Day 2:   All the King's Mountain

Main Page > 2008 The Making Charlotte our Bitch Tour

Mike and Bone rose early, but heavily with the Petron XO still running through their achy little heads. Since Tryon Street was originally the Kings Highway and they were heading to King's Mountain they started down Tryon Street through Charlotte and into the country. About 40 minutes into the trip they rumbled into South Carolina and noticed that their stomachs were rumbling as well, when they rambled into Clover they stopped at in for an old fashioned Southern Breakfast !!

Cholesterol Heaven ! Victoria's Diner is your absolutely typical Southern Diner, with heavy pork gravy over everything !! The food and the services was great and by 10:00 AM Mike and Bone waddled out and headed for Kings Mountain for some much needed exercise !

Klimbing Kings Mountain

Kings Mountain is certainly not a hard climb as Mike and Bone found out on their way up, but on October 7, 1780, the heavy musket fire may have made the climb much trickier !!!

The Battle of Kings Mountain was an important Colonial victory in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War. Frontier militia overwhelmed the loyalist militia led by British Major Patrick Ferguson. In The Winning of the West, Theodore Roosevelt wrote of Kings Mountain "This brilliant victory marked the turning point of the American Revolution."

The Colonials were entirely volunteer forces who fought under men that they choose to follow: William Campbell, John Sevier, Frederick Hambright, Joseph McDowell, Benjamin Cleveland, James Williams, John McKissack, and Isaac Shelby led their militia units as Colonels, while Captain Joseph Winston and Edward Lacey commanded the other mostly autonomous units.

After the defeat of Horatio Gates's army at the Battle of Camden, British General Cornwallis was convinced that Georgia and South Carolina were under British control, and he began plans to move into North Carolina. However, a brutal civil war between colonists continued to rage in South Carolina. The Whig frontiersmen, led by a group of self-proclaimed colonels of the rebellion—Isaac Shelby, Elijah Clarke, and Charles McDowell—conducted hit-and-run raids on Loyalist outposts. To protect his western flank, Cornwallis gave Major Patrick Ferguson command of the Loyalist militia.

Cornwallis invaded North Carolina on September 9, 1780, and reached Charlotte on September 26. Ferguson followed and established a base camp at Gilbertown and issued a challenge to the Patriot leaders to lay down their arms or he would, "Lay waste to their country with fire and sword." But the tough-talking words only outraged the Appalachian frontiersmen who rallied at Sycamore Shoals and acted to bring the battle to Ferguson rather than wait for him to come to them. They crossed over the mountains and thus were called the "Over Mountain Men".

Having learned of the Colonial approach from a captured deserter, Ferguson withdrew eastwards towards Cornwallis's main body at Charlotte, but at King's Mountain, he turned to face his pursuers. King's Mountain was one of many rocky forested hills in the upper Piedmont near the border between North and South Carolina. It is shaped like a footprint with the highest point at the heel, a narrow instep, and a broad rounded toe.

A Blundering British Buffoon !!

With the exception of Major Ferguson all of the participants of the battle were Colonists, as the forces under his command were composed entirely of Loyalists. Ferguson commanded over 1,000 Loyalist militia. The Frontier militia force, about 900 strong, were under the command of frontier colonels. There were not enough supplies for the troops either.

Unlike most British officers, Ferguson was convinced that Loyalist militia could be trained to be as effective as British regulars. Years earlier, Ferguson personally invented, patented, and successfully field-tested a breech-loading musket which he called 'the Ferguson Rifle' which could fire faster and with greater accuracy than the British Brown Bess muzzle-loading musket. More importantly, it could be loaded and fired while the soldier was lying down on the ground and not standing up, being exposed to enemy fire. Ferguson commanded an 80-man loyalist unit earlier at the Battle of Brandywine where his men were armed with the Ferguson Rifle, and took advantage of it to contain Colonial sorties and attacks. But despite its obvious utility, the British hierarchy saw that it threatened the traditional, time-tested way of warfare and refused to sanction its use. Disappointed by this endeavor, Ferguson became determined to prove his other theory. He drilled his men firmly but with compassion and produced a tightly knit and well-disciplined unit which he was eager to test against the Revolutionary militia. During the battle Ferguson was killed by the Over-Mountain men.  

The Colonists were mad as hell and weren't gonna to take it no more !

The battle opened on October 7, 1780, when 900 frontiersmen (including John Crockett, the father of Davy Crockett), approached the steep base of King's Mountain at dawn. The rebels formed eight groups of 100 to 200 men. Two parties, led by Colonels John Sevier and William Campbell, assaulted the 'high heel' of the wooded mountain, the smallest area but highest point, while the other seven groups, led by Colonels Shelby, Williams, Lacey, Cleveland, Hambright, Winston and McDowell attacked the main Loyalist position by surrounding the 'ball' base beside the 'heel' crest of the mountain.

