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The Winning of the West, Volume Two by Theodore Roosevelt

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price going to Saunders. The hunting season was to last from November
1st to January 15th. [Footnote: Original agreement in Durrett MSS.;
bound volume of "Papers Relating to G. R. Clark." This particular
agreement is for 1784; but apparently he entered into several such in
different years.]

Thus the settlers could no longer always kill their own game; and there
were churches, schools, mills, stores, race tracks, and markets in



Organization of the Holston Settlements.

The history of Kentucky and the Northwest has now been traced from the
date of the Cherokee war to the close of the Revolution. Those portions
of the southwestern lands that were afterwards made into the State of
Tennessee, had meanwhile developed with almost equal rapidity. Both
Kentucky and Tennessee grew into existence and power at the same time,
and were originally settled and built up by precisely the same class of
American backwoodsmen. But there were one or two points of difference in
their methods of growth. Kentucky sprang up afar off in the wilderness,
and as a separate entity from the beginning. The present State has grown
steadily from a single centre, which was the part first settled; and the
popular name of the commonwealth has always been Kentucky. Tennessee, on
the other hand, did not assume her present name until a quarter of a
century after the first exploration and settlement had begun; and the
State grew from two entirely distinct centres. The first settlements,
known as the Watauga, or afterwards more generally as the Holston,
settlements, grew up while keeping close touch with the Virginians, who
lived round the Tennessee head-waters, and also in direct communication
with North Carolina, to which State they belonged. It was not until 1779
that a portion of these Holston people moved to the bend of the
Cumberland River and started a new community, exactly as Kentucky had
been started before. At first this new community, known as the
Cumberland settlement, was connected by only the loosest tie with the
Holston settlements. The people of the two places were not grouped
together; they did not even have a common name. The three clusters of
Holston, Cumberland, and Kentucky settlements developed independently of
one another, and though their founders were in each case of the same
kind, they were at first only knit one to another by a lax bond of

In 1776 the Watauga pioneers probably numbered some six hundred souls in
all. Having at last found out the State in which they lived, they
petitioned North Carolina to be annexed thereto as a district or county.
The older settlements had evidently been jealous of them, for they found
it necessary to deny that they were, as had been asserted, "a lawless
mob"; it may be remarked that the Transylvanian colonists had been
obliged to come out with a similar statement. In their petition they
christened their country "Washington District," in honor of the great
chief whose name already stood first in the hearts of all Americans. The
document was written by Sevier. It set forth the history of the
settlers, their land purchases from the Indians, their successful effort
at self-government, their military organization, with Robertson as
captain, and finally their devotion to the Revolutionary cause; and
recited their lack of proper authority to deal promptly with felons,
murderers, and the like, who came in from the neighboring States, as the
reason why they wished to become a self-governing portion of North
Carolina. [Footnote: The petition, drawn up in the summer of '76, was
signed by 112 men. It is given in full by Ramsey, p. 138. See also
Phelan, p. 40.] The legislature of the State granted the prayer of the
petitioners, Washington District was annexed, and four representatives
therefrom, one of them Sevier, took their seats that fall in the
Provincial Congress at Halifax. But no change whatever was made in the
government of the Watauga people until 1777. In the spring of that year
laws were passed providing for the establishment of courts of pleas and
quarter sessions in the district, as well as for the appointment of
justices of the peace, sheriffs, and militia officers; and in the fall
the district was made a county, under the same name. The boundaries of
Washington County were the same as those of the present State of
Tennessee, and seem to have been outlined by Sevier, the only man who at
that time had a clear idea as to what should be the logical and definite
limits of the future State.

Upholding the Law.

The nominal change of government worked little real alteration in the
way the Holston people managed their affairs. The members of the old
committee became the justices of the new court, and, with a slight
difference in forms, proceeded against all offenders with their former
vigor. Being eminently practical men, and not learned in legal
technicalities, their decisions seem to have been governed mainly by
their own ideas of justice, which, though genuine, were rough. As the
war progressed and the southern States fell into the hands of the
British, the disorderly men who had streamed across the mountains became
openly defiant towards the law. The tories gathered in bands, and every
man who was impatient of legal restraint, every murderer, horse-thief,
and highway robber in the community flocked to join them. The militia
who hunted them down soon ceased to discriminate between tories and
other criminals, and the courts rendered decisions to the same effect.
The caption of one indictment that has been preserved reads against the
defendant "in toryism." He was condemned to imprisonment during the war,
half his goods was confiscated to the use of the State, and the other
half was turned over for the support of his family. In another case the
court granted a still more remarkable order, upon the motion of the
State attorney, which set forth that fifteen hundred pounds, due to a
certain H., should be retained in the hands of the debtor, because
"there is sufficient reason to believe that the said H's estate will be
confiscated to the use of the State for his misdemeanours."

There is something refreshing in the solemnity with which these
decisions are recorded, and the evident lack of perception on the part
of the judges that their records would, to their grandchildren, have a
distinctly humorous side. To tories, and evil-doers generally, the humor
was doubtless very grim; but as a matter of fact, the decisions, though
certainly of unusual character, were needful and just. The friends of
order had to do their work with rough weapons, and they used them most
efficiently. Under the stress of so dire an emergency as that they
confronted they were quite right in attending only to the spirit of law
and justice, and refusing to be hampered by the letter. They would have
discredited their own energy and hard common-sense had they acted
otherwise, and, moreover, would have inevitably failed to accomplish
their purpose.

In the summer of '78, when Indian hostilities almost entirely ceased,
most of the militia were disbanded, and, in consequence, the parties of
tories and horse-thieves sprang into renewed strength, and threatened to
overawe the courts and government officers. Immediately the leaders
among the whigs, the friends of order and liberty, gathered together and
organized a vigilance committee. The committee raised two companies of
mounted riflemen, who were to patrol the country and put to death all
suspicious characters who resisted them or who refused to give security
to appear before the committee in December. The proceedings of the
committee were thus perfectly open; the members had no idea of acting
secretly or against order. It was merely that in a time of general
confusion they consolidated themselves into a body which was a most
effective, though irregular, supporter of the cause of law. The mounted
riflemen scoured the country and broke up the gangs of evil-doers,
hanging six or seven of the leaders, while a number of the less
prominent were brought before the committee, who fined some and
condemned others to be whipped or branded. All of doubtful loyalty were
compelled to take the test oath. [Footnote: Haywood, p. 58. As
Haywood's narrative is based largely on what the pioneers in their old
age told him, his dates, and especially his accounts of the numbers and
losses of the Indians in their battles, are often very inaccurate. In
this very chapter he gives, with gross inaccuracy of detail, an account
of one of Sevier's campaigns as taking place in 1779, whereas it really
occurred after his return from King's Mountain. There is therefore need
to be cautious in using him.]

Such drastic measures soon brought about peace; but it was broken again
and again by similar risings and disturbances. By degrees most of the
worst characters fled to the Cherokees, or joined the British as their
forces approached the up-country. Until the battle of Kings Mountain,
the pioneers had to watch the tories as closely as they did the Indians;
there was a constant succession of murders, thefts, and savage
retaliations. Once a number of tories attempted to surprise and murder
Sevier in his own house; but the plot was revealed by the wife of the
leader, to whom Sevier's wife had shown great kindness in her time of
trouble. In consequence the tories were themselves surprised and their
ringleaders slain. Every man in the country was obliged to bear arms the
whole time, not only because of the Indian warfare, but also on account
of the inveterate hatred and constant collisions between the whigs and
the loyalists. Many dark deeds were done, and though the tories, with
whom the criminal classes were in close alliance, were generally the
first and chief offenders, yet the patriots cannot be held guiltless of
murderous and ferocious reprisals. They often completely failed to
distinguish between the offenders against civil order, and those whose
only crime was an honest, if mistaken, devotion to the cause of the

Land laws

Early in '78 a land office was opened in the Holston settlements, and
the settlers were required to make entries according to the North
Carolina land laws. Hitherto they had lived on their clearings
undisturbed, resting their title upon purchase from the Indians and upon
their own mutual agreements. The old settlers were given the prior right
to the locations, and until the beginning of '79 in which to pay for
them. Each head of a family was allowed to take up six hundred and forty
acres for himself, one hundred for his wife, and one hundred for each of
his children, at the price of forty shillings per hundred acres, while
any additional amount cost at the rate of one hundred shillings, instead
of forty. All of the men of the Holston settlements were at the time in
the service of the State as militia, in the campaign against the
Indians; and when the land office was opened, the money that was due
them sufficed to pay for their claims. They thus had no difficulty in
keeping possession of their lands, much to the disappointment of the
land speculators, many of whom had come out at the opening of the
office. Afterwards large tracts were given as bounty, or in lieu of pay,
to the Revolutionary soldiers. All the struggling colonies used their
wild land as a sort of military chest; it was often the only security of
value in their possession.

The same year that the land office was opened, it was enacted that the
bridle path across the mountains should be chopped out and made into a
rough wagon road. [Footnote: However this was not actually done until
some years later.] The following spring the successful expedition
against the Chicamaugas temporarily put a stop to Indian troubles. The
growing security, the opening of the land office, and the increase of
knowledge concerning the country, produced a great inflow of settlers in
1779, and from that time onward the volume of immigration steadily

Character and Life of the Settlers.

Many of these new-comers were "poor whites," or crackers; lank, sallow,
ragged creatures, living in poverty, ignorance, and dirt, who regarded
all strangers with suspicion as "outlandish folks." [Footnote: Smythe's
Tours, I., 103, describes the up-country crackers of North Carolina and
Virginia.] With every chance to rise, these people remained mere squalid
cumberers of the earth's surface, a rank, up-country growth, containing
within itself the seeds of vicious, idle pauperism, and
semi-criminality. They clustered in little groups, scattered throughout
the backwoods settlements, in strong contrast to the vigorous and manly
people around them.

By far the largest number of the new-comers were of the true, hardy
backwoods stock, fitted to grapple with the wilderness and to hew out of
it a prosperous commonwealth. The leading settlers began, by thrift and
industry, to acquire what in the backwoods passed for wealth. Their
horses, cattle, and hogs throve and multiplied. The stumps were grubbed
out of the clearings, and different kinds of grains and roots were
planted. Wings were added to the houses, and sometimes they were roofed
with shingles. The little town of Jonesboro, the first that was not a
mere stockaded fort, was laid off midway between the Watauga and the

As soon as the region grew at all well settled, clergymen began to come
in. Here, as elsewhere, most of the frontiersmen who had any religion at
all professed the faith of the Scotch-Irish; and the first regular
church in this cradle-spot of Tennessee was a Presbyterian log
meeting-house, built near Jonesboro in 1777, and christened Salem
Church. Its pastor was a pioneer preacher, who worked with fiery and
successful energy to spread learning and religion among the early
settlers of the southwest. His name was Samuel Doak. He came from New
Jersey, and had been educated in Princeton. Possessed of the vigorous
energy that marks the true pioneer spirit, he determined to cast in his
lot with the frontier folk. He walked through Maryland and Virginia,
driving before him an old "flea-bitten grey" horse, loaded with a
sackful of books; crossed the Alleghanies, and came down along blazed
trails to the Holston settlements. The hardy people among whom he took
up his abode were able to appreciate his learning and religion as much
as they admired his adventurous and indomitable temper; and the stern,
hard, God-fearing man became a most powerful influence for good
throughout the whole formative period of the southwest. [Footnote: See
"East Tennessee a Hundred Years Ago," by the Hon. John Allison,
Nashville, 1887, p. 8.]

Not only did he found a church, but near it he built a log high-school,
which soon became Washington College, the first institution of the kind
west of the Alleghanies. Other churches, and many other schools, were
soon built. Any young man or woman who could read, write, and cipher
felt competent to teach an ordinary school; higher education, as
elsewhere at this time in the west, was in the hands of the clergy.

As elsewhere, the settlers were predominantly of Calvinistic stock; for
of all the then prominent faiths Calvinism was nearest to their feelings
and ways of thought. Of the great recognized creeds it was the most
republican in its tendencies, and so the best suited to the
backwoodsmen. They disliked Anglicanism as much as they abhorred and
despised Romanism--theoretically at least, for practically then as now
frontiersmen were liberal to one another's religious opinions, and the
staunch friend and good hunter might follow whatever creed he wished,
provided he did not intrude it on others. But backwoods Calvinism
differed widely from the creed as first taught. It was professed by
thorough-going Americans, essentially free and liberty-loving, who would
not for a moment have tolerated a theocracy in their midst. Their
social, religious, and political systems were such as naturally
flourished in a country remarkable for its temper of rough and
self-asserting equality. Nevertheless the old Calvinistic spirit left a
peculiar stamp on this wild border democracy. More than any thing else,
it gave the backwoodsmen their code of right and wrong. Though they were
a hard, narrow, dogged people, yet they intensely believed in their own
standards and ideals. Often warped and twisted, mentally and morally, by
the strain of their existence, they at least always retained the
fundamental virtues of hardihood and manliness.

