Exhibit in Kings Mountain Visitor Center, 2022, America's Best History. Right: U.S. Monument atop the Battle trail that was dedicated in 1909, 2022, America's Best History.
Battle of Kings Mountain
They had been rankled by the massacres the British had been inflicting at battles such as Waxhaws and Camden, and the backwood loyalists in South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and more had had enough. Without the British knowing, they gathered at Sycamore Shoals then climbed the mountains and hills to a location south of the town of Kings Mountain to a spot atop a hill that the Loyalist militia under the detached force of British Major Patrick Ferguson though was safe and easy to defend. It was not. By its end, the Overmountain Men had won a decisive battle, returning the shallacking that the British and loyalists had been giving the Continental Army and their patriots since the Siege of Charleston.
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Battle of Kings Mountain Then
The area was thickly wooded and the British under Ferguson felt save atop the mountain. It had been their goal to push into North Carolina and control it; the goal of the Overmountain Men was to stop them. They gathered at Sycamore Shoals on September 25-26, 1780, led by Colonel William Campbell, Colonel Isaac Shelby, Colonel Charles McDowell, and Colonel John Sevier. As they pushed toward Ferguson's position, they were joined by additional local militia. Eventually, Ferguson knew they were coming, and sent word to Cornwallis that he needed reinforcements, which never came, and chose a spur of Kings Mountain, one hundred and fifty feet above the lowlands and waited. He was unafraid of these backwoods rubes; he had one thousand and one hundred soldiers who would best them. It was doubtful that he knew the force approaching him had one thousand four hundred.
However, a rainstorm the night before had allowed nine hundred of the best riflemen in the patriot militia under William Campbell to sneak up the mountainside. They tied their horses at the bottom, encircled the slopes, surrounding Ferguson's men. Shelby, Williams, Lacey, Cleveland, and Hambright occupied the North; Winston, McDowell, Sevier, and Campbell approached from the south. With their long rifles, they picked off the loyalists with ease, withstood two bayonet attacks, and reached the crest of the hill and victory in less than one hour.
Ferguson was dead and Cornwallis was now without his left flank; he ordered an end to the North Carolina campaign. Only eighty-seven men from the Overmountain Men were killed, wounded, or missing. For the British and their loyalists, casualties were four hundred and fifty-three with six hundred and sixty-eight captured.
Image above: Painting "Gathering of Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals, 1915, Lloyd Branson. Courtesy National Park Service and Library of Congress. Below: Photo of the Painting in the Kings Mountain Visitor Center depicting the battle. Courtesy National Park Service via America's Best History.
Battle of Kings Mountain Now
Today, there is a wonderful Visitor Center to visit. Don't get fooled by the past visitor center you first go by that now serves as the Park Headquarters. The Visitor Center is full of awesome exhibits and a film that tells you the story of the Overmountain Men. There's a one and one half mile walking trail with many waysides explaining the battle, and several monuments, including the spectacular U.S. Monument that was erected in 1909. Outside that, there are many other hiking trails, lots of woods, and a general feeling that you can almost hear the patriots shouting as you climb up that hill.
Minute Walk in History
The Overmountain Men, patriots to the Continental Army and the new USA, were vexed at the massacres that had occurred at the hands of the British and their loyalists as they headed into South Carolina in 1780. And they would march, hundreds of miles, from all directions, to launch an attack against the British on top of a mountain. Take the hike to the monument that marks the spot where the crest was breached and the patriots won the battle.
T-Shirts and Souvenirs
Battle of Kings Mountain T-Shirts and Souvenirs. Great for fans of South Carolina and the victory of the Overmountain Men patriots over the British at Kings Mountain.
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Things You Should Not Miss
1. The Visitor Center. Park rangers and volunteers can point you in the direction of what's about the outside of the park, as well as the inside park film, and many inside exhibits and paintings that make you feel like you've already walked through the forest. There are facilities there as well, which you entere from an outside entrance. The park is open year round, except some major holidays.
2. Walk the 1.5 mile interpretive trail to the battlefield and top of Kings Mountain if you are able. The waysides explain the battle well, from stories of how to fight within a dense forest, the actions of the battle, the location where British Major Ferguson died, and the monument to the men who climbed this mountain to surprise the British with their attack and victory.
3. There are days when Kings Mountain hosts living history demonstrations, evening concerts, and other special events. Call ahead or check their website to find out when they occur.