Revolution in the Smokies: The Over-the-Mountain Men

August 22-25, 2018
A BGES Revolutionary War Field University Program
With Bert Dunkerly from Charlotte, NC

One can never appreciate the tough, indeed, internecine degree of animosity generated by the American Revolution until you study the war in the backcountry of the Carolinas. Here Tories and Rebels were truly neighbors and the frontier spirit fostered by the great land opportunities produced an independent American spirit that characterized the Rebel cause.

As Washington and Sir Henry Clinton settled into an uneasy stalemate near New York City and the new French Alliance began to crystallize, British strategy shifted to a southern campaign aimed at bringing southern colonies back into loyalty with the crown. As British men of war landed troops near Savannah and Charleston was targeted the true nature of life in the Carolinas came into focus. It had been a war of partisans with heroes like Marion, Lee and Sumter fighting men like Simcoe and Tarleton. However, Now the British had brought a commander of considerable merit and respect to the theater–Lord Charles Cornwallis had an independent command and he meant to succeed. Accompanied by other hard bit and professional British officers military actions would match the rhetoric and the region was soon aflame with animosity and retribution.

The heavy-handed rhetoric is at the core of this program. Tories under the command of the very talented Scotsman, Major Patrick Ferguson were attempting to bring a sense of loyalty to the crown in the western Carolinas region. Ferguson put out an edict that declared that anyone who did not declare their loyalty to the crown would be treated harshly. That threat reached a group of rather independent minded settlers in the region around Abington, Virginia and the Northeastern Tennessee area. Challenged by agents of the king, they opted to organize and move against the crown’s soldiers and agents. The Over-the-Mountain men massacred Ferguson and his men at Kings Mountain in October 1780. This is that story.

The complete itinerary is here on our main website: Revolution in the Smokies: The Over-the-Mountain Men.

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