Presbyterianism was not, however, destined even here to remain the
leading frontier creed. Other sects still more democratic, still more in
keeping with backwoods life and thought, largely supplanted it.
Methodism did not become a power until after the close of the
Revolution; but the Baptists followed close on the heels of the
Presbyterians. They, too, soon built log meeting-houses here and there,
while their preachers cleared the forest and hunted elk and buffalo like
the other pioneer settlers. [Footnote: Ramsey, 144.]

To all the churches the preacher and congregation alike went armed, the
latter leaning their rifles in their pews or near their seats, while the
pastor let his stand beside the pulpit. On week-days the clergymen
usually worked in the fields in company with the rest of the settlers;
all with their rifles close at hand and a guard stationed. In more than
one instance when such a party was attacked by Indians the servant of
the Lord showed himself as skilled in the use of carnal weapons as were
any of his warlike parishioners.

The leaders of the frontiersmen were drawn from among several families,
which, having taken firm root, were growing into the position of
backwoods gentry. Of course the use of this term does not imply any
sharp social distinctions in backwoods life, for there were none such.
The poorest and richest met on terms of perfect equality, slept in one
another's houses, and dined at one another's tables. But certain
families, by dint of their thrift, the ability they showed in civil
affairs, or the prowess of some of their members in time of war, had
risen to acknowledged headship.

The part of Washington County northwest of the Holston was cut off and
made into the county of Sullivan by the North Carolina Legislature in
1779. In this part the Shelbys were the leading family; and Isaac Shelby
was made county lieutenant. It had been the debatable ground between
Virginia and North Carolina, the inhabitants not knowing to which
province they belonged, and sometimes serving the two governments
alternately. When the line was finally drawn, old Evan Shelby's estate
was found to lie on both sides of it; and as he derived his title from
Virginia, he continued to consider himself a Virginian, and held office
as such. [Footnote: Campbell MSS. Notes by Gov. David Campbell.]

In Washington County Sevier was treated as practically commander of the
militia some time before he received his commission as county
lieutenant. He was rapidly becoming the leader of the whole district. He
lived in a great, rambling one-story log house on the Nolichucky, a
rude, irregular building with broad verandas and great stone
fire-places. The rooms were in two groups, which were connected by a
covered porch--a "dog alley," as old settlers still call it, because the
dogs are apt to sleep there at night. Here he kept open house to all
comers, for he was lavishly hospitable, and every one was welcome to bed
and board, to apple-jack and cider, hominy and corn-bread, beef,
venison, bear meat, and wild fowl. When there was a wedding or a
merrymaking of any kind he feasted the neighborhood, barbecuing
oxen--that is, roasting them whole on great spits,--and spreading board
tables out under the trees. He was ever on the alert to lead his mounted
riflemen against the small parties of marauding Indians that came into
the country. He soon became the best commander against Indians that
there was on this part of the border, moving with a rapidity that
enabled him again and again to overtake and scatter their roving
parties, recovering the plunder and captives, and now and then taking a
scalp or two himself. His skill and daring, together with his unfailing
courtesy, ready tact, and hospitality, gained him unbounded influence
with the frontiersmen, among whom he was universally known as
"Nolichucky Jack." [Footnote: MSS. "Notes of Conversations with Old
Pioneers," by Ramsey, in Tenn. Hist. Soc. Campbell MSS.]

The Virginian settlements on the Holston, adjoining those of North
Carolina, were in 1777 likewise made into a county of Washington. The
people were exactly the same in character as those across the line; and
for some years the fates of all these districts were bound up together.
Their inhabitants were still of the usual backwoods type, living by
tilling their clearings and hunting; the elk and buffalo had become very
scarce, but there were plenty of deer and bear, and in winter countless
wild swans settled down on the small lakes and ponds. The boys followed
these eagerly; one of them, when an old man, used to relate how his
mother gave him a pint of cream for every swan he shot, with the result
that he got the pint almost every day. [Footnote: "Sketch of Mrs.
Elizabeth Russell," by her grandson, Thomas L. Preston, Nashville, 1888,
p. 29. An interesting pamphlet.]

The leading family among these Holston Virginians was that of the
Campbells, who lived near Abingdon. They were frontier farmers, who
chopped down the forest and tilled the soil with their own hands. They
used the axe and guided the plow as skilfully as they handled their
rifles; they were also mighty hunters, and accustomed from boyhood to
Indian warfare. The children received the best schooling the back
country could afford, for they were a book-loving race, fond of reading
and study as well as of out-door sports. The two chief members were
cousins, Arthur and William. Arthur was captured by the northern Indians
when sixteen, and was kept a prisoner among them several years; when
Lord Dunmore's war broke out he made his escape, and acted as scout to
the Earl's army. He served as militia colonel in different Indian
campaigns, and was for thirty years a magistrate of the county; he was a
man of fine presence, but of jealous, ambitious, overbearing temper. He
combined with his fondness for Indian and hunter life a strong taste for
books, and gradually collected a large library. So keen were the
jealousies, bred of ambition, between himself and his cousin William
Campbell, they being the two ranking officers of the local forces, that
they finally agreed to go alternately on the different military
expeditions; and thus it happened that Arthur missed the battle of
King's Mountain, though he was at the time County Lieutenant.

William Campbell stood next in rank. He was a man of giant strength,
standing six feet two inches in height, and straight as a spear-shaft,
with fair complexion, red hair, and piercing, light blue eyes. A firm
friend and staunch patriot, a tender and loving husband and father,
gentle and courteous in ordinary intercourse with his fellows, he was,
nevertheless, if angered, subject to fits of raging wrath that impelled
him to any deed of violence. [Footnote: Campbell MSS. Notes, by Gov.
David Campbell.] He was a true type of the Roundheads of the frontier,
the earnest, eager men who pushed the border ever farther westward
across the continent. He followed Indians and tories with relentless and
undying hatred; for the long list of backwoods virtues did not include
pity for either public or private foes. The tories threatened his life
and the lives of his friends and families; they were hand in glove with
the outlaws who infested the borders, the murderers, horse-thieves, and
passers of counterfeit money. He hunted them down with a furious zest,
and did his work with merciless thoroughness, firm in the belief that he
thus best served the Lord and the nation. One or two of his deeds
illustrate admirably the grimness of the times, and the harsh contrast
between the kindly relations of the border folks with their friends, and
their ferocity towards their foes. They show how the better
backwoodsmen, the upright, church-going men, who loved their families,
did justice to their neighbors, and sincerely tried to serve God, not
only waged an unceasing war on the red and white foes of the State and
of order, but carried it on with a certain ruthlessness that indicated
less a disbelief in, than an utter lack of knowledge of, such a virtue
as leniency to enemies.

One Sunday Campbell was returning from church with his wife and some
friends, carrying his baby on a pillow in front of his saddle, for they
were all mounted. Suddenly a horseman crossed the road close in front of
them, and was recognized by one of the party as a noted tory. Upon being
challenged, he rode off at full speed. Instantly Campbell handed the
baby to a negro slave, struck spur into his horse, and galloping after
the fugitive, overtook and captured him. The other men of the party came
up a minute later. Several recognized the prisoner as a well-known tory;
he was riding a stolen horse; he had on him letters to the British
agents among the Cherokees, arranging for an Indian rising. The party of
returning church-goers were accustomed to the quick and summary justice
of lynch law. With stern gravity they organized themselves into a court.
The prisoner was adjudged guilty, and was given but a short shrift; for
the horsemen hung him to a sycamore tree before they returned to the
road where they had left their families.

On another occasion, while Campbell was in command of a camp of militia,
at the time of a Cherokee outbreak, he wrote a letter to his wife, a
sister of Patrick Henry, that gives us a glimpse of the way in which he
looked at Indians. His letter began, "My dearest Betsy"; in it he spoke
of his joy at receiving her "sweet and affectionate letter"; he told how
he had finally got the needles and pins she wished, and how pleased a
friend had been with the apples she had sent him. He urged her to buy a
saddle-horse, of which she had spoken, but to be careful that it did not
start nor stumble, which were bad faults, "especially in a woman's
hackney." In terms of endearment that showed he had not sunk the lover
in the husband, he spoke of his delight at being again in the house
where he had for the first time seen her loved face, "from which happy
moment he dated the hour of all his bliss," and besought her not to
trouble herself too much about him, quoting to her Solomon's account of
a good wife, as reminding him always of her; and he ended by commending
her to the peculiar care of Heaven. It was a letter that it was an honor
to a true man to have written; such a letter as the best of women and
wives might be proud to have received. Yet in the middle of it he
promised to bring a strange trophy to show his tender and God-fearing
spouse. He was speaking of the Indians; how they had murdered men,
women, and children near-by, and how they had been beaten back; and he
added: "I have now the scalp of one who was killed eight or nine miles
from my house about three weeks ago. The first time I go up I shall take
it along to let you see it." Evidently it was as natural for him to
bring home to his wife and children the scalp of a slain Indian as the
skin of a slain deer. [Footnote: See Preston's pamphlet on Mrs. Russell,
pp. 11-18.]

The times were hard, and they called for men of flinty fibre. Those of
softer, gentler mould would have failed in the midst of such
surroundings. The iron men of the border had a harsh and terrible task
allotted them; and though they did it roughly, they did it thoroughly
and on the whole well. They may have failed to learn that it is good to
be merciful, but at least they knew that it is still better to be just
and strong and brave; to see clearly one's rights, and to guard them
with a ready hand.

These frontier leaders were generally very jealous of one another. The
ordinary backwoodsmen vied together as hunters, axemen, or wrestlers; as
they rose to leadership their rivalries grew likewise, and the more
ambitious, who desired to become the civil and military chiefs of the
community, were sure to find their interests clash. Thus old Evan Shelby
distrusted Sevier; Arthur Campbell was jealous of both Sevier and Isaac
Shelby; and the two latter bore similar feelings to William Campbell.
When a great crisis occurred all these petty envies were sunk; the
nobler natures of the men came uppermost; and they joined with unselfish
courage, heart and hand, to defend their country in the hour of her
extreme need. But when the danger was over the old jealousies cropped
out again.

Some one or other of the leaders was almost always employed against the
Indians. The Cherokees and Creeks were never absolutely quiet and at

Indian Troubles.

After the chastisement inflicted upon the former by the united forces of
all the southern backwoodsmen, treaties were held with them, [Footnote:
See _ante_, Chapter XI. of Vol. I.] in the spring and summer of 1777.
The negotiations consumed much time, the delegates from both sides
meeting again and again to complete the preliminaries. The credit of the
State being low, Isaac Shelby furnished on his own responsibility the
goods and provisions needed by the Virginians and Holston people in
coming to an agreement with the Otari, or upper Cherokees [ Footnote:
Shelby's MS. autobiography, copy in Col. Durrett's library.]; and some
land was formally ceded to the whites.

But the chief Dragging Canoe would not make peace. Gathering the boldest
and most turbulent of the young braves about him, he withdrew to the
great whirl in the Tennessee, [Footnote: Va. State Papers, III., 271;
the settlers always spoke of it as the "suck" or "whirl."] at the
crossing-place of the Creek war parties, when they followed the trail
that led to the bend of the Cumberland River. Here he was joined by many
Creeks, and also by adventurous and unruly members from almost all the
western tribes [Footnote: Shelby MS.]--Chickasaws, Chocktaws, and
Indians from the Ohio. He soon had a great band of red outlaws round
him. These freebooters were generally known as the Chickamaugas, and
they were the most dangerous and least controllable of all the foes who
menaced the western settlements. Many tories and white refugees from
border justice joined them, and shared in their misdeeds. Their shifting
villages stretched from Chickamauga Creek to Running Water. Between
these places the Tennessee twists down through the sombre gorges by
which the chains of the Cumberland ranges are riven in sunder. Some
miles below Chickamauga Creek, near Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain towers
aloft into the clouds; at its base the river bends round Moccasin Point,
and then rushes through a gap between Walden's Ridge and the Raccoon
Hills. Then for several miles it foams through the winding Narrows
between jutting cliffs and sheer rock walls, while in its boulder-strewn
bed the swift torrent is churned into whirlpools, cataracts, and rapids.
Near the Great Crossing, where the war parties and hunting parties were
ferried over the river, lies Nick-a-jack Cave, a vast cavern in the
mountain side. Out of it flows a stream, up which a canoe can paddle two
or three miles into the heart of the mountain. In these high fastnesses,
inaccessible ravines, and gloomy caverns the Chickamaugas built their
towns, and to them they retired with their prisoners and booty after
every raid on the settlements.

