This Revolutionary War-era fort was located on the north side of the South Fork of the Holston River near the upper end of Long Island at present-day Kingsport. Its predecessor was a fort constructed in the winter of 1760-61 by Colonel William Byrd, who was leading about 600 Virginians against the Cherokees after the Fort Loudoun massacre. This fort was named Fort Robinson in honor of John Robinson, one of Byrd's partners in a Virginia lead mine. Fort Robinson was described as a stockaded fort with bastions and supporting structures within the enclosure.
In September 1776 Lieutenant Colonel William Russell, commanding the Fincastle Rangers, established Fort Patrick Henry on or near the site of Fort Robinson. The stockade wall with bastions at the corners enclosed three acres on the bluff of the Holston River. This fort was used in the war against the Cherokees. A force of approximately 200 Cherokee warriors commanded by Dragging Canoe attacked the Holston settlements and was defeated in the battle of Long Island Flats on July 20, 1776. In September of the same year men from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia gathered at Fort Patrick Henry for a campaign against the Cherokees. The combined force of 2,400 under the command of General Griffith Rutherford of North Carolina soundly defeated the Cherokees, who sued for peace. The conflict ended with the signing of the Avery Treaty in 1777 on the Long Island of the Holston. Fort Patrick Henry was garrisoned throughout the remainder of the Revolution.