Fort Donnally in Rader’s Valley, Greenbrier County, was the scene of one of the largest Revolutionary War battles in Western Virginia. On the morning of May 29, 1778, a force of between 50 and 300 Wyandot and Mingo Indians attacked the fort, which was occupied by about 20 local militiamen under Lt. Col. Andrew Donnally and Lt. Jack Williams, 60 white women and children, and Donnally’s slaves. The fort’s occupants had been warned of the impending attack by two scouts, Philip Hammond and John Pryor, from Fort Randolph in Point Pleasant. They withstood the attack alone until a relief force of 68 militiamen under Col. Samuel Lewis, Capt. John Stuart, and Capt. Matthew Arbuckle arrived from Fort Savannah in present-day Lewisburg at 3 p.m.
One of the heroes of the battle was a slave, Dick Pointer, who along with Philip Hammond, fought off the initial surprise attack by the Indians and managed to awake the fort’s other occupants. The Indians withdrew later that evening after losing 17 men. They broke up into smaller parties and the next day attacked nearby Fort McCoy, which was located at present-day Williamsburg.
Andrew Donnally and his family had settled the site along Little Sinking Creek (now Rader’s Run) in present Greenbrier County in about 1771. The Donnally house was likely first fortified during Lord Dunmore’s War and then used for local defense and refuge throughout the Revolutionary War, when it was garrisoned by militia. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the fort consisted of a rectangular stockade (90 feet by 82 feet) that intersected and included Donnally’s large two-story double log house. A large double hearth central chimney, a cellar, and stone piers marked the position of the house, which was dismantled and moved in 1825. In 1794 Andrew Donnally sold the property to Anthony Rader, whose descendants still own and farm the property.
Last Revised on September 30, 2014
Cite This Article
McBride, Kim and Stephen McBride "Fort Donnally." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 September 2014. Web. 28 March 2017.