It was in September 1780 that the gathering of Overmountain Men took place at Sycamore Shoals, as the frontiersmen came together to march across the Blue Ridge and finally do battle with the Tory force led by Maj. Patrick Ferguson.
The date of the gathering was Sept. 25, 1780. For the past 45 years reenactors have crossed the Watauga River at the state park to commemorate the Virginia portion of the force that crossed the river to join the Overmountain Men’s muster at Sycamore Shoals.
The reenactment always attracts patriots, history buffs, and children to watch the reenactors as they wade across the waist deep cold water. The highlight is when the men form a line at midstream and fire a volley from their long rifles to salute the Overmountain Men already at Sycamore Shoals.
It is an iconic event not just for local reenactors and the state park, but also for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which runs through the park, and for the members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, and other reenactors who follow the trail from Abingdon, Virginia, to Kings Mountain, South Carolina.
In addition to the gathering of reenactors at Sycamore Shoals and the crossing of the Watauga, there are plenty of other activities taking place in Carter County and the surrounding area this month.
The first event is a Tennessee Sons of the American Revolution 1st District meeting and dinner Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Farmhouse Gallery, 121 Covered Bridge Lane in Unicoi. The cost is $20 and reservations are required. Rick Abbott, commander-in-chief of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge will be the featured speaker.
On Friday, Sept. 13, the Kings Mountain Chapter of the Tennessee Society of Sons of the American Revolution will host a five-patriot grave marking at New Bethel Presbyterian Church, 592 New Bethel Road in Piney Flats.
John Clines, Tennessee State color guard commander, will lead the color guard. The five patriots are: John Allison, David Hughes, John King Jr., Thomas King and John White.
The 1st District of the Sons of the American Revolution will also hold a dinner at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Depot Room at Food City, 920 N. State of Franklin Road in Johnson City. Guest speaker will be Richard White, curator of 18th and 19th century exhibits for the Tennessee State Museum. Reservations are required.
The Tennessee Society Sons of the American Revolution will hold its own gathering at Sycamore Shoals at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept 14. The story of the Gathering of the Overmountain Men will be told. A wreath laying, a color guard display of colors, special displays of life at Sycamore Shoals, and firing of volleys will be part of the events.
The big weekend for Sycamore Shoals will be the next weekend, Saturday, Sept 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration.
The annual crossing of the Watauga River will take place on Sept. 25. The event usually starts around 2 p.m., but the schedule depends on the arrival of the reenactors coming from Rocky Mount.
On Sept. 26, the reenactors will have a busy day honoring the grave of Mary Patton, the manufacturer of the gunpowder used in the battle, followed by a march down Gap Creek to Roan Mountain and Shelving Rock, where the citizens of Roan Mountain wait to provide them with their annual greeting.
The next day is the climb up to Yellow Mountain Gap and the entrance into North Carolina.