Moore Details Campaign Against Cherokee - TribPapers

Moore Details Campaign Against Cherokee

Asheville – A month or so ago, the Tribune brought you an article on the history of General Griffith Rutherford’s campaign against the Cherokee in 1776. This week, we continue the story with a history marker on Sand Hill Road that commemorates William Moore – Captain of the militia force that marched against the Cherokee in November 1776. He built a fort near this location, and his home was 200 yards east.

William Moore, an early American settler from Ireland, emerged as a prominent figure among the earliest European settlers who ventured beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and established roots in what later became Buncombe County.

His journey into this territory began in the autumn of 1776 when he arrived as a militia captain under the command of General Griffith Rutherford. Rutherford’s strategic move aimed to ease tensions between the Cherokee and encroaching white settlers while countering British-led Cherokee assaults during the Revolutionary War, as many Cherokee supported the British.

During this crucial period, Moore meticulously documented an expedition he led, guiding mounted troops through the region. His narrative, though controversial, described the devastation inflicted upon Indian towns and villages. It also recounted the grim fate of fleeing natives, who endured brutality at the hands of Moore’s men.

An excerpt from a letter Moore wrote to Rutherford states: “Our men were extremely eager to pursue the aforementioned Indians. After the moon rose, we sent out a detachment of 13 men commanded by Capt. Harden and Lieut. Woods. They continued their pursuit for about eight miles without making any discoveries until daybreak, when they noticed, on the frost, that one Indian had traveled along the road. They pursued vigorously for another five miles and caught up with the aforementioned Indian, killed, and scalped him. We suspected that the rest of them had gone hunting off the road, so they returned to camp to join the Tryons. They arrived in the middle of the day and decided to stay and rest our horses, which were fatigued from the previous night’s march, until the next morning.”

Notably, disagreements arose between Moore and his troops regarding the treatment of Cherokee prisoners. Faced with the specter of mutiny, Moore reluctantly agreed to sell a portion of the captives into slavery and distributed the proceeds among his men.

After participating in Rutherford’s expedition, Moore resettled in western North Carolina and built a home along Hominy Creek. He and his second wife, Margaret Patton, raised their six children from his first marriage to Ann Cathey alongside their own six offspring.

Moore remained committed to serving his community. After his contributions during the Revolution, he shifted his focus to municipal and civic duties within Buncombe County, a commitment he upheld throughout his life.

A prevailing legend suggests that Moore constructed a block fort on his Hominy Creek property as a defensive stronghold against potential Native Indian threats. This testament to his proactive approach underscores the challenging and perilous nature of frontier life during that era.

William Moore’s legacy embodies the complex tapestry of early American settlement, showcasing the inherent tensions between different cultural factions vying for territory and control. His story stands as a testament to the intricate, often morally ambiguous, narratives woven into the fabric of America’s historical growth.