Death of a Patriot at King’s Mountain

The War Years (1775-1783)

January 30, 2014
by Wayne Lynch Also by this Author


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King's Mountain mapRebuffed in his attempt to command the South Carolina militia, newly commissioned General James Williams returned to North Carolina with his small Regiment.  While there, he requested permission to recruit men for his regiment and a return to the south.  On September 8, Governor Nash of North Carolina provided him with written orders to recruit up to 100 mounted men “to act against the enemy, and in this you are to use your own discretion.”  The general could not have asked for a better order or a freer hand in building an army.  Nash had even provided authority to impress horses and take men already drafted for service elsewhere.[1]  The process reinvigorated Williams even though he only signed up about 70 men.

While Williams recruited in North Carolina, Colonel William Hill of the South Carolina militia called an officers’ meeting for the purpose of determining “some plan respecting General Sumter’s commission as it was protested by Williams.”   Of the seven officers present at the meeting, five would travel to North Carolina so they could assure Governor Rutledge that Sumter needed to be officially promoted over Williams.  Colonels Lacey and Hill were the only senior officers remaining in camp to lead South Carolina’s army.  Since Hill was still recovering from a wound received at the battle of Hanging Rock, Colonel Edward Lacey held the overall command in Sumter’s absence.[2]

Being the same man who previously held a gun to General Williams’ chest while accusing him of thievery and desertion, Colonel Lacey possessed a rather questionable character.  After participating in a small battle known as Huck’s Defeat six weeks earlier, Lacey was involved in a nasty dispute over who deserved credit for commanding that American victory.[3]   After the dispute, Lacey became “so unpopular among the Chester Whigs”[4] that he would later be omitted from memorial picnics at the battle site.   In any case, Colonel Lacey had already gained a reputation as a violent man given to private grudge.

General Williams rode into Lacey’s camp near Beattie’s Ford a couple of days later and read his commission stating intention to assume command.  Lacey and Hill reacted defiantly stating that “not an officer or man in the whole army would submit to his command.”  They also told of Sumter’s departure to meet with Governor Rutledge to clear up the command issues.  Unfortunately for Lacey and Hill, British Colonel Patrick Ferguson was marching in the area looking for Isaac Shelby’s Overmountain Men and generally making Hill nervous about the safety of his men.  Hill and Lacey tried a number of proposals to share command or otherwise avoid being commanded by Williams but he spurned them all and traveled separately with his men.[5]

Approaching King’s Mountain

As the two columns continued along in the same general direction across the backcountry, Hill noticed that Williams and another colonel were missing.  He came around again later that evening and asked about their absence.  Williams hesitated a bit but then admitted they had met with Shelby and agreed to bring their respective armies together for a junction at the Old Iron Works.  Hill realized that such a junction would be favorable to operations in the Ninety-Six district and immediately confronted Williams with accusations of using deception to lead the Overmountain Men away from Ferguson and their own home districts.   Returning to the same argument that split the army after the battle at Hanging Rock in early August, the confrontation grew heated with Hill and Lacey accusing Williams of trying “to get that army in his own settlement as well as to get some of his property” back from the Tories.  Williams stood his ground that the army should defend South Carolina instead of staying north along the border.  Neither side backed away.[6]

After the confrontation, Lacey and Hill decided a secret personal visit to Shelby was necessary to clarify the changes made by Williams.  Lacey had information that Ferguson was camped atop King’s Mountain daring an attack from Shelby and he went off to meet the Overmountain Men.  At first Lacey had difficulty convincing Shelby that his old ally Williams was leading them away from Ferguson but, with a bit of effort, he finally got Shelby to change marching plans and proceed for an October 6th rendezvous at the Cowpens.[7]

Early the next morning, Williams got his men moving early and tried to convince Lacey’s men to accompany them to the Old Iron Works and operations in the Ninety-Six district.  An uproar resulted with Williams and Hill taking turns haranguing the men to follow their respective commands.  The argument continued until Colonel Lacey returned from his meeting with Shelby around 10am.  With the announcement that Shelby was now moving for Cowpens, Williams realized his idea for operations in the Ninety-Six District was over by default and the two columns returned to their separate places on the road to meet Shelby at the Cowpens.  The command disputes had left such hard feelings on both sides that, as the march continued, Williams was “obliged to keep at such a distance as required our rear guard, who held him & his men in such unfavorable light that they were throwing stones & otherwise offronting them the whole day.”[8]

Battle of King’s Mountain and Death of Williams

October 7, 1780

After joining with Shelby, Williams and the other colonels continued along the Road until they reached  King’s Mountain.  As each Regiment reached its position around the base of the mountain, they would dismount, form, and begin their assault up the heavily wooded slope.  Shelby and Colonel John Sevier started the action by leading their respective regiments up the slopes at the narrow end of the mountain.  As the Overmountain Men reached the plateau Major Ferguson and his loyalist regiment responded by forming into a bayonet charge that sent them running back down the mountain.

