Written by Burt Green
William Tabor, 14, volunteered for duty in the South Carolina Patriot Army. He remained fighting in the war until peace was made in 1781. Eventually, he joined a light horse (cavalry) unit from North Carolina under the command of Capt. Alexander Irvine. He was enlisted in Col. Charles McDowell’s regiment. They were actively engaged in scouting details, looking for Brits and Tories (colonists who supported the Brits).
In one hand-to-hand confrontation with the Tories, Tabor was captured. The Tories surrounded him and were planning his execution. Trying to plan his escape, he leaned against the muzzle of a Tories’ rifle, pretending to be resting. Knowing he had to act quickly or die, he jerked the ramrod from the Tories’ gun and quickly leapt onto one of their nearby horses. He used the ramrod to quickly put the horse to top speed and escaped through a hail of gunfire.
On October 7, 1780, Tabor’s unit was positioned about nine miles south of present day Kings Mountain, North Carolina in what is now known as Cherokee County, South Carolina. Tabor’s unit converged with about 900 other Patriots, including Davy Crockett’s father, John, and surrounded the Loyalist forces. British Major Patrick Ferguson was commanding a group of 1,100 Carolina Loyalists and about 100 Loyalists from New York and was caught by complete surprise. The battle ensued and consisted of a mix of gunfire and bayonet use. The terrain was mountainous and rugged. The Patriots charged up the hill as the Loyalists charged down. The Patriot forces ran up the mountainside, made their shots, then retreated back down the mountain. They used the natural terrain for cover and concealment, providing a great challenge for the Loyalist forces.
Toward the end of the battle, Major Ferguson was parading back and forth across the top of the hill blowing his whistle. His men became surrounded by Patriots and began surrendering. Major Ferguson took out his sabre and began cutting down any white flags he observed. In an attempt to rally his men, he yelled “Hurrah, brave boys! The day is ours!” Trying to penetrate the Patriot line, he was met with a gunshot. His horse then dragged him behind the Patriot line. When the smoke cleared Major Ferguson was lifeless with seven bullet wounds about his person. The Patriots declared victory and began to take prisoners. Though it only lasted one hour and five minutes, The Battle of Kings Mountain proved to be a vitally pivotal victory for the Patriots. In total, 290 Loyalist were killed, 163 wounded, and 668 taken prisoner. The Patriots lost 29 soldiers and had 58 wounded.
Of those 58, one injured was William Tabor. Left for dead by his unit, he lay on the battlefield, injured, hurting, and unable to move. After the others had moved on from the area, a young lady named Susannah Tubb was walking through the field. Her father had been killed in the battle and she was going to collect the body for burial. She located her father and loaded him onto the back of her horse. On her way back, she passed Tabor and discovered he was alive. She then dismounted her father’s body and loaded Tabor onto the horse. She took him back to her home and treated his wounds. She nursed him back to good health and the two fell in love and eventually wed.
William Tabor suffered many injuries throughout the war. His head was once so severely cut with a sabre that part of his skull was lost and the beating pulse of his brain was visible. Because of his battle injuries he received a Lieutenant’s pension for life.
Since Tabor joined the Patriot forces at such as a young age, he never had the chance to complete his education. After the war was over, he decided to go to school. He arrived at his local schoolhouse and found the teacher to be a former Tory. Tabor had worn his military hat but upon taking his seat forgot to remove it from his head. The teacher immediately took offense and walked over and used his fist to swiftly remove the hat from Tabor’s head. Tabor still had deep sabre wounds on his head that were not fully healed and having his hat knocked off by a Tory deeply upset him. Exasperated, Tabor rose from his seat and swiftly punched the teacher, knocking him to the floor. He then picked up his hat and left for home. Upon arriving home, he held up his hat and announced to his family “I have been to school and have graduated in one day and this is my diploma!”
This marriage with Susannah produced Elijah Tabor, father of George Tabor, father of John Burl Tabor. I think you can figure out the rest from there!