Kings Mountain

The battle of Kings Mountain was unique in all of American history. An army of true citizen soldiers rose up to meet a threat to themselves and their families. They did not need a government to organize or direct them. On their own, they assembled, marched several hundred miles and then utterly destroyed a part of Cornwallis’ British forces.

There is a serious lesson in American resourcefulness in the victory at Kings Mountain.

It started with a threat from the British officer, Major Patrick Ferguson. He was a very capable officer. He had been put in charge of raising and commanding Loyalist soldiers in the Upstate. He was very successful in doing this. By October, 1780, he had recruited many Tory or Loyalist soldiers into service for the King. Ferguson’s army was active in raiding and plundering Whig or Patriot farms and settlements in the South Carolina Backcountry. They camped up and down Fairforest Creek and raided places like the Grindal Shoals settlement. They were ruthless and terrorized the people, men, women and children alike.

In the summer of 1780, some of the Patriot civilian militia started to fight back against Ferguson. Some of the militia men, like Isaack Shelby, did not live in South Carolina but were from the “overmountain” settlements over the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Watauga River. They attacked places like Fort Thicketty and Musgrove Mill.

 Ferguson found out about the Overmountain Men and decided he must stop them from opposing him. He decided to scare them and decided to send them a warning. He sent a message saying if they did not “Desist from their opposition to the British army, and take protection under his standard, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.”

Ferguson did not understand the independent Scotch Irish frontiersmen. His message had exactly the opposite effect than what he wanted. It was like pouring gasoline on an open fire.

The Overmountain Men assembled themselves into an army of about 1400 men. They began a march of over 200 miles to find and kill Ferguson and his army. They treated his threat like they would have an attack by a bear or wolf that was threatening their family.

They were joined by about 500 other militia from North and South Carolina. By the night of October 6th, they arrived at Hannah’s Cowpens in present Cherokee County, South Carolina.  After a council of their leaders they decided that the men that were mounted with good horses would go on ahead and the rest would follow on foot. About 900 men went on ahead.  Informants had brought word that Ferguson had camped with his army of about 1100 men on the top of Kings Mountain about 25 miles away. They traveled all night in the rain to catch Ferguson.

They arrived about 3pm, surrounded the mountain and began the attack. The battle lasted only about an hour. They killed Ferguson and 244 of his soldiers, wounded 163 others and captured 688 more. The Patriots killed several of the Tories who tried to surrender before their officers could stop them.

Patrick Ferguson had made a terrible mistake and had threatened the wrong people. Read the full details of the battle at Battle of Kings Mountain.

 


This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster.  Contact me at:
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