Robert Sevier (1747 - 1780) MP

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Nicknames: "Bob"
Birthplace: Rockingham, Rockingham, Virginia, USA
Death: Died in Kings Mountain, NC, USA
Cause of death: battle of Kings Mountain
Occupation: Military, died of wounds recieved ab Battle of Kings Mountain
Managed by: Susanna Barnevik
Last Updated:

About Robert Sevier

Captain in U.S. Army, killed in Battle of Kings Mountain, October 3rd, 1780. DAR Ancestor #: A102094

Robert was the son of the immigrant from England, grandson of immigrant from France, and the brother of John Sevier, first Governor of Tennessee. He died fighting in the American Revolution.

ROBERT SEVIER - AMERICAN PATRIOT

by John Sevier Gibson, Smyrna, Georgia. Email: w4svh@arrl.net

http://www.johnsevier.com/bio_robertsevier.html

Based on a presentation first given at the Sevier Family Reunion, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, June 25, 1971.

Early Years, Exploits, and Family Life

Robert Sevier was the son of Valentine and Joanna Goad Sevier. Valentine had come to this country from London, England in about 1740, and married Joanna sometime later. Robert was probably born in the Sevier Home near New Market, Virginia, on what is now known as the Toll House Farm. He was born in the year 1749, one of six children.

Robert is not as well known as some of the others of his generation. His brother John, who was four years older, is the most widely known Sevier. However, in this discussion we want to primarily consider Robert, who was an outstanding man in his own right.

Unfortunately, little is known about Robert's early manhood. He evidently moved from his Virginia home to the Holston River Settlement, in what is now East Tennessee, sometime before 1773. Later he apparently moved to the nearby Watauga River area.

In 1776, he was one of the signers of the petition seeking to have the River Settlement Area, then called the Washington District, annexed to North Carolina. Robert had several land dealings in the late 1770's and in 1779 obtained a license to operate an inn at Jonesboro, Capital of the Washington District. In 1780 he was known to have moved to the Nolichucky River area.

Soon after moving to the River Settlement area, Robert married Kesiah Robertson who lived near Jonesboro. They had two children, Charles Robertson Sevier born in 1778, and Valentine Sevier, born in July 1780.

As early as 1773 Robert was a member of a company of militia in the Holston area. In 1778 he was a captain of a militia company who were organized to protect the frontier from attacks of the Indians and British sympathizers, or Tories. Several accounts say Robert was a man of superior intellect and prominent in the governing councils and military actions in the River Settlement Area. Tradition says that Robert was one of the chief planners of many of the actions against the Indians and Tories.

As a militia captain, he was in command of a large area and became a terror to the Tories and Indians alike. His company tarred and feathered several Tories in an effort to put down pro-British activities. This almost backfired though, when one of the unfortunate Tories went to the British and offered to lead them over the mountains in an attack on the settlements. However, the British did not then use the services of the Tory, which was a good thing for the over-mountain people.

In the spring of 1780, the leaders of the Washington District were asked to send support to help in the fight against the British who were now moving more into the Western North Carolina and South Carolina areas. Robert Sevier was among those who volunteered to go. Several engagements were fought, notably at Thickety Fort, Cedar Creek, and Musgroves Mill. This expedition lasted until August 1780, after which they returned over the higher mountain ranges to their homes.

Then, in only a month, trouble was brewing again. Until now the mountain people were not directly affected by any large-scale British advance. But in September 1780, the British pushed deeper into the Western North Carolina foothill region and set up a headquarters in Gilbertown, near the present day Rutherfordton. Here the now famous threat was issued to the mountain people. This threat was made by Major Patrick Ferguson who sent word to the leaders of the mountain people "That if they did not desist from their opposition to the British arms, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword." In the Washington District Settlements, the British actions and threats were received with growing alarm. Several of the mountain leaders got together for a meeting at Jonesboro to decide what action to take. The result was to call for volunteers to assemble and become an army to attack Ferguson forces as soon as possible.

Battle of King's Mountain

On the twenty-fifth of September, 1780, at Sycamore Shoals (Near present day Elizabethton, Tennessee) on the bank of the Watauga River, over 1000 men assembled, including Robert and six other Seviers. They were literally rough and ready. Each man had only the essentials, a blanket, cup, food provisions, and of course his rifle and ammunition. Robert was a captain in charge of a company in his brother John's regiment. John's son, James, was a member of Robert's company.

Early on the morning of September 26th Reverend Samuel Doak gave a departure speech and prayer. Rev. Doak, who was a pioneer clergyman of the Washington District, called for divine protection and guidance accompanied by some stirring Biblical and patriotic remarks. Then the Mountain Army started off, some on foot, most on horses.

They passed through the difficult mountainous sections on the 27th and 28th, and started up a pass between Roan and Yellow Mountain. The top and sides of the Pass were covered with snow. They went on by Bright's Place, about which we will hear more later, and camped near present day Spruce Pine, NC The weather now turned warm and sunny and they passed through some of the most beautiful scenery in this part of the country. On the 29th they crossed over the last mountain ridge at Gillispie's and McKinney's Gaps. They had previously split into two groups. On through the gaps they came, down into the valleys below, and on the 30th, reached Quaker Meadows near present day Morganton, NC. Here they rested and were reinforced by additional men, anxious to pursue the British.

