Arbuckle’s Fort was a Revolutionary-era frontier fort located in Greenbrier County, one of many forts that helped white and African-American settlers to colonize Western Virginia. The fort stood on the property of John Keeney on a rise of land near the confluence of Mill Creek and Muddy Creek. It was built in the spring of 1774, under order of Capt. Matthew Arbuckle.
Captain Arbuckle’s militia company occupied Arbuckle’s Fort from the spring to the fall of 1774. In September 1774, Captain Arbuckle and his men left the fort to help guide Col. Andrew Lewis and the southwestern Virginia militia down the Kanawha River to Point Pleasant, where they fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Other militia companies occupied Arbuckle’s Fort in 1776, 1777, and 1778. Although no large-scale attacks on this fort occurred, it was fired upon by Indian forces in 1774, and nearby settlers reported hearing gunshots near the fort in 1777. This second incident came on the evening of September 11, 1777. Earlier that day Indians had killed three people and kidnapped another at the James Graham house in present Summers County, and it is likely that the same raiding party was responsible for both attacks. Spent lead shot has been recovered from archeological excavations conducted at Arbuckle’s Fort in 1997.
The excavations established that the fort was diamond-shaped, about 100 feet on a side, and consisted of a log stockade with bastions at the north and south ends. A blockhouse with a stone foundation and a central stone chimney was located inside the stockade. Large amounts of slag and unworked iron are evidence of a blacksmithing area inside the fort. Artifacts recovered from the archeological excavations include worn-out gunflints and a letter seal that expressed the inhabitants’ Revolutionary zeal by imprinting the word ‘‘Liberty.’’
Arbuckle’s Fort was part of an elaborate frontier defense system protecting Western Virginia settlements during the Indian wars of the late 18th century. The defense system included organized and coordinated scout patrols, local militia, and numerous forts. Arbuckle’s was considered one of the stronger forts in its area. Other nearby forts included McCoy’s Fort, Fort Donnally, and Fort Savannah at present Lewisburg.
Last Revised on September 30, 2014
Jefferds, Joseph C. Jr. Captain Matthew Arbuckle: A Documentary Biography. Charleston: Education Foundation, 1981.
Rice, Otis K. A History of Greenbrier County. Parsons: McClain, 1986.
McBride, W. Stephen & Kim A. McBride. Forting Up on the Greenbrier: Archaeological Investigations of Arbuckle's Fort. , Report no. 252. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.
McBride, W. Stephen, Kim A. McBride & J. David McBride. Frontier Defense of the Greenbrier and Middle New River Country. , Report no. 375. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.
Cite This Article
McBride, Kim and Stephen McBride "Arbuckle’s Fort." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 30 September 2014. Web. 21 February 2017.