Moore's Fort

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This article is one of a series on the forts of southwest Virginia during the period of Indian Hostilities, (1774-1794). The accompanying map shows the location of the forts in the Powell, Clinch, and Lower Holston watersheds. An index to these forts is found at List of Forts of Southwest Virginia. The location of many of these forts is known only approximately, and different sources sometimes suggest different locations. Much of the information in these articles is based on Emory Hamilton's article "Frontier Forts".


The following discussion is largely based on Hamilton, 1968. Moore's Fort is shown as marker 13.



Moore's Fort was located in "lower Castle's Woods" between the Clinch River and the Hunter's Trace (later the Road to Kentucky), and was described in one pension application as being one mile from the Clinch River. Hamilton describes it as located on land owned in 1968 by W.S. Banner, "known as the Sally Meade place". According to Hamilton's article on the death of James Boone,

Daniel Boone lived on the Clinch from this time until 1775 when he led his second and successful party to Kentucky and founded Boonesborough. While living at Castlewood, a son named William was born to Daniel and Rebecca Boone. The baby died in infancy and was buried in the Moore's Fort graveyard.

Elsewhere, that cemetery was said to have been located on a knoll overlooking both the Clinch River and Moore's Fort. A cemetery by that name does not show on USGS maps, but a Fraley Cemetery does, and Frederick Fraley ended up purchaseing the Moore property. It is reasonable to suppose that the Fraley cemetery is infact the Moore Cemetery. For the fort to have been within one mile of the Clinch River, and be visible from the Moore/Fraley cemetry, it would have to have been on the northern face of the knoll where the cemetery was positioned, and relatively close to it. [insert map]


Moore's Fort was clearly a garrisoned and stockaded structure, designed as a principal location where settlers in the Castle's Woods area could "fort up", during periods of Indian hostilities. Hamilton concluded that

No description has been left of the size or shape of Moore's Fort, but we know it had two gates, a front and back one, with the front gate opening toward the spring which one may still see by visiting the spot.

He cites statements by

Mrs. Samuel Scott of Jessamine County, Kentucky, who was also at the time living in the fort. Mrs. Scott says the men had become very careless in guarding the fort, lounging outside the gate, playing ball and in general lax in their duties. One day Mrs. Boone and her daughter, Mrs. Hannah Carr and some of the other ladies loaded their guns lightly, went out from the fort, shut the gates and shot their guns off in rapid succession like the Indians. The men all scrambled for the fort, but finding the gates shut none could get in, but one young man who managed to climb over the stockage wall. So great was their consternation that some of the men ran right through the pond in front of the fort. After they were finally let in at the gates Mrs. Scott says the men were so mad some of them wanted to have the women whipped

which clearly shows that the fort was stockaded and gated. As to its size, Hamilton cites the pension statement of Frederick Fraley, stating

Moore's Fort must have been Large - perhaps the largest fort on the frontier. [Fraley] says that there was continuously some 20 families in the fort, with 20 or 25 men out on patrol as Indian Spys. Considering the large size of pioneer families, plus the militia assigned to protect the fort it surely must have sheltered from one hundred and fifty to two hundred people, and it would have taken a large stockage to quarter and shelter this number of people.

In addition, we know that Moore's Fort was substantially larger than the nearby Cowan's Fort. From Mrs Scott's testimony:

One year while we lived on Clinch, we had no need to fort, and did not fort. Cowan's fort was about two miles from Moore's. We went to it one year, but it was too weak, but seven or eight families did.

Thus Fraley's statement that Moore's Fort housed some 20 families is consistent with Mrs. Scotts testimoney that it was larger than Cowan's Fort, which housed only seven or eight families.


This fort was built during Dunmore's War of 1774. Initially it was called "Fort Byrd" by William Russell, a politically atuned community leader who named several of the forts of this period for members of Virginia's plantation aristocracy. The fort was not commonly known as "Fort Byrd", but rather by whoever owned the property at any given time. At the time of its initial construction it was on prop[erty owned by James Moore, and came to be called Moore's Fort. Both James Moore and his brother William owned property in this area, which has led to some confusion, with William Moore sometimes being identified as the original owner. In any case, John Snoddy eventually purchased these lands, and "Moore's fort" came to be known as "Snoddy's Fort. Still later, after Snoddy went to Kentucky, Frederick Fraley purchsed these properties, and the fort was sometimes referred to as "Frayley;'s Fort. Today the fort is most commonly referred to as "Moore's Fort" after its original owner, James Moore.


