Jacob Dobkins and the Battle of Kings Mountain – 52 Ancestors #334

The temperature peaked someplace within the 90s on the Friday earlier than Memorial Day in 2012, and the humidity was stifling. Nobody else, besides one runner, was loopy sufficient to be climbing on Kings Mountain that day.

If Jacob Dobkins might battle for his life right here, I might actually hike within the warmth.

I hiked the Kings Mountain Nationwide Navy Park battlefield path which the park service has conveniently marked with indicators. There was additionally a cellular phone audio tour the place guests name a cellphone quantity, enter the cease quantity, and a recording explains what occurred there.

My ancestor, Jacob Dobkins, who we expect was residing in Virginia at the moment served at Kings Mountain.

The decisive battle occurred on October 7, 1780, and amazingly, solely lasted for a single hour. For some, although, it was a lifetime.

Jacob Dobkins

Jacob Dobkins was born in 1751 in Augusta County, Virginia to Captain John Dobkins and Elizabeth. I’ve not been capable of affirm Elizabeth’s surname.

At Kings Mountain, Jacob would have been 29 years previous, married to Dorcas Johnson for simply over 5 years, and had 2 or 3 babies at residence.

We don’t know rather a lot about his adolescence, apart from he grew up and lived on the frontier.

In 1773, Jacob was present in Fincastle, Virginia on a delinquent tax listing. It’s potential that he had moved on which is why his taxes had been delinquent. Nonetheless, Fincastle County, Virginia included an enormous territory – land surrounding the Clinch River in what would develop into Tennessee, a part of western Virginia, and what would develop into the state of Kentucky. Who is aware of the place Jacob truly lived.

When Jacob Dobkins and Dorcas Johnson married on March 11, 1775, they lived in Shenandoah Co., Virginia.

Jacob’s Revolutionary Battle pension software says that in 1779 he enlisted in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. After the warfare, he seems on the 1783 tax lists in Virginia, then within the Shenandoah Co. Virginia census in 1790. He’s residing in Jefferson Co., Tennessee by 1792 when he sued John Sevier, additionally a veteran of Kings Mountain. John was at the moment a member of the Home of Representatives from North Carolina and would develop into the Governor of Tennessee in 1796.

Jacob purchased land in Jefferson County, Tennessee in 1795, however by 1802 had bought land in Claiborne County the place he spent the remainder of his life.

A humble man, Jacob by no means owned greater than a log cabin – but he and 1000 different males collectively modified the course of historical past.

Jacob handed away on March 4, 1833, an previous man, with a Revolutionary Battle pension. Jacob’s pension software doesn’t state that he was at Kings Mountain, however he’s listed in Pat Alderson’s ebook, The Overmountain Males as has having served in that battle.

Sadly, there isn’t any complete roster.

The Over Mountain Males

There’s a distinction between militia models and males who enlisted to serve within the Revolutionary Battle. It’s actually potential to be each and it’s clear that some males who fought on the Battle of Kings Mountain had been certainly enlisted.

An outline of the gathering of militiamen at Sycamore Shoals previous to the Battle of Kings Mountain, from 1915.

Militia models had been assembled regionally to guard the houses and property of the group. Militia service was unpaid. Males offered their very own gun and provides and had been obligated to indicate up and follow on the muster discipline the place they lived.

Generally males from militia models did enlist within the warfare however being within the militia didn’t essentially equate to navy service. Militiamen stayed residence until there have been extraordinary circumstances the place they had been known as to motion or until they joined the navy. Males who enlisted didn’t keep residence, however they did go to every so often.

By Brian Stansberry – Personal work, Public Area, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7033099

The Over Mountain Men gathered in a number of places previous to departing for King’s Mountain the place they might coalesce on October seventh.

Earlier than my journey to the Kings Mountain Battlefield Park, I didn’t understand that militia models from totally different places had stayed collectively and fought collectively throughout that battle. That does make sense since these males had skilled collectively and understood their commander nicely. When you’re questioning about your ancestor and Kings Mountain, search for proof of different males from his group having fought there.

I additionally didn’t understand that the Over Mountain Men had been primarily Scotch-Irish and that they’d deliberate to remain impartial till Patrick Ferguson, the Loyalist/British commander, threatened to “come over the mountain and lay waste their land and houses to fireplace and sword.” Not solely did Ferguson threaten the lads straight, however their wives and youngsters. That was a really, very poor alternative.