The frontiersmen crept up the hill and fired on the scarlet-clad Loyalists from behind rocks and trees. Ferguson rallied his troops and launched a bayonet charge against Campbell and Sevier's men. With no bayonets of their own, the rebels retreated down the hill and into the woods. Campbell rallied his own troops, returned to the base of the hill, and resumed firing. Two more times, Ferguson launched bayonet attacks. During one of the charges, Colonel Williams was killed and Colonel McDowell wounded. But after each charge, the frontiersmen returned to the base of the hill and resumed shooting. It was hard for the Loyalists to find a target because the frontiersmen were constantly moving using cover and concealment similar to training in use today.

After several hours of combat, Loyalist casualties were heavy. Ferguson rode back and forth across the hill, blowing a silver whistle he used to signal charges. Growing desperate, he slipped on a plaid shirt to cover his officer's coat. A soldier saw this and alerted his comrades immediately. At the crest, as the frontiersmen overran the Loyalist position, Ferguson fell dead from his saddle with eight rifle balls in his body.

Seeing their leader fall, Loyalists lost heart and began to raise their arms in surrender after many had been killed. Eager to avenge defeats at the Waxhaw Massacre and elsewhere, the rebels were in no mood to take prisoners. Rebels continued firing and shouted, "Give 'em Tarleton's Quarter!" But after a few more minutes of bloodletting, the colonels asserted control and gave quarter to around 700 Loyalists.

A bemused Mike, musing the Battlefield

The Battle of King's Mountain only lasted 65 minutes. On the Loyalist side, 225 were killed and 163 wounded, and 716 were taken prisoners. The frontier militia casualties were 28 killed and 62 wounded. Loyalist prisoners well enough to walk were herded to camps several miles from the battlefield. The dead and wounded were left on the field. The frontiersmen hung as many as nine Loyalists who had changed sides. Other accounts say that the Tories were tried before North Carolina judges for violation of the state's criminal laws. Those who were hanged were convicted of crimes such as pillaging. With the defeat as evidence of a ferocious colonial resistance, Cornwallis abandoned his plan to try to take North Carolina, and retreated to the south.

After the battle, Joseph Greer of the Watauga Association at Sycamore Shoals (located at what is today the city of Elizabethton, Tennessee) set off on a 600 mile, month-long expedition to notify the Continental Congress of the British defeat at the battle; he arrived in Philadelphia on November 7, 1780. Greer's report of the American Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, re-energized a downtrodden Continental Congress.  

Monument Alley on a Beautiful Day !!

It was a warm, crisp spring day for the Boys as they toured the entire 1.7 mile trek around the Kings Mountain National Park, walking amongst the multiple monuments and checking out the scenery of the battlefield and the surrounding mountain landscape as they wandered they envisioned how the American Troops led by Sevier and Shelby ran up the very steep incline, hiding behind the rock outcroppings and trees to take point blank shots at the British and what a battle it must have been.

Stoning Ferguson

As the Boys were walking back to the Visitor Center they came across Ferguson's Grave. As the  battle went badly for the Loyalists, and during the fighting, Ferguson was shot from his horse. He was dragged with his foot still in the saddle to the rebel side. When an American walked over for his surrender, he drew his pistol and shot the American as a last act of defiance. His corpse was found with several musket holes in his body. He was buried near the site of his fall. It was claimed – also by the Rebels themselves – that his corpse was ill-used before burial in an oxhide.

A lifelong bachelor, he was buried with one of his mistresses, 'Virginia Sal', who was also killed in the battle. In the 1920s the U.S. Government erected a marker at his gravesite, which today is a part of the Kings Mountain National Military Park, a unit of the National Park Service. Despite the earlier abuse, as a sign of respect, the American's buried Ferguson in the fashion of his native Scotland, in a stone cairn. Bone continued a long standing tradition, again of respect for the fallen, of throwing a stone at Ferguson's grave stone.

After "Stoning Ferguson" Mike and Bone head back up towards Charlotte to visit the Waxhaws !

Waxing Poetic in the Waxhaw's!

The Waxhaws is the region were cadres of very independent Scotch-Irish settled in the early 1700's, which spawned its most famous citizen Andrew Jackson. Mike and Bone were duly unimpressed with the Andrew Jackson Museum and left quickly to grab a cup of Joe in quaint downtown Waxhaws.

By now it was pushing 4:00 PM and the Boys still wanted to see the Cowpens National Battlefield. The Battle of the Cowpens is the epic end of  Mel Gibson Movie the "Patriot"; so with the Movie in mind they jumped in the rental and raced down to the Battlefield to only be ...............................

Flanking the Cowpens !!

"Denied  !!!!" Despite the racing they arrived right at 5:00, the time the Park closes. Not to be denied Bone saw a access road near a walking trail, so the Boys walked the mile trail into the Park from the backside. as they walked Bone related to Mike the story of the Cowpens.

The Battle of Cowpens was fought on January 17, 1781, during the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War and was an overwhelming victory by American Revolutionary forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.

