Unit 5 The Southern Campaign

Unit 5 activities follow the menu headings for the other units.
Cowpens National Battlefield Curriculum Guide
Grades 3 - 8 South Carolina and North Carolina
militia firing weapons

Unit 1 - The National Park ServiceThe National Park Service manages and preserves over 375 parks. Sixteen are in the Carolinas.

native grass at Cowpens National Battlefield
Unit 2 - The Pre-Agricultural LandscapeMeet Morgan at the Cow Pens’ must have echoed through the backcountry militia, and they did.

1828 Robert Scruggs cabin
Unit 3 - Backcountry LifestylesLife was hard, and children were expected to help with daily chores.
militia at arms
Unit 4 - The War for American IndependenceThe lengthy war had been costly and the British Parliament looked to taxation to pay the war debts.

The Battle of Cowpens by Charles McBarron
Unit 6 - The Battle of Cowpens“It is impossible to foresee all the consequences that this...event may produce.” - Lord Cornwallis
Battle of Cowpens by William Ranney
Unit 7 - The Battle - The Human Element
“...the life of the common soldier — the ones who did the fighting — and those connected to the battle as non-combatants are equally important.”
Unit 8 Cultural and Natural Resources Agriculture and its relationship to the economy plan an important part in Carolina history
drawing of a militiaman with rifle
These mountaineers had been fighting Indians and they were hunters, sharpshooters and fierce combatants.

drawing by Gregg Glymph


At first, the Southern Campaign was very successful for the British. The British Navy moved troops to Savannah, Georgia, which they captured on December 29, 1778. The British started recruiting Tories into militia units. Andrew Pickens and Elijah Clarke led local Patriots against North Carolina Loyalists who were marching to join the British forces on the coast.

The British siege of Charleston began on March 29, 1780, and lasted till May 12, when Charleston was surrendered to General Clinton and Lord Cornwallis. On May 29, LTC Banastre Tarleton and his loyalist British Legion defeated Col. Buford’s Virginia Continentals at the Waxhaws, an area on the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Buford attempted to surrender but in the confusion Tarleton’s men bayoneted or sabered to death 113 Virginians. This became known as Buford’s Massacre and the incident labeled Tarleton as “Bloody Ban.” The fact that Tarleton gave no quarter (the military conventions considered appropriate for prisoners) gave rise to the patriot cry, “Remember Tarleton’s quarter.” In other words, no mercy.

Lord Cornwallis marched his troops up the Santee to Camden where he defeated a Continental Army under the command of General Gates. From that time onward there was no Continental Army in South Carolina until the Battle of Cowpens. Thinking that this state was properly secured, Cornwallis moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, setting up his headquarters there in anticipation of a sweep through that state to Virginia. He left Lord Rawdon in Camden in command.

It is important to realize that the British Army, aided and abetted by Tory militia, occupied the Carolinas. With no Continental Army to oppose the enemy, local militia joined partisan leaders and carried on a guerrilla campaign. The battles between Whigs and Tories were bitter and violent and the death toll escalated.

In the fall of 1780, Lord Cornwallis sent Major Patrick Ferguson with a force of North and South Carolina Loyalists and 100 Provincial rangers west of Charlotte. Ferguson sent word to the men in the Indian territory of Western North Carolina to come and join his forces or he would go to them, hang them and lay waste their settlements. Not intimidated by these threats, the Over-Mountain men assembled at Sycamore Shoals and headed across the mountains. At Cowpens, other militia met them and they set out to find Ferguson. These mountaineers had been fighting Indians and they were hunters, sharpshooters and fierce combatants. Dressed in hunting frocks, large woolen hats and moccasins, they carried long rifles, tomahawks and knives. They surrounded Ferguson on Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, and defeated his forces and killed him. This alerted Cornwallis that he was vulnerable on his left flank and he moved back into South Carolina to regroup.

While Cornwallis was moving his army to Winnsboro, South Carolina, General Nathanael Greene assumed the command of the Southern Army and moved to Charlotte. The stage was now set leading to the Battle of Cowpens.

drawing of a Native American in the mountains
GOAL: To introduce students to Catawba and Cherokee culture in the Revolutionary Era Carolinas and have them access the role of each in the American Revolution.

drawing by Scott Withrow

Native American Connections


Numerous Native American groups made their home in the Carolinas. Among these, the Cherokees and Catawbas are most known for their involvement in the American Revolution.

The Cherokees are most known today in North Carolina, but they were more dominant in Colonial days in South Carolina. At first, Anglo-Cherokee relations were good. Beginning at Charles Town, traders traveled the Cherokee Path to Cherokee settlements such as Keowee and beyond to settlements in present-day Tennessee. Trade in deerskins became a big business. Peaceful conditions were not to last, however. Anglo-Cherokee conflict began in the 1750s because of Cherokee complaints over dishonest traders and settlers coming onto their lands. Relations worsened when South Carolina’s colonial governor sought to solve the conflict with military force. The British and Cherokee warred with each other from 1758-61 in what was called the First Cherokee War.

Tensions remained, but the Cherokees accommodated themselves to some extent to European society. This was to change drastically, however, when the American Revolution began. The Cherokees, as with many tribal people, sided with the British against Scots-Irish and other settlers, whom they considered squatters on their lands.

In retaliation, American armies ravaged their lands in what became known as the Whig-Indian War (1776), even though the events in the 1770s - 1780s involving Cherokee, Shawnee, and other tribes were part of the American Revolution. The Cherokee choice was fatal, however, bringing great change to Cherokee society and leading to increasing demands for their removal to the west.

European settlement affected the Catawbas also, bringing fundamental change to their culture and territory. They differed from other tribal societies, however, in that they actively aided the Patriot cause, in part because they lacked enough warriors to stop Backcountry settlement and because of their traditional animosity toward the Cherokees. Gratitude for their service won respect and helped ensure their cultural survival, albeit a drastically changed existence.


1. Have students research Catawba and Cherokee history and write a precise definition of each.
2. Have students research various texts and maps to identify the historical territory of each tribal group.
3. Omit dates and mix the following events and military expeditions against the Cherokee. Have students sequence the events chronologically. Discuss effects on the Cherokee. Differentiate between those of the First Cherokee War and the Whig-Indian War.

First Cherokee War
1758-59 Cherokee-Carolina relations worsen under British Governor Lyttleton.
1759 Thirty Cherokee killed by Virginia settlers.
1759 The Cherokee attacked frontier Carolina settlements.
1760 British troops under Colonel Montgomery marched against the Cherokee, burning villages and destroying crops, but eventually withdrawing.
1761 Lieutenant Colonel Grant marched against the Cherokee, burning villages and destroying crops.
1761 At peace talks in Charles Town, the Cherokee acknowledged English supremacy.

Whig-Indian War
1776 The Cherokee attacked mountain settlements with encouragement from the British.
1776 Colonel Andrew Williamson marched against the Cherokee, burning villages, destroying crops and forcing surrenders.
1776 The Treaty of De Witt’s Corner (today, Due West, South Carolina) forced the Cherokee further westward, retaining only a small strip of land in western South Carolina (in modern-day Oconee County.)

Walk the battlefield trail with students and discuss the influence of Native-American fighting on patriot tactics. (Fighting was often conventional on British and American sides, but, at times, Native-American styles played a part. For example, Patriot skirmishers at Cowpens initially hid behind trees. Such fighting might be attributed to Native-American styles, but was, in the main, practical. Morgan’s tactics were non-conventional but not necessarily Native-American influenced.)

Have students, in context of all the above events and ultimate Patriot victory, distinguish between Catawba and Cherokee life in the aftermath of the American Revolution.

The student will identify the Cherokees and Catawbas and locate their original homeland on a map.
The student will analyze Cherokee loyalty to the British, and, conversely, conflict with Americans.

STRANDS: Social Studies, Language Arts

Social Studies: Grade 3, Goals 2.3, 6.1, 6.2; Grade 4, Goals 2.3, 12.1, 12.2; Grade 8, Goals 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 4.2 Language Arts: Grade 3, Goals 1.05, 5.01-5.08; Grade 4, Goals 5.01-5.09; Grade 5, Goals 1.04, 5.01-5.08; Grade 6, Goals 6.01-6.02; Grade 7, Goals 6.01-6.02; Grade 8, Goals 6.01-6.02
South Carolina: Social Studies: 3.2.5, 3.2.7, 4.1.6, 8.2.6 Language Arts - Grade 3 - II-A, B, C; V- A, B; Grade 4 - IV-A; V-A; Grade 5 - II-A; V-A; Grade 6 - V; Grade 7 - V-A, B

American and British soldiers
GOAL:  To understand the civil war nature of the American Revolution in the South. The highest number and most violent engagements of the war took place in the South. It was in the south that the Patriots secured victory.)