Moore's fort was probably the largest of the frontier forts in southwestern Virginia. Its central location on the Clinch River, meant that militia could be stationed here and sent either north or south to repell Indian Raids, whether they came through the Sandy War Passes, or through Cumberland Gap. Moore's Fort came under seige a number of times, and it figures in the personal history of many of the pioneer families. Initially constructed during the opening of Dunmore's War, its importance in frontier defense continued throughout the period of Indian Hostilities.

Boone at Moore's Fort

This was the fort that sheltered Daniel Boone and his family after their return to the Clinch in 1773, when Boone's son and others were killed by the Indians on Wallen's Creek in his first attempt at a Kentucky settlement. By petition of the people of Blackmore's Fort, Daniel Boone was placed in command of Moore's and Blackmore's Forts in 1774 as a Captain of militia and continued in command of them until he went to Kentucky in the spring of 1775 to found Boonesboro. While living on the Clinch, a son was born to Daniel and Rebecca Boone, whose name was William, and who died soon after birth and lies in an unmarked grave in the old Moore's Fort Cemetery on the brow of a hill overlooking the fort and Clinch River. (Hamilton, 1968)

Roster of Moore's Fort, 30 June, 1777

The following roster for Moore's Fort is based on the Draper MSC item [see citation below], and has been annotated to show the famial relationships between the militiamen. Most of those listed were either kin to Patrick Porter at the time, or would become kin in future years through the marriages of his children.

Person Notes
Patrick Porter, SergeantSettled on Fall Creek near Dungannon, died there about 1810
Lewis Green, Jr.Son of Lewis Green, Sr, brotherinlaw of Patrick Porter whose daughter Susannah married James Green
Robert KilgoreKBI'd 1782 with James Green, brother of Lewis Green, Jr.
James AlleyBrother of Thomas Alley; Thomas' daughter Mary Alley was CBI'd by Indians at Hunter's Ford, but escaped; she married Samuel, son of Patrick Porter.
Charles KilgoreBrother of Robert Kilgore who was KBI'd with James Green. Charles nephew Robert married James Green's Widow, Susannah, daughter of Patrick Porter. Lived adjacent to Patrick Porter, Moved to Green Co TN c1784
Samuel Alleyson of James Alley
Samuel PorterProbably the Samuel Porter who lived near Temple Hill in Castle's Wood. Went to Kentucky, CBI'd and carried north with his family; eventually released and returned to Castle's Woods.
Zachariah Greenson of Lewis Green, brother of Lewis Green Jr
John Alleyprobably lived near Hunters Ford near Patrick Porter
Alexander Montgomery, Sr.probably lived near Hunters Ford near Patrick Porter; presumably the father of Alexander Jr.
Alexander Montgomery, Jr.probably lived near Hunters Ford near Patrick Porter; married Martha Walker, sister of Susannah Walker, wife of Patrick Porter.
Andrew CowanPatrick Porter's brotherinlaw
Frederick FrileyLived in Castles Woods. Died there
John Kinkeadalso spelled "Kincaid"; To Kentucky in 1779 (Hamilton, 1978. In 1774 John Kinkead is listed as a Sergeant in Charge of Elk Garden Fort. Probably a different person.
John BarksdaleKBI at Castles Woods sometime before November 1778; see Hamilton, 1978
James Ozburn Osborne; probably lived near Hunters Ford near Patrick Porter
Thomas OsburneOsborne; probably lived near Hunters Ford near Patrick Porter
Nehemiah NoeNothing known
Draper MSC I XX 20 and I XX 24

Death of Dale Carter

Capture of Ann Walker Cowan, et alia

Death of John Duncan

Death of Dorten, CBI of Ann and Mary Bush