In every nation’s history, there are major forks in the road , determining the fate of that country’s survival and prosperity. The Seige of Fort Watauga (then Caswell) was one such occassion where the fate of an area was determined and on May 13-15, the Washington County Militia of North Carolina Regiment paid homage to the spirit of those who fought or died during the twenty day Seige. During those fateful days, Dragging Canoe and Old Abram blitzed the area and if the settlers had not prevailed, we’d be a casino today :o).
The public got to see Lydia Bean being saved by Nancy Ward from a certain firey death, and got to see Tom Moore brutally burned to toast. Anyone wanting to see the famous incident in which John Sevier lifted Bonnie Kate over the stockade with Cherokees trying to capture her or a wounded Anne Robertson scalding a Native or two got a treat this weekend.
This year was the most exciting reenactment the Fort has seen to date. Friday was the first ever “School Day” and 500 childen from area schools traveled among eight stations, ranging from guns going boom to sharp weapons, soap making, what women and men wore and their lives on the frontier.
I heard that there were 120 reenactors registered but there had to be many more in attendance as day trippers on Saturday. Noone had ever seen the militia 4 deep in men, spreading across the entire inside of the fort before. Groups came from all over like the South Carolina Rangers and the the 1st Maryland Regiment — Southern Campaign from North Carolina.
There was a nice number of long hunters, mostly from outside our area, traveling from Virginia and Kentucky to participate.
Two re-enactment groups of British forces were on the grounds- the 42nd Regiment and the North Carolina Highlanders represented the Tory contingent and there were re-enactors portraying Cherokees and other Native Americans, who did an outstanding job; it sounded like the whole Cherokee tribe was on the attack!
What made this event different from others in the region was the variety of senarios portrayed. The battle on Saturday included the early stage of the siege when the Cherokee surprised several women working in the fields and nearly captured Bonnie Kate Sherrill before John Sevier reached down and pulled her to safety.
In Sunday’s reenactment, the story of a group led by James Cooper was told. Despite warnings by others in the fort, Cooper led a group to finish work on a shed when he thought the Cherokee had abandoned the siege. The group was ambushed and all but Thomas Moore were killed. Moore was captured and burned at the stake. Sunday’s battle also featured another woman patriot. Ann Robertson and other women were boiling water for the laundry when some Cherokee warriors managed to get close enough to the stockade to set it on fire. Robertson used the laundry water to form a bucket brigade to not only put out the fire but to scald the attackers.
Besides battles, the public got to see how people lived during that time period and traveled freely throught the various camps. On Saturday there was an auction. See the Swap and Sell page for the results. The guests and members also enjoyed a wonderful BBQ dinner in the visitor’s center and jollification in the tavern later Saturday night.
The Seige was so successful that many guests expressed an interest to join the Militia. This will be a blessing to us all.
Pictures will be forthcoming but Ronnie posted some on his website. Check them out!