It was a turning point in the re-conquest of South Carolina from the British, and went down in history as the great American tactical masterpiece of the war. The Colonial forces were commanded by Brigadier-General Daniel Morgan. Although Morgan claimed in his official report to have had only a few over 800 men at Cowpens.  Morgan's Continentals were veterans, and many of his militia, which included some Over-Mountain Men, had seen service at the Battle of Musgrove Mill and the Battle of Kings Mountain.

British General Lord Cornwallis instructed Tarleton and his Legion, who had been successful at battles such as Camden and Waxhaw in the past, to destroy Morgan's command. Tarleton's previous victories had been won by bold attacks, often despite being outnumbered. American commander Nathanael Greene had taken the daring step of dividing his army, detaching Morgan away from the main Patriot force. Morgan called Americans to gather at the cow pens (a grazing area), which were a familiar landmark. Tarleton attacked with his customary boldness but without regard for the fact Morgan had much more time to prepare. He was consequently caught in a double envelopment. Only Tarleton and about 260 British troops escaped.

"Knowin' the lay of the Land" Daniel Morgan knew that he should use the unique landscape of Cowpens and the time available before Tarleton's arrival to his advantage. Furthermore, he knew his men and his opponent, knew how they would react in certain situations, and used this knowledge to his advantage.

To begin with, the location of his forces were contrary to any existing military doctrine: he placed his army between the Broad River and the Pacolet River, thus making escape impossible if the army were routed. His reason for cutting off escape was obvious; to ensure that the untrained militiamen would not, as they had been accustomed to do, turn in flight at the first hint of battle and abandon the regulars. Selecting a hill as the center of his position, he placed his Continental infantry on it, deliberately leaving his flanks exposed to his opponent. Morgan reasoned that Tarleton would attack him head on, and he made his tactical preparations accordingly. He set up three lines of soldiers: one of skirmishers (sharpshooters), one of militia, and a main one. The 150 select skirmishers were from North Carolina, behind these men were 300 militiamen.

The Cowpens Monument

"2 Shots" Realizing that poorly trained militia were unreliable in battle, especially when they were under attack from cavalry, Morgan decided to ask the militia to fire two shots and then retreat, so he could have them reform under cover of the reserve (cavalry commanded by William Washington and James McCall) behind the third, more experienced line of militia and continentals. The movement of the militia in the second line would unmask the third line to the British. The third line, composed of the remainder of the forces (about 550 men) was composed of Continentals from Delaware and Maryland, and militiamen from Georgia and Virginia. Colonel John Eager Howard commanded the Continentals and Colonels Tate and Triplett the militia. The goal of this strategy was to weaken and disorganize Tarleton's forces (which would be attacking the third line uphill) before attacking and defeating them. Howard’s men would not be unnerved by the militia’s expected move, and unlike the militia they would be able to stand and hold, especially since the first and second lines, Morgan felt, would have inflicted both physical and psychological attrition on the advancing British before the third line came into action.

Additionally, by placing his men downhill from the advancing British lines, Morgan exploited the British tendency to fire too high in battle. The downhill position of his forces allowed the British forces to be silhouetted against the morning sunlight, providing easy targets for Patriot troops. With a ravine on their right flank and a creek on their left flank, Morgan's forces were protected against British flanking maneuvers at the beginning of the battle. Morgan insisted, "the whole idea is to lead Tarleton into a trap so we can beat his cavalry and infantry as they come up those slopes.

After walking the Battlefield and realizing it was much smaller than the battle shown in the Patriot, Mike and Bone worked up a terrible thirst, for which only a drink in Ashville would cure ! So off they trekked to eclectic Asheville !

Asheville Bar Hopping !!!

It took Mike and Bone about two hours to hit Asheville, which is quaintly nestled in the Appalachian Mountains by the Blue Ridge Parkway. Known as an artist community it is has a College Town-vibe with cool bars and restaurants along with a whole bunch of ex-hippies!

As soon as the Boys hit Asheville they dumped their stuff wandered through a weird Indian Wedding (dots, not feathers) and hit the streets looking for liquid sustenance !

Wandering through the city they encountered an eclectic "Polynesian" Bar with many locals. sidling up to the bar with many fellow tattooed patrons, Mike and Bone began their assault on the local booze supply. Mike indulged in a very tasty local American Ale, whist the Bone slurped on some "Dark and Stormy's", which is Rum and Ginger Beer. As both Boys gawked at the very comely Bar keep with here magnificent rack, well toned muscles and tattoos, Bone struck up a conversation with a local who stated that Asheville had only recently gentrified into the artist enclave it is now considered. Apparently it is a frequent vacation spot in the summer for Floridians looking to escape the summer heat for the fresh, cooler air in the mountains.

After a few more drinks the Boys moved on to a sports brew pub, the French Broad Brewing company, which has hundreds of beers on tap, for which the Boys felt some level of obligation to sample at least one of each.

However the exploits of the Petron XO from the previous evenings affairs quelled any major damage to the City of Ashevilles beer supply or the Boys gray matter. For which they decided to save for another night and retired at an uncharacteristic 1:00 AM