The American Revolution broke out one month after Richard Henderson's purchase agreement with the Cherokee for the lands of the proposed Transylvania settlement was signed.
Most Cherokee towns wished to stay neutral in the growing contest between the colonists and Britain, but Chief Dragging Canoe considered the war an opportunity to resist the continual encroachment by frontiersmen on traditional Cherokee territories. American retaliatory raids against his Cherokee towns in eastern Tennessee eventually forced Dragging Canoe to move his people farther to the south and west –down the Tennessee River. In 1779 they settled along Chickamauga Creek (near present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee), becoming known as the Chickamauga Cherokees. Later they were forced to move even further west and southwest, where they established the "Five Lower Towns", and were often thereafter referred to as the "Lower Cherokee". Dragging Canoe had promised to make any white settlers pay a "heavy price" if they moved into the Cumberland River valley, and he was to make good his word.