King's Mountain- Clifton's Collectibles Genealogy

American Revolutionary War

The American colonists rebelled for a multitude of reasons.
A major explanation was: "Taxation without representation"

King's Mountain

Battle of King's Mountain,

South Carolina

Virginia-Tennessee 1770-1780 long rifle was considered a hunting rifle
A type of rifle used by the mountain men in this battle
British forces were doing well in the southern provinces. They had captured most of Georgia and South Carolina. In September, 1780, Cornwallis was in the process of sending his forces on their way into North Carolina and then to Virginia. He ordered Ferguson north,  toward the western section of  North Carolina.  Ferguson was to eventually join Cornwallis in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An advantage the over the mountain men who were to eventually engage them  had over the "loyalist" forces was the hunting rifle they bring with them into battle. The long rifle, while slow to load was quite accurate up to 300 yards.  The musket was faster to load, but not accurate beyond 100 yards.
Most of  the men under Ferguson's command had muzzle-loading muskets.

With his newly organized army, Col. Patrick Ferguson  terrorized large areas of South Carolina and north Georgia. Eventually, Ferguson penetrated as far north as Gilbert Town, North Carolina, a hamlet noted as a gathering place for patriots. He was informed  backwoodsmen were gathering to march against him from ‘over the mountain,’ in what is now Tennessee.

Colonel  Ferguson, heading the westward bound  Tory force, sent an arrogant message to the notable over the mountain men gathering in the area; a fiery written warning that if they did not cease opposition to King George III, he would ‘hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword'.

Little did Ferguson know that even though these men were hard tested Indian fighters  and unparalleled shots,  they may not have cared as much who ran the country as they did about family, friends and property. But they definitely did not care much about Ferguson's threat, nor Banattre Tarleton, who patriots held in particularly low esteem after his  cavalry's unwarranted slaughter of nearly 100 Virginia militiamen led by Beaufort, in South Carolina after he had attempted to surrender. Tarleton's men maimed many more in this incident.      

According to General Joseph Graham's account of, "The Battle of King's Mountain," the patriot army consisted of the following breakdown of forces:

  From Washington county, Virginia, under Col. W. Campbell            400
  From Sullivan county, North Carolina, under Col. Isaac Shelby,       200
  From Washington, North Carolina, under Col. John Sevier,             240
  From Burke and Rutherford counties, N. C.,
  under Col. Charles McDowell                                                         160  
  From Wilks and Surry counties, North Carolina, under
  Col. Benj... Cleveland and Major James Winston,                            350

Once these over the mountain men from beyond the Blue Ridge  reached  Gilbert Town on 4 October, they found Ferguson was on his way eastward. On 6 October, they joined over 400 more men in Cowpens, South Carolina, and also learned  Ferguson was in the King's Mountain area.  Concerned they would loose Ferguson,  the patriots split their force of approximately 1,000 men .  For the sake of expediency about 900 mounted men drove on to attack the Ferguson forces before he could count on the assistance of Cornwallace.

It had been showering on 7 October 1780, the day of the battle. The men used whatever they could to keep their weapons dry. It was decided the force would be equally divided; one half taking to the right to occupy the south east side of the mountain, and the other half advanced to the north east side. Each half would move forward until they joined. They  then would face and press on up the sides of the mountain to engage the the enemy .

When they  reached the top of the mountain, the enemy encampment was in full view, about 100 poles (1 pole = rod 5.5 yards), or 550 yards in front. The men halted here and tied their horses. By then it was 3:00 P.M.

