Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
The Tuscarora War (1711 – 1713)
ELA Standards
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing
inferences from the text.
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including
what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events,
ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science,
and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at
the high end of the range.
Social Studies Standards
4.H.1.3 Explain how people, events and developments brought about changes to communities in
various regions of North Carolina.
4.H.1.4 Analyze North Carolina’s role in major conflicts and wars from the Pre-Colonial period through
4.C.1.1 Explain how the settlement of people from various cultures affected the development of
regions in North Carolina (languages, foods and traditions).
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Source 1: John Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina; (London, 1709). (Modified)
As I write, I have come to truly respect the natives. They are incredibly handy people –
good with nature and adapting to the environment. Unlike many of our citizens, the
natives are very loyal and do not backstab their community. They are also patient
under hard times.
Truthfully, they are better to us than we are to them. They have provided food, water,
and shelter when we were lacking. Sadly, we have not done the same for them - when
they have been in need, we have let them suffer.
Though this doesn’t get stated, we actually have more moral deficiencies (bad traits)
than the natives. We have driven them out and possessed their land. We have
cheated them in trades and gotten them drunk with alcohol. And through all of this,
many of the colonists have judged them as being ignorant people when they clearly
are not.
How can we possibly hope to convert the natives to Christianity if we continue to treat
them this way? We must treat them with honor, respect, and brotherly love –as
Christianity commands. Besides, it is to our advantage to do so: these natives can
teach us about medicine, rivers, lakes, and land. They are willing to help us, but I am
afraid our behavior may eventually turn them completely against us.
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Source 2: Fictional story set at a Tuscarora Camp – the natives are having a discussion on what to do with
the white settlers.
“The white man keeps coming,” says Running Deer. “They have expanded into what the
white man calls New Bern. Soon, we will have no land in which to hunt or raise our families.”
“What do you think we should do?” ask Stands With A Fist.
“Running Deer answers: “The only thing we can do: kill them.”
“No” – shouts Spirit Man – “That will lead to more problems.” “There are too many white
men now – we cannot kill them all. War will lead to our destruction.”
“Maybe”, Running Deer shouts, “but we are dying now. Don’t you see? We have already
lost hunting land and had our people sold into slavery. If we do not make a stand now, our
tribe will die.”
Spirit Man then says, “Maybe we can sign a peace treaty with the whites in New Bern?
Not all of them are greedy.”
“Treaties will not work” Running Deer demands. “The Whites have already broken
promises – we cannot trust their word.”
Running Deer then puts out a plan: “Let us pretend everything is okay with the whites and
we can go into their various villages and surprise attack them on September 22nd (1711).”
Stands With Fist then says, “I fear Running Deer may be right. Let us put his plan to a
The votes of the Tuscarora are counted and Running Deer’s plan for war on September
22 is agreed to. The surprise attack is set.
Source: Written by the New Hanover County Schools Instructional Services Department - 2015
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Source 3: Tuscarora Camp
Baron Christoph Von Graffenried’s drawing, The Death of John Lawson, depicts Von Graffenried, his
servant, and John Lawson being held captive by Tuscarora Indians shortly before Lawson’s death. In
the center of the drawing, the three prisoners sit, hands bound, near a fire. The Tuscarora dance and
play drums in a semi-circle on the right, and one Indian stands in the center, holding what appear to
be a hatchet and a knife, near two dead animals impaled on sticks. Four Tuscarora in a line on the
left seem to be guarding over the prisoners. A few Indian buildings are scattered across the top and
bottom of the drawing.
Source: Drawing by Baron Christoph Von Graffenried. Image courtesy of North Carolina State
Archives, Division of Archives and History.
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Source 4: Letter from Major Christopher Gale, November 2, 1711 (Modified)
Dear South Carolina Governor and Council,
This lettering is arriving under the most dire of circumstances – therefore, I will spare
any sort of polite introduction.
I am alive right now only because of the incredible hand of God. You see, I was
meeting up with John Lawson and Baron Christoph von Graffenreid [co-founders of the New
Bern settlement) to scout additional land areas. Shortly before we were to leave, I received a
note saying that my wife and brother were desperately sick and I left Lawson and the Baron to
try and take care of them.
According to the Baron, shortly after he and Lawson started exploring various lands, they
were captured by the Tuscarora and brought to their camp. After several rounds of
discussion, they decided to execute John Lawson by roasting him over a fire. The Tuscarora
spared the Baron, but they kept him prisoner until after their attack upon the colonial
settlements were complete.
