Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fincastle County existed only until 1776, when it was divided into Montgomery County, Washington County, and Kentucky County.

Counties mentioned:

Botetourt County was formed in 1770 and initially extended from the Blue Ridge Mountains westward.

In 1772 Fincastle County was formed from the southern part of Botetourt County, which was left with the approximate area of the present counties of Botetourt, Roanoke, Craig, and Alleghany in Virginia, and part of present West Virginia.

Fincastle County existed only until 1776, when it was divided into Montgomery County, Washington County, and Kentucky County.

Montgomery County at its formation comprised roughly the present counties of Montgomery, Smyth, Grayson, Carroll, Wythe, Bland, Giles, Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, and part of Tazewell in Virginia, as well as part of present West Virginia.

Washington County at its formation included present Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Russell, Buchanan, and part of Tazewell County.

Events and battles:

Proclamation of 1763: In the fall of 1763 the British Crown decided to solidify its holdings along the Atlantic seaboard by acknowledging Indian ownership of lands west of the Appalachian crest, prohibiting settlement in those lands, and evicting those already there. The only exceptions were to be licensed traders. Had the proclamation been respected, Americans might have remained tied to transatlantic ties and continued to consider themselves subjects of a small island off the coast of Europe for a much longer period. The proclamation was ignored, however, and by the time of the Revolutionary War, frontiersmen were referring to the British as foreigners.

Point Pleasant: This battle, fought at present Point Pleasant WV on the Ohio River on 10 Oct 1774, is often said to have been the first battle of the American Revolution. It was the only battle of Dunmore=s War, which may have been an attempt by the Royal Governor to divert the revolutionary zeal of Virginia=s militia. Andrew Lewis with 1100 militiamen defeated fewer than 500 Shawnees and a few Mingo Indians, resulting in the Shawnees= ceding the territory that is now the state of Kentucky.

Cherokee Expedition: The British initially hoped to quell the American Revolution in the South by provoking the Indians to attack along the frontier, which the Indians were inclined to do in any case because of encroachments on their territories. Cherokees and other Indians, often aided by Loyalists, began to raid European settlements. White militias retaliated with equally bloody raids against the Cherokees, destroying villages and crops, and killing many men, women, and children by starvation and exposure, if not by bullets and tomahawks. This phase of the Revolutionary War ended on 20 July 1777 with the Treaty of Long Island (on the Holston River at present Kingsport TN), by which the Cherokees lost all their territory east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Illinois Service: In Feb 1779 George Rogers Clark led 172 volunteers from the recently formed county of Kentucky against the British at Fort Sackville in what is now southern Illinois. The object was to prevent the British from encouraging Indian attacks on the settlements in Kentucky. By pretending to have a force of 600 men, and by using the palisade to demonstrate the marksmanship of the frontiersmen, Clark persuaded the British to surrender the fort.

Buford=s Defeat: Col. Abraham Buford with several hundred Virginia soldiers had been on his way to relieve the besieged city of Charleston SC, but on hearing that the city had surrendered on 12 May 1780, they retreated northward. Cornwallis sent Lt. Col. Banastre Tarletons Legion in pursuit, and on 29 May Tarletonovertook Buford near Waxhaws SC. After Buford surrendered, a gunshot spooked Tarleton=s horse, and thinking he had been shot, British troops bayoneted many of the surrendered Patriots. Many Americans assumed that Tarleton had ordered the massacre, and in later battles they retaliated against surrendered British by offering only ATarleton=s quarter.@ (Tarleton was the model for Tavington, the arch-villain in the fictional movie The Patriot.)

King=s Mountain: In September 1780 British Major Patrick Ferguson sent word from South Carolina to the backwoodsmen that if they rebelled against the Crown their leaders would be hanged and their country laid waste. The frontiersmen, who till then had been mostly not involved in the war, muttered a collective, We'll see about that,@ and swarmed out of the mountains of present Tennessee and southwest Virginia. On 7 Oct 1780 about 1100 of these Aover mountain men@surrounded Ferguson and an equal number of loyalist volunteers on King=sMountain near Spartanburg SC. Among the patriots were about 200 in the Washington County Militia under Col. Arthur Campbell. Ferguson was killed and his troops defeated. This victory, coming only two months after Cornwallis had defeated the entire southern army under Gen. Horatio Gates at Camden SC, provided a much-needed boost in morale for the Americans.

Cowpens: On 17 Jan 1781 not far from King=s Mountain in South Carolina, American forces under Gen. Daniel Morgan defeated the British under Tarleton. This victory was a second major encouragement to the Americans.

Whitsell=s Mill: After the British losses at King=s Mountain and Cowpens, Cornwallis decided he must again defeat the entire southern army, then under Gen. Nathanael Greene. He therefore reduced his baggage to the bare essentials and attempted to chase down Greene and force a battle. Greene, with his army still too weak and poorly supplied to fight, led Cornwallis on a race through North Carolina for the Dan River and the safety of Virginia. On 14 Feb 1781 Greene=s army crossed the Dan near South Boston just hours before Cornwallis, who was stopped by high water and a lack of boats. On 6 March 1781, 700 Americans, including 300 Botetourt County militiamen under Col. William Preston, engaged a much larger detachment led by Banastre Tarleton at Wetzel=s Mill about 20 miles east of present Greensboro NC. Many of the Virginia riflemen, more accustomed to shooting from behind trees and hand-to-hand combat with tomahawks, were sent fleeing home by the sight of a line British soldiers advancing with fixed bayonets.

Guilford Court House: While Cornwallis was resting at Hillsborough, Greene chose a favorable field of battle at Guilford Court House, 6 miles north of present Greensboro NC. Militiamen from Virginia and North Carolina, inspired by King=sMountain and Cowpens, poured in to join Greene. These included militias of Botetourt County under Col. Lee May, Montgomery County under Col. William Preston, and Washington County under Col. Daniel Smith. The battle began early on 15 March 1781, with the North Carolinians in the front line fleeing the British charge, exposing the Virginians in the second line. The battle was a narrow and costly victory for the British. Cornwallis once again had to rest and recover before going to meet his destiny at Yorktown. Greene meanwhile took his army back to South Carolina to attack British outposts.

Siege of Ninety-Six: One of the British outposts in South Carolina was at the settlement of Ninety-Six in the northwestern part of the state, on a vital road linking Charleston to Indians and Loyalists in the back country. On 22 May 1781, more than 1600 of Greene=s troops, including a company of Virginia militiamen under Cap. Jeremiah Pate, began a siege of the fortifications at Ninety-Six. Greene abandoned the siege on hearing of the approach of British reinforcements from Charleston. After the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown on 19 October 1781, however, the British gave up all their outposts in the Carolinas.

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