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Cherokee Expedition of James Grant

Cherokee Expedition of James Grant

CHEROKEE EXPEDITION OF JAMES GRANT. 1761. In 1759 the long-standing friendship between the Cherokee nation and South Carolina deteriorated badly as the result of friction during John Forbes's 1758 campaign and a number of murders by frontiersmen of Indians as they returned home. Governor William Lyttleton averted trouble for a time, but individual acts of violence finally led to an eruption of open hostilities in January 1760. Before being promoted to governor of Jamaica, Lyttleton began raising troops and asked neighboring colonies as well as Jeffery Amherst, governor general of British North America, to send forces. Colonel Archibald Montgomery arrived in April with over 1,300 regulars (from the First Foot and Highlanders of his own Seventy-seventh Foot) and pushed up to the town of Ninety Six. Montgomery scored early successes in June by burning the so-called Lower Towns, but when he tried to penetrate into the wilderness the Cherokee dealt him a stinging defeat at Echoe on 27 June. As a result the regulars headed back to New York, leaving the isolated outpost of Fort Loudon to its fate.

In 1761 Amherst sent the competent Lieutenant Colonel James Grant back to Charleston with regulars from the First, Seventeenth, and Twenty-second Foot and some Mohawk and Stockbridge scouts. South Carolina contributed a provincial regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Laurens, rangers, allied Catawbas and Chickasaws, and a well-organized logistical train. On 18 May this force, about 2,800 strong, reached Ninety-Six prepared for a lengthy wilderness campaign. On 10 June the Cherokee again ambushed the column near Echoe and tried to repeat their successful tactics of concentrating on the pack train. But Grant was a much tougher opponent than Montgomery, and the action turned into a hard-fought battle lasting six hours. The British and colonials held their ground, suffering a dozen killed and fifty-two wounded; the Cherokee may have had as many as twice the casualties, but more importantly they expended nearly all of their ammunition. As a result they were unable to offer further resistance as Grant spent nearly a month systematically burning the fifteen Middle Towns and destroying 1,500 acres of crops. With a Virginia column in the Holston Valley and threatening the Overhill Towns, Chief Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter") opened peace negotiations.

The Cherokee never really recovered from this blow. The campaign also had an influence on the Revolutionary War by providing important military experience to many of the men who would become South Carolina's military and political leaders: Henry Laurens, Francis Marion, William Moultrie, Andrew Williamson, Isaac Huger, and Andrew Pickens.

SEE ALSO Amherst, Jeffery (1717–1797); Cherokee; Grant, James; Huger, Isaac; Laurens, Henry; Marion, Francis; Moultrie, William; Ninety Six, South Carolina; Pickens, Andrew; Williamson, Andrew.


Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. New York: Knopf, 2000.

Cole, Richard. "Montgomerie's Cherokee Campaign, 1760: Two Contemporary Views." North Carolina Historical Review 74 (January 1997): 19-36.

                              revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.

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