On hearing of a large body of British and Tories assembled in North Carolina, under the command of Col. Ferguson, and threatening to visit Holston river, on the 22d September, 1780, two hundred and fifty of the militia of Washington County, Virginia, were ordered out under the command of Col. William Campbell, and rendezvouzed on Watauga, where they were joined by three hundred and fifty men from the western part of North Carolina, under the command of Col. Sevier and Col Isaac Shelby, together with a party of one hundred and fifty men, under the command of Col. Charles McDowell, who had been driven over the mountains by Col. Ferguson. While we were yet at the place of rendezvous, Col. Arthur Campbell, believing that there was not a sufficient force to successfully engage with the enemy, ordered out and came on with two hundred more of the Washington militia, and joined us at Watauga. Col. Arthur Campbell returned home to take care of the frontiers, which were left bare of men, & were in danger of being attacked by the Indians, who were near neighbors. A council was held to select a commander, and it was unanimously given to Col. William Campbell. We began our march from Watauga on the 27th of September, with nine hundred and fifty men. With a very bad road, we were four days in passing the mountains, when we arrived at the settlements of North Carolina; and the next day we were joined by Col. Cleveland, from Wilkes County, and Major Winston, from Surry, with four hundred men. From there we proceeded on, living mostly on parched corn. We left four hundred footmen behind, not being able to keep up with the horse, and the fifth (sixth) of October joined Col. Williams, and some Georgia troops, being about three hundred and fifty. From Col. Williams' camp we set out about dark, and traveled all that night, expecting to attack the enemy at day break, but Col. Ferguson, sometime before hearing of our coming, retreated and took an advantageous position at a place called King's Mountain, where the enemy thought they were safely posted, and sent to Cornwallis for a re-inforcement. But Col. Campbell proceeded so precipitately on his march that we came on
Col. Campbell ordered Col. Williams and Col. Cleveland to the left and Col. Shelby for a reserve, and attacked on the right himself, making the first onset, but the action soon became general, Col. Williams and Col. Cleveland acting with great bravery on the left. Col. Ferguson ordered a charge to be made on the Virginia regiment, which forced some of them to retreat a short distance, but they were rallied again, and the enemy fell so fast they were obliged to retire to the top of the mountain. Col. Shelby with the reserve came up, and in about half an hour the enemy was surrounded. Too much cannot be said in praise of our brave commander, who exerted himself animating the men to victory. We advanced on the enemy and broke their lines, but they were rallied three times by Col. Ferguson, but to no effect, our men pressing so close on them on every side; at length that active British officer, losing all hopes of victory, thought with some others to break through our lines and get off, but fell in the attempt, Col. Ferguson having two balls through his body and one through his head. The enemy then soon surrendered. The action lasted an hour and five minutes. The enemy had about two hundred and thirty dead on the ground and a number wounded. We lost some brave officers, and about thirty-five lay dead on the ground. The enemy mostly overshot us as we marched up the mountain. It was dark again we got the prisoners under guard. Cornwallis had sent Tarleton with four hundred dragoons to re-inforce Col. Ferguson, but hearing of his retreat returned.