No sooner had the preliminary treaty been agreed to in the spring of '77
than the Indians again began their ravages. In fact, there never was any
real peace. After each treaty the settlers would usually press forward
into the Indian lands, and if they failed to do this the young braves
were sure themselves to give offence by making forays against the
whites. On this occasion the first truce or treaty was promptly broken
by the red men. The young warriors refused to be bound by the promises
of the chiefs and headmen, and they continued their raids for scalps,
horses, and plunder. Within a week of the departure of the Indian
delegates from the treaty ground in April, twelve whites were murdered
and many horses stolen. Robertson, with nine men, followed one of these
marauding parties, killed one Indian, and retook ten horses; on his
return he was attacked by a large band of Creeks and Cherokees, and two
of his men were wounded; but he kept hold of the recaptured horses and
brought them safely in. [Footnote: Chas. Robertson to Captain-General of
North Carolina, April 27, 1777.] On the other hand, a white scoundrel
killed an Indian on the treaty ground, in July, the month in which the
treaties were finally completed in due form. By act of the Legislature
the Holston militia were kept under arms throughout most of the year,
companies of rangers, under Sevier's command, scouring the woods and
canebrakes, and causing such loss to the small Indian war parties that
they finally almost ceased their forays. Bands of these Holston rangers
likewise crossed the mountains by Boon's trail, and went to the relief
of Boonsborough and St. Asaphs, in Kentucky, then much harassed by the
northwestern warriors. [Footnote: See _ante_ Chap. I.] Though they did
little or no fighting, and stayed but a few days, they yet by their
presence brought welcome relief to the hard-pressed Kentuckians.
[Footnote: Monette (followed by Ramsey and others) hopelessly confuses
these small relief expeditions; he portrays Logan as a messenger from
Boon's Station, is in error as to the siege of the latter, etc.]
Kentucky during her earliest and most trying years received
comparatively little help from sorely beset Virginia; but the
backwoodsmen of the upper Tennessee valley--on both sides of the
boundary--did her real and lasting service.

In 1778 the militia were disbanded, as the settlements were very little
harried; but as soon as the vigilance of the whites was relaxed the
depredations and massacres began again, and soon became worse than ever.
Robertson had been made superintendent of Indian affairs for North
Carolina; and he had taken up his abode among the Cherokees at the town
of Chota in the latter half of the year 1777. He succeeded in keeping
them comparatively quiet and peaceable during 1778, and until his
departure, which took place the following year, when he went to found
the settlements on the Cumberland River.

But the Chickamaugas refused to make peace, and in their frequent and
harassing forays they were from time to time joined by parties of young
braves from all the Cherokee towns that were beyond the reach of
Robertson's influence--that is, by all save those in the neighborhood of
Chota. The Chickasaws and Choctaws likewise gave active support to the
king's cause; the former scouted along the Ohio, the latter sent bands
of young warriors to aid the Creeks and Cherokees in their raids against
the settlements. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Letter of Rainsford and Tait
to Hamilton. April 9, 1779.]

The British agents among the southern Indians had received the letters
Hamilton sent them after he took Vincennes; in these they were urged at
once to send out parties against the frontier, and to make ready for a
grand stroke in the spring. In response the chief agent, who was the
Scotch captain Cameron, a noted royalist leader, wrote to his official
superior that the instant he heard of any movement of the northwestern
Indians he would see that it was backed up, for the Creeks were eager
for war, and the Cherokees likewise were ardently attached to the
British cause; as a proof of the devotion of the latter, he added: "They
keep continually killing and scalping in Virginia, North Carolina, and
the frontier of Georgia, although the rebels are daily threatening to
send in armies from all quarters and extirpate the whole tribe."
[Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Series B., Vol. 117, p. 131. Letter of
Alexander Cameron, July 15, 1779.] It would certainly be impossible to
desire better proof than that thus furnished by this royal officer, both
of the ferocity of the British policy towards the frontiersmen, and of
the treachery of the Indians, who so richly deserved the fate that
afterwards befell them.

While waiting for the signal from Hamilton, Cameron organized two Indian
expeditions against the frontier, to aid the movements of the British
army that had already conquered Georgia. A great body of Creeks,
accompanied by the British commissaries and most of the white traders
(who were, of course, tories), set out in March to join the king's
forces at Savannah; but when they reached the frontier they scattered
out to plunder and ravage. A body of Americans fell on one of their
parties and crushed it; whereupon the rest returned home in a fright,
save about seventy, who went on and joined the British. At the same time
three hundred Chickamaugas, likewise led by the resident British
commissaries, started out against the Carolina frontier. But Robertson,
at Chota, received news of the march, and promptly sent warning to the
Holston settlements [Footnote: _Do_. "A rebel commissioner in Chote
being informed of their movements here sent express into Holston river."
This "rebel commissioner" was in all probability Robertson.]; and the
Holston men, both of Virginia and North Carolina, decided immediately to
send an expedition against the homes of the war party. This would not
only at once recall them from the frontier, but would give them a
salutary lesson.

Accordingly the backwoods levies gathered on Clinch River, at the mouth
of Big Creek, April 10th, and embarked in pirogues and canoes to descend
the Tennessee. There were several hundred of them [Footnote: State
Department MSS. No. 51, Vol. II., p. 17, a letter from the British
agents among the Creeks to Lord George Germaine, of July 12, 1779. It
says, "near 300 rebels"; Haywood, whose accounts are derived from oral
tradition, says one thousand. Cameron's letter of July 15th in the
Haldimand MSS. says seven hundred. Some of them were Virginians who had
been designed for Clark's assistance in his Illinois campaign, but who
were not sent him. Shelby made a very clever stroke, but it had no
permanent effect, and it is nonsense to couple it, as has been recently
done, with Clark's campaigns.] under the command of Evan Shelby; Isaac
Shelby having collected the supplies for the expedition by his
individual activity and on his personal credit. The backwoodsmen went
down the river so swiftly that they took the Chickamaugas completely by
surprise, and the few warriors who were left in the villages fled to the
wooded mountains without offering any resistance. Several Indians were
killed [Footnote: Cameron in his letter says four, which is probably
near the truth. Haywood says forty, which merely represents the
backwoods tradition on the subject, and is doubtless a great
exaggeration.] and a number of their towns were burnt, together with a
great deal of corn; many horses and cattle were recaptured, and among
the spoils were large piles of deer hides, owned by a tory trader. The
troops then destroyed their canoes and returned home on foot, killing
game for their food; and they spread among the settlements many stories
of the beauty of the lands through which they had passed, so that the
pioneers became eager to possess them. The Chickamaugas were alarmed and
confounded by this sudden stroke; their great war band returned at once
to the burned towns, on being informed by swift runners of the
destruction that had befallen them. All thoughts of an immediate
expedition against the frontier were given up; peace talks were sent to
Evan Shelby [Footnote: State Department MSS. No. 71, Vol. I., p. 255,
letter of Evan Shelby, June 4, 1779.]; and throughout the summer the
settlements were but little molested.

Yet all the while they were planning further attacks; at the same time
that they sent peace talks to Shelby they sent war talks to the
Northwestern Indians, inviting them to join in a great combined movement
against the Americans. [Footnote: Haldimand MSS. Series B., Vol. 117, p.
157. A talk from the Cherokees to the envoy from the Wabash and other
Indians, July 12, 1779. One paragraph is interesting: "We cannot forget
the talk you brought us some years ago into this Nation, which was to
take up the hatchet against the Virginians. We heard and listened to it
with great attention, and before the time that was appointed to lift it
we took it up and struck the Virginians. Our Nation was alone and
surrounded by them. They were numerous and their hatchets were sharp;
and after we had lost some of our best warriors, we were forced to leave
our towns and corn to be burnt by them, and now we live in the grass as
you see us. But we are not yet conquered, and to convince you that we
have not thrown away your talk here are 4 strands of whampums we
received from you when you came before as a messenger to our Nation."]
When the news of Hamilton's capture was brought it wrought a momentary
discouragement; but the efforts of the British agents were unceasing,
and by the end of the year most of the southwestern Indians were again
ready to take up the hatchet. The rapid successes of the royal armies in
the southern States had turned the Creeks into open antagonists of the
Americans, and their war parties were sent out in quick succession, the
British agents keeping alive the alliance by a continued series of
gifts--for the Creeks were a venal, fickle race whose friendship could
not otherwise be permanently kept. [Footnote: State Department MSS.
Papers Continental Congress. Intercepted Letters, No. 51. Vol. II.
Letter of British Agents Messrs. Rainsford, Mitchell, and Macullagh, of
July 12, 1779. "The present unanimity of the Creek Nation is no doubt
greatly owing to the rapid successes of His Majesty's forces in the
Southern provinces, as they have now no cause to apprehend the least
danger from the Rebels ... we have found by experience that without
presents the Indians are not to be depended on."]

As for the Cherokees, they had not confined themselves to sending the
war belt to the northwestern tribes, while professing friendship for the
Americans; they had continued in close communication with the British
Indian agents, assuring them that their peace negotiations were only
shams, intended to blind the settlers, and that they would be soon ready
to take up the hatchet. [Footnote: _Do_., No. 71, Vol. II., p. 189.
Letter of David Tait to Oconostota. "I believe what you say about
telling lies to the Virginians to be very right."] This time Cameron
himself marched into the Cherokee country with his company of fifty
tories, brutal outlaws, accustomed to savage warfare, and ready to take
part in the worst Indian outrages. [Footnote: _Do_., No. 51, Vol. II.
Letter of the three agents. "The Cherokees are now exceedingly well
disposed. Mr. Cameron is now among them ... Captain Cameron has his
company of Loyal Refugees with him, who are well qualified for the
service they are engaged in.... He carried up with him a considerable
quantity of presents and ammunition which are absolutely necessary to
engage the Indians to go upon service."] The ensuing Cherokee war was
due not to the misdeeds of the settlers--though doubtless a few lawless
whites occasionally did wrong to their red neighbors--but to the
short-sighted treachery and ferocity of the savages themselves, and
especially to the machinations of the tories and British agents. The
latter unceasingly incited the Indians to ravage the frontier with torch
and scalping knife. They deliberately made the deeds of the torturers
and women-killers their own, and this they did with the approbation of
the British Government, and to its merited and lasting shame.

Yet by the end of 1779 the inrush of settlers to the Holston regions had
been so great that, as with Kentucky, there was never any real danger
after this year that the whites would be driven from the land by the red
tribes whose hunting-ground it once had been.



The British in the Southern States.

During the Revolutionary war the men of the west for the most part took
no share in the actual campaigning against the British and Hessians.
Their duty was to conquer and hold the wooded wilderness that stretched
westward to the Mississippi; and to lay therein the foundations of many
future commonwealths. Yet at a crisis in the great struggle for liberty,
at one of the darkest hours for the patriot cause, it was given to a
band of western men to come to the relief of their brethren of the
seaboard and to strike a telling and decisive blow for all America. When
the three southern provinces lay crushed and helpless at the feet of
Cornwallis, the Holston backwoodsmen suddenly gathered to assail the
triumphant conqueror. Crossing the mountains that divided them from the
beaten and despairing people of the tidewater region, they killed the
ablest lieutenant of the British commander, and at a single stroke undid
all that he had done.

By the end of 1779 the British had reconquered Georgia. In May, 1780,
they captured Charleston, speedily reduced all South Carolina to
submission, and then marched into the old North State. Cornwallis, much
the ablest of the British generals, was in command over a mixed force of
British, Hessian, and loyal American regulars, aided by Irish volunteers
and bodies of refugees from Florida. In addition, the friends to the
king's cause, who were very numerous in the southernmost States, rose at
once on the news of the British successes, and thronged to the royal
standards; so that a number of regiments of tory militia were soon
embodied. McGillivray, the Creek chief, sent bands of his warriors to
assist the British and tories on the frontier, and the Cherokees
likewise came to their help. The patriots for the moment abandoned hope,
and bowed before their victorious foes.

Cornwallis himself led the main army northward against the American
forces. Meanwhile he entrusted to two of his most redoubtable officers
the task of scouring the country, raising the loyalists, scattering the
patriot troops that were still embodied, and finally crushing out all
remaining opposition. These two men were Tarleton the dashing
cavalryman, and Ferguson the rifleman, the skilled partisan leader.

Colonel Ferguson.

Patrick Ferguson, the son of Lord Pitfour, was a Scotch soldier, at this
time about thirty-six years old, who had been twenty years in the
British army. He had served with distinction against the French in
Germany, had quelled a Carib uprising in the West Indies, and in 1777
was given the command of a company of riflemen in the army opposed to
Washington. [Footnote: "Biographical Sketch or Memoir of
Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Ferguson," by Adam Ferguson, LL.D.,
Edinburgh, 1817, p. 11. The copy was kindly lent me by Mr. Geo. H. Moore
of the Lenox Library.] He played a good part at Brandywine and Monmouth.
At the former battle he was wounded by an American sharpshooter, and had
an opportunity, of which he forbore taking advantage, to himself shoot
an American officer of high rank, who unsuspectingly approached the
place where he lay hid; he always insisted that the man he thus spared
was no less a person than Washington. While suffering from his wound,
Sir William Howe disbanded his rifle corps, distributing it among the
light companies of the different regiments; and its commander in
consequence became an unattached volunteer in the army. But he was too
able to be allowed to remain long unemployed. When the British moved to
New York he was given the command of several small independent
expeditions, and was successful in each case; once, in particular, he
surprised and routed Pulaski's legion, committing great havoc with the
bayonet, which was always with him a favorite weapon. His energy and
valor attracted much attention; and when a British army was sent against
Charleston and the South he went along, as a lieutenant-colonel of a
recently raised regular regiment, known as the American Volunteers.
[Footnote: Though called volunteers they were simply a regular regiment
raised in America instead of England; Ferguson's "Memoir" p. 30, etc.,
always speaks of them as regulars. The British gave an absurd number of
titles to their various officers; thus Ferguson was a brigadier-general
of militia, lieutenant-colonel of volunteers, a major in the army, etc.]