As the battle progressed, Colonel Williams and his men filed into position and immediately turned up the rugged hillside.  Still on his horse, Williams led the way.  One of his men later said, “he charged by me, at full speed, around the mountain; toward the summit, a ball struck his horse just below the jaw, when he commenced stamping as if he were in a nest of yellow jackets.  colonel Williams threw the reins over the animal’s neck, sprang to the ground and dashed onward.”[9]  Once at the summit, the South Carolinians found themselves standing at the tree line looking across an open area into the loyalists’ camp.  They poured continuous fire into the loyalist positions preventing escape from the wide end of the mountain.

Engraving depicting the death of British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War, October 7, 1780. Source: Anne S. K. Brown Collection at Brown University
Engraving depicting the death of British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War, October 7, 1780. Source: Anne S. K. Brown Collection at Brown University

After being repulsed three times, Shelby and Sevier finally gained the upper hand and forced Ferguson to retreat from the narrow end of the mountain.  His regiment, the American Volunteers, turned and found themselves moving directly into a very hot fire from the South Carolina militia further along the line.  Realizing the hopelessness of his position Major Ferguson attempted to ride across the broad end of the mountain and escape.  However, instead of getting away, Ferguson rode directly to his death in front of militia units from North Carolina on the far side of the mountain.

Now commanded by Captain DePeyster, the remaining loyalists stacked their arms and began waving white flags of surrender.  One pension applicant tells us that Colonel Williams jumped forward ahead of his men “and was killed after the British raised then flag to surrender by a fire from some Tories.”[10]  He went on to say that “Col. Campbell then ordered a fire on the Tories & we killed near a hundred of them after the surrender of the British & could hardly be restrained from killing the whole of them.”

However, not all sources agree that Williams was killed after the white flag.  Thomas Young, a young man who knew Williams from childhood, said, “On the top of the mountain, in the thickest of the fight, I saw Colonel Williams fall, and a braver and a better man never died upon a battlefield.”  Young also described a hero’s death for Williams.  “They carried him into a tent, and sprinkled some water into his face.  He revived, and his first words were, ‘For God’s sake, boys, don’t give up the hill!’  He died the next day, and was buried not far from the field of his glory.”[11]

Colonel Hill introduces yet another very real possibility for the death of James Williams.  Hill believes that Colonel Lacey or one of his men saw an opportunity to vent his frustrations and shot Colonel Williams in the chest.  Apparently, the sight of Colonel Williams heroically leading the fight at King’s Mountain as a hero was simply too much to bear and the shooter snapped in bitterness.  “At this moment (while the Tories were surrendering) this Colonel Williams was killed.  It is generally supposed & believed that it was done by some of the Americans as many of them had been heard to promise on oath that they would do it when they had an opportunity.”[12]

If Colonel Williams or any of his men knew the fatal shot came from a patriot rifle, they did not come forward with any accusations.  Instead, they took on the task of making the colonel as comfortable as possible.  They stayed the night on top of King’s Mountain with the cries of wounded and dying men all around.  The next day, the men of his own Little River regiment took the colonel down the mountain to the relative comfort of the local farmhouse where he died the next day.

Yet another version of Williams’ death surfaced in a newspaper that got published in 1823.  The somewhat improbable story goes like this:   “In the various reports of Colonel Williams’ death, all agree that he and Colonel Ferguson fell within a few feet of each other, and in the last of the battle;  Williams was probably the last man that fell in that battle.  I remember to have heard, in Charlotte, N. C., when a child, and not long after the battle, that Colonel Williams, seeing Ferguson fall, advanced to afford him personal relief and assistance, but that Ferguson, mistaking the intentions of Williams, killed him, in the last effort of life.”[13]

Regardless of which death sequence one believes or finds otherwise preferable, the battle of King’s Mountain would go down as a success with brave Colonel Williams listed first among the dead on its monuments and other reports.  The folklore of the era developed songs that marveled at his gallant behavior.   If indeed Colonel Williams was killed in a fit of jealousy by one of his own, he can sit and smile as the glory of history shined on him far more brightly than on Col Lacey who would later drown in obscurity while having a seizure trying to cross a river.


