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Chickamauga Timeline
The History of Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain - The Indian Wars

"War Trail along the Holston"
by Talmadge Davis - click here to go to the artist's website

"War Trail along the Holston"

Original 24" x "36"

War Trail along the Holston
This was a difficult time for the Chickamagua People. The colonials kept
moving into areas they were told to stay out of. Dragging Canoe had told
them to stay out of Cherokee country and he and his people would leave them
alone. The invading colonials only cared about more land. So they ignored
his warning. When this happened the Chickamagua's (made up of several
different tribes) went on the War path killing colonials up and down the
Holston River. This event takes place just before my painting of the
Confrontation. A group of Warriors have followed a path to a rock
outcropping that overlooks the river. When they see Settlers have moved in,
this starts a bloody, "War Trail along the Holston".

see also Treaties
see also Old Letters
see also Name Origins
see also General Creek History
see Chickamaugah Places
see also General Cherokee History
see also Historical Photos of Chickamaugan Places
see also The Cherokees of the Smoky Mountains by Horace Kephart

Dragging Canoe at Lookout Mountain

The Cherokee, during the 1600 and 1700s, were at war with not only white settlers, but with many of the Native American tribes in this area including the Shawnee, Chickasaw, Catawba, Choctaw, and the Creeks.

The French Indian War of 1754 (Seven Years War)

The Cherokee Indian War (1760-1762)

In the mid-1750s, the British and French were locked in a bloody struggle for the Americas. Both sides courted the various Indian tribes. The Cherokees originally sided with the British but switched to the French side in 1760. The Cherokees switched sides for a number of reasons including broken promises, demands for land and ingratitude.

The primary reason for switching sides, however, was the taking of 28 Cherokee hostages in early 1760 by the British. This prompted the Cherokees to attacked Ft Prince George where the hostages were being held. After killing the commander of the Fort, the British executed the hostages. Later that year, the Cherokees attacked Ft. Loudoun on the Little Tennessee River and massacred the British stationed there. The French and Cherokee lost the war and the Cherokee were forced to give up more land.

The Cherokee and Creek Wars

1715 - 1755

The Cherokee and Creeks were at war during this period. The Cherokee eventually defeated the Creeks in 1755 at the Battle of Tawalee and drove the Creeks out of North Georgia. It was this battle that Nancy Ward led the Cherokee to victory.

Indian Battles fought on and around Lookout Mountain

The Chickamauga Wars

1775 - 1794

Sycamore Shoals Historical Roadsign

In 1775, after rejecting the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in which the Cherokee gave up significant portions of their hunting lands, Dragging Canoe declared war against the American colonists. The colonists retaliated and in late 1776 burned more than 50 Cherokee towns. While the older Chiefs wanted peace, Dragging Canoe lead thousands of Cherokee to the area called Chickamauga (Chick-ah-maw'-guh). The Chickamaugas built their towns in Chattanooga Valley (along Chickamauga Creek) on the eastern side of Lookout Mountain. It was from here that Dragging Canoe, and later John Watts, lead the Chickamauga Confederacy (comprised of Cherokees, Creeks, Indians from other tribes, whites, and blacks) in war against the Carolina, Virginia, Middle and East Tennessee settlers for almost 20 years.

At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775, the Cherokee received requests from the Mohawk, Shawnee, and Ottawa to join them against the Americans, but the majority of the Cherokee decided to remain neutral in the white man's war. The Chickamauga, however, were at war with the Americans and formed an alliance with the Shawnee. Both tribes had the support of British Indian agents who were still living among them (often with native wives) and arranging trade. During 1775 the British began to supply large amounts of guns and ammunition and offer bounties for American scalps. In July, 1776, 700 Chickamauga attacked two American forts in North Carolina: Eaton's Station and Ft. Watauga. Both assaults failed, but the raids set off a series of attacks by other Cherokee and the Upper Creek on frontier settlements in Tennessee and Alabama.

The frontier militia organized in response made little effort to distinguish between hostile and neutral Cherokee, except to notice that neutrals were easier to find. During September the Americans destroyed more than 36 Cherokee towns killing every man, woman and child they could find. Unable to resist, the Cherokee in 1777 asked for peace. The Treaties of DeWitt's Corner (May) and Long Island (or Holston) (July) were signed at gunpoint and forced the Cherokee to cede almost all of their remaining land in the Carolinas. Although this brought peace for two years, the Chickamauga remained hostile and renewed their attacks against western settlements in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky during 1780. After more fighting, the second Treaty of Long Island of Holston (July 1781) confirmed the 1777 cessions and then took more Cherokee land.

Treaty of Sycamore Shoals (Henderson's Purchase) was basically a land sale and not valid under Chickamaugan nor Territorial British law. The deed constituted roughly 1/2 of the land in Kentucky and Tennessee, or about 50,000 square miles. Even after the Revolutionary war the Chickamaugans remained loyal to Britain and joined with them in a series of raids against encroachers. Younger chiefs withdrew to the western most edge of the lands and allied with the Creeks eventually founding the Lower Towns. This guerrilla war continued until the destruction of the Lower Towns in 1794.

April 1779

Commander Shelby of Virginia lead a militia force to destroy Dragging Canoe and the Chickamaugas. Shelby came down the Tennessee River to Chickamauga Creek. Here he captured an Indian who was forced to guide them to Dragging Canoe’s headquarters, Chickamauga Town. They surprised the Chickamaugas and destroyed the town. Apparently most of the Indians were away and only a few were killed (although one report had as many as 40 killed). Shelby continued down Chickamauga Creek and destroyed many other Chickamauga towns.

