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Friday, June 25, 2010

Patrick Ferguson

In what some call "the first civil war", there was only one Englishman on the battle field of King's Mountain, Major Patrick Ferguson.
He was a man of honor, someone to look up to, even though he fought for the king during the Revolutionary war, you wish for men like him on your side.
A brilliant strategist, he started his military career at the age of 15. At 17, he became ill and his leg was crippled. This setback didn't keep him from rising in the ranks or creating the Ferguson rifle. A gun easily loaded without a ramrod.

In 1777, Ferguson had an American general in his sights, the sharp shooter could have easily take down this target, but Ferguson did not fire. The man had a noble bearing, and the idea of shooting such a man in the back disgusted Ferguson.
The man was George Washington.

Later Ferguson was shot just above the right elbow, after eight surgeries, he recovered though his arm would never be healed. He learend to use a sword with his left hand.
His never say die attitude earned him a commission with Cornwallis. The southern colonies were England's last chance to break the stalemate against the rebels. Certain his troops' superior training would triumph over peasants and farmers, Ferguson didn't bother to put up additional protection around his camp on King's Pinnacle.

He was surrounded on all sides. The battle lasted one hour, it was here he fell.
Known as a gentleman, Ferguson was well liked by those who knew him.

In the camp were two ladies Virginia Sal and Virginia Paul, sharing his tent. Some say they were government employees hired to launder his clothes and cook. Others say they sought protection from the Major and shared his lodgings in order to be safe.
His men joked about it mattering not who's ear he whispered sweet nothings, he would never use the wrong name.

Virginia Sal was a red head like Ferguson, she died on King's Mountain and is buried with the Major. Some believe she was shot in a case of mistaken identity, from a distance, fighters mistook her for Ferguson. Others maintain, upon being surrounded, Virginia took up arms in a desperate act of self defense.

Virginia Paul rode off the battle field and escaped. Some say she was stopped by a rebel and told him who Ferguson was. He wore a checkered shirt, had an arm in a sling, and blew a silver whistle. Others say she didn't need to tell, most knew who the man on the white horse was.
It is rumored she went back to England.

The fun of writing history is playing detective. Facts and psychology combine to give characters life. When there is little written about a figure, supposition is half the fun.
Did these ladies love Ferguson?
Was Ferguson really charming enough to have two lovers...
Is any man that charming?
Would Virginia, after escaping, go to England or would she stay in America?


catslady said...

Oh how I wished our extremely dry history books used some of this research. A little bit of humanity would make more of a lasting impression. I love historicals for all the wonderful research authors put into their work.

Jenny Q said...

Never knew about Ferguson's Virginias! Thanks for sharing this tidbit.

Jen Childers said...

You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
It's so fun to learn the extras. History should be the most fun class a student has, but it isn't.
Wait until you get the dirt on Ben Franklin!

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

I didn't see how else to contact you guys. I have an award for you here.

Jen Childers said...

I wrote a comment on Alm's page.
I find the heat is making me zone out a bit.
I hope everyone is doing great and keep the comments coming. We love warm fuzzies.

ADB said...

First things first: Patrick Ferguson was Scottish. He served as an Officer in the British (English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish) Army. He born in Edinburgh to a well connected family at the center of the Scottish Enlightenment.
He was something of a renaissance man - writing poetry and satires, playing the fiddle, was an expert on military fortifactions and designed his own breech loading rifle as well as an artillery piece. A very accomplished young man to say the least.
It was common place for Officers of that age to have "Doxies" or female companions who accompanied them despite our prudish images of the Georgian era.

Jen Childers said...

We have the Kings Mountain battlefield museum here. Though the do tell Ferguson is Scottish, fighting for the British made him British in the eyes of those who killed him.
The Goforth brothers were on opposite sides of the conflict. the one brother left the other to die telling him he could rely on his British friends to help him.
Re-enactors I talked to insisted the Virgina's were governemnt employees, while others said they were camp followers who wanted protection. Unless you have a first person account, its all supposition.
I will remember to credit Ferguson as being a Scot though.
Thanks for commenting.

Danny Bernstein said...

Great post than humanizes Major Ferguson. I'm working on a book on the Southeastern National Park units. Every national park has a human story as well as great scenery. I'm visiting all the SE parks and writing about the historical characters, rangers, volunteers, park partners and visitors.
Lots of history in the Southeast

Anonymous said...

wow thats really intresting

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Unknown said...

Does anyone know if Patrick Ferguson had any children? He is listed as a DNA ancestor of my family. It is very confusing.