Pulled From the Stacks: To Preserve Kings Mountain

Written by: Kiera E. Nolan, DAR Library Reference Librarian
October 7, 2015

Before three in the afternoon 235 years ago today, October 7, 1780, the American Army was tired, starving, almost completely demoralized, and frustrated by the deadlocked war in the North and Lord Cornwallis’ complete domination going on in the South. At that moment in time, Lord Cornwallis’ army in the South had a string of overwhelming victories and was riding the momentum out of South Carolina and into North Carolina. Lord Cornwallis’ plan was to conquer North Carolina and Virginia, as he had Georgia and South Carolina, and deliver a deathblow to Washington’s army by surrounding them in the North. Then 3 o’clock struck, and, as if by apparition, so did an untrained militia of 910 frontiersmen from South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. They delivered the most unsung deathblow in American History.

In just over an hour the frontiersmen decimated the left flank of Cornwallis’ army at the Battle of Kings Mountain. They did so to protect their homes from a newly recruited Tory militia led by Colonel Patrick Ferguson. Col. Ferguson had, twelve days earlier, threatened them to furnish supplies and men to support the British army or face destruction of their homes and families. In twelve days these men, who had not felt the tyranny of the British Crown in the remote places they resided, and had gained their fighting skills not through military training but through protecting their families and property from Indian raids, rallied together in a display of upmost patriotism. They crossed three mountain ranges, going 110 miles with their own bare supplies, to chase down Col. Ferguson and his Tory militia. This battle ended in the Tory militia’s surrender, and the death in battle of Col. Ferguson. It also left Lord Cornwallis too stunned to attempt to go through with his master plan for another four months, thus giving the patriots time to reorganize in the South, which led to Lord Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown exactly one year and twelve days later.

I came across this interesting battle while looking through DAR Library Director, Eric G. Grundset’s source guide, South Carolina in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians. Looking at the sources for the battle I decided to research it a little more and just stumbled across the DAR’s massive preservations efforts for the Battle at Kings Mountain while looking at other library resources. Starting in 1898, the women of the local DAR chapters surrounding the Kings Mountain area along the South Carolina/North Carolina border also rallied together. In a display of patriotism, pride, and a want of proper historic preservation of the battlefield, the local DAR chapters took over the upkeep of the historic ground, and dedicated themselves to celebrating the men who fought in this small, yet crucial turning point in the war. It is widely acknowledged that without the DAR, the battlefield would not have become a preserved national park. It was their push to preserve that led to the creation of Kings Mountain National Military Park by an act of Congress in 1931. Since then, the National Park Service has preserved the hallowed ground on which the frontiersmen of the South in just over an hour completely turned the tide of the American Revolution.

With the 125th anniversary of the DAR in just a few days, it is not only important to remember the heroic efforts of the frontiersmen 235 years ago, but the heroic preservation efforts of the DAR chapters who kept the memory of this battle and the men who fought it alive.

Additional Books Pulled:

One Heroic Hour at Kings Mountain, 2ed by Pat Alderman

The Battle of Kings Mountain, Eyewitness Accounts by Robert M. Dunkerly

Kings Mountain and its Heroes: History of the Battle of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780, and the Events which Led to It by Lyman C. Draper

Kings Mountain National Military Park Cultural Landscape Report by Susan Hart Vincent

All materials found under the Call Words:
S.C.
MILITARY
1775-1783
KINGS-MT

 

Files Pulled:

“Participants in the Battle of Kings Mountain” by Zella Armstrong

“Kings Mountain: Turning Point of the Revolution” by Clarence A. Bales

Files found under the Call Words:
GEOFC
S.C.
MILITARY
1775-1783
KINGS-MT

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