Rural Hill Farm
Center of Scottish Heritage
4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, NC, 28078
FOR RELEASE JANUARY 3, 2005
Contact: Keets F. Taylor, Executive Director
TO ARMS! GENERAL CORNWALLIS AND THE BRITISH ARMY
ARE CROSSING THE CATAWBA RIVER!
Huntersville, NC - 1781 - See the Spirit of the Hornets Nest! Just as it
was in the days of the American Revolution, Patriots and Redcoats will
clash in battle as the Battles of Cowan’s Ford and Cowpens are re-enacted
at Rural Hill Farm on February 19th and 20th, 2005.
The gates open at 10:00 am. Learn from demonstrations such as a Militia
Drill, 18th Century dancing, and weaponry displays. Experienced folk
artisans demonstrate 18th Century skills and crafts such as basketry,
candle dipping, cooking, pewter smithing, spinning, weaving,
blacksmithing, soap making, quilting, woodworking, storytelling and music.
See what they wore (clothing). Learn and enjoy Colonial children’s games.
The co-hosting reenactment units are The 6th North Carolina, The 2nd
Regiment South Carolina Line, Continental Establishment and The Royal
North Carolina Regiment.
On Saturday, February 19th the reenactment of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford
will be presented at 2:00 PM followed by the pageantry of the Grand Muster
On Sunday, February 20th the Memorial to General William Lee Davidson will
be presented at 11:30 AM, musket demonstrations at 12:30 PM, the
reenactment of the Battle of Cowpens at 2:00 PM followed by the Grand
Muster and Parade.
Admission for Adults - $6.00, Seniors (60+) $5.00, youth (5 - 17 years)-
4 and under Free ($1.00 off each ticket purchased by February 10, 2005)
MC/VISA accepted. Admission includes the re-enactment activities and tours
of the Cultural Center. Concessions and Colonial crafts are available for
Alcohol is prohibited. All events handicap accessible. Access to Cultural
Center limited. All events will be held rain, snow, sleet or shine.
Remember there is no such thing as bad weather just improper clothing.
There will be NO REFUNDS.
The Spirit of the Hornet’s Nest is sponsored by:
Corporate partners: -Coca-Cola Consolidated, The McIntosh Law Firm and
McCall Brothers, Inc
And supported by EnergyUnited, Town of Cornelius, Tathwell Printing,
Town of Huntersville, Lake Norman Convention & Visitors Bureau, Windswept
Hauser Rentals, McMahan Audio Visuals, Family Cleaners and Artisan Signs &
Rural Hill Farm-Center of Scottish Heritage is a Mecklenburg County
historic property managed by the Catawba Valley Scottish Society, Inc.
(CVSS), facilitated in cooperation with Mecklenburg County Park &
Recreation. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has
oversight of plans for restoration and preservation. The CVSS was
chartered in 1992 and has received confirmation of its non-profit 501c3
The Story of the Battle of Cowan's Ford...
During the last weeks of January 1781 Lord Cornwallis, the British
commander in the South, was in hot pursuit of patriot forces under General
Daniel Morgan following their victory over the British Lt. Col. Banastre
Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17th. General Morgan sent
orders to General William Lee Davidson of the Salisbury Militia District
to muster his forces and defend the Catawba River crossings, giving
General Morgan’s forces time to link up with General Nathanael Greene’s
General Davidson summoned the men of Mecklenburg and Rowan counties,
gathering 800 men at Rural Retreat (the modern Rural Hill Farm), the home
of Major John Davidson, William Lee Davidson’s cousin. From Rural Retreat,
the militiamen marched to Beattie’s Ford on the Catawba River where, on
January 31st, they confronted the British advance. The presence of so many
armed men gave Cornwallis pause. His hesitation was reinforced when he
noticed that the American Southern Commander, General Nathanael Greene,
was present on the opposite bank of the river.
Because of the uncertainty of the situation, Cornwallis did not try to
cross the Catawba that day. During the night the British army divided,
with half of the troops remaining on the western bank at Beattie’s Ford
while the other half marched down the Catawba River to Cowan’s Ford. The
plan was to have the troops at Beattie’s Ford feign an assault; the troops
sent to Cowan’s Ford would cross the river and deliver the knockout punch
from an unexpected direction.
General Davidson, however, knew about Cornwallis’ preferred battle tactics
and moved to counter the British plan. He assembled a total of 300 men at
Cowan’s Ford. When the 1,200 British troops began to advance at dawn there
was no surprise, except possibly for the British! Patriot musket fire
greeted the British as they crossed the river, slowing down their
progress.. The Patriot forces were too small to do more than delay the
British crossing. Slowly, the Patriots made an orderly retreat to a ridge
about 120 yards from the river's edge. Then, as General Davidson was
organizing a new battle line a single shot killed him.
The sight of their fallen leader took all the fight out of the Patriot
forces. They had fought courageously against a much larger force for about
45 minutes, but now without a General to lead them they turned and fled,
scattering in all directions while the British turned their attention to
securing the field of battle. Cowan’s Ford was a Patriot defeat, but it
did give Daniel Morgan's men time to get across the Yadkin River and unite
with Nathaniel Greene's forces. Cornwallis' effort to catch Morgan had
The Patriots may have lost the battle, but their main objective was
accomplished. But who shot General Davidson? The fatal rifle bullet was a
small one, not a regulation size round from a Brown Bess musket. Suspicion
immediately fell upon Frederick Hager, a local loyalist who had guided the
redcoats to Cowan’s Ford, as it was known that he owned a rifle which
could have fired the shot. Hager did nothing to change people’s minds,
fleeing to Tennessee and remaining there even when other Loyalists
returned to North Carolina around the war. He then moved on to the
Arkansas River country with eight or ten others, all said to be “fugitives
from justice” when members of the Davidson family moved into Tennessee
some years later.
Cowan’s Ford was located on the Catawba River just north of Highway #73
where the Cowan’s Ford Dam hydroelectric plant is now located. A monument
to General William Lee Davidson is located near by as well as one at
Hopewell Presbyterian Church where he is buried.
Special Event Notice:
"The Spirit of the Hornet's Nest" program will celebrate the events of
January and February, 1781, with re-enactments of the Battle of Cowpens
and The Battle of Cowan's Ford. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)
will lay a wreath in honor of our Patriots who fought in these battles
plus special recognition for General William Lee Davidson. The memorial
service will be officiated by Rev. Jeff Lowrance:
Location: Davidson Family Cemetery, Rural Hill Farm
Date: Saturday, February 19, 2005
Time: 10:00 am service
NC Central Area V-Pres