COLONIAL DIXIE: THE FINAL PHASE OF THE TUSCARORA WAR

While John Barnwell thought he had won North Carolina the war, both North Carolina and the Tuscarora knew that the war was still unfinished. Barnwell returned a hero to South Carolina as they thought the same thing he did.

In August of 1712, North Carolina asked South Carolina for additional help in the form of yet another expedition and supplies. Time was urgent as the Senecas from New York were thought to be on the verge of joining the Tuscaroras. South Carolina eagerly agreed once again. North Carolina did not want Barnwell leading another expedition due to his unauthorized treaty and foul mouth towards the North Carolina government when his campaign was going bad. When Barnwell got back to South Carolina, he sent a letter damning any hope of him leading the future expedition. It was addressed to governor Edward Hyde and was essentially an apology letter telling Hyde how much of an ally and friend Barnwell was to him. He also added that he would suggest Edward Hyde be made governor of South Carolina in his trip to Europe he would be making soon.

When the letter got to North Carolina however, Hyde was not the one to open it as he was dead. Instead, Thomas Pollock (now essentially governor) intercepted the letter and sent it to the governor of South Carolina, Charles Craven. Suffice to say, Barnwell would not be leading the second South Carolinian expedition. That role would go to James Moore, a prominent slave trader and plantation owner in the South Carolinian backcountry.

Before the second expedition materialized, the next major event in the war occurred. King Tom Blount from the Northern Tuscaroras (but not king of them all) met with Pollock in October to negotiate trade. Blount had struggled to keep his people out of the conflict, making sure not to step on English toes. Pollock demanded that Tom Blount handed over King Hancock. Blount surprisingly agreed.

Sometime in November, Blount delivered on his agreement, capturing Hancock during a hunting trip. Hancock was quickly executed upon his handing over. At the same time, Moore’s expedition set off with 33 White officers and about 900 Indian allies including 310 Cherokee.

-Colonel Moore’s campaign route

Upon reaching Neoheroka the expedition found a large fort similar to the one Barnwell had assaulted. Moore did not choose to loot the village to avoid desertions from his allies. Moore then traveled east to Fort Barnwell, now renamed to Fort Hyde, in search of food. Finding none therr, he marched to New Bern. Quakers and dissenters had been getting in the way of organizing proper supplies.

Moore was determined to get food though, and he wouldn’t be waiting around. He marched his army north into Albemarle County. The South Carolina Indians then began taking food as they saw fit, angering the Albemarle settlers. When Pollock and the sensible members of the North Carolina government again attempted to raise supplies and men they got them. 85 men were added to Moore’s army.

Moore began moving again in mid-March 1713. They immediately marched back to Fort Neoheroka. As Moore’s army settled into the siege, both Moore and the Tuscaroras realized this fight would be the deciding battle of the war. All the Tuscarora women and supplies were holed up in Fort Neoheroka (which was more formidible than the last) and they would all be fighting to the death.

Moore began the battle by establishing his own fortifications with Yamasee Battery being established to the east of the fort, Mulberry Battery to the south, and Cherokee Battery to the northwest. From Yamasee Battery, trenches would to dug up to the fort in preparation for a mine to be detonated. Once it was done, on March 20, the mine was to be detonated but did not explode. The next day the entire army attacked. They were met with success after three hours in the north but disaster in the south as the North Carolinians mistakingly attackes a more fortified part of the fort and escaped with just 20 men. The success in the north was quickly halted as the Tuscarora just fell back to their second defensive line. Moore ordered that the northern blockhouse be set on fire which spread partially.

On the next day, March 22, the second defensive wall was breached and the rest of the blockhouses cleared. The Tuscarora were left with two underground bunkers and a trench in the back of the fort. On the third day, the Tuscarora in the trench were defeated and the bunkers set alight. The battle was over. Moore’s army had lost 34 White men killed and 39 wounded while the Indian allies suffered 35 killed and 58 wounded. Moore calculated that he had taken 392 Tuscaroras as slaves and about 558 killed. This loss of manpower was unbearable for the Tuscarora, though some of their allies still held out.

Moore’s army evaporated just like Barnwell’s after the battle, leaving him with roughly 100 Indian allies. While James Moore’s brother, Maurice Moore, returned to South Carolina to gather reinforcements, the leftover Tuscaroa and their allies, namely the Machapungas, began attacking settlers again. Moore dispatched his Indian allies to deal with them but they were largely unsuccessful. Luckily for North Carolina, Pollock was able to pull Tom Blount into the war in late April in exchange for naming him as king of the southern Tuscaroras. Blount quickly began bringing scalps to Pollock; at one point his warriors even brought in 30 scalps.

No major engagement would happen in the following months, though the Machapungas and Cores would continue raiding isolated settlers throughout Bath County. In the meantime, the Tuscaroras who had fled to Virginia returned to North Carolina to pick up as tributaries. Peace finally came in February of 1715 as the Machapungas and Cores agreed to settle on a reservation in present-day Hyde County.

The war left North Carolina, especially the southern county of Bath devastated. Orphans and widows struggled to resume their lives in the humid backcountry while the Southern Tuscaroras and their allies did the same. Over the next decade they would migrate north to join their cousins in New York and become the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

However, some stayed in North Carolina to live on the reservations. The ones that did stay saw their power wane just like the Powhatan in Virginia and future Indians.

North Carolina itself was in debt, owing money to South Carolina and its own citizens. Nevertheless, the road to expansion was clear for the colony. The western frontier was open for further settlement and the only Indians that posed a threat were now either defeated or subjegated. The following decades were prosperous for the colony and most Indian nations would pose little threat to the flood of European immigrants. Just like the Virginia colony with the Powhatan, the Tuscarora would never again challenge North Carolina’s supremacy.

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