The American Revolution in South Carolina

Kings Mountain

October 7, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Col. William Campbell (VA)
Loyalist Cdr:

Maj. Patrick Ferguson
Killed:

28
Killed:

157
Wounded:

64
Wounded:

163
Captured:

0
Captured:

698
Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

York County

Maj. Patrick Ferguson was patrolling with a force of over 1,000 Loyalist supporters attempting to pacify the countryside. With violence and atrocities rising on both sides, 1,200 militia men, most from North Carolina but with some Virginians and South Carolinians, gathered to stop Ferguson and his troops. When Ferguson became aware of the large contingent of militia gathering, he decided it would be prudent to move back toward Cornwalis' larger forces.

The militia followed rapidly and, when Ferguson realized that they were overtaking him, he organized his defenses atop Kings Mountain, a wooded hill with a clear top. On October 7, 1780, the militia arrived at the base of the mountain and surrounded it. Soon they began scaling it on all sides. The Patriots had the advantage that the slopes of the mountain were very wooded, while the summit was not, exposing the Loyalist troops to attack by the concealed Americans. The defenders' losses quickly mounted and, when Maj. Ferguson was killed, the fight went out of the remaining soldiers.

Of the Loyalist troops, 157 were killed, 163 were severely wounded and 698 were captured. The Patriot militia lost 28 killed and 62 wounded.


One of the most important events recorded in modern history was the victory gained at the battle of Kings Mountain.

Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis, commander-in-chief of the British army in the South, expecting the conquest of North Carolina to follow the recovery of South Carolina, spread his troops to repress patriotic movements, and quickened Loyalist zeal on the left wing of his army, with Maj. Patrick Ferguson, an officer with great energy and courage, in command of a large force headed toward the Alleghanies.

News of their movements was received in northwestern North Carolina and southwestern Virginia. Colonels Benjamin Cleveland, John Sevier, Isaac Shelby, William Campbell, McDowell, William Lenoir assembled the militia from the valleys of the Yadkin, Holston, Clinch, and New River, each commanding their respective regiments.

The country had to rely mainly for its defense on the skill and military genius of brave commanders and the valor, firmness and integrity of the militia which had to get in readiness in quick time. The honesty of purpose, the appreciation of homes, the love of families, welfare of the community, the freedom from oppressive laws, the enjoyment and possession of the blessings and happiness of inherited rights, will ever remain as garlands crowning officers and soldiers.

These gallant officers and men assembled in readiness to march. Col. Campbell was placed in command. After a rapid march they met the enemy. Maj. Patrick Ferguson had taken a position on King's Mountain, near the line dividing North and South Carolina. Col. Campbell stated he had taken the British command by surprise, and before Maj. Ferguson could be reinforced, Col. Campbell and his brave home-defenders sat in their saddles thirty hours trying to catch Ferguson, with but few minutes intermission.

Arriving at the foot of the mountain at daylight on the morning of October 7, 1780, they dismounted and trudged up the mountain, after a fierce conflict, being repulsed three times. Maj. Ferguson made a daring attempt to break through the lines and was slain. One hundred and fifty of his bravest and best men fell before the mountaineers' unerring rifles. The survivors, eight hundred in number, surrendered.

Twenty-five Loyalists were hanged. This battle was truly the turning point of the war. It crippled Lord Cornwallis' army and gave Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene time to get his command ready for action. The battle of Guilford Court House was fought soon hereafter, the British army essentially being damaged considerably. Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia in October of 1781.

