The annual Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration will be held this weekend at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in anticipation of the river crossing Tuesday and the re-enactment of the march Wednesday morning.
Each year on Sept. 25, the Overmountain Men gather at Sycamore Shoals to begin the re-enactment of the March to King’s Mountain, S.C. Members of the OVT Association have re-created this historic journey since 1975, following the same route and timetable of the original marchers in 1780.
The marchers will cross the Watauga River at Sycamore Shoals as the frontiersmen did 232 years ago. The approximate time of crossing the river is 2 p.m. Tuesday. Prior to that, they will have stopped in Watauga for lunch after a night of encampment at Rocky Mount.
Early Wednesday morning, the marchers will break camp and begin their 15-day day trek to South Carolina. They will travel up Gap Creek, through Hampton and on to Roan Mountain State Park, where they will camp Wednesday night.
In celebration of the annual observance, the Washington County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia and the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area will sponsor a weekend of events Saturday and Sunday at the park.
The schedule of events for Saturday include militia inspection and raising the colors at 10 a.m., followed by an artillery demonstration at 11 a.m. by the Washington County Militia, which will feature the firing of an 18th century cannon.
At noon, Chad Bogart will do a guided walk along the park trail, recounting the story of the Overmountain Men and the historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals.
Life on the homefront will take a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier at 1 p.m., followed by an artillery demonstration at 2 p.m. and a militia drill at 3 p.m.
The camp will close to the public at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday events will begin at 10 a.m. with militia inspection and raising the colors. Other events will include a worship service at 11 a.m. at Fort Watauga and music by the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drum Corps at noon.
There will be an artillery demonstration at 1 p.m., followed by a ladies tea and Sunday social at 2 p.m.
The camp will close at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Ongoing activities for both days will include open hearth cooking, flintlock musket and rifle demonstrations, tavern life, militia drill, colonial music and 18th century camp life.
The weekend and the OVT Re-enactment celebrates the period when the tide of the American Revolution had turned against the colonists. The British, forced out of New England, had gained new allies in the divided south and won victory after victory. Charleston had fallen and home forces had crumbled at the Battle of Camden.
But then, the impossible occurred. The backwoods hunters, farmers and settlers of the western mountains answered the challenge of the British, and began a long march from the highlands of Virginia to the hills of South Carolina, gathering an army along the way. At a place called King’s Mountain they bested the British and opened the way for the final victory at Yorktown.
The route they took from Virginia to South Carolina is known as the Overmountain Victory Trail.