restricted access 4. Fort Loudoun, Tennessee: Defensive Features and Artifactual Remains
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4 FortLoudoun,Tennessee Defensive Features and Artifactual Remains Carl Kuttruff Fort Loudoun, Tennessee, was one of many French and Indian War fortifications constructed and occupied in the mid-eighteenth century. It was the westernmost of a series of southern British forts, including Fort Ninety-Six and Fort Prince George, extending from Charleston, South Carolina, to the Overhill Cherokee homeland west of the Appalachian Mountains. Fort Loudoun is located on what was the Little Tennessee River (now Fort Loudoun Lake), near present-day Vonore, Tennessee. This chapter provides a brief history of the installation, abstracted from Kuttruff (2007) and Kelley (1961a, 1961b), an archaeological summary, and a description of the defensive works. The refuse disposal patterns at Fort Loudoun and the Fort Loudoun artifact assemblage are considered in terms of Stanley South’s Frontier/Architecture Pattern (South 1977). Suggestions are made for possible modifications of that pattern, especially when applied to fortifications. History After years of discussion between the government of South Carolina, the Cherokee Indians, and the Board of Trade in England, construction finally began on 5 October 1756 and was essentially completed by 30 July 1757. The British needed a fort west of the Appalachians to deter French encroachment from Fort Toulouse, at modern-day Wetumpka, Alabama (Thomas 1929, 1959, 1960a, 1960b; Heldman 1973; Waselkov 1984; Waselkov, Wood, and Herbert 1982), and from Fort Massac on the Ohio River in what is now southern Illinois (Bailey 1966:2; Fortier 1969; Babson 1968:28–31; Rackerby 1971). A permanent British installation would also solidify the sometimes tenuous alliance with the Overhill Cherokee (that portion of the Cherokee 70 · Carl Kuttruff Nation located in the Little Tennessee River valley) and serve as a place for recruiting them to fight against the French. In turn, the Overhill Cherokee wanted the fort built as a refuge for their women and children while warriors were away fighting with British expeditions against the French and as a center for obtaining trade goods. Two companies of South Carolina provincial militia and one company of British regulars, commanded by Capt. Raymond Demere, were sent to build the fort. John William Gerard DeBrahm, an engineer in South Carolina’s service, placed the fort on a narrow ridge adjacent to the Little Tennessee River and supervised initial construction (De Vorsey 1971). Provincial militiamen erected the fort, while regular troops provided garrison duty. DeBrahm’s fort was planned with an outer work consisting of a ditch and earthen parapet. Inside this perimeter was to have been a square log palisade with four bastions (figure 4.1). After DeBrahm departed at the end of 1756, Captain Demere quickly abandoned DeBrahm’s initial concept. The palisade was taken down and placed against the inside of the earthen parapet. The original plans had called for a hornwork on the river side of the fort, and although this was begun in the autumn of 1756, work halted in January 1757 (Hamer 1925; Kelley 1961a; McDowell 1970). Other structures within the fort, known from contemporary documentation and archaeology, included gun platforms in all four bastions, houses and barracks for officers and men, storehouses, a blacksmith’s shop, powder magazine and guardhouse, and Officer of the Day’s quarters (Kuttruff 2007). In August 1757, Capt. Paul Demere replaced his brother as commander, and the two companies of provincial militia were disbanded. Thereafter one company of British regulars manned the fort, with occasional reinforcements . Relations with the Cherokee remained relatively friendly and mutually beneficial until the autumn of 1759. Subsequently they deteriorated , and the Cherokee began harassing the garrisons at Fort Loudoun and Fort Prince George. Throughout the spring and summer of 1760, the siege of Fort Loudoun was tightened to the point where the garrison faced starvation. Demere surrendered to the Cherokee in early August 1760. The garrison abandoned the fort the morning of August 9. The following morning, the troops were ambushed by the Cherokee about 15 miles from the fort. Paul Demere and all officers except John Stuart were killed, along with 20 to 30 men. A few of the men escaped, but the rest were captured and taken to various Cherokee towns. In November 1760, about 10 captives were ransomed Figure 4.1. Plan of excavation, Fort Loudoun, Tennessee. (Drawing by author.) 72 · Carl Kuttruff in Virginia. Thereafter, others continued returning over a period of about nine months, most of them being delivered to Fort Prince George in South Carolina (Alden 1944; Brown 1965; Hamer 1925; Kelley 1961a; Kuttruff 2007; McDowell 1970). The...


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- French and Indian War, 1754-1763.
  • Fortification -- United States -- History.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- United States.
  • Historic sites -- United States.
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