This is the first installment in a series of ride reports on Appalachian History. The theme will be historical in nature, but not a "history lesson", but the roads, people, and sights of Appalachian life through history. The Overmountain Victory Trail is a forgotten and extremely important part of our American history. The route taken by these mountain men to a battle in 1780 assured the formation of our country. I acquired a map of the original trail, which I scaled and overlayed on Gazetteers and topos to follow as close as possible to the original route. There are several variations from the motor route, but with a little work most of the original route can be followed on a motorcycle. This was not an easy task, and took 3 days to travel the 330 miles. I have many photos with details of the ride, so the report will have to be condensed. Read the historical markers in the report to follow the above description. I will post a link to the smugmug galleries at the end, so all the photos can be viewed. Below is a cut and paste, condensed version of the complete discription, which is important to follow the ride. 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 Patriot militia. [SIZE=-1]When Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered May 12th, 1780, the British captured most of the Continental troops in the South. Additional large losses occurred later in the summer with Patriot defeats at Waxhaws, South Carolina, May 29th, and Camden, South Carolina, 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. [/SIZE] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]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 Over mountain men from today's Tennessee under Isaac Shelby. [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]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 as they marched east, some 1,100 men gave chase to Ferguson, surrounding his army at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, and killing or capturing Ferguson's entire command. [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]" . . . That Turn of the Tide of Success" --Thomas Jefferson [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Ferguson's defeat was a stunning blow to British fortunes. The strength of the Patriot militia was affirmed. The hoped for Loyalist support didn't materialize. Cornwallis was forced to pull back from North Carolina, giving the Continental Army time to bring fresh regulars and new commanders south. On January 17,1781, Daniel Morgan, using Continentals and militia, defeated Colonel Banastre Tarleton's British army at Cowpens, South Carolina. That winter saw a running campaign between Cornwallis and the armies of Morgan and Nathanael Greene. Try as Cornwallis might, the Americans always seemed to cross the river to safety before Cornwallis could cut them off. [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]At Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, on March 15th, Greene finally turned to face Cornwallis. Greene's army was driven from the battlefield, but Cornwallis suffered severe losses which he could not replace. Cornwallis pulled back to recuperate, finally moving 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. [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]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 - like volunteer fire departments - organized to protect their community. [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Men without formal training or recognized social standing - Ferguson called them mongrels - took hold of their destinies, just like the men who began the American War for Independence on April 19,1775, at Lexington and Concord. They relied upon their individual initiative, skills with the rifle, and courage to ensure the success of their cause.[/SIZE][/FONT] The annual commerative march starts this week. Check this link for the schedule, and try to go out and support the OVTA members: http://www.ovta.org/2008%20MARCH/2008%20March%20Schedule%20Master%20September%2015%202008.pdf More info is available at these sites: http://www.nps.gov/ovvi http://www.nps.gov/archive/ovvi/home.htm http://www.overmountainvictory.org/index.html http://www.ovta.org/ Enjoy, and let's get started ! Dunn Meadows in Abingdon VA, this is where it all started ! The campsite at Dunn Meadows From this point the trail heads down the Holston Valley, where present day South Holston Lake fills part of the valley. The first nights encampment was on the land of Col.John Pemberton, near the "great oak". This was something I had to find, as it is rumored to have been 600+ years old before it fell in 2002. Part of the trunk still stands, and is difficult to find ! Pull out the maps, tab through the GPS screens, trying to find a "red dot" on the motor route map. Follow a small road for a short distance, come around a corner.................................... The Pemberton Oak ! Now, this is where the people come into play on a trip like this. As I get off the bike, a lady starts walking towards the gate down a hand laid brick path, with three dogs in tow. After an introduction she invited me in to take some photos. A great conversation began, and I spent considerable time with her enjoying the family history, details about the campsite, and land. Sue Pemberton Vaughn is the direct descendant of Col. John Pemberton ! Born in the family house pictured here, built arouind 1867. The present house replaced the original log cabin. This was one of the many highlights of the trip. Sue is an angel, and will recieve some mail with a copy of the ride report ! Sue Pemberton Vaughn more tomorrow !