With the flight of its leader, the Cary Rebellion collapsed, but the fires of factionalism still smoldered and it took a catastrophe of appalling magnitude to quench them. This was the great Indian war that raged in North Carolina from 1711 to 1713. Cary's enemies charged his adherents with inciting the Indians to hostilities, and although the charge rests on too uncertain a basis to be readily credited, yet it cannot be denied that the dissensions among the whites, for which Cary was largely responsible, gave the Indians the opportunity for which they had long been waiting. The causes of the war were not different from the causes of most other Indian wars waged since the white man and the red man first came in contact with each other. The whites, recognizing no right of the Indian to the soil, appropriated it to their own use without scruple, and as they pushed their way to the southward from Albemarle they necessarily drove the Indians before them and seized their hunting grounds. To this injustice they added the greater wrong of kidnapping Indian men, women and children to be sold into slavery. So extensive had this infamous practice become that Pennsylvania in 1705 forbade the further "importation of Indian slaves from Carolina" because it had "been observed to give the Indians of this province some umbrage for suspicion and dissatisfaction." The Meherrins, the Nottoways, the Chowanocs, and other similar tribes, powerless to stay the march of the white man, submitted in sullen anger, but were ever on the watch for a favorable opportunity to strike a blow at their advancing foe. By the opening of the eighteenth century, the power of the Indians had gradually declined until but one tribe remained strong enough to contest the hold of the white man upon the country. The Tuscarora were a warlike nation of northern origin who were near kinsmen of the famous Iroquois of the Long House in Western New York. They possessed towns on the Roanoke and the Pamlico, but their chief towns were on the Neuse and its tributaries, p101 and their hunting-grounds extended as far southward as the Cape Fear. They could muster more than 1,200 warriors.
The immediate cause of the war which the Tuscarora began in 1711, was the recent settlement of the Palatines on the Neuse in 1710; the occasion was Cary's Rebellion which seemed to one watchful chief, whom the whites called Hancock, to offer the very opportunity for attack for which he had had been so long waiting. Accordingly during the summer of 1711 he carefully organized a coalition between his own tribe and the Coree, the Pamlico, the Mattamuskeet, and several other smaller tribes. Early in September, under his shrewd leadership, 500 warriors assembled at Cotechney, his principal town on Contentnea Creek, near the present village of Snow Hill, and determined upon September 22d as the date for the attack. So carefully kept was their secret that but a few days before the blow was to fall, Christopher de and John Lawson unwittingly ventured into the very heart of the Tuscarora possessions on an exploring expedition. They were captured and condemned to execution. De , however, by a clever stratagem, saved himself, but Lawson, who, in his "History of Carolina" had eulogized the amiable qualities of these very Indians, was put to a horrible death. No hint of their impending fate was permitted to reach the settlers who continued to receive the Indians into their cabins without suspicion up to the very moment of the attack, and slept peaceably through the preceding night. The war-whoops of the savages, arousing them from sleep at daybreak, were their first intimation of danger. Painted warriors poured out of the woods on all sides and began their horrid work. Within two hours after sunrise, they had butchered 130 settlers on the Pamlico and eighty on the Neuse. Men, women, and children fell indiscriminately beneath their bloody tomahawks, and the dead lay unburied in the hot September sun, food for wolves and vultures. For three days the awful carnage continued with every circumstance of cruelty and horror. Those who were fortunate enough to escape, fled to Bath and other places of refuge leaving the entire region between the Pamlico and the Neuse a scene of ashes, blood, and desolation.
Fortunately, Tom Blunt, chief of the Tuscarora tribe on the Roanoke, had refused to join in the conspiracy against the whites and thus the Albemarle region escaped. Nevertheless the situation in the province was critical in the extreme. The recent dissensions among the people, the refusal of the p102 Quakers to bear arms, the fears of attack on the western frontier of Albemarle, the wide-spread destruction of property and the loss of life, and above all the shaken morale of the people made Governor Hyde's task an extremely difficult one. He acted with vigor and ability. Calling the General Assembly in session, he induced it to vote a war credit of £4,000 and to pass an act drafting for military service the entire man-power of the colony between sixteen and sixty years of age. He organized as effectively as possible the armed forces of the colony; erected forts at strategic points; and called on Virginia and South Carolina for aid. Governor Spotswood promptly ordered a force of Virginia militia to the border near the Tuscarora towns thus assuring their neutrality; but the Virginia government declined to permit troops to be sent to the aid of North Carolina unless the North Carolina Assembly would agree to withdraw its claims to the region in dispute between the two colonies. South Carolina on the other hand, responding promptly and generously, dispatched to North Carolina a strong force of whites and Indians under the command of Col. John Barnwell.
