Purple Hearts

Of course there were not yet Purple Hearts in 1780. If there had been, which Battle of Kings Mountain patriots would have recevied them? Does the 1909 monument east face plaque recognize them? I think it should do a better job. The 07Oct1780 Patriots did.

The 1909 obelisk was erected by the federal government. It is the most conspicuous monument in the national park. An inconspicuous truth is that its content is incorrect. Some of the casualties listed did not happen. Others which did happen are missing. Some names are wrong. Some ranks are wrong and obscure finding a name. The alphabetic order within rank is incorrect. Join the effort to make a virtual bronze plaque which we can display on smart phones and iPads for park visitors.

Patriot Purple Heart Project

How would I replace the wrong plaque? I wouldn’t remove the bronze placed over a century ago. Instead, I’d supplement it with virtual bronze under a rustic cedar shake roof.  Under the shed, I’d place a bench for wifi or comsat protable interactive screen users. Each screen would scroll through a powerpoint style audio-visual look at a plaque, then a brief focus on the next soldier named in the list. The presentation of the plaque of Kings Mountain casualties could be interrupted by a patriot who could jump to a different name on the plaque. The presentation could be interrupted by a park ranger to inject announcements. Perhaps the shed across the walk from the eastern face of the obelisk should be supplemented by three more sheds opposite the other faces so that more screens could accomodate more park visitors.

How do I know who should be remembered on the plaque? I don’t, but a board of knowledgable patriot volunteers could examine each name and adjust the content of the presentation with the best available information which might come forward.

How could I put money into the past when a poor Chicago girl cannot afford her God given right to contraception? “Shut up and eat your spinach, son. A poor starving boy in China would love to eat your supper.” Though the constitution grants no federal power to spend money for monuments, it grants the power to the states and the people.  I’d take nothing away from furthering the urges of some wretch who demands her constitutional right to my support for her fornicatory birth control.

First, I’d find benefactor seed money and solicit organizational support from DAR and SAR chapters. Second, I’d provide physical and virtual fish bowls to accept contributions. Third, I’d appeal to the volunteer minute men, the national guards of the states represented, to accept excess contributions and to participate in presenting the motivational patriotic stories of the Battle of Kings Mountain.

On an October day in 1780 on a trail in the Blue Ridge mountains, John Patriot Doe could go no farther. John was slashed by a Red Coat bayonet as he charged to stop Patrick Ferguson’s threats. His friends diverted their attention from securing the prisoners and stopping Cornwallis. They worked instead on stopping his bleeding. They treated his wounds as well as they might in the confusion and rubble of a battlefield. He felt bad for not giving his share to protecting the gains of the victory. John knew that Jane Doe was a master in treating hunting accidents, farming wounds, and snake bites. He wanted to relieve his militia attendants  from his load on them.

At Widow Biggerstaff’s, John was feeling better. He slipped away from the camp. Before he reached Cathey’s Plantation, his situation had degraded. He was hungry. His bandage had failed and the wounds re-opened. Before John reached Yellow Mountain, he was exhausted. Unable to go farther, he rested beside the trail. He awoke shivering. He was too dizzy to stand. John Patriot Doe was not too dizzy to know that he would soon get angelic relief from the pain in his stomach and the pains in his arm and shoulder. He might never be found. Nobody in Philadelphia might ever miss him. In his final prayer, he asked for relief from the pains in his heart. “Please provide care for Jane and Bud and Sis. Please bless the Patriots and the Union.”

We may never know how many Jacob Patriot Does sacrificed how much to bring liberty to the land. We do know that many placed their lives and property on the altar. We do know that ananimity was better to them than distraction from their goal. We do know the names of some of them. It is unnecessay to leave the Tomb of the Unknown as the only monument to those whose names we have.

Download the KM obelisk plaque and compare it to the list below.

Last names red need change or removal. Purple are on the plaque confirmed. Yellow is on plaque unconfirmed. Black last name is not on plaque.

If I could make a Kings Mountain obelisk plaque today, I’d show the following list of names. Commander, captain, and reference: are shown below.

