Memorializing the Historical Battle and Death





A letter was written in November of 1969 to Dr. Chalmers Davidson, from Richard R. Pierce, manager of News Services at Duke power. This letter to the Davidson College history professor approved of details of the new General William Lee Davidson commemoration plaque artwork that would take place. Sequential letters show that Dr. Davidson funded the making of the historical plaque and revolutionary era canon, and oversaw Duke Energy’s proceedings in creating the new commemoration pieces. Landscape architect Jack Hurst was hired by Duke Energy to design the layout of the site, also approved through Dr. Davidson.



WLD_Dedication_card003Before this most recent 1971 monument site erection and dedication, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) devoted a plaque on May 20, 1964 in General Davidson’s honor. (1). A copy of the invitation is visible on the right. This dedication took place at Duke Power’s Cowan’s Ford Dam, which at that time was still under construction. Mrs. T. S. Sadler, Organizing Regent and Chaplain of the

WLD-CO_articlelocal DAR chapter, made the dedication. Interestingly, Dr. Chalmers Davidson spoke at this dedication as well. As Chalmers recants at the dedication, “[The Battle at Cowan’s Ford] was an American defeat. The battle did not change the course of history, but [he] sacrificed his life in what he believed”(2). This plaque, seen in the Charlotte Observer clipping to the left, is still visible on the east side of Cowan’s Ford Dam.





Baxter1Baxter2Continuing further back into time to 1923, E.L Baxter Davidson (1858-1944), another of the General’s descendants, erected the original 8 foot stone marker (left) commemorating the location where General Davidson fell off his horse and died on the banks of the Catawba River during the Cowan’s Ford Battle (3)(4). The pillar was one of four historical markers made of local stones and rocks that Baxter up took on his own expense and volition (4). This pillar was relocated from its original Beatties Ford Road location to the modern memorial site after Duke Energy discovered it when they started the deforestation for the McGuire Station site near Cowan’s Ford Dam in the 1960s (5).



DC060-23During the dedication on February 1, 1971, President of Duke Power Co., W.B McGuire welcomed the guests at the dedication (right). Mrs. E.W.
Morgan, president of Mecklenburg Historical Society, presided over this  190th commemorative, anniversary ceremony. Also presiding at the dedication were Preston B. Wilkes, DAR Honorary State Reagent, and Dr. Chalmers Davidson, the current Director of Davidson College Library at the time. Extended family descendants of the young General were in attendance as well. Visible at the memorial site today is the relocated E.L. Davidson’s original stone pillar, the 1971 plaque, and revolutionary era cannon.





Cited Sources:

1. Davidson College Archives-Plaque Honors General The Charlotte News. Thurs. May 21, 1964.

2. Davidson College Archives- Manuscript collection- DC060; Box 3 – Monuments—collection of letters

3. An Eternal Salute: General William Lee Davidson. Duke Power Magazine. Page 5, March 1971.

4. E.L Baxter Davidson House. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. March 3, 1998.<>

5. Davidson College Archives- Mini park for Summer Fun was Dedicated in Freezing Weather. By Sarah Nixon. Page 8, Mount Holly News, Thursday Feb. 11, 1971.