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Battle of King’s Mountain

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

October 30.—Colonels Campbell and Sevier have taken a great part of Cornwallis’ army, and a precious crew of Tories, at King’s Mountain.1 The battle took place on the 7th instant, and lasted more than an hour.2 The following is the official account:—”On receiving intelligence that Major Ferguson had advanced up as high as Gilbert town, in Rutherford county, and threatened to cross the mountains to the western waters, Colonel William Campbell, with four hundred men from Washington county in Virginia, Col. Isaac Shelby, with two hundred and forty men from Sullivan county in North Carolina, and Lieut.-Col. John Sevier, with two hundred and forty men of Washington county, North Carolina, assembled at Wattango, on the 25th of September, where they were joined by Col. Charles McDowell with one hundred and sixty men from the counties of Burke and Rutherford, who had fled before the enemy to the western waters. We began our march on the 26th, and on the 30th we were joined by Col. Cleveland, on the Catawba River, with three hundred and fifty men from the counties of Wilkes and Surrey. No one officer having properly a right to the command-in-chief, on the 1st of October we despatched an express to Major-General Gates, informing him of our situation, and requesting him to send a general officer to take command of the whole. In the mean time, Colonel Campbell was chosen to act as commandant, till such general officer should arrive. We marched to the Cowpens on Broad River, in South Carolina, where we were joined by Colonel James Williams, with four hundred men, on the evening of the 6th of October. He informed us that the enemy lay encamped somewhere near the Cherokee ford of Broad River, about thirty miles distant from us.

“By a council of the principal officers it was there thought advisable to pursue the enemy that night, with nine hundred of the best horsemen, and leave the weak horse and footmen to follow as fast as possible. We began our march with nine hundred of the best men about eight o’clock the same evening, and marching all night, came up with the enemy about three o’clock P. M. of the 7th. They were encamped on the top of King’s Mountain, twelve miles north of the Cherokee ford, in the confidence that they could not be forced from so advantageous a post. Previous to the attack, on our march, the following disposition was made: Colonel Shelby’s regiment formed a column in the centre on the left; Col. Campbell’s another on the right; part of Col. Cleveland’s regiment, headed in front by Major Winston, and Colonel Sevier’s, formed a large column on the right wing; the other part of Cleveland’s regiment, headed by Col. Cleveland himself, and Colonel Williams’s regiment, composed the left wing. In this order we advanced and got within a quarter of a mile of the enemy before we were discovered. Col. Shelby’s and Col. Campbell’s regiments began the attack, and kept up a fire on the enemy, while the right and left wings were advancing to surround them, which was done in about five minutes, and the fire became general all around. The engagement lasted an hour and five minutes, the greatest part of which time a heavy and incessant fire was kept up on both sides. Our men, in some parts where the regulars fought, were obliged to give way a small distance two or three times, but rallied and re turned with additional ardor to the attack. The troops upon the right having gained the summit of the eminence, obliged the enemy to retreat along the top of the ridge to where Col. Cleveland commanded, and were there stopped by his brave men; a flag was immediately hoisted by Captain Depeyster, the commanding officer, (Major Ferguson having been killed a little before,) for a surrender. Our fire immediately ceased, and the enemy laid down their arms, the greatest part of them loaded, and surrendered themselves prisoners to us at discretion. It appears from their own provision returns for that day, found in their camp, that their whole force consisted of eleven hundred and twenty-five men, out of which they sustained a very heavy loss.3


1 King’s Mountain is situated near the Cherokee Ford, in the northern part of South Carolina. The battle ground is about one mile and a half north of the South Carolina line.
2 Clift’s Diary.
3 Account of the action given by Colonels Campbell, Cleveland, and Shelby, in the New York Packet, November 23.