D-Died from wounds
K-Killed in combat
W-Wounded in combat

W Allison John Shelby KK White
W Banning Benoni Campbell
K Barnett Jacob Hampton R11508
K Beattie John Campbell Colville
K Benge Obadiah’s brother Cleveland
W Benge Obadiah Cleveland R743
D Berry Enoch’s brother McDowell Samuel Woods w8128
K Berry Enoch’s father McDowell Samuel Woods w8128
K Bicknell Thomas Cleveland William Lenoir r12399
K Blackburn William Campbell Beattie WC Court
K Bowen Reece Campbell b19 roster
K Boyd John Graham Lin Co
W Bradley William Cleveland Joel Lewis w8399
K Brown John Sevier Draper
W Bullen William Campbell?
W Childress John Cleveland Sheppard s3145
W Chittim John Hambright s10116
K Chronicle William Graham
K Col Hammond’s unknown Hammond
D Col Sevier’s unknown Sevier Davis s1906
W Colel James Henderson, Wm S31624
W Conn James Williams William Graham S15386
D Corry (Curry) James Campbell Dysart WC Court
W Cox William Shelby KK White
K? Davis Jonathan Sumter’s remnant r2722
W Dobson Joseph McDowell w19187
K Dryden Nathaniel Campbell Robert Craig b8
K Duff David Lacey Draper
W Dysart James Campbell
W Edmondson Robert Jr Campbell J Craig
K Edmondson Andrew Campbell w Anne
K Edmondson Robert Sr Campbell w Mary
K Edmondson William Campbell w Elizabeth
W Espy Samuel Graham Isaac White s6824
W Fagon John Shelby Lanier KK White
W Fain Ebenezer Sevier Taylor R3421
W Fields John Williams John Smith s8471
W Fisher Frederick Campbell Dysart s20364
K Fowler William Campbell Summers
W Gambill Martin Cleveland William Hall w7504
W Gebie
W Giles William Williams Draper
W Gilleland John Sevier KK White
W Gilmer William Chronicle
K Gist Nathaniel Campbell Edmondson
W Goforth Miles Campbell R8973,
K Goforth Preston Hampton Draper
W Gordon Charles Cleveland Draper
W Grier John Sevier Jacob Brown S1906
W Hambright Frederick Graham R4504
D Hamilton Charles Williams Duff R4512
D Hammond Martin Brandon
D Hannah William Cleveland Minor Smith S13795
W Hayter Israel Campbell Dysart S32509
K Henegar Henry Campbell Draper
K Henry John Graham R4512 Hannah’s brother
D Henry Moses Graham Samuel Martin R4382 Hannah’s dad
W Henry Robert Chronicle Andrew Barry Draper
D Henson Robert Brandon
D Hicks John Williams AA3586
W Hill Janes Campbell Reese Bowen
W Houston Janes Hampton Capt R7046
W Hyce, Hice? Leonard Campbell Dysart s8713
W Johnson Samuel Cleveland W5012
W Keller DeVault Williams John Walton S32358
W Kerr David McDowell McCall R5890
W Kilgore Charles Campbell Dysart Draper
D Laird James Campbell Moss
W Lenoir William Cleveland S7137
W? Lewis James Cleveland w7511
W Lewis Joel Cleveland Micajah Lewis w780
W Lewis Micajah Cleveland several
K Lusk William Campbell Colville WC Court
Kx Lyon Humberson Campbell Edmondson WCSB p48
K Maddox John Graham Chronicle
K Mahoney Michael Sevier KK White
K Martin’s Company Graham, Martin, Samuel 4K
D Martin’s Company Graham Martin, Samuel 2D
D McCulloch Thomas Campbell
W McCulloch Robert Campbell Edmondson
W McDaniel Henry Lynch Thomas Arthur R6678
W Miller Robart Lacey W5376
W Moore William Campbell Draper
W Murphy Patrick Sevier KK White
W Neely Joseph Shelby S31879
W Neighbors Benjamin Williams William Smith S19000
W Newell Samuel Campbell Colville r7617
W Parks Henry Cleveland Joel Lewis S31898
K ? Patterson Arthur Graham Rudisill
D Peery John Campbell Reese Bowen DE Johnson
K Phillips James Campbell Dysart b8
W? Porter James Hampton Ramsour’s?
K Rabb William Graham plaque
W Reed Joseph Cleveland Joel Lewis W1484
D Ridge William Cleveland Salathiel Martin W1044
W Robertson William Hampton
W Rogers James   Joseph McDowell Hardin S32340
W Seamons Joseph Cleveland Nall s3909
W Sevier Robert Sevier
W Shelby Moses Shelby Draper
K Siske Daniel Cleveland Draper
W Skeggs John Campbell Reese Bowen plaque
K Smart John Hanpton plaque
W? Smith JM
W Smith Minor Cleveland
W Soldier unknown Shelby
K Steele William Sevier
Kx Steen James  died 1781  stabbed by Tory  Rowan Co
W Tanner Josiah Williams McBee W9503
W Toms Thomas Shelby George Maxwell Va3
W Trammel brother Clarke, Elijah R10674
W Tubb John Graham Holland S32560
D Varner Richard Cleveland Minor Smith S13795
W Wakefield Henry McDowell John Russell W35
W Walker John Cleveland Roger Topp S32572
D Walker Robert Lacey Mills
K Watson William Lacey Draper
W Watson William
W Wilfong John McDowell Sigman W Van Horn S7951
K Williams James Williams
W 24 Unknown

