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Waxhaws, to Charlotte-town in North Carolina. The legion of Tarleton was to keep open the communication between Ferguson and Lord Cornwallis, and between the tory settlements on Cross Creek and in what had been denominated Tryon county.
Lord Cornwallis moved from Camden on the 8th of September. He reached Charlotte late in that month, and took possession of it after a slight resistance. * At that place he designed to establish a post, in order to keep up his communication with Camden; and then too he expected to be rejoined by Ferguson.
In attempting to reach that place, Ferguson was arrested by an event alike unlooked for and important.
Among the inhabitants who abandoned their homes when the British took possession of the two Southern States, was a Colonel Clarke of Georgia. This gentleman had formed a plan for the reduction of Augusta, which was only defended by a few provincials under the command of Colonel Brown. About the time Lord Cornwallis commenced his march from Camden to Charlotte,
* General Davidson commanded the North Carolina militia, and occasionally harassed the British army in its route. The resistance in Charlotte was made by Colonel Davie, at the head of some volunteer militia cavalry.
Clarke advanced against Augusta, at the head of a small body of men whom he had collected in the frontiers of North and South Carolina, and laid siege to that place. Brown made a vigorous defence; and the approach of Colonel Cruger, with a reinforcement from Ninety-six, compelled Clarke to relinquish the enterprize, and to save himself by a rapid retreat through the country along which he had marched to the attack. It was supposed that he would find much difficulty in effecting his escape; and as the position of Ferguson was well calculated to favour the designs against him, intelligence of the transactions at Augusta was immediately given to that officer. It appearing impossible that any enemy could be near him, Ferguson readily adopted the proposition for intercepting Clarke. For that purpose he moved somewhat nearer the mountains, and remained longer in that country, than had been originally intended. This delay proved fatal to him. It gave an opportunity to several corps voluntarily formed in different parts of the country, with various objects, and under various leaders, to assemble together, and thus to constitute a force too formidable to be resisted. The hardy mountaineers inhabiting the extreme western parts of Virginia, and of North Carolina, assembled on horseback, with their rifles, under Colonels Campbell, Cleveland, Shelby, and Sevier ; and moved
with their accustomed velocity towards Ferguson. At the same time, Colonel Williams, a distinguished militia partisan from the neighbourhood of Ninety-six, and Colonels Tracey and Branan, also of South Carolina, conducted their several parties towards the same point. Ferguson had notice of their approach, and immediately commenced his march for Charlotte, dispatching at the same time different messengers to Lord Cornwallis with information of his danger. These messengers were intercepted on their way, so that no movement was made to favour his retreat.
These several corps of American militia, amounting to near three thousand men, met at Gilberttown, the place lately occupied by Ferguson. About sixteen hundred choice riflemen were im. mediately selected, and mounted on their best horses, for the purpose of following the retreating enemy. The pursuit was too rapid to render an escape practicable. Finding that he must inevitably be overtaken, Ferguson chose his ground, and waited on King's-mountain for the attack.
On the 7th of October the Americans came up, and immediately forming themselves into three divisions, led by Campbell, Shelby, and Cleveland, began to ascend the mountain in three different and opposite directions. Colonel Cleveland first reached the enemy, and immediately commenced the action. An impetuous charge was made on
him with the bayonet, and his regiment gave way; but before it could be dispersed, Shelby also came up, and poured in a heavy fire on the British troops. Against him in turn the bayonet was used with success; but before the advantage gained could be pressed so far as to be of any material consequence, a new enemy presented himself, and called the attention of Ferguson to another quarter. Campbell had now brought up his division, and commenced a dreadful fire from a different part of the hill. Ferguson again used the bayonet with its accustomed success; but both the corps which had before been repulsed had now returned to the charge, and kept up on all sides, from behind the trees, a very galling fire. The action was continued in this manner with great spirit for near an hour. Wherever the bayonet was applied, the assailants necessarily gave way; but the attack was at the same time pressed from other quarters. In this critical state of things Major Ferguson received a mortal wound, and instantly expired. The courage of his party fell with him. The se. cond in command was unable to maintain the conflict, and quarter was immediately demanded.
In this sharp action one hundred and fifty of Ferguson's party were killed on the spot, and about the saine number were wounded ; eight hundred and ten, of whom one hundred were British troops, surrendered themselves prisoners; and
fifteen hundred stand of excellent arms were taken.
The loss on the part of the Americans was inconsiderable. The nature of the action often exposed the enemy
view to their fire, while they were themselves covered by the trees, behind which they took shelter ; but among the slain was Colonel Williams, who was greatly and justly lamented. As cruelty generally begets cruelty, the example set by the British at Camden was follow. ed; and immediately after the action, ten of the most active among the tories were selected from the prisoners and hung upon
spot. The party commanded by Ferguson is understood to have amounted to fourteen hundred men. Those who were neither killed nor taken dispersed themselves through the country, so that they were all lost to the royal cause. The total destruction of so important a part of his force entirely changed the situation of Lord Cornwallis. It disabled him from further prosecuting his expedition against North Carolina, and inspired him with serious fears for the posts in his rear. Could the victorious mountaineers have pressed their advantage, the situation of his lordship, and of all the posts in the upper parts of South Carolina and Georgia, would have been extremely critical. But it was impossible to keep them embodied. Had they been willing to remain in the field, no means