England and France had been enemies for centuries before either claimed parts of the New World. In North America, the conflict involved settlers, soldiers and native peoples. The climax was the French and Indian War.

As a result of France's growing attempt in early 1754 to connect her extensive dominions in North America by uniting Canada with Louisiana, she took possession claimed by England to be within the Province of Virginia and began a line of military posts from the Great Lakes to the Ohio Valley. North Carolina was the first colony to respond to Virginia Governor Dinwiddie's call for military assistance; voting to support troops outside of its own borders in behalf of a common cause and defense.

North Carolina's Colonel James Innes (1700-1759) was commissioned commanding officer of all provincial forces in the first Ohio expedition by Governor Dinwiddie in 1754. Under Innes, North Carolina's provincial regiment consisted of approximately 450 men, including Lieutenant Hugh Waddell.

Disbanded in the fall of 1754, North Carolina provincials returned to service under Major Edward Brice Dobbs in 1755, during Braddock's march, and later during the New York Expedition in 1756. North Carolina continued to send troops throughout the war to the aid of the other colonies and participated in 1758 in Forbes Expedition. In 1759, long standing tensions between the English and their Cherokee allies erupted into open warfare following the killing of dozens of Cherokee warriors by Virginians. Under the command of now-Colonel Hugh Waddell, North Carolina provincials were tasked with defending their own frontier and aided Virginia in 1761, when the Cherokees were finally defeated.

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Fort Dobbs

Fort Dobbs


"A good and Substantial Building of the Dimentions following (that is to say) The Oblong Square fifty three feet by forty, the opposite Angles Twenty four feet and Twenty-two, In height Twenty four and a half feet as by the Plan annexed Appears, The Thickness of the Walls which are made of Oak Logs regularly Diminished from sixteen Inches to Six, it contains three floors and there may be discharged from each floor at one and the same time about one hundred Muskets the same is beautifully scituated in the fork of Fourth Creek a Branch of the Yadkin River."

Fort Dobbs was the only permanent frontier provincial fort in the colony of North Carolina. Construction began in late 1755 and was completed one year later.  It served as the military headquarters for the frontier company (approximately fifty men) as well as a safe-haven for settlers. 

The fort was attacked on the night of February 27, 1760 when more than sixty Cherokees were repelled. The garrison suffered two men wounded, as well as having one colonial boy killed. The Cherokee were reported to have lost 10-12 men killed and wounded. Waddell described the encounter in a dispatch to Governor Dobbs:

"We had not marched 300 yds from the fort when we were attacked by at least 60 or 70 Indians ... We recd the Indian's fire: When I perceived they had almost all fired, I ordered my party to fire which We did not further than 12 Steps each loaded with a Bullet and 7 Buck shot, they had nothing to cover them as they were advancing either to tomahawk or make us prisoners ... the Indians were soon repulsed with I am sure a considerable Loss, from what I myself saw as well as those I can confide in they cou'd not have less that 10 or 12 killed and wounded ... On my sided I had 2 Men wounded one of whom I am afraid will die as he is scalped, the other is in a way of Recovery, and one boy killed near the fort."

By the end of 1761, the British had essentially won the war and only thirty troops remained at the fort. Colonial leaders disbanded the troops and removed all the supplies of the garrison as settlement moved far west of the fort. The neglected fort was in ruins by 1766.




  1. Determine the location of the fort
  2. Define the character of the fort
  3. Document through artifacts the nature of life at the fort

Official archaeological excavations begun in 1967, led Dr. Stanley South to confirm the exact location of the fort by 1968.

During 2005 and 2006, Dr. Lawrence Babits of East Carolina University, a scholar trained in archaeology, military architecture and history, reevaluated the results of all previous archeological work and performed additional archaeology to clarify certain issues. Babits' study revealed that sufficient evidence exists to recreate the fort in a historically accurate manner. Babits unveiled his extensive archeological research report to the public during a press conference held at the Statesville Civic Center. The event was attended by dignitaries from around the state.

According to written documents and the results of archaeological excavations, the original fort

  • was a modified wooden blockhouse-type structure.
  • measured 53'x 40'.
  • had 24'x22' flanker extensions at two of its four corners.
  • boasted a fireplace, an extended cellar and an interior well.
  • could accommodate 100 soldiers firing muskets on each of its three floors.
  • was surrounded by a ditch.
  • had a door protected by a palisade wall.

Today, recovered artifacts continue to undergo preservation, conservation and cataloging at the Office of State Archives Research Center in Raleigh.

Click the aerial image below to view enlargement of the 2002 excavation. Other photos were taken during the 2006 excavation.




When war began, North Carolina leaders fortified the coast against possible invasion. However, unprotected western frontier settlements were considered at risk from Native Americans friendly to the French until the construction of Fort Dobbs. Thereafter, during periods of extreme danger, colonists occasionally left their homes and camped near the protective log walls of the fort.

Were your ancestors here? Did they follow the Great Wagon Road? Please check the following listing of Fourth Creek settlement property owners between the years of 1750-1762. If you have documentation regarding your own ancestors in the Fourth Creek area during that period, we would appreciate hearing from you. Contact us today.


Fourth Creek Settlement Property Owners 1750-1762

Alexander, Allen
Allison, Adam
Allison, Andrew
Allison, Robert
Allison, Thomas
Archibald, John
Archibald, William
Barry, Andrew
Black, David
Bowman, Hugh
Bowman, William
Carson, William
Cavin, Robert
Cavin, Samuel
Davis, Joseph
Edwards, John
Edwards, John Col.
Elliott, George

Erwin, Christopher
Erwin, George
Erwin, William
Fleming, John
Fleming, Peter
Hall, George
Hall, Hugh
Hall, James
Hall, Thomas
Harris, Samuel
Ireland, John
Ireland, William
Jack, John
Lawson, Roger
Leech, John
Lewis, Richard
Lindsey, Walter


McCulloch, John
McDonald, George
McIlwaine, James
McKee, John
Miller, James
Mordah, James
Mordah, John
Morrison, Andrew
Morrison, James
Morrison, William
Oliphant, John
Potts, James
Potts, John
Reed, Alexander
Reed, Andrew
Reed, George
Reed, Robert
Reed, Samuel

Robinson, Michael
Robinson, Richard
Roseborough, James
Simonton, Robert
Simonton, Theophilus
Simonton, William
Sloan, Fergus
Stevenson, William
Thomas, Jacob
Thornton, Samuel
Waddell, Hugh
Watt, James
Watt, William