Revolution in Western North Carolina is focus of "A Passel of Hate"
A civil war raged through the western Carolinas 231 years ago when brother fought brother and neighbor fought neighbor in a struggle for national independence. In a newly published historical novel of the 1780 Kings Mountain campaign, Polk County resident Joe Epley brings that era to life.
Much of the book’s action takes place locally and details events such as the battle at Earle’s Ford, ambush at Cane Creek, the overmountain trek, the critical decisions at Alexander’s Ford on Green River, and the hangings of Tory leaders at Biggerstaff’s plantation. It provides insights into the lives of Tory commander Colonel Ambrose Mills and Whig militia commander Andrew Hampton.
A Special Forces veteran, Epley meticulously researched this work of fact-based historical fiction that offers a gripping account of how, in the frontier Carolinas, the American Revolution tore families and communities apart as allegiances were split between loyalists and revolutionaries. Mixing actual and fictional characters, “A Passel of Hate” (ISBN 1461075939) also details the unconventional warfare strategies and tactics used in the Battle of Kings Mountain, the largest American versus American battle in the war.
The book opens as Michael Pearson and his son, Patrick, are taking care of the family farm when they are approached by a group of pro-British raiders led by Rance Miller. When Patrick refuses to fight for England, the Tories brutally murder the Pearson men and leave the mother beaten nearly to death. After Jacob Godley stumbles upon the horrific scene, he decides to join the Liberty Men militia under Colonel Hampton, not so much for the noble cause of independence, but more for being personally offended by the British allies’ brutality.
Jacob’s beliefs are at odds with three of his brothers and many of his neighbors who are pledged to defend British rule. Despite their love for one another, the brothers are forced into a deadly confrontation during a campaign that ended on a Kings Mountain ridge top. The battle was a decisive victory by the patriot Liberty Men over American Loyalists, led by the British Army’s Patrick Ferguson who had a mission of winning hearts and minds as he quelled rebellion.
The fictional story of Jacob is intricately woven with the historical story of the campaign and the invasion by the Ferguson into Western North Carolina. Jacob’s personal account of the conflict vividly makes real for readers the hardships that hardy frontiersmen faced as they prepared to fight each other. “A Passel of Hate” also compassionately illustrates families coping with the invasion as farms are plundered and homes burned by partisan warriors, most of whom wore no uniforms.
“It is the best story about Kings Mountain that I have read,” said George Baxley, publisher of Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Robin Lattimore of Rutherfordton, the 2009-2010 North Carolina Historian of the Year, described the book as “Engaging and exciting - Epley’s words bring life to an incredible chapter in American history."
Thomas Jefferson called the victory at Kings Mountain “the turn in the tide of success” in the nation's struggle for independence. Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in the Colonies, described the battle as “the first link in a chain of evils, the loss of America.”