Col. Isaac Shelby was originally from Maryland, and was with his father at the battle of Point Pleasant. He was the first governor of Kentucky in 1802 and again in 1812. Col. William Campbell was an officer of distinction and promise. He died young of fever, at Hanover Court House, Virginia, on his way to join LaFayette, before Yorktown. Col. John Sevier was of French descent. He was Governor of the transitory state known as Franklin and the first governor of Tennessee. Col. James Williams of South Carolina had just been promoted to brigadier general and it is not known for sure if he was even aware of his promotion before he was killed in this battle.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. William Campbell (VA) - Commanding Officer

Washington County Militia (VA) led by Col. William Campbell and Lt. Col. Robert Craig, with 200 men in the following eight (8) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Bowen's Company
- Capt. David Beatty (from Rutherford County, NC) with 1st Lt. Reece Bowen (from Sullivan County, NC)(killed)
- Capt. Andrew Colville
- Capt. James Dysart
- Capt. William Edmondson
- Capt. Robert Edmondson, Sr.
- Capt. John Hays (from Surry County, NC)
- Lt. Thomas McCullough
- Capt. William Neill's Company - led by 1st Lt. William Russell, Jr.
- Capt. Joshua Nichols (from Rowan County, NC)

Rockbridge (VA) Rifles - Col. William Bowyer

Augusta (VA) Militia - Capt. Samuel McCutcheon

Wilkes County Regiment of Militia (NC), led by Col. Benjamin Cleveland, with the following nineteen (19) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Richard Allen
- Capt. Daniel Bailey
- Capt. John Barton
- Capt. Thomas Biecknell (mortally wounded)
- Capt. John Brown
- Capt. John Cleveland
- Capt. Robert Cleveland
- Capt. Abraham DeMoss
- Capt. Jesse Hardin Franklin
- Lt. Martin Gambill (acting as Captain on behalf of Capt. William Nall who was sick)(wounded)
- Capt. Charles Gordon (wounded)
- Capt. Moses Guest
- Capt. Benjamin Herndon - with 60 men
- Capt. William Jackson
- Capt. John Kees
- Capt. William Lenoir (wounded) - with 6 men
- Capt. Bethuel Riggs
- Capt. Thurman
- Capt. Walton

Surry County Regiment of Militia (NC), led by Maj. Joseph Winston and Maj. Micajah Lewis (wounded), with thirteen (13) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Joseph Cloud
- Capt. James Giddings
- Capt. William Thrift Hughlett
- Capt. Samuel Johnson
- Capt. Joel Lewis
- Capt. William Terrell Lewis
- Capt. Salathiel Martin
- Capt. William Meredith
- Capt. John Morgan
- Capt. Harrison Murray
- Capt. Joseph Phillips
- Capt. James Shepherd
- Capt. Minor Smith

Rutherford County Regiment of Militia (NC), led by Col. Andrew Hampton, Maj. James Gray, Maj. James Porter (wounded), and Maj. Robert Porter, with sixteen (16) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Adam Hampton
- Capt. Benjamin Harden
- Capt. Joseph Harden
- Capt. George Ledbetter
- Capt. John McClain
- Capt. John McClure
- Capt. James McElhaney
- Capt. Charles McLean
- Capt. Ephraim McLean
- Capt. James Miller
- Capt. George Paris
- Capt. William Porter
- Capt. Thomas Price
- Capt. Moses Shelby
- Capt. Richard Singleton
- Capt. James Withrow

Burke County Regiment of Militia (NC), led by Maj. Joseph McDowell and Maj. George Wilfong, with twenty (20) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Robert Ballew
- Capt. Jonathan Camp (or Kemp)
- Capt. Edmund Fear
- Capt. John Harden
- Capt. Thomas Hemphill
- Capt. John Holmes
- Capt. Alexander Irvin
- Capt. Thomas Kennedy
- Capt. Joseph McDowell
- Capt. Samuel Miller
- Capt. William Neill (or Neal)
- Capt. Robert Patton
- Capt. Adam Reep
- Capt. John Russell
- Capt. John Sigman
- Capt. Daniel Smith
- Capt. David Vance
- Capt. Patrick Watson
- Capt. Joseph White
- Capt. Samuel Woods

