Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail follows the route of assembly of the American Patriot army
which decisively defeated an American Loyalist army at the battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina, in the
dark days of the fall of 1780.
The Overmountain Victory national Historic Trail covers some 220 miles from Abingdon, Virginia, through
Eastern Tennessee, over the high mountains of North Carolina, across the Piedmont of North and South
Carolina, to the Kings Mountain National Military Park. A 70-mile branch from Wilkes-Surry joins the main
route near its center at Quaker Meadows (Morganton, NC). Three routes are designated: the true historic route,
now often inaccessible, the route used by OVTA each year, and the public motor route over highways.
The enabling legislation for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail provides for certifying sites along
the trail route that have historical significance to the march of the Patriot army to Kings Mountain. The
management plan drawn up by the National Park Service at the trail's inception identified 16 potential sites
worthy of certification. Public access is provided only on the day of the OVTA march reenactment visit. Access
at other times is at the owner's discretion. Visitors should contact the owner in advance to arrange access.
Tory Oak - Located behind the Wilkes County courthouse in Wilkesboro, this site is certified. The
actual tree used by Benjamin Cleveland to hang at least three Tories was blown down in a storm. A sapling from
a tree started from the original tree's acorns is now growing on the original site. Old Wilkes, located behind the
courthouse, has souvenirs made from pieces of the original oak.
Warrior Creek - Located at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, this trail segment is certified and open to the public.
The trail commemorates the Wilkes-Surry armies under Benjamin Cleveland and Joseph Winston as well as the
Native-American "troops" who gave the creek its name.
Fort Defiance - This site is certified. The Caldwell Heritage Association owns the site and makes it available
to the public on a limited basis. Contact Fort Defiance for information on visiting. The home of William Lenoir is on the
Wilkes-Surry segment of the commemorative motor route on North Carolina 268 between Wilkesboro and Lenoir. The
house is named for an earlier colonial fort built nearby. The property remained in the family until deeded to the association.
An interesting feature of the house is the large bald cypress brought by William Lenoir from the North Carolina coast.
The tree is unique in the mountains.
The annual reenactment march to Kings Mountain is from Sept. 23 - October 7th. For more information on the OVTA,
visit their Website at: www.ovta.org or
THE BATTLE OF KINGS MOUNTAIN
In the summer of 1780, the Southern American colonies - and hopes of independence - seemed at the mercy of an invading
British army. Believing the Southern colonies mostly loyal, the Royal army planned to conquer the South and recruit Loyalist
militia (local volunteer soldiers) to help British regulars and British Provincial troops defeat the Continental Army and the local
When Charleston, South Carolina surrendered on May 12, 1780, the British captured most of the Continental troops in the South.
Additional large losses occurred later in the summer with Patriot defeats at Waxhaw, South Carolina on May 26th and Camden,
South Carolina on August 16th. Only Patriot militia remained to oppose a British move through North Carolina into Virginia, America's
largest colony. Victory for Royal troops and an end to talk of independence seemed near.
Lord Charles Cornwallis, the British commander, appointed Major Patrick Ferguson as Inspector of Militia for South Carolina to defeat
the local militia and to recruit loyalists. Ferguson's opposition included men from South Carolina's backwoods under Thomas Sumter,
North Carolinians commanded by Charles McDowell, and Overmountain men from today's Tennessee under Isaac Shelby.
Moving into North Carolina, Ferguson attempted to intimidate the western settlers, threatening to march into the mountains and "lay waste
the country with fire and sword" if they did not lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to the King.
The response was a furious army formed on the western frontier. Growing in numbers a they marched east, some 900 men gave chase
to Ferguson, surrounding his army on Kings Mountain, South Carolina. In a little over an hour, they killed or captured his entire command.
Kings Mountain was the beginning of the successful end to the Revolution, assuring independence for the United States of America. On
an unimposing and obscure mountain, Americans fought Americans to determine their destiny. The citizen militia of the community, the
predecessors of today's National Guard and Reserves organized to protect their community.
Cornwallis finally moved his army north into Virginia without subduing North Carolina. In the fall of 1781, George Washington rushed his
army south to join French reinforcements. When French warships fortuitously gained control of the Chesapeake Bay, Cornwallis was besieged
and forced to surrender on October 19, 1781, just over a year after Kings Mountain.