Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Isaac Shelby, re: Charles McDowell, per Draper

From King's Mountain and Its Heroes: History of the Battle of King's Mountain, by Lyman Copeland Draper, pub. 1881, P.G. Thomson, pp. 188-190:

    [Isaac] Shelby's object in suggesting Colonel [William] Campbell's appointment [to command at Kings Mountain], is best explained by himself. "I made the proposition," says Shelby in his pamphlet, in 1823, "to silence the expectations of Colonel [Charles] McDowell to command us—he being the commanding officer of the district we were then in, and had commanded the armies of militia assembled in that quarter all the summer before against the same enemy. He was a brave and patriotic man, but we considered him too far advanced in life, and too inactive for the command of such an enterprise as we were engaged in. I was sure he would not serve under a younger officer from his own State, and hoped that his feelings would, in some degree, be saved by the appointment of Colonel Campbell." In his narrative, in the American Review, December, 1848, Governor Shelby makes no reference to McDowell's age, but simply states, that he "was too slow an officer" for the enterprise. 
Though Colonel Shelby speaks of McDowell's age as objectionable for such a service, it really deserved little, if any, consideration. He was then only some thirty-seven years of age—Colonel Cleveland was some years older, and Shelby himself, the youngest of the Colonels, was only seven years his junior. It may be curious to note, that "Old Put," then in active service, was twenty-five years older than McDowell, General Evan Shelby, the Colonel's father, who, the year before, commanded an important expedition against the Chicamauga Indian towns, was twenty-three years older, General Stark fifteen, Washington eleven, Marion ten, Sumter at least four, and General Greene one. The real objection to Colonel McDowell was not so much his age, as his lack of tact and efficiency for such a command; and, it has been hinted, moreover, that his conduct at the Cane creek affair was not without its influence in producing the general distrust entertained of his fitness to lead the mountain men on this important service. The expression was quite general, that General Morgan or General Davidson should be sent to take the command; the former, especially, who had gained such renown at Saratoga, and had recently joined General Gates, was highly esteemed by the mountaineers.

    Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country at heart more than any title to command, submitted gracefully to what was done; but observed, that as he could not be permitted to command, he would, if agreeable, convey to head-quarters the request for a general officer. This was warmly approved, as it was justly declared that he was well acquainted with the situation of the country, and could, better than any other, concert with General Gates a plan of future operations, and they would await his return. The manner in which this was presented gratified McDowell, who at once set off on his mission, leaving his men under the command of his brother, Major Joseph McDowell. Passing through Burke county, McDowell's command, particularly, was considerably increased by relatives, friends and neighbors; and there John Spelts, or Continental Jack, as he was familiarly called by his associates, first joined Shelby's regiment, but fought under McDowell. Colonel Campbell now assumed the chief command; in which, however, he was to be directed and regulated by the determination of the Colonels, who were to meet every day for consultation.
    Everything was now arranged quite satisfactorily to the Whig chiefs; and their men were full of martial ardor, anxious to meet the foe, confident of their ability, with their unerring rifles, to overthrow Ferguson and his Loyalist followers, even were their numbers far greater than they 
were represented.