Pickens, Andrew

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Pickens, Andrew

PICKENS, ANDREW. (1739–1817). Militia general. South Carolina. Born near Paxton, Pennsylvania, on 19 September 1739, Andrew Pickens moved south with his parents and other Scotch-Irish families through the Shenandoah Valley, where they lived for a while. They ultimately settled on an 800-acre holding on Waxhaw Creek, South Carolina. Two years after taking part in James Grant's expedition against the Cherokee in 1761, Pickens and his brother sold their inheritance and obtained lands on Long Cane Creek in South Carolina. At the outbreak of the Revolution he was a farmer and justice of the peace. As a captain of militia, he took part in the conflict at Ninety Six on 19 November 1775. His services in the war against the Loyalists over the next two years brought him promotion to colonel, and he contributed greatly to the Patriot victory at the battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia, on 14 February 1779.

After the surrender of Charleston in May 1780 and the subsequent conquest of the southern states by the British, Pickens surrendered a fort in the Ninety-Six district and, with 300 of his men, went home on parole. When Captain James Dunlap's Loyalists plundered his plantation, Pickens gave notice that his parole was no longer valid and took the field again. With Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter he was one of the most prominent partisan leaders in the subsequent guerrilla warfare of the region.

For his part in the victory at Cowpens, South Carolina, on 17 January 1781, he was given a sword by Congress and a commission as brigadier general from his state. In April of that year he raised a regiment of "state regulars" who were to be paid according to Sumter's Law, which permitted soldiers to take their pay in plunder gained from Loyalists. With these forces, Pickens had an active part in the capture of Augusta, Georgia, and the unsuccessful siege of Ninety-Six, May-June 1781. He and his troops also took part in the last pitched battle in the south, at Eutaw Springs, on 8 September 1781, where he was wounded. He contributed to the final operations in the South by carrying out punitive expeditions against the Cherokee in 1782.

Elected to represent the Ninety-Six district in the Jacksonboro Assembly in 1783, Pickens served in the state legislature until 1788, returning in 1796–1799, and 1812–1813. He was also elected to the state senate, in which he served from 1790 to 1791, and to Congress, from 1793 to 1795. In 1794 he became major general of the South Carolina militia, and for many years was engaged in dealing with the Indians on boundary matters. Pickens favored a peace policy, helping to negotiate the Hopewell and Coleraine Treaties (1786 and 1796, respectively). He died at his Tamassee, South Carolina, plantation on 11 August 1817.

SEE ALSO Kettle Creek, Georgia; Pickens's Punitive Expeditions.


Andrew Pickens Collection. San Marino, Calif.: Henry E. Huntington Library.

Andrew Pickens Papers. Columbia, S.C.: South Caroliniana Library.

Waring, Alice Noble. The Fighting Elder: Andrew Pickens, 1739–1817. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1962.

                                   revised by Michael Bellesiles