Seige at Fort Southwest Point, Kingston, TN, June 4-5, 2011

Fort Southwest Point, Kingston , TN

I never heard of Fort Southwest Point, though I’ve been to Kingston, TN years ago and by the exit many times on the way to elsewhere. Looking at Smoke and Fire finding events close by to go to, Mike and I spotted this event some months ago and decided to day trip it.

What a sweet place! It’s a wooden star fort, nestled on the overlook at the join of the Tennessee and Clinch Rivers. In 1792, General John Sevier created his headquarters here and built the stockade and blockhouse. The fort itself  was built at that exact site in 1797 as a way station for settlers traveling west and an Indian agency. At its peak, there were over 600 Federal troops under the command of Col. David Henley. Their role was a dual one: protect the area from attack and keep the settlers out of Cherokee settlements. In 1802, command was assumed by Col. Return J. Meigs, reputed to be a very fair man and outstanding commander,  who acted both as  an Indian agent and an agent of the Dept. of  War for the government. He was instrumental in purchasing Cherokee land, and providing goods to the Cherokee and other tribes. Military operations were transfered to the  Hiwassee garrison and the fort was decomissioned by 1811.

In 1974, archeological digs  overseen by the University of Tennessee were started and still continue today. The outpost was built on existing foundations and is still a work in progress. What I found impressive is that this place is owned by the City of Kingston with no outside financial assistance from the federal or state park services and all the building has been done by local volunteers using , in many instances , their own money for materials.

The Roane County Chapter of the SOR sponsored the 2nd Annual Trade Faire this past weekend at the fort and while it was a small event, it was a lot of fun. There was a fair representation of people in the shade outside the stockade walls. Mike and I went on Saturday morning and the organizers said we could set up our demos (Mike leather sewing on his leather clamp, me making a pine needle basket, weaving ) on the porch of the officers’ quarters. The two really interesting buildings they have built so far is the barracks (soldiers on one side, officers on the other divided by a common fire place) and the blockhouse. There is a blacksmith shop being built close by in the same location as it was back when the fort was in use. Next to where we were set up are three digs (magazine, supply and another building as yet to be determined). As hot as it was, there was a nice breeze blowing from the river and there were a good number of public curious and asking questions.

Down below there was a big tent with music and games for the kids (let’s fire a flintlock pistol and see how high you can jump when it fires!) and the Daughters of the Revolution supplied an endless array of homemade cookies and coffee to anyone who wanted them. We met some fantastic people there; David Whaley who knew a number of Regiment members , the Cherokee from Georgia and his family, and everyone who was there was terrific.

At 2 PM, Mike Dahl entertained the crowd with the history of the fort and the skirmish caused by some forked tongue diplomacy on the part of the Federals. The militia fought the Cherokee (all two of them) and in the end, there was a pow-wow and an uneasy truce. The group has an 8 pounder that gave a whole new meaning to the word “BOOM”. They pack it with a POUND of black powder and on top of that, pack it with a like amount of flour. When it shoots, it’s FIREWORKS!

At 4 PM, the event was over for the day and there was such a marvelous peace in the place, the breeze, the view of the river, quiet conversation, and the shade of the blockhouse. It was hard to leave.

If you have a chance to go next year, it’s an easy run up Rt 40 to Kingston and the fort is 1 1/2 miles off the exit. I know we’ve already decided to go next year.

Check out their website. Also I posted photos I took in a Webshot album. Take a look.

Chad and Ronnie's baby is going to grow up to be a big boy like this.



Filed under 2011 Militia Activity, rev war reenactment

2 responses to “Seige at Fort Southwest Point, Kingston, TN, June 4-5, 2011

  1. Gerald Jack

    The 2006 Triennial Meeting of The General Society of The Sons of the Revolution was held in Knoxville, Tennessee, September 27-October 1, 2006. My wife Cathy and I attended from the California Society. On Saturday , September 30. 2006, 8:45 AM we boarded buses at the Mariott Hotel for Kingston, Tennessee for a riverboat ride, lunch, and tour of Fort Southwest Point. Organized by the Roane County Chapter. (casual dress) As the riverboat approached the Fort, a cannon was fired off as a salute to us. We had a delicious lunch under a tent at the Fort. We toured the grounds where a blacksmith was working and other demonstrations were going on. I sat in an officer’s campaign chair reproduction on the front porch of the barracks that was divided up inside for officers and enlisted men. It was very relaxing looking out over the river and the beautiful scenery. I looked at the label under the chair and it was made by Drexel Furniture, Drexel, North Carolina. It happened to be a chair model that many years ago I had sold to customers at J. H. Biggar Furniture, Pasadena, CA. The store carried mostly fine quality furniture from other factories in North Carolina. I felt very much at home. The cannon was fired off a couple of times before we left the Fort. My ancestor Jeremiah Jack Sr. fought under John Sevier at Kings Mountain and Boyd’s Creek. He was one of the first justices apointed by Governor Blount in Knoxville, TN. His plantation was located at the fork of the French Broad and Holston Rivers. It is near the National and State Historical Lebanon in the Fork Presbyterian Church Cemetery. John Sevier was his friend and neighbor as is noted in The Annals of Tennessee by Ramsey. We plan to attend a SR ceremony for the new marble VA headstone at the cemetery in late September. We hope to attend the 2011 September re-enactment of the march of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals at Fort Watauga.


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