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by Hugh Allen

While Colonel Christian and his men were swallowing their disappointment at finding no Indians at the crossing of the French Broad. Let us look at what had been going on in the Indian country.

Caleb Starr, a white trader who had much influence, had advised the Indians to come to terms with the advancing white men. The Raven, and others of the older chiefs, also were in the favor of appeasement.

But Alexander Cameron, the British agent whose job it was to keep the Indians fighting against the Americans, and chief Dragging Canoe, always blood thirsty were for an all-out fight. These two decided, however, that there best bet was to abandon the Indian town on the Little Tennessee and to fall back to the Hiawassee River and there make their stand.

In the end, The Raven and the older chiefs won their way, and sent a messenger to treat with Colonel Christian. The man they sent was Capt. Nathaniel Gist, who had lived for long periods among the Indians, and in whom the white men had none to much confidence, Gist was coolly received by Christian. Some of Christians followers wanted to hang him on the spot. He reported that Cameron had influenced the Indians to burn their northern towns and their store of corn and other crops, and fall back on the Hiawassee. He said that no general engagement could be expected before the Hiawassee was reached.

After waiting a day on the French Broad to give the men time to dry their clothing and equipment Colonel Christian pressed forward. His route lay up the valley of Boyds Creek, then down Ellijoy Creek to Little River. From there the army moved on past the present site of Maryville to the Little Tennessee River.

Christian expected an attack at the Little Tennessee, despite what Capt. Gist had reported, but none developed The river was crossed at Toqua Town, and the army marched on through Tuskegee and past the site of old Fort Loudoun, which had fallen to the Indians about 20 years before, and to the Great Island Town. Here Colonel Christian decided to halt and await developments.

Everywhere along the Tennessee there was evidence of a hurried withdrawal by the Indians. Many of them had apparently departed by canoe down the river, leaving horses, hogs, poultry and a large store of corn and potatoes. The hungry troops ate well from the Indians provisions Christian reported later that he found altogether 40,000 to 50,000 bushels of corn, and 12,000 to 15,000 bushels of potatoes.

Colonel Christian made his headquarters here, and sent messengers telling the Indians they better come and talk things over. A delegation headed by The Raven now the war-chief came to call on Christian. Christian told them bluntly that the British agent, Cameron, and Chief Dragging Canoe would have to be delivered up to him before he could talk business. But these two had read the handwriting on the wall and had departed for parts unknown.

Six or seven of the friendlier chiefs came to terms with Colonel Christian but the trouble was with the blood guilty chiefs. Their towns and stores of provisions were burned. The death of the boy Samuel Moore about whom we have told earlier, was avenged by the burning of the two towns from which his captors came.

This agreement reached between Christian and the chiefs was little more than a preliminary truce. The Indians agreed to release some white prisoners they were holding, to return some stolen horses, and to end a delegation the following year to Long Island for a formal peace treaty that would give the white settlers title to the lands which they occupied and also some additional lands. Then the Christian Expedition returned home.

Colonel Christian had been criticized for failure to deal more harshly toward the Indians. Even some of his officers were disgusted. They said the expedition had accomplished nothing except to burn five towns and to patch up a sort of peace.

It is true that not a battle had been fought, and that Dragging Canoe and Cameron had not been particularly chastised Christian had not marched on the Hiawassee, as he might have done.

It is not our function here to weigh the military and political success or failure of the expedition. If the Indians were taught any lesson they soon forgot it.

It is significant that 2000 white men had seen the mountains and valleys and streams of the future Sevier County and had liked what they saw. And that many of them determined that it would be a good place to return to and settle down.

Expeditions against the Cherokee beginning a hunt down for the next 20 years or so and there is little need to try to record them all. One, however, stands out, and we shall talk about it next. It took place 4 years after Christian's Expedition and on it was fought the Battle of Boyds Creek.

Source: The Sevier County Record, 22 Jun 1950, page 1