Courtesy Kings Mountain National Military Park

Brother Against Brother

The American Revolution in the South was a civil war. Most of the combatants were militia, either Tory (British Loyalist) militia, or Whig (Patriot) militia.

The American Revolution can be considered in broader terms than just great heroes, political and military events. There were certain social results of warfare and hostilities – often-overlooked events that profoundly altered colonial society. Powerful forces often affected families as various family members differed over the war. Examples abound.

One of the more famous examples, perhaps, is the story of the famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, and, his son, William. The latter, appointed royal governor of New Jersey through his father’s influence, remained loyal to the Crown. His father, on the other hand, even though an envoy to London, grew embittered against the Crown. At war’s end, William fled to England, virtually disowned by his Patriot father he apparently still loved. In the process, a father’s dreams for his son were shattered.

There, too, were examples of brother against brother. One of the better known documentations in the Carolinas is of the Goforth brothers at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Preston Goforth, from Rutherford County, North Carolina, an ardent Patriot, was killed in battle. Three of his brothers, all on the Tory side, also were killed at Kings Mountain. No one has documented the cause of the split in this family.

Also, at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the historian Draper writes that after the battle, a wounded Tory by the name of Branson (Brandon, actually) asked his Whig relative, James Withrow, for help. Withrow’s reply was, “Look to your own friends for help.” This response to his brother-in-law (his wife’s brother) most certainly played a major part in the divorce petition of James and his wife, Sydney Brandon Withrow, in 1798.

In the backcountry of South Carolina, south of Ninety Six, comes the story of two sisters, Katy and Anna Adolph, daughters of Palatine German immigrants. Their story, pieced together from family documents and memorabilia, letters and historical records, tells of Katy’s marriage to Abraham Frietz, a Loyalist, and, Anna’s, to Peter Dorst, a Patriot. A great drama unfolds as the two sisters, following their husbands’ politics, find themselves at odds with each other. Ostracized in the community, Katy and other Loyalist families started a new life in Nova Scotia. The true story has a marvelous ending — the two sisters, then elderly, reunited and dealt with all the bitterness and strife of the past.

Many families, of course, were united. Fractured families were, however, at times part of the civil war aspect of the revolution — father against son, brother against brother, sister against sister, and husband against wife. This was part of a larger social drama just as much a part of the Revolution as battles and heroes. Lives were changed forever by the American Revolution.

Read or listen to stories from the diaries and texts regarding the Southern Campaign. Ask students to write of disputes they have with siblings or friends. Describe or read specific views of Whigs/Patriots and the Tories/Loyalists. Students work in teams of Whigs and Tories to debate the reasons why they support or reject the King. Play out the roles of individuals in Lincoln/ Douglas style debate, and as an argument on the street.


Students will explain the role of militia and strategies employed on both sides to engage local people in their cause.

Social Studies, Language Arts, Theatre/ Drama

Social Studies: Grade 4, Goal 2.3; Grade 8, Goals 3.2, 4.2, 4.5 Language Arts: Grade 3, Goals 5.01-5.08; Grade 4, Goals 5.01-5.09; Grade 5, Goals 5.01-5.08; Grade 6, Goals 1.03, 6.01-6.02; Grade 7, Goals 1.03, 6.01-6.02; Grade 8, Goals 6.01-6.02 Theatre: Grades 3-5, 2.1-2.3, 3.2, 3.3; Grades 6-8, 1.1-1.4, 2.1-2.3, 3.2, 3.3
South Carolina: Language Arts - Grade 3 - I-A, B, C; II-B, C; III-B: IV-B, E; Grade 4 - I-A, B; II-B; IV-A, B, F; Grade 5 - I-A, B, C; II-B; IV-A, D; Grade 6 - I-A, B, E, J; II-B; III-E; IV-A, B, C, F, G, K; Grade 7 - I-B, D H I; II-C, D; IV-B, C, E, F; Grade 8 - I-B, H, I; II-B, C; IV-A Social Studies - 3.1; 4.1.1, 4.1.7; 8.1.1; 8.1.2, 8.2.5 Drama - Component 2, Component 3

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Cowpens National Battlefield
338 New Pleasant Road

Gaffney, SC 29341


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