Heritage Holidays in Appalachia

Over Mountain Men & The Fourth Of July

over the mountain

Most historians agree the Battle Of Kings Mountain in South Carolina was the turning point in the American Revolutionary War. The moment in time when the Patriots took the upper hand in force, and I believe in spirit as well.

British General Cornwallis invaded North Carolina in September 1780. Major Patrick Ferguson established a base camp near Charlotte. Ferguson decided to draw the Patriots from West of the Blue Ridge Mountains out by giving them a warning-If they did not desist their fight against Britain he would bring his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waste to their country with fire and sword.

In the eyes of the British most of the non-Indian settlers who lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains were there illegally. Much of the land had not yet been included in the British Colonies (at this time there were only 10 colonies).

Ferguson’s message was delivered to Militia Colonel Isaac Shelby from Tennessee. Shelby immediately took council with John Sevier another Patriot Militia leader. The two leaders decided the best course to take- was to gather as many men as they could and confront Ferguson head on. Colonel William Campbell, Colonel Charles McDowell, and Andrew Hampton were also enlisted to bring their militiamen into the fight.

As the Appalachian Frontiersmen banded together and joined the Patriot Leaders in their decision to take the fight over the mountain to Ferguson, they became known as Over Mountain Men.

The willingness of the men to join the battle has been attributed to the fierce independent spirit of frontiersmen and to the provoked reaction of Ferguson’s threat. In part that is true, after all these men had chosen to settle on Indian land without protection from the British to ensure their complete independence.

The reality of the situation: If the British won the war, their days of being Over Mountain Men would be over. If they were allowed to live, they would most certainly be removed from their home-places and shipped back east and possibly face extradition back to England. In truth, the Over Mountain Men were fighting for their right to live in a free land that was their very own.

When the Over Mountain Men met on September 25, 1780 they were 1,000 men strong. The next day the march over the mountain begin. They soon learned Ferguson had fled after hearing of their approach. The leaders decided to pursue Ferguson as far as it was necessary to attack him and his troops.

On October 7, 1780 the Patriots surrounded Ferguson and his troops who were staged on Kings Mountain.

Even though the Patriots had no military training, no orders, no uniforms or provisions, and no promise of pay, in a little more than an hour Ferguson and his troops were decimated by the Over Mountain Men. The frontiersmen were practiced at shooting moving targets as they hunted game to provide food for their families and the rifles of the Patriots made for easier and faster shooting than the muskets of Ferguson’s troops.

“Kings Mountain was the beginning of the successful end to the Revolution, assuring independence for the United States of America. On an unimposing and obscure mountain, Americans fought Americans to determine their destiny. The citizen militia of the community, the predecessors of today’s National Guard and Reserves – like volunteer fire departments – organized to protect their community. Men without formal training or recognized social standing – Ferguson called them mongrels – took hold of their destinies, just like the men who began the American War for Independence on April 19,1775, at Lexington and Concord. They relied upon their individual initiative, skills with the rifle, and courage to ensure the success of their cause.” (TNGenWeb Project.)

Happy Fourth Of July to all- Over the mountains and beyond!!


p.s. If you would like to learn more about Over Mountain Men and their part in the American Revolutionary War please visit TNGenWeb Project.

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  • Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 8:01 am

    William-Thank you for commenting on my site! And for pointing out my mistake-it’s not my history book I need to check-it’s my typing/editing skills : ) Very nice that you have a connection to Col Hampton.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    william hughes
    August 28, 2011 at 6:59 am

    The Battle of Kings Mtn was fought in South Carolina not North Carolina.better check your history book.

  • Reply
    william hughes
    August 28, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Col Andrew Hampton is my 6th great grandfather on my father’s side.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2010 at 6:37 am

    It’s a fascinating incident, but this account is seemingly quite deliberately skipping a key point: this wasn’t Americans vs British, it was American patriot vs American loyalist, Ferguson was the only confirmed Brit though it was likely there were other British born men on both sides.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 15, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Dear Tipper,
    Loved your “Over Mountain Men.” I’ve been doing much research on the patriots in my Dyer-Souther-Collins-Hunter-England-Nix-and other family lines to find those who served in the American Revolution. So many of my ancestors were “Over Mountain Men.” Can you come to our reunion Saturday, July 18, at Choestoe Baptist Church, 8 miles south of Blairsville (Hwy 180–Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway Road)? You would be genuinely welcome. Our program will feature our patriots. Thanks for a wonderful lesson in history!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 10, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Mongrels, aye, Mr Larry is a native of Tenn. Those over the mountain men are still a fiercely independent people.
    We could take a page from their books now!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I love the history….I have to admit I was always bored by it as a kid but you make it much more interesting.

  • Reply
    Petra Michelle
    July 6, 2008 at 11:33 am

    *laughing* The Ride. I can see that as a mini-script already; thanks to you! Appreciate your votes. Petra p.s. my feet immediately start tapping when I visit!

