The big turn – Alexander’s Ford

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reenactors fire guns off at the celebration of the opening of Alexander’s Ford in Polk County. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Reenactors fire guns off at the celebration of the opening of Alexander’s Ford in Polk County. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Overmountain Men marched through 233 years ago

In 2005 I learned for the first time about a significant historical event in Polk County that I never knew existed. It wasn’t written in any of my history books but discovered late in life that an important action in American history occurred in the county we now call Polk.

This Saturday, Oct. 5 marks the 233rd anniversary of this historical event. According to materials from the National Parks Service, some 1,400 men camped along the Green River at Alexander’s Ford. These men are known today as the Overmountain Men.

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While in camp a Colonel from the South Carolina militia named Edward Lacey intercepted the Overmountain Men and informed them that they were traveling in the wrong direction. Col. Lacey told them that the armed British sympathizers were traveling east.

The next morning 700 of the best-armed and best-mounted men broke camp at Alexander’s Ford. They followed a route similar to today’s Sandy Plains Road until they arrived at the intersection of NC Hwy. 9. At Hwy. 9 the Overmountain Men took a hard left turn and they marched eastward down NC Hwy. 9 until they reached today’s Chesnee Road where they turned and continued their travels until reaching Cowpens, S.C. At Cowpens the men rendezvous with the South Carolina militia. From Cowpens the combined forces marched to Kings Mountain, N.C. The Overmountain Men and the SC militia defeated the British Loyalists in the battle of Kings Mountain.

This change in direction may have altered the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson called the battle at Kings Mountain, “The turn of the tide to success.”

Polk County needs to erect a historical marker at the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and NC Hwy. 9 to acknowledge the directional change that occurred in 1780. Without this change, who knows how the battle for independence would have ended.

Note: In 1780 the area known as Alexander’s Ford would have been a part of Rutherford County since Polk County was not created until 1855.

– article submitted by John Vining