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Twenty-seven miles west of modern-day Salisbury, North Carolina, Fort Dobbs is located in Iredell County. In 1756, colonial Governor Arthur Dobbs
commissioned the construction of the fort to protect Piedmont settlements during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). At that time, Fort Dobbs was North Carolina’s only frontier fort; all others were on the coast.
Captain Hugh Waddell led forty-six soldiers in constructing Fort Dobbs so that colonists could be protected from possible French, Cherokee, and Catawba attacks. Francis Brown and Richard Caswell were sent by the Legislature to inspect Ft. Dobbs in December 1756. They reported that the fort was a “good and Substantial Building . . . it contains three floors, and there may be discharged from each floor at one time and the same time about one hundred Musketts.”
Only one battle occurred at Fort Dobbs. On February 27, 1760, seventy Cherokee attacked Captain Waddell and his forty-six men. According to Waddell’s account, only two of his men were wounded, and only one killed; the Cherokee, however, lost ten to twelve men. Towards the end of the French and Indian War, the British focused their campaign in the East, and protection in the frontier was deemed unnecessary. In 1763, when the war ended, Britain had regained control in the colonies. By 1764, Fort Dobbs was abandoned and dismantled.
Archaeologists have discovered the original site of Fort Dobbs. Today, re-enactors relive annually the battle of Fort Dobbs and tell of the forts’ historical significance. Fort Dobbs is the only historic site in North Carolina commemorating the French and Indian War.
Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 (Chapel Hill, 1964); Alfred Moore Waddell, A Colonial Officer and His Times, 1754-1773: A Biographical Sketch of Gen. Hugh Waddell (Spartanburg, 1973); Fort Dobbs Historical Park, http://www.fortdobbs.org/ (accessed March 20, 2006).
By Richard Carney, North Carolina History Project
Related Categories: Colonial North Carolina
Related Encyclopedia Entries: Edward Vail (1717-1777)
, American Revenue Act
, Iredell County (1788)
, Cherokee Indians
, Catawba Indians
, Carteret County (1722)
, Robert Howe (1732-1786)
, Moyano's Foray (1567)
, Fort Clark
, Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge
Region: Piedmont Plateau
Drawing of Fort Dobbs, the only North Carolina historic site commemorating the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.
Commisioned by Governor Arthur Dobbs, Captain Hugh Waddell and his men constructed Fort Dobbs in December 1756. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.