  • Reply
    Petra Michelle
    July 6, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Hello Tipper, Stumbled upon your website and immediately felt at home, not that I’m from the Appalachians, but have always had an affinity for bluegrass. I highly recommend the film SONGCATCHER which is about a music historian who comes upon a treasure trove of music and befriends the locals. It’s so beautiful, as is your home and music. Thank you for letting me visit. petra michelle

  • Reply
    Razor Family Farms
    July 6, 2008 at 1:28 am

    I just thought I would pop in and wish you a lovely weekend. I’m wide awake at 1:30 in the morning with church in just a few hours. I can’t sleep at all for feeling so ill because I had my last in the series rabies shot. That shot just makes me feel dreadful. I can’t lay still because my skin hurts (like I have a horrible fever) and I can’t do much of anything else because I don’t have the energy.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    The Overmountain Men were touched on in history class, but just barely. They were a huge, very important part of winning this countries independace. Wonderful post, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    July 5, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Wow! Great post and a fine rendition of a history most don’t know about. I really took my time reading this and looking at the pictures … and listening to the music which is my weakness. 🙂 Hadn’t heard Doc Watson’s Shady Grove in a long while. So nice, and you know I always enjoy hearing Paul play.
    Thank you for putting me in your Sit a Spell list. xxoo

  • Reply
    July 5, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    What an awesome post. I had forgotten about the Battle of King’s Mountain and was glad of the reminder. I love American history, even though I am Canadian. I’ve just read two books about the revolution that are fiction based on fact: Washington’s Lady and The Spider Catcher. They were both great.
    Happy Independence Day to you, though I am a bit late.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    July 5, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Tipper: What a wonderful story of the Mountain Men’s victory. Happy 4th to you and the family.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Very nice post. We spent yesterday at a Revolutionary War fort that’s close to home here. We’ve traveled all over the country teaching our son history, it’s so important that we all learn and remember. Fireworks and picnics are fun, but it’s a shame more folks don’t think about the sacrifices so many made for our country so long ago.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    July 5, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Wonderful bit of American history, perfect for our Independence Day celebrations. My kids asked me what special things we do for our county on the 4th of July…I told them one thing we can do is learn about how our nation became a nation. There are so many stories to be told, I could tell a new one every year and never run out! And you’ve given me a new one to tell. Thank you and have a fabulous weekend.

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    I never know what interesting information I’ll find on this site, Tipper. It is one of my favorite places to go. Thanks for the history lesson. I love to learn new things.

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Tipper, this is very interesting. It makes the history so alive and real! You do such an amazing job chronicling (sp? That looks funny to me) a region, its people, and its history. This is a service that is not to be underestimated.
    Now, I just have to tell you how much your sweet comments mean to me over at My Garden Hat. Girl, you lift me up! Thank you, thank you. I’m new around here and don’t get many comments, so sweet ones like yours have a great impact on me, and I appreciate you more than you can know.
    Also, about that fancy thing you did — what was it? jumped? tracked? what?? I don’t know what that is, but it sounds like a compliment, so you have my blessings.
    But stop trying to confuse me, ok? LOL

  • Reply
    Razor Family Farms
    July 4, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    I loved this post! So perfect for the Fourth of July and remembering how many died fighting for the right to simply live on this land and enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted.

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Um, like, you are totally, like *chomps gum annoyingly* so smart! *flips hair* I’m, like, impressed!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Happy 4th to you and yours!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    What a great story. I don’t think they taught us this part of our history in Chicago public schools.
    What would I do without you blogger-teachers.
    Well then, happy independence and Independence Day.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    July 4, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Happy 4th to you and your family. How interesting this was. I love learning about history like this!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    What a fabulous history lesson!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for the great “history lesson” I love history! It is so important! As well as interesting! Can you imagine being a woman in those days! We have it so easy now!!
    I hope you have a Safe and Sparkely Independance Day!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 11:54 am

    This is a great story and a good reminder that even roles that seem small can have a big impact. We all have a job to do. God bless.

  • Reply
    The Texican
    July 4, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Happy 4th Tipper. A very interesting post. Thanks for providing us with that bit of American history. I always get a great feeling of pride when I read of these brave men who started our great country. Glad you and Chitter stopped by Pappy’s today. Hope you and your family have a great 4th of July weekend. Pappy

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Happy 4th! And thanks for posting this important part of our history. I grew up going to the outdoor play at Sycamore Shoals Fort, practically in my own backyard, about the mustering of the Overmountain Men, and I love hiking the part of the AT that crosses their trail. I also have so many fond memories of seeing “Horn in the West” in Boone. It’s another fantastic outdoor drama that chronicles the lives of some of the Overmountain Men.
    What’s most amazing to me about those stories is the way these independent settlers managed to live and trade with the Cherokee as long as bigger government didn’t get involved. Things were not ideal, but there was a mostly peaceful coexistence.
    Anyway, wish we were spending the 4th with my fiercely independent mountain relatives!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Great post, Tipper.
    I was on a field trip there with my youngest. We heard the story, walked to the top of that mountain and back down. Checked out the museum.It was a very interesting trip.

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