NPS postpones Battle of Cowpens anniversary, community steps in

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COWPENS, S.C. (WSPA) — An anniversary to commemorate a decisive battle in America’s fight for independence has been postponed amid a government shutdown. But the community is stepping in to ensure the anniversary is not a total loss.

A National Parks System spokesperson said Tuesday that the 238th anniversary event at Cowpens National Battlefield has been postponed indefinitely. 

An alert on the park’s website said Cowpens National Battlefield is closed to visitors during the government shutdown.

The event commemorating the battle was originally set for Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Revolutionary War site north of Spartanburg.

“The park currently remains closed for the safety of visitors and protection of park resources due to the lapse of appropriations,” Vanessa Smiley wrote in an email.

Smiley said a decision to reschedule the event would be made after the park reopens.     

7News has learned that some events scheduled outside the grounds of the park site will be held. 

The City of Gaffney and local chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution have partnered to be sure that the commemoration of the 238th Anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens is not a loss. 

Gaffney Marketing and Tourism Director LeighAnn Snuggs said the annual event draws one million people to the area.

She said the city has reaped some benefits over the years by holding events in partnership with the National Parks Service.

Snuggs told 7News she and other longtime partners were happy to take on more events when organizers started talking about the partial government shutdown leading to postponing the centerpiece of the event in Cowpens.

Snuggs said it’s all about tradition, family heritage, and paying respect.

“Being able to offer the location for the wreath laying ceremony, you know it’s really emotional, it’s important,” said Snuggs.

“We’d love to be at the battlefield, one of our favorite places on earth to be, but we’ll get back out there,” she added.

Here’s a list of events still planned in conjunction with the Anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens:

  • Thursday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m.: The Spartanburg Public Library and Greenville Chautauqua will present “A Revolution of Her Own! – Deborah Sampson portrayed by Judith Kalaora.” The event begins at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m.: Gaffney will open its new amphitheater for the Wreath Laying Ceremony. The amphitheater is located at 110 Railroad Avenue in downtown Gaffney. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Cherokee County History and Arts Museum, 301 College Drive, Gaffney. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: The Gaffney Visitors Center will welcome guests to a Gaffney-style ‘Boston Tea Party’ from 9am to 1pm. One of Gaffney’s newest restaurants, Boston Annie’s, will be providing hot tea, tea cake cookies, cucumber sandwiches, and cheese straws to commemorate foods of the era while having a little fun with “Boston” and “tea.” The Visitors Center is located at 210 W Frederick Street in downtown Gaffney – only a couple of blocks from the amphitheater. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wofford College will also host a special event commemorating the anniversary.

The event is free and open to the public. It’s from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18 in the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre of the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Wofford.

Mark Schneider, actor and historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, will give a performance as Banastre Tarleton. Schneider will also join a panel discussion feauring Wofford associate history professor Kenneth J. Banks and John Slaughter, superintendent for the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks Group, on the Battle of Cowpens and General Daniel Morgan.

The Battle of Cowpens was fought Jan. 17, 1781 when General Morgan led his Patriot forces in a victory against Banastre Tarleton’s British army in battle that historians say was the sole successful double envelopment during the American Revolution. 

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