Barnwell acted with dispatch and skill. Marching through •300 miles of wilderness, he struck the enemy in two hard-fought battles near New Bern and forced them to sue for peace. His first attack resulted in the reduction of Fort Narhantes, •about thirty miles from New Bern, January 12, 1712. Barnwell writes that after his forces had gained an entrance into the fort, while his white troops were putting the men to the sword, his Indians got all the slaves and the plunder, adding regretfully "only one girl we gott." Immediately after this success, he advanced on Cotechney, in which Hancock had gathered a powerful force of Tuscarora and their allies. Though reinforced by 250 North Carolinians, Barnwell was less successful here than he had been at Narhantes. Failing to take the place by storm, he brought up some cannon which so terrified the Indians that they proposed a truce. To this Barnwell agreed in order to save from massacre some white women and children whom Hancock held as prisoners within the fort. A treaty was signed calling for a cessation of hostilities and the delivery of the prisoners in possession of the Indians. The Tuscarora likewise agreed in the future "to plant only on Neuse River, the creek the fort is on, quitting all claims to other lands. * * * To quit all pretensions to planting, fishing, hunting or ranging to all lands lying between Neuse River and Cape Feare, that entirely to be left to So. Carolina Indians, and to be treated p103 as enemies if found in those ranges without breach of peace."
Barnwell naturally expected that his services to North Carolina should be rewarded with great honors and gifts. Instead of these rewards, he found himself subjected to very severe criticism for his failure to press the enemy to a decisive defeat, and disgusted at the ingratitude of the province, and unwilling for his men to return home without some profit, he determined to seek his reward from another source. Under pretence of peace, he lured a large number of Indians to the vicinity of the Coree village near New Bern, permitted his own men to fall upon them unaware, capture many of them and hasten away to South Carolina to sell their victims into slavery. This breach of faith justly incensed the Tuscarora and their allies and destroyed what little confidence they had in the plighted faith of the white men; and before the summer of 1712 was gone they were again on the warpath.
During the summer, yellow fever added its horrors to those of war, and claimed perhaps as many victims. Among them was Governor Hyde. Hyde was succeeded in the administration by Thomas Pollock, president of the Council. Pollock was the rival and antithesis of Moseley. He had come to North Carolina from Scotland in 1683 as the deputy of a Lord Proprietor and throughout his subsequent career was warmly attached to the proprietary interests. Of good Scotch stock, well educated, owner of vast estates and master of a hundred slaves, he was in full sympathy with the ideals and aspirations of the privileged classes. As a devout Churchman, loyal to the interests of the Church, he disliked Dissenters of whatever profession and was particularly hostile to the Quakers whose theology he detested and whose politics he distrusted. In the Glover-Cary contest, therefore, he adhered to Glover whom he accompanied, upon Cary's triumph, into exile in Virginia; later, during the Cary Rebellion, he was Hyde's chief lieutenant. With him the enforcement of laws and the preservation of order were cardinal political principles, and he showed the sincerity of his devotion to them when he suffered imprisonment for resisting Seth Sothel's violations of the law and when he chose exile rather than submit to what he regarded as the perversion of orderly government by Cary's illegal usurpation. To him the call of duty was a command. Upon assuming the duties of governor after Hyde's death, he wrote to the Lords Proprietors: "The real desire to serve his Majesty, your Lordships, and the poor people here, with the impertunity of the council here, have forced me to accept of the administration at this time when the country p104 seemed to labor under insuperable difficulties when in more peaceable times I have refused it."
Such was the man who had been called to the helm in the darkest hour in the history of North Carolina. The difficulties, as he said, might well have seemed "insuperable." Large sections of the country had been desolated. Along the Neuse, the Trent and the Pamlico, the plantations had been stripped of horses, cattle, and hogs, the crops destroyed, and the cabins reduced to heaps of ashes. The people had no means of recouping their losses as the war had completely wiped out their trade with the outside world "there being no grain nor little, or no pork this two or three years to send out, so that what few vessels come in can have little or nothing * * * so that many have not wherewith to pay their debts, and but few can supply themselves with clothing necessary for their families." To their other burdens, they had been compelled to add an enormous war debt. Constantly threatened by their alert and resourceful enemy the settlers in the stricken region had been compelled to pass the winter and summer huddled together in small forts and stockades thus adding a further drain upon the meager food supply of the Albemarle section. When to all this we add the "dissention and disobedience as much as ever amongst the people," we complete the harrowing picture of the ruin and despair to which the colony had been reduced. Pollock summed up the situation in these words: "Our enemies strong, and numerous, well provided with armes and ammunition; our people poor, dispirited, undisciplined, timorous, divided, and generally disobedient, and not only [in] a great want of armes and ammunition, but likewise the poor men who have been out in the service of the Country for want of their pay are in want of Clothing, so that they are not well able to hold out in the woods in the cold weather after the Indians."
