The first steps toward Kings Mountain were taken Tuesday, when reenactors portraying the Virginia fighters led by Col. William Campbell broke camp at the Muster Grounds in Abingdon, Virginia, and headed south, spending the night at Rocky Mount.
Wednesday is a big day in the annual commemoration and is designated on the official trail route as “The Gathering.” Many reenactors, history buffs and others will line the south bank of the Watauga River at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 2 p.m. to watch the annual crossing of the river by the reenactors of Colonel Campbell’s troops.
The highlight of the crossing takes place in the middle of the river when the riflemen form a firing line, raise the barrels of their long rifles and fire a volley to salute the Overmountain Men on the south shore and thunderously announce their arrival.
A public program at Sycamore Shoals will follow the crossing.
Sycamore Shoals will also be a classroom for the fourth-grade students of the Elizabethton City Schools on Wednesday and the fourth-graders from the Carter County schools on Thursday, as members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association will tell them about the significance of what happened.
The official itinerary says that on Thursday “The March Begins” and the entire day will be spent within Carter County, tracing some historic landmarks.
The day begins at 8 a.m. with a reenactment of one of the most famous sermons and prayers ever said in Upper East Tennessee, spoken by the Rev. Samuel Doak as the Overmountain Men prepared to depart.
"O, God of Battle, arise in Thy might. Avenge the slaughter of Thy people. Confound those who plot for our destruction. Crown this mighty effort with victory, and smite those who exalt themselves against liberty and justice and truth. … Help us as good soldiers to wield the sword of the Lord and Gideon. Amen”
The reenactors will leave Sycamore Shoals on Thursday and follow the original route up Gap Creek to Roan Mountain. The Overmountain Men will pass by Shelving Rock, where tradition states the gunpowder manufactured by Mary Patton was stored to keep it dry from a rain that turned to snow on top of the mountain.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, the reenactors will gather at the amphitheater of Roan Mountain State Park for a special presentation. The program is free.
On Friday, the National Historic Trail to Kings Mountain reaches its high point, literally. The reenactors will follow the Overmountain Men through the Roan Highlands and over Yellow Mountain Gap.
The climbers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Roan Mountain Community Park at the intersection of Tenn. Highway 143 and U.S. Highway 19E in the center of the village.
The group will carpool up to Hampton Creek State Natural Area. The route is a steep and mountainous trail that intersects with the Appalachian Trail at the top of the mountain. The trail is 5-miles long and gains 2,500 feet in elevation.
Bob Hardin, who was one of the builders of the current trail, will be the guide.
From Yellow Mountain Gap, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail leaves Carter County and heads into North Carolina on its way to its ultimate destination at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, on Oct. 7