Porter'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".




Patrick Porter erected a forthouse on his land near Dungannon, Scott County, Virginia. His property was located where Fall Creek drops down to the Clinch River, and was probably selected because Porter wanted to erect a mill at this location. The Hunters trail from Castlewood passed by his property, crossing the Clinch at Hunter's Ford (later Osborne's Ford) at Dungannon.


There is no reason to believe that Porters Fort was anything more than a Forthouse designed for the protection of his immediate family. Hamilton, 1968 notes that his family was known to have taken shelter in the more substantial Moore's Fort in Castle's Woods.


Porter came to the area about 1772, with his fatherinlaw John Walker and his family. Addington's history of Scott County says that he was in the area even earlier, but there seems to be no direct evidence of this. The Hunter's Trail passed beside his home on Fall Creek, on its way to Hunter's ford (later Osborne's Ford) on the Clinch. That there was a need for protection, though is evidenced by the fact that in 1777 Indians passed up the Clinch from Blackmore's Fort to attack the settlement at Castle's Woods. On the way they captured Polly Alley at Hunter's Ford of the Clinch. The Alley's lived in this area, and one of their daughters would later marry Samuel son of Patrick Porter. Polly and another girl captured later were carried north through the Breaks, and on to Sandusky, Ohio. Hamilton describes their escape thusly:

The two young women were closely confined for some time after their arrival, though they were eventually stripped and painted and allowed the liberty of the village, closely watched for a month or more, but seeing they made no attempt to escape, the Indians abated their vigilance.... Having been permitted to wander about at pleasure from time to time and punctually returning at night, the Indians were thrown off their guard. Having wandered one day from the village farther than usual, and being in a dense forest, they started out on the long journey home. After traveling all night, they found themselves only about eight miles from the village, and finding a hollow log, they crept into it, with the determination of remaining concealed during the day... [On discovering their escape the] Indians came along in pursuit and sat down upon [the log]...to rest, and ...They became very much enraged at having been baffled by two inexperienced girls, and threatened their victims with all kinds of torture should they be recaptured. [One] striking his tomahawk into the log to emphasize his threats, and finding it return a hollow sound, declared the girls might be in it, as they had been traced thus far... [went to] the end of the log to see. The savage went and looked, but seeing that a spider had stretched its web across the aperture, he made no further examination. This web, which had probably not been there an hour, saved them from recapture, and it may be from a cruel death.

The girls eventually made their way through Kentucky and passing through Pound Gap reached Guess' Station about the middle of September, having been on the journey about a month.