Lincoln County Regiment Militia (NC), led Lt. Col. Frederick Hambright, Maj. John Barber, Maj. William Chronicle (killed), Maj. John Dickson, Maj. Joseph Dickson, Maj. Francis McCorkle, and Maj Joseph White (from Burke County) (Col. William Graham went home sick just before this battle), with eighteen (18) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Armstrong
- Capt. James Baird
- Capt. John Baldridge
- Capt. Samuel Caldwell
- Capt. John Philip Dellinger
- Capt. Samuel Espey (wounded)
- Capt. John Hardin Hambright
- Capt. Malcolm Henry
- Capt. John Kincaid
- Capt. James Johnson
- Capt. Samuel Martin
- Capt. Charles Mattocks
- Capt. John Mattocks (killed)
- Capt. John Moore
- Capt. William Moore
- Capt. William Sherrill
- Capt. John Weir
- Capt. Isaac White

Sullivan County Regiment of Militia (NC), led by Col. Isaac Shelby, Lt. Col. Charles Robertson, and Maj. Evan Shelby, Jr., with sixteen (16) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Caldwell
- Capt. Moses Cavett
- Capt. Gilbert Christian
- Capt. James Duff (from Lincoln County)
- Capt. James Elliott
- Capt. James Johnston
- Capt. William Johnston (from Lincoln County)
- Capt. John Martin (from Surry County)
- Capt. George Maxwell
- Capt. John Pemberton
- Capt. John Sawyer
- Capt. George Taylor
- Capt. Roger Topp
- Capt. Thomas Wallace
- Capt. David Webb
- Capt. Jonathan Webb

Washington County Regiment of Militia (NC) led by Col. John Sevier, Lt. Col. John Lewis, Maj. Isaac Lane, Maj. Benjamin Sharp, Maj. Jonathan Tipton, and Maj. Jesse Walton, with twenty-six (26) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Jesse Bean
- Capt. William Bean (Rifle Company)
- Capt. Jacob Brown
- Capt. Joel Callahan
- Capt. Benjamin Clark
- Capt. William Cox
- Capt. James Crabtree
- Capt. Finley
- Capt. Ning Hawkins (probable)
- Capt. Joseph Lusk (Rifle Company)
- Capt. Alexander Moore
- Capt. George North
- Capt. John Patterson
- Capt. James Pearce
- Capt. Thomas Preston (Rifle Company)
- Capt. George Russell
- Capt. Robert Sevier (mortally wounded)
- Capt. Valentine Sevier, Jr.
- Capt. James Stinson
- Capt. Christopher Taylor
- Capt. Waring
- Capt. Samuel Wear
- Capt. Samuel Williams
- Capt. James Wilson
- Capt. Elijah Witt (probable)
- Capt. Young

Rowan County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment, led by Lt. Col. Matthew Brandon, Lt. Col. John Hampton, Maj. Daniel McKisick, and Maj. George Wilfong, with eight (8) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Brandon
- Capt. Thomas Cowan
- Capt. John Dickey
- Capt. John Harden
- Capt. James Houston (wounded)
- Capt. Peter Mull
- Capt. Richard Simmons
- Capt. Benjamin Smith

Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of six (6) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Conrad Hise
- Capt. James Ligert
- Capt. Magrath
- Capt. James Reese
- Capt. Thomas Shelby
- Capt. Zaccheus Wilson

Chatham County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of two (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Gholson
- Capt. William Griffin
- Capt. John Hudgins

Guilford County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Hugh Fabush

Granville County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Bennett

Onslow County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Barton

Little River District Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Col. James Williams (Killed), Lt. Col. Joseph Hayes, and Maj. George Anderson (wounded), with eleven (11) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Mordecai Clark (Burke County, NC)
- Capt. James Dillard
- Capt. John Douglas (Caswell County, NC)
- Capt. William Douglas (Caswell County, NC)
- Capt. Thomas Duggin
- Capt. William Graham (Lincoln County, NC)
- Capt. Pendleton Isbell (Wilkes County, NC)
- Capt. John McMullen (Caswell County, NC)
- Capt. John Smith (Burke County, NC)
- Capt. Isaac White (Lincoln County, NC)
- Capt. Daniel Williams

