Major Ferguson was patrolling North Carolina with a force of over 1,000 Tory supporters attempting to pacify the countryside. 1,200 militia men, most from North Carolina gathered to stop Ferguson and his troops. Ferguson realized that they were overtaking him, he organized his defenses atop King's Mountain,On October 7, 1780 the militia arrived at the base of the mountain and surrounded it. The defenders' losses quickly mounted and, when Ferguson was killed, the fight went out of the remaining soldiers. Of the Tory troops, 157 were killed, 163 were severely wounded and 698 were captured. The patriot militia lost only 28 killed and 62 wounded.
After his back-to-back victories in Charleston and at Camden, Cornwallis was anxious to extend his control over North Carolina. He sent Colonel Ferguson, who commanded a force of American loyalists to the west, where he established a headquarters at Gilbert Town. His forces were being augmented with the arrival of additional loyalists. Ferguson's forces grew to 1,200 men. As his confidence grew, he issued an ultimatum, stating that they must " from their opposition to British arms' If not they would march, march, over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword", statement had the opposite effect from what he was hoping. Instead of cowing those opposing Great Britain, it galvanized support for them. Rebels gathered from far and near.
Fegurson realized he was in trouble and feared he would soon be outnumbered. He requested reinforcements from Cornwallis, but soon began marching his troops towards Charlotte and Cornwallis' additional soldiers.
Along the way Ferguson seems to have concluded that he would not be able to reach Cornwallis before being attacked by the colonials. He thus decided to make a stand on King's Mountain. He believed that despite being outnumbered the mountain would give his better train troops and advantage over attackers that would be forced to scale the mountain. On October 8th, 1780, the American rebels, led by Major Capbell, began an assault on the top of the mountain. 1,800 American rebels began their assault on the 1,000 Loyalists above.
Ferguson had assumed that the thick foliage surrounding the mountain would act as a natural barrier to the Americans scaling it. Instead it was the perfect camouflage. The Americans were able to climb the mountain while often maintaining cover behind trees and rocks. The Americans made there way up three sides of the mountain. When they reached the top they were able to put down withering fire on the unprotected loyalists. Within moments they tried to surrender. Ferguson tried to lead a charge down the mountain, but was cut down by fire within seconds.
The rebels showed no compassion towards the surrendering loyalists, killing many and even executing a few of the prisoners. King's Mountain was a major American victory. Over 300 loyalists were killed or wounded and over 600 were captured. Cornwallis was forced to abandon his plans to subdue North Carolina.