ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Kings Mountain, SC
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Kings Mountain, SC
|Kings Mountain National Military Park
The interpretive trail passes Major Ferguson's cairn
(right) as it descends from the crest of the mountain
at Kings Mountain National Military Park.
Battle of Kings Mountain
The towering monument on
the crest of Kings Mountain
pays tribute to the victory of
the Overmountain Men.
Slopes of Kings Mountain
The rugged terrain of the
mountain actually favored the
frontiersmen as they attacked
Ferguson's Tories from all
points of the compass.
Kings Mountain National Military Park - South Carolina
Battle of Kings Mountain, SC
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: July 10, 2012
American Revolution in the South
These stone markers pay
tribute to Patriot officers killed
at Kings Mountain. Among
them was Major William
Crest of Kings Mountain
It is difficult to conceive the
bloodshed and horror that
once took place on the now
peaceful mountain crest.
Erected in 1880 on the 100th
anniversary of the battle, the
Centennial Monument stands
near one end of the British
The Battle of Kings Mountain was the bloody
result of one of the most dramatic episodes
of the American Revolution.
The battlefield is preserved today at Kings
Mountain National Military Park, located near
Blacksburg, South Carolina. The park
features monuments, interpretive trails, a
museum and the entire scene of the battle.
The fight at Kings Mountain was a dramatic
turning point of the Revolutionary War. The
British had overrun much of South Carolina
and were preparing to advance north to
Virginia, subjugating the South as they
moved. The battle so disrupted these plans
that Thomas Jefferson called it, "The turn of
the tide of success."
Along with the Battle of Cowpens that
followed a few months later, Kings Mountain
put the two nations on the road to Yorktown
and American independence.
As part of his effort to end the revolution in the
Carolinas, British general Lord Cornwallis
ordered Major Patrick Ferguson to advance
into the Carolina back country and pacify the
region through the force of arms. Ferguson
was the commander of a battalion of 1,000
Loyalists (called Tories by the Patriots).
More than strong enough to sweep away any
of the disorganized American militia units
that opposed them, Ferguson and his well-
trained men advanced to Gilbert Town in
North Carolina, where they recruited, looted
and generally caused havoc. It was here that
the highly regarded British major made a
Across the Blue Ridge in Tennessee were
individuals that Ferguson called the "back
water men." Rugged frontiersmen, they
wished primarily to be left alone, although
they were willing and had fought on the side
of the Patriots in several engagements. They
are remembered with reverence today as the
famed "Overmountain men."
When the Overmountain men refused to take
the loyalty oath to King George III as ordered
by Ferguson, he sent a message across the
mountains to them. In it he warned them to
comply with his instructions or he would
march across the mountains to "hang their
leaders, and lay their country waste with fire
The threat did not go over well with the men
of Tennessee. On September 26, 1780, they
gathered at Sycamore Shoals under their
leaders, Colonels William Campbell, Isaac
Shelby, Charles McDowell and John Sevier.
The next morning, even though icy winds and
snow had settled on the mountains, they
began a long hard march to find Ferguson
and return his threat with fire.
Driven by their outrage, the Overmountain
men emerged from the Blue Ridge and
reached Gilbert Town on October 4th. Having
been informed that they were coming, the
British had already retreated and were falling
back into South Carolina towards the main
army under Cornwallis. Reinforced by more
militia from east of the mountains as they
advanced, the Overmountain men continued
after Ferguson as rapidly as possible.
They reached the Cowpens on October 6th
and learned that Ferguson had halted just 30
miles away on the top of Kings Mountain.
Believing that he had found a position from
which he could not be dislodged, Ferguson
waited on the crest of the mountain for the
oncoming frontiersmen. Determined not to
let him escape, the Overmountain leaders
designated 900 of their men to form a flying
column that was to advance quickly and trap
the British major and his 1,100 men.
Riding on horseback through a heavy, cold
rain, the Patriots reached Kings Mountain on
the afternoon of October 7, 1780. Tying their
horses to trees, they divided into two
columns and encircled the mountain. Then,
at 3 p.m., they began to fight their way up the
steep slopes. One of their commanders
yelled for his men to "Shoot like Hell and
Fight like Demons!"
And they did. For a time the British held them
back with bayonet charges down the slopes,
but the guerrilla fighting style of the American
volunteers and militiamen rapidly began to
take its toll. Fighting from behind trees and
rocks, they shot down the enemy, forcing
Ferguson to concentrate his men on smaller
and smaller sections of the crest ridge of the
Ferguson was on horseback, blowing a shrill
whistle to signal his men, when he was shot
from the saddle by a volley of Patriot bullets.
He was propped up to a tree where he soon
died, knowing that the "back water" men had
avenged his threats against them.
Ferguson's second in command tried to
surrender, but the outraged Overmountain
men had not yet sated their lust for the blood
of their enemies. A frightful slaughter took
place on the crest of the mountain before the
officers finally talked down the fury of their
Including Ferguson, 225 men of the British
force died on Kings Mountain that afternoon.
Another 163 were wounded and 716 were
taken prisoner. Nine of these would later
hang for their roles in depredations against
As Thomas Jefferson noted, the Battle of
Kings Mountain began the turning of the tide
of the American Revolution. British leaders
recognized this as well, calling it the "first link
in a chain of evils." The fiercely independent
Overmountain men had delivered a fiery blow
for the cause of American liberty.
Kings Mountain National Military Park is just
off I-85 between Charlotte and Spartanburg.
Take North Carolina Exit #2 and cross the
line back into South Carolina to reach the
The battlefield is open from 9 to 5 daily (9 to 6
during the summer) and is free to visit!
Please click here to learn more.