offenders who attacked fort
pushes for Little Carpenter to be head man, asks Governor if this suits (copy sent by Amherst April 61)

Sept 19th letter to Gov and Council at Sayer's (Ft Chiswell) the Sunday before Maj Lewis brought in Little Carpenter and Ft Loudon survivors

Sept 24th Byrd asks Gov and Council if the regiment is to be completed (1000 men) and what is to be done over the winter

Nov 3 letter to Gov and Council from Byrd at Sayer's saying Little Carpenter returned on Saturday with 32 more Cherokees and gave up 10 more prisoners from Ft Loudon, promise to end hostilities
until March when they will meet on his terms if Virginians advance no further on the expedition towards Cherokee towns. Byrd is waiting on Indian presents for them, Byrd will station troops in order to protect frontier

Nov 22 Byrd at Bryan's has discharged and paid new levies, is about to go to Winchester, wants to go to NY for business that winter

Dec 3, Byrd is at Winchester will be in Williamsburg for next assembly session, "is sorry he has given so little satisfaction in his command, and therefor resigns his commission."


April 28, 1761 LT Gov Fauquier  orders Byrd to proceed to Stalnacker's  "to erect a small log-house fort for the security of provisions, ammunition & etc. and from thence to advance
 with as many picked men to the Big Island...there wait for from Major General Amherst...conduct the intended expedition into the Cherokee upper towns.

June 6: 145 men at Fort Chiswell based on Byrd's return, bulk of forces in Staunton

June 30 1761 651 men at Fort Chiswell under Byrd

July 1, 1761 Byrd at Camp at Fort Chiswell (letter to Amherst) "this our most advanced post"

July 7 Robert Stewart writes George Washington from "Camp before Fort Chiswell" that they arrived last week at "this our most advanc'd post" Major Lewis and 3 companies advanced from camp to open road to the Holston, other companies to follow and no sign of NC Troops

July 9 1761 Byrd is at Fort Chiswell writing to Moncton saying he doesn't have enough men

July 16 2 Runners from Little Carpenter arrive at Stalnakers (Stewart to GW 20 july 1761)

July 17th Little carpenter arrives at Stalnakers with 42 other Cherokees 1/4 mile off of advanced sentries to talk to Byrd. (Stewart to GW 20 july 1761)

July 19 Byrd arrives at Stalnaker's Plantation

July 20 1761 Robert Stewart writes that a post is to be built at his location at Stalnaker's plantation, still no NC troops, over 100 men sick with fevers

July 31 45 men left at Chiswell 24 sick

August 1 Byrd's letter to Amherst says he arrived at Stalnakers on July 19th, doesn't have enough men to do 200 miles, Grant did little with more and retired
says "My whole force is only six hundred and seventy men fit for duty. Those I have employ'd since I came here in buildign a block-house,
& throwing up an intrenchment round it, for the security of themselves & provision..." says 200 miles more road to build, Cherokees are coming in suing for peace,
he resigns, appoints Stephen.

August 26th NC provincials have reached Salisbury, NC on the way up with 374 Men & 52 Indians, "that he had not above 50 Stands of Arms for the Whole"

Sept 7 1761 Adam Stephen is at Ft Chiswell in command

Sept 12 troops under Adam Stephen finish fort at Stalnakers (Stephen to Amherst oct 5) he marches to the Holston, gets letter from "obstinate" Cherokee

October 8, 1761 AS reports NC Troops under Waddell reached Fort Chiswell
    3. Adam Stephen wrote Governor Fauquier on 8 Oct. that Hugh Waddell (c.1734–1773), colonel of the North Carolina forces, had arrived at Fort Chiswell with about three hundred men and a number of Tuscarora Indians (Exec. Journals of the Virginia Council, 6:199).

October 9 1761 90 men at Fort Chiswell, bulk of troops at Great Island

October 24th AS @ Great Island: "I have erected a square redoubt of hewed logs on a piece of very strong ground on the banks of the river, with four bastions, the exterior 120 feet. I have done this from the just sense
I have of the great advantage of it will be to have a post maintained here, either by the King or Colony. It is the only advanced betwen Pittsburg & Ft. Prince George, commands
a large river navigable to the Missippi & not only awes the Cherokees, but several other numerous tribes of Indians.

Nov 19 treaty agreement with Cherokees

Nov 28 1761 Adam Stephen return of troops at great Island
    744 Virginia Regiment 408 North Carolina [including 52 Tuscarora Indians] 1152 total

    Timberlake agrees to go to Cherokee towns as hostage

December 20 1761 4 Barrels of Powder, 200 weight of barr lead and 150 quires of cartridge paper are at Ft Chiswell with 17,899 lbs of flour, 300lbs beef and 8 bags of salt

December 25 1761 Northern allied Indians skirmish with Cherokees Col. Stephen to Col. Henry Bouquet (Fort Chiswell, Jan. 7, 1762)

Stephen, Adam in: B. M., Add. MSS.,
21648, f. 1, A. L. S., and in Stevens,
et all., The Papers of Col. Henry
Bouquet, Series 21648,
part I, pp. 1-2.

p. 1.

