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Battle of Buchanan's Station
An Early, Official Account of the Battle of Buchanan’s Station
Source: American State Papers: Indian Affairs, 4-294-295 (Google Books, free online)
Governor Blount to the Secretary of War
Knoxville, October 10th, 1792
Sir: Yesterday I received an express from General Robertson, by which I have the enclosed account of the attack upon Buchanan’s station on the 30th September: his letter was dated on the 3d instant, on the Indian Trail, four miles from Buchanan’s station, where he was encamped with three hundred men, waiting the return of the reconnoitering party. The express informs me, after he left the General, he (the express) received information of twenty-four Indians being seen on that morning at Fletcher’s Lick, eight miles southwest of Nashville, and seven on the north side of the river, about as many miles distant from the town: the first mentioned fired upon Mr. Joselin and the latter upon Mr. McRory, but neither received any wound. This is all I have yet heard of the large body of the Creeks and Cherokees that passed the Tennessee, from the 15th to the 17th September, as mentioned by the Breath, Charley, and John Boggs. Fourteen days elapsed from the passing of the Tennessee to the attack upon Buchanan’s station, when the distance between could have been marched in from four to six days. Difference in opinion, as to the mode and place of attack, at the rendezvous after they passed at the Tennessee, probably was the cause of the delay; I have no other way to account for it; and it is a rock on which large parties of Indians have generally split, especially when consisting of more than one nation.
It is to be hoped the repulsed party will return with their wounded, and it is to be feared, from the firing of the parties upon Joselin and McRory, that such small parties will continue on the frontiers, and commit depredations, but not such as were justly apprehended, when it was known so large a party had passed the Tennessee. General Robertson received my order of the 14th to discharge the militia in service, under my order of the 11th, on the 20th of September, but hesitated to execute it, because he had been previously informed by Jo. Deraque and Richard Finnelson, that the chiefs of the Lower towns would write me as they did, (alluding to the letters of the Galss [sic] and the Bloody Fellow) with an intention to deceive me; the event has proved the truth of the information, and justified the General’s conduct. The express further informs me that the Cumberland people are in good spirits; and employ every hour, when they are not embodied for the common defence, in erecting block-houses and stockades, the better to ensure safety to their families. I am without information worth communicating, both from the Upper and Lower Cherokees, since that received by John Bogs [sic] and the Hanging Maw. Since the 11th of September, the day on which I received the letter from the Turkey and the other chiefs of the Upper towns, giving me notice of the determination of the five Lower for war, and of theirs to continue in peace and friendship, I have omitted no occasion of impressing the people under my government with the necessity of considering the Upper towns as much friends as if the Lower had not declared for war; and I have the pleasure to assure you that their conduct, not only in observing the treaty, but in their treatment of the friendly Indians, deserves the highest commendation; and upon the complaint of the Hanging Maw, that some of the frontier people of North Carolina at Swannano, had behaved “cross,” as he expressed it, to some of the Cherokees of the Upper towns, I thought it proper to forward an address to them on the subject, a copy of which you have enclosed. Nevertheless, I have information on which I fully depend, that several young men of the Upper have joined the Lower towns; and there is no doubt but more will; and even suppose they ultimately all should, (which I do not suspect) [no period mark] I trust it will be thought good policy in me to keep the friendship of as many as I can, until I have the honor of your orders on that head.
Only part of two companies have arrived here since the return made to your office of Major Sawyer’s battalion: but in the course of ten days I expect nearly the whole number called for by my order of the 27th September, of which I gave you information in my letter of that date by Mr. Allison.
The Captain de Mombray, of Nashville, whose name is mentioned in the information of Jo. Deraque and Richard Finnelson, is the bearer of this letter, an old resident of Kaskaskias, where he served as a Captain under General George Rogers Clark; last war, with reputation, and is now a valuable and respectable citizen.
I have the honor to be, &c.
An account of the attack, by the Creeks and Cherokees, upon Buchanan’s Station, on the 30th September, 1792
On the 30th September, about midnight, John Buchanan’s Station, four miles south of Nashville, (at which sundry families had collected, and fifteen gun-men) was attacked by a party of Creeks and Lower Cherokees, supposed to consist of three or four hundred. Their approach was suspected by the running of cattle, that had taken fright at them, and, upon examination, they were found rapidly advancing within ten yards of the gate; from this place and distance they received the first fire from the man who discovered them, (John Mc. Rory.) They immediately returned the fire, and continued a very heavy and constant firing upon the station, (blockhouses, surrounded with a stockade) for an hour, and were repulsed with considerable loss, without injuring man, woman, or child, in the station.
During the whole time of attack, the Indians were not more distant than ten yards from the blockhouse, and often in large numbers round the lower walls, attempting to put fire to it. One ascended the roof with a torch, where he was shot, and, falling to the ground, renewed his attempts to fire the bottom logs, and was killed. The Indians fired 30 balls through a port-hole of the overjutting, which lodged in the roof in the circumference of a hat, and those sticking in the walls, on the outside, were very numerous.
Upon viewing the ground next morning, it appeared that the fellow who was shot from the roof, was a Cherokee half-breed of the Running Water, known by the whites by the name of Tom Tunbridge’s step-son, the son of a French woman, by an Indian, and there was much blood, and signs that many dead had been dragged off, and litters having been made to carry their wounded to their horses, which they had left a mile from the station. Near the blockhouse were found several swords, hatchets, pipes, kettles, and budgets of different Indian articles; one of the swords was a fine Spanish blade, and richly mounted in the Spanish fashion. In the morning previous to the attack, Jonathan Gee, and Clayton were sent out as spies, and on the ground, among other articles left by the Indians, were found a handkerchief and a moccason [sic], known one to belong to Gee, and the other to Clayton, hence it is supposed they are killed.
Photographs of the John Buchanan Cemetery by Mike Slate, 2011.