[1] Nash to Williams, 8 September 1780, reprinted in William T. Graves, An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry, (New York, Writers Club Press, 2002), 37.

[2] William Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs of the Revolution, (Columbia, SC, Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1921), 17.

[3] Joseph Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences, Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South, (Charleston, SC, Walker & James, 1851), 578.

[4] Joseph Gaston, “Joseph Gaston Narrative”, Historical Magazine, August 1873, 92.

[5] Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs, 18.

[6] Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs, 20.

[7] Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs, 21.

[8] Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs, 22.

[9] Thomas Young, Memoir of Thomas Young, (Orion magazine, 1843), 87 reprinted in part in Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences, 490.

[10] Joseph Hughes, Pension Application, transcription at –

[11] Thomas Young,  reprinted in Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences, 448.

[12] Hill, Col. William Hill’s Memoirs, 23.

[13] Samuel Hammonds to ____, dated Bellevale, New Herculaneum, Missouri, September 5, 1823, in Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences, 494.


  • In response to the article “Death Of A Patriot At King’s Mountain,” William Hill’s essay about James Williams is froth with errors. Noted historian and attorney William T. Graves of Charlotte, N.C., has done an intensive study into the life and death of James Williams an produced in a well documented book on Williams entitled “Backcountry Revolutionary.”

    Graves argues with “persuasive evidence” that Hills’s accusations against Williams were at best overstated and at worst untrue.

    For example, Graves could find no evidence of Williams ever being commissioned a General or presenting himself as a general as claimed by Hill. In his first book “James Williams: An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry,” Graves writes “What Williams’ Tory enemies could not do, Hill and Sumter did through Hill’s accusations. Williams’ dogged commitment to the patriot cause entitles him to a better legacy that fashioned for him by Hill and Sumter.”
    Hill’s suggestion that Williams was killed by Edward Lacy or his men is libelous. Hill was not at the Kings Mountain battle. With an excuse that he was not recovered from an earlier wound, he stayed with the footmen at the Cowpens when the Kings Mountain Patriots rode all-night in the rain to take on Ferguson’s Loyalist brigade. Yet the writer of the article chose Hill’s account over an eyewitness. One of the most vivid descriptions of Williams death was from the pension statement by Thomas Young. I was pleased to see that the article did include reference to Young.
    Colonel James Williams proved himself a brave and capable leader many times, including the battle including the first South Carolina’s first battle of the Revolution at Ninety Six ,through the decisive victory at Musgrove’s Mill and on the slope of Kings Mountain.

    Having done extensive research about the Kings Mountain battle for my historical novel “A Passel of Hate,” I concur with Will Graves portrayal of James Williams.

  • Joe, thanks much for your reply. I have much respect for Mr. Graves work but to simply dismiss a source as important as William Hill is not warranted. I have some notes on Hill’s account posted in a blog at The address is:

    Rather than being froth with errors, William Hill’s account of the Williams/Sumter feud stand up rather well to comparison with Richard Winn, Joseph McJunkin, and other primary materials. There is a pdf attachment to the blog entry referenced above where you may take a look at my notes on Hill’s account. There is also further discussion on the subject in blog entry number 4.

    As you can see, I made no conclusion as to what happened that day at King’s Mountain. However, I have read Lyman Draper and Will Graves. Both men seem very much inclined to dismiss the Hill statement that Williams may have been murdered but neither makes all that compelling an argument for any other scenario. The idea of simply accepting the story by Young does not really hold very well either. His account conflicts with that of Joseph Hughes who tells of Williams getting shot at the end of the battle and, quite honestly, comes across a bit fanciful when taken with the last words quoted above.

    I see no smear on the reputation of James Williams other than perhaps to note he might have been a bit difficult to get along with and rather used to getting his own way. As to the suggestion that Lacey or one of Sumter’s men might be capable of fragging a man they detested? I personally have no problem believing it. Men of the era frequently dueled and feuded with each other over command disputes.

  • I want to thank the author for including the different views as to the death of Williams and letting us the reader decide or do more research as to what happened.

