American Revolution war crimes, Battle of Kings Mountain and aftermath, Patriots vs loyalists, Rebels vs Tories, Captured loyalists hung, Neighbors hung on suspicion


I have known about this for years. During and after the Battle of Kings Mountain, largely a battle between Americans of differing loyalties, and after the battle near homes.

Americans committing war crimes against Americans.

Not just bloody Banastre Tarleton and other ruthless British soldiers.

It is time to set the record straight.

Prisoners of war captured by patriots were hung as well as neighbors who were suspected of being Tories.

Even the Nazis in World War II only did this to a small percentage of captured American soldiers.


“Battle of King’s Mountain”

“Unwilling to surrender to a “band of banditti,” Ferguson led a suicidal charge down the mountain and was cut down in a hail of bullets. After his death, some of his men tried to surrender, but they were slaughtered in cold blood by the frontiersmen, who were bitter over British excesses in the Carolinas. The Tories suffered 157 killed, 163 wounded, and 698 captured. Colonel Campbell’s force suffered just 28 killed and 60 wounded.”

From Remember Cliffside.

“Loyalist Prisoners Executed at Biggerstaff’s Old Fields”

“Once the Battle of Kings Mountain was won, the nearly starved American army quickly attended to burying the dead.  With the expectation that [British Commander Banastre] Tarleton’s Legion might be coming their way, and having limited equipment for digging, the graves were shallow but done as well as could be under the conditions.  Colonel [William] Campbell stayed with a few men to supervise the burials. Colonel [Edward] Lacey stayed with Doctor Uzal Johnson who attended to those on the battlefield who were wounded too severely to be moved.

On the morning of October 8, the return march to North Carolina was begun. The Loyalist prisoners were marched three abreast and carefully guarded. Those with injuries were moved as gently as possible on horse litters.  The wounded patriot Colonel James Williams succumbed to his wounds and died that day. It was decided to pitch camp for the night after travelling only twelve miles from the battle field. Here on the plantation of Matthew Fondren, the weary Americans and their prisoners enjoyed a meal of sweet potatoes from Mr. Fondren’s patch. For most, this was the first bite they had eaten in two full days.

The next morning, a funeral was held for Colonel Williams. Campbell and Lacey returned to the troops with Dr. Johnson who treated the injured of both sides. The men on foot who had been left behind at Green River on October 6 also arrived in camp. For most of the tired soldiers, it was a day of welcome rest.  By October 10, the Over Mountain men had marched back into Rutherford County hoping to find forage for their horses, round up what scant provision could be found for themselves, and locate beds in homes around Gilbert Town [later Rutherfordton] for the wounded.

The rank and file Loyalist militia prisoners were confined at Gilbert Town in the same pens Ferguson had built for patriot prisoners a month earlier.  The officers were lodged at John Walker’s home.  While waiting for orders regarding where the prisoners should be delivered, the camp was moved to the Biggerstaff Old Fields on the plantation of Loyalist Aaron Biggerstaff who had been wounded at Kings Mountain and later died at York, South Carolina.  Nearly-dry ears of corn and green pumpkins were to be had from the Loyalist’s fields.  One American patriot later shared that those fried green pumpkins tasted as good as anything he had ever eaten.  Because there were not enough cooking utensils, the prisoners were given theirs raw.

During the previous month, several patriots had been executed by hanging at Camden and at Augusta.  Colonel Isaac Shelby shared that when they reached Gilbert Town, a paroled officer from Ninety-six informed him eleven had been hanged there, a few days before, for no other crime than being rebels.  This information so agitated the officers from the two Carolinas that they united in presenting a complaint to Colonel Campbell that among the prisoners were robbers, house-burners, parole-breakers and assassins.  A copy of North Carolina law was presented and on October 14, court was convened.

By that evening as many as thirty-six had been charged and tried.  At least thirty of them were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  Nine were actually “turned off three at a time” before Campbell stopped the proceedings late that night and began to move the troops toward the Catawba River.  The executed men were Ambrose Mills, Robert Wilson, James Chitwood, Captain Grimes, Thomas Lafferty, Walter Gilkey, John McFall, John Bibby, and Augustine Hobbs.”

Read more:

From the National Park Service.

“Patriot Commanders at Kings Mountain”

“Col. Benjamin Cleveland was born May 26, 1738, near Bull Run (later of Civil War fame), in Prince William County, Va. As he grew to manhood, he received little if any education beyond the lessons that a hazardous life on the frontier could teach. Later, when he settled in Wilkes County, N. C., he is reputed to have been the equal, if not the superior, of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone as both hunter and Indian fighter.

His life was filled with adventures all of which added to the respect and admiration in which he was held by his friends. He despised the Tories and often showed his ruthlessness toward them. At Bickerstaff’s plantation, he is believed to have been most responsible for the hanging of 9 Tories after the Battle of Kings Mountain, and on other occasions he also displayed his familiarity with the use of the rope.”




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