Volunteers from all over the Appalachian region gathered at Sycamore Shoals on September 25, 1780 to join with Isaac Shelby and John Sevier in fighting the British and Loyalists during the American Revolution. The Tennessee State Guard, the state’s only authorized militia, recognizes that gathering of the Overmountain Men as the foundational event.
The State Guard will join with re-enactors to commemorate the 235th anniversary of that first muster as an essential element of the State Guard’s 3-day annual training event. Among the activities, State Guard members will cross the Watauga River, weather permitting, as their predecessors did to participate in the muster. They will gather in formation in the park’s amphitheater for the commemoration ceremonies led by members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, to swear in new members of the Tennessee State Guard, present awards and commendations, and conduct promotions of serving members. State Guard members who are direct descendants of original Overmountain Men will be presented with certificates recognizing the participation of their ancestors in this foundational event.
The original Overmountain Men gathered at the Sycamore Shoals site during the American Revolution in response to the threat from British Colonel Patrick Ferguson, an aide to General Cornwallis, to cease resistance or face dire consequences. Ferguson threatened to march his troops over the Appalachians and “hang your leaders, and lay waste the country with fire and sword.” Colonial Colonels John Sevier and Isaac Shelby sent out the call to the men of the region to gather at Fort Watauga near Sycamore Shoals to pursue Ferguson and his loyalist troops. The pursuit through North Carolina and Northern Georgia culminated in the Battle of Kings Mountain, a decisive Colonial victory during which Ferguson was killed by a militia marksman.
As part of the ceremonial events, Tennessee State Guard members will form an honor guard on Saturday, September 26th, through which members of the Overmountain Men Victory Trail Association will pass as they depart Fort Watauga on their traditional commemorative march to Kings Mountain. State Guard members will then turn to an extensive training exercise in command, control, and communications in the event of the predicted massive earthquake along the New Madrid Fault.
“This is a unique opportunity,” said Brigadier General Kenneth Takasaki, Commanding General of the Tennessee State Guard. “The State Guard will return to the site of our initial formation, celebrate our heritage, and exercise our response to a future event. We’ll be saluting our history and planning for the future. It will be an exceptional weekend.”