Fort Watauga

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Fort Watauga (1775-unknown) - A settler fort first established in 1775 near present day Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee. Also known as Fort Caswell.

History of Fort Watauga

Early Tennessee settlers formed the Watauga Association in 1775 and leased land from the local Cherokee Indians which was later purchased under the "Treaty of Watauga" on 14 Mar 1775 for 2000 English Pounds. Fort Watauga may have been the site of the treaty signing although it is unclear exactly when or where the fort was established.

With the beginning of the Revolutionary War the Cherokee became dissatisfied with the settlers and war broke out between the settlers and the Cherokee. As the conflict escalated, Fort Watauga came to house some 150 to 200 local settlers with about 75 fighting age men and the remainder being women and children. Descriptions of the fort indicate that it was stockaded and enclosed about an acre.

On 21 Jul 1776 the fort was attacked by the Cherokee. Captain James Robertson and Lieutenant John Sevier took charge of the defense. Several women were caught outside the gate when the attack occurred but managed to get back inside except for one Catherine Sherrill who, finding the gate already closed, leaped high at the wall and was pulled to safety by Lieutenant John Sevier who became her husband four years later. Another woman, Ann Robertson, sister of Captain James Robertson, picked up a bucket of boiling wash water and poured it down on the attackers attempting to set fire to the stockade. She and the other women continued this until the enemy left. The attack on the fort was unsuccessful.

It is not known when the fort was abandoned as a fortification.

Current Status

Part of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park near Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee. The fort is reconstructed on a site believed to be near the original site although sources differ on the location.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Fort Watauga Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1681003
  • Location: Carter County, Tennessee, US, FIPS Code: 47019
  • Latitude: 36.3444444, Longitude: -82.2527778, Elevation: 1,496 Map: Johnson City
  • As Of: 01-Aug-1991
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.34413 Long: -82.25421

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