. K5 H4
AND ITS CAMPAIGN.
Col. W. a. Henderson,
ON OCCASION OF THE
Unveiling of a Monument
to its Heroes
July 4th, 1903.
The Guilford Battleground Company,
Greensboro, N. C.
W *:?> J'l
Mr. President^ of The Guilford Battle Ground Association^
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I come today to tell you the curious story of the wonder-
ful "Battle of King's Mountain." No more lustrous page
appears in the life of this fair land of ours.
That we may understand it we must go back and ap-
proach it as our fathers did. History should never be
As you all know, the present State of North Carolina
was for more than a century a colony of Great Britain. It
embraced the present State, Tennessee, and a vast extent
of then unknown lands.
The original deed or charter for that territory was given
by Charles II of England. Like most other soverigns, he
was claiming the whole of America, and they all sliced it
out to their favorites, with reckless prodigality. Three
and a third centuries ago, this gay monarch gave to his
" Kitchen Cabinet " a generous portion of that unknown
world. There were Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arling-
ton and Lauderdale, the initials of whose names originated
our pregnant word ^''Cabaiy That deed is the foundation
of the ownership of this battle-field, and of every other acre
in this good State. You must not ask me to substantiate
the right which his majesty had to execute that paper.
The northern line of the Colony of North Carolina, as
set forth in that remarkable paper, was prescribed to begin
at a white stake in the Curritick Inlet, on the Atlantic
Ocean, 36°, 30' North Latitude, "thence due west to the
South Seas," wherever they might be. It was, at the close
of the Revolutionary War, agreed that the Mississippi
River was the South Seas, really intended by that learned
There is nothing unusual in our forefathers having
lived through a Colonial life. Every rood of the civilized
world has grown into independence through colonyhood.
Such is the infancy of nations. We have a few such
infants ourselves, in Alaska, the Philipines, and other
islands of the seas. These, in the ripeness of time, must
not only be owned by us, but must become a part of us,
or lost. It is the law of Colonyhood.
Our Colonies not having been made a part of England,
developed towards independence. The great change
approached, and, as forerunners, came the disquietude and
pangs of a new birth. Canada was the ripest Colony for
the change, but has not yet been born.
Georgia was the least developed, but was pulled through
with her sisters.
A century hence, the historian will be much interested,
and it may be, amused, at the causes set forth, leading to
the great change. The toleration of the Roman Catholic
religion in Canada, by King George, was regarded
as a pregnant menace to the Colonies. The same thing
always existed in Maryland, without protest. This com-
plaint v;as not yet war, — it was a mere shadow of the com-
ing event. One of the next disturbances, when viewed from
the surface, was the exaction of disputed fees, centering
mostly at your city of Hillsboro. By a law of the Colony,
the Register of Deeds was allowed to charge so many shil-
lings for each deed and for each paper writing recorded.
The question soon arose whether the acknowledgment and
certificate were " paper writings " for which additional
shillings should be charged, or whether they all consti-
JUL 1 2 1933
tuted but one document. On this principal cause, with
others, a rebellion arose, and your battle of Alamance was
fought — the first blood spilt in the prelude of the coming
contest. It was another thunder, heralding the storm.
Another so-called outrage, the home government needed
money to pay expenses of Colonial wars. To obtain this,
she levied tax on tea, made stamp duties, and followed
such usual devices of the taxing power. It was never
so reckless as to molest any of Judge Boyd's moonshiners !
Such tyrany would not have been submitted to for a day.
But they never would cast such spiritual products into the
Bay of Charleston or Boston Harbor, but would have swal-
lowed the bottom drop without compunction and without
revenue ! A Watts Bill would have been worse then than
This oppression was called "Taxation without Represen-
tation." Many good people have always paid such taxes,
and may do so now. Many such live in the Capital of the
nation, and have no member of Congress, not even a del-
As we get further away from those stirring times, and
read the words of that quarrel to get at its essence, it
begins to look like we were examining a fleck of foam or a
piece of driftwood to ascertain the forces of the great tidal
wave that bore such things on its bosom. The simple
truth is, the times had ripened for the young eagle to be
born. It was not born because there was this or that crack
in the shell. The cracks occurred because the young eagle
was coming forth in the fullness of its days.
When two men have determined to fight, the flip of a
chip from the shoulder is ample casus belli; and, after-
wards, one may write learnedly about the nature of chips
and shout about shoulders without teaching, and, it may
be, without understanding the cause of the fight. In the
providence of God, this fight had to come, then and there.
One time more He hardened the heart of a Pharaoh, and
every movement made helped to make the war and hasten
The battle of Bunker Hill was fought and war was almost
here ; the Declaration was signed, and war was a fact.