I need to tell you that the Tuscarora have butchered many of the colonists. Apparently
they started these attacks on September 22nd (1711). I will spare you most of the gory details,
but at least one of these attacks, I feel compelled to describe – so you will get an idea of what
we are up against and hopefully help us.
I was on my way back to the village – when I noticed things were quiet. I did not hear
children playing or people laughing. When I got closer, I realized I didn’t see any signs of life
and our entire village looked like it had been hit by a hurricane.
I walked closer and what I saw shocked me – shocked me more than anything I have ever
seen in my life. Men, women and children had been killed. Bodies everywhere – piled up. It
smelled. There were blood and body parts missing. I am telling you it was the worst thing I
have ever seen in my life.
I wish I could tell you that we were planning an attack against them, but they destroyed our
village so badly, we do not have the manpower to strike back. Most of the villagers are hiding
and not working as a team.
The colony needs immediate help or we will probably all parish. Can you send an army to
help drive out these savages? Because of safety and fear, we cannot even bury our dead.
Your sincerely affectionate brother,
Christopher Gale
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Source 5: (Modified) Christopher von Graffenried’s Letter regarding the middle and ending of the Tuscarora
War Christoph von Graffenried's Account of the Founding of New Bern (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton
Printing, 1920).
To be honest, North Carolina was so devastated and unprepared for war, we did not know
where or how to begin. You cannot wage war if you are starving and we had very little food.
However, some neighboring North Carolina towns and communities did agree to provide us
with rations.
We also lacked weapons, gunpowder, and soldiers. We asked other NC communities for
guns, but they would only supply if we had money and since we were in debt, we could not
afford to pay. Unbelievably, some of our male citizens were too afraid to fight – decided to
just try and defend their own home – hoping the Tuscarora would not attack them.
We asked VA for weapons and soldiers and they at first appeared willing to help our colony.
However, VA soon acquired about how we would pay them and once they realized we could
not guarantee it, they decided not to help.
Amazingly, South Carolina did agree to help! They sent 50 colonial soldiers and 800 SC
Indians all under the command of Colonel John Barnwell. We appreciated their help, but they
were ruthless. They killed many Tuscarora and burned one alive in front of witnesses. Many
of the Tuscarora fled into a native fort. We attempted to take the fort, but our first attempt
failed – largely because the attacking force disobeyed orders and attacked at the wrong time
and the wrong place.
A few days later, we tried again. We fired guns into the fort and used grenades – this caused
the Tuscarora to ask for a truce. Some did not want to accept the truce, but the Tuscarora
were holding some of our hostages and threatened to kill them if we did not accept.
Sadly, John Barnwell, the commander from South Carolina, believed he had been
disrespected and unappreciated by the NC government and citizens. In order to make some
money, Barnwell took some Tuscarora as slaves – thus causing the war to start up again.
We were outraged by this behavior because it caused the Tuscarora not to trust any of us.
Once again, we found ourselves helpless. With nowhere to turn, we wrote South Carolina for
help. Unbelievably they agreed to help. They again sent Indians and SC soldiers, but they
were placed under the command of Captain Moore – a much more reasonable person.
We again marched on the major Tuscarora fort and eventually took control. The natives
showed incredible courage – fighting when they were badly wounded. About 900 Tuscarora
were either killed or captured – that includes women and children.
Peace was then more or less back in the colony and the remaining Tuscarora moved out of
the colony – never to return.
I believe this to be an accurate account of what happened – a tragic and bloody event for
everyone involved.
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Document Source Analysis Sheet
Source or Text
Source 1:
The John Lawson
Source 2:
Fictional Story on the
Tuscarora meeting
Source 3:
Image – Tuscarora
Source 4:
Christopher Gale
Source 5:
Graffenried Letter
What do you see (what did you see
at first and what do you see after
reading or viewing this source
Why do you think
somebody created this
Support or Challenge
the traditional story of
Created by New Hanover County Schools - 2015
Document Source Analysis Sheet
Source or Text
Source 1:
The John Lawson
Source 2:
Fictional Story on the
Tuscarora meeting
Source 3:
Image – Tuscarora
Source 4:
Christopher Gale
Source 5:
Graffenried Letter
Who created this piece, when was it
created, and what point was the
creator trying to get readers to
What was implied by the
creator and what
information may have
been left out or not
Support or Challenge
the traditional story of

The Tuscarora War - New Hanover County Schools