Kings Mountain: The Turn of the Tide of Success | The Southern Campaign


[GUNFIRE] The British assumed that
their many Loyalist friends would join them As they
marched north from Charles Town in their quest to reclaim
the Southern colonies. The strategy was to mount
a three-pronged attack to the east, center, and west. General Cornwallis,
British commander, occupied Charlotte
in September 1780. The Western flank was led
by major Patrick Ferguson, a Scottish officer who
was training loyalists in traditional British
military techniques, especially the use of the bayonet. [MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: Patrick Ferguson
earned the nickname Bulldog in his military career. At the Battle of
Brandywine in the north, he lost the use
of his right arm. Ferguson used a whistle
to drill his troops and traveled with two
female camp followers. At this point in the war,
militia from various colonies often banded together to
respond to regional threats. Sometimes, help for
the Carolina Partisans came from over the mountain,
the Western frontier. LEAH TABER (VOICEOVER):
The Overmountain Men were folks that had settled west
of the Appalachian Mountains with their families. These are Scots, Irish,
Welsh, German, English, and French guys that
take their families west on the very edge of
civilization for the chance to own their own land and live
where the government is not telling them what to do. NARRATOR: The Overmountain
Men hated the British and were in direct violation
of the proclamation that Western territories
and the colonies be reserved for
Native Americans. Patrick Ferguson sent
the Overmountain Men a bold warning. MAJOR PATRICK
FERGUSON (VOICEOVER): If you do not desist in your
opposition to the British, I shall march this army over the
mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste to your
country with fire and sword. CHARLES BAXLEY (VOICEOVER):
Ferguson believed what he said. Any British officer thought
that any typical British soldier could whip 10 to 1 Americans. And when Ferguson said that he
was going to march over and lay their land to waste, I
think that he believed that he could do it easily. Most of the people that
lived on the other side of that mountain were
Scotch, Scotch-Irish. And they didn’t take
threats too lightly. And it was always been
kind of strange to me, because Ferguson
was a Scotsman too and he should have
known better than to send a threat like that. NARRATOR: The Overmountain Men
mustered at Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee, led by Isaac Shelby,
John Sevier, William Campbell, and others. They commenced the
overmountain trek to deal with Major Ferguson. LEAH TABER (VOICEOVER):
It was all militia on the Patriot’s side. You have the Overmountain
Man, your Western settlers. But then, you also
have a good amount of folks from the
Piedmont of North Carolina, the upstate
of South Carolina, as well, some Georgians. So you’ve got a lot of
folks coming together to put down this threat to
their homes and families. NARRATOR: Ferguson’s
army consisted of 120 well-trained British
Provincial soldiers, formed from northern volunteer units
along with about 800 Loyalist militiamen recruited
from the Carolinas. In the west, Ferguson
had isolated himself from the main British army. He established an
elevated position at Kings Mountain,
a rocky wooded hill on the border of North
and South Carolina. On October 7th, 1780, a thousand
Patriots surrounded him. COLONEL WILLIAM
CAMPBELL (VOICEOVER): Here they are, my brave boys. Shout like hell and fight
like devils, Colonel William Campbell. LEAH TABER (VOICEOVER):
The American strategy was, basically, to
surround the hill and push up to the
Loyalists on top. DR. WALTER EDGAR (VOICEOVER):
The Americans had rifles and they were firing uphill. Any number of them said it
was like a turkey shoot. They were behind
trees and rocks, but the British
were in the open. But these frontiersman,
they had fought the Cherokee a long time. And one thing they learned,
you don’t stand out in the open and fight. You hit, you run, you hide. And one of the
main things to help them win this little
battle so quickly was the long rifles they
carried, because the British were armed with muskets. These men had rifles and they
were making shots, 200, 250, 300 yards. A lot slower to load
a rifle, but they were deadly accurate with it,
because they lived by the gun. JAMES COLLINS (VOICEOVER): We
attempted to climb the hill, but were fiercely charged
upon and forced to fall back to our first position. We tried a second time,
but met with the same fate. The fight then, seemed
to become more fearless. Their leader Ferguson came
into full view, within rifle shot as if it to encourage
his men, who by this time were falling very fast,
he soon disappeared. We took the hill a third
time, the enemy gave way. NARRATOR: The battle turned
into a route for the Patriots. Ferguson, we don’t
know to this day if he was trying to escape or
if he was rallying his men, but he ran into John
Sevier and the boys from the Nolichucky and
Watauga Settlement on his side. An old man, 62 years
old, Robert Young, named his rifle
Sweet Lips and he’s the one that took him
out of the saddle. NARRATOR: A hail
of Patriot bullets hit Ferguson at the same time
and he died of multiple gunshot wounds. At Kings Mountain,
the battle was won for the hearts and
minds of the back country. The tide had turned. Reports of this Patriot victory
made national headlines. LEAH TABER (VOICEOVER): Kings
Mountain has a major impact. And it was basically the first
domino in a string of dominoes that ends up at Yorktown
just a year later. NARRATOR: The following month,
Tarleton’s British legion suffered a defeat by
General Thomas Sumpter at the Battle of Blackstock. The empire was unraveling. The Patriots had proven
they could beat the British and their Loyalist friends. No one in their right mind
want to join a Tory militia unit in South Carolina now. GENERAL HENRY
CLINTON (VOICEOVER): Kings Mountain was the first
link in the chain of evils that followed in regular
succession until they ended in the loss of America. [MUSIC PLAYING]

12 thoughts on “Kings Mountain: The Turn of the Tide of Success | The Southern Campaign

  1. My 4x great grandfather, Major Jonathan Tipton III, was second in command under John Sevier. He was part of the Overmountain Men. The first Tipton in a long line of Tiptons who have fought for freedom in this country.

  2. The battle of Kings Mountain, fought October 7th, 1780, was an important American victory during the Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major patriot victory to occur after the British invasion of Charleston, SC in May 1780.

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