Battle of King's Mountain
On July 25, 1780, Maj. General Horatio Gates arrived in North Carolina and took command of the Southern Department. On August 16, 1780, he was routed at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina by Lt. General Charles Cornwallis. The loss at Camden and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton's subsequent victory over Thomas Sumter's militia at Fishing Creek on August 17th decimated the rebel resistance in the South.
General Cornwallis appeared to now have a clear path all the way to Virginia. In September, Cornwallis invaded North Carolina and ordered Major Patrick Ferguson to guard his left flank. On September 2, Ferguson left for the Western Carolinas with seventy of his American Volunteers and several hundred Tory militia. Ferguson arrived at Gilbert Town, North Carolina on September 7. When there on September 10, Major Ferguson paroled a captured rebel and sent him into the mountains with a message to the leaders there, "that if they did not desist from their opposition to the British arms, and take protection under his standard, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword." This threat proved to be his undoing.
The mountain men who lived in the Blue Ridge area were mostly isolated and kept to themselves, but a threat to their own moved them to action. A call to arms went out and they gathered at Sycamore Shoals. On September 25, Colonels William Campbell, Charles McDowell, John Sevier and Isaac Shelby left Sycamore Shoals in pursuit of Ferguson. Shelby and Elijah Clarke had previously skirmished with Ferguson on August 8 at Cedar Springs.
On September 30, they were joined by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland and Colonel Joseph Winston. When they reached Gilbert Town, Major Ferguson was gone. Sometime after this, the seven colonels had to decide on a chain of command until a Continental Army general officer arrived. They chose the youngest of them all, Colonel William Campbell to act as overall commander.
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