DescriptionOn October 6, 1780, the mounted backcountry patriot militia rode hard from the ford at Green River for 22 miles, arriving at The Cowpens, a place for fattening cattle before taking them to market. It was owned by one Saunders, a loyalist. There, the backcountry patriot militia met up with the South Carolina militia under colonels Lacey, Hill, and Williams. The foot soldiers arrived later as well. They had climbed out of the Broad River basin near today's Sandy Plains and followed a ridge line road (Green River Road), crossing into South Carolina northwest of today's Chesnee, South Carolina.
The Cowpens was the site of a later battle on January 16, 1781, so the site is commemorated today for that event primarily but is also a certified site along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
At The Cowpens, the patriot militia leaders learned from two scouts about Ferguson's heading toward Charlotte. The officers knew they would have to overtake Ferguson the next day or he would be too close to the protection of Cornwallis' larger army. They chose the 900 best marksmen and put them on the 900 sturdiest horses. At 9:00 p.m. they rode out into a dark, cold October night. It began to rain. The men took off their hunting frocks and wrapped them around their rifles to keep their powder dry. Some the men got lost on the trail and had to ride that much harder to catch up with the others by dawn. Deciding to avoid a possible ambush at the ford near Tate's Plantation, they rode downstream to cross the Broad River at the Cherokee Ford.