Over the last year I read a number of books on the American Revolution. The latest of these is Sharyn McCrumb’s newest book, King’s Mountain. Set largely in North Carolina, it is well researched historical fiction and tells the story of both sides of this battle. John Sevier was primarily concerned with protecting his family from Native American attack. Yet, when faced with a threat from an arrogant British officer, he and other leaders from western North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina left their homes and families, gathered a sizable militia, and engaged the British in a battle which became a turning point in the revolution. They opposed Patrick Ferguson, son of a Scottish earl who had threatened to destroy them if they opposed the king. The names of the American leaders are now place names in North Carolina: Isaac Shelby, James Johnston, Joseph McDowell, and Joseph Winston. Sevier went on to become the first governor of Tennessee, Shelby the first governor of Kentucky. What struck me most was the fact that each of these men led other citizen-soldiers who followed them hundreds of miles across the southern Appalachians into this battle in September and October, 1780. There was no paid army, no tents, and no uniforms or boots. Provisions were minimal or non-existent, and the hardships faced were tremendous. These men were farmers and frontiersmen, using their own horses as transportation and their own cattle and cracked corn as a food supply for the army. McCrumb does an excellent job of putting the reader with them as they first seek and then do battle against Ferguson during what Jefferson called “the turn of the tide of success.” As recipients of this generosity and foresight, we have much for which to be grateful.
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