Therefore, Ferguson inadvertently gave start to their identify, partly as a result of they did certainly come from “over the mountain,” west of the Appalachians, the colonial boundary.

Because the ranger mentioned, these mountain males had been born fighters they usually had been angered into motion. Particularly because the battles of Buford, often called Buford’s Massacre, and Camden had been so horrid. The British slaughtered males on the battlefield below the flag of give up.

Because the Over Mountain Males charged up the facet of Kings Mountain, they shouted Buford…the chief of the massacred males.

By no means underestimate the facility of enraged, decided individuals. Not solely did they win the battle, decisively, however they turned the tide of the warfare and confirmed the British that they might and would win.

The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive inflection level within the Revolutionary Battle.

Patrick Ferguson’s “Benefit”

Patrick Ferguson was so assured of his superiority over these backwoodsmen that he remoted himself on the highest of the mountain with no defensive plan. He merely deliberate to shoot the lads as they crested the hill. He did shoot a number of, however what he didn’t anticipate is the sheer quantity – virtually 1000 – males who had been charging like Indians, not just like the regimented English troopers in formation.

The Over Mountain Males swarmed Ferguson with no warning, from each place unexpectedly.

Ferguson’s hilltop “benefit” quickly grew to become an issue, after which changed into a lure from which he and his males couldn’t escape. The British and their Tory supporters fell, and even after they surrendered, many died by the hands of the Over Mountain Males in retribution for what they’d carried out to Buford and at Camden.

Some Tory troopers had been killed on the battlefield and others had been lynched for treason. Then, inside a day, the mountain males dispersed, disappearing again into the silent hills from whence they got here….by no means to be forgotten. Names included Campbell, McDowell, Edmondson, and others.

My ancestor’s brother, Nathaniel Vannoy from Wilkes County, North Carolina was current as was his sister’s husband, Col. Benjamin Cleveland, depicted under main the Patriot militiamen again residence after battle.

By Don Troiani – Allan Jones private assortment, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93842148

Reverend George McNiel, the “aged” minister, age 60 or so, one other ancestor, accompanied the Wilkes County males as a volunteer chaplain. Sadly, his providers had been wanted, though there isn’t any complete listing of who died on both facet.

Comparatively few fatalities occurred to the Over the Mountain Males, however many Tories died that day.

The Battlefield Path

The trail immediately at Kings Mountain is paved and circles the precise battlefield which is on prime of the mountain. Areas of curiosity are marked. The round path is on the base of the hill.

Come alongside for a stroll. Carry a chilly drink – it’s sizzling😊

Glancing up the hill, above, and alongside the paved pathway, under.

The ranger advised us that the land has been logged because the battle and the unique forest was rather more mature. The troopers reported that they might see one another clearly by the bushes, so the undergrowth is a operate of regrowth.

A few of the space was craggy and remind me of the photographs of the Scottish highlands. Our Scotch-Irish ancestors in all probability felt very a lot at residence. Lots of the Highland rebels left Scotland after the 1745 Battle of Colladen Moor. These males and their sons had been born fighters, ingrained in each their blood and tradition.

Males had been buried on Kings Mountain the place they fell in the event that they had been truly “buried” in any respect. Nameless fieldstones had been marked with honoring plaques later, as we see under. Paths up and down the hillsides result in the graves. Males had been killed all around the hill, not simply on prime.

It’s laborious to imagine this stunning, tranquil location was the location of such a monumental battle. Though, I can really feel their presence within the silence.

Numerous males misplaced their lives right here and plenty of extra had been wounded. It’s wonderful that such a decisive battle was gained by solely 1000 or so backwoodsmen, nearly untrained, pitted towards highly-trained troopers and their backcountry brethren.

Nooks and crannies on the walkway maintain stones marking fallen troopers.

At the moment, on Memorial Day, we honor these males and their service. That is the Appalachian model of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier together with many extra whose graves have been misplaced to time.

As I proceed across the mountain, the hillside turns into considerably steeper, and the woods deepen. These indicators positioned alongside the pathway had been immensely useful.

Are you able to think about seeing red-coated males charging at you with bayonets?

The Patriots had been longhunters, armed solely with looking rifles. Related males had been slaughtered simply weeks earlier than. Nobody actually anticipated this to be totally different.

The Over the Mountain Males charged the British 3 times and confronted these bayonets. By the point bayonets had been helpful, the weapons themselves weren’t.

