Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fort Loudoun State Historic Site and Sequoyah Birthplace, Vonore, TN

Toqua Beach Campground was nice but too pricey to stay long. It was handy to places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do though. Thistle just wanted to chase the geese. The name Toqua comes from a Cherokee town that was located here in the 18th century.
So let's go back to that time in 1756, well before Tennessee was a state, or the United States a country. It was during the French and Indian War. The British were fighting with the French over territory in North America. Both sides coveted the help of Indians. Fort Loudoun was built by the British to protect this area and to ally the Cherokee Nation in the fight against the French. The fort was built along the Little Tennessee River. The Cherokee town of Tuskegee was just outside its walls and Toqua a short distance away.
I was lucky to be here for their garrison weekend, when re-enactors would be here. Rain was predicted for the Saturday event, so my pictures are a mix of a Friday visit and the Saturday re-enactment.
Before the area was flooded by the building of dams on the Tennessee River, archaeologists carefully excavated the site in order to build an accurate replica of the fort. The land was built up 20 feet higher and the site of the replica is now an island in Tellico Lake.
The walls were built 12 feet high and leaned outward at an angle, making scaling the walls nearly impossible without a ladder.
The side of the fort facing the river was built on a ridge, giving cannons a commanding view against an attack by water. The other half of the fort lies on the plain below.
Earthworks and a dry moat surround the fort, and a Locust hedge which grows 4-inch thorns was planted and used much as barbed wire is used today.
 Locust tree thorns. 
The "chevaux de frise" was a defensive obstacle consisting of a portable frame covered with long iron or wooden spikes. Here it was used to fill the gap in the locust hedge at a gate.
The Sally Port was a small opening that allowed troops to "sally" forth for small skirmishes and retreat back into the fort without compromising the defense of the fort.
 The four corners of the diamond-shaped fort held platforms for cannon.
 Which of course were demonstrated during the re-enactment.
 The firing of the cannon.
Inside the fort were living quarters for soldiers and their families.
They were hot in summer and cold in winter, heated only by the fireplace.
 And they were dark.
There goes Papa, off to work.
 Bye-bye, Papa.
The boys played soldier.

 And if you run, be sure to hang onto your's windy today.
Soldiers wore the standard British red uniform. Although striking in appearance, it was ill-designed for military operations. The regulation coat with "the great heap and load of skirts appending to it," served more to limit movements than to fend off cold.
Canvas leggings, tightly fastened by over a dozen buttons on each leg, not only impeded movement, but caused painful swelling of the feet. The tricorn hat provided protection from neither sun nor rain.
On Friday this area was all set up to demonstrate laundry day, but with all the rain predicted Saturday, laundry was cancelled, just as I'm sure it would have been in 1756.
 Friday with blue sky.
 A peek inside the blacksmith shop.
I'm sure in 1756 they made their own charcoal. THe re-enactor should have hidden the bag of Royal Oak. Here he demonstrates the bellows.
Outside the fort are replicas of a summer home (left) and winter home from the Cherokee village of Tuskegee, the site of which is now under the lake.
Inside the winter home.
Interestingly, Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet and written language, was born here in 1777. We'll visit that museum later.
The relationship between the British and the Cherokees deteriorated over time, culminating in the takeover of the fort by the Cherokee in 1760. The fort was not used again and deteriorated.
After the American Revolution, the new government tried to keep peaceful relations with the Indians. They built a fort near here to protect the Cherokee from local militias and to establish a trading post.
 The ruins of that fort can be seen across the lake.
Across the road is the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. Sequoyah is remembered for creating a written form of the Cherokee language.
Sequoyah was born in 1776, around the time of the start of the Revolutionary War. He was the son of a Virginia fur-trader and the daughter of a Cherokee chief. He married a Cherokee woman and had a family. He was a silversmith by trade. He enlisted in the US Army under Andrew Jackson to fight the British in the War of 1812. During the war, he became convinced of the need for literacy among the Cherokee people. After the war in 1814 he began to make the symbols to represent sounds and words in the Cherokee language. 
He taught his system to his daughter, Ayoka, who helped convince the Cherokee leaders to adopt the system by reading something the chief dictated to Sequoyah when she was out of earshot. 
In the museum is artwork commemorating that language. This is "talking stick," carved with the symbols of the Cherokee alphabet.
 Close up.
 Cherokee words depicted in paintings.

 The Cherokee Alphabet. By 1825 much of the Bible and numerous hyms had been translated into Cherokee. By 1828 they were publishing the "Cherokee Phoenix," the first national bi-lingual newspaper.
 Keeping it alive in more modern times.

Sequoyah worked to promote the peace between white settlers and the Cherokee and was influential in brokering a peace treaty agreeing to move to Oklahoma. 
Portrait of Sequoyah painted in Washington, DC.
Unfortunately, what was to be a peaceful retreat became a forced removal.
 Sequoyah died in Mexico on a trip to visit other Cherokees who settled there.
Three flags fly outside the Visitor Center at Fort Loudoun: the US, the British, and the State flag of Tennessee. The 3 stars on the state flag represent the three parts of Tennessee....west, central, and east. But there's a long and interesting history about that which the enthusiastic ranger in the VC will tell you about if you go there and are willing to take the time to listen to. I won't tell it here.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Doesn't look like a lot of people showed up but you got a great tour.