Robert Carr was a cattle farmer who settled with his wife, children and a single middle-aged female slave in Wilkes County after colonists started arriving there in 1773. Carr also served as captain of a militia company of roughly 100 men. Responsible for leading his militiamen and looking out for their families, Carr built a stockade wall to protect his farmhouse and surrounding property, which included shacks and crude shelters.
Though probably no larger in area than a tennis court, Carr's Fort would have needed to hold 300 or more people, said Robert Scott Davis, a history professor at Wallace State Community College in Alabama who has studied and written about Wilkes County's role in the American Revolution since the 1970s.
"Most of the forts on the frontier were small community affairs," Davis said. "Everybody in the militia company took refuge inside the fort when the community was in danger because either the British were coming or the Indians were coming."
In February 1779, about 80 British loyalists marched into Carr's Fort and took control, presumably while Carr and other patriot militiamen were away. Patriots responded quickly by sending 200 men from Georgia and South Carolina to retake the fort. Davis said the Feb. 10 gunbattle was short, with most of the shooting likely over within 20 minutes, but it left more than a dozen fighters dead or wounded on each side. Patriots gained the upper floor of a nearby building and fired down into the fort. Innocent bystanders — women, children and old men inside the stockade walls — had to huddle under cover during the firefight.