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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Isaac Shelby to Arthur Campbell
Shelby, Isaac, 1750-1826
October 12, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 116-117

[From the Virginia Argus, October 26, 1810.]

North Carolina, October 12, 1780.

I have herewith the honor to acquaint you that on Saturday, the 7th inst., in the afternoon, after a forced march of forty-five miles on that day and the night before, a detachment from our little army of mountain men of about nine hundred, under command of Col. William Campbell, came up with Col. Ferguson, who lay encamped on King's Mountain.

The forenoon of the day was wet, but we were fortunate enough to come on him undiscovered, and took his pickets. We were soon formed in such order as to attack the enemy on all quarters. The Washington and Sullivan regiments began to attack on the front and left flank; the North Carolina regiments, under Cols. Williams, Sevier and Cleveland, attacked the rear and the other flank. The firing in about fifteen minutes became general and was kept up with fury on both sides for near an hour.

On the first onset the Washington militia attempted rapidly to ascend the mountain, but were met by the British regulars with fixed bayonets and forced to retreat. They were soon rallied by their gallant commander and some of his active officers, and by a constant and well directed fire of our rifles we drove them back, in our turn, and reached the summit of the mountain, where the enemy, being closely surrounded, surrendered prisoners at discretion. Their commander, Col. Ferguson, attempted, a little before the close of the action, to make his escape on horseback, but was intercepted by a few riflemen of the Sullivan regiment, and fell dead when forcing his way.

The post taken by the enemy gave them confidence that any force the Americans could bring against them could not defeat

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them. Truely the situation of the ground gave them greatly the advantage, as the mountain was high and exceedingly steep in front, and interspersed along the top with craggy cliffs of rocks; in short, it was almost equal to storming regular works.

The inclosed list contains an account of the loss of the enemy. Ours is small as to numbers, being about thirty killed & something over fifty wounded. Among the former are some brave men of our best officers, whose services their country men ought long to remember with gratitude.