Saturday, September 19, 2009

Active Trails Grant!!

So, I walked on the OVNHT in Elkin the other day with a friend and we laid out a plan. I realized that kids who attend on Oct. 9th will WALK a lot. We have reenactors and real crafts people expressing the 18th century backcountry. I have laid out a plan so that every student gets to visit each "station" and move on to the next one walking and walking for the Active Trails grant we got to put the event on this fall.

The annual reenactment of the March to King's Mountain is about to start. This is an anniversary of sorts when Major Ferguson sent a parolee into the mountains and threatened the backcountry people saying he would "hang your leaders, and lay your country waste with fire and sword." That didn't sit well. The men mustered, and riding horseback and on foot moved over 330 miles overland from the area of Abingdon, Virginia and Elkin, NC toward Kings Mountain, now in SC. They reached there in about two weeks and fought the Battle of Kings Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780.

Here is the British view of happened:


A gentleman lately come to town has favored us with an account of the base treatment the un­fortunate officers and men met with who surrend­ered prisoners of war, last October, to the Rebel Col. Campbell, in the action of King's Mountain. A small party of the [British] militia returning from foraging, unacquainted with the surrender, happening to fire on the Rebels, the prisoners were immediately threatened with death if the firing should be repeated.

The morning after the action, the prisoners were marched sixteen miles; previous to their march, orders were given by Campbell, should they be attacked, to fire on and destroy every pri­soner. The party kept marching for two days with­out any kind of provisions. On the third day's march all the baggage of the officers was seized, and shared among the Rebel officers.

A few days after, a mock court‑martial sat for the trial of the militia prisoners; when, after a short hearing, thirty gentlemen, some of the most respectable characters in that country, had sen­tence of death passed on them; and at six o'clock the same day they began to execute. Col. Mills and Capt. Chitwood, of North Carolina, Capt. Wil­son, of Ninety Six, and six privates, were first executed. The British officers were compelled to attend at the execution of their brave but unfor­tunate men; who, with manly firmness, avowed their loyality in their last moments, and with their latest breath expressed their unutterable detesta­tion for the Rebels and their base and infamous proceedings. The remaining twenty‑one were re­prieved for a time.

Extract from a letter from an officer, dated Charleston, January 30th, 1781.
This gentleman went from New York with a de­tachment drawn from the Provincial Brigade, which was commanded by the brave Major Patrick Fergu­son. This letter gives the most circumstantial ac­count yet received of the action at King's Mountain, in South Carolina, Oct. seventh.

I think the last letter I wrote you was from Fort Moultrie, which I left a few days after. We marched to a place called Ninety Six, which is about two hun­dred miles from Charleston; we lay there about a fortnight in good quarters, after which we proceeded to the frontiers of South Carolina, and frequently passed the line into North Carolina, and can say with propriety, that there is not a regiment or de­tachment of his Majesty's service, that ever went through the fatigues, or suffered so much, as our detachment.

That you may have some faint idea of our suf­fering, I shall mention a few particulars. In the first place we were separated from all the army, acting with the militia; we never lay two nights in one place, frequently making forced marches of twenty and thirty miles in one night; skirmishing very often; the greatest part of our time without rum or wheat flour‑rum is a very essential arti­cle, for in marching ten miles we would often be obliged to ford two or three rivers, which wet the men up to their waists.

In this disagreeable situation, we remained till the seventh of October, when we were attacked by two thousand five hundred Rebels, under the command of Gen. Williams. Col. Ferguson had under his command eight hundred militia, and our detachment, which at that time was reduced to an hundred men.

The action commenced about two o'clock in the afternoon, and was very severe for upwards of an hour, during which the Rebels were charged and drove back several times, with con­siderable slaughter. When our detachment charged, for the first time, it fell to my lot to put a Rebel Captain to death, which I did most effectually, with one blow of my sword; the fellow was at least six feet high, but I had rather the advantage, as I was mounted on an elegant horse, and he on foot. But their numbers enabled them to surround us and the North Carolina regiment, which consisted of about three hundred men.

Seeing this, and numbers be­ing out of ammunition, which naturally throw the rest of the militia into confusion, our gallant little detachment, which consisted of only seventy men, exclusive of twenty who acted as dragoons, and ten who drove wagons, etc., when we marched to the field of action, were all killed and wounded but twenty, and those brave fellows were soon crowded into an heap by the militia. Capt. DePeyster, on whom the command devolved, seeing it impossible to form six men together, thought it necessary to surrender, to save the lives of the brave men who were left.