2nd Spartan Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Col. Thomas Brandon, Lt. Col. James Steen, Maj. John Moore, and Maj. Thomas Young, with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Gabriel Brown
- Capt. Benjamin Jolly
- Capt. John Putman
- Capt. Moses White
- Capt. William Young

1st Spartan Regiment (SC) detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Boyer
- Capt. William Taylor

Roebuck's Battalion of Spartan Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Col. Benjamin Roebuck, with eight (8) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Andrew Barry
- Capt. Vardry McBee
- Capt. Major Parson
- Capt. George Roebuck
- Capt. James Smith
- Capt. George Taylor
- Capt. Robert Thomas
- Capt. Moses Wood

New Acquisition District Regiment (SC), led by Col. Samuel Watson, Lt. Col. Andrew Love (wounded), and Maj. John Wallace, with seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Cunningham
- Capt. Robert Hanna
- Capt. John Hamilton
- Capt. John Henderson
- Capt. Joseph Howe
- Capt. James Meek
- Capt. Joseph Smith

Turkey Creek Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Col. Edward Lacey and Lt. Col. John Nixon, with six (6) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James Johnson
- Capt. John Mills
- Capt. John Moffett
- Capt. James Ramsey
- Capt. James Syles
- Capt. John Thompson

Hill's Regiment of Light Dragoons (SC) detachment, led by Col. William Hill (some claim he left before the battle started), Lt. Col. James Hawthorn, and Maj. Samuel Tate, with four (4) known companies led by:
- Capt. Jacob Barnett
- Capt. James Giles
- Capt. John Hollis
- Capt. William McKenzie

Fairfield Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Col. Richard Winn, with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Lacey
- Capt. Edward Martin
- Capt. John Turner

Camden District Regiment (SC) detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James Coiel
- Capt. William Goodwyn
- Capt. John Weathers

Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Irwin
- Capt. Thomas Winn

Lower District Regiment (SC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Walters

Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment (SC) detachment, led by Maj. Samuel Hammond with unknown number of men

Clarke's Brigade of Militia (GA) led by Maj. William Candler, with 30 men in three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Patrick Carr
- Capt. John Clark
- Capt. Stephen Johnson


Total Patriot Forces - 1,100

Maj. Patrick Ferguson - Commanding Officer (Killed)

American Volunteers led by Maj. Patrick Ferguson, with 70 men, including Capt. Abraham DePeyster, Capt. Charles McNeill, Capt. John Taylor, and Capt. Samuel Ryerson

NC Loyalist Militia led by Col. Ambrose Mills, with 450 men, including Maj. William Mills, Col. Vezey Husbands, and the following units:

Rutherford County Loyalist Militia (NC) led by Maj. William Green, with Capt. James Chitwood, Capt. Walter Gilkey, Capt. Aaron Biggerstaff, and Capt. Grymes

Plummer's Regiment of Loyalist Militia (SC) led by Maj. Daniel Plummer with 350 men, including Capt. Alexander Chesney, Capt. Robert Wilson, Capt. William Gist, Capt. James Campbell, Capt. James Shearer, and Capt. Phillip Coleman

Col. Richard King's Regiment of Loyalists (SC) led by Capt. David Larimore

Col. John Hamilton's Regiment of Loyalists (SC), Capt. Elisha Robinson's Company led by Lt. William Elliott

Zacharias Gibbs' Regiment of Loyalist Militia (SC) led by Capt. William Young

Maj. Patrick Cunningham's Regiment of Loyalist Militia (SC) led by Capt. William Cunningham, with Capt. William Payne and Capt. William Helms

Col. Daniel Clary's Regiment of Loyalist Militia (SC) led by Capt. "Unknown," with Capt. Henry Rudolph, Capt. Denas Knowland, Capt. Thomas Whitehead, Capt. Hezekiah Williams, and Capt. Bailey Chaney

Waggoners - 10

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 1,016

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