Saving Colonel Williams


“The first casualty when war comes is truth.” – Senator Hiram Johnson, 1918

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Mark Twain

"The only thing more uncertain than the future is the past." – The New Historicism, 1989

"You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear." - The Point by Harry Nilsson, 1971

“The past is never dead. It's not even past.” – William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, 1951

“Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.” - Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 1758

This telling of the story attempts to rectify the differing accounts of the role and motivations of Colonel James Williams with his known character, that of a true and courageous patriot. As these quotations above suggest, it is up to the readers to decide to what extent that is accomplished. Each gets to choose individually.

Years after the war, Colonel William Hill wrote in his memoirs rather disparagingly of Colonel Williams. Hill’s accounts have received wide readership, probably well beyond what was advisable and certainly beyond what was intended by his contemporary reviewers who discouraged the publishing of his memoirs. Scholars, most notably William T. Graves, have critiqued Hill’s account and found it greatly wanting in accuracy and credibility. The story told here seeks to provide a narrative that uses facts from several accounts as to location and movements while leaving aside Hill’s personal characterizations of Williams. In the end, it is hoped this telling retains for Colonel James Williams his stature as a great patriot of the American Revolution and a hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain.

For an excellent biography of Colonel James Williams, please read "Backcountry Revolutionary" by William T. Graves, Lugoff, SC, Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution Press, 2012

Images Show

"Backcountry Revolutionary: James Williams (1740-1780) with source documents by William T. Graves

The cover of Will Graves's biography of Colonel James Williams includes the painting "Patriots" by Dan Nance, 2010. [View Additional File Details]

Cite this Page

Randell Jones (, “Saving Colonel Williams,” Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, accessed January 20, 2020, http:/​/​bythewaywebf.​webfactional.​com/​omvt/​items/​show/​76.​
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