The Revolutionary War was raging, and for the patriots, things weren’t going so well.
After a string of defeats, it appeared as if the South was lost.
That all changed, however, when British major Patrick Ferguson made a costly mistake, threatening the lives and families of Appalachia.
Invading the South
In 1780, Lord Cornwallis sent Ferguson south to gather more Tory forces to fight under his command.
The game was simple…further divide Americans against each other to make them easily conquered by the British.
It was while Ferguson was at Gilbert Town that he released a prisoner with a very specific message for patriots.
“Desist from…opposition to British arms” or he would “march over their mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country to waste with fire and sword.”
Upon delivery of the message, Americans grabbed their rifles.
The Gathering of the Men
Ferguson infuriated a group of frontiersmen known as the Overmountain Men.
The Overmountain Men were a ragged collection of Appalachian homesteaders.
From a life of living off the land, these men were accustomed to hunger, hunting, feats of endurance, and extraordinary fighting.
Upon receiving intelligence from their scouts, the Overmountain men marched towards Gilbert Town with 900 men.
Ferguson was aware that he was being pursued. So, he decided to make camp at nearby Kings Mountain.
A small, grassy plateau rising from the nearby woods, Ferguson felt Kings Mountain would be an ideal location to fortify as he continued his march throughout America.
The Overmountain Men heard of British troops on Kings Mountain — with approximately 1,105 Tories and British encamped at the top.
In response, the Overmountain Men promptly surrounded Kings Mountain.
They dispersed themselves throughout the surrounding woods and, slowly, engulfed the British.
At 3 p.m. the first shot rang out as Tories spotted the men below.
And so began the Battle of Kings Mountain.
The Battle of Kings Mountain
Hiding amidst the trees with their long rifles, the Overmountain Men picked off the Tories one-by-one as they ran about the grassy hilltop.
In contrast, the British relyied upon the Brown Bess, a musket with an effective range of 100-yards.
Though they possessed superior numbers, the high ground, military training, and increased volume of fire…the British ultimately lost — finished within about an hour.
Ferguson was shot square in the chest by a ball and dragged about by his horse. The remaining Tories promptly surrender.
This proved to be the first decisive American victory in 1780 — all without any Continental Army soldiers or aid whatsoever.
As a result, Cornwallis lost his western flank force and abandoned his plans for invading North Carolina.
Thomas Jefferson himself would go on to say that the Battle of Kings Mountain proved to be “the turn of the tide of success.”
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