Kings Mountain National Military Park is in Blacksburg SC. It honors the victory of Patriot militia over loyalist forces at the Kings Mountain battle. The park consists of 3945 acres and is adjacent to Kings Mountain State Park.
The Kings Mountain Battle, which was a turning point of the American Revolution, happened on October 7 1780. When Major Patrick Ferguson was killed, the loyalists surrendered. It raised the patriots’ morale and inspired Americans to carry on despite suffering defeats in the earlier battles of Charleston and Camden. It was the genesis of the British troop’s downfall resulting in their eventual surrender in October 1871. A total of 225 loyalists and 26 patriots perished at the battle and were buried on the grounds. The only graves that are traceable are of Major Ferguson and Major Chronicle.
The battleground lay latent for years after the battle. The first dedicatory celebrations happened in 1815. South Carolina senator Dr William McLean privately sponsored the celebrations. He also paid for placement of the Chronicle marker at the perceived burial site of Major Chronicle and three other patriots.
The Kings Mountain Centennial Association (KMCA) was formed in 1880 to commemorate the battle’s centennial. It acquired the battle site and fund raised for a 29-foot high monument that was unveiled during the celebration. It still stands to this date. The battle site was handed over to the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR), Kings Mountain Chapter, soon after KMCA was disbanded. Another monument, an 83-foot United States monument, was erected by DAR. Then the property was transferred to the Kings Mountain Battle Grounds Association, of which DAR was a principal member.
Kings Mountain National Park was established on March, 3rd 1931, and was on a 40-acre tract. The establishment followed the announcement by president Hebert Hoover of the creation of a park for the Kings Mountain Battle. It was announced during the sesquicentennial celebrations of the battle, where the president also dedicated a stone marker for Major Ferguson’s grave. The park was to preserve the Kings Mountain battle history. The Kings Mountain battle was considered vital in American and British history. The park was transferred to the National Park Service (NPS) in 1933.
Kings Mountain National Military Park’s development was slow. The staff functioned on restrained budgets. For some time, the park even had to share a superintendent with the Cowpens Battlefield National Park in Spartanburg SC. The park’s development began with a natural curved amphitheater, the administration-museum building and the superintendent residence. The Amphitheater was ready for use during the 159th-anniversary celebrations, while the Administration-museum building and the superintendent residence were ready in April 1941 and July 1944, respectively. Later, new interpretive signs and markers were set up, a residential road constructed, and planting and landscaping performed. These new developments came with the Mission 66 Development Program. Erection of a flagstaff also occurred. Kings Mountain State Park was also established in 1941, adjacent to the military park, to complement it.
A development package got approved as part of the preparations for the Bicentennial celebrations of the battle. It consisted of a new visitors’ center with substantial floor space, a 125 seats theater, and an 18-minute film that narrated the battle’s story to visitors, which was completed in August 1975. The auditorium got renovated, and the battlefield paved as well.
Today, Kings Mountain National Military Park contains amenities that can gratify its administrative and interpretative needs for years. It has 11.7 miles of roads and 23.9 miles of walking trails that connect the military park and the state park. However, it doesn’t have picnic and camping facilities, but these are available at the adjacent Kings Mountain State Park.
If you find yourself in town visiting Bouncing Butterfly, make sure to stop by and visit the park. You will be amazed at the history.