General Graham describes the action as follows:

"The men led by Shelby and McDowell were soon closely engaged, and the contest from the first was very severe. Williams and Cleveland were soon in their places, and with the utmost energy engaged the foe. 
Ferguson, finding that the end of his line was giving way, ordered forward his regulars and riflemen, with bayonets, and made a furious charge upon Shelby and McDowell, charging down the mountain some 200 yards. A united and destructive fire soon compelled him to order his party back to the top of the mountain 
To ward off the deadly attack from Col. Williams, Ferguson again charged with fury down the mountain. When Shelby's men saw this, they raised the cry, "come on men, the enemy is retreating." They rallied by the time Ferguson returned from the charge against the South Carolinians, renewed their fire with great resolution. Ferguson again charged upon Shelby but not so far as before. Col. Williams' men, in turn, called out, "the enemy is retreating, come on men."

Graham continues:

"At this stage of the action,  Hambrite and Winston had met, and a brisk fire was poured upon Ferguson's men all around the mountain. As he would advance towards Campbell, Sevier, Winston and Hambrite, he was pursued by Shelby, McDowell, Williams and Cleveland. When he would turn his forces against the latter, the former would press on in pursuit. Thus he struggled on, making charges and retreats, but his left was rapidly losing ground. His men were rapidly falling before the skillful aim and unbending courage of the whigs. Even after being wounded, he fought on with courage. He made every effort that could be done by a brave and skillful officer, according to his position. At length he was shot dead, and his whole command driven up into a group of 60 yards in length, and not 40 in width.

The British officer, Captain Dupiester, who took the command, ordered a white flag to be raised, in token of surrender, but the bearer was instantly shot down. He soon had another raised, and called out for quarter. Col. Shelby demanded, if they surrendered, why did they not throw down their arms. It was instantly done.

But still the firing was continued. until Shelby and Sevier went inside the lines and ordered the men to cease. Some who kept it up, would fall out, "give them Beaufort's play." Alluding to Col. Beaufort's defeat by Tarleton, where no quarters were given. A guard was placed over the prisoners and all remained on the mountain during the night.

The party which led the left wing under Col. Hambrite, suffered very much, having to pass very difficult ground to reach their place of destination,and within 80 yards of the enemy's marksmen.Col. Hambrite was wounded, and Major Chronicle was killed. Col. Williams, of South Carolina, a brave and efficient officer, was also killed. The loss of the whigs was not exactly ascertained, but believed to be about 30 killed and 50 wounded. The enemy had about 150 killed and all the rest taken prisoners.

On the morning of the 8th, a court-martial was held, several of the prisoners who were found guilty of murder and other high crimes, were sentenced to be hanged. About twenty were executed. At the forks of the branch where Major Chronicle and Captain Mattocks were buried, a monument was erected. On the East side is the following inscription:

"Sacred to the memory of Major William Chronicle and Captain John Mattocks, William Robb and John Boyd, who were killed at this place on the 7th October, 1780, fighting in defense of America."

Inscribed on the Western side of said monument, facing the battle ground:

"Col. Ferguson, an officer of his Britannic Majesty, was defeated and killed at this place, on the 7th of October, 1780."

This battle, lasting only one hour and five minutes was, a total rout, and a decisive  turning point in the Revolution.  everyone in Ferguson's force was either dead, wounded, or captured. Ferguson himself was killed and buried at the site. It is also important to remember this engagement was basically a battle between the colonists, led by the feisty Englishman, Col. Patrick Ferguson on the side of the crown.

According to a written statement made at camp by Colonels William Campbell, Isaac Shelby, and Benjamin Cleveland, these leaders of a vastly under trained force of "over the mountain men" which had just demolished a vastly superior force,  suffered 1 colonel, 1 major, 1 captain,  2 lieutenants, 4 ensigns, 19 privates killed and 1 major, 3 captains, 3 lieutenants, 55 privates wounded, for a total of 28 killed and 62 wounded..Other sources inform us there were 29 dead and 55 wounded. The contingent from Virginia suffered most, having 16 killed in this action.

The exact number of men  actually fighting at King's Mountain is hard to ascertain. A good guess is approximately 1,000 men on each side participated.  This is of course subject to review.

