General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

William Carmack

William Carmack was born on January 5, 1761 in Frederick County Maryland.
 At the age of 27, Carmack joined George Rogers Clark expedition to Kaskaskia located on the Mississippi River in the Illinois Wilderness. Clark had already played a major role in Kentucky history. In June 1776, he got the Virginia legislature to consider the whole state of Kentucky a Virginia County so that the Kentucky frontier could receive protection from the Virginia militia against Indian attacks along the frontier. This was important to the survival of the Kentucky frontier in 1777 when Indians began attacking the new settlements. 1777 was called the Bloody 77 because more Indian attacks occurred that year than in any other year in Kentucky History.
 On June 26, 1778, Carmack left with 175 men under the command of George Rogers Clark from Redstone VA to Fort Kaskaskia. They arrived at Kaskaskia on July 4, 1778 and took the fort without firing a shot. At Kaskaskia, they rang a bell in celebration. This bell is called the Liberty Bell of the West and can be seen today at Kaskaskia State Park in Illinois.
 In January 1779, Carmack joined the VA militia under the command of Evan Shelby to fight Indians. In April 1779, Carmack was part of an expedition against a group of Cherokee Indians that lived near present day Chattanooga TN. There they burned 11 villages to the ground.
Later that year in 1779, Carmack was sent to Vincennes for guard duty. Vincennes had been captured by George Rogers Clark earlier that year in February 1779 without firing a shot. Carmack was paroled in 1780.After the war, Carmack returned to Washington county VA where he married Mary Hartsock in 1783. From this union they would have 6 children. In 1789, Carmack moved to Lee county VA making them one of the first pioneer families to move there.
 In 1795 after Mary died Carmack moved back to Washington county Va. Here he met Mary Yeary and married her. Carmack moved back to Lee County VA in 1797 where he would live the rest of his life. In 1832, Carmack applied for a pension for his revolutionary war service. On September 24, 1751 at the age of 90 years old Carmack would die and would be buried in Lee county VA.
 During the Civil war descendents of Carmack would fight for both the Union and Confederates. There are 104 Carmack family members listed as fighting for the Confederates in VA and 41 Carmack family members fighting for the Union army in KY. The Civil war would divide this family’s loyalty as it did thousands of other families during the war. Today most of Carmack’s descendents live in the Lee county VA region and Bell county KY region.


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