To The Cowpens by the Island Ford


At the Flint Hills encampment on the morning of October 6, Colonel Williams continued to order the militiamen to prepare for a march toward Ninety-Six and a rendezvous with the Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland at Lawson’s Fork. As he did so, Colonel Hill followed behind sharing his perspective on the matter and imploring the men to await Colonel Lacey’s return. Eventually, Colonel Hill paraded the men and had them choose sides. Hill later recalled what he said:
“All of you that love your Country & wish to fight for your country, your friends & posterity, & not to plunder your country in a day of distress, you will parade to the right; And all you that are of a different disposition & intend to plunder — not to fight you will parade to the left.”
Hill was gratified that the larger portion of the men paraded to the right, leaving Colonel Williams and his few supporters well outnumbered. Again, Hill’s account ascribed malice of intent by Colonel Williams, when it was more likely simply a matter of changing information in a dynamic situation.

After Colonel Edward Lacey retuned to the encampment at the Flint Hills at mid-morning on October 6, the men immediately broke camp and started their march south toward the rendezvous at The Cowpens. (That location was on the route Williams would have taken to the "old Iron works" anyway.) Colonel Williams was most likely in appropriate command of Sumter’s men and his own recruits and agreeable to the change in plans as he learned about them. Hill nevertheless wrote that Williams was somehow diminished in his leadership and followed along at the head of a smaller party with militiamen from Sumter’s men throwing rocks at them to keep them at bay. Hills account is the only known source of such actions and can be readily dismissed as a product of that writer's bad memory and poor judgement in recording his account decades later.

The route Williams took is not recorded by Draper, but one militiaman mentioned they crossed the Broad River at the Island Ford. (Island Ford of the Broad River is beneath US Hwy 221.) A map of the time indicates a road from there to The Cowpens, so another several miles riding out of the Broad River basin from the ford would have brought them to their union there with the Overmountain and Yadkin River valley militiamen.

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Randell Jones (, “To The Cowpens by the Island Ford,” Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, accessed January 20, 2020, http:/​/​bythewaywebf.​webfactional.​com/​omvt/​items/​show/​73.​
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