“My brave fellows! We have beat the Tories and we can beat them again. They are all cowardly. If they had the spirit of men, they would join with their fellow citizens in supporting the independence of their country.”
Perhaps more words, from the same era and credited to the same leader in a time of great fight, might serve as a further clue:
“When engaged you are not to wait for the word of command from me. I will show you by my example how to fight. I can undertake no more. Every man must consider himself an officer and act from his own judgment.”
For those with the answer on the tip of their tongues, yet just shy of a commitment, here’s more fodder for one’s thought:
“Fire as quick as you can and stand as long as you can. When you can do no better, get behind trees, or retreat; but I beg of you not to run quite off. If we be repulsed, let us make a point to return and renew the fight.”
Still not quite there? Then allow us this final teaser:
“Perhaps we may have better luck in the second attempt than in the first. If any of you be scared, such have leave to retire; and they are requested immediately to take themselves off.”
In more modern times, the above words of encouragement might suggest, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
For any who could not identify the above narrative, and we’re sure there were many, it all the more states the purpose of what’s happening Friday in downtown Cleveland. We speak of the unveiling of a tribute to history in the popular First Street Square Park at 10 a.m.
The comments above came 233 years ago, and are credited to Col. Benjamin Cleveland, the legendary namesake of our hometown and of the like-named local Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. SAR is the organization whose partnership with many in our city and Bradley County community is responsible for the Col. Benjamin Cleveland statue that will be dedicated.
According to historians, including our own Bill George, Colonel Cleveland is said to have delivered the above stirring charge to soldiers of the Patriot militia prior to the start of the Battle of Kings Mountain which was fought Oct. 7, 1780.
The Patriot militia was integral in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The historic battle took place about nine miles south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, N.C. There, the Patriots defeated the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson whose soldiers, until then, had been overwhelming Patriot fighters in prior fighting.
But this time, the tide of war rolled in favor of the American colonists who believed in their cause of freedom, and who overcame tremendous odds to eventually claim their independence from Britain.
Too often a community’s townspeople, especially its youngest members, never truly understand the history of their hometown’s identity. Thanks to members of the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, such an information gap in our lineage will be bridged.
We urge area residents to attend Friday’s downtown ceremony.
This brief observance will be history in the making and knowledge in the unveiling.
Most already know today’s story behind “The City With Spirit.” Now let us pay homage to a man who launched its legacy.