Have been they courageous or foolhardy?

That third cost was profitable.

The grave under is that of Major William Chronicle.


It rained the evening earlier than the battle. Moist leaves mute and soak up sound.

The Tories had been confidently ready however didn’t anticipate to be ambushed in silence. The Over Mountain Males had the benefit of understanding nature. They left their horses tied a mile away and approached on foot, like Indians. They fought the Indians on the frontier, however they’d additionally realized from them. Very successfully, it appears.

Their remaining method up the hill was with full-fledged warfare screams. The Tories discovered it each bit as disconcerting as did the Europeans when the Indians descended on them with warfare whoops.

At the moment, the one sound is the marginally babbling brook.

Up this hill they ran – capturing and shouting and whooping. “Buford,” they screamed with all their may.

At the moment, birds chirp. However on that day, the lads from Virginia, North Carolina, and the realm that may develop into Tennessee joined forces to outlive the advance and crest the highest of Kings Mountain. They fought their means up that hill, tree to tree. The bark was actually shot off the bushes by the Loyalist’s weapons.

Sure, into that horrific assault from above, the Over Mountain Males nonetheless continued to advance.

Would these males have ever dreamed that they turned the tide of the warfare and subsequently the fledgling nation, tree by tree, as they inched up that hill? At the moment, the likelihood for any 1000 individuals to have that type of a profound impact appears almost not possible, but it surely wasn’t then.

I’m certain these males by no means even contemplated the concept sometime this could be an honored battlefield, or that their descendants would come right here to honor them, their service and sacrifice, and to be with them in no matter small means we will be. That this place would in the future be peaceable was incomprehensible on that October day.

Again then, there have been no honored battlefields. Solely bloody farmers’ fields the place males had been wounded and died. Honor and commemoration would come a lot, a lot later.

The Over Mountain Males had been cussed to a fault. They didn’t take orders nicely, if in any respect. Their commanders understood this – as a result of they too had been a type of males. Every man was instructed to be his personal officer and do the most effective he might.

Household Towards Household

Not everybody agreed that the colonies ought to develop into their very own nation. Some believed that revolting towards England was improper, for any variety of causes. Like throughout the Civil Battle that adopted some 80 years later, the populace was divided.

The toughest a part of this battle was in all probability that it turned relations towards one another. In some instances, brother towards brother. It’s advised that one man, a Tory, was injured and requested his brother-in-law, a Patriot, for assist. The reply he acquired was to ask his mates.

In some ways, this battle wasn’t actually about sovereignty, it was about what Buford had carried out, below the truce flag, to the Patriots in two earlier battles. It was about Ferguson’s risk to destroy the houses, household, and farms of the previously impartial males of Appalachia. It was about revenge and justice.

It was not a great day to be a Tory, or Ferguson.

Colonel William Campbell

Colonel William Campbell, from Augusta County, Virginia rallied the Over Mountain Males to return after they’d begun to retreat and to cost the Tories as soon as once more.

He was recognized to the Loyalists because the “bloody tyrant of Washington County” as a result of his harsh remedy of Tories, however was a hero to the mountain males. He instructed them to, “Struggle like Hell and shout like devils.” He was promoted to Basic in 1781, however died shortly after of a coronary heart assault.

Someway my Campbell line is said to his line, however I’ve been unable to determine precisely how. It’s actually potential that my Charles Campbell was at Kings Mountain along with his kinsman, Colonel William Campbell whose father’s identify was additionally Charles Campbell.

I ponder this risk as I stroll. I can’t assist however surprise what number of of my ancestors fought, right here, at Kings Mountain.

This tree has grown over a big rock. Was this rock a fieldstone serving to mark the grave of a quickly-buried soldier?

The earlier images had been all taken on the base of the hill and barely ascending.


Starting right here, the images are from the highest of the hill. That is the place Ferguson and plenty of of his males had been killed. They thought that they might merely wait there for the Over the Mountain Males and choose them off with bayonets as they crested the hill. Their bayonets had been “excessive” and didn’t have the impact they wished. Bullets journey a lot additional than bayonets and red-coated males made nice targets.

On the highest of the hill, which was cleared on the time, immediately stand two markers.

This monument is the Centennial Monument, inbuilt 1880 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle.

This stone doesn’t mark a grave, however honors Colonel Asbury Coward who deliberate the 100th Anniversary celebration and raised the cash for the commemorative statue.

