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Captain Benge

The Red-headed Warrior

Born around 1760 in the Cherokee village of Togue, possibly on the Little Ta ni si river, Bob Benge - also called Captain Benge and The Bench - was the son of a Scottish trader John Benge and a full blood Cherokee named Wurtah.

John Benge lived among the Cherokee most of his adult life and was trusted by them as a man of his word. His mother was from an influential Cherokee family and it's said that later in life, she had a child by a man named Gist. That son was to become known as Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. If true that would have made Robert Benge and Sequoyah half brothers.

All young Robert's training was in Cherokee ways and he grew up to be one of the most feared of warriors. His reputation was such that mothers would tell their children if they weren't good "Captain Benge will get you." A description of Benge said that he had red hair; could pass for as a white man and had a great command of the English language . . . not your typical Cherokee warrior. He had a great dislike of white settlers and spent much time dedicated to their removal by any means necessary.

In about 1777, The Benge family moved into the territory of a Cherokee chief named Dragging Canoe. The aim of this chief was to clear all whites from the frontier, and as they moved in, he burned them out, killing many. A small group of Shawnee warriors had come south from Ohio to join Dragging Canoe in his efforts to remove the whites. On a raid into the upper Holston River area in northeastern Tennessee (Ta ni si) and lower Virginia, the leader is thought to have been Robert Benge who led the band of Cherokee and Shawnee warriors. He earned great respect among all native warriors because of his ability to lead, his unquestioned courage, and his ferocity in battle.
Sequoyah
From 1777 until 1794 Benge and his war parties raided in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Alabama and Benge acquired a legendary status among white settlers, many of whom, on hearing that Benge was headed their way, would abandon their homes and farms, never to return. One must remember that for all his ferocity, Benge was defending his land, his country. To him, those he attacked were foreign invaders trying to conquer his country, push out his people and destroy their whole way of life. He did what Wallace and The Bruce did, defend his country as he saw it.

In April 1794 Benge was finally hunted down and killed by a militia led by Col. Arthur Campbell. He was actually shot by a Lieutenant Hobbs and as he lay dying Hobbs scalped him and his body was hung up for all to see. Col. Arthur Campbell sent Benge's scalp to Virginia's governor with an accompanying letter: "The scalp of Captain Benge, I have been requested to forward to your Excellency, as proof of Benge's death and the good conduct of Lt. Hobbs. A reward of a neat rifle to Mr. Hobbs would be accepted."

The General Assembly of Virginia sent Mr. Hobbs a silver mounted rifle. Benge was seen as a savage by his enemies but as a hero by his own people, much the same as William Wallace.

 

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Chief Dragging Canoe

 

 

 

Shawnee Indian

 

Shawnee Indian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sequoyah US Postage Stamp


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