Patriot Forces Defeat the British-led Loyalist militia in the Battle of Kings Mountain

On October 7, 1780, Patriot forces defeated the British-led Loyalist militia in the Battle of Kings Mountain, signaling the beginning of the end of British control in the South.  Patriots had created an atmosphere of Tory persecution in western North Carolina and in September of 1780, British Major Patrick Ferguson decided to subdue the rebellious region. He warned mountain residents that if insurrection continued, he personally would “lay waste their country with fire and sword.”

Patriot volunteers heeded Ferguson’s challenge. Roused by the threats, many of those who gathered against Ferguson did so only to protect their communities. Joseph Winston and Benjamin Cleveland raised Surry and Wilkes County militias, marching to Burke County, where they met Major Joseph McDowell’s volunteers. Militia groups came from surrounding states—those from Tennessee were known as the “over-mountain men.”

When Patriot forces arrived at the foot of Kings Mountain, they found Tories camped at the top, prepared to repel any attack. Surrounding the base of the mountain, columns of men engaged the Tory line, and eventually the lofty position caused Loyalists to fire over the heads of Patriots who raced up the incline to overrun the first defensive line. Major Ferguson was killed and the Loyalist militia was overwhelmed. The battlefield is now a national military park in South Carolina.

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