Battle of King’s Mountain

Research by Griffin Daughtry and Casey Johnson

1. Report by William Campbell et al. concerning the Battle of King’s Mountain [as printed in the Virginia Gazette and the Massachusetts Spy], November 18, 1780.

After the Battle of King’s Mountain on October 7, 1780, Colonel William Campbell – the Whig militia commanding officer – provided the Virginia Gazette and the Massachusetts Spy newspapers with his account of the battle. Campbell portrayed the battle as a heroic response to the threats of Major Patrick Ferguson and his Loyalist militiamen. Campbell notes that after the death of Ferguson and the surrendering of Loyalist troops, the battle came to a halt with no complications. Other accounts – which can be seen in General Joseph Graham’s retelling of the events at King’s Mountain – reveal that Campbell may not have been truthful regarding the treatment of surrendering Loyalists.

To read the full report, click here.

2. Report of casualties from the Battle of King’s Mountain, October 7, 1780


This is the record of the returned of the killed and wounded of the troops under Colonel Campbell at the Battle of Kings Mountain. There are two columns; one for deaths and another for wounded. Going horizontal across the top of each column is a list of ranks. To the side of the columns is a list of commanders. Using this layout, the deaths and wounded were marked on the list according to their rank and their regiments. This gives an accurate account of how many were wounded or killed, as well as their regiment and rank.

To view the document, click here.

3. Description of King’s Mountain based on Isaac Shelby’s memories, 1848

In 1815 and 1819, General Martin D. Hardin, of Kentucky, had conversations with Isaac Shelby. During these conversations, the battle of Kings Mountain is mentioned. This document mentions context regarding backstory of certain events leading up to the Battle of Kings Mountain involving Colonel Isaac and Major Ferguson. Shelby’s narrative gives insight into the colonel’s own view on what happened before, during, and after the Battle of Kings Mountain.

To read the full account, click here.

4. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Campbell, November 10, 1822.

Forty-two years after the Battle of King’s Mountain, Thomas Jefferson writes to John Campbell – relative of Colonel William Campbell – about significance of the battle. Jefferson recalls that the battle marked “the turn of the tide of success” for the American Revolution. This document is important because it ignores the atrocious actions of war that occurred at the battle – like the urination on the dead body of Major Patrick Ferguson and the killing of surrendering loyalists – and maintains the romantic image of the militia as a virtuous alternative to a standing army.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 6.15.55 PM.png

To view the complete document, click here.