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Yorktown and Kings Mountain, decisive battles in the Revolutionary War

By: Jack Swift

County Historian

During my Army days I had the opportunity to visit Yorktown, Virginia, where the last major battle took place and effectually ended the Revolutionary War. It was there that General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington. It was then that America won the war for its independence from England’s tyrannical colonial rule. I reflected on the lives that were lost and the heavy monetary costs it took to separate from England. When I was there — I believe it was in 1962 — I was impressed with the work that had been done to create such a memorable site. When the battle ended, the war had raged from the signing in July of 1775 until April of 1783 — eight years of war. Congress declared the Revolutionary War over on April 11, 1783. General George Washington was appointed commander of the Continental Army. The Colonial solders and sailors and their French counterparts had fulfilled the Declaration of Independence through sweat and blood. The first battle of the Revolutionary War occurred when British and American troops opened fire at Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by the Founding Fathers who risked life and limb to forward their ideas of freedom in what would become a model of Democracy where citizens may have their say through the ballot box and exercise their own judgment in their affairs.
While taking in the site I remembered that “The Battle of King’s Mountain,” is often referred to as the turning point of the Revolutionary War. King George III of England had decreed that there would be no American settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. There were settlements. A militia was formed when men from the surrounding area mustered into service at Sycamore Shoals near Elizabethton, Tennessee, marched to Kings Mountain and defeated English Major Patrick Ferguson and his men.
That battle is often referred to as the turning point of the Revolutionary War. British major Patrick Ferguson had sent a message to the Overmountain Men that read, “If you do not desist your opposition to the British Arms, I shall march this Army over the mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste your country with fire and sword.” Well, it just didn’t work out as Major Ferguson planned.
It took courage and tenaciousness to bring about a separation from Britain. But it was accomplished by the efforts of many brave folks who valued freedom and independence above their own lives.