Fort Watauga, which had been built near Sycamore Shoals, became a refuge for the settlers in the summer of 1776. Dragging Canoe returned home after the Sycamore Shoals Treaty (or Transylvania Purchase) determined to drive the white settlers from Cherokee lands. He was aided by English agents whose plans called for the Indians to attack the settlers from the rear while the English attacked them from the sea. A band of warriors under Old Abram of Chilhowee struck against Fort Watauga, where most of the settlers had already fled. Lt. Col. John Carter, Capt. James Robertson (founder of Nashville in 1779), Lt. John Sevier (Tennessee's first governor in 1796), and other officers commanded the fort. The Indians laid siege to Fort Watauga for approximately two weeks, but when the pioneers failed to surrender, the Indians departed.
A reconstruction of Fort Watauga, based on archaeological and historical research, stands near the Sycamore Shoals River crossing. The original location was approximately 1500 yards to the southwest. A scenic trail leads from the fort to the bank of the Watauga River the historic Shoals.