Muster of Overmountain Men brings Revolutionary War to life at park
Published 11:14 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022
The year was 1780, and the tide of the American Revolution was turning against the Patriot cause. The British gained new allies in the divided South and won victory after victory in a bloody civil war. Charleston had fallen to the British, American forces had crumbled at the battle of Camden, and things were looking very bleak for the cause of independence.
Then the impossible occurred! Frontiersmen west of the Blue Ridge Mountains began a long march, gathering an army along the way from the highlands of Virginia to the hills of South Carolina. At a place called King’s Mountain, they destroyed British forces and opened the way for the final American victory at Yorktown.
The route they took from Virginia to South Carolina is now known as the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. The muster of the Overmountain Men, which occurred at Sycamore Shoals over 200 ago, will be re-lived the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25. The weekend will be full of events centering around the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals.
From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day the Overmountain Victory Trail Association and the Washington County, N.C. Militia will present 18th century demonstrations and activities in and around Fort Watauga. Re-enactors in period clothing will be on hand throughout the weekend to share stories and demonstrations of that exciting and tumultuous time.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, the Overmountain Victory Trail Association will recreate the historic 1780 river crossing when Colonel William Campbell and 400 mounted militiamen from present day Abingdon, Va., crossed the Watauga River at Sycamore Shoals to join Colonels Isaac Shelby and John Sevier in response to a threat from British Major Patrick Ferguson. For the past 47 years members of the OVTA have recreated this historic occurrence, since 1975, following the same route and timetable as their legendary forebears from Abingdon, Va., to Kings Mountain, S.C.
While enjoying the activities of the weekend, visitors can visit the award-winning museum and interpretive center, and don’t miss the park’s interpretive film “Sycamore Shoals — Story of the American Spirit.” Also visit the Park’s Book and Gift Shop to take home a special souvenir or a gift for the history buff or avid reader in your family.
The event is free of charge so bring the entire family and relive some of the most crucial days of the American Revolution.
The schedule of events for the weekend include:
SATURDAY, SEPT. 24
— 10 a.m.: Raising the Colors — The Overmountain Men will assemble inside Fort Watauga for morning instruction, inspection, and posting the flag.
– Noon: Every Seventh Man — Oral tradition states the Overmountain Men left one in seven to guard the settlements at they marched to meet the Tory army. The Watauga Home Guard will drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier.
– 1 p.m.: Keep Your Powder Dry — Historic interpreter Lisa Bennett will tell the story of Mary Patton and how she made the gun powder carried across the mountains by the Overmountain Men.
– 2 p.m.: Pension Court — Revolutionary War veterans were compensated for their service to the new nation.
– 3 p.m.: Walking in Frontier Footsteps — Chad Bogart, Museum Curator of the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park Museum, will lead a guided interpretative walk along the park trail as he recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and the campaign to Kings Mountain.
– 4 p.m.: Event closes for the day.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 25
– 10 a.m.: Event opens.
– 11 a.m.: Frontier Worship Service — Families of the Watauga Settlement hold a Sunday morning service in the courtyard of Fort Watauga.
– Noon: Every Seventh Man
– 1 p.m.: Keep Your Powder Dry
– 2 p.m.: Watauga River Crossing — The Overmountain Victory Trail Association will re-create the 1780 river crossing.
– 3 p.m.: The Story of the Overmountain Men presented by the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.
– 4 p.m.: Retiring the Colors — Weekend events end.