Cornwallis speedily found him to be peculiarly fitted for just such
service as was needed; for he possessed rare personal qualities. He was
of middle height and slender build, with a quiet, serious face and a
singularly winning manner; and withal, he was of literally dauntless
courage, of hopeful, eager temper, and remarkably fertile in shifts and
expedients. He was particularly fond of night attacks, surprises, and
swift, sudden movements generally, and was unwearied in drilling and
disciplining his men. Not only was he an able leader, but he was also a
finished horseman, and the best marksman with both pistol and rifle in
the British army. Being of quick, inventive mind, he constructed a
breech-loading rifle, which he used in battle with deadly effect. This
invention had been one of the chief causes of his being brought into
prominence in the war against America, for the British officers
especially dreaded the American sharpshooters. [Footnote: Ferguson's
"Memoir," p. 11.] It would be difficult to imagine a better partisan
leader, or one more fitted by his feats of prowess and individual skill,
to impress the minds of his followers. Moreover, his courtesy stood him
in good stead with the people of the country; he was always kind and
civil, and would spend hours in talking affairs over with them and
pointing out the mischief of rebelling against their lawful sovereign.
He soon became a potent force in winning the doubtful to the British
side, and exerted a great influence over the tories; they gathered
eagerly to his standard, and he drilled them with patient perseverance.

After the taking of Charleston Ferguson's volunteers and Tarleton's
legion, acting separately or together, speedily destroyed the different
bodies of patriot soldiers. Their activity and energy was such that the
opposing commanders seemed for the time being quite unable to cope with
them, and the American detachments were routed and scattered in quick
succession. [Footnote: "History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781,"
Lt.-Col. Tarleton, London (1787). See also the "Strictures" thereon, by
Roderick Mackenzie, London, same date.] On one of these occasions, the
surprise at Monk's Corners, where the American commander, Huger, was
slain, Ferguson's troops again had a chance to show their skill in the
use of the bayonet.

Tarleton did his work with brutal ruthlessness; his men plundered and
ravaged, maltreated prisoners, outraged women, and hung without mercy
all who were suspected of turning from the loyalist to the whig side.
His victories were almost always followed by massacres; in particular,
when he routed with small loss a certain Captain Buford, his soldiers
refused to grant quarter, and mercilessly butchered the beaten.
Americans. [Footnote: It is worth while remembering that it was not
merely the tories who were guilty of gross crimes; the British regulars,
including even some of their officers, often behaved with abhorrent

Ferguson, on the contrary, while quite as valiant and successful a
commander, showed a generous heart, and treated the inhabitants of the
country fairly well. He was especially incensed at any outrage upon
women, punishing the offender with the utmost severity, and as far as
possible he spared his conquered foes. Yet even Ferguson's tender
mercies must have seemed cruel to the whigs, as may be judged by the
following extract from a diary kept by one of his lieutenants [Footnote:
Diary of Lt. Anthony Allaire, entry for March 24, 1780.]: "This day Col.
Ferguson got the rear guard in order to do his King and country justice,
by protecting friends and widows, and destroying rebel property; also to
collect live stock for the use of the army. All of which we effect as we
go by destroying furniture, breaking windows, etc., taking all their
horned cattle, horses, mules, sheep, etc., and their negroes to drive
them." When such were the authorized proceedings of troops under even
the most merciful of the British commanders, it is easy to guess what
deeds were done by uncontrolled bodies of stragglers bent on plunder.

When Ferguson moved into the back country of the two Carolinas still
worse outrages followed. In the three southernmost of the thirteen
rebellious colonies there was a very large tory party. [Footnote: Gates
MSS., _passim_, for July-October, 1780. _E.g._, letter of Mr. Ramsey,
August 9, 1780, describes how "the Scotch are all lying out," the number
of tories in the "Drowning Creek region," their resistance to the levy
of cattle, etc. In these colonies, as in the middle colonies, the tory
party was very strong.] In consequence the struggle in the Carolinas and
Georgia took the form of a ferocious civil war. Each side in turn
followed up its successes by a series of hangings and confiscations,
while the lawless and violent characters fairly revelled in the
confusion. Neither side can be held guiltless of many and grave
misdeeds; but for reasons already given the bulk--but by no means the
whole--of the criminal and disorderly classes espoused the king's cause
in the regions where the struggle was fiercest. They murdered, robbed,
or drove off the whigs in their hour of triumph; and in turn brought
down ferocious reprisals on their own heads and on those of their
luckless associates.

Moreover Cornwallis and his under-officers tried to cow and overawe the
inhabitants by executing some of the men whom they deemed the chief and
most criminal leaders of the rebellion, especially such as had sworn
allegiance and then again taken up arms; [Footnote: Gates MSS. See Letter
from Sumter, August 12th and _passim_, for instances of hanging by
express command of the British officers.] of course retaliation in kind
followed. Ferguson himself hung some men; and though he did his best to
spare the country people, there was much plundering and murdering by his

In June he marched to upper South Carolina, moving to and fro, calling
out the loyal militia. They responded enthusiastically, and three or
four thousand tories were embodied in different bands. Those who came to
Ferguson's own standard were divided into companies and regiments, and
taught the rudiments of discipline by himself and his subalterns. He
soon had a large but fluctuating force under him; in part composed of
good men, loyal adherents of the king (these being very frequently
recent arrivals from England, or else Scotch highlanders), in part also
of cut-throats, horse-thieves, and desperadoes of all kinds who wished
for revenge on the whigs and were eager to plunder them. His own regular
force was also mainly composed of Americans, although it contained many
Englishmen. His chief subordinates were Lieutenant-Colonels De
Peyster [Footnote: A relative of the Detroit commander.] and Cruger; the
former usually serving under him, the latter commanding at Ninety-Six.
They were both New York loyalists, members of old Knickerbocker
families; for in New York many of the gentry and merchants stood by the

Ferguson Approaches the Mountains.

Ferguson moved rapidly from place to place, breaking up the bodies of
armed whigs; and the latter now and then skirmished fiercely with
similar bands of tories, sometimes one side winning sometimes the other.
Having reduced South Carolina to submission the British commander then
threatened North Carolina; and Col. McDowell, the commander of the whig
militia in that district, sent across the mountains to the Holston men
praying that they would come to his help. Though suffering continually
from Indian ravages, and momentarily expecting a formidable inroad, they
responded nobly to the call. Sevier remained to patrol the border and
watch the Cherokees, while Isaac Shelby crossed the mountains with a
couple of hundred mounted riflemen, early in July. The mountain men were
joined by McDowell, with whom they found also a handful of Georgians and
some South Carolinians; who when their States were subdued had fled
northward, resolute to fight their oppressors to the last.

The arrival of the mountain men put new life into the dispirited whigs.
On July 30th a mixed force, under Shelby and two or three local militia
colonels, captured Thickett's fort, with ninety tories, near the
Pacolet. They then camped at the Cherokee ford of Broad River, and sent
out parties of mounted men to carry on a guerilla or partisan warfare
against detachments, not choosing to face Ferguson's main body. After a
while they moved south to Cedar Spring. Here, on the 8th of August, they
were set upon by Ferguson's advanced guard, of dragoons and mounted
riflemen. These they repulsed, handling the British rather roughly; but,
as Ferguson himself came up, they fled, and though he pursued them
vigorously he could not overtake them. [Footnote: Shelby's MS.
Autobiography, and the various accounts he wrote of these affairs in his
old age (which Haywood and most of the other local American historians
follow or amplify), certainly greatly exaggerate the British force and
loss, as well as the part Shelby himself played, compared to the Georgia
and Carolina leaders. The Americans seemed to have outnumbered
Ferguson's advance guard, which was less than two hundred strong, about
three to one. Shelby's account of the Musgrove affair is especially
erroneous. See p. 120 of L. C. Draper's "King's Mountain and Its Heroes"
(Cincinnati, 1881). Mr. Draper has with infinite industry and research
gathered all the published and unpublished accounts and all the
traditions concerning the battle; his book is a mine of information on
the subject. He is generally quite impartial, but some of his
conclusions are certainly biassed; and the many traditional statements,
as well as those made by very old men concerning events that took place
fifty or sixty years previously, must be received with extreme caution.
A great many of them should never have been put in the book at all. When
they take the shape of anecdotes, telling how the British are overawed
by the mere appearance of the Americans on some occasion (as pp. 94, 95,
etc.), they must be discarded at once as absolutely worthless, as well
as ridiculous. The British and tory accounts, being forced to explain
ultimate defeat, are, if possible, even more untrustworthy, when taken
solely by themselves, than the American.]

On the 18th of the month the mountain men, assisted as usual by some
parties of local militia, all under their various colonels, performed
another feat; one of those swift, sudden strokes so dear to the hearts
of these rifle-bearing horsemen. It was of a kind peculiarly suited to
their powers; for they were brave and hardy, able to thread their way
unerringly through the forests, and fond of surprises; and though they
always fought on foot, they moved on horseback, and therefore with great
celerity. Their operations should be carefully studied by all who wish
to learn the possibilities of mounted riflemen. Yet they were impatient
of discipline or of regular service, and they really had no one
commander. The different militia officers combined to perform some
definite piece of work, but, like their troops, they were incapable of
long-continued campaigns; and there were frequent and bitter quarrels
between the several commanders, as well as between the bodies of men
they led.

It seems certain that the mountaineers were, as a rule, more formidable
fighters than the lowland militia, beside or against whom they battled;
and they formed the main strength of the attacking party that left the
camp at the Cherokee ford before sunset on the 17th. Ferguson's army was
encamped southwest of them, at Fair Forest Shoals; they marched round
him, and went straight on, leaving him in their rear. Sometimes they
rode through open forest, more often they followed the dim wood roads;
their horses pacing or cantering steadily through the night. As the day
dawned they reached Musgrove's Ford, on the Enoree, having gone forty
miles. Here they hoped to find a detachment of tory militia; but it had
been joined by a body of provincial regulars, the united force being
probably somewhat more numerous than that of the Americans. The latter
were discovered by a patrol, and the British after a short delay marched
out to attack them. The Americans in the meantime made good use of their
axes, felling trees for a breastwork, and when assailed they beat back
and finally completely routed their assailants. [Footnote: Shelby's
account of this action, written in his old age, is completely at fault;
he not only exaggerates the British force and loss, but he likewise
greatly overestimates the number of the Americans--always a favorite
trick of his. Each of the militia colonels of course claimed the chief
share of the glory of the day. Haywood, Ramsey, and even Phelan simply
follow Shelby. Draper gives all the different accounts; it is quite
impossible to reconcile them; but all admit that the British were

I have used the word "British"; but though there were some Englishmen
and Scotchmen among the tories and provincials, they were mainly
loyalist Americans.] However, the victory was of little effect, for just
as it was won word was brought to Shelby that the day before Cornwallis
had met Gates at Camden, and had not only defeated but practically
destroyed the American army; and on the very day of the fight on the
Enoree, Tarleton surprised Sumter, and scattered his forces to the four
winds. The panic among the whigs was tremendous, and the mountaineers
shared it. They knew that Ferguson, angered at the loss of his
detachment, would soon be in hot pursuit, and there was no time for
delay. The local militia made off in various directions; while Shelby
and his men pushed straight for the mountains, crossed them, and
returned each man to his own home. Ferguson speedily stamped out the few
remaining sparks of rebellion in South Carolina, and crossing the
boundary into the North State he there repeated the process. On
September 12th he caught McDowell and the only remaining body of militia
at Cane Creek, of the Catawba, and beat them thoroughly, [Footnote:
Draper apparently endorses the absurd tradition that makes this a whig
victory instead of a defeat. It seems certain (see Draper), contrary to
the statements of the Tennessee historians, that Sevier had no part in
these preliminary operations.] the survivors, including their commander,
fleeing over the mountains to take refuge with the Holston men. Except
for an occasional small guerilla party there was not a single organized
body of American troops left south of Gates' broken and dispirited army.

All the southern lands lay at the feet of the conquerors. The British
leaders, overbearing and arrogant, held almost unchecked sway throughout
the Carolinas and Georgia; and looking northward they made ready for the
conquest of Virginia. [Footnote: The northern portion of North Carolina
was still in possession of the remainder of Gates' army, but they could
have been brushed aside without an effort.] Their right flank was
covered by the waters of the ocean, their left by the high mountain
barrier-chains, beyond which stretched the interminable forest; and they
had as little thought of danger from one side as from the other.

The Mountaineers Gather to the Attack.

