Grant will help pinpoint Cane Creek battle site

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 10:33 am

A $40,000 grant from the National Park Service will help fund a study to accurately identify and determine the location of a Revolutionary War battlefield site in southern McDowell County.

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina recently received a competitive grant of $40,000 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. This grant money will be used by the Foothills Conservancy for a study that will identify and determine the site for the Battle of Cane Creek.

This struggle occurred on Sept. 12, 1780 in what is now the Dysartsville community of McDowell County. It was a significant event in the Kings Mountain Campaign, which is considered one of the turning points in the American Revolution, according to Andrew Kota, stewardship director for the Morganton-based Foothills Conservancy.

A state highway historical marker on U.S. 64 informs people traveling through there that they are close to the site of the battle. The marker reads“Prelude to the Battle of Kings Mountain. Site of a skirmish on Sept. 12, 1780, between Loyalists and ‘Overmountain Men.’”

“In the fall of 1780, Col. Charles McDowell of Quaker Meadows assembled militia troops, about 160 men in all, with the intention of ambushing the Loyalist forces of Major James Dunlap and Major Patrick Ferguson,” reads the website for the state highway historical markers program. “McDowell selected a strategic site for the ambush at Bedford Hill, commanding Cowan’s Ford on Cane Creek. In the clash between forces on September 12 (the date is recorded in Lt. Anthony Allaire’s diary), both sides suffered fatalities and Major Dunlap was wounded in the leg.”

The news of this battle spread across the region and made the Patriot forces more determined to seek out Ferguson and his Loyalist troops. Although the fighting at Cane Creek was indecisive, it inspired the Overmountain Men and they won a major victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain a month later, according to the state historic markers website.

Kota said the Foothills Conservancy wants to accurately pinpoint the site of this battle so it can be preserved for future generations.

“We will hire a subcontractor who does these types of archaeological surveys,” he said to The McDowell News. “Hopefully, the end result will be a preservation report.”

U.S. 64 is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which is maintained by the National Park Service. Every year, re-enactors with the Overmountain Victory Trail Association recreate the route taken by those Patriots more than 200 years ago. Kota said the Foothills Conservancy will work with the OVTA and the National Park Service in determining and preserving the Cane Creek battlefield site.

Once the site is determined, the Foothills Conservancy and others will work with landowners so the battlefield may be preserved.

“We are proud to support projects like this that safeguard and preserve American battlefields,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “These places are symbols of individual sacrifice and national heritage that we must protect so that this and future generations can understand the struggles that define us as a nation.”

This grant is one of 24 National Park Service grants totaling $1.127 million to preserve and protect significant battle sites from all wars fought on American soil.