    1. thanks Brian, I do enjoy a good controversy from the revolution. When faced with conflicting primary sources its good for authors to allow the reader plenty of latitude to understand both sides of a story. Colonel Hill obviously disliked Williams and showed biased against him. Thomas Young obviously idolized Williams and showed positive bias in his telling. As far as I know, both stories come several decades after the conflict and neither should be viewed in a definitive light. But that only makes the situation more compelling to me at the present time. These mysteries and discrepancies add complexity and possibility to our past in a way that brings interest to future historians. We shouldn’t always be looking to solve controversy or close the debates, quite the contrary, we should present the arguments and debates and, as you suggest, let the reader decide. In that way these details can continue to live and exist into future generations.

  • Wayne,
    One good thing about controversy is that it gets people reading and studying more on the Revolution. Wish more people would do it. The Hill-Williams controversy will probably go on longer than you or I will be around.

    1. I certainly hope the feud continues for another couple hundred years or so. I’m planning to leave a few tracks here and there to lead them back to the sources. 🙂

  • “the battle of King’s Mountain would go down as a success with brave Colonel Williams listed first among the dead on its monuments and other reports.  The folklore of the era developed songs that marveled at his gallant behavior.   If indeed Colonel Williams was killed in a fit of jealousy by one of his own, he can sit and smile as the glory of history shined on him far more brightly than on Col Lacey who would later drown in obscurity while having a seizure trying to cross a river.”

    Col. Williams is listed first on the list of dead on the battles monuments and other reports due solely to the fact that names were listed highest to lowest by rank, not because of any brave actions he took. Had it been up to him he would have led the militia and Overmountain men to the ninety-six district and away from what was a pivotal battle in the Southern campaign.

    Col. Williams surreptitiously met the Over the Mountain Men and purposely misled them about Ferguson’s location. Col. William Hill and Col. Lacey uncovered Williams’ deceit, and Lacey was sent that night to convince the Westerners to join the Carolina men in fighting Ferguson. In the book, “The Road to Guilford Courthouse”, by John Buchanan describes that night in detail:
    “Taking a guide who knew the country, he [Lacey] set out at 8:00 that evening. Twice on the way, when they got temporarily lost, Edward Lacey thought the guide might betray him and pulled his pistol, cocked it, and threatened to kill the man; but the guide convinced Lacey of his innocence and after some eighteen to twenty miles on the trail they arrived at the campsite on Green River in the wee hours of Friday, 6 October. Now it was Colonel Lacey’s turn to come under suspicion. He was blindfolded and led to the colonels. He introduced himself but they had no knowledge of him. As his guide had convinced him, Lacey finally convinced the colonels that James Williams had lied to them, Ferguson was to the east headed in the direction of Charlotte, and speed was of the essence before Ferguson could be reinforced by Cornwallis. The colonels were won over by Lacey. It was agreed that the combined forces would meet that evening at a place well known to all, the Cowpens, just over the South Carolina line. It was still dark when Edward Lacey swung back into the saddle to retrace his route to the South Carolinians’ camp.”

    Col. Lacey was held in extremely high regard the remainder of his life. Following the war, Lacey was made Brigadier General by South Carolina and named a judge in the newly created Chester District. He was elected to the South Carolina legislature, serving until 1793 when he declined any further honors. In 1797 he moved his family west, first locating in Montgomery Co. Tenn., then the farthest frontier, to the west of Nashville. He remained there for two years, then moved again to Livingston Co. Ky. where he served as a county judge. On March 20, 1813, at the age of 71, he drowned while attempting to cross a flooded creek.

    “His Revolutionary War Service has given him a niche in the temple of his country’s fame, and le his descendants a goodly heritage ‘more precious than fine gold'”
    Col. Edward Lacey of the Revolution
    The Gulf States Historical Magazine, Volume 1
     edited by Thomas McAdory Owen, Joel Campbell Du Bose

    Also please get your facts straights:
    “Unfortunately for Lacey and Hill, British Colonel Patrick Ferguson was marching in the area looking for Isaac Shelby’s Overmountain Men”
    – In no way was Ferguson looking for the Overmountain Men, he was actively retreating towards the safety of Lord Cornwallis’ army in Charlotte.

  • John, Thanks very much for stopping by and commenting on the article. The events described by Mr. Buchanan come from the account of William Hill. Unfortunately, the account of Hill is the very same account that historians tend to discount when Hill suggests that Williams may have been killed by one of Lacey’s men. I love the story and enjoy its rich detail. In fact, I tend to favor accepting all of Hill’s observations rather than discounting them. But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the difference between perspective and fact.