Suddenly and without warning, the wilderness sent forth a swarm of
stalwart and hardy riflemen, of whose very existence the British had
hitherto been ignorant. [Footnote: "A numerous army now appeared on the
frontier drawn from Nolachucky and other settlements beyond the
mountains, whose very names had been unknown to us." Lord Rawdon's
letter of October 24, 1780. Clarke of Georgia had plundered a convoy of
presents intended for the Indians, at Augusta, and the British wrongly
supposed this to be likewise the aim of the mountaineers.] Riders
spurring in hot haste brought word to the king's commanders that the
backwater men had come over the mountains. The Indian fighters of the
frontier, leaving unguarded their homes on the western waters, had
crossed by wooded and precipitous defiles, and were pouring down to the
help of their brethren of the plains.

Ferguson had pushed his victories to the foot of the Smoky and the
Yellow mountains. Here he learned, perhaps for the first time, that
there were a few small settlements beyond the high ranges he saw in his
front; and he heard that some of these backwoods mountaineers had
already borne arms against him, and were now harboring men who had fled
from before his advance. By a prisoner whom he had taken he at once sent
them warning to cease their hostilities, and threatened that if they did
not desist he would march across the mountains, hang their leaders, put
their fighting men to the sword, and waste their settlements with fire.
He had been joined by refugee tories from the Watauga, who could have
piloted him thither; and perhaps he intended to make his threats good.
It seems more likely that he paid little heed to the mountaineers,
scorning their power to do him hurt; though he did not regard them with
the haughty and ignorant disdain usually felt for such irregulars by the
British army officers.

When the Holston men learned that Ferguson had come to the other side of
the mountains, and threatened their chiefs with the halter and their
homes with the torch, a flame of passionate anger was kindled in all
their hearts. They did not wait for his attack; they sallied from their
strongholds to meet him. Their crops were garnered, their young men were
ready for the march; and though the Otari war bands lowered like
thunder-clouds on their southern border, they determined to leave only
enough men to keep the savages at bay for the moment, and with the rest
to overwhelm Ferguson before he could retreat out of their reach.
Hitherto the war with the British had been something afar off; now it
had come to their thresholds and their spirits rose to the danger.

Shelby was the first to hear the news. He at once rode down to Sevier's
home on the Nolichucky; for they were the two county lieutenants,
[Footnote: Shelby was regularly commissioned as county lieutenant.
Sevier's commission was not sent him until several weeks later; but he
had long acted as such by the agreement of the settlers, who paid very
little heed to the weak and disorganized North Carolina government.] who
had control of all the militia of the district. At Sevier's log-house
there was feasting and merry-making, for he had given a barbecue, and a
great horse race was to be run, while the backwoods champions tried
their skill as marksmen and wrestlers. In the midst of the merry-making
Shelby appeared, hot with hard riding, to tell of the British advance,
and to urge that the time was ripe for fighting, not feasting. Sevier at
once entered heartily into his friend's plan, and agreed to raise his
rifle-rangers, and gather the broken and disorganized refugees who had
fled across the mountains under McDowell. While this was being done
Shelby returned to his home to call out his own militia and to summon
the Holston Virginians to his aid. With the latter purpose he sent one
of his brothers to Arthur Campbell, the county lieutenant of his
neighbors across the border. Arthur at once proceeded to urge the
adoption of the plan on his cousin, William Campbell, who had just
returned from a short and successful campaign against the tories round
the head of the Kanawha, where he had speedily quelled an attempted

Gates had already sent William Campbell an earnest request to march down
with his troops and join the main army. This he could not do, as his
militia had only been called out to put down their own internal foes,
and their time of service had expired. [Footnote: Gates MSS. Letter of
William Campbell, Sept. 6, 1780. He evidently at the time failed to
appreciate the pressing danger; but he ended by saying that "if the
Indians were not harassing their frontier," and a corps of riflemen were
formed, he would do all in his power to forward them to Gates.] But the
continued advance of the British at last thoroughly alarmed the
Virginians of the mountain region. They promptly set about raising a
corps of riflemen, [Footnote: Gates MSS. Letter of William Preston,
Sept. 18, 1780. The corps was destined to join Gates, as Preston says;
hence Campbell's reluctance to go with Shelby and Sevier. There were to
be from five hundred to one thousand men. See letter of Wm. Davidson,
Sept. 18, 1780.] and as soon as this course of action was determined on
Campbell was foremost in embodying all the Holston men who could be
spared, intending to march westward and join any Virginia army that
might be raised to oppose Cornwallis. While thus employed he received
Shelby's request, and, for answer, at first sent word that he could not
change his plans; but on receiving a second and more urgent message he
agreed to come as desired. [Footnote: Shelby's MS. Autobiography.
Campbell MSS., especially MS. letters of Col. Arthur Campbell of Sept.
3, 1810, Oct. 18, 1810, etc.; MS. notes on Sevier in Tenn. Hist. Soc.
The latter consist of memoranda by his old soldiers, who were with him
in the battle; many of their statements are to be received cautiously,
but there seems no reason to doubt their account of his receiving the
news while giving a great barbecue. Shelby is certainly entitled to the
credit of planning and starting the campaign against Ferguson.]

The appointed meeting-place was at the Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga.
There the riflemen gathered on the 25th of September, Campbell bringing
four hundred men, Sevier and Shelby two hundred and forty each, while
the refugees under McDowell amounted to about one hundred and sixty.
With Shelby came his two brothers, one of whom was afterwards slightly
wounded at King's Mountain; while Sevier had in his regiment no less
than six relations of his own name, his two sons being privates, and his
two brothers captains. One of the latter was mortally wounded in the

To raise money for provisions Sevier and Shelby were obliged to take, on
their individual guaranties, the funds in the entry-taker's offices that
had been received from the sale of lands. They amounted in all to nearly
thirteen thousand dollars, every dollar of which they afterward

The March to the Battle.

On the 26th [Footnote: "State of the proceedings of the western army
from Sept. 25, 1780, to the reduction of Major Ferguson and the army
under his command," signed by Campbell, Shelby, and Cleavland. The
official report; it is in the Gates MSS. in the N. Y. Hist. Society. It
was published complete at the time, except the tabulated statement of
loss, which has never been printed; I give it further on.] they began
the march, over a thousand strong, most of them mounted on swift, wiry
horses. They were led by leaders they trusted, they were wonted to
Indian warfare, they were skilled as horsemen and marksmen, they knew
how to face every kind of danger, hardship, and privation. Their fringed
and tasselled hunting-shirts were girded in by bead-worked belts, and
the trappings of their horses were stained red and yellow. On their
heads they wore caps of coon-skin or mink-skin, with the tails hanging
down, or else felt hats, in each of which was thrust a buck-tail or a
sprig of evergreen. Every man carried a small-bore rifle, a tomahawk,
and a scalping knife. A very few of the officers had swords, and there
was not a bayonet nor a tent in the army. [Footnote: Gen. Wm. Lenoir's
account, prepared for Judge A. D. Murphy's intended history of North
Carolina. Lenoir was a private in the battle.] Before leaving their
camping-ground at the Sycamore Shoals they gathered in an open grove to
hear a stern old Presbyterian preacher [Footnote: Rev. Samuel Doak.
Draper, 176. A tradition, but probably truthful, being based on the
statements of Sevier and Shelby's soldiers in their old age. It is the
kind of an incident that tradition will often faithfully preserve.]
invoke on the enterprise the blessing of Jehovah. Leaning on their long
rifles, they stood in rings round the black-frocked minister, a grim and
wild congregation, who listened in silence to his words of burning zeal
as he called on them to stand stoutly in the battle and to smite their
foes with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.

The army marched along Doe River, driving their beef cattle with them,
and camped that night at the "Resting-Place," under Shelving Rock,
beyond Crab Orchard. Next morning they started late, and went up the
pass between Roan and Yellow mountains. The table-land on the top was
deep in snow. [Footnote: Diary of Ensign Robert Campbell.] Here two
tories who were in Sevier's band deserted and fled to warn Ferguson; and
the troops, on learning of the desertion, abandoned their purpose of
following the direct route, and turned to the left, taking a more
northerly trail. It was of so difficult a character that Shelby
afterwards described it as "the worst route ever followed by an army of
horsemen." [Footnote: Shelby MS.] That afternoon they partly descended
the east side of the range, camping in Elk Hollow, near Roaring Run. The
following day they went down through the ravines and across the spurs by
a stony and precipitous path, in the midst of magnificent scenery, and
camped at the mouth of Grassy Creek. On the 29th they crossed the Blue
Ridge at Gillespie's Gap, and saw afar off, in the mountain coves and
rich valleys of the upper Catawba, the advanced settlements of the
Carolina pioneers,--for hitherto they had gone through an uninhabited
waste. The mountaineers, fresh from their bleak and rugged hills, gazed
with delight on the soft and fertile beauty of the landscape. That night
they camped on the North Fork of the Catawba, and next day they went
down the river to Quaker Meadows, McDowell's home.

At this point they were joined by three hundred and fifty North Carolina
militia from the counties of Wilkes and Surrey, who were creeping along
through the woods hoping to fall in with some party going to harass the
enemy. [Footnote: Shelby MS. Autobiography. See also Gates MSS. Letter
of Wm. Davidson, Sept. 14, 1780. Davidson had foreseen that there would
be a fight between the western militia and Ferguson, and he had sent
word to his militia subordinates to join any force--as McDowell's--that
might go against the British leader. The alarm caused by the latter had
prevented the militia from joining Davidson himself.] They were under
Col. Benjamin Cleavland, a mighty hunter and Indian fighter, and an
adventurous wanderer in the wilderness. He was an uneducated
backwoodsman, famous for his great size, and his skill with the rifle,
no less than for the curious mixture of courage, rough good humor, and
brutality in his character. He bore a ferocious hatred to the royalists,
and in the course of the vindictive civil war carried on between the
whigs and tories in North Carolina he suffered much. In return he
persecuted his public and private foes with ruthless ferocity, hanging
and mutilating any tories against whom the neighboring whigs chose to
bear evidence. As the fortunes of the war veered about he himself
received many injuries. His goods were destroyed, and his friends and
relations were killed or had their ears cropped off. Such deeds often
repeated roused to a fury of revenge his fierce and passionate nature,
to which every principle of self-control was foreign. He had no hope of
redress, save in his own strength and courage, and on every favorable
opportunity he hastened to take more than ample vengeance. Admitting all
the wrongs he suffered, it still remains true that many of his acts of
brutality were past excuse. His wife was a worthy helpmeet. Once, in his
absence, a tory horse-thief was brought to their home, and after some
discussion the captors, Cleavland's sons, turned to their mother, who
was placidly going on with her ordinary domestic avocations, to know
what they should do with the prisoner. Taking from her mouth the
corn-cob pipe she had been smoking, she coolly sentenced him to be hung,
and hung he was without further delay or scruple. [Footnote: Draper,
448.] Yet Cleavland was a good friend and neighbor, devoted to his
country, and also a staunch Presbyterian. [Footnote: Allaire's Diary,
entry for October 29th.]

The tories were already on the alert. Some of them had been harassing
Cleavland, and they had ambushed his advance guard, and shot his
brother, crippling him for life. But they did not dare try to arrest the
progress of so formidable a body of men as had been gathered together at
Quaker Meadows; and contented themselves with sending repeated warnings
to Ferguson.

On October 1st the combined forces marched past Pilot Mountain, and
camped near the heads of Cane and Silver creeks. Hitherto each colonel
had commanded his own men, there being no general head, and every
morning and evening the colonels had met in concert to decide the day's
movements. The whole expedition was one of volunteers, the agreement
between the officers and the obedience rendered them by the soldiers
simply depending on their own free-will; there was no legal authority on
which to go, for the commanders had called out the militia without any
instructions from the executives of their several States. [Footnote:
Gates MSS. Letter of Campbell, Shelby, Cleavland, etc., Oct. 4, 1780.]
Disorders had naturally broken out. The men of the different companies
felt some rivalry towards one another; and those of bad character, sure
to be found in any such gathering, could not be properly controlled.
Some of Cleavland's and McDowell's people were very unruly; and a few of
the Watauga troops also behaved badly, plundering both whigs and tories,
and even starting to drive the stolen stock back across the mountains.
[Footnote: Deposition of Col. Matthew Willoughby (who was in the fight),
April 30, 1823, _Richmond Enquirer_, May 9, 1823.]

At so important a crisis the good-sense and sincere patriotism of the
men in command made them sink all personal and local rivalries. On the
2d of October they all gathered to see what could be done to stop the
disorders and give the army a single head; for it was thought that in a
day or two they would close in with Ferguson. They were in Col. Charles
McDowell's district, and he was the senior officer; but the others
distrusted his activity and judgment, and were not willing that he
should command. To solve the difficulty Shelby proposed that supreme
command should be given to Col. Campbell, who had brought the largest
body of men with him, and who was a Virginian, whereas the other four
colonels were North Carolinians. [Footnote: Though by birth three were
Virginians, and one, Shelby, a Marylander. All were Presbyterians.
McDowell, like Campbell, was of Irish descent; Cleavland of English,
Shelby of Welsh, and Sevier of French Huguenot. The families of the
first two had originally settled in Pennsylvania.] Meanwhile McDowell
should go to Gates' army to get a general to command them, leaving his
men under the charge of his brother Joseph, who was a major. This
proposition was at once agreed to; and its adoption did much to ensure
the subsequent success. Shelby not only acted wisely, but magnanimously;
for he was himself of superior rank to Campbell, and moreover was a
proud, ambitious man, desirous of military glory.

