October 7th, my niece Cailin’s birthday, is the anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain, an epic conflict that took place in what is now North Carolina, then South Carolina, and one that many Virginians took part in. Also a sadly much overlooked battle. The ramifications were huge. So why haven’t more people heard of it?
To quote The Sons of Liberty: “Many historians consider the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780 to be the turning point in America’s War for Independence. The victory of rebelling American Patriots over British Loyalist troops completely destroyed the left wing of Cornwallis’ army.
This decisive battle successfully ended the British invasion into North Carolina and forced Lord Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte into South Carolina to wait for reinforcements. This triumphant victory of the Overmountain Men allowed General Nathanael Greene the opportunity to reorganize the American Army.”
It seems to me that a battle of such enormous significance should not be forgotten, yet few today have heard of Kings Mountain, let alone are aware of the significance attached to that name. I’m doing my best to keep its memory alive.
Back when I was doing research for my first colonial frontier novel (Red Bird’s Song) and pouring through old annals, I continually came across references to Kings Mountain. The battle, unknown to me then, impressed itself upon me through the pride these early Scots-Irish forebears had in having taken part, so I made a mental note to go back at some point and discover more.
I learned about the gallant, ill-fated British Major Patrick Ferguson who lost his life and Loyalist army atop that Carolina Mountain called Kings back in the fall of 1780. And the hardy, valiant, sometimes downright mean Overmountain men of Scots heritage didn’t take kindly to Ferguson’s warning that they desist from rebellion or he’d bring fire and sword upon them and hang all their leaders––all these enemies of the King! (*Monument at the Kings Mountain battle field)
So impressed was I by the accounts I read that I featured the battle in my Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King. The battle is a fitting culmination of this adventure romance novel.
I’ve visited the site of the battle twice, walked the wooded knob, read the markers, admired the monument engraved with the names of the Patriots who fought there, paused by the stone cairn where British Major Patrick Ferguson is buried, and communed with the past. Those who have gone before us and all they sacrificed in the founding of this country should not be forgotten–nor those who are sacrificing now– especially with all the challenges America faces.
If you agree with me in the vital importance of remembering those who fell in historic battles like King’s Mountain, then take a moment to reflect, and never ever forget. Without those men, and women, we would not be the United States of America. Without those serving our country now, we would cease to be.
I’ve included a pensive, prophetic quote below from the fallen Patrick Ferguson, whom I admire, despite his having been on the ‘other side.‘ He was one of the better British officers with much integrity. He spared George Washington’s life on an earlier occasion because he would’ve had to shoot General Washington in the back as he was surveying the field before the Battle of Brandywine and that seemed dishonorable. I agree.
I’ll bet ‘Bloody Ban‘ Banastre Tarleton, a much hated British officer very prominent in the Southern face of the American Revolution, would have taken the shot. Ferguson invented the rifle that bears his name and was a crack shot. He wouldn’t have missed Washington. Life really isn’t fair, Ferguson was wounded at the battle of Brandywine and nearly lost his arm. Tarleton survived the war and went home to a hero’s welcome. So a tribute to Ferguson here and a boo to Tarleton.
“The length of our lives is not at our command however much the manner of them may be. If our creator enables us to act the part of honor and conduct ourselves with spirit, probity, and humanity the change to another world whether now or fifty years hence will not be for the worse.” ~Patrick Ferguson
**The image above of the battle is on many sites. Here’s one.