General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Alexander Ritchie


Alexander Ritchie was born on June 29, 1764. In April 1776, at the age of 12, Ritchie becomes one of the youngest frontier spies during the Revolution by joining under the command of Captain Joseph Martin during the First Cherokee war. After being defeated, the Cherokee were forced to give up 5 million acres of land in the treaty of Long Island of the Holston at the end of the war.

During the years between 1773 until 1777 Scott county VA had more people slain and captured by Indians than any other county in Southwest VA. Due to constant Indian attacks the frontiers men built more forts in Scott County than in any other county in Southwest VA.

 In 1777, Ritchie was transferred to Fort Blackmore for 6 months for guard duty under the command of Captain Gibson. In April 1779, Ritchie was transferred to Dunkin (Duncan) Fort for 6 months of guard duty under the command of Captain John Snoddy.

In October 1779, Ritchie became a spy for Evan Shelby during his Chickamauga campaign. Eight villages were burned to the ground near present day Chattanooga.

 In December 1780, Ritchie became a spy for John Sevier. His first battle with Sevier was the battle of Boyd’s creek fought in Sevier County during the month of December 1780. Sevier defeated the Cherokee during the battle with over 30 Indians killed.

 Ritchie would participate in 34 other battles under the command of Sevier for the next 12 years. His next battle was the battle of the Bluffs. The battle o the Bluffs is one of the most famous incidents in Nashville history. On April 2, 1781, Sevier and his men help the settlers of Fort Nashboro fight off an attack by the Chickamauga Indians. The Nashville settlers barely managed to defeat the Chickamauga and force them to retreat.

 In September 1781, Ritchie joined Sevier on another expedition to the region looking for Chickamauga villages. His Indian guide John Watts shrewdly led Sevier away from the Chickamauga villages. John Watts would later become chief of the Chickamauga. On September 20, 1782, after not finding any Chickamauga villages accidentally ran into a war party under Chief Skyuka near Lookout Mountain. Sevier was able to defeat Skyuka. This would be the last battle of the Revolutionary war fought in Tennessee.

 In 1791, after hearing of a proposed peace treaty between the Federal government and the Chickamauga called the Treaty of the Holston, Sevier attacked the camp of the peace negotiators and the Chickamauga. Because of this attack the Chickamauga attacked Fort Knox in Knoxville.  Sevier in retaliation attacks a Chickamauga village named Hightower near the Etowah River near Cartersville GA.  The Chickamauga chief Kingfisher was killed in the battle causing the Cherokee to retreat.

 The Treaty of the Holston was signed on July 2, 1794 ending Hostilities between the settlers and Cherokee Indians.

 In 1792, Ritchie met Elizabeth Doherty and were soon married. In 1830, Ritchie moved to Claiborne County where he applied for a pension in April 1835. On November14, 1848, Ritchie died and was buried near his homestead in Claiborne County. Today most of his descendents live between Claiborne and Knox county TN region.  



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