The American Revolution in South Carolina

Gowen's Fort

November 6, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Maj. John Gowen
Loyalist Cdr:

Capt. William Bates
Killed:

Unk
Killed:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

Unk
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Ninety-Six District
Present County:

Spartanburg County

One source asserts that this engagement happened on November 1st.

A force of Loyalist militia and Chicamauga Indians forced the surrender of the Patriot fort. Once doing so, the Loyalists and Indians killed the defenders as well as all civilians. Men, women, and children who were in the fort were all slaughtered and scapled.


Capt. William Bates commanded a combined force of Loyalists and Cherokee Indians that operated out of the vicinity of Glassy Mountain and Hogback Mountain, in the extreme western parts of South Carolina at that time. Around November 1st, he led a party of Chicamauga Indians and Loyalists disguised as Indians to attack the settlement near present-day Landrum. The leader of the Indians was Dragging Canoe. The settlers in the area fled to Earle's Fort and to Gowen's Fort.

At Gowen's Fort, the defenders were the local settlers who put up a pretty good defense, but they were low on ammunition. The garrison finally surrendered on the condition that they would be protected from the Indians. Capt. Bates agreed to these terms, but as soon as the gates were opened he ordered all of his men to kill the Patriots. They slaughtered men, women, and children. Some were taken back to the mountains where they were burned at the stake.

Before Maj. John Gowen was captured he was able to send his servant to summon help. One of the few settlers who escaped alive was Mrs. Abner Thomson. She was scalped and left for dead, but she recovered from her wounds and lived another fifty years. When the raiders left the fort, the bodies of ten settlers lay in the dirt.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Roebuck's Battalion of Spartan Regiment detachment led by Maj. John Gowen, with unknown number of men

Capt. William Bates, with unknown number of Loyalists

Chicamauga Indians led by Dragging Canoe



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