Colonel Pollock acted with courage and confidence. In an eloquent plea to the people of the colony he said: "Our all lies now at stake, our country, our wives, our children, our estates, and all that is dear to us. * * * Let us therefore bear with patience some hardships; let [us] strive against all difficulties. * * * Let us lay aside all animosity, difference, and dissentions amongst ourselves. Let us shun such, as we would shun the plague, that endeavour to raise mutinies, or to sow seeds of dissention amongst us." To the regions stricken by war he dispatched food and clothing, arms and munitions, and sent reinforcements of troops. Finding that the northern tribe of Tuscarora were anxious to maintain p105 peace with the whites, he negotiated a treaty of neutrality with their chief, Tom Blunt, who agreed to make an effort to capture Hancock and induce him to make peace. Later a second treaty was made with Blunt in which he agreed to continue his neutrality as to the Tuscarora tribes but to make war with the whites on the Coree, the Pamlico, and other allies of Hancock. Having succeeded in a remarkable degree in uniting the strength of the whites and dividing that of the Indians, Pollock sought and obtained the aid of South Carolina in meeting the new crisis.
That colony a second time came generously to the aid of the hard-pressed North Carolinians. A body of thirty-three white men and about 1,000 Indians was promptly raised, placed under the command of Col. James Moore, and ordered to North Carolina. Co-operating with a force of North Carolinians raised by Pollock, Moore speedily drove the Tuscarora and their allies to the cover of their forts, and on March 20, 1713, attacked Fort Nohoroco. After three days of fierce fighting, he reduced it, inflicting upon the enemy a loss of more than 900 men. Crushed by this blow, the severest ever experienced by the Indians of Eastern Carolina, the remnant of the defeated Tuscarora abandoned North Carolina migrating to New York, where, joining their powerful kinsmen, the Iroquois of the Long House, they changed the celebrated Five Nations into the Six Nations. Hancock's defeat practically closed the war as the only hostiles left to continue the struggle were small tribes which Moore's force quickly reduced. After the close of the war the neutral Tuscarora, with the remnant of the allied tribes remaining in North Carolina were by treaty between the Indians and the provincial government placed under the rule of Tom Blunt. Subsequently at various times small bands of the North Carolina Tuscarora abandoned North Carolina to join their brethren in New York, the last of them moving northward about the year 1802.
Two years after the overthrow of the Tuscarora, North Carolina was able to pay in kind her debt of gratitude to South Carolina. The Yamassee Indians, who had accompanied Colonel Moore on his expedition into North Carolina, having paid off some ancient scores against the Tuscarora in the war of 1711‑13, returned to their wigwams in South Carolina to consider their grievances against the English which, it must be confessed, were both numerous and well founded. Instigated by the Spaniards of Florida, who agreed to supply them with arms and ammunition, they formed an p106 ambitious plan to wipe out of existence the colony of South Carolina. For this purpose an alliance against the English was effected between all the tribes in the vast region from the Cape Fear to the Chattahoochee and beyond the Blue Ridge. Besides the Yamassee, it embraced the Catawbas, the Congaree, the Creeks, and the Cherokee, numbering in all more than 6,000 warriors. It was one of the most formidable Indian conspiracies in American history. The Yamassee opened the war with an assault along the southern frontier on Good Friday, 1715, in which they slew more than a hundred settlers, and threatened the existence of the colony. But the settlers, after recovering from their surprise, quickly rallied under the wise and energetic leadership of Governor Craven. Craven met a large force of Indians who were advancing upon Charleston, and routed them with great slaughter. This victory gave the colony a respite in which to prepare for hostilities. Appeals to Virginia and North Carolina brought prompt aid from both, from Virginia upon conditions so stringent that South Carolina was compelled to ask for their modification, from North Carolina upon no conditions at all.