Another Moses was to be discovered to lead the hosts to
the Promised Land, through the Red Sea, A man was
born for the purpose, yet he was selected almost by acci-
dent. When one stood close to him, he was not brilliant
nor highly educated, with little military experience, save
barren border warfare. He had common sense as deep as
a well, towering self-respect, that highest badge of peerless
manhood, unbounded loyalty, and reserved force, far beyond
those of his day, Washington was a "Corliss engine"
Time fails us to go into the history of the war, although
Greek never so loved to hear of the sacking of Troy as do
the oppressed of all nations love to hear that story. My
restricted province is to recount the most radiant incident
that shone out from those dark depths. And, at this point,
you must allow the remark that the authors, who have
chrystalized much of our literature, lived elsewhere, and
knew but little of our affairs. Our people have been too
prone to allow the glorious history of the Southern States
to lapse into oblivion — and much of it has gone forever.
By proper effort, much can yet be saved, and I would that
I could inspire some Carolina boy to learn his lessons of
home history and print them to the world. It is certainly
true that the man who has no respect for his ancestors
deserves none from posterity, and that sin will be avenged
by a sting to its hottest depths by his own children.
Let me premise by saying, that for a score of years, cer-
tain sturdy, valliant, patriotic men had gathered together
in the fertile valleys of North Carolina, beyond your West-
ern mountains, principally upon the winding Watauga
river. They gathered there, mostly, from the province of
Virginia, primarialy, in search for homes, each settler
overlapping his predecessor, a little further down the
stream. No one knew where the boundry line was, and,
for several years, it was believed they yet lived in Virginia.
Others joined them from North Carolina, threading their
way across the mountains. Many had scattered from the
field of Alamance. Many went from the regions your eyes
have seen this day. They left behind them the read
coated Tory, and found before them the scalping knife and
tomahawk. Every day was a day of life or death for them-
selves, their wives and their little ones.
They had no actual government among them, although,
nominally, your county of Burke extended to "The South
Seas." No county officers, no courts, no supremacy of the
law were there. Think you that your city could exist
through thirty such days !
To the eternal credit of those pioneers, let it be taught
that the pressure of these surroundings brought not anarchy
and chaos, but government and order. In 1772, those set-
tlers elected thirteen Commissioners to exercise the funct-
ions of a home-made government, of whom, five were
selected as a court, by whom, in the language of the Artic-
les, "All things were to be settled" — no court on earth hav-
ing so boundless a jurisdiction ! Its name was "The Dis-
trict of Washington," and was the first geographical name-
sake of him, for whom have been named more localities
than any two men in the world.
Finally, North Carolina erected for them the County of
Washington, and John Sevier was elected and helped form
your original Constitution.
Our people, as in England, were divided into two parties
— Whig and Tory — as we would say today — Democrat and
Republican ; the one opposing the Government, and the
other in close accord, afterwards known as " Patriot " and
As the currant of time floats us further away, we will
begin to appreciate that a great many good and respect-
able people were tories. They were especially rife towards
the coast of this and other states, while the backwoods
people and mountain men were generally patriots ; that is,
they sooner tore loose from their allegiance to their King.
In the late civil war, it was exactly the reverse.
These two parties soon became very bitter towards each
other. Two iron clad oaths were improvised, to be swal-
lowed as a test of loyalty, and each oath was considered
very hard to take by the swallow'ing party. Rather than
to take or refuse these oaths many of each party fled to
those distant retreats, wdiere these smothered sentiments
would have smouldered during the war, had not England
incited the common danger of the Indian in their front.
In this way, in the Providence of God, all were made reb-
els, and they were hot ones. Opportunity was thus pre-
sented to give aid to the East.
Let us glance for a moment at the juncture of affairs of the
general war, that w^e may understand the occasion these
people had for such participation, and how they improved it.
The Revolutionary War, was flagrant from Boston to
Savannah, in which Washington was a Fabius. Betw-een
him and Sir Henry Clinton, the contest had drawn its slow
length along with no promise of speedy termination.
Washington would attack when he could, but, more fre-
quently, would move on. or move back, or move around.
The English were wearing themselves out like an athlete
who was fighting the air. Lord Germaine, the new war
minister, was compelled to make a change. He w^as hav-
ing trouble at home. He devised the "Anaconda System,"
to close the war, by one campaign and one blow. Sir
Henry Clinton and Palmer were to reduce the coast defenses,
by the royal fleet. Lord Cornwallis was to engage the
army in the Southern Colonies, then under command of
that brilliant rocket, Horatio Gates ; while Gage, through
his Indian agents, was to organize and enforce a combined
attack by the Indians on the southwest. As we now look
backward, it is wonderful that we did not suffer a military
checkmate. None but a Minerva could turn back such a
In the execution of this plan, the seaports of Georgia
were captured and the whole state overrun. Charleston
was besieged and taken by Sir Henry Clinton, capturing
Lincoln and a large army of our best men, who never
entered the war again. Gates, in his vanity, wanted to
meet Cornwallis in the field. He called for the Mountain
Men to come to him, and they tried to do so, but before
their arrival, he was forced into battle at Camden and his
army defeated and routed, and there the brilliant rocket,
of Saratoga, came down like a stick. The gallant Sumter
was soon thereafter defeated and his army dispersed. The
western men then turned back in their journey, and hurled
themselves upon the advancing Indians and completely
destroyed every hope of success from that direction, there-
by wrecking the "Anaconda System." When a serpent is
cut into two pieces, it may possibly bite at one end, but it
can no longer enfold and crush. Had these western men
succeeded in joining Gates and been defeated at Camden,
and had the Indians crushed out those western settlements.
