The American Revolution in North Carolina

Coweecho River

September 19, 1776


Patriot Cdr:

Col. Andrew Williamson (SC)
Loyalist/Indian Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

13
Killed:

4
Wounded:

26
Wounded:

8
Captured:

0
Captured:

13
Original County: 

Tryon County
Present County:

Macon County

Also known as the Black Hole.

After Cherokee raids in July and August of 1776, the government of South Carolina coordinated an offensive with Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. North Carolinians under Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford were to rendevous with Col. Andrew Williamson's South Carolinians and attack the lower and middle Cherokee settlements. The Virginians under Col. William Christian would march west and strike the Overhill Cherokees, and the Georgians would strike north and attack the Indian settlements in northern Georgia and South Carolina.

Col. Andrew Williamson assembled a large group of Patriots from South Carolina and Georgia in north-eastern South Carolina and this group went on the attack on August 1, 1776, first against the Cherokee at Seneca Town in what is today Oconee County, South Carolina. His partisans established a base camp at this location and they sallied out to subdue the Cherokee all over the region.

In mid-September, Col. Williamson left 300 men to guard the new Fort Rutledge (his base camp at Seneca Town) and moved with approximately 2,000 men to rendezvous with North Carolina Brig. Gen. Rutherford. Guided by Catawba Indian scouts, Col. Williamson marched through Rabun Gap to the Tennessee River and reached the Indian town of Coweecho on September 17th - Brig. Gen. Rutherford was not there. The South Carolinians pushed onward through the narrow trails up the mountains, following the Coweecho River.

On September 19th, Col. Williamson and his men marched into a major ambush at a steep-sided gorge known as the "Black Hole." [near present-day Franklin, NC] The advance party under Lt. Hampton found themselves under attack by 300 Cherokees and 50 Loyalists. Before the remainder of Col. Williamson's troops arrived, this advance party had to contend with fretful odds. It was not only a woodsman's fight from tree to tree, but also hand to hand.

For a while, the Cherokee did not fire upon the Catawba Indians in the Patriot ranks. When they finally saw the buck tail worn in the hair of the Catawbas the Cherokee rained fire upon them.

The battle lasted two hours. Due to the terrain of the steep gorge there was no way to counterattack except to charge straight towards the enemy, which the South Carolinians did, clearing a path with bayonets. The Cherokees were forced to withdraw when their gunpowder ran low.

The Patriots lost twelve men and one Catawba Indian killed, with 24 militia and two Catawbas wounded. The Cherokees had four killed, eight wounded, and thirteen Loyalists disguised as Indians were captured.

On September 26th, Col. Williamson finally met up with Brig. Gen. Rutherford at Hiwassee, creating a combined force of 4,500 Patriots to take the next step against the Cherokees - a step that was not taken. Brig. Gen. Rutherford and Col. Williamson discussed moving further northward to link up with Virginia Colonel William Christian in what is now Tennessee, but both decided that they had accomplished enough for this trip.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Andrew Williamson - Commanding Officer

Ninety-Six District Regiment (SC) led by Col. Andrew Williamson with twelve (12) known companies. led by:
- Capt. James Baskin
- Capt. James Butler, Sr.
- Capt. James Colson (of GA)
- Capt. John Erwin
- Capt. John Gaskins
- Capt. Joseph Hamilton - Hamilton's Artillery
- Capt. John Hammond
- Capt. LeRoy Hammond with 100 mounted cavalry
- Capt. Adam Crain Jones
- Capt. Alexander Noble
- Capt. Thomas K. Smith
- Capt. Michael Watson

New Acquisition District Regiment led by Col. Thomas Neel, Maj. William Bratton, with fifteen (15) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James Adams
- Capt. John Anderson
- Capt. John Blandon
- Capt. William Byers
- Capt. Peter Clinton
- Capt. John Drummond
- Capt. William Gaston
- Capt. Joseph Hardin
- Capt. William Henry
- Capt. Thomas Kirkpatrick
- Capt. Lattimore
- Capt. Edward Lacey
- Capt. Robert McAfee
- Capt. Andrew Neel
- Capt. Francis Ross

Spartan Regiment led by Col. John Thomas, Sr., with Lt. Col. John Lisle, Sr., and eighteen (18) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Anderson
- Capt. Lewis Bobo
- Capt. Thomas Brandon
- Capt. Zachariah Bullock
- Capt. John Gowen
- Capt. James Grant
- Capt. William Houseal
- Capt. Joseph Jolly
- Capt. James Lisle
- Capt. John Lisle, Jr.
- Capt. John McIlhenny
- Capt. Daniel McKay
- Capt. Robert McWhorter
- Capt. William Plummer
- Capt. James Steen
- Capt. John Thomas, Jr.
- Capt. William Wadlington
- Capt. Joseph Wofford

Little River District Regiment led by Col. John Lindsey, Maj. Robert Gillam, Maj. Jonathan Downs, with ten (10) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Robert Gillam, Jr.
- Capt. James Harvey
- Capt. Joseph Hayes
- Capt. Benjamin Kilgore
- Capt. Charles King
- Capt. Samuel Morrow
- Capt. James Pollard
- Capt. John Rodgers, Jr.
- Capt. John Rogers
- Capt. John Wallace

Lower District Regiment detachment led by Maj. Andrew Pickens with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Catlerton
- Capt. Coizier
- Capt. John Folmer
- Capt. John Pickens
- Capt. Joseph Pickens

Catawba Indian Company of Rovers - Capt. Samuel Boykin with 20 men

SC 5th Regiment detachment of three (3) known companies with 93 men, led by:
- Capt. John Bowie
- Capt. Francis Prince
- Capt. Benjamin Tutt

SC 6th Regiment detachment led by Lt. Col. Thomas Sumter, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Brown
- Capt. James Duff
- Capt. John Hampton
- Capt. George Wage

Middle Towns Cherokee Indians - 300

Loyalists - 50

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© 2009 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved