Kings Mountain Centennial Monument, Kings Mountain National Military Park, Blacksburg (SC)
Located in Blacksburg, South Carolina just across the border from North Carolina, this 28’ high, four-sided granite pylon was erected on October 7, 1880 to celebrate the centennial of the battle of Kings Mountain. Derived from ancient Egyptian architecture, the truncated and tapering pylon originally flanked the entrance to temples, but was reintroduced during the nineteenth-century Egyptian revival. The pylon rests atop five gradating steps comprised of granite blocks. Above the base, the shaft of the monument can be divided into three sections with the middle containing four embedded Vermont marble slabs with inscriptions. The entire shaft tapers to the flat capstone with a slight cornice. When Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly covered the centennial celebrations, the reporter referred to the monument as “lacking in appropriate ornamentation” (Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, 7). The ornamentation was intended to be a bronze figure of a Revolutionary War soldier in frontier gear and loading a rifle, but funds for the project ran out and this was never completed by future generations.
Historic postcard image | Historic postcard image | Engraving image of Kings Mountain from Harper's Weekly (October 30, 1880)
Full view | Closeup view of front face | View of inscription
IN / Memory of / the patriotic Americans / who participated in the / Battle of / Kings Mountain. / this Monument is erected / by their grateful / Descendants.
Side: Fell on this battle ground in / defense of Civil Liberty / COL. JAMES WILLIAMS, / MAJ. WILLIAM CHRONICLE. / CAPTAINS. / JOHN MATTOCKS, DAVID BEATIE, / WILLIAM EDMONSON. / FIRST LIEUTENANTS. / REECE BOWNE, THOMAS MCCULLOGH, / WILLIAM BLACKBURN, / ROBERT EDMONSON. / SECOND LIEUTENANTS. / JOHN BEATIE, ANDREW EDMONSON, / HUMBRESON LYON, JAMES CORRY, / JAMES LAIRD, NATHANIEL GUIST, / NATHANIEL DRYDEN, JAMES PHILLIPS. / PRIVATES. / WILLIAM RABB, JOHN BOYD, DAVID DUFF, / HENRY HEIGER, WILLIAM WATSON, / ARTHUR PATTERSON, PRESTON GOFORTH.
Rear: Here on the 7th day of / October A.D. 1780 / the British forces / commanded by / COL. PATRICK FERGUSON / were met and / totally defeated by / CAMPBELL, SHELBY, / WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND, / SEVIER, and their / heroic followers from / Virginia, the Carolinas, / and Tennessee
Side: Here the tide of the battle / turned in favor of the / AMERICAN COLONIES
National Park Service, Kings Mountain National Military Park
October 7, 1880
35.140770 , -81.383500 View in Geobrowse
“The News In A [illeg.]” The Wilson Advance (October, 8, 1880), 1 Link
"Centennial Monument - Kings Mountain, South Carolina," U.S. Revolutionary War Memorials on Waymarking.com, (accessed May 2, 2013) Link
"King's Mtn. Monument, 1780-1880," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link
"Kings Mountain: National Military Park, South Carolina," National Park Service, nps.gov, (accessed February 7, 2017) Link
De Van Massey, Gregory. An Administrative History of Kings Mountain National Military Park, (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region, 1995)
Draper, Lyman Copeland, Allaire, Anthony, and Shelby, Isaac. King’s Mountain and Its Heroes: History of the Battle of King’s Mountain, October 7th 1780, and the Events which Led to It, (Cincinnati: Peter G. Thomson, 1881) Link
King’s Mountain Centennial Association. Battle at King’s Mountain, October 7, 1880, Proposed Centennial Celebration, (Yorkville, SC: Printed at the Office of the Enquirer, 1880), (accessed May 2, 2013) Link
Shackleton, Robert. “A Battlefield That Is Seldom Visited—King’s Mountain.” Magazine of American History 30 (July-August, 1893), 38-46.
Young, Rogers W, Russell, C.P., and Hopkins, Alfred F. Rifles and Riflemen at the Battle of Kings Mountain (National Park Service Popular Study Series No. 12), (National Park Service: Kessinger Publishing, 2007)
[“Battle of Kings Mountain,” Harper’s Weekly (October 30, 1880), 700], American Revolution: Campaigns and Battles: Kings Mountain, circa 1850-1980, in the Miscellaneous Subjects Image Collection (P0003), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Link
“Brevities,” The Orangeburg Democrat (June 25, 1880), 3 Link
“Erected by the States of North and South Carolina and Dedicated Oct. 7, 1880—Centennial Celebration," in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 2, 2013) Link
“King's Mtn. Monument, 1780-1880,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link
“Kings Mountain National Military Park: Touring the Battlefield,” National Park Planner, npplan.com, (accessed February 7, 2017) Link
“King’s Mountain Celebration,” Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun XXII (243) (October 8, 1880), 1
“King’s Mountain Celebration,” The Chatham Record (September 23, 1880), 2
“King’s Mountain Centennial,” Macon Telegraph 9623 (October 8, 1880), 1
“King’s Mountain Centennial,” The Galveston Daily News 79 (June 23, 1880), 1
“King’s Mountain and Cowpens,” The Anderson Intelligencer (June 26, 1884), 2 Link
“King’s Mountain,” Philadelphia Inquirer CII (October 8, 1880), 1
“King’s Mountain,” The Daily Inter Ocean IX (172) (October 8, 1880), 8
“Late News Notes,” The Savannah Tribune XXIV (July 31, 1909), 1
“Old Monument of Kings Mountain Battlefield,” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link
“Over 10,000 People Attended the Centennial Celebration at Kings Mountain, N.C.” Southwestern Christian Advocate 42 (October 14, 1880), 1
“Political Notes,” National Republican (October 20, 1880), 2 Link
“Reunion of States on Battle-Ground of King’s Mountain,” The North American (October 6, 1880), 1
“South Carolina News,” The Anderson Intelligencer (July 22, 1880), 2 Link
“South Carolina News,” The Anderson Intelligencer (June 10, 1880), 2 Link
“The Kings Mountain Centennial,” Macon Telegraph (9622) (October 6, 1880), 1
“The King’s Mountain Centennial,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly (October 30, 1880), 1, 7
“The King’s Mountain Centennial,” Macon Telegraph (9534) (June 23, 1880), 1
“The King’s Mountain Monument,” Baltimore Sun (October 5, 1880), 6
Kings Mountain Centennial Association
On June 23, 1880 the South Carolinian Grand Lodge of the Masonic Order laid the cornerstone for the monument after a sixteen mile procession that had begun the previous day. Inside the stone the Masons placed a copper box filled with documents about the Kings Mountain celebrations of the past and present. Around the same time the Kings Mountain Centennial Association (KMCA) arranged for the purchase of 39 ½ acres of land around the monument and on Battleground Ridge from W.L. Goforth, Preston Goforth, F.A. Goforth, and J.W. Wrens for $197.50.