The army had been joined by two or three squads of partisans, including
some refugee Georgians. They were about to receive a larger
reinforcement; for at this time several small guerilla bands of North
and South Carolina whigs were encamped at Flint Hill, some distance west
of the encampment of the mountain men. These Flint Hill bands numbered
about four hundred men all told, under the leadership of various militia
colonels--Hill, Lacey, Williams, Graham, and Hambright. [Footnote:
Hambright was a Pennsylvania German, the father of eighteen children.
Hill, who was suffering from a severe wound, was unfit to take an active
part in the King's Mountain fight. His MS. narrative of the campaign is
largely quoted by Draper.] Hill and Lacey were two of Sumter's
lieutenants, and had under them some of his men; Williams, [Footnote:
Bancroft gives Williams an altogether undeserved prominence. As he had a
commission as brigadier-general, some of the British thought he was in
supreme command at King's Mountain; in a recent magazine article Gen. De
Peyster again sets forth his claims. In reality he only had a small
subordinate or independent command, and had no share whatever in
conducting the campaign, and very little in the actual battle, though he
behaved with much courage and was killed.] who was also a South
Carolinian, claimed command of them because he had just been
commissioned a brigadier-general of militia. His own force was very
small, and he did not wish to attack Ferguson, but to march southwards
to Ninety-Six. Sumter's men, who were more numerous, were eager to join
the mountaineers, and entirely refused to submit to Williams. A hot
quarrel, almost resulting in a fight, ensued; Hill and Lacey accusing
Williams of being bent merely on plundering the wealthy tories and of
desiring to avoid a battle with the British. Their imputation on his
courage was certainly unjust; but they were probably quite right when
they accused him of a desire to rob and plunder the tories. A succession
of such quarrels speedily turned this assemblage of militia into an
armed and warlike rabble. Fortunately Hill and Lacey prevailed, word was
sent to the mountaineers, and the Flint Hill bands marched in loose
order to join them at the Cowpens. [Footnote: Gates MSS. Letter of Gen.
Wm. Davidson, Oct. 3, 1780. Also Hill's Narrative.]

The mountain army had again begun its march on the afternoon of the
third day of the month. Before starting the colonels summoned their men,
told them the nature and danger of the service, and asked such as were
unwilling to go farther to step to the rear; but not a man did so. Then
Shelby made them a short speech, well adapted to such a levy. He told
them when they encountered the enemy not to wait for the word of
command, but each to "be his own officer," and do all he could,
sheltering himself as far as possible, and not to throw away a chance;
if they came on the British in the woods they were "to give them Indian
play," and advance from tree to tree, pressing the enemy unceasingly. He
ended by promising them that their officers would shrink from no danger,
but would lead them everywhere, and, in their turn, they must be on the
alert and obey orders.

When they set out their uncertainty as to Ferguson's movements caused
them to go slowly, their scouts sometimes skirmishing with lurking
tories. They reached the mouth of Cane Creek, near Gilbert Town, on
October 4th. With the partisans that had joined them they then numbered
fifteen hundred men. McDowell left them at this point to go to Gates
with the request for the appointment of a general to command them.
[Footnote: Gates MSS. (in New York Hist. Soc.). It is possible that
Campbell was not chosen chief commander until this time; Ensign Robert
Campbell's account (MSS. in Tenn. Hist. Soc.) explicitly states this to
be the case. The Shelby MS. and the official report make the date the
1st or 2d. One letter in the Gates MSS. has apparently escaped all
notice from historians and investigators; it is the document which
McDowell bore with him to Gates. It is dated "Oct. 4th, 1780, near
Gilbert town," and is signed by Cleavland, Shelby, Sevier, Campbell,
Andrew Hampton, and J. Winston. It begins: "We have collected at this
place 1500 good men drawn from the counties of Surrey, Wilkes, Burk,
Washington, and Sullivan counties (_sic_) in this State and Washington
County in Virginia." It says that they expect to be joined in a few days
by Clark of Ga. and Williams of S. C. with one thousand men (in reality
Clark, who had nearly six hundred troops, never met them); asks for a
general; says they have great need of ammunition, and remarks on the
fact of their "troops being all militia, and but little acquainted with
discipline." It was this document that gave the first impression to
contemporaries that the battle was fought by fifteen hundred Americans.
Thus General Davidson's letter of Oct. 10th to Gates, giving him the
news of the victory, has served as a basis for most subsequent writers
about the numbers. He got his particulars from one of Sumter's men, who
was in the fight; but he evidently mixed them up in his mind, for he
speaks of Williams, Lacey, and their companions as joining the others at
Gilbert Town, instead of the Cowpens; makes the total number three
thousand, whereas, by the official report of October 4th, Campbell's
party only numbered fifteen hundred, and Williams, Lacey, etc., had but
four hundred, or nineteen hundred in all; says that sixteen hundred good
horses were chosen out, evidently confusing this with the number at
Gilbert Town; credits Ferguson with fourteen hundred men, and puts the
American loss at only twenty killed.] For some days the men had been
living on the ears of green corn which they plucked from the fields, but
at this camping-place they slaughtered some beeves and made a feast.

The mountaineers had hoped to catch Ferguson at Gilbert Town, but they
found that he had fled towards the northeast, so they followed after
him. Many of their horses were crippled and exhausted, and many of the
footmen footsore and weary; and the next day they were able to go but a
dozen miles to the ford of Green River.

That evening Campbell and his fellow-officers held a council to decide
what course was best to follow. Lacey, riding over from the militia
companies who were marching from Flint Hill, had just reached their
camp; he told them the direction in which Ferguson had fled, and at the
same time appointed the Cowpens as the meeting-place for their
respective forces. Their whole army was so jaded that the leaders knew
they could not possibly urge it on fast enough to overtake Ferguson, and
the flight of the latter made them feel all the more confident that they
could beat him, and extremely reluctant that he should get away. In
consequence they determined to take seven or eight hundred of the least
tired, best armed, and best mounted men, and push rapidly after their
foe, picking up on the way any militia they met, and leaving the other
half of their army to follow as fast as it could.

At daybreak on the morning of the sixth the picked men set out, about
seven hundred and fifty in number. [Footnote: MS. narrative of Ensign
Robert Campbell (see also Draper, 221) says seven hundred; and about
fifty of the footmen who were in good training followed so quickly after
them that they were able to take part in the battle. Lenoir says the
number was only five or six hundred. The modern accounts generally fail
to notice this Green River weeding out of the weak men, or confuse it
with what took place at the Cowpens; hence many of them greatly
exaggerate the number of Americans who fought in the battle.] In the
afternoon they passed by several large bands of tories, who had
assembled to join Ferguson; but the Holston men were resolute in their
determination to strike at the latter, and would not be diverted from
it, nor waste time by following their lesser enemies.

Riding all day they reached the Cowpens when the sun had already set, a
few minutes after the arrival of the Flint Hill militia under Lacey,
Hill, and Williams. The tired troops were speedily engaged in skinning
beeves for their supper, roasting them by the blazing camp-fires; and
fifty acres of corn, belonging to the rich tory who owned the Cowpens,
materially helped the meal. Meanwhile a council was held, in which all
the leading officers, save Williams, took part. Campbell was confirmed
as commander-in-chief, and it was decided to once more choose the
freshest soldiers, and fall on Ferguson before he could either retreat
or be reinforced. The officers went round, picking out the best men, the
best rifles, and the best horses. Shortly after nine o'clock the choice
had been made, and nine hundred and ten [Footnote: The official report
says nine hundred; Shelby, in all his earlier narratives, nine hundred
and ten; Hill, nine hundred and thirty-three. The last authority is
important because he was one of the four hundred men who joined the
mountaineers at the Cowpens, and his testimony confirms the explicit
declaration of the official report that the nine hundred men who fought
in the battle were chosen after the junction with Williams, Lacey, and
Hill. A few late narratives, including that of Shelby in his old age,
make the choice take place before the junction, and the total number
then amount to thirteen hundred; evidently the choice at the Cowpens is
by these authors confused with the choice at Green River. Shelby's
memory when he was old was certainly very treacherous; in similar
fashion he, as has been seen, exaggerated greatly his numbers at the
Enoree. On the other hand, Robert Campbell puts the number at only seven
hundred, and Lenoir between six and seven hundred. Both of these thus
err in the opposite direction.] picked riflemen, well mounted, rode out
of the circle of flickering firelight, and began their night journey. A
few determined footmen followed, going almost as fast as the horse, and
actually reached the battle-field in season to do their share of the

Ferguson Makes Ready.

All this time Ferguson had not been idle. He first heard of the advance
of the backwoodsmen on September 30th, from the two tories who deserted
Sevier on Yellow Mountain. He had furloughed many of his loyalists, as
all formidable resistance seemed at an end; and he now sent out
messengers in every direction to recall them to his standard. Meanwhile
he fell slowly back from the foot-hills, so that he might not have to
face the mountaineers until he had time to gather his own troops. He
instantly wrote for reinforcements to Cruger, at Ninety-Six. Cruger had
just returned from routing the Georgian Colonel Clark, who was besieging
Augusta. In the chase a number of Americans were captured, and thirteen
were hung. The British and tories interpreted the already sufficiently
severe instructions of their commander-in-chief with the utmost
liberality, even the officers chronicling the hanging with exultant
pleasure, as pointing out the true way by which to end the war.
[Footnote: Draper, p. 201, quotes a printed letter from a British
officer to this effect.]

Cruger, in his answer to Ferguson, explained that he did not have the
number of militia regiments with which he was credited; and he did not
seem to quite take in the gravity of the situation, [Footnote: Probably
Ferguson himself failed to do so at this time.] expressing his pleasure
at hearing how strongly the loyalists of North Carolina had rallied to
Ferguson's support, and speaking of the hope he had felt that the North
Carolina tories would by themselves have proved "equal to the mountain
lads." However, he promptly set about forwarding the reinforcements that
were demanded; but before they could reach the scene of action the fate
of the campaign had been decided.

Ferguson had not waited for outside help. He threw himself into the work
of rallying the people of the plains, who were largely loyalists,
[Footnote: Gates MSS. Letter of Davidson, September 14th, speaks of the
large number of tories in the counties where Ferguson was operating.]
against the over-mountain men, appealing not only to their royalist
sentiments, but to their strong local prejudices, and to the dread many
of them felt for the wild border fighters. On the 1st of October he sent
out a proclamation, of which copies were scattered broadcast among the
loyalists. It was instinct with the fiery energy of the writer, and well
suited to goad into action the rough tories, and the doubtful men, to
whom it was addressed. He told them that the Back Water men had crossed
the mountains, with chieftains at their head who would surely grant
mercy to none who had been loyal to the king. He called on them to grasp
their arms on the moment and run to his standard, if they desired to
live and bear the name of men; to rally without delay, unless they
wished to be eaten up by the incoming horde of cruel barbarians, to be
themselves robbed and murdered, and to see their daughters and wives
abused by the dregs of mankind. In ending, he told them scornfully that
if they chose to be spat [Footnote: The word actually used was still
stronger.] upon and degraded forever by a set of mongrels, to say so at
once, that their women might turn their backs on them and look out for
real men to protect them.

Hoping to be joined by Cruger's regiments, as well as by his own
furloughed men, and the neighboring tories, he gradually drew off from
the mountains, doubling and turning, so as to hide his route and puzzle
his pursuers. Exaggerated reports of the increase in the number of his
foes were brought to him, and, as he saw how slowly they marched, he
sent repeated messages to Cornwallis, asking for reinforcements;
promising speedily to "finish the business," if three or four hundred
soldiers, part dragoons, were given him, for the Americans were
certainly making their "last push in this quarter." [Footnote: See
letter quoted by Tarleton.] He was not willing to leave the many loyal
inhabitants of the district to the vengeance of the whigs [Footnote:
Ferguson's "Memoir," p. 32.]; and his hopes of reinforcements were well
founded. Every day furloughed men rejoined him, and bands of loyalists
came into camp; and he was in momentary expectation of help from
Cornwallis or Cruger. It will be remembered that the mountaineers on
their last march passed several tory bands. One of these alone, near the
Cowpens, was said to have contained six hundred men; and in a day or two
they would all have joined Ferguson. If the whigs had come on in a body,
as there was every reason to expect, Ferguson would have been given the
one thing he needed--time; and he would certainly have been too strong
for his opponents. His defeat was due to the sudden push of the mountain
chieftains; to their long, swift ride from the ford of Green River, at
the head of their picked horse-riflemen.