According to the Rudisill family (Patterson descendants), Patterson did not die at BKM.

Rowan County records show that Col Steen died there during the next year.

Washington County records show that Humberson Lyon was selling venison and surveying property in the years after BKM. Jr vs Sr?

Col Porter was wounded at Ramsours Mill and probably not at BKM.

Lenoard Hice and James Henegar names were most frequently spelled differently from the plaque. You can find Hice and Hennegar in the Washington County surveyor’s book, but neither Hyce nor Heniger.

Micaijah Frost deposed that he witnessed the mortal wound of Sgt James Curry shown on the plaque as 2nd Lt James Corry. Widow Curry is named in Washington County records. Frost attended to him more than 12 hours. The plaque says killed.  They do not give definitions for mortally wounded and killed.

The unnamed Gilleland on the plaque is apparently John of Col Sevier’s corps. James of Colville’s Company did not mention his being wounded in his pension declaration.

Michael Mahoney’s estate settlement was at the next Washington Co NC court after BKM. Perhaps he is the soldier who died from battle wounds at Greasy Cove on his way home after the battle.

Siske is listed after Smart on the plaque though the other names are alphabetic within rank.

John Childers on the plaque signed his name Childress on his pension declaration.

I find no information about JM Smith being wounded except on the plaque.

Lewis Preston Summers lists a number of men wounded at Kings Mountain whose names are not on the plaque. Summers’ lists are known to contain inaccuracies. I find no cause to challenge his wounded designations. David Darnell and John Keene are in his list. They show no propety surveys in Washington County VA.

S30966, John Copeland, York Co, built barracks for wounded, not a few. Some veterans mention recovering0 from BKM wounds there.


This get’s closer to the estimates in Campbell and Shelby’s Battle report. They might have expended the effort to get a more accurate report. We can be thankful that they kept their eyes on the prize. They wanted to take care of their troops, keep the prisoners from returning to the battle, and press the Red Coats and their Tory and Indian allies until they quit inflicting pain.

The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Hyothetically, in a couthouse west of the Blue Ridge, a geedy old widow tells the judge a story about her husband’s service at Kings Mountain and other missions. Her tear jerking story about her circumstances is thrown in. Will a neighbor call her a liar or vouch for her story?

Somewhere in a law office west of the Blue Ridge, an attorney prepared details for a hired witness to corroborate the old codger’s made up story about his war record.

In a rocking chair on the front porch of a house somewhere in the hills, an old codger contemplates Whether he should hold out in his commitment to not go on the public dole. For all these years, he did well enough, but times are changing. He justly deserves the pension for his service at Kings Mountian. The bayonet made a clean exit and he quickly got it covered. It never did hurt too bad.

Somewhere by a trail in the mountains, a soldier kneels beside the road. Col Shelby offered him an escort to home, but he didn’t want to burden his buddies. They had more prisoners than guaards. He felt better when he slipped away but the bayonet wound is still oozing. With his last foggy thought, he asks God to arrange care for Johnny and Susie and God bless the Patriots. Then he drifts to sleep never to be found.

There are reasons why pension lists have invalid entries. There are reasons why pension lists are missing entries.

