Early in the war for Independence, the Continental Congress was stationed in Philadelphia, and Lord Howe with thirty thousand troops occupied New York. The territory, New Jersey, is comparatively speaking, a narrow strip of country situated between said cities, and it became the logical battle ground of Washington. In 1776 he gained his brightest laurels of victory on Christmas night by crossing the Delaware through falling snow and floating ice, surprised the Hessions at Trenton, captured a large quantity of arms and a thousand soldiers. In 1777 he gained another brilliant victory by making a surprise attack against the British under Cornwallis at Princeton, N.J. Washington stood his ground with the plume of victory against General Clinton at Monmouth, N.J. in 1778.
The American cause also met with defeats in territories contiguous to New Jersey. Earlier in the struggle the Americans lost at Bunker Hill four hundred and forty-nine of their bravest men, and for want of ammunition lost the battle. At Lexington, Mass., sixteen minute-men were shot down on the village green by the British. Philadelphia, the capital, was captured in September 1977 by the British under Gen. Howe with an army eighteen thousand strong. In the same year Washington was defeated at the battle of Brandywine with the loss of about a thousand men. In October Gen. Washington attacked the main division of the British army at Germantown, Pa., and was badly defeated. Many of Washington’s army died in the winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, because they had but little to eat and very scanty clothing, and the winter was dreadfully rough. The powers of congress were weak after the capture of Philadelphia by the British. There was need of money, supplies and shelter. The barefeet of the men left bloody stains on the snow. So hopeless was the situation, and the prospects for the cause of the colonies, that Washington was seen upon his knees in prayer.
In 1779 the British changed their plan because they were achieving no decided results in the North. Their plan now was the attempt again to subdue the Southern Colonies. The British forces gained control of all the important points of Georgia. The American forces made a desperate assault to take Savannah from the British but were repulsed with the loss including Count Pulaski and Sergeant Jasper, distinguished patriots. In 1780 Sir Henry Clinton laid siege to Charleston, South Carolina, and it was taken after being much destroyed by bombardment. Hell was on all sides in South Carolina, nearly every part of the State was overrun and pillaged. All now seemed lost to the Americans.
Patriots from Southwest Virginia, Northwestern North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee arose in arms and went to meet the British. God bless this section of country. It should be dearly loved by every man, woman and child in the United States. It is one of God’s garden spots for freedom.
These patriots met at Cowpens, South Carolina, selected eleven hundred of their best men and horses. The Virginians were under William Campbell, those from North Carolina were under Generals John Sevier and Isaac Shelby. They marched all night through the rain and on the morning of October 7, 1780, they arrived at Kings Mountain. The British twelve hundred strong having had the advantage of selecting their positions for fighting, but the battle all the same was on. One regiment of the Americans made an attack and retreated, and were being charged by the British when another American regiment appeared on the mountain top from the opposite direction. The two armies were now on an equal footing as regards position, with the British having the advantage of one hundred men. But there was no counting of men, for the battle was a life and death struggle, and so was the American cause. There was the clang of sabers, the charge and counter-charges of cavalry. The patriots were fighting with nerves of iron and hearts of steel the conquering invaders. There was in the shriek, the havoc, the bloody struggle, the moan of wounded and dying men, the groans of wounded horses and the neighing of riderless ones, all unheard because of the canon roar. When the battle ended as all battles must end, the British General was dead. Four hundred and fifty-six of the British army were killed or wounded, and the balance were taken as prisoners. Not a single one escaped. Never in history was such a battle fought, never on earth such a rebuke to British tyranny. The Americans there truly fired the shot heard around the world. As Thomas Jefferson said it was the turning point of the war. This battle drove home to Great Britain the fact dawning with streaks of light that the patriots of America could not be conquered in a territory or wilderness spread-out over this great continent.
Colonel Campbell’s Virginians, who fought so nobly and persistently throughout the action, met with severer losses than any other regiment engaged in the hard day’s contest. Of the killed were eleven officers and one private. One lieutenant and one ensign who were mortally wounded, died a few days thereafter. One captain, two lieutenant and eighteen privates were wounded, who recovered. The makes thirty-five killed and wounded of Campbell’s Virginians as given in “King’s Mountain and its Heroes” by Draper, page 304.
A national monument has been erected by the U.S. government at the battle field of Kings Mountain in memory of all the American heroes who fought there.
The British made another attempt at the invasion of North Carolina and Virginia. This time under the command of the chieftain, Lord Cornwallis. General Washington came up and joining forces with LaFayette and Count Rochambeau besieged Cornwallis in Yorktown where he surrendered on October 19, 1781.
The result was that the sovereignty of Great Britain was at an end in the American colonies, the British flag trailed in the dust, and the American flag floating lawfully, and independently, and gloriously in the free air of America. The first settlers of the colonies, and others who followed, braved the seas to enjoy civil liberty and to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. They realized the great need and advantage of having the freedom of the soul, and to worship God according to their own convictions. These were gained with the redress of all wrongs set forth in the Declaration of Independence.