Researching the American Revolution

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Kings Mountain

Commemerative memorial at the summit of Kings Mountain


The Battle of Kings Mountain was a pivotal engagement in the southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War. It took place on October 7, 1780, in the mountainous region of western South Carolina, near the border with North Carolina. The battle was fought between Patriot militia forces, composed mainly of backcountry settlers from the Carolinas, and Loyalist militia forces, who were primarily American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown.

The Patriot forces, under the command of Colonels Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, William Campbell, and Benjamin Cleveland, launched a surprise attack on the Loyalist forces, who were encamped on the top of Kings Mountain. The Patriots used their knowledge of the terrain to their advantage and surrounded the Loyalists, who were caught off guard and unprepared for the attack. The resulting battle lasted less than an hour and resulted in a decisive Patriot victory. The Loyalist commander, British Major Patrick Ferguson, was killed, and more than 600 Loyalist soldiers were taken prisoner. The Battle of Kings Mountain is considered a turning point in the southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War, as it boosted Patriot morale and weakened British control over the southern colonies.

Primary Sources

Campbell, Robert, 1755-1832. Description by Robert Campbell of the Battle of King’s Mountain. From the Annals of the Army of Tennessee, October 1878, MSS. of the Tennessee Historical Society, Volume 15, Pages 100-104.

Secondary Sources

Draper, Lyman Copeland. King’s Mountain and Its Heroes: History of the Battle of King’s Mountain, October 7th, 1780, and the Events Which Led to It. Johnson City, Tenn.: Overmountain Press, 1996.

Messick, Hank. King’s Mountain: The Epic of the Blue Ridge “Mountain Men” in the American Revolution. 1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1976.

Skinner Jr., Harold Allen. Staff Ride Handbook for the Battle of Kings Mountain, 7 October 1780. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press An imprint of the Army University Press, 2020. Click to access staff-ride-handbook-battle-of-kings-mountain-7-oct-1870.pdf.

Staff ride presentations provide excellent battle overviews from the perspectives of military commanders and the key decisions they made.

Pictures of the Modern Day Battlefield

Road to top of Kings Mountain
Top of King’s Mountain where the Loyalists made their stand.
View from top of Kings Mountain
Note steepness of the hill
Gathering of the Over Mountain Men at Sycamore Shoals, 1780, by Lloyd Branson, 1915 Tennessee State History Museum, Nashville, TN

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