General Joseph Martin Chapter
Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap Patriot
Michael Massengill, One of the Overmountainmen Heroes from the Watauga region who fought at the battle of Musgrove Mill and Kings Mountain, was born on March 1, 1756 in North Hampton County NC to Henry Massengill, who was also a soldier in the Revolutionary war. By 1776, Massengill had moved to the Watauga region.
His first Indian battle was on July 20, 1776, when the Watauga settlement was attacked for the first time by Cherokee Indians under the command of Dragging Canoe. Massengill helped play a role in defeating the Cherokee Indians that fateful day in July. In 1779, Massengill would marry Dorcas Stone and would have 5 children from this union
In 1780, Massengill joined the Watauga Rifles under General Evan Shelby. Massengill was part of a 60 man expedition force from Watauga who participated in the battles of Cedar Springs SC, Thicketty Fort SC, and Wofford iron Works SC. On July 12, 1780, Massengill help defeat the British at Cedar springs On July 30, 1780 at the battle of Thicketty fort along with 600 patriot militia, Massengill helped capture the famous Tory leader Captain Patrick Moore along with 93 other Tories and 250 firearms. On August 8, 1780, Massengill helped defeat the British at Wofford Iron works.
On August 18, 1780, Massengill participated in the battle of Musgrove Mill. The American Revolution was also our nation’s first civil war between patriots and Tory Loyalists On August 17, 1780 while overlooking the area around the Musgrove Plantation, Shelby and Massengill saw over 600 loyalist troops encamped around the Musgrove Plantation house.
Retreat was not in the vocabulary of the patriot force and a frontal assault would be suicidal. The patriot force under the command of Isaac Shelby formed a horseshoe shaped line on a timbered ridge overlooking the plantation.
Captain Shadrach Inman and a few horsemen rode into the British encampment and lured them into an ambush along the patriot line. When the British loyalists reached the American line, Over 200 Patriot rifles opened fire stopping the British loyalists in their tracks. The opposing forces fired at each other for about 15 minutes. The British kept pushing forward until most of their officers fell during the battle. The Loyalist line soon fell into disarray due to the repeated Patriot firings.
The victory at Musgrove mill demonstrated to the patriot commanders that the defeat of British and Tory troops were possible. It also set the stage for the defeat of British Major Ferguson at the battle of Kings Mountain.
After the battle of Musgrove mill, Samuel Phillips, a cousin of Isaac Shelby, was captured by Patrick Ferguson. Ferguson told Samuel Phillips to deliver a message to the Wataugans. Ferguson told them to stay on their side of the mountain or he would torch their houses and crops, rape their women and would piss on their graves after he buried them. This message would infuriate the Wataugans to the point where they would chase Ferguson down and kill him at the Battle of Kings Mountain.
On October 7, 1780, Massengill would participate in the battle of Kings Mountain. Here the patriots would defeat and Kill Ferguson. Kings Mountain would become the first major Patriot victory in the Southern Campaign. This would be Massengill’s last battle
In 1783, Massengill moved to Jefferson County TN and had moved to Grainger County TN in the buffalo springs Community by 1796. In 1833, Massengill applied for a pension while living in Grainger County. In October 1834, Massengill died and was buried in the Massengill family cemetery.
During the Civil war, the grist mill located on the Massengill farm was used by the Union troops as the Union army headquarters during the battle of Bean Station on December 12, 1863.
Another interesting story that occurred during the Civil war in Johnson County near Bristol TN, A Fannie Massengill had her house almost destroyed by a Union Cannon barrage when she refused to date a Yankee captain.
In 1870 some Massengill descendents moved to Claiborne County. In 1874, a James Massengill married Martha Earls, and had 13 children. Today thousands of Massengill descendents live in Claiborne County.
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