This forced Dragging Canoe to move his towns to the west side of Lookout Mountain. This area was even more wild and inaccessible than the east side and afforded Dragging Canoe extraordinary protection from his enemies. Here he established the 5 lower towns: Lookout Mountain Town, Running Water, Nickajack Town, Long Island, and Crow Town.

The Fall of 1780

see The Slaughter at Sogiwiligigadei

April 2, 1781

see Battle of the Bluffs


Cherokees, loyal to the British, applied to Spain for permission to settle on land within Spanish Territory. it was granted and they settled in Arkansas country. This was the origin of the "Cherokee Nation West"

September 1782

The Last Battle of the American Revolution

illustration, by George Litte in 1973, courtesy Chattanooga Visitors Bureau

John Sevier lead a militia force of a few hundred men in another attempt to destroy Dragging Canoe and the Chickamaugas. After destroying a number of Indian towns (but no Chickamauga Towns), on Sept 20 Sevier met Cherokee Chief Skyuka at the first recorded battle on Lookout Mountain. Sevier defeated Chief Skyuka but was never able to find any of the chickamauga Towns. Why? Sevier chose as his guide John Watts who shrewdly lead him away from the Towns (Watts later took over command of the Chickamaugas).

This battle was also The Last Battle of the American Revolution. The Cherokees were allied with the British and this battle was fought after Cornwallis surrendered and while peace negotiations were taking place in Paris. No other Revolutionary War battles took place after this.

The Fall of 1782

General Sevier invaded and destroyed the Chickamauga towns


With the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, the Wyandot had only 100 warriors. The British asked their allies to stop their attacks, but there was little chance of this. The bitter fighting between the Ohio tribes and Long Knives had taken on a life of its own beyond the control of either the British or United States. The warriors fighting for Ohio were determined to keep the Americans out, and the Long Knives did not consider the peace with Britain included "Injuns," so the fighting continued. The new American government needed to sell the lands in Ohio to pay its debts from the war, and the British knowing this, saw an opportunity to regain their colonies through economic collapse and refused to withdraw from its forts in the Ohio valley until the Americans paid the obligations to British loyalists required by the peace treaty. source: http://www.tolatsga.org/hur.html

The Long Knives' solution to this impasse was simple. George Rogers Clark, whose victories had given the Americans the Ohio Valley, asked for authorization to raise an army and conquer all the Indians. Congress thanked him for past services but politely refused. Faced with an invasion of Ohio which might threaten Canada, the British encouraged the formation of a new alliance against the Americans. It was formed at meeting held at the Sandusky villages of the Wyandot in 1783. Although the British did not attend themselves, they brought the Mohawk chief Joseph Brant from Canada to speak and promise their support. Those joining included: Mingo, Wyandot, Miami, Delaware, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Sauk, Ottawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Chickamauga (Cherokee). The first council fire was at the Wakatomica (Shawnee), but this was burned by the Americans in 1786. Later that year, the council fire was moved to the Wyandot village of Brownstown (just south of Detroit). source: http://www.tolatsga.org/hur.html

Through all of this, the Chickamauga fought on but were forced to retreat slowly northward, until by 1790 they had joined forces with the Shawnee in Ohio. After the initial Indian victories of Little Turtle's War (1790-94), most of the Ohio Chickamauga returned south and settled near the Tennessee River in central Tennessee and northern Alabama. From here, they had the unofficial encouragement of the Spanish governments of Florida and Louisiana and began to attack nearby American settlements. One of these incidents almost killed a young Nashville attorney/land speculator named Andrew Jackson, which may explain his later attitude regarding the Cherokee.

Dragging Canoe died in 1792, but a new round of violence (under Dragging Canoe's successor John Watts) exploded that year with the American settlements in central Tennessee and northern Alabama. After two years of fighting with Tennessee militia, support from other Cherokee declined, and the Chickamauga's resolve began to weaken.

see The Dumplin Settlement

June 1784

see The State of Franklin


see Buchanan's Station


see The Battle of Hightower


In 1794 the first group of Western Cherokees fled to the valley of the St. Francis River in Southeast Missouri, after their leader, The Bowl was accused of leading a massacre on trespassers.

The Muscle Shoals Massacre

Scott and Stewart, on a trading venture in Indian Country happened upon the Bowl party soon after receiving their annuities from the US Government. They plied the Natives with whiskey until drunk then swindled them of their money. Bowl demanded redress and in the course of events Scott and Stewart were killed. Bowl fled up the St. Francis River into SE Missouri settling along the Sr. Francis valley until the earthquake of 1811. Seeing it as a bad omen they relocated into the Arkansas country. Bowl and company were exonerated of wrong doing in this matter.

Following the American victory at Fallen Timbers (1794), the last groups of the Ohio Chickamauga returned to Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Spanish government had decided to settle its border disputes with the United States by diplomatic means and ended its covert aid to the Cherokee. After a final battle near Muscle Shoals in Alabama, the Chickamauga realized it was impossible stop the Americans by themselves. By 1794 large groups of Chickamauga had started to cross the Mississippi and settle with the Western Cherokee in Spanish Arkansas. The migration was complete by 1799, and acxcording to most hotories, open warfare between the Cherokee and Americans supposedly ended...


see President Thomas Jefferson's Policies


see "The Great Cherokee Children Massacre at Ywahoo Falls"

see Tecumseh traveled through the Southeast, attempting to gain recruits for the Pan-Indian military movement


see The Creek War, 1813-14

see The Massacre at Fort Mims


see The Texas Cherokee

But the story really did not really end there - it went on in Alabama and in Florida until around 1858, but that story will be told later

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