north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
      In 1980 Congress created the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, a 330-mile corridor to commemorate the course taken by Patriots en route to victory over the British and Tories at Kings Mountain. In North Carolina the trail forms a “Y” shape with segments extending from the North Carolina-Tennessee line in Avery County and from Elkin in Surry County, converging at Quaker Meadows, with the route then going south into Rutherford County and South Carolina.

      In the fall of 1780 the Southern campaign was not going well for the Americans. Word reached North Carolina that General Charles Cornwallis was going to enter the state to suppress further resistance. Major Patrick Ferguson, who led about 1,000 Loyalists into the foothills region, threatened the frontiersmen, insisting that they swear allegiance to the Crown or that he would “lay their country waste with fire and sword.” This was not the tactic to take with the fiercely independent citizens of the backcountry. The call went out to militia leaders to gather forces in order to drive out the Tories under Ferguson.

      Major Joseph Winston raised 100 militia troops from Surry County (it then encompassed present Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, and Forsyth counties). The men assembled on September 27, 1780, at the county’s muster field, near an iron works in the flood plain of Big Elkin Creek, three-quarters of a mile from the Yadkin River. The assembly ground is the eastern-most point of the trail and one of only two trailheads on the Over Mountain Victory National Historic Trail.

      Major Winston’s troops marched into Wilkes where they joined Colonel Benjamin Cleveland and 250 members of that county’s militia. From there the party proceeded to rendezvous with the Overmountain men at Quaker Meadows, in what is now Morganton. From Quaker Meadows the men set out in search of Ferguson. They would find him and his troops at Kings Mountain in South Carolina. The Patriot victory was hailed by Thomas Jefferson as “that turn of the tide of success which terminated the Revolutionary war with the seal of our independence.” General Henry Clinton called it “the first link in a chain of evils that . . . at last ended in the total loss of America.”


References:
Lyman Draper, Kings Mountain and Its Heroes (1881)
National Park Service, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail: Comprehensive Management Plan (1982)
Wilma Dykeman, With Fire and Sword: Battle of Kings Mountain, 1780 (1978)
Elkin Tribune, June 28, 2002
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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