Fort Dobbs – Statesville, North Carolina

My son, Bryce, and I were staying at an Airbnb in Statesville, the first part of June 2020. One day we were taking a drive and ran across Fort Dobbs; there are some nature trails you can walk on, a picnic shelter and tables a log cabin visitor center and museum which was closed, and a big open field with a reproduction of the Fort which was also closed due to COVID. Fort Dobbs is operated by the North Carolina Historic Sites and if not for COVID is open year-round where you can take daily tours. Several special events and reenactments are also held here each year. I really enjoy history and there is so much of it here in North Carolina so I enjoy these kinds of things, just wish things had been open.

When the French and Indian War broke out between England and France in 1754, the North American colonies were competing to dominate the continent. Both sides courted indigenous peoples and ultimately dozens of Native American tribes joined the struggle on one side or the other.

When the fighting started, the British colonization of North Carolina was still relatively new, but a major migration of new colonists was underway and starting to fill the edge of the colony with farms and small towns. These new, dispersed homesteads would make easy targets for the French and their allies, so a fortified barracks was completed in 1756 to house a garrison of soldiers.

The troops at Fort Dobbs were not part of the British Army. There were men from the provinces that were recruited, equipped, and paid by their province and served Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs. These North Carolina troops fought as far away as Pennsylvania and New York as well as defended places like Fort Dobbs.

On February 27, 1760, the fort was attacked by a large party of warriors from the Cherokee tribe. The Cherokee who were former British allies were acting in retaliation for the dozens of their people who had been killed by British settlers. 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 from the garrison as settlements moved farther west of the fort. The neglected fort was in ruins by 1766. The site was all but forgotten until it was preserved in the early 20th century. Daughters of the American Revolution along with archaeologists determined where the fort stood and unearthed thousands of artifacts and clues about daily life at the site. Using this information, a full-scale reconstruction was started by the Friends of Fort Dobbs. In 1941 construction of a log cabin on the grounds was built to house the exhibits of the many artifacts found at the site, as well as a gift shop.

The fort opened to the public in September of 2019 and is set up as a giant living history exhibit, where visitors can interact with costumed interpreters and experience what life may have been like in the 1750s. 

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