We lost in this action, Maj. Ferguson, of the Seventy‑first regiment, a man strongly attached to his King and country, well informed in the art of war, brave, humane, and an agreeable companion ­in short, he was universally esteemed in the ‑army, and I have every reason to regret his unhappy fate. We lost eighteen men killed on the spot‑Capt. Ry­erson and thirty two Sergeants and privates wound­ed, of Maj. Ferguson's detachment. Lieutenant McGinnis of Allen's regiment, Skinner's brigade, killed; taken prisoners, two Captains, four Lieu­tenants, three Ensigns, one Surgeon, and fifty‑four Sergeants and privates, including the wounded, wagoners, etc. The militia killed, one hundred, including officers; wounded, ninety; taken prisoners about six hundred; our baggage all taken, of course.
The Rebels lost Brig. Gen. Williams, and one hundred and thirty‑five, including officers, killed; wounded nearly equal to ours. The morning after the action we were marched sixteen miles, previous to which orders were given by the Rebel Col. Camp­bell (whom the command devolved on) that should they be attacked on their march, they were to fire_ on, and destroy their prisoners. The party was kept marching two days without any kind of provi­sions. The officers' baggage, on the third day's march, was all divided among the Rebel officers.

Shortly after we were marched to Bickerstaff Is settlement, where we arrived on the thirteenth. On the fourteenth, a court martial, composed of twelve field officers, was held for the trial of the militia prisoners; when, after a short hearing, they condemned thirty of the most principal and respec­table characters, whom they considered to be most inimical to them, to be executed; and, at six o'clock in the evening of the same day, executed Col. Mills, Capt. Chitwood, Capt. Wilson, and six privates; obliging every one of their officers to attend at the death of those brave, but unfortunate Loyalists, who all, with their last breath and blood, held the Rebels and their cause as infamous and base, and as they were turning off, extolled the King and the British Government.

On the morning of the fifteenth, Col. Campbell had intelligence that Col. Tarleton was approaching him, when he gave orders to his men, that should Col. Tarleton come up with them, they were Imme­diately to fire on Capt. DePeyster and his officers, who were in the front, and then a second volley on on the men. During this day's march the men were obliged to give thirty‑five Continental dollars for a single ear of Indian corn, and forty for a drink of water, they not being allowed to drink when fording a river; in short, the whole of the Rebel's conduct from the surrender of the party into their hands is incredible to relate. Several of the militia that were worn out with fatigue, and not being able to keep up, were cut down, and trodden to death in the mire.

After the party arrived at Moravian Town, in North Carolina, we officers were ordered in dif­ferent houses. Dr. Johnson (who lived with me) and myself were turned out of our bed at an unsea­sonable hour of the night, and threatened with im­mediate death if we did not make room for some of Campbell's officers; Dr. Johnson was, after this, knocked down, and treated in the basest manner, for endeavoring to dress a man whom they had cut on the march. The Rebel officers would often go in amongst the prisoners, draw their swords, cut down and wound those whom their wicked and savage minds prompted.

This is a specimen of Rebel lenity‑you may re­port it without the least equivocation, for upon the word and honor of a gentleman, this description is not equal to their barbarity. This kind of treatment made our time pass away very disagreeably. After we were in Moravian Town about a fortnight, we were told we could not get paroles to return within the British lines; neither were we to have any till we were moved over the mountains in the back parts of Virginia, where we were to live on hoe cake and milk; in consequence of this, Capt. Tay­lor, Lieut. Stevenson and myself, chose rather to trust the hand of fate, and agreeable to our inclina­tions, set out from Moravian Town the fifth of No­vember, and arrived at the British lines the twen­tieth. From this town to Ninety Six, which was the first post we arrived at, is three hundred miles; and from Ninety Six to Charleston, two hundred, so that my route was five hundred miles. The fa­tigues of this jaunt I shall omit till I see you, al­though I suffered exceedingly; but thank God am now in Charleston in good quarters.”

Thanks Lt. Allaire.

Well, here is a call for reenactors posted on the I'm repeating it here. If you want to follow the marchers day by day, they will try to blog and post pictures there.

RG is participating in Abingdon for three days next week. I'll be sure to write about it in Elkin AND I'm calling the associated press.

All, Well, it's time. I'll be leaving for Abingdon Sunday about mid day.

Great job to Doug Ledbetter and the
Nolichucky Settlement Chapter for their work in preparing for the first ever March of Sevier's route to the muster at Sycamore Shoals.

The communities have done an extraordinary job of preparing what will be the most intensive out-reach OVTA has ever been involved in. The communities project 5,530 school kids for program attendance for those venues that have been funded by the
National Parks Foundation Active Trails Grant. Plus, we may have as many as 2,000 more from venues that were not funded.

We have funded events in 13 of the 15 counties in the Trail corridor. The counties that were not included were Avery (somebody call Tommy Burleson...) and Caldwell where we have no active OVTA people working (at least not yet--I think Avery will be on board by next year). As of about an hour ago, we have disbursed a total of $37,196.83 of the $50,000 Active Trails Grant to the communities to fund their events. We have received a total of $4,100 so far in donations that will be used to match the National Parks Foundation. They will match what ever we raise up to $10,000 so we're almost halfway there.We have $16,903.17 remaining in the grant, plus add in the $4,100 in match we've raised. Those funds are what we will use to plan and conduct the National Trails Day event on June 5, 2010. Paul has already supplied with a list of the 70 miles of trail that are open to the public and walkable that will be the focus of that event.

Alan, Paul, Fran, Marc Bowen, RG and I have served as the grant committee. Hats off to each of the them for making my job of working with the communities as easy as they could. They did good.There is a whole new energy along the Trail that is born of the opportunities the grant has brought us. I am including an excerpt of an email I received today from Anne Swann who has led the planning for the events at the
Joseph McDowell House in Marion on September 29th.

"For many years we have wanted to find some way to make this program work in
McDowell County. Seems that we were always "on the edge", but never could quite make it happen. Thanks to you, this year's event will be the biggest and best that we have ever hosted! We expect an enthusiastic crowd of fourth-graders, 16 demonstrators!!and a lot of tired, but happy, volunteers! "That's pretty cool isn't it.

I've been getting raffle ticket money in the mail this week. As of today, after making the final bank deposit before the March, we have sold 199 tickets bringing in $716.00 for an average of $3.60 per ticket. Ronnie Lail and Jerry Mustin are the sales leaders up till now.

I've received word that the Muster Ground in Abingdon is still wet and soggy from the deluge they suffered in late July and early August. As a result, we probably won't be able to set up where we usually do. I won't know where to set camp until after I arrive in Abingdon or maybe even on Monday morning. But, as always, we will made do.

Per the board vote last month, I have disbursed the $500 grant from OVTA's general fund to Anna McVey to produce the first trial run (market testing if you will) of the Overmountain Victory Trail Mix. We've kept in touch and she will have the packets with the OVTA logo ready. We decided to hold off on putting the "history card"inside the packets until National Trails Day.

There just wasn't time to get the text written for the cards and the production things that needed to be done. Hey Gary Werner and Steve Elkinton--How about this for an idea--Overmountain Victory Trail Mix--a healthy mix of fruit and granola in a 2 oz package with that name and our Logo on it.

The next phase will have a small card the tells a piece of the story of the Trail in it. The first school to collect all the cards--thewhole story--will win... Cool huh.

Christian Thompson, the grad student from the East Tennessee State University Story Telling program is already at work. He is in
Spruce Pine this weekend to work with Bill Carson to take a look at how they conduct their program during the Overmountain Festival at the Mineral Museum. (AHA! Mitchell county!!!) We paid the university $6,000 out of the Active Trail Grant to cover Christian's time for the fall and winter semesters working 20 hours a week. After the March, he will be working with several communities telling the story of the Trail and doing some training of their own volunteers. Cool, huh.

Heather from the new
Chesapeake Bay National Historic Trail will be visiting us in Abingdon. She'll arrive on Sunday evening and leave Tuesday evening. She is coming down to see how Abingdon conducts their education days. She wants to observe on Monday and actually help out in the stations on Tuesday. We met Heather in Missoula in July at the Partnership for the National Trails System conference. Nice lady. Look forward to doing what we can to give her ideas on how to make her Trail better. First time I recall we've had a visitor from another NHT come look at us. That's pretty cool, and of course Abingdon is the place to come.

Speaking of Abingdon, I have gotten their Model Trail Community plaque made and we will be presenting it to the town leaders on Monday, September 21 at 6PM at the Muster Ground. The first award of its kind. And I can absolutely guarantee that it won't be the last. I've sent the Model Trail Community strategy out to all the communities leaders we've worked with on the Active Trails Grant. Asked them to compare the events they have planned against the check-list in the strategy to see how much they have accomplished towards completing the Trail in their community by this one endeavor using the Active Trails Grant money.

A step at a time folks. And before you know it...

Been working with Paula Messing, she's the part-timer working for Paul on the Trail. She's been the liaison with all the planning and disbursing of funds at Cowpens. Couldn't write them a check directly, so we sent checks to each of the 7 schools covering the cost of transportation so they could come to Education Days at Cowpens. She will be visiting all the schools that will be part of the Active Trail Grant events and programs before the OVTA Marchers arrive giving them some background and getting them excited about what's coming down the Trail. That way, when we arrive, they'll be ready for us.

Richard Luce, that fine artist friend of ours, will be on the March again this year. He will be judging the art and poster contests at the Active Trails Grant venues. How cool for the kids to have their artwork judged by one of the top historic artist in the county. Richard will also be doing a station at the programs. His station will focus on how art is used to tell the story of history and actually work with the kids on sketches and building a painting. Now that's cool. Never been done on the March before.

So, Jerry Mustin came over today and we cleaned out the trailer and reloaded it for the March. Took as much out as we could to save weight and space. So the trailers loaded now. I'll start preparing and packing tomorrow. Having had a chance to get my own stuff ready, but I'll get it tomorrow.So, again. It's time.

Been a bunch of work getting ready this year with the Grant and bringing opportunities to several new communities. To date, I've put in 233.4 hours on the contract implementing the Active Trails Grant. Been worth every minute. I'm sitting here smiling now that everything has come together. Not a single problem that didn't just crumble and disappear. So, again and again. As Paul Carson has been saying for the past three years now, "This will be the best March ever".


Let me say that again, Yup. So, again and again and again.

Folks, it IS time for the March. It is time to bring
the American Spirit home.

Get ready, here it comes.

Have a good one,
See you in the spaces between the footsteps,


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