Shall We Gather at the River! The Overmountain Men Crossing Muster Sept. 24-25

There’s been a whole heap o’ happenings going on this September and October and I’ve been really remiss in keeping up with them and staying on top of things up as best I may in the new Tennessee war against teachers being waged this year. In rapid succession three marvelous events occurred and the first was this. The others were Walnut Grove, the week after this one and Martin’s Station right on the heels of Walnut Grove.

Blast from the Past; River crossing (Courtesy Randy Curde)

Imagine, if you will, an impossibly beautiful Indian summer weekend. The air has that loamy fall scent and a golden cast filters through the leaves. Birds call gently, cooling breeze ruffles hat and hair. You feel like you want to walk the dog in the woods (even if you don’t have a dog) Then imagine, if you will, a whole pile of pissed  off woodsman tromping through, muskets rattling, fists raised in a huzzah as they think that at the end of a long and dangerous force march they would return the boast of Patrick Ferguson to keep him on the mountain where he stands. ( “He was on King’s Mountain, that he was King of that mountain and that God Almighty and all the Rebels of Hell could not drive him from it.”  Said by  Ferguson from a report by Joseph Kerr to Isaac Shelby).

This is the man who in the Battle of Brandywine in 1777 , when George Washington was unmistakably  in his sights, said it was ” ungentlemanly to shoot a man in the back of the head” (letter, 1779, Edinburg University).  He should have never said another word and mountaineers would have thought of him more kindly. Arrogance had another face, however, when he sent a message to Colonel Isaac Shelby, whom he considered to be the leader of the “backwater men.” The message said that if Shelby and his men did not stop their opposition to the British, Ferguson would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and “lay the country waste with fire and sword.” To hell with the loamy smell, the golden cast,  the chirping birds, the breeze caressing hat and hair. The “set of mongrels” as Ferguson called them  are a gonna nip that guy and whup the tar out of the whole dang blast lot of them!

That was the attitude of the group on the weekend of the September 24-25. The weather was so glorious (for a change) and there were so many festivals going on in the area it’s amazing we had any public at all. It was a very quiet event with the public coming in easy numbers.  On Saturday, Randy and Sterling Curde, Adam, Chris Taylor and Doug Walsh (I think) started from Rocky Mount and walked the 9 or so miles to Sycamore Shoals, arriving sometime around 1 PM. Chris said that Randy stopped every mile or so, greeting distant  relatives. He said Randy could run for Mayor and probably be elected. On the homefront, The Fife and Drum Corp gave a concert of 18th century tunes (their repetoire is really growing and Major Bogart  played the bones which gave the sound a delightful twist.) The Major later on   led a good number on a wood walk, recounting the story of the Overmountain Men and the role Sycamore Shoals played in all this.  The irascible Miss Molly was collared to the wool basket fielding questions about family life on the frontier and answering questions about period dress. At 2 PM, the gunners fired the cannon in an excellent artillery demo  and the militia excercised a show of force in the drill toward the end of the day.

What happened during the day was very good ; after hours was simply fantastic- everyone stuck around and before , during and after the movie (“Drums Along the Mohawk”) I think the group had more fun and jollification than at any other time.

On Sunday, the schedule was essentially the same but our neighbors from Abingdon (Overmountain Vicotory Trail Assn.) joined the Militia. At 2 PM, it looked like an old fashioned baptism as members,  the Overmountain Victory trail people and guests all joined together at or in the river to commemorate the historic event.

Moe, Larry and Curley (not in that order!)

Excellent on line reads about Kings Mountain


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Filed under 2011 Militia Activity, Sycamore Shoals Historical Site

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