The British were still in the dark as to the exact neighborhood from
which their foes--the "swarm of backwoodsmen," as Tarleton called them
[Footnote: "Tarleton's Campaigns," p. 169.]--really came. It was
generally supposed that they were in part from Kentucky, and that Boon
himself was among the number. [Footnote: British historians to the
present day repeat this. Even Lecky, in his "History of England," speaks
of the backwoodsmen as in part from Kentucky. Having pointed out this
trivial fault in Lecky's work, it would be ungracious not to allude to
the general justice and impartiality of its accounts of these
revolutionary campaigns--they are very much more trustworthy than
Bancroft's, for instance. Lecky scarcely gives the right color to the
struggle in the south; but when Bancroft treats of it, it is not too
much to say that he puts the contest between the whigs and the British
and tories in a decidedly false light. Lecky fails to do justice to
Washington's military ability, however; and overrates the French
assistance.] However, Ferguson probably cared very little who they were;
and keeping, as he supposed, a safe distance away from them, he halted
at King's Mountain in South Carolina on the evening of October 6th,
pitching his camp on a steep, narrow hill just south of the North
Carolina boundary. The King's Mountain range itself is about sixteen
miles in length, extending in a southwesterly course from one State into
the other. The stony, half isolated ridge on which Ferguson camped was
some six or seven hundred yards long and half as broad from base to
base, or two thirds that distance on top. The steep sides were clad with
a growth of open woods, including both saplings and big timber. Ferguson
parked his baggage wagons along the northeastern part of the mountain.
The next day he did not move; he was as near to the army of Cornwallis
at Charlotte as to the mountaineers, and he thought it safe to remain
where he was. He deemed the position one of great strength, as indeed it
would have been, if assailed in the ordinary European fashion; and he
was confident that even if the rebels attacked him, he could readily
beat them back. But as General Lee, "Light-Horse Harry," afterwards
remarked, the hill was much easier assaulted with the rifle than
defended with the bayonet.

The backwoodsmen, on leaving the camp at the Cowpens, marched slowly
through the night, which was dark and drizzly; many of the men got
scattered in the woods, but joined their commands in the morning--the
morning of October 7th. The troops bore down to the southward, a little
out of the straight route, to avoid any patrol parties; and at sunrise
they splashed across the Cherokee Ford. [Footnote: "Am. Pioneer," II.,
67. An account of one of the soldiers, Benj. Sharp, written in his old
age; full of contradictions of every kind (he for instance forgets they
joined Williams at the Cowpens); it cannot be taken as an authority, but
supplies some interesting details.] Throughout the forenoon the rain
continued but the troops pushed steadily onwards without halting,
[Footnote: Late in life Shelby asserted that this steadiness in pushing
on was due to his own influence. The other accounts do not bear him
out.] wrapping their blankets and the skirts of their hunting-shirts
round their gun-locks, to keep them dry. Some horses gave out, but their
riders, like the thirty or forty footmen who had followed from the
Cowpens, struggled onwards and were in time for the battle. When near
King's Mountain they captured two tories, and from them learned
Ferguson's exact position; that "he was on a ridge between two
branches," [Footnote: _I. e._, brooks.] where some deer hunters had
camped the previous fall. These deer hunters were now with the oncoming
backwoodsmen, and declared that they knew the ground well. Without
halting, Campbell and the other colonels rode forward together, and
agreed to surround the hill, so that their men might fire upwards
without risk of hurting one another. It was a bold plan; for they knew
their foes probably outnumbered them; but they were very confident of
their own prowess, and were anxious to strike a crippling blow. From one
or two other captured tories, and from a staunch whig friend, they
learned the exact disposition of the British and loyalist force, and
were told that their noted leader wore a light, parti-colored
hunting-shirt; and he was forthwith doomed to be a special target for
the backwoods rifles. When within a mile of the hill a halt was called,
and after a hasty council of the different colonels--in which Williams
did not take part,--the final arrangements were made, and the men, who
had been marching in loose order, were formed in line of battle. They
then rode forward in absolute silence, and when close to the west slope
of the battle-hill, beyond King's Creek, drew rein and dismounted. They
tied their horses to trees, and fastened their great coats and blankets
to the saddles, for the rain had cleared away. A few of the officers
remained mounted. The countersign of the day was "Buford," the name of
the colonel whose troops Tarleton had defeated and butchered. The final
order was for each man to look carefully at the priming of his rifle,
and then to go into battle and fight till he died.

The Battle.

The foes were now face to face. On the one side were the American
backwoodsmen, under their own leaders, armed in their own manner, and
fighting after their own fashion, for the freedom and the future of
America; on the opposite side were other Americans--the loyalists, led
by British officers, armed and trained in the British fashion, and
fighting on behalf of the empire of Britain and the majesty of the
monarchy. The Americans numbered, all told, about nine hundred and fifty
men. [Footnote: Nine hundred and ten horsemen (possibly nine hundred, or
perhaps nine hundred and thirty-three) started out; and the footmen who
kept up were certainly less than fifty in number. There is really no
question as to the American numbers; yet a variety of reasons have
conspired to cause them to be generally greatly overstated, even by
American historians. Even Phelan gives them fifteen hundred men,
following the ordinary accounts. At the time, many outsiders supposed
that all the militia who were at the Cowpens fought in the battle; but
this is not asserted by any one who knew the facts. General J. Watts
DePeyster, in the _Mag. of Am. Hist._ for 1880,--"The Affair at King's
Mountain,"--gives the extreme tory view. He puts the number of the
Americans at from thirteen hundred to nineteen hundred. His account,
however, is only based on Shelby's later narratives, told thirty years
after the event, and these are all that need be considered. When Shelby
grew old, he greatly exaggerated the numbers on both sides in all the
fights in which he had taken part. In his account of King's Mountain, he
speaks of Williams and the four hundred Flint Hill men joining the
attacking body _after_, not _before_, the nine hundred and ten picked
men started. But his earlier accounts, including the official report
which he signed, explicitly contradict this. The question is thus purely
as to the time of the junction; as to whether it was after or before
this that the body of nine hundred actual fighters was picked out.
Shelby's later report contains the grossest self-contradictions. Thus it
enumerates the companies which fought the battle in detail, the result
running up several hundred more than the total he gives. The early and
official accounts are in every way more worthy of credence; but the
point is settled beyond dispute by Hill's narrative. Hill was one of the
four hundred men with Williams, and he expressly states that after the
junction at the Cowpens the force, from both commands, that started out
numbered nine hundred and thirty-three. The question is thus definitely
settled. Most of the later accounts simply follow the statements Shelby
made in his old age.] The British forces were composed in bulk of the
Carolina loyalists--troops similar to the Americans who joined the
mountaineers at Quaker Meadows and the Cowpens [Footnote: There were
many instances of brothers and cousins in the opposing ranks at King's
Mountain; a proof of the similarity in the character of the forces.];
the difference being that besides these low-land militia, there were
arrayed on one side the men from the Holston, Watauga, and Nolichucky,
and on the other the loyalist regulars. Ferguson had, all told, between
nine hundred and a thousand troops, a hundred and twenty or thirty of
them being the regulars or "American Volunteers," the remainder tory
militia. [Footnote: The American official account says that they
captured the British provision returns, according to which their force
amounted to eleven hundred and twenty-five men. It further reports, of
the regulars nineteen killed, thirty-five wounded and left on the ground
as unable to march, and seventy-eight captured; of the tories two
hundred and six killed, one hundred and twenty-eight wounded and left on
the ground unable to march, and six hundred and forty-eight captured.
The number of tories killed must be greatly exaggerated. Allaire, in his
diary, says Ferguson had only eight hundred men, but almost in the same
sentence enumerates nine hundred and six, giving of the regulars
nineteen killed, thirty-three wounded, and sixty-four captured (one
hundred and sixteen in all, instead of one hundred and thirty-two, as in
the American account), and of the tories one hundred killed, ninety
wounded, and "about" six hundred captured. This does not take account of
those who escaped. From Ramsey and De Peyster down most writers assert
that every single individual on the defeated side were killed or taken;
but in Colonel Chesney's admirable "Military Biography" there is given
the autobiography or memoir of a South Carolina loyalist who was in the
battle. His account of the battle is meagre and unimportant, but he
expressly states that at the close he and a number of others escaped
through the American lines by putting sprigs of white paper in their
caps, as some of the whig militia did--for the militia had no uniforms,
and were dressed alike on both sides. A certain number of men who
escaped must thus be added.] The forces were very nearly equal in
number. What difference there was, was probably in favor of the British
and tories. There was not a bayonet in the American army, whereas
Ferguson trusted much to this weapon. All his volunteers and regulars
were expert in its use, and with his usual ingenuity he had trained
several of his loyalist companies in a similar manner, improvising
bayonets out of their hunting-knives. The loyalists whom he had had with
him for some time were well drilled. The North Carolina regiment was
weaker on this point, as it was composed of recruits who had joined him
but recently. [Footnote: There were undoubtedly very many horse-thieves,
murderers, and rogues of every kind with Ferguson, but equally
undoubtedly the bulk of his troops were loyalists from principle, and
men of good standing, especially those from the seaboard. Many of the
worst tory bandits did not rally to him, preferring to plunder on their
own account. The American army itself was by no means free from
scoundrels. Most American writers belittle the character of Ferguson's
force, and sneer at the courage of the tories, although entirely unable
to adduce any proof of their statements, the evidence being the other
way. Apparently they are unconscious of the fact that they thus wofully
diminish the credit to be given to the victors. It may be questioned if
there ever was a braver or finer body of riflemen than the nine hundred
who surrounded and killed or captured a superior body of well posted,
well led, and courageous men, in part also well drilled, on King's
Mountain. The whole world now recognizes how completely the patriots
were in the right; but it is especially incumbent on American historians
to fairly portray the acts and character of the tories, doing justice to
them as well as to the whigs, and condemning them only when they deserve
it. In studying the Revolutionary war in the Southern States, I have
been struck by the way in which the American historians alter the facts
by relying purely on partisan accounts, suppressing the innumerable whig
excesses and outrages, or else palliating them. They thus really destroy
the force of the many grave accusations which may be truthfully brought
against the British and tories. I regret to say that Bancroft is among
the offenders. Hildreth is an honorable exception. Most of the British
historians of the same events are even more rancorous and less
trustworthy than the American writers; and while fully admitting the
many indefensible outrages committed by the whigs, a long-continued and
impartial examination of accessible records has given me the belief that
in the districts where the civil war was most ferocious, much the
largest number of the criminal class joined the tories, and the misdeeds
of the latter were more numerous than those of the whigs. But the
frequency with which both whigs and tories hung men for changing sides,
shows that quite a number of the people shifted from one party to the
other; and so there must have been many men of exactly the same stamp in
both armies. Much of the nominal changing of sides, however, was due to
the needless and excessive severity of Cornwallis and his lieutenants.]

The Americans were discovered by their foes when only a quarter of a
mile away. They had formed their forces as they marched. The right
centre was composed of Campbell's troops; the left centre of Shelby's.
These two bodies separated slightly so as to come up opposite sides of
the narrow southwestern spur of the mountain. The right wing was led by
Sevier, with his own and McDowell's troops. On the extreme right Major
Winston, splitting off from the main body a few minutes before, had led
a portion of Cleavland's men by a roundabout route to take the mountain
in the rear, and cut off all retreat. He and his followers "rode like
fox-hunters," as was afterwards reported by one of their number who was
accustomed to following the buck and the gray fox with horn and hound.
They did not dismount until they reached the foot of the mountain,
galloping at full speed through the rock-strewn woods; and they struck
exactly the right place, closing up the only gap by which the enemy
could have retreated. The left wing was led by Cleavland. It contained
not only the bulk of his own Wilkes and Surrey men, but also the North
and South Carolinians who had joined the army at the Cowpens under the
command of Williams, Lacey, Hambright, Chronicle, and others.
[Footnote: Draper gives a good plan of the battle. He also gives some
pictures of the fighting, in which the backwoodsmen are depicted in full
Continental uniform, which probably not a man--certainly very few of
them--wore.] The different leaders cheered on their troops by a few last
words as they went into the fight; being especially careful to warn them
how to deal with the British bayonet charges. Campbell had visited each
separate band, again requesting every man who felt like flinching not to
go into the battle. He bade them hold on to every inch of ground as long
as possible, and when forced back to rally and return at once to the
fight. Cleavland gave much the same advice; telling his men that when
once engaged they were not to wait for the word of command, but to do as
he did, for he would show them by his example how to fight, and they
must then act as their own officers. The men were to fire quickly, and
stand their ground as long as possible, if necessary sheltering
themselves behind trees. If they could do no better they were to
retreat, but not to run quite off; but to return and renew the struggle,
for they might have better luck at the next attempt. [Footnote: Ramsay
("Revolution in South Carolina"), writing in 1785, gives the speech
verbatim, apparently from Cleavland himself. It is very improbable that
it is verbally correct, but doubtless it represents the spirit of his

So rapid were the movements of the Americans, and so unexpected the
attack, that a loyalist officer, who had been out reconnoitring, had
just brought word to the British commander that there was no sign of
danger, when the first shots were heard; and by the time the officer had
paraded and posted his men, the assault had begun, his horse had been
killed, and he himself wounded. [Footnote: "Essays in Military
Biography," Col. Charles Cornwallis Chesney, London, 1874. On p. 323
begins a memoir of "A Carolina Loyalist in the Revolutionary War." It is
written by the loyalist himself, who was presumably a relation of Col.
Chesney's. It was evidently written after the event, and there are some
lapses. Thus he makes the war with the Cherokees take place in 1777,
instead of '76. His explanation of Tarleton's defeat at the Cowpens must
be accepted with much reserve. At King's Mountain he says the Americans
had fifteen hundred men, instead of twenty-five hundred, of which
Allaire speaks. Allaire probably consciously exaggerated the number.]