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Below is the information we have at this time about men with familial connections to Neale Clifton who participated in the Battle of King's Mountain. Two of three Edmondson brothers who engaged the Tories in this battle died at King's Mountain.

BISHOP, Nathan: Participated in the Battle of King's Mountain, SC

COLE, Joseph Jr.: Rank, Captain, Washington County, Virginia Militia. Date of birth: 22 March 1748. Birthplace: Swansea, Massachusetts.
Death: 6 September 1826. Source: Gwathmey, HISTORY OF VIRGINIA IN THE REVOLUTION, pp 165; Summers, ANNALS OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, PART 2, pp1386.

: Virginia; Ensign; Civil Service :Date of birth: Circa 1750; Birthplace, Augusta County, Virginia. Andrew served on a Grand Jury in Washington County, Virginia,
and was an Ensign under Col. Campbell.  at the Battle of King's Mountain, South Carolina. He died in that battle on 7 October 1780. Source: Heitman, HISTORY REG OF OFFICERS OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY DURING THE WAR OF THE REVOLUTION, 1775-1783, pp 212; Draper, KINGS MOUNTAIN & ITS HEROES, pp 304,Summers,  ANNALS OF SW VIRGINIA PART 2, pp 962.

EDMONDSON, John: Private in Col. William Campbell's Militia. Date of  birth: 1764. Place of birth: Fredericksburg, Virginia. Participated in the Battle of King's Mountain. Death: 1847 in Fulton, Illinois.

EDMONDSON, Robert Jr. Rank: Lieutenant., Virginia.
Birth: 17 March 1753 in Augusta County, Virginia.  Participated in the Battle of King's Mountain in South Carolina under the command of Captain Beattie.  He was wounded. Died 16 February 1816 in Shelby County, Tennessee. He was not the son of Robert Edmondson Sr., who also took part in and died during this battle. Please see Robert Edmondson  Sr.

EDMONDSON, Robert Sr.: Virginia, Rank: Lieutenant. Source: Redmond Selctmon Cole, HISTORICAL INFORMATION RELATING TO THE EDMONDSON (EDMISTON) FAMILY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA. Died: 7 October 1780. More information

: Virginia, Rank: Captain.  Date of birth: 1734. Place of birth, Augusta County, Virginia. He was a member of the Rangers on Expedition into South Carolina in 1780.  According to an account recorded in Draper's HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF KING'S MOUNTAIN, "He (Capt. Edmondson) was in Col. Wm Campbell's Virginia Regiment and during the hottest part of the battle he dashed forward and ahead of his Company and received the full charge of the Depeyster's Rangers, he fired his gun, then using it as club he knocked the rifle out of the grasp of one of the Britons, seizing him by the neck and making him a prisoner, he brought him to the foot of the hill. Returning again up the mountain he bravely fell, fighting in front of his Company, When the contest ended, one of his soldiers, McCrosky, went in search of his Captain and told him of the great victory his forces had gained over the British, at which the dying man nodded his satisfaction at the results."  William did die on 7 October 1780 during the Battle of King's Mountain. He was also known as William Edmiston.

EDMONDSON,  William:  Rank: Colonel. Date of birth 1734. Place of birth: Cecil County, Maryland. Died:   30 July 1822, Glade Springs, Washington County, Virginia. Source: Clark, THE MILITIA OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, pp 21; ANNALS OF SW VA, PART 2, pp 1389.  More information

Laxton, Levi Jr.Levi served in the Revolutionary War at the age of 13 was in the Battle of Kings Mountain and was a sword bearer to Colonel Cleveland. He was also in the Battle of Cowpens in 1781.
Please note: Most of the information on our pages about the events leading up to this important incident and including participants in the Battle of King's Mountain, are available from many sources. We  wish to include credit  for information obtained from the records of Redmmond Selectmon Cole, who did so much work on families Neale has in common with him.  We also want to thank his grand daughter, Mary Rhodes, for giving us permission to use his information as a source.

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Modified 9 December 2011