    For instance, is it a fact that Williams told lies to mislead the colonels? Or is it really only that he argued passionately for taking the campaign back into the Ninety-Six district? Did Williams steal the supply wagons? Or did he believe that splitting up the force should also come with splitting up the supplies and therefore take a legitimate portion of the wagons? Was Lacey justified in trying to regain the wagons by threatening Williams with a gun to his chest? Even with accepting William Hill’s account, we should surely still recognize that it comes from a place of bias against James Williams.

    As to Colonel Lacey’s being held in high regard for the rest of his life, he seems also to have had a few detractors. Quite possibly his name was purposefully omitted from the celebration/reunion of Huck’s defeat in 1839. The explanation provided being that friends of Colonel Bratton felt “occasioned, to work some injustice and neglect to the memory of Lacy.” Apparently Bratton and Lacey tended break into public brawls over the battle whenever they met.

    Not getting along with others many have been a recurring problem for Lacey. After all, “we understand, from other sources, that Colonel Lacy was fond of exciting scenes, and thus became involved in various personal encounters.”

    Of course Lacey had supporters also. Being a colonel in the militia at that time was an elected position by his own friends and neighbors. And, also very true, Colonel Lacey held some public office after the war. However, all that said, to suggest his legacy and/or place in history equals that of James Williams is simply not true. By way of example, the famous book written by Joseph Johnson (Traditions and Reminiscences, Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South: Including Biographical Sketches, Incidents and Anecdotes, Few of which have been Published, Particularly of Residents in the Upper Country) contains a full section on James Williams complete with multiple accounts of his death and recitation of old songs to his honor. It has a page on Lacey at the very back which included the notations above.

    As to getting my fact straight on Ferguson. A bit of perspective might come in handy. Following the unsuccessful attempt at Augusta in mid-September, Elijah Clark led the remains of his regiment and a large group of refugees from the Georgia backcountry to the safety of Watauga where they could rest, heal-up, and escape. On the 28th of September, Ferguson wrote that “it is probable that we shall cross upon him this evening or to morrow with a number much exceeding his.” In the same communication, he speaks of Colonel Cleveland’s men and also the “800 Back Water men”. Ferguson considered himself lucky to be in a “centrical position” to “strike at whatever comes within our reach.”

    Ferguson had first mentioned Shelby and the Overmountain Men on the 19th of September when he told Cornwallis that “the reports from Nolachucki are that 800 men are to come over the mountains under a Colonel Selby, but if they come, it is not thought there will be 300.”

    So, we very much see that Ferguson is in the vicinity chasing the Overmountain Men at the beginning of October 1780, a week prior to the battle. On the 3rd of October, Ferguson bragged “they have flatter’d their followers with a very cheap purchase, which is much in our favor, and if their numbers are within bounds, we hope to sell them a bargain.” However, in the same letter, Ferguson mentions falling back to “take a strong ground till I know exactly the amount of the several detachments of the enemy that are joined.”

    Over the next couple of days, Ferguson became more acquainted with what faced him but, even then he maintained confidence. “I arrived to day at King Mountain and have taken a post where I do not think I can be forced by a stronger enemy than that against us.”

    As the battle approaches, we find Ferguson moving toward Cornwallis and also requesting reinforcement. However, even the day before King’s Mountain, Ferguson did “not think ourselves inferior to the enemy if you are pleas’d to order us forward;”

    So, as the campaign preceding King’s Mountain progresses, it simply does not appear that Ferguson is actively retreating toward Cornwallis. Perhaps he did move toward the safety of Cornwallis only in the last day or two, but, even then Ferguson’s plan was to take positions and wait for more men or to be attacked. In fact, had Ferguson wished to retreat to Cornwallis, he certainly had opportunity to do so.

    I think I will simply stand on the original sentence and say that Ferguson was very much in the area looking to do battle with Shelby and the Overmountain Men or with Elijah Clark and his retreating backcountry Georgians. In any event, what is important to the story of James Williams is simply that Ferguson was in the area campaigning with Shelby and the Overmountain men. Who was chasing who is probably just a matter of perspective.

