Monday, December 16, 2013

Walkabout Around King's Mountain

A couple days after my last blogpost I traveled to South Carolina to visit my daughter Sarah and her boyfriend Dallas.  It was also the first time I met Dallas' family.  To say I had an enjoyable time would be an understatement.  The only "cloud" to the trip is that my both Sarah and Dallas work and attend school.
But as they say:  Every cloud has a silver lining.
And the silver lining on this trip was Sarah & Dallas live within driving distance to several battlefields in the Carolinas.
So on Saturday, December 7th, I stole away to the King's Mountain National Military Park while Sarah and Dallas were at work.  I was one of maybe half-a-dozen visitors that cool and cloudy day.  The Vistors Center, pictured above, was the first the first part of my tour.  The building consisted of a small museum, theater and gift shop.
For you miniature wargaming fans, here's a photo of the diorama depicting one of the Loyalist bayonet charges that occurred during the battle.

The park rangers were very hospitable and offered to start their historical movie early for me.  Since my knowledge of the battle was vague at best, I took them up on their offer and I'm glad I did.  (Wikipedia has a decent account of the battle and the aftermath).
After the show, I put on my jacket, strapped on my small backpack and set out on the 1.5 mile battlefield trail.  The park also has more extensive hiking and horseback riding trails, while the nearby state park hosts a campground.  But since my time was limited and I didn't have a horse, I kept to battlefield tour.  While the winding path was paved... was often steep, especially the portion that ascended to the summit.  Memorials and information plaques were placed at several key locations.  I especially liked the "You Are Here" maps, which superimposed the troop dispositions of the battle. 

(I added the yellow graphics to the picture above). 
Here's a view looking up at the summit from Cleveland's NC Militia position...

While I was on active duty, I was stationed in North Carolina for several years, but never got use to the summer heat.  So I was happy to be doing my walkabout this time of year.  Plus the lack of foliage gave me a better view of the battlefield, which I felt approximated the weather and terrain conditions during the actual battle.
Many of the Overmountain Men that assaulted King's Mountain came from beyond the boundaries of the orignal Thirteen Colonies, in what is now Tennessee.

Their most notable leader was Isaac Shelby:

A view of the summit from Shelby's position...

The climb to the summit...

A monument commorating the battle...

Prior to the Revolutionary War, King's Mountain was used by the locals as a hunting camp.  I'm not sure if it's the highest mountain in the area, but did manage to get a couple of almost-panoramic views of the countryside.

Here was a newer monument that not only commemorated the battle, but the opening of the national park.

 The Loyalists, or Tories as they were often called were led by Major Patrick Ferguson.  Once Ferguson was identified, thanks to one of his mistresses defecting to the patriots (or rebels, depending on your point of view), nine men were reported to have fired at him when he was at this spot...

Seven (some accounts say eight) musket balls struck him, blowing him from the saddle. 

But one of his boots remained stuck in his horse's stirrup and dragged his body down to the patriot lines.  Ferguson's other mistress was also killed in the battle.  (Apparently both of them were named Virginia).
Since the War of 1812, we've managed to patch things up, more or less, with our British cousins.  So much so, that our battlefields often include memorials to our former enemies. 
Ferguson's Memorial:

And that was my last stop before returning to the Visitors Center.   

I went inside the gift shop and bought several souvenirs.  I was somewhat dissappointed they didn't have a replica of Ferguson's silver whistle.  The park ranger at the checkout counter said she'd buy one too if they had some.
I headed back to meet Sarah and Dallas for dinner at his parent's place.  Overall, my tour took me 2.5 hours to complete.  I could have spent all day there.  Since my wife couldn't travel with me due to her new job, maybe during my next trip to SC we can all visit the battlefield.

No comments: