The Battle of King’s Mountain Major Ferguson of the Loyalist Militia was tasked with raising and organizing Loyalist units from the backcountry of South Carolina to help prtotect the British General Cornwallis. Ferguson gathered a few Tory units and marched towards Gilbert Town, North Carolina, where he set up a base camp. He issued a command to the opposition forces to lay down their weapons. If they refused he stated he would, “lay waste to their country with fire and sword. ” Patriot militia leaders John Sevier and Isaac Shelby sent word to William Campbell in Virginia to aid an attack on Major Ferguson.
Many more more militiamen and local gunmen were rallied by the Patriot leaders. These some 1,400 men became what was known as the “Mountain Men”. Among these hundreds of men were two traitors who deserted the Patriots and ran off the Gilbert Town to alert Ferguson of the mass of militia converging on him. The Major called for a full retreat to Charlotte, and requested reinforcements for General Cornwallis. The message did not reach Cornwallis until a day after the battle. The Patriot militia recieved word of Ferguson’s retreat and urged on to try to catch him.
Instead of reaching Charlotte, Ferguson’s force camped at King’s Mountain where they set camp just west of the mountain’s highest point. In a rush to reach the Loyalist regime the Patriots sent over 900 men on horseback throughout the night and the next morning until they reached King’s Mountain. The Mountain Men surrounded the camp and attacked. The Patriots formed eight detachments to fully surround the Loyalist camp. British Major Ferguson’s force only consisted of Loyalists, not British Red Coats, the majority of which were just rallied days before from South Carolina.
The rebel force charged up the mountain screaming and firing their muskets from behind natural barricades. The Loyalists were unaware and were caught off gaurd; Ferguson rallied his troops and led charges down the hill. Lesser armed, the Patriots retreated to the forest until charging up the hill once again. A pattern formed in the battle in which rebel forces charged up the hill causing a Loyalist charge down the hill. The steep slope of the mountain caused the Loyalists to overshoot and completely miss the charging Patriots, also it became hard to lock on to a target which was in no form and never was in one place.
An hour of firing resulting in large losses to the Loyalist force. However, Ferguson felt confident and would not allow a surrender. He continued charging until he was shot off his horse dead before he hit the ground. Eventually the Patriots overwhelmed the leaderless Loyalists and gained a surrender. The Battle at King’s Mountain was a decisive victoy for the Patriot army and quite a significant win. There was such an enormous amount of bloodshed mainly because of the Patriots’ hunger for retaliation after Banastre Tarleton massacred many continental soldiers. The defeat of Major Ferguson helped win the future battle at Cowpens, SC.
Ferguson’s militia was supposed to help cover General Cornwallis’s flank. King’s Mountain helped flip thhe momentum in the American south in the favor of the Patriots. The “Mountain Men” were able to destroy the Loyalists using what is one of the early accounts of “guerilla warfare”. British led troops were so used to fighting direct battles against lined troops, but the evasive and morphing attack of the Patriots is what decided their fate. The Battle of King’s Mountain will forever stand as one of the pivotal battles of America’s fight for freedom and of American history.
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