Promptly upon receiving intelligence of South Carolina's danger, Governor Eden recently appointed governor of North Carolina, called his Council together and upon its advice ordered the captains who were "commandrs in the Honble ye Governors own Regimt" to call upon their companies for volunteers to go to the aid of South Carolina under the command of Colonel Theophilus Hastings; but "in Case of any Obstinancy and Reluctancy" on the part of the troops to volunteer, each captain was "to draw out Tenn able men from Each of ye Companyes provided that they are not those who have ye most numerous familyes and to see all well provided with armes and ammunition and to put them under ye said Coll Hastings." At the same time, orders were given for the raising of another company consisting of fifty men who were to be sent to South Carolina under command of Colonel Maurice Moore. Colonel Moore was a native of South Carolina, but had accompanied his brother, Colonel James Moore, to North Carolina during the Tuscarora War, and had decided to cast in his fortunes with that colony. Hastings and Moore were soon both ready. The troops under Hastings, numbering eighty whites and sixty Indians, sailed in the man-of‑war Sussex and arrived at Charleston about the middle of July; those under Moore marched overland by way of the Cape Fear. With this aid, and that received from Virginia, Governor Craven was able to administer a crushing defeat p107 upon the enemy, whom he drove from the colony and forced to seek refuge among the Spaniards of Florida. Short work was then made of the smaller tribes along the coast, while those in the interior hastened to sue for peace.
In this war, the English came for the first time in hostile contact with the Cherokee, and their first experience with those cunning, warlike mountaineers gave them some indication of the formidable enemies they were to find in them during the next hundred years. After the defeat of the Yamassee, the Lower Cherokee sent a number of their chiefs to Charleston to seek terms of peace. Governor Craven, with the view of impressing these remote tribes with a sense of the greatness and power of the English, determined to send an expedition into their own country to dictate peace in their very midst. This expedition, consisting of Moore's North Carolinians and a company of South Carolinians under Colonel George Chicken, he placed under command of Colonel Maurice Moore. Colonel Moore moved rapidly up the north bank of the Savannah River into the country of the Lower Cherokee, where he made his headquarters. These Indians, laying the blame for their troubles upon the traders, who "had been very abuseful of them of late," reaffirmed their desire for peace, but the Upper Cherokee were still defiant, and Moore found it necessary to send a strong detachment against them. This detachment, under Colonel Chicken, penetrating into the heart of the Cherokee country, met their chiefs at Quoneashee, on the Hiwassee, near the present town of Murphy. These warriors were eager for war with some neighboring tribes, with whom the whites were trying to make peace, and demanded large supplies of guns and ammunition, saying that if they made peace, they would have no means of getting slaves with which to buy ammunition. It was not until after "abundance of persuading" by the officers that they finally "told us they would trust us once again." Peace was then made by the English agreeing to furnish the Cherokee with two hundred guns and a supply of ammunition, and to aid them in hostilities against the tribes with which the English themselves were still at war. Colonel Moore spent the winter among the Cherokee, and in the spring of 1716 returned to Charleston, where he met with a flattering reception. The General Assembly invited him to attend its session to receive "the thanks of this House for his services to this Province, in his coming so cheerfully with the forces brought from North Carolina to our assistance, and for what further service he and they have done since their arrival here."
The Indian wars left North Carolina in a deplorable condition. p108 They had checked immigration, driven many people out of the province, and taken a heavy toll of human life. The destruction of property in the Tuscarora War was widespread. Bath County, the chief scene of conflict, was "totally wasted and ruined." Along the Neuse and the Pamlico all livestock had been driven off or killed, crops had been destroyed, plantations laid waste, and scarcely a cabin had been spared the torch. Conditions in Albemarle, although that county had escaped the ravages of actual fighting, were but little better. Besides supplying its own needs, Albemarle had been compelled for three years to provide for the necessities of Bath County and to support the military forces raised in both the Carolinas against the enemy. Its supply of pork and grain was exhausted, its trade destroyed, and its people, wrote Governor Pollock, reduced to poverty greater than one could well imagine. Throughout both counties want and distress were universal. The poor had been ruined and the rich made poor. With "scarcely corn to last them until wheat time, many not having any at all," without money "where to pay their debts," "having now little or no trade," and therefore unable to "supply themselves with clothing necessary for their families," the people of North Carolina faced the winter of 1713‑14 with gloomy apprehensions.
