4 Oct 1780 Letter to General Gates
Written Three Days Before
The Battle of King's Mountain
“We have collected at this place about 1500 good men...”

When British Colonel Patrick FERGUSON wrote Col. Isaac Shelby at Sapling Grove (present-day Bristol, Sullivan County, Tennessee), that if the "rebels" continued to abstain from taking the oath of loyalty to His Majesty, Ferguson and his troops would invade the country, destroy their homes and hang their leaders, he signed his own death warrant.

The frontiersmen did not take kindly to Ferguson's threats, and plans were made to lay a surprise attack on the enemy. Three days prior to the battle, the following letter was written to General Gates, who was commander in the South in the latter half of 1780:

Rutherford county, Camp near Gilbert Town

October 4, 1780   


We have collected at this place about 1500 good men, drawn from Washington, Surry, Wilkes, Burk of North Carolina, and Washington County, Virginia, and expect to be joined in a few days by Colonel Williams of South Carolina with about a thousand more. As we have at this place called out Militia without any order from the executive of our different States, and with the view of expelling out of this part of the country the enemy, we think such a body of men worthy of your attention and would request you to send a General Officer immediately to take the command of such troops as may embody in this quarter. Our troops being Milita, and but little acquainted with discipline, we would wish him to be a gentleman of address, and be able to keep a proper discipline, without disgusting the soldiery. Every assistance in our power shall be given the Officer you may think proper to take command of us. It is the wish of such of us as are acquainted with General Davidon, and Colonel Morgan (if in service) that one of these Gentlemen may be appointed to the command.

We are in great need of ammunition, and hope you will endeavor to have us properly furnished.

Colonel McDowell will wait on you with this, who can inform you of the present situation of the enemy, and such other particulars respecting our troops as you may think necessary.

         Your most obedient and very able servants.
  Benj. Cleveland
Isaac Shelby
John Sevier
Andw. Hampton
Wm. Campbell
Jo. Winston
(Extracted from The King's Mountain Men by Katherine Keogh White, Dayton, Virginia, 1924)

Return to
The Battle of King's Mountain
Tennesseans in the Revolutionary War
The TNGenWeb Project

Tennesseans in the Revolutionary War is a Special Project of TNGenNet, the volunteer organization of the TNGenWeb Project.

TNGenNet is a service mark of the Tennessee Genealogical Network, a nonprofit public benefit corporation registered in the State of Tennessee. See also TNGenNet's Bylaws and the History of TNGenWeb).

©2000 - present, TNGenNet, Inc.