The plaque on the obelsik at Kings Mountain Battlefield National Park shows the names of soldiers killed, mortally wounded, and wounded in the battle. I want to believe that the people who placed that plaque did their best to find the names and preset them accurately on the plaque. I want to believe that due diligence was given to accuracy. I do believe that Ford’s Crown Victoria was better than Ford’s Model A. I do believe that we deserve better than the casualty list of 1909. If I have a Model A, I am blessed to preserve it. If I have a 1909 plaque, I should preserve it.

Rank is presented in an attempt to appeal to Phildelphia’s picture of military order. The Battle of King’s Mountain was fought with the disorder of a neighborhood brawl. Who could come out and what could they do was a spur of the moment matter. They huddled and chose a quarterback for a play with shifting roles for the next play. With the militia, a major today could be a private tomorrow for a different mission. A private under a captain today could be a captain over his former leader tomorrow. Individual abilities meant that some were destined for life in the trenches and others would consistently rise to call the plays. In a Wildcat play, is there a quarterback? Who plays safety for the football offense? In fact, Virginia did not commission any second lieutenants. Patrick Henry commissioned Ensigns. When Virginia appointed a 1st Lt, it was more like a battalion adjutant, a staff officer instead of a leader of men. The 1st Lt was the colonel’s gopher who kept records and communicated between the cammander and his leaders.

We see some futility of rank designations in the comments of the troops. “I had no captain, but Ensign John Doe did the job of the captain for this mission. Colonel John Doe was distracted and I had no orders to do anything. Quarterback (Captain) John Doe was killed, so we turned to trooper Samuel Smith to take over and call the plays.

We also see the problem with timing of a rank designation. Lists of BKM participants show Major Edmonson, Captain Edmondson, and Lt Edmondson gathered from three different sources. He performed sorta like a mojor with captains coming to him instead of the colonel. His commisssion read captain. I knew him when he was a brilliant lietenant and never heard what the Pentagon had done since. The same gathering of rosters includes Major Edmiston, Captain Edmiston, and Lt. Edmiston. Mr. Edmiston of Augusta County was annoyed that his grandpa was the son of Edmond. Through the slings and arrows of administrative records, a clerk wrote Edmiston and that spread. Always annoyed by the inaccuracy, the Edmiston clan chose the time of their move to the Holston to set the records straight. Edmondsonizing was no small chore. Literate friends from Augusta County did not all get the word in Fincastle County. Old habits die hard. To some of us Butch Farmer will always be Butch. John Farmer will always be his dad. To some, I am always Frederick, to others, Freddie, to my lazy self and many others I am Fred, depending upon the situation.

It took years for Augusta County transplants to Edmondize themselves in Washington County. An old friend surveyor might write an Edmiston here or there. An old friend Justice of the Peace or Sheriff, might catch themselves Edmistoning out of habit though they Edmondsoned most of the time. Particularaly unique was Robert, a boy who entered Augusta Academy and graduated from Liberty Hall as Robert Edmiston. Their archives showed no Edmondson. How will an historian piece Butch Farmer’s archived school records into the biography of a Delta Airlines manager? How will an historian link Robert Edmiston’s Liberty Hall record to Robert Edmondson’s King’s Mountain records or to a grandson’s Arkansas Territory records? Then there was John Beattie, Beatie, Beatty, Beaty, Batey, etc.

Then there is the issue of juniors and seniors. Dad got credit or blame for what Junior did. Consciention signers would go out of their way to write Senr or Junr when they suspected confusion. But SN1754 signed Junr through some State of Franklin and Tennessee formation years and Senr in some Kentucky and Indiana situations. Multiply that times the respect for elders of Prebyterian custom. Six sons choose to name their firstborn sons for the child’s paternal grandfather. Six sons chose to name their first duaghtere for the wife’s mother. Six sons name their second sons for the wife’s father. Six sons name their second grils for their own mother. Soon what we have is ten contemporaneous Alexander Montgomerys along the Blue Ridge in counties which didn’t keep any records for years. Fredericktown (Winchester) started its first court and journals five years after formation. Washington County paid a courier 7/6/0 to go to Williamsburg and bought a book of paper at 5/0/0. We can hope he took care of other business on the trip. For comparison, Dr. Thomas Walker sold 100 acres of land at Wolf Hill for about 5/0/0. You could buy some Secretariat grade horseflesh fo 5/0/0 or a blank county journal book. A penny pinching Scots-Irish clerk was under pressure to write only what was necessary. The farmer who made a deal with a neighbor for forty acres might save a shilling instead of getting it recorded if it was widely know in the community. The county could catch up posting his record to the day a new buyer thought it was worth a shilling. One paper in a secore trunk in the hills could have half a dozen assignments and endorsements before somebody paid the county to journalize the fact. Suffice it to say that a militia officer in the mountains was more concerned with safety and security than records and that he could save pieces of paper by just remembering and telling a clerk later.