Sir Henry Clinton would have been a larger man in his-
tory, and Washington may have been known as a rebel,
while our tea would still be sweetened with taxes. Those
Westerners were thus left at leisure, and they were danger-
ous men behind anybody ; they were the Reserve Corps of
It was, indeed, the darkest day of the Revolution. Corn-
wallis, at that time, a prime favorite of Sir Henry Clinton,
with the laurals of many victories on his brow, was march-
ing, triumphantly, through South Carolina, planting and
cultivating royal civil authority, with no one to raise
a strong arm against him. Marching from one of your
towns to another, he went, issuing proclamations as if the
war was over, appointing Justices of the Peace, organizing
courts, in order that the prodigal Colonies might return to
the Kingdom of their Master. While the Whigs were
being hunted down, on horseback, by Tarleton and Web-
ster, Marion, the "Swamp Fox," was hiding until a brighter
day should follow that night. The scattered Sumter men
were hiding in the highlands. Your gallant McDowell
and Clarke had been driven across the mountains, and
were with John Sevier at his home by the river. Sir
Henry Clinton, supposing, or pretending that the war was
virtually over, sailed back, in his ships, to New York, to
prepare that region for peace. No patriot army could be
found that would accept gage of battle. Many a good pat-
riot took the oath and accepted protection to avoid star\'a-
tion and death. Washington appears to have been over-
whelmed with despair. He was investing, and was com-
pelled to invest, New York, with less than five thousand
miserable men, without a boat to float the water, while
Clinton ruled the sea. While detaching a few troops in
aid of the South, Washington wrote to Baron Steuben,
their commander, "The prospect, my dear Baron, is gloomy,
and the 3torm threatens." Some of his Connecticut troops,
who had been the most reliable, had openly mutinied, in
defiance of Congress and in the face of their Commander.
The Continental money, so-called, was of less value than
your Confederate scrip, in its cheapest day. Provisions
could neither be bought nor impressed. Soldiers were
hungry and soldiers were cold, while battles had to be
fought and retreats made to simulate defensive war, dur-
ing which the infamous "Conway Cabal," by intrigue and
treachery, in and out of Congress, was sowing seeds of dis-
cord and treachery against Washington himself. Several
times, efforts were made to supplant him, and, every time,
in favor of a less worthy man.
In a letter to Governor Reed during this time, Washing-
ton writes, "I have almost ceased to hope." So near, in
the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, had the war come
to be a mere rebellion, that Washington, the hopeful,
almost ceased to hope.
After this bird's eye view of the whole field, let us return
to our more immediate subject, remembering that the
mountain men were then ready.
For Cornwallis to carry on his campaign in safety, it
was necessary that he should have a cavalry support
between him and the fires in the mountains. These men
must be kept at home, or they must be crushed. That
cavalry defense was composed of tories, who had been well
drilled, and regulars, than whom, none were better under
the King's command. For commander, they had the gal-
lant Patrick Ferguson, at that time only thirty eight years
of age, a brave skillful, dashing officer, accomplished in
modern military science. I^et me tell you of that man.
As a trooper, he was after the order of Tarleton, but a
man of much higher grade, a better soldier and more
nearly a gentleman. Born amid the highlands of Scotland,
he entered military life at an early age. Before reaching
the Colonies, he had done much brilliant service in Hol-
land, the Netherlands, the West Indies and Canada. He
was tall, spare made, of broad brow and firm jaw, curly
auburn hair and large blue eyes. A more dangerous man,
by personal contact, to seduce our people back to their
renounced loyalty, never followed the Red Cross of St.
George. He was a most expert swordsman, and credibly
alleged to be the best shot in the world. He was a per-
sonal friend and high favorite of the King. He was the
first inventor of a breechloading rifle, and gave personal
exhibition in London before a large royal audience of the
use of that weapon. He loaded and shot, while walking,
running, lying upon his breast, or his back, feet foremost,
head foremost, and discharged his wonderful gun seven
times in a minute, striking the bulls eye six out of seven.
