I’ve been reading Massacre at Cavett’s Station by the eminent Tennessee archaeologist Charles Faulkner. The titular massacre was one of the uglier episodes in the long history of white-Cherokee conflict on the Tennessee frontier. It took place on September 25, 1793 when a massive war party (contemporary reports put their numbers as high as 1,500) headed for the territorial capital of Knoxville heard firing from the town and feared they’d lost the element of surprise. Instead, they fell on Cavett’s Station several miles to the southwest, killing the thirteen men, women, and children who were there.
Remarkably, the Indians had managed to approach Knoxville without detection by John Sevier’s militia, but retaliation was not long in coming. In what would prove to be his last Indian campaign, Sevier marched into Georgia and caught some of the perpetrators at Etowah, near present-day Rome. The Indians were in a position to oppose the militia’s crossing of the Etowah River at the town, but when a party of the whites moved south to cross elsewhere, the Indians followed them and left the fording place near the town undefended. The militiamen galloped back to Etowah, dispersing the defenders and putting the town to the torch.
Apparently Sevier decided that defeating the Indians wasn’t punishment enough, because he decided to up the ownage by sending them the following message, a copy of which is preserved in his journal:
Your murders and savage Barbarities have caused me to come into your Country Expecting you would fight like men, but you are like the Bairs and Wolves. The face of a white man makes you run fast into the woods and hide, u see what we have done and it is nothing to what we shall do in a short time. I pity your women & children for I am sure they must suffer and live like dogs but you are the Cause of it. You will make War, & then is afraid to fight,—our people whiped yours mightily two nights ago Crossing the river and made your people run very fast.
To the Cherokees and their warriors if they Have Any.
Ouch. Not much for the niceties of spelling and punctuation, but the guy definitely knew how to twist the rhetorical knife.
A few days ago, some idiot drove through Battlefield Memorial Park in Savannah, GA and did $25,000 worth of damage to the Soldiers Stone Monument, which commemorates one of the Revolutionary War’s bloodiest engagements. The Coastal Heritage Society is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever’s responsible, so if you know something and you’d like to pocket a grand, give them a call.
Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site, which preserves and interprets the location of the Confederate president’s capture in 1865, was in serious danger of closing because the State of Georgia pulled its funding. Some folks have thankfully stepped in to keep it open, with the SCV pledging up to $25,000 annually. We historical bloggers are seldom reluctant to criticize the Sons of Confederate Veterans when they do wrong, so it’s only fair that we commend them when they do right.
Thomas Watson of Georgia began his political career in the late nineteenth century as a Populist champion of small farmers and opponent of powerful railroad companies. As a congressman, he was instrumental in implementing Rural Free Delivery by the postal service.
By the early twentieth century, however, Watson was lending his voice to prejudice rather than reform with his virulent denunciations of Catholics, blacks, and Jews. His condemnations of northern and Jewish influence in the wake of Leo Frank’s 1913 trial for the murder of Mary Phagan contributed to the anti-Semitic feeling against Frank that resulted in his August 1915 lynching.
There’s a statue of Watson on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol, but as of this month it’s slated to be moved across the street to make way for a renovation project. The statue’s removal apparently has nothing to do with Watson’s bigotry and everything to do with the prohibitive cost of moving it back once the renovations are done, but it’s prompted an interesting discussion about historical memory and one political figure’s very mixed and quite troubling legacy.
- I can’t believe I forgot to mention this until now, but it’s time for John Sevier Days Living History Weekend at Marble Springs State Historic Site in Knoxville, TN. The action starts tomorrow and continues through Sunday—reenacting, demonstrations, food, and presentations on the Lost State of Franklin and King’s Mountain. It’ll be a blast, so stop by if you get the chance.
- While we’re talking about Marble Springs, let me also recommend a great way to support the site and get some nifty benefits for yourself. Join the Governor John Sevier Memorial Association and you’ll get free admission when you visit, discounts on gift shop items, access to special events, and more. Memberships start at just $25.
- Late September-early October is King’s Mountain season. If you can’t make it to Knoxville for the Marble Springs event, there’s another option for those of you in southwestern Virginia. On Sunday, Abingdon Muster Grounds is hosting Sharyn McCrumb, who will read from her new novel about the battle. They’ll also have living history demonstrations and the unveiling of a new painting of William Campbell, whose unit marched from Abingdon to Sycamore Shoals to meet the other Overmountain Men.
- Some Connecticut parents are quite understandably upset over a school function where students got a taste of slavery…including the racial slurs. What. Were. They. Thinking?
- Here’s a Rev War infographic from 1871.
- Some folks are working to preserve the area around Kettle Creek battlefield in Georgia.
- A supplementary AP history text is drawing criticism for the way it refers to the Second Amendment.
- Next time you’re driving through Shepherdsville, KY keep an eye out for the new John Hunt Morgan mural on an underpass along Old Preston Highway.
Here’s some interesting news out of Georgia for all of us Rev War aficionados.
Oh, and speaking of Rev War buffs, don’t forget about the Bunker Hill book giveaway. Just pick a number between 1 and 1,775 and send it to me at email@example.com by 10:00 P.M. on May 5. I won’t use your e-mail address for any purpose other than contacting the winner to get shipping info for the prize, so don’t be shy. Entries have been coming in since the first day, but the more the merrier.
What’s lower than swiping artifacts? Desecrating graves in order to get them.
Two Waynesboro, Ga., men were charged Monday in a Burke County grave robbery in which the remains of an infant casket and the corpses of five Confederate and Revolutionary War soldiers were dug up.
Jerry Atkinson, 39, and Ralph Hillis Jr. could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the seldom-used felony charge of malicious removal of the dead from a grave. The charges were filed by the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.
Hillis, who goes by the nickname “Bubba,” was in custody in Richmond County on Monday night, but Atkinson remained at large, said Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey.
These guys are also facing meth-related charges. More on this awful story here and here.