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Home About Sevier County History The Battle of Boyd's Creek
The Battle of Boyd's Creek PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 15:03

Written by Hugh Allen

We must pass quickly over events following the return the Christian Expedition. As the Indians had promised they sent a delegation to the Long Island the following year 1777, and concluded a treaty which gave white men the lands they already occupied in the upper part of the state. Thus the frontier advanced, but was still far away from what now is Sevier County. This was the Treaty of Long Island. and was the first of several treaties made with the Indians -- with the Indians always on the losing end.

The Indians were quiet for several years. Meanwhile the Revolutionary War was running its course and in dew time John Sevier and the other leaders of the area marched over the mountains to whip the British at King's Mountain. This was in October, 1780 -- four years after the Christian Expedition.

The men who fought at King's Mountain were greatly worried at having to leave their homes and their families unprotected while they were away -- and with good cause.

As soon as the battle was over, John Sevier detached his company from the main force and made a hurried march home. Arriving on Watauga he found the stalwart Isaac Thomas waiting with news that the Indians were again taking the warpath.

Messengers were quickly sent out over the area ordering the various companies to prepare to march Colonel Arthur Campbell was military commander of the district, and as such was to head the expedition.

But John Sevier's home territory was closest to the Indians, and Sevier's idea of fighting was that attack was the best defense. He had no idea of waiting shut up in the fort for the Indians to come and burn homes, destroy crops and seize horses and cattle.

Sevier's determined to start ahead without waiting for Campbell. His plan was to catch the Indians before they could cross French Broad.

Sevier hurried south and did succeed reaching the French Broad before the Indians crossed the river at the Big Island, later known as Sevier's Island. Early next morning his scouts located the Indians at a place then called Cedar Springs.

The Indians were laying in ambush in the grass and brush in a half-moon formation. John Sevier planned his attack carefully. He sent an advanced guard forward under Capt. James Stinson, accompanied by two scouts Joseph Dunham (Duncan) and Joseph Gist. Of the main force Sevier commanded the center. Major Jesse Walton the right wing and Major Jonathan Tipton the left wing.

The orders were that the advance guard should go forward until it contacted the enemy, They were to fire on the enemy, then quickly fall back on the main body, Sevier thought the Indians would come out of their position and pursue the advanced guard, and he was correct. His plan was that the center of the line should bear the attack, while the left and right wings, completely surrounded the Indians.

One historian described the battle thus: "In this order were the troops arranged when they met the Indians at the Cedar Springs, who rushed forward after the guard with great rapidity till checked by the opposition of the main body." Major Walton and the right wing wheeled briskly to the left and preformed the order which was to execute with precise accuracy.

But the left wing moved with less celerity, and when the center fired on the Indians, doing immense execution, the latter retreated through the unoccupied space left open between the extremities of the right wing and running into a swamp escaped the destruction which otherwise seemed ready to invoke them.

The loss of the enemy amounted to 28 killed on the ground, and very many wounded who got off without being taken.

Major Tipton apparently had misunderstood his orders. If he had moved his troops as instructed it is doubtful if any of the redmen would have escaped death or capture.

Such was the Battle of Boyds Creek. It was fought Dec. 16, 1780, just a few weeks after the Battle of King's Mountain.

It was Sevier's first offensive battle with the Indians in which he was top in command, and most-likely the beginning of a feud between himself and Tipton which would continue till their death.

Source: Sevier County News Record, July 6, 1950, page 1

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 15:08