Gowens Fort

Gowen's Fort.

Other name:

What: Massacre, Maj. John Gowen vs. *Capt. William Bates, 1 Nov 1781

Where: 35.14195, -82.19705

Maps: [map notes]

  • 35.14195 -82.19705, Gowen's Fort
  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google
  • Confidence: 3

  • 35.141180,-82.198660, Williams' Mill, confirmation of fort location
  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google
  • Confidence: 5 (of mill)


    • NBBAS:Three, p.380-381.
      Gowen’s Fort, South Carolina
      1 November 1781

      Captain 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. It was said that Bates “possessed all the vices of his Indian associates, without a single one of their virtues.” Bates was known as “Bloody Bill” and “Plundering Scout” due to his barbaric attacks on the settlements.

      Around the 1st of November Bates led a party of Chicamauga Indians and Loyalists disguised as Indians to attack the settlements located near present-day Landrum. The leader of the Indians was Dragging Canoe. The settler’s in the area fled to Earle’s Fort and Gowen’s Fort.

      At Gowen’s Fort the defenders were the local settlers who put up a good defense. The fort had been attacked in the past and and the defenders were able to defeat the Indians, but this time there was a shortage of ammunition. The garrison surrendered on the condition that they would be protected from the Indians. Bates agreed to their terms, but as soon as the gates opened he ordered the Indians and Tories to kill everyone. The Tories slaughtered men, women, and children. Some of the defenders were taken alive to be taken back to the mountains where they would be burned at the stake. The slaves in the fort were also taken away.

      Before Major 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. 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.

    • Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783 , 1902, p.477-478.

    • John Belton O'Neall Landrum, Colonial and Revolutionary History of Upper South Carolina:, 1897, p.33. Places Gowens' Fort near Williams' Mill.

    • Henry Gardner Cutler, History of South Carolina, 1920, p.427. Years later, Bates was killed by a member of the Motley family.

    • Sherman, "Calendar..." . Search for gowen. . To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

    • RevWar75   Nov 1781 listing. 11/1/1781 Gowen's Fort (Thomson's Fort, Wood's Fort). Shown as British victory.

    Related sites:
    Blockhouse,   McDowell's Camp on the N.Pacolet,   Earle's Fort,   Earle's Ford,   Earle's Plantation,  

    Confidence level: 3