I am a proud

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mountain Trail Hiking and geocaching the Over-the-Mountain Men Victory Trail

Sycamore Shoals Monument -- thanks to dmott9
Previously I blogged about the Battle of Kings Mountain fought along the NC-SC border near where I-85 passes through. My 5th great grandfather on my mother's side, a German by the name of Martin Luther Roller, was a part of Isaac Shelby's force which marched across the mountains from present-day Elizabethton, TN to Kings Mountain, SC. It was great to walk that battlefield and see the lay of the land where Martin fought in October 1780.

There is a back story to this battle involving about 1000 over-the-mountain men from Tennessee and Virginia. At that time the Tennessee settlements were consider a part of North Carolina's Washington County. Earlier in 1780 a contingent of men from that region had gone to fight a harassing campaign against the British and their Loyalist partners in the upcountry of South Carolina. They became a nuisance for British General Cornwallis. For that reason he dispatched British Major Ferguson to deal with them. In one battle in South Carolina Ferguson routed the Patriot forces and took one of the men prisoner. He released him with a message to
thanks to Drstevo
take across the mountains to the settlers there. It declared that if they did not lay down their arms he would "march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waster the country with fire and sword." As can be expected, this threat did not sit well with the independent minded settlers of the frontier. 

Soon the word was spread and a general call to arms issued. Frontiersmen from southwestern Virginia and East Tennessee came to a meeting place called Sycamore Shoals (today: Elizabethton, TN). It was late September 1780. They were inspired by the preaching of Rev. Samuel Doak. His preaching encouraged them in their endeavor to defend their freedom. That very day, September 26th, they set out in pursuit of Major Ferguson. You can follow their trail for almost a week on horseback each fall if you want to reenact the experience.

If you want you can hit a whole chain of Over the Mountain theme caches in Elizabethton. It not, start with geocache OverMountain Man (GC3RQ8T) and get a good view of the city where it all started. They made camp near Roan Mountain and continued on the next day to what along the North Toe River to what is now Spruce Pine, North Carolina. You won't find any theme related caches along the "victory trail" but there are a few caches not related to the Over-the-Mountain men and their march. The forces split up only to rejoin at Quaker Meadows, now called Morganton, NC. There they met up with more North Carolina and South Carolina patriots and reached a force of close to 1000 men. News of Ferguson's movements called them further southwest. They reached modern day Rutherfordton by October 4th. It was then called Gilbert Town and had been the base for operations for Ferguson. The enemy was not there as they had evacuated in order to get closer to the main British force. Rutherfordton has its share of caches for you to find. You'll have to go south into South Carolina to reach the Cowpens, the sight of a subsequent Patriot victory the following year, in order to pick up the trail to Kings Mountain again. Be sure to visit Cowpens National Battlefield Trailhead Cache (GC2DZ70). While at Cowpens on
Ferguson's Grave at Kings Mountain
October 6th a spy revealed that Ferguson was attempting to set up a defense on Kings Mountain, some 48 kilometers further east. An overnight forced march brought the Over-the-Mountain Men to the base of Kings Mountain by the next morning. To read the rest of the story check out my blog from January 20th entitled, "Kings Mountain Virtual: Hostory with a Cache". Be sure to go for geocache Ferguson's Folly (GCD80), a virtual located on the battlefield.

I'm proud to be the descendant of Martin Luther Roller. I'm proud of his participation in this march and the subsequent battle. The bravery of these frontier men and their unwillingness to allow violence from the British to arrive at their door inspires me. I'm proud that they took the fight to the British instead! While retracing this trip won't get you a lot of theme related caches, you'll get your fair share of caches along the way. 

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