How The Hillbilly, Back Country Militia And Mountain Man Made It Possible For America To Exist, Today
Martin CJ Mongiello
When Rebels met British Patriots: How the Hillbilly, Back Country Militia
and Mountain Man made it possible for America to exist, today.
After four years of a stalemate in the North, the British decided to invade and crush all
opposition in the South, enlist those patriots still loyal to His Majesty, the King, and then invade
the North again. Drawing Mr. Washington out into North Carolina, or Virginia, for a final battle
- would end the war.
Where did the Hillbillies, Back Country Militia and Mountain Men come from, what did they eat
and how did they talk? Why are they credited with turning the tide of the entire war effort?
How can it be said they are the reason America exists today?
America’s mountain chain known as Appalachia contains the peaks and valleys of Ancient
America, the spinal cord of underground emergency cities and is the epi-center of some the most
prosperous states. There are 80,000 square miles of Appalachia as she stretches 1,000 miles
from Alabama to Canada and includes my home of North Carolina and my birth state of
Pennsylvania. Folks you would find in the hills live pretty much the same in Appalachia, no
matter which section they live in. They have a distinct flavor to their heritage, which comes
from living a desired, part-life of isolation.
During the years I lived in Europe, I came to know many of the similar mountain people who
desired a life of solitude and quiet, peace and being left alone, such as the Sami people, gnomes,
and Laplanders. Their trades are fur trapping, fishing, sheep herding and often, reindeer herding.
I was often amazed when I would find one and traveled to the snowy peaks of Norway and deep
into the Alps in Switzerland. The mountains are so high in Switzerland that there are cables that
run from the homes at the top of them, down all the way down to the main road where a basket is
sent down once per month (which takes about an hour). The monthly deliveryman will fill the
basket with specific items that were ordered, and the basket will make its journey back up the
mountain. My guide in Switzerland was amazed that I even noticed the cables coming down, off
the mountain, and was attached to a spike in the ground next to the road.
Things in America are not much different when it comes to the preferred desire to be left alone.
Such is often the case of America’s great friend, the hillbilly. He, and she, has responded
numerous times throughout history, when America called upon the proud legacy of mountain
folk. Uncle Sam called into hollers, called into the backwoods and called for battle against the
most powerful war machine on earth – backed by the richest war chest in history – the British.
Hillbilly is not a curse word - or a derogatory word. Hillbillies are war heroes, political leaders,
doctors, and college professors. They are legendary and have a distinct culture of pride and
forging our nation as mountain men. They have been celebrated by the likes of Charlton Heston
in Hollywood movies like Mountain Men, alongside Mel Gibson in The Patriot, as Daniel Day
Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans and a score of other famous movies, from where I live, by
King’s Mountain in South and North Carolina.
As the lowlands filled up in America, many immigrants and settlers moved into the mountains.
A large portion of the early backcountry immigrants were Germans and the Ulster Scots (Scotch-
This typical family is often depicted as a hunter with a coonskin cap on, but if the truth is known,
they mostly wore a slouch hat and typically fought with a Pennsylvania long rifle in the 1700’s.
Daniel Boone lived from 1734 to 1820, and is probably one of the most famous mountain men to
ever walk America’s high ridges, and wade its deep rivers. Boone, NC is not far from where my
family lives, along with the Daniel Boone National Forest.
In Charlotte, NC, there was a massive concentration of Scotch-Irish and German colonists who
had specifically migrated here and begun making the famed scrapple, livermush, and liver
pudding breakfast meat found in Lancaster County, PA. Since the English had invaded from
1400 to 1600, the lowlands of Southern Scotland, the Scots were sick of it. The lowlanders and
highlanders clans banded together, within constant violence and struggles. In 1610, King James
I of England gave them land for free in Ireland where he hoped they would fight with Britain’s
always festering Irish. Life was not any better for the newly known, Scotch-Irish immigrants.
From 1720 to 1775, they departed, after massive crop failures, and most of them arrived in
Philadelphia. It would be here that they met with the Quakers and Germans for the first time.
Some of the many highlanders came to America in chains to serve out sentences in the Kings
Travelling towards the backcountry, they came in contact with many Indian tribes and were
forced to fight for their land and lives. They learned to fight like the Indians and ultimately were
transformed into the Mountain Men of America. In 1772, they declared the first free society on
the American continent, called the Watauga Association, located in the northeast, on present day
Tennessee. Establishing their own, free rules and elected leaders, they became known as the
lighthouse for the rest of the colonies to follow. All of the colonial leaders, and first Presidents,
knew of what the Watauga Association had done, and were envious.
The Scotch-Irish and Germans again, banded together in Charlotte, NC, in 1775 to sign the
second Declaration of Independence, called the Meck-Dec, named after the Mecklenburg
Declaration. A tavern keeper and rider, Captain James Jack, rode the 600 miles to the Congress
in Philadelphia, to share the news, and this was celebrated with the same ride and acceptance of
news by Philadelphia Mayor, Frank Rizzo and Charlotte Mayor, John Belk in 1975. The 200-
year Bicentennial Ceremony in 1975 was held at Independence Hall, to the cheers of thousands,
as the rider came in at a full gallop.
In 1779, when the plans were laid for British troops to attack Charleston, SC and take Savannah,
GA – the reasons were for the four-year stalemate in the North. It was felt that many great
battles had been fought and won, the tide of the war ebbed back and forth – but no victor ever
emerged in finality. It was therefore decided, to crush and invade the South, while the hill folk
of Appalachia were not considered to be any form of threat. A grave mistake.
Charleston fell with 5,000 men captured and sent to die in prison. Savannah fell. The great fort
of 96 was established deep into South Carolina and Georgia was humbled. At the massive battle
of Camden, SC – the famed General Gates was disgraced and the last remnant of American
troops was wiped from the field in a killing spree. Now, Lord Charles Cornwallis was
emboldened to finally invade the North, through my hometown of Grover, NC. He took
Charlotte, NC and knew he would draw Washington into a final death duel, most likely to end
the war in North Carolina or Virginia. In the mean time, he had assembled thousands and
thousands of loyalist patriots to his side, patriots of the King, with his repeated victories, one
after the other.
Suddenly, thousands of mountain men, hillbillies, and backcountry militia assembled from
numerous states in October of 1780 and erased one third of Lord Cornwallis army, from the
earth. The great battle of King’s Mountain had occurred and no one had asked them to help, in
such a dire time for America. In our countries blackest days, when the world went dark and
every battle had ended in thousands of deaths – the hillbilly was there, the mountain man
wearing a deerskin appeared and the backcountry militia did, what no fancy army could.
They saved this country from extinction.
90 days later and not more than 20 miles away, in January of 1781, many of the same hillbillies,
mountain men and back country militia would appear again to destroy another third of Lord
Cornwallis army at the famed, Hannah’s Cowpens battle. These two combined, iron-fisted
maneuvers were skillfully developed and sprung with raw, manpower, sweated and unbridled,
hunter strength that even the most powerful and well-trained army known on earth – could stand
Here is the unequivocal proof of not one, but two battles that turned the tide of the entire war
effort. These very facts have been written about by three Presidents (Roosevelt, Jefferson and
Hoover) and heralded as the truth in a, “twice the contribution”, mannerism.
The long made fun of hillbilly, mountain man and backcountry folk no longer need to be talked
about in any other manner than of honor and thanks. Thanks for saving America. Thanks for
having our country here in 2010. And thanks for being a unique you – please don’t change.
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