Next was Patick Henry’s intentional bureacrataic delay. He confessed that he feared that congress would drain the last drop of blood from the commonwealth if they knew how many soldiers he had in the Virginia Militia. A soldier started doing a job when an elder asked him to. On the next court date, the elder would recommend him to the office for that job, the commisioners would vote, and the clerk would send a letter to the governor certifying the recommendation. Almost always the county desires were approved. Then the governor put his signed commission in his out box until it was convenient to return to the county. Next meeting after the county received the governor’s response the commisioners ordered the clerk to enter that Lt John Doe was officially a captain. For Robert Craig, Virginia received the service of a captain at the pay of a lieutenant for over a year. That same process of delay impacted SN1754.

Two lists of Col Campbell’s soldiers survive. Both are ration lists, authorizations for the county to pay back the men for food they provided at their own expense for the BKM journey. David Beattie and Reese Bowen got a few of their soldiers paid. We know that they paid more soldiers than those who got ration extras and that they paid those soldiers for more than meager rations. But Virginia had no money. They wrote treasury warrants to claim land. The county could write commissioners certificates. They merely granted a man the right to claim a stated acreage of unclaimed land, not why. We can impute that a given number of acres was for a given length of service at a certain rank, but cannot state if it was service at Fort Chiswell, Camden, Old Salem, Cumberland Gap, Boyds Creek or Kings Mountain.

A hundred years later comes Lewis Preston Summers, partly as a matter of county pride and partly as a matter of getting together for the record what evidence was available before memories faded and papers disappeared. I have absolute confidence that his militia lists contain some people designated as BKM who left the muster ground near Newell’s Improvement on Andrew Colville’s farm and went straight home. I have absolute confidence that some Washington County men fought at Kings Mountain and do not appear on his list. Of the six John Campbell’s paying taxes in Washington county, I’d wager that at least one of them was called from the muster ground to go to Sycamore Shoals. From 1903 to 1929 Summers two big works, History of SW VA and Annals of SW VA differed in detail. Which one was wrong? I believe that both showed human influence.

It is a safer bet that the Carolina rosters are frought with even more gaps and bad entires. The remnants of Lincoln’s and Sumter’s armies were roaming the state looking for a bite to eat and a safe place to get a good night’s sleep. Cleveland’s Corps was more regimented and more separated from the chaos farther south. Where do you place the South Carolina soldier who was wandering from Charleston and Camden toward the mountains and found William Campbell at Cowpens with food? George Martin’s deposition said that he joined Campbell, though not for the battle. I think there were other strays picked up in the last few days before the battle.

How do I spell James Kahn if that was the way he sounded when I heard it, but he always wrote it x-his mark? Why did we choose Tennessee when it always sounded like Tanasi? Why didn’t Cuttawa begin with K? James Conn?

If I could know just three things about a battle casualty, they would be who, what, and where. Of course, killed, vs wounded and lived vs died from wound. The name should be spelled like I’d most expect to find in more records even if a nickname. If I thnk the clerks and commisiissioners wrote Junior, then I’d prefer for the plaque to say Junior Earnheart instead of Dale. I’d want to know where, the county from which he enlisted, more than rank or captain or colonel’s name. In that county I could begin a search for more.

I’d think W-S NC for Cleveland’s home troops, Bur NC for McDowell’s, Try NC for the Tryon County subdivisions, SC with district designation where known, and GA for the Georgia remnant. I think i’d just use VA or SW VA for Campbell’s troops because Fincastle, Washington, and Montgomery distinctions were blurred. In reading depositions, Henry and Bedford come to recall for possible designaation separate from southwest VA if the jury of wise men ruled that there were were enough to show on the plaque. That makes Sul TN and Was TN best name for Shelby and Sevier’s troops.

