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Episode 31 Transcript

Join Jonathan Bennett, David Biddix, and Rhonda Gunter, three of the contributors to the Footsteps for Freedom podcast, as they hold a roundtable discussion on the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Overmountain Men. The discussion will explore topics not discussed in the regular program and also features thoughts and opinions of the three researchers on their findings. There is a discussion of items not covered in the podcast plus trivia, and we close the discussion with a topic dangerous to most historians: a “what if” about the battle and those who fought it.

The questions discussed include:

  1. What story or event sticks out in your mind the most?
  2. Who was your favorite character/historical figure involved in the King’s Mountain campaign? Why?
  3. Who was your least favorite character/historical figure involved in the King’s Mountain Campaign? Why?
  4. Given all the research you’ve done, what new fact did you learn that interested you the most?
  5. What do you think about the Tories?
  6. What do you think about the brutal civil war nature of the fighting that was a hallmark of the Revolution in the Southern Backcountry?
  7. Knowing these are real human beings with real human flaws is there anything in the Overmountain story that disappoints you? (Slavery and the treatment of the Native American tribes are obvious but besides that, Hanging the Tory prisoners at Biggerstaffs, Rumors that Ferguson’s corpse was desecrated, the efforts some of the officers took to discredit each other after the war, etc…)
  8. What is your favorite place to visit on the Overmountain Victory Trail? Why?
  9. Do you have a personal connection to the Overmountain story? Did you have an ancestors on the march? If so, who were they and what did they do?
  10. Despite centuries of research there are still mysteries left to solve about the war.  What unanswered question about the American Revolution in the Carolina Mountains would you most like to see answered?  (Possible answers: the fate of Mary Burchfield, Rutherford’s raid through the Toe River Valley in 1776, where was the southern route the Overmountain Men originally planned to take from Yellow Mountain before the deserters left? Etc…)

Now let’s flex our historical imaginations a bit and discuss some alternate histories. If some key characters in the story took a different course of action, how would that have changed history?  While we can never know for sure how these what ifs would have panned, I think it’s a useful exercise to think about just what was at stake.

  1. What if Dragging Canoe heeded the advice of the British and did not attack the Backcountry settlements in 1776 and instead waited until 1780 to coordinate with the British offensive that summer?
  2. What if Captain Shadrack Inman had not devised the plan that saved the Overmountain Men from disaster at Musgrove’s Mill?
  3. What if Ferguson had immediately marched over the mountains and attacked the Overmountain settlements in September 1780 instead of just threatening to do so?  In addition, what if he succeeded in capturing the Chiswell lead mines as Campbell feared?
  4. What if the Overmountain Men responded differently to Ferguson’s threat, laid down their arms and swore allegiance to the King instead of continuing the rebellion?
  5. What if Ferguson took advantage of his head start and made it safely back into the lines of the main British Army under Cornwallis at Yorktown?
  6. What if Cornwallis received Ferguson’s messages in time and arrived at King’s Mountain in time to destroy the Patriot Army?