Kings Mountain, SC ~ Many historians consider the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780 to be the turning point in America’s War for Independence. The victory of rebelling American Patriots over British Loyalist troops completely destroyed the left wing of Cornwallis’ army. The 238th Anniversary of the battle was celebrated this past weekend and #SCSG Commander MG Thomas Mullikin spoke before assembled visitors and reenactors about the significance of this battle and the volunteer militia that helped turn the tide of the war. “The South Carolina State Guard has stood watch over our great state for more than 300 years. Together under the Command of our distinguished Adjutant General Bob Livingston, the SCSG has continued to provide elite, noteworthy service without need for pay or recognition.”
The full text of MG Mullikin’s speech at King Mountain on October 5, 2018 follows.
The Battle of King’s Mountain
MG Thomas Mullikin
October 5, 2018
Good morning and thank you for allowing me to join you for this important celebration.
MAJ GEN Nathanael Greene began his successful military career in the Rhode Island Militia and emerged from the war with a reputation as commanding General George Washington’s most gifted and dependable officer, and is known for his successful command in the Southern theater of the war. He once said that “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.”
It was right here on this blood-stained soil where the Patriot militia would get up, fight and soundly defeat the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson. The battle has been described as “the war’s largest all-American fight”.
The battle was a pivotal moment in the Southern campaign. The surprising victory of the American patriot militia raised the Patriots’ morale. With the Loyalist militia destroyed, Cornwallis was forced to abandon his plan to invade North Carolina and retreated into South Carolina.
In The Winning of the West, Theodore Roosevelt wrote of King’s Mountain, “This brilliant victory marked the turning point of the American Revolution.” Thomas Jefferson called it, “The turn of the tide of success.”
President Herbert Hoover at King’s Mountain said, “This is a place of inspiring memories. Here less than a thousand men, inspired by the urge of freedom, defeated a superior force entrenched in this strategic position. This small band of Patriots turned back a dangerous invasion well designed to separate and dismember the united Colonies. It was a little army and a little battle, but it was of mighty portent. History has done scant justice to its significance, which rightly should place it beside Lexington, Bunker Hill, Trenton and Yorktown.”
The family and legacy of these great patriots live here in the Carolinas. It is in our DNA – it is who we are.
Recognizing the significance of an organized militia, the framers of our constitution provided in the Second Amendment for the creation of a militia. In fact, Congress ratified our Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791 which provides that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, …, shall not be infringed.”
The first 10 amendments which included our Bill of Rights was taken from the Magna Carta (Latin for “the Great Charter of the Liberties”).
The Second Amendment was based partially on English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.
While both James Monroe and John Adams supported the Constitution being ratified, its most influential framer was James Madison. In Federalist No. 46, Madison wrote how a federal army could be kept in check by state militias, “a standing army … would be opposed [by] a militia.”
Today your militia continues to provide important protections for States around the Country. I am proud to serve in the seat first held by the famous GEN Francis Marion – often referred to as the “Swamp Fox” a name he was given by Banastter Tarlton.
Francis Marion used irregular methods of warfare and is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare and maneuver warfare, and is credited in the lineage of the United States Army Rangers and the other American military Special Forces such as the “Green Berets”.
Today our state militia is regulated under Title 32 U.S. Code § 109 similar to our National Guard. This section provides in pertinent part that “a State may maintain no troops other than those of its National Guard and (state) defense forces.” The State Defense Forces are regulated by the National Guard Bureau and then delegated to the state to determine how best to utilize these forces to meet domestic natural and manmade disasters.
S.C. law provides that “A South Carolina State Guard is hereby established. Such force shall be additional to and distinct from the National Guard and shall be known as the South Carolina State Guard. The Adjutant General shall organize and maintain within the State, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Army may prescribe for discipline and training….”
The Historic South Carolina State Guard has protected South Carolina since 1670. The SCSG has served as volunteers in every major conflict and disaster that have come to the shores of our state; sitting here in King’s Mountain and other great battles in our state.
Today the SCSG is comprised of an elite force of 1000 professionals including 25 Lawyers, 60 Medical Officers, Over 150 Professional Engineers and PhD Marine Computer Modelers, 25 Ecclesiastical Chaplains, over 70 Licensed Law Enforcement Officers, over 100 Communications Professionals and more than 60 national recognized Search and rescue experts – including Underwater, Waterborne, K9, Mountain Search and Rescue, and Wilderness) who train and serve primarily in the event of a natural disaster and in support during a manmade disaster. In the last four months these SAR professionals have been called upon to recover deceased South Carolinians in the mountain area and in the low country and during Hurricane Florence to recover families in flood-stricken areas.
In response to Hurricanes Florence, Joaquin and Matthew the SCSG served more than 45,000 hours. The professionals within the State Guard provide critical engineering, computer modeling of water movement, community health checks, security, search and rescue, JAG, chaplaincy counseling and road clearing at NO COST to the State of South Carolina or local governments.
In addition to the professional services provided at no cost, many of the hours for these services can be utilized for federal reimbursement under FEMA.
During the recent rebuilding and reformation of the South Carolina State Guard, all of the uniforms were obtained dirty from surplus at Fort Jackson, hand washed and folded and issued to elite volunteer professionals.
The South Carolina State Guard has harnessed the volunteer and selfless spirit of South Carolina to build upon the tremendous legacy of the SC Militia. The legacy that was fostered and built right here at Kings Mountain. We are now an integral part of the multi-organizational Emergency Response Task Force and the elite SC HART team.
During the floods associated with Hurricane Florence, our internationally recognized marine scientists and computer modelers in the State Guard provided key intelligence on water movement to place state assets.
Through a multidisciplinary professional approach, the SCSG developed a Criticality Matrix which coupled with SG engineers and search and rescue assets provided necessary protection for South Carolina families.
Through coordination with local assets, National Guard, SCEMD, the South Carolina State Guard has become the force knitting together a unified response to disasters in South Carolina. This tradition of our earliest militia lives on.
In the tradition of BG Francis Marion and the early Militia, our professionals serve without pay or glory. They seek only to provide that blanket of local support that has protected our families for generations. These patriots were like those who serve today and like each of you who believe in a cause greater than yourself.
In his book – The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution, author John Oller spoke to the selflessness of our historic corps. In Chapter 25 “An Affectionate Farewell” Oller explained that at last, “the long British occupation was over.
The American army entered the city in triumph. That night the city was full of celebration, ushering in a return of the prewar Charleston of dances, concerts, and general merriment.
One group conspicuous by its absence was the militia…. who …had been instrumental in liberating South Carolina, was not there to witness the historic and joyous occasion.” Our militia has never fought for glory or pay but only for the love of nation, state, community and family.
The South Carolina State Guard has stood watch over our great state for more than 300 years. Together under the Command of our distinguished Adjutant General Bob Livingston, the SCSG has continued to provide elite, noteworthy service without need for pay or recognition.
So, as I stand here on this ground, I want to give thanks, praise and honor to these great Patriots, early members of the South Carolina Militia who fought and won one of the most significant battles of our War of Independence. We will never forget your heroism.
The Psalmist and Warrior King David reminded us in Psalm 16 that “The land you have given (us) is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!” Never let us forget the men who made this inheritance possible.
Theodore O’Hara penned the following poem in 1847: “The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat the soldier’s last tattoo; No more on life’s parade shall meet that brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping ground, their silent tents are spread; But glory guards with solemn dignity the bivouac of the dead.”
Our nation’s military has always loved America. We revere freedom yet sacrifice our own so that others may be free. Each of these brave men valued life, yet so bravely they readied themselves to die in the service of their country.
We ask you Lord to watch over those soldiers who died here and for those who fought on. We ask you to place your hands on our hearts and our minds that we would never forget their sacrifice.
The men who perished went to their permanent resting place but not before breathing life to the dream of what would become the United States of America.
We know Lord that you welcomed these heroes. So I say in closing as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:8-9 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
We think on these things today as we remember this great battle and the great Patriots who fought here. Thank you and God Bless each of you.
Posted by CPT Brad E. Bailey / Photos by 1LT Adam Dillon