Somoewhere in a trunk in a farm house in Illinois or Missouri might be some yet unpublished papers with tidbits, facts of no concern to the holder which do bear upon BKM history. Captain Stephens wrote a letter to George Washington which survived. In passing, far from the point of Stephens’ message, are some facts about Samuel Newell’s father, SN1713.

I know that Siske should come before Smartt in alphabetical order. I know that James Steen’s death report was long after BKM. I know that among several who swore that they were wounded at BKM, surely some were truthful and accurate. I am certain that any who swore they were killed at BKM were wrong. I hear that Arthur Patterson was not killed at BKM.

If I had a park and an obelisk plaque and Obama didn’t care, what would I do? I’d do nothing to drain an indebted treasury until it has a rainy day fund. Even then, I’d appeal to benefactors and volunteer administrators instead of preying upon people under the 10th amendment. I see no constitutional authorization for congress to make laws recognizing people or events. That is a matter left to the states and to the people. Read Davy Crockett’s Horatio Bunce speech in the congressional record. Now regardless of your political persuasions, don’t you agree that the treasury deserves some refunds for the cost of naming Reagan Airport, Kennedy Center, Roosevelt School, Robert Byrd Bridge, etc. I think we need refunds of the salaries who spent their time doing what the consitution prohibits instead of building up debt when a rainy day fund was advisable instead.

If I had an obelisk plaque, I think I’d want an interactive weatherized screen by a bench across from the east face. From the computer in the HQ driving the display, I’d want a Power Ppoint style slide show with audio for the visually impaired. I’d want the display to progress through a picture of what a bronze plaque would look like if it had the best information available at the moment instead of 1909. I’d want to have a jury of wise men to listen to causes for changing it and decided when to click, click, click and change it. I’d want it in straight alphabetical order for the citizens who know names but not what detail of casualty or rank was involved. I’d want the list to include reverse casualties, the patriots imprisoned on Kings Mountain who were freed by their brothers who defeated their captors. I’d want the visitor to learn how to click on other resources to see information about rumored casualties, casualties during the expedition to the site, paarticipants in the battle, support personnel near the battle, etc. I’d want the visitor to be able to learn more about the park, like how to proceed to the other monuments from this display.

If I had a plaque, I’d have it made of silicon to flash the appearance of the finest bronze then zoom in on the next entry and then flash to a brief biographical and read it to the visitor. Then back to the full plaque, perhaps a commercial interruption with a Smoky Bear Hat message, then zoom in on the next entry and repeat the audo-visual about that soldier.
It would probably take a half hour to complete the loop through the aplhabet. I’d hate to offend those rush rush coastal visitors, so I’d want about three back benched with smaller displays for impatient folks. I’d want an easy to remember webpage name like BKM.org for the aggressive visitor to take home and get out of the way of the polite visitors. There he could read a silicon book of BKM info cover to cover and backward again.

If I had a plaque, I’d encourage grandchildren of the casualties to submit more biographical tidbits about their Vols at Kings Mountain. The jury of wise men would need to choose what new content to place on my plaque and in my back-up silicon book. If I had a plaque, I’d want to use some American energy to take a grandson to South Caarolina on a certain Saturday in October of the even years to see how a host of vounteers taught those red uniform fellers a thing or two. If I had a plaque, I’d want to use Americon silicon to sit at home by the fire and see it just whenever is convenient. If I had a plaque, I’d want a book on the shelf all about it so that no foreign power could get on the wires or the airwaves and keep it from me.

Don’t read any farther. You might see the embarassing notes I am keeping here for a while.

Stop now. You Hear?

I add to the list of those killed on the plaque, those reported killed from other sources, laregly the pension declaration fifty years later by the men in the battle. Will Graves has pushed to provide humanity with a new source for BKM pension records at http://revwarapps.org/. You can see what is in the US Archives without a drive to DC. Only if you knew it was there can you ask for a copy by mail. Just think of the national debt you can prevent by not adding to post office losses and bureacrat time and expense. A vault of paper files can fit into your briefcase on silicon wafers before the ink fades and the paper decomposes.