When I was in college, and had to take history as a required course, I really didn’t appreciate it. It was very hard to hold my Interest when looking at a book and listening to a professor in a classroom. Having history brought to life, and being able to walk on the spot where it actually happened, while having the accounts represented in sequence, is the way to go. This is very much the experience available at the King’s Mountain National Military Park.
We were traveling back from the Annapolis boat show in Maryland, and Shannon mentioned that we would be passing close to one of the museums he built. I’m always game to go and see his work because it is always fantastic. We looked it up in google maps and it was listed as open – so we headed that way. This was a Sunday, so I was skeptical about the museum being open. What we’ve found many times is that it’s confusing because the visitor center is listed as “open” but that doesn’t mean that the museums and gift shops and services are open. But we took our chances.
“Thomas Jefferson called it “The turn of the tide of success.” The battle of Kings Mountain, fought October 7th, 1780, was an important American victory during the Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major patriot victory to occur after the British invasion of Charleston, SC in May 1780. The park preserves the site of this important battle.” From nps.org King’s Mountain Military Park
Unfortunately, the museum was closed. We peered in the windows of the area outside the museum to glimpse the mannequins in period costumes. What I didn’t expect, was the 1.5 mile loop through the park behind the visitor center, that took us on a living history walk that was fantastic!
From nps.org “The 1.5-mile self-guiding walking trail allows visitors to see both perspectives of the battlefield. It starts by winding below the northern slope of the ridge, where a portion of the Patriot forces assaulted the ridge top. The trail then turns back and runs along the ridge where the Loyalists forces surrendered. Wayside exhibits around the trail highlight battle events. The Centennial Monument, U.S. Monument, and Ferguson’s Grave are key features along the trail. The trail is foot travel only, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs. Although the trail is paved, it is steep in places. Benches are located along the trail.”
One of the things that was fun for us, was that we were there on October 18th, which was only about 10 days after the battle occurred. It was cool, and we were comfortable in long sleeves, but the history walk told that there had been snow around here 200 years ago.
There’s a 1-800 number that is listed that you can call and press the number of the sign you come to, and there are about 11-12 of those. There’s a recording of the events that happened in each spot of the signs, in order, which created a neat experience of being immersed into the battle itself.
Through the course of the history loop, I was personally invested in seeing the leader of the red coat army, Col. Patrick Ferguson meet his defeat. It was built up in such a way that I was really rooting for our patriots to be found victorious in this battle! Concurrent with this visit, I’d sent in my Ancestry DNA. Since then, I have been fooling around looking into my family tree. I found that on my dad’s side of the family, I have both Patriots and Loyalists, evidenced by signed documents from that time when men were made to choose. It was hard not to feel gratitude for the fact that we’re now given the freedom to decide, the freedom to change sides if we want, and the freedom to come and go as we please. Still, as my mother’s family didn’t arrive in the US from England almost 150 years later, I realized that my family may have been rooting for Col Ferguson’s victory here as well, and it was entirely conflicting.
In 2021, I’m a proud American. I can look back and appreciate the wars of our past, for what they were, and for the convictions of the people who fought them. Yes, there are some moments in ( all of )history that are difficult to reconcile, and I have a lot of love and appreciation for my family in Great Britain. Still, I am grateful for the wars that have been fought on my behalf, and on behalf of all of us who call America home so that we can live in a free country. Land of the free because of the brave. I am deeply grateful.