In the battle of Brandywine, his right arm had been shat-
tered, but, like a Benjamite, he soon trained his left arm
to equal cimning. His gray warhorse was brought with him
Cornwallis, with his army, was at Charlotte — Ferguson,
with some twelve hundred men, between him and the
moimtains. He had been pursuing Sevier and Shelby, who
had captured some Tory prisoners on the Enoree, and was
over-anxious to intercept the gallant Clarke, who had made
a brilliant attack on Agusta. So, he rambled, backwards
and forwards, among the foot-hills, gathering refugees and
supplies to his standard, preaching peace to the people.
He was so fortunate as to capture Sam Phillips, a moun-
tain man, as a prisoner, who was a nephew of Shelby.
Ferguson conceived the scheme to use him as a messenger,
by whom to send a message to that turbulant people, and
he did so, from Gilbertstown. That cunning scheme was
the cause of all his woes. It was promptly delivered to
Shelby, and, in Scotch brevity, it bore a threat. Between
the lines, it was a challenge. Shelby immediately carried
it to Sevier, and for two whole days they sat under the old
syccamore tree at Syccamore Shoals, and discussed the sit-
uation, while the fates were busy. The wordino; of the let-
ter was : "Unless you, Shelby and Sevier, and your peo-
ple, lay down your arms and yield to the King's authority,
I will cross the mountains with my troops, desolate your
country and put your people to the sword."
Ran through their minds, "Did Ferguson mean what
he wrote, or was it idle bravado. If he comes, shall we
ambuscade him in a mountain george, and with bloody
hands dispute his pathway, or shall we hang on his flanks
and rear, and harass him by sunlight and starlight, until
he falls a prey into our hands, or we, our homes and little
ones, fall into his. In the meantime, what about the Indi-
ans, in front ?
We know not by what process of reasoning it was reached,
but there was reached a fixed determination, that these two
men, who did not belong to the army, who had never
drawn a shilling nor a ration from the public supplies,
without orders from superior officers, and who were officers
themselves only by common consent, while the whole con-
tinental army, behind them, was enshrouded in gloom,
determined to gather the "Clans of the Mountains," and,
without waiting for Ferguson, hunt him up beyond the
mountains, before he was ready to strike.
Never in the history of the world was such a campaign
hazarded — never in the history of the world did such result
follow. The trystring place was Syccamore Shoals — the
time the 25th September, only a few days off. A hastened
messenger was sent to William Campbell, who lived in Vir-
ginia, a day's ride away, who was Colonel of the County Mili-
tia of his county, urging him to band his men and come to
the gathering. The disheartening reply was returned, that
he would notify his men, but would wait for Ferguson to
invade Virginia, Such was the effect which Ferguson had
intended. It was highly poetic, but of little value. They
sent again, this time Shelby's brother, to urge immediate
and accordant action. Campbell was told that Ferguson
was stamping out the life of the New Nation, in North
Carolina, and, unless thwarted, there would never be a free
Virginia, nor any Virginians, save tories, refugees and
graves — that Washington was fighting up North to save
Virginia, and Greene was fighting in North Carolina to
save his home in Rhode Island. This second appeal had
hearty success, and the Virginians came.
It is reserved for some future, and it is to be hoped, some
Carolina or Tennessee Walter Scott, some second "Wizard
of the North," to depict the gathering of the Highlanders
in their Western highlands, and to tell how some faithful
messenger was selected and entrusted with the startling
message of the proposed purpose, time and place, and sped
forth with these words of fire :
"Speed, Malise, speed ; the dun deer's hide
On fleeter foot was never tied ;
Speed, Malise, speed, such cause of haste,
Thine active sinews never braced.
Bend 'gainst the steepy hill thy breast.
Burst down, like torrent, from its crest ;
With short and springing footsteps pass
The trembling bog, the false morass.
Across the brook, like roebuck, bound.
And thread the brake, like questing hound.
The crag is high, the scaur is deep.
Yet shrink not from the desperate leap.
Parched are thy burning lips and brow,
Yet, by the fountain, pause not now.
Herald of battle, fate and fear.
Stretch onward in thy fleet career.
The wounded hind thou track'st not now,
Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough ;
Nor plyest thou now thy flying pace
With rivals in the mountain race.
But danger, death and warrior deed.
Are in thy course. Speed ! Malise, speed !
Fast as the fatal message flies.
In arms each hut, each hamlet rise.
From winding glen, from upland brown,
From dangerous hold and frontier far,
Where daily life is life of war.
They pour, all pour their tenants down.
"They come as the winds come when forests are rending,
They come as the waves come when navies are stranding !"
It is recorded that on the date agreed upon, every able-
bodied gunman, with the exception of two, in that settle-
ment, extending about one hundred miles either way, was
there ready to march and ready to fight. Not only so, but
the heart strings of many a wife had drawn her there, to
bid the stay of the household again goodbye and again God-
speed, as he again went forth to battle. Many a mountain
maiden was there, warned by a threatening danger to a
brother, or to one dearer than a brother,
" While Concealment, like a worm in the bud,
Fed upon her damask cheek."
