north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      John Barnwell emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina in 1701. By the time of the Tuscarora War (1711-1713), he was a trusted official in the colony. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, preceiving a threat from the establishment of a Swiss colony at New Bern, Tuscarora Indians massacred settlers in that area. On September 22, 1711, over 130 colonists lay dead and even more were wounded or captured. When North Carolina called on its neighbors for aid, South Carolina sent Colonel John Barnwell. In January of 1712, he led a militia of thirty soldiers and 500 Indian allies to attack the Tuscarora fort, Narhantes (also known as Torhunta), on the Neuse River. According to Barnwell, Fort Narhantes was the Tuscarora’s largest and most warlike village. Despite several casualties, Barnwell took the fort on January 29, 1712.

      After the victory at Narhantes, Barnwell then advanced to the Tuscarora’s fort in the village of Catechna. The Tuscarora successfully held off two attacks and, in order to save the white prisoners inside, Barnwell entered into a truce in exchange for their freedom. As part of the truce, twelve prisoners were released immediately and twenty-two were to be delivered twelve days later at Bachelors Creek near New Bern. When the appointed day came, the Tuscarora did not bring the prisoners. In preparing to strike again, Barnwell built Fort Barnwell on the site of the abandoned Indian village of Core Town near the mouth of Contentnea Creek on the Neuse River. From that base he planned to march once again on Hancock’s Fort. On April 7, 1712, Barnwell led a ten-day siege against the fort. On April 17, with his men starving, Barnwell accepted the Tuscarora’s conditional surrender by which they gave up all of their prisoners, agreed not to hunt or fish in the region between the Neuse and the Cape Fear, and surrendered their chief, King Hancock. Many were critical of Barnwell for accepting the surrender rather than fighting on to total victory. Barnwell broke the treaty when his men lured some Indians into Fort Barnwell under the pretense of peace only to capture them and carry them to South Carolina to be sold into slavery.

      The Tuscarora were finally defeated in 1713 when Colonel James Moore led his men and Yamasee Indians into the Tuscarora village of Nooherooka and killed or captured approximately one thousand inhabitants. Around 1800 the northwestern Craven County community of Fort Barnwell was settled. The remains of the old fort can be found on a bluff overlooking the Neuse River two miles northeast of the community.

Allen Johnson, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, I, 639
E. Lawrence Lee, Indian Wars in North Carolina, 1663-1763 (1963)
Tuscarora Indian Tribe History: William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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