We at the moment are wanting down the hill. The mountain males charged up this hill, in the direction of Ferguson’s troopers and Tories ready for them, about the place I’m standing.

Who Was a Tory?

It was troublesome to inform who was who, nicely, aside from the English troopers who wore these distinctive crimson coats. Ninety % of the Loyalists, often called Tories, had been mates and neighbors.

Feelings ran perilously excessive. Relations felt betrayed and couldn’t perceive how their kinsmen might really feel in any other case – strongly sufficient to wish to kill them.

The Tory Oak in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, often known as the Cleveland Oak, was the tree by which Colonel Benjamin Cleveland hung no less than 5 Tory traitors in 1779, three of whom had tried to kidnap him.

Just about, a Tory was somebody on prime of the hill making an attempt to kill you. As soon as there, it was virtually not possible to inform the distinction.

Is an unknown soldier buried below a few of these rocks?  The useless needed to be buried someplace right here – their graves now misplaced to time.

The Tories and the English troopers had been pinned on prime of the mountain. Some Loyalists tried to both escape or swap sides, however I worry their lot had already been forged on condition that they’d already proven their true allegiance. A “conversion” below duress is probably going not real and the Over Mountain Males knew that.

However what would these males, on both facet, have carried out if they found the individual they had been making an attempt to kill was a member of the family or neighbor?

US Obelisk Monument

This stunning white granite monument on the highest of Kings Mountain is a smaller model of the Washington Monument.

Plaques on the perimeters listing the commanders and known dead People. You may learn documentation in regards to the battle, here.

The plaques honor the fallen at Kings Mountain. I used to be so hoping for a whole roster of all the lads who participated on this battle, however no such luck. Historians have been piecing this info collectively for years.

This stunning white monument is situated within the heart of the highest of the hill.

This close by stone honors Colonel James Hawthorne who took command after one other officer was wounded. Nonetheless, this is without doubt one of the LEAST exceptional issues about James Hawthorne. This man was manufactured from metal and grit.

Ferguson’s Demise

Engraving depicting the loss of life of British Main Patrick Ferguson who was shot from his horse, however he didn’t truly fall off fully. Along with his foot nonetheless within the stirrup, he was dragged to the patriot facet.

In line with Patriot accounts, when a militiaman approached the Main for his give up, Ferguson drew his pistol and shot the person. Most likely not a good suggestion.

Different troopers reacted in form and seven or 8 musket holes later, Ferguson was useless. Many, many males reported that they’d fired the deadly shot. Militia accounts mentioned his physique was stripped of clothes and the lads urinated on him earlier than burial, close to the place he died. The militiamen hated this man who had wrought a lot indignity and ache.

I don’t know who marked Ferguson’s grave, or when, however initially it was marked solely by a pile of stones.

Major Patrick Ferguson isn’t very likable. He recruited Tories from among the many residents of the Carolina backcountry and commanded a number of devastating Revolutionary Battle battles.

He’s not a hero by any measure, however we should give the satan his due. You may’t assist however respect Ferguson. He embodies all that individuals love in regards to the Scotch-Irish – the identical traits that the Over the Mountain Males used to defeat him.

Ferguson was bullishly cussed. His elbow was shattered in a earlier battle by a musket ball, and he realized to trip along with his different hand, write with it, fence with it, and used a silver whistle to command his males since he didn’t have the second hand he wanted. He needed to maintain on to the reins with one thing. Clearly, that final cussed shot he fired, certainly understanding he could be killed instantly consequently, was fired along with his one good hand.

Patrick was a one-armed commander within the Battle of Kings Mountain however by no means thought-about himself in any capability disabled.

He was additionally a little bit of a renegade, and the extra established commanders principally deserted him to face the Over the Mountain Males alone. Possibly they thought, “a lot the higher,” if Ferguson had been killed, however little did they dream the magnitude of that victory would additionally imply their defeat.

There simply appears to be some karmic justice lurking in that scenario.

Ferguson famously traveled with two girls, each named Virginia, resulting in many untoward jokes about his capability to recollect the appropriate identify within the warmth of the second, so to talk. One Virginia died on the mountain with him and was buried in the identical grave.

One escaped, the Over the Mountain Males parting ranks to let her by. I can’t even start to think about how these girls wound up on that hilltop.

