Arthur Campbell (1743 - 1811)

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Arthur Campbell, Indian Scout's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Augusta, VA, USA
Death: Died in Middlesboro, KY, USA
Cause of death: Cancer
Managed by: Darlene Chaffin
Last Updated:

About Arthur Campbell

Arthur Campbell, a political and military leader in Virginia and frontier Tennessee, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on November 3, 1743. A band of Wyandotte Indians captured fifteen-year-old Campbell and took him to the area of present-day Detroit where he lived with the tribe for two years. He escaped in 1760 and joined British troops in the area, serving as a guide for the remainder of the Seven Years War.

After the war Campbell returned to Virginia and took up farming. He married Margaret Campbell in 1772. Campbell served on the first Fincastle County Court in 1773, opened a grist mill, and led militia forays in Southwest Virginia and along the Clinch and Holston Rivers in present-day Tennessee. In 1776 Fincastle County elected Campbell to the Second Continental Congress. When Washington County was carved out of Fincastle County, Campbell was appointed to the top militia post and served as county lieutenant and justice of the peace for the new county.

During the Revolutionary War Campbell led expeditions against Native Americans, the British, and their loyalist supporters. Campbell's militia unit joined those of John Sevier and Isaac Shelby in the victory at the battle of Kings Mountain, although Campbell did not fight. Convinced that the Cherokees represented a true threat, Campbell and Sevier combined forces to raid the principal Cherokee towns of Chota, Tellico, and Hiwassee.

Campbell and Sevier believed the frontier settlements should be admitted to the new republic as separate states but could not agree on the terms. Campbell wanted the new state, "Frankland," to include portions of western North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, and part of Kentucky. Sevier favored the name "Franklin" and limited the territorial boundary to western North Carolina. In 1784 delegates to a general convention at Jonesborough favored Sevier's smaller State of Franklin and petitioned the United States for admission as an independent state. North Carolina refused to cede the western lands and blocked the petition, while Virginia brought charges of treason and misconduct against Campbell. Although the treason charges were dismissed, Campbell was removed as justice of the peace in Washington County in 1786; he was reinstated in 1789. President George Washington later commissioned Campbell as an Indian agent in the Southwest Territory.

A Federalist in the new political world of the United States and in poor health, Campbell retired from service in 1799 as the Jeffersonian Republicans gained power. After retirement Campbell led a quiet life and began writing a history of the Revolutionary War in the Southwest, which he never completed. Campbell died at his home in Virginia in August 1811. He was buried in the Cumberland Gap, at the juncture of the three states that shaped his life.


Arthur Campbell (November 3, 1743 – August 8, 1811) was a soldier in the Indian Wars and the American Revolutionary War as well as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Campbell County, Tennessee was named after him.

He was a brother-in-law of General William Campbell. In the War of 1812 his sons Colonel James Campbell died in the service at Mobile, Alabama, and Colonel John B. Campbell fell at the Battle of Chippewa, where he commanded the right wing of the army under General Winfield Scott.

He was born in Augusta County, Virginia. When fifteen years old, he volunteered as a militiaman, to perform duty in protecting the frontier from incursions of the Indians. He was stationed in a fort on the Cowpasture river, near where the road crosses leading from Staunton to the Warm Springs.

While engaged in this service, he was captured by the Indians, who loaded him with their packs, and marched seven days into the forests with his captors, who were from Lakes Erie and Michigan, and were on their return. Campbell, at the end of seven days, was so exhausted that he was unable to travel, and was treated by the Indians with great severity. An old chief, taking compassion on him, protected him from further injury, and on reaching the Lakes adopted Campbell, in whose family the young man remained during his three years' captivity.

During this time, Campbell made himself familiar with the Indian language their manners and customs, and soon acquired the confidence of the old chief, who took him on all his hunting excursions. During these they rambled over Michigan and the northern parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

In 1759, a British force marched towards the Upper Lakes, of which the Indians were informed by their scouts. Campbell formed the bold resolution of escaping to this force. While out on one of their hunting excursions, Campbell left the Indians, and after a fortnight's tramp through the pathless wilds reached the British. The British commander was much interested in Campbell's account of his captivity and escape, and with his intelligence, and engaged him to pilot the army, which he did with success. Shortly after he returned to Augusta County, Virginia after an absence of more than three years. For his services in piloting the army he received a grant of 1,000 acres (4 km2) of land near Louisville, Kentucky. At the same time Campbell, along with Joseph Martin began acting as an agent to the Indians, reporting back to Virginia governors Benjamin Harrison V, Edmund Randolph and others on the state of Indian-colonial relations.

In 1772, his father, David Campbell, and family, removed to the " Royal Oak," on Holstein river. In 1775 he was one of the 13 signers of the Fincastle Resolutions, the earliest statement of armed resistance to the British Crown in the American Colonies and in 1776, Arthur Campbell was appointed major in the Fincastle militia, and elected to the General Assembly. He was also a member of the convention for forming the State Constitution. When Washington County, Virginia was formed he was commissioned colonel commandant of a regiment more than 30 years, and during the time he was in commission commanded several expeditions, particularly that against the Cherokees, in December 1780 and January 1781, with whom he made an important treaty.

After 35 years' residence at Holstein, he removed to Yellow Creek, Knox County, Kentucky the present site of Middlesboro, Kentucky.

He was tall, of a dignified air, an extensive reader and good talker. He married his cousin, Margaret Campbell, a sister of Gen. General William Campbell. He died from the effects of a cancer in Yellow Creek, leaving a widow, six sons and six daughters to mourn his loss.

When Middlesboro first attracted the attention of the business people of this country, and great developments were in progress at that point, the grave of Colonel Campbell was discovered in an out-of-the-way place, and his remains were removed by his Tennessee relatives, and the grave newly marked.

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Arthur Campbell, Indian Scout's Timeline

November 3, 1743
Augusta, VA, USA
Age 31
Age 33
August 8, 1811
Age 67
Middlesboro, KY, USA