The Tuscaroras were a tribe of the Iroquoian linguistic group. The name Tuscarora is derived from the Iroquois word skarure, which means 'hemp gatherers'. In 1708, the first Euro-Americans made contact with the Tuscarora, who numbered about two thousand. They were residing in fifteen villages in the region that would become North Carolina.
In 1711, Baron Christoph von Graffenried led a group of Swiss emigrants to the Carolinas. They chose to settle on a tract of land at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers inhabited by the Tuscarora, whom they proceeded to displace without any sort of payment. The Swiss settlement was named New Bern.
The Tuscarora were understandably upset with the Euro-Americans' actions. They retalliated by attacking Euro-American settlements between the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. The settlement of New Bern was the initial target. On 22 September 1711, the Tuscarora attacked the settlement and others in the vicinity. Approximately two hundred people were killed in the raids. Graffenried was taken prisoner by the Indians; in return a settler by the name of William Brice captured an Indian chief of the Coree tribe, and went a step further by roasting the Indian alive. That incident angered the Corees and other local Indian tribes, who promptly joined the Tuscarora.
A force of Carolina militia, led by Colonel John Barnwell, and numbering only thirty men, but joined by five hundred Indians of the Yamasee tribe, launched an attack, on 28 January 1712, on Tuscarora villages along the Neuse River. Three hundred Tuscarora were killed in the assault.
Colonel Barnwell led another expedition in March 1712 against the Tuscarora, attacking the village where the Tuscarora chief, King Hancock, resided. The expedition failed, but in a second attempt, King Hancock surrendered to Barnwell. A treaty of peace was signed, but Barnwell broke it by taking a group of Indians as slaves.
The German settlement of New Bern, on the Neuse River, was attacked in 1712. The six hundred and fifty residents of the settlement were nearly all killed in the raid. The Palatine Germans who survived the attack fled to other parts of the colony for refuge.
On 23 March 1713, a force of Carolina militia, commanded by Colonel James Moore, aided by nearly a thousand Indian allies, attacked the Tuscarora stronghold known as Fort Nohucke. A couple hundred Tuscarora were killed in the attack. About four hundred were taken as prisoners and sold into slavery. The surviving Tuscarora who were not captured fled northward seeking asylum from the Iroquois. The Iroquois League admitted the Tuscarora, in 1722, as the 'Sixth Nation'.
To all intents and purposes, the Tuscarora War ended with the defeat at Fort Nohucke, but a small group of the Tuscarora remained in the region of North Carolina. Led by a chief known as Tom Blount, the group signed a treaty of peace with the Carolina colonists on 11 February 1715.