The soldier is the eternal hero of womanhood.
It was determined to take half the men, leaving half to
defend the homes, but the mountains were on fire. It was
decided that the old and young should go back home.
Still, too many crowded to go, and the military draft had
to be resorted to. Black and white beans were placed in a
gourd, and a little blindfolded girl drew a bean for each
man, a black bean meant a draft, and the man that was
drafted to stay at home. This is the only military draft,
for war, in what is now Tennessee, and for this reason
your only daughter— God bless her— is still called " The
John Sevier had two sons in that throng, Joseph,
eighteen years of age, and James, two years younger.
Joseph was to go with his father, and James to stay. But
the mother, " Bonnie Kate," led the lad by the hand to his
father, and, in words which would have honored a Spartan
mother, told him her son's heart and her own would be
broken, should he be left behind. The boy went, and —
was buried on Kings Mountain. Twenty men could not
be mounted, but they were allowed to go on foot.
Such things as commissaries, quartermasters, ordinance
officers, were not known to these men, and, of course, not
needed. Their patriotism had not been stimulated by any
tax-gatherer — they had never seen one ; nor by any tax on
tea — save the root of the sasafras, they drank none ; nor by
any stamp duty — they knew no more of a stamp than they
did of the King's signet ring. They rushed to the rescue
of their country as a boy would fly to his mother, on a
shriek of distress. They started with a few cattle, which
were soon abandoned in the woods, and what meat they
used on the march was won by the rifle out of the woods.
Their last act beside that babbling river, was to gather
around the Saintly Doak, who, with hands outstretched to
heaven, with all the fervor of Elijah on Mount Carmel,
besought the blessing of The God of Battles upon that rev-
erent host, and gave them, as their Amulet, the words,
" The sword of the Lord and of Gideon."
Let me point my finger at those men as they file away,
and show them to you. You will note that Sevier, like
Ferguson, rides a white horse — always a mark of danger.
They were mostly young men — hardly a leader among
them as old as forty, sturdy of body — intent of mind. Some
few had swords and pistols, all flint lock guns and hunting
knives, on which you might usually see the imprint of the
hammer. Behind the saddle was rolled a home-made blanket,
of which many bed had been bereft, and around their shoul-
ders hung strained haver-sacks.
The usual head covering was a coon skin, fashioned into
a cap, with the tail, like a cue, hanging behind — bark-
brown hunting shirt, ornamented with such fringes, as
some woman devised, breeches of any kind or color of cloth,
leather moccasins, buckskin leggins — all with shot pouches
and powder. Occasionally an officer or a lucky man might
be found with a Continental coat. Hunters in front and
on flank deployed to capture any possible game, but the
constant ration was parched corn, pounded into meal.
sprinkled on water, and drunk from cup, gourd or crump-
I need not delay by telling how they climbed and went
down the mountains by untraveled paths — how the two
McDowell's, who had been among them, rejoined them on
this side of the mountains, as did Cleveland, Williams,
and others, with about six hundred more men, while
they advanced in hot pursuit of Ferguson. The down
east Whigs got news of the coming, and took courage.
Ferguson, constantly on the alert, got news of this "Com-
ing of the Cambells" in reply to his letter, and, out of
abundant caution, began to sidle towards Cornwallis.
These men soon learned that their game was flushed, and
all speed was to be made to prevent fortifications or escape.
Several dispatches to Cornwallis were captured, from which
we knew that Ferguson was distrustful of the tory part of
his troops, and wanted Tarleton. The last dispatch was
taken from a country young man named Ponder, from
whom the location of Ferguson's camp was learned, and
also his boast that "all the rebels out of hell could not
drive him from it."
Following historicle accounts, there is widespread obin-
ion that this camp and battle were on Kings Mountain,
which stands in plain view from the railway, as you go
Southwest from Charlotte, between the stations of Kings
Mountain and Grover, but this is a mistake growing out of
the ignorance of the authors. It was on a butte or knob —
one out of a long chain of them — leading from the vicin-
age of that grand old mountain far to the Southwest, and
some nine miles from it. In the neighborhood, that knob
is universally known as "The Battle Field," and the little
stream, that sings by its foot, is known as "Battle Branch."
As the " Battle of King's Mountain," it will now always
They were within a mile and a half of the place. Al-
ready they had left the disabled horses and men, to follow
as fast as they could. They had nine hundred and ten
men, and were fearing that about twelve hundred might
get away from them. A council of war was immediately
held, while the wet guns, that had been carried all night
and until that noon in the rain, were put in order. A plan
of battle was agreed upon, and the countersign, "Buford,"
was passed along the line. It was the afternoon, Oct. 7,
1780, twelve days from Syccamore Shoals.
