CHEROKEE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – On this Independence Day, let’s take a moment to remember our first veterans, such as those who fought for freedom at places like Cowpens and Kings Mountain.
Another Cherokee County site — Fort Thicketty — had long been forgotten by history, until now.
A wooden building — rotting, remote and rundown — located near some of the most celebrated battles of the Revolutionary War is what’s left of Fort Thicketty.
The building is slowly being restored to what would have been an impressive colonial fortification as early as the 1750s.
“It was built as a place of refuge if there were Native American attacks or a meeting point along the trail,” Joe Johnson, with the Cherokee County Historical and Preservation Society, said.
Johnson and the preservation society bought the old fort in 2014, and have begun the slow work of rebuilding it with its original lumber, while they and other Upstate historians re-discover the history of the site itself — an important patriot victory won without a single shot fired.
Inside the fort in late July 1780, nearly 100 British loyalists, under the command of Capt. Patrick Moore, were surrounded by about 600 patriots and Col. Isaac Shelby.
“That night, they sent out a message to Capt. Moore and asked him if he wanted to surrender and the story goes that he said he would never surrender,” Johnson said.
Rather than risk a dangerous assault, Shelby understood the power of his united American militia. They took the fort just by standing together.
“Col. Shelby told his men to step out of the forest and show their strength,” Tom Weidner, who runs the Revolutionary War Museum and Library in Simpsonville, said.
The sight of 600 patriots was enough to force a British surrender.
“The main reason that there’s not a lot of history about it, again, there was no battle there,” Johnson said.
But what happened there would affect the course of the war.
“Word got back to Lord Cornwallis up in Charlotte that the fort was taken,” Weidner said. “He was none too happy, so he had Ferguson, Patrick Ferguson, with a large force and ultimately ended up at Kings Mountain and that was a major British loss.”
“Obviously, we’re very proud of Cowpens and Kings Mountain, and those are big historical events that have been known for years and years,” Johnson said. “This is kind of like a big rediscovery of history that can be very exciting.”
Later this month, on Saturday, July 27, there will be a celebration of the Liberation of Fort Thicketty right at the site of the old fort itself.
The celebration will start at 10 a.m.