To their private burdens was added the burden of a public debt which Governor Pollock thought was greater than they "will be able to pay this ten or twelve years." In 1712, under the stress of war, the Assembly had unanimously laid "a great duty * * * on all goods exported or imported by land or water," but since these duties could not be collected immediately, it had authorized the emission of bills of credit to the amount of £4,000, — the first issue of paper money in the history of North Carolina — which were to be redeemed by the revenue arising from the duties. The following year another issue of £8,000 was found necessary. North Carolina, therefore, came out of the war heavily in debt and face to face with urgent demands for funds for the work of reconstruction. In 1714, accordingly, in order to redeem the currency already out and to provide for the pressing needs of the province, the Assembly authorized the emission of £24,000 in bills which were made "passable for all debts at rated commodities of the country." By 1722, about one-half of these bills had been retired, and the Assembly of that year issued £12,000 in new bills to redeem the balance, but when the king purchased the province p109 in 1729, £10,000 of the old bills were still outstanding. Accordingly, before the transfer from the Proprietors to the Crown had been completed, in order to retire the £10,000 of outstanding bills and to provide an additional currency of £30,000, the Assembly, "by a pretended Law made in November, 1729," authorized an issue of £40,000.
The Assembly adopted numerous expedients to sustain the value of its currency, but it failed to adhere consistently to the only one, taxation, which could have accomplished that result. Duties were imposed on exports and imports to sustain the issue of 1712, but the duties were not collected. Taxes were also levied to redeem the bills of 1714, and "the Publick Faith was pawn'd" to sustain them; but, as Burrington said, "that Faith was afterwards broke in upon, the Taxes for sinking them were lessened, and afterward more Bills emitted." As a result, the Assembly was early driven to artificial expedients. In 1715, it found it necessary to declare that all persons who refused to accept the bills for fees or quit rents, or who took them at a discount, were "Guilty of a very Great Breach of the act of the Assembly conserning the currency of these bills." But the most serious blow to their value came from a source over which the Assembly had no control; the Lords Proprietors refused to accept them for any of their fees and rents. A committee of the Assembly was appointed to memorialize the Proprietors on the subject and even to petition them to accept the bills in payment for land in both North Carolina and South Carolina. The Lords Proprietors were reminded that the bills had been issued "to defray the Expence of the Warr to save their Lordships Country from a great danger, and which they had nothing contributed to defend, therefore it was reasonable the Lords should so far partake as to suffer their Rents and Dues to be paid in these Bills." To the Assembly's prayer, however, the Lords Proprietors curtly replied that the clause in the currency act which made the bills receivable for their fees and quit rents was an unreasonable interference "in matters relating only to Us," adding, "We think you have nothing to do with our Lands and therefore you must expect to receive that Clause at least, in that Act of Assembly, repeal'd." At the same time they demanded that all dues to them be paid "in sterling money," or "in produce of the Country equivalent thereto." This demand was a severe blow to the credit of the bankrupt colony, and the result was inevitable. Recognizing the impossibility of preventing depreciation, the Assembly in 1729 accepted the situation p110 and reserved to itself the right to declare annually at what exchange the bills should pass. In the meantime the bills had been sinking lower and lower. As early as 1717 they were passable even in payment of the stipends of missionaries only "at a vast discount." In 1725, they passed at about 5 for 1 of sterling, and in 1733 Burrington declared that he had purchased articles "for which I have pay'd in the Province Bills more than 20s for what cost but one in England."
One beneficial result of the Indian war was assuredly some compensation for its numerous ills. Hancock and his painted warriors destroyed the factionalism that had so long cursed the colony. During the war Cary, released from custody in England, returned to North Carolina, but his arrival excited neither the hopes of his former friends nor the fears of his enemies. Bitter experience had taught them both a lesson, and Cary, finding no further opening for the exercise of his talents in North Carolina, departed for the West Indies, where history fortunately loses sight of him. Governor Pollock bore witness to the loyalty with which all factions supported his administration, declaring that the war had extinguished "the fire of difference and division amongst the people." "The Quakers," he said, "though very refractory and ungovernable in Mr. Glover's and Governor Hyde's administration, * * * [I] must needs acknowledge they have been as ready (especially in supplying provision for the forces) as any others in the Government." "Thanks be to God," wrote the missionary, John Urmstone, in the winter of 1713, "we have no disturbance among ourselves, but all peoples hearts unite and every Member of the Government is as happy as the times will admit of under the wise and prudent administration of our good President." When Pollock surrendered the administration to Governor Eden in May, 1714, the colony was enjoying for the first time in a decade a period of "peace and quietness."
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
Connor et al.
History of NC
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 5 Jun 17