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.