Who was Andrew Pickens?

March 7th, 2012

Andrew Pickens was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1739. His Scots-Irish family Andrew moved south in search of new land, living in Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley, later in the Waxhaw settlement along the North Carolina-South Carolina border, and eventually in the Long Cane settlement in Abbeville County, South Carolina, bordering Georgia.

At Long Canes, Pickens would marry and start a family. He farmed and became prosperous trading with his Indian neighbors. An ardent patriot as the American Revolution approached, Pickens became a military leader during the war. He led expeditions against the Loyalist-allied Cherokee and in 1779, when Sir Henry Clinton sent British troops into South Carolina to bolster support for the Loyalists, Pickens and his three-hundred man militia defeated a larger British force under Colonel Boyd at Kettle Creek in North Georgia. Pickens was later captured by the British and took an oath to sit out the remainder of the war. But when Tories destroyed much of his property and frightened his family, he gathered his militia and fought with them as a guerilla unit against the British. Under Daniel Morgan, Pickens’ militia played a key role in the defeat of the Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens as they feigned retreat and then counterattacked the British Regulars.

After the Revolution, Pickens acquired land in western South Carolina on the banks of the Keowee River and built a house called Hopewell. Highly respected by the Cherokees who called him “Wizard Owl,” he served as a commissioner for negotiating a treaty with the Southern Indians. Later he became a Congressman. In this document, Henry Knox presents  Pickens with a sword from Congress, citing his “spirited conduct” at Cowpens.