Some reported that it was as Virginia escaped that she advised them Ferguson was sporting a crimson and white plaid shirt. His males might simply distinguish him, however after that prize piece of knowledge, so might the Over Mountain Males.

The situation of Ferguson’s loss of life is marked on the highest of Kings Mountain.

Ferguson’s grave is close by in a “can’t miss it” location proper beside the trail.

Marked with the unique cairn and now a stone as nicely, it’s truly fairly stunning.

, the nice irony is that Ferguson, born in Scotland, was in all probability associated to no less than a few of these males.

The Over Mountain Males are Victorious

This stone, tucked away down just a little path, commemorates the service of Colonel Frederick Hambright, a German born Patriot who urged his males to proceed preventing after Ferguson famously claimed that “all of the Rebels from hell” could be unable to drive him away.

Clearly, Ferguson was mistaken, as confirmed by Hambright and his males.

That Evening

Think about the evening after the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Males of each side would have been terribly on edge.

They might have been making an attempt to relaxation, as finest by might, among the many moans and groans of the wounded. Males in all probability died throughout the evening.

Neither facet knew what the morning would carry, and each side had been afraid of one another. Aside from the lads in crimson coats, it was troublesome to find out who was on which facet.

The Tories/ Loyalists/Redcoats knew the Whigs/Patriots/Over Mountain Males would love nothing higher than to hold them. The sensation was clearly mutual, based mostly on previous conduct at earlier battles.

The Over Mountain Males knew that Loyalist reinforcements couldn’t be far behind.

Neither contingent might transfer below the quilt of darkness.

I’d wager no sentry fell asleep that evening – and neither did a lot of the different males.

Even burying the useless would have been dangerous.

The Tory/Loyalist Prisoners

It was reported that the militiamen had captured more than 700 Loyalists, be they English troopers or Tory sympathizers. By the point they reached the Moravian settlement of Bethabara, close to Winston-Salem, three weeks later, they’d 300 prisoners, and by early December, solely 130. A month later, they’d 60. What occurred to the lacking males?

Some had been probably hung. Some discovered a sympathetic ear amongst kin or neighbors and had been paroled or just allowed to go residence. Some might have been wounded and both left behind or died someplace. The Moravians reported that some escaped. Greater than 200 had been reported to have been consigned into the Patriot militia however had since defected and rejoined the British to battle towards the Patriots one other day.

Returning House

The British clearly hated these males who wouldn’t be subdued.

Hearty, courageous, and having succeeded towards all odds, the Carolina backwoodsmen and the Over Mountain Males returned to their houses, crossing the excessive mountain vary by snow.

They might await the subsequent volley from the British, ready to satisfy them as soon as once more the place they need to. However the tide had turned, because of the unimaginable bravery of 1000 out-gunned, untrained, offended, Patriots.

The Battlefield At the moment

To be able to shield the battlefield, it needed to be bought after which designated a Nationwide Historic Landmark. This occurred in 1930 when President Herbert Hoover, together with 70,000 individuals, visited Kings Mountain.

From the placement above, marked by a rock, Hoover gave a speech that set the wheels in movement for the park immediately.

Hoover’s speech, above, marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain.

I can’t even start to think about 70,000 individuals gathered at Kings Mountain. Seventy occasions as many individuals as there have been 150 years earlier on that very same day.

Kings Mountain

This then is the story of Kings Mountain, a story not solely of navy victory however the story of a vendetta “paid” as nicely.

After profitable this battle, these mountain males, not troopers, however fathers, husbands, and brothers circled, returned residence, and resumed their life on the frontier. It was fall – time to put in meat for the winter and chop wooden for the range.

They wanted to inform the wives and moms of the lads who wouldn’t be returning – those that stay on Kings Mountain. The group would assist these widows and households survive.

This make-shift military of volunteer males modified the course of historical past and formed this nation in a means no others ever would, vanquishing their enemies who laid waste to their kinsmen below the flag of truce.

It’s ironic that we don’t even know the names of the lads largely liable for America turning into a democracy versus persevering with as topics of the British crown.

Had the British and their Tory compatriots not angered these males right into a boiling rage, who is aware of, we would dwell below the British flag but immediately. That trajectory modified, because of the utter bravery and sheer stubbornness of some hardy backwoodsmen, the Over Mountain Males, brandishing axes, knives, and looking rifles within the face of troopers with bayonets.

Jacob Dobkins was in all probability amongst these stalwart males. Maybe your ancestor was too.



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