27 October 2007

King's Mountain

Ok, so shortly after the Jax festival, we went to visit in-laws up in South Carolina. I managed to get a few hours and go to King's Mountain National Military Park. So here's the story: in 1788, Savanah, GA was captured by the British, followed by Charleston, SC in 1780. Both were major blows to the Patriot cause, as they were the two most important cities and ports that far south. The British believed that the majority of Carolinians were loyal enough that they could help stop the rebellion there, and minimize the number of British regulars they sent. They certainly did find many loyal men who would help and fight, but that number also dwindled with British acts such as burning homes and farms of those not loyal to them. Also, partisan activity by such men as Francis Marion and Elijah Clarke continued to harass the British forces and stir up rebellious spirit. Following the disastorous Patriot defeat at Camden on August 16, the British believed the rebellion in the South to be effectively over, and began to move into North Carolina. General Cornwallis, leading the main British army, moved into Charlotte, but sent Major Patrick Ferguson west to protect his flank against alleged "Over mountain men" from the Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains. Ferguson, learning of a Patriot advance from a deserter, began to move back east, closer to Cornwallis' army. He decided to make a stand and fight, however, atop King's Mountain.

This is an original example of a Ferguson rifle, which he "invented" and distributed to some of his troops. In reality it was a slightly improved version of the la Chaumette breech loading rifle.
As seen in this diorama at the battlefield museum, the Patriot forces attacked up the moutain, running from tree to tree, until they got close enough that the Loyalists would charge down the mountain using bayonets. The Patriots would gather up near the bottom of the mountain, and attack again. This happened for several hours.
This photo and the one below show what the Patriots were up against. This mountain with surprisingly steep sides was what they assaulted at least three times.

This shows the view looking down the mountain, from the position of the Loyalists. Note that the trees then were much thicker, affording easy hiding spots for the Patriots coming up the mountain.

Monuments marking where William Chronicle (above) and John Mattocks (below) fell in the battle.

Spot where President Hoover addressed 70,000 people on Oct 7 1930, the 150th anniversary of the battle. He said it was a "small army and little battle, but of mighty portent....one of the crucial engagements in our long struggle for independence." Less than a year later, Congress established the National Military Park, protecting the place where this crucial victory occured for all to remember.
Monument errected by descendents of those who fought in the battle.
This plaque commemorating the victory, is in the large monument, seen in the top photo.

Memorial for Coronel James Hawthorn.
As the battle raged on and the Loyalist troops became discouraged, Major Ferguson donned a bright red checkered shirt and rode up and down the lines blowing a silver whistle and encouraging his men. It was while doing this that he was shot and killed-with eight rifle balls found in his body. The markers above and below mark where he was killed.

This is the grave of Major Patrick ferguson. Killed in the heat of battle, the British hope of its great loyalist army died with him, as over 200 of them were killed and more than 700 taken prisoner when the Patriots finnaly surrounded their camp. Cornwallis had now lost a third of his total army and lost his western guard against the Overmountain Men, who had now proven themselves in battle. Ultimately, the British would suffer major losses again at Cowpens, SC and Guilford Courthouse, NC before Cornwallis would finally decide it was time to leave the Carolinas for Yorktown, Virginia.
This marker tells the history of the nearby town of Clover, SC.

No comments: