For many in our audiences at “Liberty Mountain,” the Revolutionary War drama now in performance at King’s Mountain’s Joy Performance Center, it’s a very personal experience. Many tell me that they are descended from the families who settled the Carolinas in the 1700’s, and some from men who fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain in October, 1780.
Among them are the members of the Patrick Family, descended from one of the heroes of the battle. Their ancestor, Lt. Col. Frederick Hambright, led a contingent of Patriots known as the “South Fork Boys” who came from what is now Cleveland, Lincoln, and Gaston counties. At the beginning of the fight Hambright’s force was positioned along the northeast corner of the mountain, astride the only possible escape route for the Loyalist defenders. As the battle commenced, the South Fork Boys came under intense fire. One of their leaders, Major Chronicle, was killed almost instantly. Hambright rallied the troops and attacked up the hill. He was shot and seriously wounded, but kept leading his troops until the victory was won.
The battle and Hambright’s valor are part of the family legacy, and that is part of the reason brothers Larry and Gilbert Patrick and Gilbert’s wife Jancy are intimately involved in the production of “Liberty Mountain.” Their family business, Patrick Yarn Mills, is the lead sponsor of the play, providing essential financial support.
The Patricks’ mother, a direct descendant of Frederick Hambright, passed along stories of her ancestor’s bravery and the importance of the battle to the winning of the Revolutionary War. “She even had a relic from the battle,” Larry Patrick says,, “a string of beads worn by a woman named Virginia Sal, who was believed to be British Major Ferguson’s mistress.” Virginia Sal, along with Ferguson, was killed in the battle.
There’s another family link, related by Gilbert Patrick: “We are also related to Arthur Patterson who, at the age of 70, joined Hambright’s regiment as his two sons were tied to trees within the Loyalists encampment at the beginning of the skirmish. He is actually listed on the monument in the park as killed during the battle, but lived for many years to follow.”
Both brothers are passionate about preserving the legacy of the battle. “When I went to college,” Larry says, “I was surprised to find that no one had heard of the Battle of Kings Mountain. I couldn’t understand why there was not more interest, because that battle really did turn the tide of the Revolution.” So when Larry returned to Kings Mountain from several years in Georgia, he took an interest in reviving the story and at the same time doing something to promote the town of Kings Mountain. “This battle was the moment that defined our nation,” he says. “These men were acting for their own destiny, to carve out America’s place in the world. They put it all on the line.”
Of the family’s major sponsorship of “Liberty Mountain,” Gilbert says, “We try to be a good civic partner in the community. If successful, ‘Liberty Mountain’ should increase tourism, help educate the public of the significance of this battle, and promote economic growth within our community. All positive factors that we are proud to be part of.”
“Liberty Mountain” runs through mid-July with Friday evening, Saturday matinee, Saturday evening, and Sunday matinee performances.
For more information and online ticket ordering, visit the “Liberty Mountain” website: www.kmlibertymountain.com.