Dragging Canoe

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Dragging Canoe - Dragging Canoe: War On By FRAN RUSSELL If ever...
Dragging Canoe: War On By FRAN RUSSELL If ever one name spelled 'terror to the settlers of The Holston, The Watauga and The Nolichucky, it was that of Dragging Canoe, war chief of the Cherokees. First, he was bom to high station and his relatives were the principal C h e r o k e e chiefs. His f a t h e r w a s Altakulakula, first chief among the C h e r o k e e s , and it was not long before Dragging Canoe had usurped Oconostota ys war chief. He was a cousin of Nancy Ward, Tennessee's celebrated peace leader, but whereas Nancy believed that the two people could dwell together peacefully,, Dragging Canoe believed only in driving the white man back to wherever it was he had conie from. Dragging Canoe's philosophy was consequently considerably ahead of another great Indian leader, Tecuniseh, and both tried to accomplish the same RUSSEIJ, thing and failed -- uniting enough Indian tribes together to force the white men to withdraw. During the Revolutionary War this same plan was presented by the British Indian Agents Cameron and Stuart -the British were to sweep inland from the coast and the Indians were to move toward the coast, trapping the settlers in a pincers movement. There was usually peace in the days of the early traders and the Long Hunters, but glowing reports of this country soon were filtered back to some of the coastal settlements where farming was draining the soil. The site of Kort Ixjuden had been ceded to the English by the Cherokees for a military base, and the Cherokees gave the English 700 acres for the purpose. When the British violated their agreement, the Cherokees starved the garrison into surrender and destroyed the fort. Trouble came .to the Watauga settlers when an Abingdon man killed an Indian named Cherokee Billy. Trouble was only averted though the apologies of James Robertson and the understanding of the older chiefs. T h e T r a n s y l v a n i a Agreement was concluded between the Henderson Company and the Cherokee chiefs, whereby Henderson paid-10,000 pounds, in silver and in trade items, for the land lying between the Kentucky and the Cumberland Rivers -some 20 million acres. The Cherokees signed away a vast empire n this agreement at Sycamore Slroals, March 17, 1795. Most of the chiefs were for the agreement, but Dragging Canoe fought it with a plea to his countrymen: he reminded the Indians of their once prosperous state and of the frequent inroads by the white man. He said that in time the Indian would only be renii'iubered by his enemy, since his own would be gone. The chiefs disregarded Dragging Canoe and the deeds were signed. Pointing westward the war chief said: "A dark cloud hangs over that land known as the "Rloody Grounds." Coming events bore the old warrior out. Angry and sullen. Dragging Canoe returned from Sycamore Shoals determined to run the whites off the Indian lands. A dramatic figure, he went up and down the nation beating the war drum. It was amazing how tar this man traveled during the course of his life, and raising more than 300 warriors, he made his preparations for war. The settlers on the Nolichucky fled when word came from Nancy Ward about the war, and the Indians destroyed the unfinished Kort I/ee. The force was divided here between Dragging Canoe and Old Abram, the latter continuing his drive toward Watauga. Dragging Canoe led his forces to Long Island tKingsport) and in a pitched battle was defeated by the settlers. This defeat, to a great measure, was the result of Dragging Canoe being dropped in action with broken thigh. He was carried from the field, but the result was devastating to Cherokee morale. Old Abram laid seige to Fort Wall, but withdrew when he heard that Dragging Canoe had been defeated. Colonel Christian was sent against the Indians, and the chiefs decided to make peace -- all except Dragging Canoe. He withdrew with his supporters to the area of Chattanooga, where they remained based while carrying out raids. Col. Evan Shelby took a 600- man militia company by boat to Chattanooga and the attack by water took Dragging Canoe completely by surprise. The Indians Qed to the hills, and Shelby destroyed 12 Indian towns, and captured 20,000 bushels of corn, many pelts several horses. It has been said that the Indian's child-like reasoning was indicative of a child-like people in primitive society. The Indians next major battle was at Boyd's Creek where John Sevier and 300 riflemen and Arthur Campbell with another 400, met the enemy and during the next two weeks laid waste to three Cherokee towns. Dragging Canoe fought the settlers until his death. He was as dedicated to their destruction as the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal, was to the destruction Rome. In another place, another time, he would have been considered a great patriot fighting for his homeland.

Clipped from
  1. Kingsport Times-News,
  2. 28 Mar 1971, Sun,
  3. Page 40

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  • Dragging Canoe

    minkj – 24 Apr 2013

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