The Archaic Period in the Middle South ranged from 8000 B.C. to
700 B.C. and is characterized by the development of stone tools
that represent a significant change from the Paleoindian stage.
It was during this time that there was a marked increase in population
which led to the establishment of more permanent sites. The river's
flood plain stabilized and shoal habitats were enhanced. Freshwater
gastropods were collected in large numbers and large shell mounds
on the Tennessee River were first constructed during this period.
The Woodland Period, spanning from about 700 B.C. to 1000 A.D.,
is well represented on Moccasin Bend, with about 20 sites ranging
from Early, through Middle and Late periods. The transition from
Late Archaic to Early Woodland is characterized by the addition
of ceramics and increased flood plain horticulture. In addition
to gardening, the Woodland populations continued hunting both
large and small mammal speicies, as well as gathering seasonal
wild crops such as hickory, acorns, and chestnuts. Early agriculture
on Moccasin Bend is hinted at by the recovery of cornstalk fragments.
Beginning in East Tennessee about 900 A.D. and continuing until
the mid-17th century, the Missippian period indentifies the time
that indigenous cultures reached their zenith with multi-mound
towns, intensive maize horticulture, and a stratified socio-policical
structure based on kinship. Archaeologically, it is represented
by shell tempered ceramics, rectangular buildings and triangular
projectile points/arrowheads. Copper ornaments, effigy pipes and
marine shell ornaments suggest a widespread trade network among
adjacent Mississippian regions. Palisaded villages became the
dominant settlement type and substantial mound construction declined.
At the time of contact (1540-1541) by the Spanish explorer Hernando
DeSoto, Moccasin Bend was the site of this region's principal
population and political center at the site now known as Hampton
Place. These people were the ancestors of today's Muscogee (Creek)
and Yuchi people. The southeastern Tennessee area was almost abandoned
by Mississippian populations by 1650, and during the next hundred
years or so the area was largely unoccupied except occasionally
by Creek and Cherokee groups.
Around the time of the American Revolution (1775), the 'Chickamauga'
Cherokee under Dragging Canoe moved into the region to flee white
Colonial aggression and destruction of Cherokee towns in Appalachian
Mountain areas. Under duress from the emerging Colonial economy,
they shifted from a village-based lifestyle to farmsteading, which
allowed for individual ownership of 1 square mile (640 acres)
per head of household. One such property on the Bend was owned
by a Cherokee named Richard Brown. His son John operated the ferry
at what is still known as Brown's Ferry, and built built Brown’s
Tavern across the river.
The Cherokee tenure in the valley was short-lived. They, and the
Muscogee (Creek) before them, were forcibly removed by the thousands
and deported along the "Trail of Tears" to lands in
Oklahoma. In 1838, the Cherokee residing in Southeast Tennessee,
North Georgia, Western North Carolina, and Northeast Alabama were
rounded up and forced into camps, one of which was located near
Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga. Two detachments from this
camp were escorted by the army down the Tennessee River around
Moccasin Bend. John Drew's Detachment, with John Ross and his
family, later traveled a similar route around the Bend. Another
detachment was ferried to Moccasin Bend, which was crossed on
foot. At Brown's Ferry, they crossed the river again and continued
their march down Lookout Valley into Alabama and further westward.
Bell's Detachment also crossed Moccasin Bend as they marched across
southern Tennessee to Memphis where they crossed the Mississippi.
Many of the young officers who executed the removal returned twenty
years later as colonels and generals to lead their armies in familiar
territory at the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Again,
Moccasin Bend played a central role. It was the weak point in
the Confederate siege. Union guns placed at the toe of the Moccasin
harried the defense route over the shoulder of Lookout Mountain,
allowing the Federals under Hooker to pour up Lookout Valley,
cross onto the Bend at Brown's Ferry and into Chattanooga, opening
the way for needed supplies and for reinforcements lead by General
Sherman. Those same guns on the Bend also assisted Hooker's men
as they swept across the slopes of Lookout Mountain, overwhelming
the Confederates who were ceaselessly and devastatingly bombarded
by the guns on the Moccasin below. The armies regrouped that night
and the following day the Federals routed the Confederates from
their final stronghold on Missionary Ridge.