The Forts of the Holston Militia
Location of Dorton's Fort
Lawrence. J. Fleenor,
Copyright Nov. 22, 2015
All rights reserved
Big Stone Gap, Va.
Addendum to the Chapter on Dorton's Fort in
Forts of the Holston Militia
General Criteria for Frontier Fort Placement
1) The fort was
always located within rifle shot ( ~200 yards) of a
2) Stockaded forts were regional in scope, and were maintained with no less than 6
militiamen, together with their horses and cattle. his implies a rather large source
of year around water.
3) They were usually located near the geometric center of the tract of land on which they
4) They were usually close to the road.
5) They were usually on top of a small hill.
6) That hill was high enough so that there were no other hills that over looked the fort,
and which were close enough for someone on these other hills to be able to shoot
down into the fort.
7) Regional forts were located near a road junction.
The Site of the Lake View Church
State 71 - Cooper Creek, Virginia
All of the land within the known land survey of William Dorton, Sr. is karst. The practical implication of this is that much of the surface water sinks. There are few good springs within the limits of the Dorton survey. What creek heads are there begin in low flow wet spots. The single striking exception is the collection of small ponds noted in the fall dry season to lie about 200 yards from the church at the bottom of the large sink hole immediately south of the Lake View Church. There is no other possible source for the name of this church other than the sink hole ponds. It is a known characteristic of many of these sink hole ponds that the amount of water collected in them can wax and wane over time. It is the only truly significant spring within the survey.
There is an old farm house atop the hill immediately on the other (south) side of the sink hole. The house is obviously not nearly as old as the era of Dorton's Fort, but an older structure could have sat there. This hill top is about 60 feet higher than the site of the Lake View Church. The two hilltops are about 400 yards apart. There are no other comparable hilltops within a quarter of a mile. The current small ponds cannot be seen from the hilltop to the south due to topography. The site of the Lake View Church provides a clear field of fire of the entire bottom of the sinkhole.
The Lake View Church is on an old loop of the road down this valley. Dorton's School building stands abandoned on another loop of this old road, about a quarter of a mile south. The old road is easy to see, and it avoids two hill cuts taken by the modern road. The site on the hill south of the sinkhole ponds is not on this old road.
Anyone with a Kentucky Rifle would find it impossible to shoot into the interior of a palisaded fort located on the site of the Lake View Church from the top of the hill to the south of the sink hole.
The site of the Lake View Church is very near the geometric center of the Dorton Survey. It is also half way between the intersections of the two main roads connecting this main road down Cooper Creek with the valleys to the north and to the south. These roads are State Route #602 to the north, and which leads to the road in Castle's Run, which connects to Moore's Fort in Lower Castlewood, and Russell's Fort in Upper Castlewood, as well as at the forts of the Clinch River which they guarded. To the south of the site of the Lake View Church is State Route #606, which leads to the Valley of Big Moccasin Creek and its two forts, Fort Houston and Tate's Fort. There are records of militia messengers having travelled this route.
We know one more requirement for the location of this fort. We know that Chief Benge used to watch his mother, Elizabeth Dorton, who was William Dorton, Sr.'s wife (some people dispute this relationship), from the top of a nearby hill. Therefore, he was on the higher of the two hills adjacent to the spring in the sinkhole.
The theoretical placement of the site of Dorton's Fort at the site of the Lake View Church meets all the general criteria, and the one special one. No other site on the Dorton Survey meets more than one of the required criteria, while the site of the Lake View Church meets them all.