  • Recently ran across mention of the Williams/Lacey command in a pension application. A young fellow named Samuel Houston from the Chester District who was about 20 years old at the time of King’s Mountain described the command structure at that point as “command of Colonel Edward Lacey and Colonel Williams in pursuit of Colonel Ferguson.” I found it interesting in that, from the young man’s perspective, there was really no mention of a feud or even a separation between the men under Williams and the men under Lacey. Nothing to draw any conclusions from yet interesting all the same. 🙂

  • I am 7th generation, Thomas Young .My grandmother was a Young,Shelby also a grandfather on our Martin side of the family, my father side.Love your artical

  • King’s Mountain is especially momentous to many of us whose folks fought there, at least 9 to a dozen, in my case, including Col. James Johnston, who is on a big brass plaque there, and poor Thomas Bicknell, who was carried away in a litter but did not die until December. I have just gotten around to reading John Pendleton Kennedy’s HORSESHOE ROBINSON, skipping fast along the conventional romance but liking very much the physical descriptions of the terrain which Kennedy saw a third of a century after the war, and wondering at the insistence that Tory loyalty was stronger in South Carolina than any colony except maybe Georgia. I see from what Kennedy says that Aunt Margaret Ewart Adams was indeed brave in riding her unruly stallion through Tory pockets to King’s Mountain the next day (Sunday) to see if her husband and son were alive. (Good Presbyterians, but they were playing cards and drinking from a jug.) I looked ahead to see that King’s Mountain is the climax of the book. I can hardly wait to get there. But I want to make a point about how people remembered. I’ve encountered many pension applications where the men say they heard the guns but got there too late or had been sent away on an errand (as Johnston sent away my GGGG Robert Knox, who applied for his pension at 90) and missed the battle. Go back for a water bag and you miss it all. I just saw in my cousin Alexander Copeland’s application (W9395) that his widow, Rebecca, remembered having taken refuge at the house of her father-in-law in York District when one of Alexander’s brothers (home for whatever reason) was outside holding her second child when he called her out to hear the noise. She was 92 in 1847, but she remembered hearing (for that little hour) the guns at King’s Mountain. There’s not enough anyone can say about the importance of that battle.

  • Interesting! However, I note that Kings Mountain and It’s Heroes by Draper says nothing about a patriot or patriots shooting Col. Williams.

    Bart Conchin, Past President
    The Sevier Family Association

    1. Greetings Bart. I am pleased to see that past articles of the JAR still get plenty of attention. On page 277 (chapter XIII), Lyman Draper addressed Hill’s accusation that “Colonel Williams was shot by some of Lacey’s men, who were inimical to him, and had sworn to take his life, is hardly credible; and, for the honor of humanity, we are constrained to discard so improbable and unpatriotic a supposition.”

      In other words, Draper was simply shocked by the accusation and refused to consider it. Oddly enough, like other historians who dismiss the accusation without analysis, Draper is willing to accept the rest of Hill’s account without question but ‘for the honor of humanity’ this ‘unpatriotic’ accusation simply cannot be true. 🙂

  • Mr Lynch, In my years of research on my Grier/Greer ancestors, of whom five or six served under Col Williams in his Little River Regiment and also signed the petition to attest to his valor and to save his good name, I seem to recall that Gen Sumter was quite angry about Col Williams promotion and took his leave back to Camden for a year or more to sulk. Would you care to comment? Were Hill and Lacey perhaps in the Sumter Camp on this issue? And was this at the time of the Cols. Traveling to NC to discredit Williams? Regards, Grier McFarland

    1. Good Morning Mr McFarland. Yes, I am delighted to discuss the events concerning the SC militia in the period prior to King’s Mountain. A favorite topic for me. Yes, Sumter was beside himself about Williams’s promotion. That is why he missed Kings Mountain and left Lacey in command. Although, to be clear, his time away from the men was about a month instead of a year. He left in late September to see Gov Rutledge and get his own commission back dated to a time prior to Williams. Basically, he wanted it recognized back to late June 1780 when the other colonels had voted him to be their general. This would give him authority over Williams which was all that mattered at the moment. So, Sumter left Lacey in command of his army, which, was maybe 400 men. Not sure exactly how many because they had recently suffered a scattering defeat at Fishing Creek. It was Lacey who had such the worst relationship with Williams, dating back to an event after Rocky Mount when Lacey tried to stop Williams from taking part of the supply train but failed in the attempt. I am not certain what all ‘valor’ goes to but there is no doubt that Williams was a feisty fellow with plenty of courage. Lacey was not able to bully him, even though made a good effort at it. I do have a question for you. It has been a while since I researched materials on James Williams. Could you remind me about this petition? Why did Williams need a petition to save his good name? Was this a response to the Hill Memoir several decades later?

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