On the day before Ferguson has forded Broad river at
Cherokee ford, and, with his wagon train, was on the road
to Yorkville, in the general direction of Charlotte. About
three-quarters of a mile from this camp, he had left the
country road and took a trail which lead to the right,
through a high gap in the ridge. The road he was travel-
ing leads through the next gap, and these two gaps form
the knob now known as " Battle Field." The highest level
of the crest, about 150 feet high, is near the trail-crossing,
and there the wagon-train was parked. The crest descends
for some quarter of a mile, to where the road and branch
are in full view, whence the descent is quite declivitous.
The tent of the Commander was pitched at this steep
descent, and you are shown, to-day, the " mess rock "
where he ate his meals. The hill had little undergroath
except huckleberry bushes, but was covered with large
timber, interspersed with jutting rocks.
It will ever remain a mystery why he selected such a
place for a camp, when expecting battle from such men.
A curious conflict of military opinion has been expressed.
An English officer, and one of Napoleon's officers have each
been on the ground, both believed it to be an ideal selec-
tion of ground for success, except that the Americans didn't
know how to attack ! Had those mountain men sought
the face of the world over, they could not have found a
place for him to their greater advantage.
It was preferred that old Daniel Morgan should be their
general, and McDowell was sent to secure him. In the
meantime, it was agreed that Campbell should have pre-
cedence. This plan of battle was ordered and all men told
of it. Certain men were to take the trail and cross the
ridge through the high gap, and turn to the left, while
others were to follow the road through the low gap, and
and turn to the right, till they joined their comrades, and
the remainder were to breast the mountain immediately in
front, and everybody was to fight towards the top, on his
own hook. When a charge came, they should run, and
when it stopped, they should run back. There was no
danger to their comrades from cross firing, because when a
ball missed the enemy, it would fly far over the hill. The
alarm was soon given, and the drum and fife called to line
of battle. All seemed to be in confusion. There was scant
room on the crest in which to maneuver. As poor Chron-
icle was double-quicking his men through the low gap to
his post, he was met by a volley from the steep decline,
and he and Captain Rabb, and several others, were the first
to be laid low. In a few minutes every detachment was in
position, and, with an Indian war whoop, (later known as
the Rebel Yell) the fight towards the top was on, and that
mountain was crested and fringed with lines of fire. As
was expected, lines of bayonets were hurled down the sides,
in the face of which the men gave way. In the meantime,
those on the other side yelled " Retreat ! Retreat ! " and
pushed on to to the top. The bayonets were called back
and the running soldiers pursued them up the steep hill-
side. This was repeated again and again, first on this side
and then on that ; our men knowing as well what to do, as
a base ball team.
Such a shock of arms can never be described. It can
never be appreciated, save by him who felt one. To you
who have not, m)' words are as ashes — to him who has, they
are burning coals ! The crack of the rifle, the roar of the
broadside, the song of the bullet that reaches the ear after
the danger is past, the booming of the drums, the scream-
ing of the fifes, the wails of the wounded, the piteous cries
for water, the plunging of the horses, the shoutings of the
Captains, the advance, the retreat, the deploy, the ralley,
the bending and reversing the lines of battle, the fierce
orders of command and countermand, the smell of sulphur,
and the blinding of smoke, the yells of charge and victory, up
and down and around the rocks and timber of the mountain
sides, all go to make an evanescent picture, that neither
pen or writer can describe nor the brush of painter portray.
Ask any old soldier his opinion of a description or a pic-
ture of a battle, in which he took part !
The gallant Ferguson was omnipresent. Again and
again he headed a successful charge, down and up the
mountain ; two horses were shot under him. The fierce
blasts of his silver whistle were heard along the crest.
Twice some of his cowards hoisted white handkerchiefs and
twice left-handed sword strokes cut the ramrods down ;
and then the ball of a marksman found him for a victim,
and he fell, near his mess rock, and his second in command,
seeing that his men were helpless as cattle in a correll, soon
raised the white flag.
In an hour it was over. Ferguson was dead, and his
army, to a man, killed or captured. Of the wounded, on
that side, there were 135. By the usual ratio, we would
expect to find that of the killed there there would be 2,7- We
may estimate the markmanship of those mountain men
when we count the dead to be 225. Our killed were 28 ;
our wounded 62.
After securing the prisoners and arms, and burning the
wagons and plunder which could not be moved, the dead
of both sides were hastily buried, the wounded of the enemy,
and some of our own, were left in the care of citizens, and
a hasty inarch begun towards the mountains. There were
more prisoners than soldiers, and each prisoner was made
to carry three guns, with the flints removed. They were
not hunting for Tarleton. By the time they got to Bicker-
staffs, it was learned that twelve of the prisoners had been
soldiers in the patriot army, but had deserted to the tory
side, and been fighting, stealing and murdering. A court
martial was ordered, proofs heard, and they were ordered
to be hung, and eleven were executed, then and there.
