Attack on Fort Donnally

Greenbrier Independent
August 10, 1882

...Their grandfather, old Col. Donnally, built the Fort that figures so prominently in Virginia's annals of Indian warfare. It stood seven miles north of Lewisburg, in the Rader valley, which is also frequently called the "Donnally Fort Valley." Archibald Rader's barn is built of the logs of this old Fort, and the door of the Fort, with its cross-stays, hinges, fastenings, &c., serves Mr. Rader as one of the doors to his barn. The scars and bullet-holes of its frequent peltings are still to be seen in the logs of the barn. This Fort was once attacked on all sides by a simultaneous rush of five hundred Indians, and the time of the attack there were but three persons in the Fort - old Col. Donnally, a slave of the Colonel's named Dick Pointer, and a white woman. The Indians were forcing the door open when old Dick, with his master's consent, fired into the surging mass of red-skins with an old flint-lock musket loaded with nails, lead, and everything destructible that could be raked and scraped up in the Fort. The discharge of the musket, it is said, killed and wounded nine Indians, and the shock caused them to fall back until Col. Donnally had an opportunity to re-bar the door against them. This was the luckiest shot on record, for, had the Indians gotten into the Fort at that time, it would have given them absolute control of this whole Western country. The Indians, unconscious that the havoc made among them was caused by a single musket, were under the impression that the Fort was full of people. One big Indian, having crawled up and secreted himself under the floor of the Fort, was quickly ousted by the woman pouring a kettle of boiling water on him,, and when he ran out and jumped the fence Col. Donnally shot and killed him with his rifle. The skull of this Indian is now in possession of some member of the Reaburn family in this section - probably in Monroe county. I can't tell the number of years since these things occurred, but time enough has passed for Miss Nellie Donnally, of Kanawha, a great- granddaughter of old Col. Donnally, to grow to womanhood and be the present guest of friends in Lewisburg. This is the true story of this memorable attack. These facts are gleaned from one who, from the opportunities afforded him, knows even more than "Border Warfare," the little book so full of curious Indian romance, yet so singularly absent from our libraries. Dick Pointer was given his liberty, and when he died a natural death was buried in the colored graveyard in Lewisburg with all the honors of war - volley after volley was fired into his grave in token of the signal service he had rendered. His grave is unmarked by a stone - only one or two in Lewisburg can point out the spot - and justice to his memory would seem to require that our people erect some simple monument to mark his resting-place. A costly mausoleum has sheltered the bones of many a lesser hero.

Exploration, Settlement and Conflict (1600-1799)