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Col. W. a. Henderson, 


Unveiling of a Monument 
to its Heroes 


Guilford Battleground, 
July 4th, 1903. 

Published by 

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 
studied backwards. 

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 
it on. 

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" 
among men. 

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 
the Revolution. 

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 
from Scotland. 

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 
Volunteer State." 

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- 
led leaf. 

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 
be known. 

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 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 
longer legible. 

To take the trip is a day well spent. 

1781 1903 



Annual Celebration 

GrUiLFORD Battleground, 

Greensboro, North CaroliINA. 
JULY 4th, 1903. 


Col. W. a. Henderson, 

of tennessee, 
Orator of the Day. 

J78J J903 

P rogramme 

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, 

Citizens Generally. 

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, 



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