On Saturday, May 13th, Bob Hill and Jeff Walt of the Hocking Valley Chapter, OHSSAR joined compatriots from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia at the 17th Anniversary Raid at Martin’s Station Ceremony, a national event, held at Virginia Wilderness Road State Park, on the Virginia side of the Cumberland Gap where the state lines of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee converge.
Greetings from the National Society SAR was given by Mark Brennan, Vice President General Mid-Atlantic District. The main speaker was Patrick Kelley, 1st Vice President of the Virginia Society SAR.
Compatriots Hill and Walt joined the SAR Color Guard procession, which first assisted JROTC members dressed as militia, raise the National Colors at the Visitor’s Center. After the speaker’s segment of events, the Color Guard then marched to the SAR monument near the fort at Martin’s Station to present wreaths.
This event doesn’t commemorate a particular battle, but a series of events which occurred before, during, and after the American Revolution, including several raids and skirmishes at Martin’s Station by native Indians , primarily Cherokee, and smaller British forces against the Virginia Militia and American settlers at the fort.
These events were very much a part of America’s pioneer history and the settlement of Kentucky. Dr. Thomas Walker first explored the area in 1750 and noted the Cumberland Gap long used by Native Americans for access to hunting lands. In 1769, an attempt led by Joseph Martin for a settlement in the Powell Valley adjacent to the gap failed after attacks by Indians. Martin returned in March, 1775 with 18 men and successfully established a fortified settlement named Martin’s Station. Soon thereafter Daniel Boone explored and widened a trail through the Cumberland Gap, giving thousands of settlers an avenue through the Appalachian Mountain barrier into Kentucky from the Wilderness Road in Virginia.
Other events throughout the day included militia and Native American encampments, vendors selling wares for colonial and pioneer enthusiasts, 300 reenactors depicting life at Martin’s Station, and spectacular battles in the afternoon and at nightfall. Adding to the historical ambience is the fort itself, built in accurate detail by reenactors, and the absolutely beautiful natural backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Gap.
Below: The afternoon battle begins at Martin’s Station.