(page 1)

About Seventy Northern Indians, Set Some Cherokees a Scampering on Christmas day last; but let one fellow slip through their fingers after they had taken him.
 They behaved themselves extreamly well to our People, but conducted themselves, very indifferently as Warriors, they had Opportunity to give the Cherokees a Severe Blow.
 They very readily produced there pass on all Occasions, Signed At Pittsburg Ocr 27. George Croghan.

March Timberlake at Fort Attakullakulla
April Timberlake at Wmsburg with Cherokee delegation
May Timberlake takes Cherokees to London

1763 March Timberlake returns to Va

1764 fall Timberlake takes Cherokees to London
1765 September Timberlake dies


Byrd papers V2 note p727

Bryan's to Dunkard Bottom [Pulaski Virginia] 40 miles
thence to Sayer's Mill (aka Reedy Creek aka Ft Chiswell aka Modern Wytheville) 24
Thence to Davis' 26
thence to Stahlnaker's 25 [Marion Va/Chillhowie Fort Attakullakulla]
thence to the halfway spring 25
thence to the Big Island 25 [Kingsport TN Fort Robinson/Chiswell's son in law, financial scandal fort abandoned in 62 later fortified as fort Patrick Henry in 76]

[total] 165
From the Big Island to Chotee 130

[grand total ] 295 miles

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Virtual event: Understanding the Firearms of April 19,1775 10/28/2020 6pm EST



Cummings Davis Society Event: Muskets of the American Revolution

October 28, 2020 6:00 PM — 7:00 PM


Learn all about the muskets of the Concord Museum’s collection that were fired on the North Bridge on April 19, 1775 streamed from the Lisa H. Foote History Learning Center. Experts Joel Bohy, of Bruneau & Co., and the Concord Museum’s Curator, David Wood, explore the objects that played a part in the events of the fateful day. In this unique setting, participants will experience historic objects like they never have before.

This program is an event of the Cummings Davis Society, which helps support acquisitions and preservation of the Museum’s distinguished collection for future generations. All are welcome!

Please note that this program is virtual.  Participants will be emailed a link to watch the program live on Wednesday, October 28.


Register HERE

Monday, June 8, 2020

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."– George Santayana

The War Horse, Tessa Pullen, 1997 Richmond Virginia.

Historical events are immutable; however our understanding of them, their context, implications and the motivations of the participants can change over time and through scrutiny. Destroying historical artifacts, manuscripts, and books does a great disservice to future generations and all of mankind. 

Erasing the evidence of injustice obliterates the opportunity to learn from it in the future.

America is certainly not perfect. Perfection is, in my opinion, non-existent where humanity is involved; but America IS exceptional and it is imperative that future generations have the opportunity to learn from American history, including the good, bad and indifferent. 

Graffiti being removed from the Robert Gould Shaw & 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial, Boston Massachusetts.

In the same vein, art does not necessarily have to be pleasing or comfortable to the viewer, and it is a horribly selfish act to destroy art to suit one's own agenda, whether it be photographs by Mapplethorpe or a 19th century bronze statue in Richmond's Monroe park.

If your "peaceful protests against fascism" involve vandalizing property, burning books, destroying art, and historic artifacts, I hate to break it to you but you have become what you say you are against. Instead of inflicting your Kulturkampf on others through violence, why not choose to be a positive addition to your community?

Updated June 14, 2020

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action." Ian Fleming

The defaced statue of abolitionist Mathias Baldwin, Philadelphia.

Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier Of The American Revolution 

At this point, it is a great idea to look at historical patterns, and to realize that it appears that the well meaning protests have been co-opted by an attempted Cultural Revolution

 "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated...  [The American Crisis, by Tomas Paine, 1776]

Updated June 24, 2020

Woke "protestors" have now destroyed two "offensive" statues in Wisconsin.  I suppose they may have been too patriotic for the mob.

Decapitated statue of Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant, anti slavery politician, and Union Infantry officer who died of his wounds at the Battle of Chickamauga.

"Forward" statue, by Jean Pond Miner, a 1996 bronze copy of the 1893 copper original. 

Jean Pond Miner Wikipedia link: During the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 Miner, along with Helen Farnsworth Mears, was named an artist-in-residence in the Wisconsin Building and at that time produced Forward, a state that was "a symbol of the suffrage movement". The work was cast in bronze by the "women of Wisconsin..."

Jean Pond Miner working on "Forward", 1893