General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Adoniram Allen

Adoniram Allen was born in 1737 in New Hampshire. Sometime before 1775, his family moved to Wilmington NC. In 1776, Allen joined the NC militia. His first battle would be the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.
At the start of the Revolution, North Carolinians could be divided into 3 groups.  One group supported the British. They were called Tories or Loyalists. One group supported the patriots. They were called Whigs. The third and final group didn’t support either group and just wanted to be left alone.
On February 27, 1776, a group of Tories and Whigs clashed at Moore’s creek bridge on the Widow Moore’s farm located near Currie NC. The battle of Moore’s creek bridge is often called the Lexington and Concord of the South because it was the first Revolutionary war battle in the Southern colonies and in NC. In just 15 minutes the shortest battle of the Revolution, the Whigs defeated the Tories capturing 850 Tories and tons of ammunition.
 The Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge ended British hopes of easily quelling the rebellion in the Southern colonies. After the victory at Moore’s creek bridge, the North Carolina Provincial assembly approved the Halifax Resolve which instructed the Representatives of NC at the Continental Congress to vote for Independence from Britain.
 In 1780, Allen joined the NC militia under the command of Benjamin Cleveland. His next battle would be at Kings Mountain.
 The battle of Kings Mountain as fought on October 7, 1780. No other battle during the Revolution was ever fought in a more picturesque setting and at the same time witnessed more devastation than the battle of Kings Mountain. Soldiers after the battle reported that the very foundation of the mountain shook with thunder from all the gunfire of the over Mountain Men and Tories. It was also the first battle of the Revolutionary war that both sides would use rifles as the primary weapon. The British used the Ferguson Rifle, the first breech loading rifle ever created, while the Over mountain men used Kentucky rifles.
  At the end of the battle 225 loyalists were killed, 163 wounded and 716 taken prisoner. Major Patrick Ferguson, Commander of the loyalists at Kings Mountain was killed after being shot from his horse.  Over 50 patriots claim to have fired at Ferguson while he was being dragged on the ground through the woods by his horse although his jacket was shot to shreds; Ferguson only received 6-8 bullet wounds.
The battle of Kings Mountain would become the turning point of the war in the Southern Campaign for the patriot army. Within a year Cornwallis would surrender at Yorktown.
From October 8-26 1780 Allen would be in charge of transporting the prisoners captured at Kings Mountain to a prison in Bethabara NC. It is estimated that over 200 of the loyalist escaped along the way and went back to their homes in SC.
 In April 1781, Allen was with Benjamin Cleveland chasing Tories through the mountains around Watauga county NC. Cleveland was captured by the Tory leader, Captain William Riddle. Allen participated in the rescue and in May 1780 was at Wilkesboro to watch Riddle and two of his men hang for this act of treachery.
 From September through December 1781, Allen was with Cleveland along the Little Pee Dee River in SC chasing Tories. This would be Allen’s last military service.
 In 1782, Allen moved back to Wilkes county NC where he met Martha Riddle. They were son married, and had 7 children from this union. In 1795, Allen would travel through the Cumberland Gap and become the first pioneer family to move to Clay county KY. Allen would live there until he died in 1838 at the age of 101.
 On Dec 30, 1862, descendents from Allen who lived at New haven KY joined the Union army and attempted to keep John hunt Morgan from destroying a railroad bridge spanning the Rolling fork River. This was part of the famous Christmas raid that Morgan started on Dec 25, 1862  as part of a campaign to destroy the Union Supply line  to Southern KY via the L&N railroad. In Clay County, Allen descendents would destroy the Salt works to keep them from falling in Confederate hands.
 Today most of Allen descendents are scattered all over southeast KY.  


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