A Visit to the Kings Mountain National Military Park

I didn’t intend for this post to come out on the day of the Battle of Kings Mountain, but this is how it turned out. The first stop of the second day of my Southern Campaign Weekend Road Trip a week and half ago was Kings Mountain National Military Park near Blacksburg, SC. Located east of the Cowpens battlefield near the South Carolina/North Carolina border, The Battle of Kings Mountain took place a few months before Cowpens and put the two sides on the road to Cowpens.

On 7 October 1780, Patriot militia including 600 “Overmountain Men” from across the Appalachian Mountains fought Loyalist militia under British Major Patrick Ferguson at Kings Mountain. Attacking up the mountain from positions that essentially surrounded the Loyalists, the Patriot militia resoundingly defeated the Loyalists, killing, injuring, and capturing most of the Loyalist force. Major Ferguson was killed during the battle and he was buried on the mountain (his grave can be seen on the interpretative trail around the battlefield).

Kings Mountain was an important battle for several reasons. First, it was one of the few battles of the American Revolution which was fought exclusively by American units; no British units were involved. Second, it was the first major Patriot victory since the British had taken Charleston, SC earlier in 1780. It raised Patriot morale for the struggle ahead. Third, it derailed Cornwallis’ plan to push north into North Carolina, setting the two side of the war on a path that would lead to the Battle of Cowpens a few months later and bit to the west and from there toward Yorktown, where Cornwallis’ force would ultimately surrender to Patriot and French forces.

I visited on a Sunday, so the Visitors Center was closed due to COVID-19 and there were no park staff present. The park and the interpretive trail around the battlefield was still open. The uphill and downhill walk around the mountain truly does give you an idea of what the Patriot militia experienced as the attacked up hill and just how small the summit was and how little space the Loyalist militia had to fight from. You begin just behind the visitors center and end up at the summit of Kings Mountain, where the fight ended before going back down to the visitors center. The are monuments to the participants of both sides along the trail, as well as a monument to the speech that President Hoover gave on 7 October 1930 as he dedicated the battlefield as a national monument; it was the first time that a President had come to a Southern Campaign battlefield. As you can see in some of the photos above, the trail can be steep at times, but its very much worth the 1.5 mile walk.

If you’re at all interested in the history of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, Kings Mountain really is a battlefield that you should visit. It’s quite easy to fit it and Cowpens into the same day and you might want to include the Musgrove Mill battlefield (a South Carolina State Park) as well, although that would make things a multi-day trip to adequately cover everything. There are still some Southern Campaign battlefields I want to visit, so there will be more road trips and more blog posts as I get the opportunity to visit them.

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