October, 1780: Battle of King’s Mountain Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

On October 7, 1780, British forces subduing the south suffered a major defeat when American patriot militia under Colonel William Campbell from the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Tennessee region combined forces at King’s Mountain. There, the Americans annihilated Major Patrick Ferguson’s loyalists, protecting General Charles Cornwallis’s left flank as he advanced toward Charlotte, North Carolina. The American militia trapped Ferguson’s force atop King’s Mountain, an open plateau rising sixty feet with steep, heavily wooded sides. The rifle-armed Americans advanced up the mountain, using terrain well, and attacked about three in the afternoon. Ferguson’s troops, using musket and bayonet charges, drove attackers back only to face repeated assaults from regrouped riflemen. With his force steadily cut down by deadly frontier rifle fire and his position hopeless, Ferguson and a few followers attempted a breakthrough. A hail of bullets felled the British commander, ending the battle, although Americans continued firing briefly at the despised, surrendering loyalists. British casualties included about 200 killed, 160 wounded and about 700 prisoners. Americans lost 28 killed and 62 wounded.

On October 7, 1780, British forces subduing the south suffered a major defeat when American patriot militia under Colonel William Campbell from the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Tennessee region combined forces at King’s Mountain. There, the Americans annihilated Major Patrick Ferguson’s loyalists, protecting General Charles Cornwallis’s left flank as he advanced toward Charlotte, North Carolina. The American militia trapped Ferguson’s force atop King’s Mountain, an open plateau rising sixty feet with steep, heavily wooded sides. The rifle-armed Americans advanced up the mountain, using terrain well, and attacked about three in the afternoon. Ferguson’s troops, using musket and bayonet charges, drove attackers back only to face repeated assaults from regrouped riflemen. With his force steadily cut down by deadly frontier rifle fire and his position hopeless, Ferguson and a few followers attempted a breakthrough. A hail of bullets felled the British commander, ending the battle, although Americans continued firing briefly at the despised, surrendering loyalists. British casualties included about 200 killed, 160 wounded and about 700 prisoners. Americans lost 28 killed and 62 wounded.

American victory at King’s Mountain, which ended a string of British victories, forced Cornwallis to abandon his move into North Carolina and retreat to Winnsborough. It became a turning point of the revolution in the south.

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