When Ferguson learned that his foes were on him, he sprang on his horse,
his drums beat to arms, and he instantly made ready for the fight.
Though surprised by the unexpected approach of the American, he exerted
himself with such energy that his troops were in battle array when the
attack began. The outcrops of slaty rock on the hill-sides made ledges
which, together with the boulders strewn on top, served as breastworks
for the less disciplined tories; while he in person led his regulars and
such of the loyalist companies as were furnished with the hunting-knife
bayonets. He hoped to be able to repulse his enemies by himself taking
the offensive, with a succession of bayonet charges; a form of attack in
which his experience with Pulaski and Huger had given him great

At three o'clock in the afternoon the firing began, as the Americans
drove in the British pickets. The brunt of the battle fell on the
American centre, composed of Campbell's and Shelby's men, who sustained
the whole fight for nearly ten minutes [Footnote: Campbell MSS. Letter
of Col. Wm. Campbell, Oct. 10, 1780, says 10 minutes: the official
report (Gates MSS.) says 5 minutes.] until the two wings had had time to
get into place and surround the enemy. Campbell began the assault,
riding on horseback along the line of his riflemen. He ordered them to
raise the Indian war-whoop, which they did with a will, and made the
woods ring. [Footnote: _Richmond Enquirer_ (Nov. 12, 1822 and May 9,
1823) certificates of King's Mountain survivors--of James Crow, May 6,
1813; David Beattie, May 4, 1813, etc., etc. All the different
commanders claimed the honor of beginning the battle in after-life; the
official report decides it in favor of Campbell and Shelby, the former
being the first actually engaged, as is acknowledged by Shelby in his
letter to Arthur Campbell on October 12, 1780.] They then rushed upwards
and began to fire, each on his own account; while their war cries echoed
along the hill-side. Ferguson's men on the summit responded with heavy
volley firing, and then charged, cheering lustily. The mountain was
covered with smoke and flame, and seemed to thunder. [Footnote: Haywood,
71; doubtless he uses the language of one of the actors.]

Ferguson's troops advanced steadily, their officers riding at their
head, with their swords flashing; and the mountaineers, who had no
bayonets, could not withstand the shock. They fled down the hill-side,
and being sinewy, nimble men, swift of foot, they were not overtaken,
save a few of sullen temper, who would not retreat and were bayoneted.
One of their officers, a tall backwoodsman, six feet in height, was cut
down by Lieutenant Allaire, a New York loyalist, as the latter rode at
the head of his platoon. No sooner had the British charge spent itself
than Campbell, who was riding midway between the enemy and his own men,
called out to the latter in a voice of thunder to rally and return to
the fight, and in a minute or two they were all climbing the hill again,
going from tree to tree, and shooting at the soldiers on the summit.
Campbell's horse, exhausted by the breakneck galloping hither and
thither over the slope, gave out; he then led the men on foot, his voice
hoarse with shouting, his face blackened with powder; for he was always
in the front of the battle and nearest the enemy.

No sooner had Ferguson returned from his charge on Campbell than he
found Shelby's men swarming up to the attack on the other side. Shelby
himself was at their head. He had refused to let his people return the
dropping fire of the tory skirmishers until they were close up. Ferguson
promptly charged his new foes and drove them down the hill-side; but the
instant he stopped, Shelby, who had been in the thick of the fight,
closest to the British, brought his marksmen back, and they came up
nearer than ever, and with a deadlier fire. [Footnote: Shelby MS.] While
Ferguson's bayonet-men--both regulars and militia--charged to and fro,
the rest of the loyalists kept up a heavy fire from behind the rocks on
the hill-top. The battle raged in every part, for the Americans had by
this time surrounded their foes, and they advanced rapidly under cover
of the woods. They inflicted much more damage than they suffered, for
they were scattered out while the royalist troops were close together,
and moreover, were continually taken in flank. Ferguson, conspicuous
from his hunting-shirt, [Footnote: The "Carolina Loyalist" speaks as if
the hunting-shirt were put on for disguise; he says Ferguson was
recognized, "although wearing a hunting-shirt."] rode hither and thither
with reckless bravery, his sword in his left hand-for he had never
entirely regained the use of his wounded right--while he made his
presence known by the shrill, ear-piercing notes of a silver whistle
which he always carried. Whenever the British and tories charged with
the bayonet, under Ferguson, De Peyster, or some of their lieutenants,
the mountaineers were forced back down the hill; but the instant the red
lines halted and returned to the summit, the stubborn riflemen followed
close behind, and from every tree and boulder continued their irregular
and destructive fire. The peculiar feature of the battle was the success
with which, after every retreat, Campbell, Shelby, Sevier, and Cleavland
rallied their followers on the instant; the great point was to prevent
the men from becoming panic-stricken when forced to flee. The pealing
volleys of musketry at short intervals drowned the incessant clatter of
the less noisy but more deadly backwoods rifles. The wild whoops of the
mountain men, the cheering of the loyalists, the shouts of the officers,
and the cries of the wounded mingled with the reports of the firearms,
and shrill above the din rose the calling of the silver whistle.
Wherever its notes were heard the wavering British line came on, and the
Americans were forced back. Ferguson dashed from point to point, to
repel the attacks of his foes, which were made with ever-increasing
fury. Two horses were killed under him; [Footnote: Ferguson's "Memoir,"
p. 32.] but he continued to lead the charging parties; slashing and
hewing with his sword until it was broken off at the hilt. At last, as
he rode full speed against a part of Sevier's men, who had almost gained
the hill crest, he became a fair mark for the vengeful backwoods
riflemen. Several of them fired together and he fell suddenly from his
horse, pierced by half a dozen bullets almost at the same instant. The
gallant British leader was dead, while his foot yet hung in the stirrup.
[Footnote: The "South Carolina Loyalist" says he was killed just as he
had slain Col. Williams "with his left hand." Ramsey, on the other side,
represents Col. Williams as being shot while dashing forward to kill
Ferguson. Williams certainly was not killed by Ferguson himself; and in
all probability the latter was slain earlier in the action and in an
entirely different part of the line. The "Loyalist" is also in error as
to Cleavland's regiment being the first that was charged. There is no
ground whatever for the statement that Ferguson was trying to escape
when shot; nor was there any attempt at a charge of horsemen, made in
due form. The battle was purely one of footmen and the attempt to show
an effort at a cavalry charge at the end is a simple absurdity.]

The silver whistle was now silent, but the disheartened loyalists were
rallied by De Peyster, who bravely continued the fight. [Footnote: In
his _Hist. Mag._ article Gen. Watts De Peyster clears his namesake's
reputation from all charge of cowardice; but his account of how De
Peyster counselled and planned all sorts of expedients that might have
saved the loyalists is decidedly mythical.] It is said that he himself
led one of the charges which were at this time made on Cleavland's line;
the "South Fork" men from the Catawba, under Hambright and Chronicle,
being forced back, Chronicle being killed and Hambright wounded. When
the Americans fled they were scarcely a gun's length ahead of their
foes; and the instant the latter faced about, the former were rallied by
their officers, and again went up the hill. One of the backwoodsmen was
in the act of cocking his rifle when a loyalist, dashing at him with the
bayonet, pinned his hand to his thigh; the rifle went off, the ball
going through the loyalist's body, and the two men fell together.
Hambright, though wounded, was able to sit in the saddle, and continued
in the battle. Cleavland had his horse shot under him, and then led his
men on foot. As the lines came close together, many of the whigs
recognized in the tory ranks their former neighbors, friends, or
relatives; and the men taunted and jeered one another with bitter
hatred. In more than one instance brother was slain by brother or cousin
by cousin. The lowland tories felt an especial dread of the
mountaineers; looking with awe and hatred on their tall, gaunt, rawboned
figures, their long, matted hair and wild faces. One wounded tory, as he
lay watching them, noticed their deadly accuracy of aim, and saw also
that the loyalists, firing from the summit, continually overshot their

The British regulars had lost half their number; the remainder had been
scattered and exhausted in their successive charges. The bayonet
companies of the loyalist militia were in the same plight; and the North
Carolina tories, the least disciplined, could no longer be held to their
work. Sevier's men gained the summit at the same time with Campbell's
and part of Shelby's. The three colonels were heading their troops; and
as Sevier saw Shelby, he swore, by God, the British had burned off part
of his hair; for it was singed on one side of his head.

When the Holston and Watauga men gained the crest the loyalists broke
and fled to the east end of the mountain, among the tents and baggage
wagons, where they again formed. But they were huddled together, while
their foes surrounded them on every hand. The fighting had lasted an
hour; all hope was gone; and De Peyster hoisted a white flag.

In the confusion the firing continued in parts of the lines on both
sides. Some of the backwoodsmen did not know what a white flag meant;
others disregarded it, savagely calling out, "Give them Buford's play,"
in allusion to Tarleton's having refused quarter to Buford's troops.
[Footnote: Deposition of John Long, in _Enquirer_, as quoted.] Others of
the men as they came up began shooting before they learned what had
happened; and some tories who had been out foraging returned at this
moment, and also opened fire. A number of the loyalists escaped in
turmoil, putting badges in their hats like those worn by certain of the
American militia, and thus passing in safety through the whig lines.
[Footnote: Chesney, p. 333.] It was at this time, after the white flag
had been displayed, that Col. Williams was shot, as he charged a few of
the tories who were still firing. The flag was hoisted again, and white
handkerchiefs were also waved, from guns and ramrods. Shelby, spurring
up to part of their line, ordered the tories to lay down their arms,
which they did. [Footnote: Shelby MS.] Campbell, at the same moment,
running among his men with his sword pointed to the ground, called on
them for God's sake to cease firing; and turning to the prisoners he
bade the officers rank by themselves, and the men to take off their hats
and sit down. He then ordered De Peyster to dismount; which the latter
did, and handed his sword to Campbell. [Footnote: Campbell MSS. Letter
of General George Rutledge (who was in the battle, an eye-witness of
what he describes), May 27, 1813. But there is an irreconcilable
conflict of testimony as to whether Campbell or Evan Shelby received De
Peyster's sword.] The various British officers likewise surrendered
their swords, to different Americans; many of the militia commanders who
had hitherto only possessed a tomahawk or scalping-knife thus for the
first time getting possession of one of the coveted weapons.

Almost the entire British and tory force was killed or captured; the
only men who escaped were the few who got through the American lines by
adopting the whig badges. About three hundred of the loyalists were
killed or disabled; the slightly wounded do not seem to have been
counted. [Footnote: For the loyalist losses, see _ante_, note discussing
their numbers. The "South Carolina Loyalist" says they lost about a
third of their number. It is worthy of note that the actual fighting at
King's Mountain bore much resemblance to that at Majuba Hill a century
later; a backwoods levy was much like a Boer commando.] The
colonel-commandant was among the slain; of the four militia colonels
present, two were killed, one wounded, [Footnote: In some accounts this
officer is represented as a major, in some as a colonel; at any rate he
was in command of a small regiment, or fragment of a regiment.] and the
other captured--a sufficient proof of the obstinacy of the resistance.
The American loss in killed and wounded amounted to less than half,
perhaps only a third, that of their foes. [Footnote: The official report
as published gave the American loss as twenty-eight killed and sixty
wounded. The original document (in the Gates MSS., N. Y. Hist. Soc.)
gives the loss in tabulated form in an appendix, which has not
heretofore been published. It is as follows:


Col. | Col. |
| Major. | | Major. |
| | Capt. | | | Capt. |
| | | Lieut. | | | | Lieut. |
| | | | Ensign. | | | | | Ensign. |
| | | | | Sergt. | | | | | | Sergt. |
| | | | | | Private. | | | | | | Private.
REGIMENTS. | | | | | | | Total.| | | | | | | Total.
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |Grand
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Total.
Campbell's.. 1 2 4 5 12 | 1 3 17 21 33
McDowell's.. 4 4 | 4 4 8
Thomas'..... | 8 8 8
Cleavland's. 8 8 | 1 2 10 13 21
Shelby's.... |
Sevier's.... 2 2 | 10 10 12
Hayes'...... 1 1 | 3 3 4
Brannon's... | 3 3 3
Col. Williams'1 1 | 1
1 1 1 2 4 19 28 | 1 3 3 55 62 90

It will be seen that these returns are imperfect. They do not include
Shelby's loss; yet his regiment was alongside of Campbell's, did its
full share of the work, and probably suffered as much as Sevier's, for
instance. But it is certain that in the hurry not all the killed and
wounded were enumerated (compare Draper, pp. 302-304). Hayes', Thomas',
and "Brannon's" (Brandon's) commands were some of those joining at the
Cowpens. Winston's loss is doubtless included under Cleavland's. It will
be seen that Williams' troops could have taken very little part in the
action.] Campbell's command suffered more than any other, the loss among
the officers being especially great; for it bore the chief part in

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