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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blue Hen's Chicks, Part 6


On this day, 229 years ago, the battle began.

British Captain Chesney, having made the rounds of the pickets which were posted at the base of the hill, heard a shot. "I immediately paraded the men and posted the officers", he later said. Without further ado, the battle began.
The militia had surrounded the British position and began to take it apart, flitting between the trees, never providing an open target for the enemy.
The British made several sallies out from their position but these became weaker and weaker as the fight continued. A distant witness reported that "the mountain was covered with flame and smoke and seemed to thunder."
As the battle progressed, the battle lines desinegrated, and the Americans clearly had the upper hand. The British rallied at the extreme crest of the hill and made a desperate charge to cut their way out, during which, Major Ferguson was felled by a volley. Command devolved to a Captain dePeyster, who immediatley attempted to surrender. Although the white flags had begun flying, the shout "Tarleton's Quarter" was often heard and it was with great difficulty that the officers finally restrained their men. But as soon as the shooting ceased, a single shot rang out, killing one of the militia generals, and the slaughter commenced. After this too was stopped, the work of burying the dead commenced.
They slept on the field of battle and began their journey homeward the next day. Hurrying along with their prisoners, they feared that Tarleton himself would soon be upon them. But Cornwallis was thinking of everything but sending a force after the mountain men. While the patriots fled north, Cornwallis fled south and the soil of North Carolina was free of invaders.

The implications of this battle were enormous. Because of this defeat, Cornwallis would be unable to advance north to the destruction of Washington. Several months later, Cornwallis would lose again at the battle of Cowpens. He would ultimately be defeated at Yorktown. Ferguson's defeat was considered to be the turning point in the war. The loss of the battle would have meant the loss of American independence.
The British had learned to their own detriment the cost of messing with the Scotch Irish.

After the fashion of Davy Crockett, Joseph McDowell later wrote:
"We were the bravest of the brave. We were a formidable flock of blue hen's chickens of the game blood, of indomitable courage, strangers to fear. We were well provided with sticks; we made the egg shells- British and Tory skulls- fly like onion peelings in a windy day. The blue cocks flapped their wings and crowed."


Author's note: The majority of first hand accounts that went into the creation of this series comes from Hank Messick's most excellent book King's Mountain. I highly, highly recommend it.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Johnson said...

Good series, Stephen. Troioni pictures were a nice touch :).

You ought to check out "Partisans and Redcoats" by Walter B. Edgar sometime. It talks a lot about the Scotch-Irish of South Carolina, their culture, and how they turned the War for Independence around 180Ëšafter the British committed several outrages in an effort to "cow" the "defeated" populace.

Mr. Edgar is not a Christian, as best I can tell, but he clearly relates how the British in the South attributed all the trouble they were having directly to the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians - how they referred to Presbyterian churches as "sedition shops," and one particular officer (can't recall which offhand) burned every single one that came into his power.

October 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the recommendation, I'll have to check it out.

I'm a big fan of Troiani!

October 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

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