Much sickly sentimentality has been wasted in decrying
and bemoaning such vengence ; but I take occasion to say,
here and now, that under the circumstances, it was eter-
nally proper and entirely right. Cornwallis did such
things. So did Washington, Grant and Lee.
Sevier and Shelby and their men were needed by the Indi-
ans at their homes. Campbell, not being under such pres-
sure, joined Greene just before the battle of Guilford Court
House the next spring and died of sickness in the field, in
the Yorktown campaign.
Let us glance for a moment at the effect that this battle
had upon the gloomy aspect of the general war. It seemed
as if the wand of some magician had waved over and
changed the scene. Jefferson, in speaking of it, says : "It
was the joyful announcement of the turn in the tide of
success that terminated the Revolutionary War, with the
Seal of Independence."
The support of Cornwallis had disappeared. The levee
between him and the floods had been crevassed. He
immediately broke camp at Charlotte, and retreated South-
ward. In the meantime, a large portion of his cohorts
joined battle with the gallant Morgan at Cowpens, and suf-
fered ignominious defeat and rout. With the desperation
of a gambler playing for desperate stakes, he sought a
general engagement with the gallant Greene. After much
maneuvering on both sides, these two armies met on this
field, on the ground around you to-day. With Cornwallis
it was victory or death ; with Greene it was victory or
delay. It was fortunate for us that Cornwallis had no
Horatio Gates before him. Greene retired from the field,
but he retired with his army around him, ready and able to
strike again. But Cornwallis saw that he must retreat
from the field, leaving his wounded behind him, and with
a shattered army, in full retreat, he fell back to Wilming-
ton, North Carolina, his base of supplies. He could retreat
no further, and like a wounded lion, caught in the toils,
he must strike back or he must die. The salvation of the
King's cause depended upon his forming a junction with
Sir Henry Clinton, on the Chesapeake Bay, and he turned,
in desperation, to attempt this venture, carrying the battle-
field away fijom the Carolinas into Virginia.
I need not relate how Cornwallis finally reached ports-
mouth, and how with his main army and his cavalry, he
marched and countermarched through the State of Vir-
ginia ; how the gallant LaFayette, with six hundred of
Campbell's mounted men under him, his army kept him
under constant observation ; how he was finally driven to
Williamsburg ; how Washington hastily abandoned New
York, with all available force, aided by our French allies
under Rochambeau, until Cornwallis was cooped up in
Yorktown, and then came the surrender, and the best sword
of England was sheathed in that war forever; and the
Angel of Peace returned to the ark of safety, and spread
her white wings over a bleeding land. Yorktown was the
outcome of King's Mountain.
Let us return for a moment to King's Mountain. There
sleeps, side by side, hundreds and hundreds of Whigs and
Tories, resting in that peace which the one lost and the
other achieved. There, far away from his highland home,
sleeps the gallant Patrick Ferguson, whose fall left but sor-
row and humiliation from his own, and little or nothin^r of
reproach from the other side. A hasty grave was dug, and
his body, with that of a companion, wrapped in a fresh
bull's hide, was buried. They lived and they slept together.
There went out the light of the gallant Chronicle, and a stone
tells the passerby where he rests from his labors. If the
dead take cognizance of affairs on this side of the river, he
soon knew he did not die in vain.
Two celebrations commorative of the event have been
held on the mountain. A quarter of a century ago a mon-
ument was erected to mark the place of the battle. The
remains of those heroes lie to-day, far abroad between the
two oceans. Many of them were left on that mountain,
where a lover of his country ought to love to go. Many
were left at Cowpens, with the shouts of victory in their
tingling ears. Many sleep here, within reach of my voice,
as I talk, this day, of them to you. Many went to sleep
in Virginia, while on that hot trail to Yorktown ; among
them, their beloved Commander, William Campbell. "Old
Roundabout" Cleveland sleeps in the mountains of North
Carolina. Joseph Winston sleeps in the mountains of
Surry. John Sevier, the favorite man of Tennessee, was
gathered to his fathers, from the faraway wilderness of
Alabama, where his remains rested till a few years ago,
when Tennessee reverently removed them to Knoxville,
and laid them at the spot where the old Block House which
he defended, so long and so well, stood.
They all, all
"Purpled o'er their names with sheen of fame !"
A happy thought has seized you good people in this,
that while all their bodies will never meet again in this life,
yet you have reunited many of them here and all their
memories may be gathered together, like sacred ashes in
a funeral urn, and be entombed and marked on this most
appropriate spot, where their story may be told in Carolina
forever. I thank you, as on beended knee, that they have
not been forg-otten.
There is indeed, Mr. President, the happiest fitness and
propriety in the fact that the National Marble Co., of Mur-
phy, Cherokee County, North Carolina, should have quar-
ried from the mountain home of many of these heroes and
patriotically donated to these grounds the beautiful memo-
rial now to be unveiled and here to preserve throughout
the ages their names and noble deeds.
