Pipes and drums

were part of some battles. I find no drummer, but some fifers on 07Oct1780. Fifer was alternately spelled Phifer in the German settlements. Phifer’s Mill was was a York District SC landmark. Martin and Caleb Fifer were officers in other engagements, though not in the Battle at Kings Mountain. They commanded some of the patriots who were at BKM.

William Hooker was a musician and a soldier learning to play the fife, perhaps tooting at BKM. Lewis Wolf was an accomplished fifer who sounded for other battles, some of which also had drummers. He was in the battle of Kings Mountain and likely tooted some. The sound of the fife was often used as a signal high above the lower pitched din of battle. A tune on the fife was also used to bolster morale.

Wayne Metcalf and George Thomason were drummers elsewhere and were in the Kings Mountain expedition, but did not mention drumming there. Andrew Ferguson (a patriot soldier of no known relation to Patrick Ferguson) mentioned that Jack Head was a drummer. They arrived at BKM when the action was over. In the European style battles, pipes, fifes, bugles, and drums were used for the cadence as units entered or departed the field and as they marched into the battle. Different regiments used different tunes. A given song on the pipes and drums growing louder as they approached could strike fear into the opposing army and provide comfort to the allied units.

Some of the BKM vets mentioned flag bearers, but not at BKM. The long expedition to catch Ferguson and the last minute rush made military parade elements, had they been available, unworkable at BKM. The battle took a backwoods frontier character, not the style of open field battles such as Cowpens.

War of Revolution, act of June 1832 for service pensions

Merry man Webster: A pension declaration is a poorly written, often illegible, document with phonetic misspelling of misprounounced improper words and nicknames by old illiterate soldiers with faded memories, often misfiled by DC clerks, degraded and with pieces lost over time.
[button link=”http://revwarapps.org/s16287.pdf” style=”download” window=”yes”] download filing demonstration [/button]

Somewhere a soldier and a widow carefully preserved a very legible discharge certificate.
With a little correspondence to DC, they tried to verify the dates with the colonel.
It ended up filed with a different John Watson in a different state.
There it remained to the day it was photograped and refiled in the folder of a different John Watson eight score and some odd years later.

John 11Dec1759 Watson left PA at the beginning of the war. Perhaps 1774, perhaps as late as 1776, age 15 to 17.
The 1777 discharge could not have been his. If in fact it was in his possession, it was perhaps his dad’s from service in PA and they didn’t leave until after the 1777 discharge. Note the 01Dec1759 Watson did not claim service in PA. His first was 1780 at Watauga when he was age 20.

KK White says her Watauga BKM John Watson was pensioned in Rockbridege Co.
She lists neither a James Wilson nor a James Wilkins.

Was there also a 90 year old John Watson penion applicant in Fleming Couty KY, the father of the 72 year old Watson??

Now, my dear Sherlock, will the real Watson please stand up?


The Scottish bagpipes added to the fife and drums of some orderly and established military units on both the Whig and Tory sides. The 1780 over moutain clans were not that organized. The plaids of the clans and the bagpipes are traditions which survived in the Appalachians.
Gatherings for “Highland Games” are still annual events in several mountain communities.
Highland Games shows some of them by state.
2013 Smoky Mountain Highland Games shows the May 2013 Games at Maryville College.

This tune provided by my USMC friend Rick Clevenger, came along after the Revolutionary War.
Semper Fi

Other tunes are on the internet, such as Bagpipe Marches

Johnny has gone for a soldier

The auld Irish melody “Buttermilk Hill” was sung beside cradles through the centuries.
The words varied with mood and season.

Sell her flocks and sell her wheel to buy her love a sword to wield.

Then to the streets to beg for bread.

Elizabeth Colville Black Newell sent two sons, a brother, a nephew, three sons in law, and many neighbors to Kings Mountain.
Esther Houston Montgomery sent three sons, two sons in law and one chaplain.