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North Carolina and the American Revolution: Battles and Skirmishes
Item 8 of 15
This is a contributing entry for North Carolina and the American Revolution: Battles and Skirmishes and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
The Battle of Cowan's Ford was the last battle of the American Revolution fought in Mecklenburg County on 1 February 1781. Original battle sites are under Lake Norman. A memorial to the battle and General William Lee Davidson are located across from Duke Energy's McGuire Nuclear Station, east of the Catawba River bridge and Lincoln County line. General Cornwallis, pursuing General Nathaniel Greene, engaged in fighting at Cowan's Ford on the Catawba River. Cornwallis and his army had encamped at Ramsour's Mill before reaching the river. He planned to cross at either Beattie's Ford or Cowan's Ford. To deceive Greene, Cornwallis sent part of his troops to Beattie's Ford and the rest to Cowan's Ford. Greene anticipated the plan ad sent General William Lee Davidson, along with about 500 militia, to Cowan's Ford. Cowan's Ford had two different fords, one for wagons, one for horses. Both fords entered the river at the same place, with the horse ford longer than the wagon ford. Davidson determined that Cornwallis would send his troops through the horse ford, placing his men about 200 yards away. Cornwallis saw campfire light about 1:00 a.m. and sent his troops through the wagon ford, ordering them not to fire until safely on the other bank. A volley of fire sounded from the Whigs. Davidson was killed by when he rode to the bank to rally his men. The patriots began to scatter. The skirmish proved successful for the British. Cornwallis pursued Greene for six more weeks, eventually meeting at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

Battle of Cowan's Ford

North Carolina Historical Markers