Born in 1755 along the south fork of the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County, William Chronicle received little in the way of a formal education. His father, William, Sr., a farmer and deer hunter, supported the Regulator movement. William Sr. adamantly opposed the renaming of their area Tryon County in honor of Governor William Tryon in 1768.
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Little is known of Chronicle’s early life although he served as an officer in the Tryon County militia in the early 1770s. Chronicle, an ardent Whig, organized Tryon County militia in 1775, leading them during the Snow Campaign in South Carolina. After Tryon became Lincoln County in 1779, he took command of local militia companies and led them in the Savannah campaign that fall. In the summer of 1780 Chronicle received a commission as a major in the Lincoln County militia regiment led by William Graham of Graham’s Fort. He subsequently took part in the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill as well as skirmishes at Thickety Fort and Cedar Spring.
In the fall of 1780, sixty to eighty Lincoln County militiamen joined other Patriot forces in their pursuit of Major Patrick Ferguson. William Graham being sick, and Chronicle took overall command of the small regiment. For several weeks, Ferguson’s force of Tory militia and British provincials had ravaged the western sections of North and South Carolina. In response, Whig militia from the region, joined by men from present-day Tennessee known as the “Overmountain Men” pursued Ferguson until they finally surrounded his forces at King’s Mountain on October 7, 1780.
Beginning in the early morning hours, the Whigs assaulted Ferguson’s position from all sides. One of the earliest casualties was Major Chronicle. Twenty-five years old, Chronicle was shot and killed while leading one of the initial charges. Reports place him only twenty-five feet from the British position when he died. After his death, his horse was returned to his parents, and his sword, pistols, and spurs were given to his half-brother James McKee. Joseph Graham referred to him as a “young man of great promise.” He was buried along with three other young men from the South Fork area killed in the battle. A monument marks his grave at the King’s Mountain National Military Park.
Lyman C. Draper, Kings Mountain and Its Heroes (1881)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 370—sketch by Charles R. Holloman
W. L. Sherrill, Annals of Lincoln County (1937)
J. D. Bailey, Commanders at King’s Mountain (1980)
Bobby G. Moss, The Patriots at King’s Mountain (1990)