Revolutionary War Historical Article

Captain William Moore and the Battle of Kings Mountain

By Glen J. Gujda

My patriot ancestor is Captain William Moore. He was born in Ulster Province, Northern Ireland. He emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his nine brothers. Family tradition says that upon setting foot in America they entered a tavern, bought a round of drinks and toasted a colorful past and a promising future. Some of the brothers migrated to Western Pennsylvania and others, including William, moved down the Appalachian Trail to the South.


We know that William settled in Augusta County, for a time, as it was there he met and married Ann Cathey, the daughter of George and Margaret Cathey. She was born there in 1739. From this union William and Ann had five children: William, Jr., Thomas, Robert, Mary Ann, and Alice.


It is uncertain when William and Ann left Virginia, but we next find them settled on South Muddy Creek in what is now McDowell County. In 1768, while living in Tryon County, William was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 1769, he was elected to represent the County in the House of Commons. He continued in this capacity until 1771.

In 1770, the General Assembly passed an act and appointed the commissioners to "agree and appoint a proper and convenient place wherein to erect a proper Courthouse." William Moore was a member of this commission and is shown as having been a builder of the Courthouse.

The Cherokee Indians were a serious problem at this time. They frequently raided the outlying settlements. To stop this, a militia was organized. William was appointed Captain. This militia was frequently called upon to drive off the Indians. This service lasted from a few days to several weeks.

We do not know when Ann Moore, William's wife, died, but it certainly was before August, 1774, as on August 4th, 1774 William married Margaret Patton, the daughter of Robert and Charity Patton.

Margaret was considerably younger than William, having been born in 1759 and was only 15 years old. Her mother, Charity Patton signed the marriage bond giving permission for the marriage. Together Margaret and William had eight children: Samuel, Charity (my line), Rachael, Margaret Mary (called Polly), Sarah, (called Sally), Nancy and Charles.

William continued in the House of Commons, (the lower House elected by the people) through the years 1775-­76. He signed the "test" which was a document - - an oath - - proclaiming "that Parliament of Great Britain had no right to impose taxes upon the colonies. . . . and ought to be resisted to the utmost." Taxes in Tryon County at that time were three shillings and two pence. In 1776, General Griffith Rutherford was assigned to lead an expedition against the Cherokees who were allied with the British and were raiding white settlements along the Hostein and Watayga Rivers in South Carolina. William and General Rutherford had a lot in common. They were both Irish immigrants, frontiersmen and were related through marriage. The General specifically requested that William be assigned to his regiment and he was commissioned a captain. They marched over the Swannanoa Gap, down the French Broad River and along the route now called "Rutherford's Trace". A book named "The French Broad" by Wilma Dykeman relates. "Being at war neither blinded nor bewildered young Captain Moore. He saw the untouched, and even better unclaimed fertility of the land he passed through. Perhaps he responded to its green beauty too, seeing something of the fresh landscape of Ireland in these tree covered mountains, thick canebrakes and grassy balds"

The next year following the Indian expedition in 1777, Captain Moore came back over the Blue Ridge to the French Broad River. He built a small log house and vowed that he would return there when he could safely bring his family to live there after the war.

Before he could return, the Army required his services again. General Rutherford had been directed to pass from Valley River over the mountains to lend support to Colonel Christian. Captains Moore and Harden joined him a short distance east of the Blue Ridge and encamped on Hominy Creek. They then proceeded through Hickory Nut Cap, Richland Creek and to Scot's place on Balsam Mountain. They burned an Indian town on the Oconalufty River and spent the night on Balsam Mountain where they experienced an earthquake.

Upon arriving back, they learned that General Charles Cornwallis had sent one of his most experienced officers, Lt. Col. Patrick Ferguson with a large force of British Regulars and loyalists into the back country. All the able bodied men of the back country, referred to as the" over-the-mountain men" were mustered and marched to intercept him. When Ferguson received intelligence that a large body of Patriots were heading toward him, he decided to take up a defensive position on King's Mountain, South Carolina. In short order he was trapped.


Captain William Moore,commanding a Company in Col. William Campbell's Regiment was with them. They surrounded the mountain top defenses of Ferguson, with Campbell's Command being stationed at the southwest siege lines. Colonel John Sevier's line of battle connected to Campbell's line, on the north west. The other commands completed the surrounding Ferguson. Ferguson had made a terrible tactical mistake. Being on top of a mountain, the attackers did not have to be concerned about friendly fire - they were firing upwards, hence, all sides of the attacking force could fire into Ferguson's position.

It soon became clear to Ferguson that he was trapped and would be disseminated by the frontiersmen's accurate fire. He launched not one, but four, bayonet charges to try to break through the Patriot's lines. fierce hand-to-hand combat ensued, but to no avail. The Patriots had him trapped and were not going to let him escape. After several hours of extremely heavy fighting and Ferguson having been killed, the surviving British and Loyalists surrendered.


Colonel Campbell's men fought extremely well during the whole of the action, but it was a costly victory. Among the dead were 2 Captains, 4 lieutenants, 7 ensigns and 18 enlisted. Among the wounded was Captain William Moore - shot through the leg. So badly wounded was William that his leg had to be amputated on the field of battle. He was necessarily left at a near by farm house. When his fellow soldiers returned home they told William's wife. She immediately set off on horseback, found him, and nursed him back to health.

In 1783 the General Assembly of North Carolina opened a tract of the land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains for settlement and William Moore was awarded 6040 acres from Governor Richard Caswell. In 1784, William returned to the lands he had visited before and settled there. He owned land on both sides of Hominy Creek near its junction with the French Broad River. He lived their until he died there. He was buried on the grounds of a North Carolina Country School.

His marker reads: "William Moore, died Nov. 11, 1812, AE 86 years."

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