A Surprise for Whigs and Tories
A day or two before the Battle of King’s Mountain a party of Whigs consisting of some eight or ten men were lurking about the thickets along Brown’s Creek near Broad River to gain intelligence of both friends and enemies. Joseph Hughes, John Savage, William Sharp, William Giles and Charles Crade are said to have been in the party. Late in the afternoon they took a pet Tory. From him they ascertained that a party of Tories, some 250 in number, intended to encamp that night at a school house near Hollingsworth Mill on Brown’s Creek. The house was on a high hill which was covered with thick woods. Hughes and party determined to try to give them an alarm. They accordingly arranged their plan of attack.
Some time after dark they approached the enemy’s camp, spread themselves in open order around the hill at some distance from each other with the understanding that they should approach until hailed by the sentinels, lie down until they fired, then make a rush toward the camp, commence firing one at a time, raise a shout and rush into the camp.
Accordingly they moved forward with great caution. The fires in the camp threw a glaring light toward the canopy of heaven and lit up the forest far and near. All was joy and gladness in the camp. The jovial song and merry laugh told the listening ears of the approaching Whigs that good cheer abounded among the friends of King George around the fires.
But hark! The sentinel hails and then fires and then a rush. Bang, bang, go the guns, and then such screams and yells throughout the woods. Mercy, mercy, cry the Tories, and away they go. The poor scattered Whigs come one after another among the fires and pass around, but not a Tory can be found. They hear a rushing, rumbling sound among the woods, but growing fainter and more faint at each successive moment.
They look cautiously around, see wagons standing hither and thither, horses hitched to them and at the surrounding trees, guns stacked, cooking utensils about the fires, clothing and hats and caps scattered in merry confusion, but not a man could they find.
They kept guard until the gray twilight streaked the eastern sky, momentarily expecting the returning party, but nobody came. The sun rises and mounts high above the hills and still no report from the fugitives. What is to be done with the beasts, arms, baggage and baggage wagons? They cut a road from the camp around the hill some distance to a secluded spot. Thither the wagons, &c. are transported and watched for several days. Finally the one on guard sees a party of fifteen horse men rapidly approaching. He notifies the others and they consult for a moment. Their conclusion is that it is the advance guard of an army coming to retake the spoils, but they are resolved to test the matter.