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March 23, 2017            The Battle of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780 Revolutionary War


The American Revolution had been raging for over five long years before the Battle of Kings Mountain was fought. The British had not been making any headway against Washington in the north, so in 1779 they focused their attention to the south. They gained control of George and South Carolina. In the spring of 1780, this brought the fighting closer to home for those living beyond the Appalacian Mountains, those who were known as "overmountain people".

Overmountain people were descendants of immigrants from an Irish territory known as Ulster Plantation, though they themselves had never seen Scotland or Ireland. These were people known as “low, lazy, sluttish, heathenish, hellish life” that shocked missionaries and defied the King of England, George III, by building prohibited settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains “building dirt-floor log cabins, growing what they needed and living as they pleased—a people apart”. They were also referred to later by a patriot general and governor of Virginia as “a hardy race of men, who were familiar with the horse and rifle, were stout, active, patient, under privation, and brave. Irregular in their movements [as opposed to the marches and maneuvers of regular units] and unaccustomed to restraint, they delighted in the fury of action, but struggled under the servitude and inactivity of camp.”

Approximate routes of Patriot militias to the Battle of King's Mountain,
October, 1780. Present-day place names and state boundaries are
provided for reference.

The Overmountain Men formed a nucleus of other men gathered from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and southwest Virginia that fought at Kings Mountain. Thomas Jefferson stated that the Battle of Kings Mountain was the turning point of the war and caused the British to acknowledge that patriots couldn’t be conquered in such a vast territory or wilderness. The Rebel Yell of the Civil War is also attributed to the Overmountain Men who had picked it up from the Indians in the Cherokee War.

Of these Overmountain Men, I have found records showing my direct ancestors who were counted among their 1,000+ ranks. They were: Samuel Evans, John McAdoo, and Southy Nelson. Samuel Evans was a private in the Virginia Cont’l Line. John McAdoo was from North Carolina, I am still researching the McAdoo line.

Southy Nelson
Southy (Southway) Nelson was from South Carolina and what later became Washington County, Tennessee. He enlisted as a private in Captain Joseph Elliott's Company C of the 1st Carolina Regiment commanded by Charles Cotesworth Pinkney. Southy's last pay stub from the Revolutionary War was dated 1783.

The accounts of The Battle of Kings Mountain are vary lengthy and indepth so I will not go into all of the particulars of the Battle. It would be a great disservice for me to “water down” each of the accounts and would not give a true rendering of the events. I do strongly encourage you to go to each of the websites listed in my sources to read about what each has to say about the mustering of men to fight, the battle itself, and the outcome. They are not the usual dry facts, etc. that are usually associated with military battles, I know I found them fascinating and a great way to see inside the lives of my ancestors and a source of pride in family and country.

Sources: (click on title of each to visit web page)

North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program

American Revolution: Battle of King's Mountain (1780)

The Overmountain Men Battle for the Carolinas

Learn NC: UNC School of Education
History Net

Abingdon Muster Grounds

American Military History Podcast
The Ride of The Over Mountain Men - Battle of Kings Mountain Part I

American Military History Podcast
The Paddle Shaped Ridge - The Battle of Kings Mountain Part II

The American Revolution in South Carolina

Battle of Kings Mountain Patriot Roster
Trish Carden


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