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The history of Loudon

In the heart of south east Tennessee lies the city of Loudon which is rich in colonial history having been established originally as a fort by the British back in the 18th century. Fort Loudoun, as it was first known, was built by colonists in 1756 and named after John Campbell who was the 4th Earl of Loudoun. While this served as a diplomatic and trading post, its key purpose was to defend the area after the outbreak of the French and Indian War when the Overhill Cherokee came under attack from the Shawnee who had formed an alliance with the French. Thus the fort was constructed a few miles downstream from Chota, which was the Cherokee capital at that time, to help defend the British-Cherokee allies as well as to prevent the French obtaining influence among the prominent Cherokee.

johnUnfortunately, it was not long before the situation was destabilized by the ongoing suspicions and betrayals emanating from both sides with relations deteriorating further as the South Carolina frontiersmen attacked the Lower Cherokee Towns on the shores of the Savannah River procuring scalps and this gory invasion resulted in open warfare erupting in 1759 between the Brits and their Indian allies. Cherokee warriors were slaughtered upon their return from raids against the Shawnee as colonial settlers retaliated for their part in the killing of their cattle. The fort itself fell during a siege in the early days of August 1760 when a war party led by Cherokee Chief Oconastota ambushed and slayed part of the battalion – which was returning from South Carolina – before burning the fort itself. Around this time, some Cherokee members also travelled to the state of Louisiana to request aid from the French which did not go down well with their former allies, the British. In a swift response, their armed forces attacked and destroyed Cherokee towns in the lower areas and threatened to invade other areas too.

Eventually, the Cherokees were forced to sue for peace and a more stable period of history ensued after the destruction of the fort. During this period, the Cherokee village of Tuskegee developed around the site of Fort Loudon and Sequoyah, who invented the Cherokee alphabet, was born here in 1777. However the fort itself was abandoned for almost two hundred years until a heritage organization – known as the Colonial Dames of America – placed a marker on the historic site in 1917 and began a campaign to drum up support from around the state and also from the federal government. The fort’s history was thoroughly researched before it was finally agreed that reconstruction would begin on the site during the Great Depression in the early 1930’s. The fort is now a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the city of Loudon, since it was officially made a National Historic Landmark back in the mid sixties.

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