Fort Loudoun (Tennessee)
Fort Loudoun from the outside
|Location||Vonore, Tennessee, South bank of Little Tennessee River, about 3/4 miles southeast of U.S. 411|
|Area||50 acres (200,000 m2)1|
|Architect||John William G. De Brahm|
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|Governing body||State of Tennessee|
|NRHP Reference #||66000729|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 19662|
|Designated NHL||June 23, 19653|
Fort Loudoun was a British colonial-era fort located in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee, United States. Built in 1756 and 1757 to help garner Cherokee support for the British at the outset of the Seven Years' War, the fort was one of first significant British outposts west of the Appalachian Mountains. The fort was designed by John William G. De Brahm, its construction was supervised by Captain Raymond Demeré, and its garrison was commanded by Demeré's brother, Paul Demeré. It was named for the Earl of Loudoun, the commander of British forces in North America at the time.4
Relations between the garrison of Fort Loudoun and the local Cherokee inhabitants were initially cordial, but soured in 1759 due to hostilities between Cherokee fighters and European settlers in Virginia and South Carolina. After the massacre of several Cherokee chiefs who were being held hostage at Fort Prince George, the Cherokee leader Oconostota laid siege to Fort Loudoun in March 1760. The fort's garrison held out for several months, but diminishing supplies forced its surrender in August 1760. Hostile Cherokees attacked the fort's garrison as it marched back to South Carolina, killing more than two dozen and taking most of the survivors prisoner.4
The fall of Fort Loudoun led to an invasion of Cherokee territory by General James Grant and an important peace expedition to the Overhill country by Henry Timberlake. The fort was reconstructed in the 20th century based on the detailed descriptions of its design by De Brahm and Demeré, and excavations conducted by Carl Kuttruff of the Tennessee Division of Archaeology. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and is now the focus of Fort Loudoun State Park.
The British colony of South Carolina built the fort in 1756, naming it for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War, the Overhill Cherokee were attacked by French-allied Shawnee, and requested the construction of a fort. Fort Loudoun was built a few miles downstream from the Cherokee capital Chota. Its purpose was to defend the Cherokee and British settlers on the frontier, to maintain the Cherokee-British alliance, and to guard against French attempts to gain influence among the Cherokee. It also served as a diplomatic and trading outpost.
Mutual suspicions and betrayals repeatedly undermined the Cherokee-British alliance. Relations soured as South Carolina frontiersmen invaded the Lower Cherokee Towns along the headwaters of the Savannah River to procure scalps. Open warfare erupted between the Cherokee and the British in 1759, when Cherokee warriors returning from raids against the Shawnee killed cattle belonging to Virginian settlers, and were killed in retaliation. A Cherokee war party led by Chief Oconastota laid siege to Fort Loudoun, which fell on August 7, 1760. The Cherokee attacked and killed part of the garrison in an ambush two days later, as they were returning to South Carolina. During this period, several Cherokee had apparently traveled to Louisiana to secure French aid. The British response was swift; South Carolina militia destroyed the Lower Towns, and Virginia threatened to invade the Overhill Towns, forcing the Cherokee to sue for peace.
The Cherokee village of Tuskegee grew up around Fort Loudoun. Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, was born in this village seventeen years after the destruction of the fort. After Fort Loudoun was burned, the site was abandoned for nearly two centuries.5 In 1917, the Colonial Dames of America placed a marker at the site of the fort. With sporadic support from the state, and from the federal government via the Works Progress Administration, preservationists researched the fort's history and reconstructed the facility starting in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The reconstructed fort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.13
The present-day reconstruction of the fort sits on the bank of the Little Tennessee River, but the fort was not originally on the waterfront. When the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) construction of Tellico Dam threatened to flood the original fort site, preservationists moved the reconstruction. They dismantled the fort, used fill dirt to raise the site 17 feet (5m), and rebuilt it. The dam brought the river closer to the fort than it was originally.
Together with an interpretive center and recreation area, the fort is part of Fort Loudoun State Park. The Tellico Blockhouse site is also part of the park. It features foundations reconstructed based on archaeological investigations. The blockhouse was built on the river opposite the fort by the U.S. Government in 1794 and was in operation until 1805.
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- Polly M. Rettig and Horace J. Sheely, Jr. (March 29, 1975). PDF (32 KB). National Park Service and PDF (32 KB)
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Fort Loudoun". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Carroll Van West, "Fort Loudoun," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 1 December 2013.
- Historic Fort Loudoun, Paul Kelley, Fort Loudoun Association, 1958.
- Fort Loudoun State Historic Area
- Fort Loudoun State Historic Area history page
- Fort Loudoun Home Page