An American Family History


The McClellan Family
of Sullivan County, Tennessee

  also spelled McClelland  

John McClellan, Sr.

John's children probably included:

Abraham McClellan,
John McClellan,
William McClellan (1766 married Barbara Walker), and
Mary McClellan

In 1774, Abraham McClellan was in Looney's Company and he signed the 1777 Petition.


William McClellan was born about 1738 in Virginia. His parents were John and Martha McClellan.

He married Barbara Walker.

William and Barbara's children included:

John McClellan (1768, married Mary Wallace),
Abraham McClellan (1770),
Samuel McClellan (1773, married Rachel McCampbell and Ann Twitty),
Elizabeth McClellan (1776, married James Looney)
Anna McClellan (1779, married Samuel Carrick),
William McClellan (1779, married Elizabeth Sevier),
James McClellan (1781, married Jane Patterson Taylor),
David McClellan (1783, married Ruth Hawkins).

In 1793 John McClellan was an ensign in the Sullivan County Militia.

In 1607 the London Company established Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony.



The indigenous population in the United States before the arrival of Europeans included many distinct tribes and languages

from The Annals of Tennessee by James Gettys McGready Ramsey

On the 13th, [August, 1794] Lieutenant McClelland, who had with him thirty-seven of Captain Evans's company, was attacked on the Cumberland path, near the Crab-Orchard, eighteen miles from South-West Point, by a body of Creeks, consisting of upwards of one hundred warriors; he made a brave and soldierly defence, twice repelling the Creeks, but was finally compelled to retreat, with the loss of four men killed, one wounded, four missing, thirty-one horses, thirty-eight saddles and bridles, blankets, great-coats and provisions.

On the side of the Creeks the loss was not ascertained, but from the obstinacy and bravery of the defence, and the report of Lieutenant McClelland and others, there was reason to believe they lost from twelve to sixteen; the Creek commander was conspicuously bold, and was numbered amongst the slain.

The white men who were killed, were Paul Cunningham, Daniel Hitchcock, William Flennegan, Stephen Renfroe; Abraham Byrd was wounded; the four men who were missing from the detachment after the action, afterwards reached South-West Point. William Lea, one of that number, arrived on the 18th, and reported that he had been made prisoner by the Indians, and had escaped from them.

Kingsport Times-News 
(Kingsport, Tennessee)
23 Feb 1964

from History of Tennessee

William McClellan, farmer, was born in Sullivan County October 14, 1809, the son of Abraham and Nancy (Moss) McClellan, the former born in this county in 1788, the son of Abraham, Sr., a Scotchman, whose occupation was farming.

The father [Abraham McClellan], a prominent farmer, was State senator for two terms, and a member of the convention to revise the state constitution. He was in the Indian war of 1836, and the following year became a Congressman and served three terms, during which time our subject was with him at Washington as his private secretary.

In 1866 he died after several years of retired life. The mother [Nancy Moss] was born in 1788 in this county. The parents were of Irish origin..


George R. McClellan was born in 1816. His parents were Abraham McClellan and Nancy Moss.

In 1847, George commanded the 5th Tennessee Volunteers in the Mexican War.


East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

Source: Historic Sullivan by Oliver Taylor (1906) - Transcribed by Tammy Clark

George R. McClellan was a ready soldier-the veteran of three enlistments in the army.

He was born on Beaver creek in 1815-was brought up on a farm and attended the best schools of the county, acquiring a good education. At the age of twelve he entered Washington College with the intention of completing his education, but there was a call for troops to aid in the removal of the Cherokees [!] from their eastern homes to the allotted lands in Indian Territory and he enlisted. 

In 1847 there came another call for men and he mustered a company at Blountville. The best means of transportation in those days was by water, so he carried his company down the Mississippi to New Orleans, thence across the Gulf of Mexico. In this war he became colonel of the Fifth Tennessee volunteers and was much hard service, being in the battle of Chapultapec, where so many were killed and captured. He entered Mexico with the victorious forces under Gen. Scott. 

When this war was over he returned and his regiment was honorably discharged at Memphis, July 28, 1848. At the time of his death Col. McClellan bore the distinction of being the last field-officer of the war.

In 1857 he was appointed, with Judge Samuel Milligan, a commissioner on the part of Tennessee to re-mark the boundary line between Tennessee and Virginia.

In 1859 he was elected state senator, which office he was filling at the beginning of the Civil War.

He enlisted again, organized the Fourth Tennessee cavalry and was in the battle of Greasy Cove. He was with Bragg at Knoxville and with Zollicoffer when that office was killed, rendering valuable service in restoring assurance among the men and escorting them to Nashville. 

He then joined Gen. Forrest and took part in the Battle of Shiloh, 1862. When this battle was over he went with a detail of soldiers to gather up his wounded men. Coming across Capt. Gage of the Fifteenth Mississippi, in a dying condition, he gave orders: "Take this man over the hill and have him cared for by my surgeons." Upon examination it was found that a ball had struck a silk handkerchief which the captain carried in his pocket and had carried it entirely through one lung. Surgeons W.T. Delany and ______ Cate pulled out the handkerchief, bringing the ball with it, and succeeded in saving his life.

At the close of the war he retired to his farm, east of Blountville, broken in spirit and fortune.

A few years later he was chosen a member of the county court and was afterward elected chairman of the court, occupying the office a number of years.

He was enthusiastic over good roads and when state senator offered his influence in getting convict labor to build them. The suggestion resulted in a newspaper controversy between him and Rev. William Robeson, the latter opposing the us of convicts on grounds that made the movement unpopular, and it was therefore abandoned.

Gov. Marks appointed him one of the railroad commissioners of the state. During Cleveland's first Administration he was appointed deputy internal revenue collector.

While Col. McClellan cannot be ranked in the list of our greatest soldiers, he was a willing one. Whenever the county called for troops he answered, "here."

No man served longer or in more capacities in the public life of the county than he. He was born and reared-he lived and died a Sullivan County man. 


The Cherokeewere indigenous people who lived in the southern Appalachian mountains. European Americans called their towns in eastern Tennessee, the Overhill Towns. The towns included Chota, Tellico and Tanasi.

In 1776, the Cherokee planned to drive settlers out of the Washington District. The settlers were warned and stopped the first attack at Heaton's Station. The second attack was stopped at Fort Watauga. In response to these attacks, the militia burned Tuskegee and Citico.

In 1780, while the militia was away at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the Cherokee raided the setttlements. When the militia returned, Colonel John Sevier's men defeated the Cherokee at Boyd's Creek and destroyed most of the remaining towns.





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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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