The day for the battle’s centennial ushered in a week of celebrations from October 4-9, 2012, with the bulk of the activities focused on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The events were popular enough for Major W. J. Houston of the Atlanta and Charlotte Air-Line Railroad to offer reduced rates of 1 ¼ cents per mile for out-of-town travelers. Tuesday, known as “Reunion Day,” began the festivities with the assembling of a crowd of 3,000 at Colonel Ferguson’s Grave at 11:30 AM. The festivities started with a prayer by Rev. Ellison Caper, and the following individuals each provided a speech on the stage: Governor Jeter of South Carolina, Judge Daniel G. Fowle of North Carolina, Judge T.N. Van Dyke of Tennessee, Rev. David E. Butler of Georgia, Hon. S.W. Williams of Arkansas, and J.M. McNeal of Mississippi. Colonel Coward concluded the speeches by reminding the audience of the former British tyranny and urged for remembrance of those states that fought in the American Revolution but were not represented at the service. The United States Post Band, which had been playing music most of the afternoon, ended the day with “Yankee Doodle” as the crowd dispersed.
Wednesday, or “Military Day,” attracted around 10,000 people. Initially, it had been advertised that a mock battle of Kings Mountain would be enacted, but this was changed to a military parade with General Holt in command at 12 PM. The crowd was then encouraged to roam the battlefields and search for relics. A relic house on the site also included weapons and personal mementos from those who fought in the battle.
“Centennial Day,” Thursday, began with a national salute at sunrise by the Richmond Howitzers and at 10 AM a review of the troops under General Hunt. The 12,000 attendees made their way in a procession to the grandstands at 11:30 AM. Only 500 seats were provided and the rest of the attendees sprawled out on either side of the mountain, forming an amphitheater. The stage was decorated with 100 U.S. flags and additional flags representing the 13 original colonies. Rev. William Martin opened with a prayer before the choir and the 5th US artillery band played “The Kings Mountain Lyric.” The song was composed by Mrs. Clara Dargan McLean of Yorksville, South Carolina, and set to music by Professor E.W. Lineback of Salem, North Carolina. The “Kings Mountain Ode” was written by Paul H. Hayne and read by Colonel Charles C. Jones of Augusta, Georgia. The Hon. John W. Daniel of Lynchburg, Virginia gave the oration. Afterwards a procession was formed and marched towards the monument. Four young ladies representing Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee unveiled the monument with assistance from Governors Jarvis of North Carolina, Holliday of Virginia, Jeter of South Carolina, and General Campbell of Tennessee. The day’s events were concluded with the audience singing a doxology.
On Thursday a competitive prize drill was held, and Friday marked the end of the celebrations with an exhibition of agricultural and mineral resources of the Piedmont Belt.
The New Monument
The Centennial Monument marks the area where the first shots of the battle occurred and the area of the most intense fighting.
The price of the monument changed from estimated $2,600 to $2,860 because of a last minute switch of quarries and debate over the length of inscription.
The speech General Campbell (the representative of Tennessee) gave on Thursday upset some in the audience. He talked about the political troubles of his state and then denounced General Sherman and his March to the Sea during the Civil War, but at the same time he proclaimed his allegiance to the flag and the Union.
The monument is located, along with numerous other memorials, along a 1.5 mile walking trail around the Kings Mountain Battlefield on the eastern side of the park. It is in the sight line of the US Monument. The Kings Mountain National Military Park address is 2625 Park Rd, Blacksburg, SC 29702.
The monument sits in a grassy area surrounded by trees at the highest point in the battlefield (1,020 feet).
Every October 7th, the Park honors those who fought at Kings Mountain by holding a morning wreath laying ceremony at the US Monument and a program in the amphitheater at 3:00, the time the battle began. There are different events scheduled in the park throughout the year.
The Kings Mountain Centennial Association (KMCA) was founded on July 25, 1879, with the purpose of obtaining funds for a “suitable monument.” The South Carolina Legislature passed a bill on February 20, 1880, appropriating $1,000 towards the construction of the monument. North Carolina quickly followed suit and passed a similar bill on March 25, 1880 that $1,500 would be used for the monument. The remainder of the building costs was raised through private subscriptions. The design of the monument seems to have been developed by the monument’s contractor, F.A. McNinch of the Marble Yard in Charlotte. The granite was to be quarried locally while the marble was imported from Vermont.