"And these words shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt
teach them diligently to thy children, and thou shalt talk
of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou
walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when
thou sittest up."
I need say no word of praise for your loving and
saving this field of the greatest battle of a great General.
The General Government owns no Revolutionary Battle-
field — it should take this and guard it forever. By this
means you will teach more history and nurture more patri-
otism than would any school or any book. None of you
can walk these hallowed grounds without a proud sense
that he is breathing Carolina air, and his veins course with
Carolina blood. Teach your people to come here as the
Musselman goes to his Mecca, and take new draughts of
the old religion. And you should never forget that the
Northern soldier was he.ie risking his life and losing it, to
protect this ground. The great General was from Rhode
Island. And they who come from the far away homes of
those men should be met with glad hands and warm hearts,
in memory of that day, and be allowed to partake of the
glory. The line of Mason and Dixon runs not this way,
and on this battlefield there is no North and no South.
It belongs to all as does the flag. Its story should be told
over and over, until the world shall know it and believe it
and give it due o-uagre. Your own Greensboro was fast for-
getting it, until a few clear heads and patriotic hearts
snatched it from approaching oblivion. But what do you
suppose Greensboro, Vermont, for instance, or a thousand
other places, know of it? It has but meager mention in
public school books, and in few places, I fear, will it be
mentioned on this good old day.
Happy is that nation that has a battlefield of renown —
a fountain of glory, and wise is that people that loves and
reverences that place, as the Jew forgot not the towers of
the City of Peace. Such places dot the civilized world
from Marathon to Manassas.
These stones surrounding us will be the patient teachers
of your honor while you are living and when you are dead.
They never will be weary and never will be silent. They
have not voices like you and I have, that may be active for
a season, and then, perchance, be choked by the cares of the
world, and be stilled ; they have tongues like the stars—
which are never silent and never false.
"Take you hence out of Jordon, out of the place where
the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall
carry them with you and have them in the lodging place
where ye shall lodge tonight * * * * ^|^^^ ^j^j^ ^^^^
be a sign among you, that when your children ask their
fathers in the time to come, saying : "What mean you by
these stones ? ' then ye shall answer them : ' Your fathers
were bondsmen in the land of Egypt, and were led through
the wilderness by a way that they knew not of, and these
stones shall be a memorial unto your children forever.
"And Israel did so." And so have you.
NOTE — At the time of the date of the " Battle Field of Kings Moun-
tain," and for many years after, it was universally believed that the
location was within North Carolina, and it will forever remain a celebrity
of that state. Afterwards, by the exact ascertainment of the dividing
state line, it was found to be fully half a mile and wholly within the
State of South Carolina. A patriotic association of South Carolina has
purchased forty acres, embracing the fighting ground, for the purpose of
its preservation. The place is held in high pride, and reverence, by the
citizens of the vicinage, many of whom are decendants of those engaged
in the battle ; among whom I mention Mr. Emanuel Callaway and Mr.
Hambright, both of whose grandfathers were there.
All are delighted to visit the gronnd with strangers and repeat the story.
Easy access can be had either from Kings Mountain or Grover, on the
Southern Railway, there being a delightful drive of some nine miles
from either place, where a livery is easily attainable and at reasonable
The saw-mill fiend had robbed the country of all its merchantable
timber, and the sap-headed vandal has been working there with his
hammer and stone, chipping off souvenirs from the erections. The
inscription on the stone of the gallant Chronicle, Rabb, and others is no
To take the trip is a day well spent.
Greensboro, North CaroliINA.
JULY 4th, 1903.
'KINGS MOUNTAIN AND ITS HEROES.
Col. W. a. Henderson,
Orator of the Day.
The Procession will form at President's Cottage in the following order :
Dr. Thaddeus S. Troy, Chief Marshal, and Assistants,
South Greensboro Band,
President Morehead, Orator of the Day, Chaplain, Master of Cere-
monies, and Distinguished Guests in Carriages,
Directors and Stockholders of the Battleground Company,
Procession when formed will move to the Grand Pavillion.
Order of Exercises at the Grand Stand.
Music— " The star Spangled Banner " By the Band
Prayer by Chapi^ain Rev. H. B. Dean
Oration COI^. W. A. HENDERSON
Presentation of Oil Painting of Washington by Gen. W. H. Payne, of
Virginia, on behalf of David L. Clark, the Battleground Artist, and
Response by Hon. E. T. Ware, U. S. Commissioner of Pensions, on
behalf of the Company.
Short Speeches by Guests.
Music— "The Old North."
Procession to be re-formed and march to the Kings INIountain I\Ion-
ument then to be unveiled. Then adjourn to dinner.
gborge: s. bradshaw,
MASTER OF CEREMONIES.
LIBRfiRY OF CONGRESS
011 712 472
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS