Bedford Hill


Bedford Hill was the campsite of the backcountry militiamen on the nights of October 1 and 2. A heavy and persistent rain forced the men to stop their march toward Gilbert Town. These volunteers did not have a military discipline and they soon became restless. Some nearly came to blows with the tedium of waiting out the storm.

On the night of October 2, the officers met in a war council. They knew that as they approached Gilbert Town with a chance of soon confronting British Major Patrick Ferguson, they would need a general commander. After much discussion, they chose Colonel William Campbell. He had brought the most men and had come the farthest. He was also the only colonel among them with experience with the Continental Line. More important, perhaps, he was the only colonel there not from North Carolina. By selecting him, Colonel Isaac Shelby knew they could avoid the petty jealousies that would likely erupt among the others.

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A View from Bedford Hill

Photo by Randell Jones

This photo looks northeast toward Pilot Mountain on the left and South Mountains on the right. In between the two is a saddle gap. The patriot militia would have passed through this gap after ascending Silver Creek from the Catawba River to its headwaters. Today US Hwy 64 passes through this gap. Out of the picture to the right are the headwaters of Cane Creek, flowing south into the Broad River basin. [View Additional File Details]

Excerpts from "Before They Were Heroes at King's Mountain" by Randell Jones

pp.427-428 At Bedford Hill on the morning of October 3, the Overmountain Men and Wilkes/Surry militiamen prepared to renew their march after a day-and-a-half of camp and rain. Before they began, Colonel Cleaveland asked to address the men, “telling them the news,” as he called it. He wanted them to know that Ferguson was nearby in Gilbert Town, just 18 miles away, and soon they would have the opportunity to confront the villain. The rough Cleaveland, with his imposing frame — reported to be six-and-a-half-feet tall and variously reported as weighing from 250 to 350 pounds — spoke to inspire the men. “Now, my brave fellows, I have come to tell you the news,” he said. “The enemy is at hand, and we must up and at them. Now is the time for every man of you to do his country a priceless service — such as shall lead your children to exult in the fact that their fathers were the conquers of Ferguson. When the pinch comes, I shall be with you. But if any of you shrink from sharing in the battle and the glory, you can now have the opportunity of backing out, and leaving.” He offered each man the opportunity to take three steps to the rear if he wanted to leave. Not one man budged and the entire horde of Patriots roundly cheered themselves and their bravery. copyright Randell Jones, 2011 Available at [View Additional File Details]

Cite this Page

Randell Jones, A Guide to the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, “Bedford Hill,” Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, accessed February 28, 2021, http:/​/​bythewaywebf.​webfactional.​com/​omvt/​items/​show/​4.​
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