On October 1, they started out again, renewed in spirit and body. They hoped they were going to find the British, but in the afternoon they ran into a hard rain instead. They camped that night and stayed the next day because of the rain. A meeting was held near Morgantown, under a tree which was later known as Council Oak. The result of the meeting was to press on and try to catch Ferguson and his men at Gilbertown. When they reached Gilbertown, however, the British were already gone. After a pep talk by some of the leaders, the discouraged patriot army proceeded on south on the 4th and they camped for the night somewhere near Gilbertown. On the 5th they proceeded on across the Broad River and to the Green River.

The night of the 5th was the last sleep before the battle. On to Cowpens, SC by the night of the 6th. More men arrived from South Carolina and Georgia and a conference was held to decide the final plan of action. They now had a report that the British forces were camped at King's Mountain (in South Carolina, near the North Carolina border). As a result, afraid that the British might make it back to safer territory, they decided to send an advance party ahead during the night of the 6th. Some accounts say that Robert Sevier was the leader of this advance party. As they went on, some were separated and lost for a time, as it began to rain again. But by early the next morning all were together again and on their way eastward. Before noon the tired men reached another part of the Broad River. Robert then came across a woman who was disguised as a chicken seller, but was really a Patriot spy who had just come from the British camp. She told all she had seen about the British positions and the details of the landscape at Kings Mountain. This information greatly helped in the final planning of the attack.

Now a few words about the layout of King's Mountain, and the British and the American positions. The term mountain is somewhat of a misnomer because hill or ridge is a better description. This ridge is situated in a SW to NE location. British positions and picket lines were originally spread all over the ridge, with the main camp and headquarters at the higher NE end. When the Americans were about a mile away, they split into two columns so they could encircle the whole ridge. The ridge was covered by woods on all sides, but was bare on the top. It is still bare on the top today and a large monument is on the NE end near the British Camp area. The woods are now also much like they were nearly 200 years ago when the battle was fought.

At about 3pm on the 7th of October, the American Mountain Men began the attack. The alarm was sounded in the British camp and the battle was underway. The Mountain Men advanced up the slopes in Indian fashion and gave Indian style war whoops as they went along. The battle was fierce and it is said that the whole ridge took on a volcanic look as the heavy sulphuric smoke began to rise from guns being fired all over the ridge. Within an hour the ridge was in control of the Mountain Men except for a small area around the British camp at the NE end. Major Ferguson tried to escape but was cut down by many American bullets as he tried to break out of the American lines. Then it was all over, only an hour after it started. The Mountain Men who had not eaten for eighteen hours, and had not slept for 40 hours had won.

But what of Robert Sevier? Near the end of the battle, as the Sevier regiment made its final charge, Robert apparently dropped his ramrod. He stooped to pick it up and at that moment was shot in the side, with the bullet lodging in his kidney. His brother Joseph assisted him to a spring at the foot of the hill. After the battle was over, the only doctor in the area, the British Army surgeon, attempted to extract the bullet, but could not. He dressed the wound and advised Robert not to move until better medical facilities could be obtained. He told Robert he would probably die if he attempted to return home without proper medical attention. But Robert felt he might die a worse death if he stayed around the area and fell into the hands of the Tories. So Robert decided to take a chance and go back to his mountain home. In the company of his nephew, James Sevier, and two others, he spent the night in the home of a patriot who lived nearby. The next morning they started out for home.

They went on back through Gilbertown and Quaker Meadows by about the same trails they came over. Robert was racing against time to get home and get medical treatment. On October 16th he reached Bright's Place on the Toe River near Yellow Mountain. The Toe River continues on through the mountains and empties into the Nolichucky River where Robert's home was located. While they camped along the river, nine days after he had been shot, Robert suddenly became gravely ill from the effects of his bullet wound. Within an hour he died, after coming so close to making it to his home. His body was wrapped in a blanket and buried beneath a lofty oak tree.

Grave Location

The grave is located a few miles from Spruce Pine, NC, which is about 50 miles NE of Asheville. The general location is not marked at all and you must go about a mile on foot. It is also very overgrown, and in 1967 when we visited the area, it was so bad that it took us two days to find the grave. We had passed within 50 feet several times and had not known it. The map showing the location of the grave was drawn as a result of our difficulties (Map at left, click on map to view full size).

One of the local people told us an interesting story about how some of the old-timers had tried to locate the grave. This was many years before the D. A. R. had located the grave and put up an engraved stone. Local tradition said Robert had been shot with a silver bullet, so some of the old-timers began digging around trying to find it. No one ever found it and they probably never will, because I think somehow the Robert Sevier story and the Lone Ranger story get mixed up when it comes to silver bullets!

Robert Sevier's Contributions

Now that we have discussed Robert Sevier's life and death, let's reflect on the significance of his valiant sacrifice at King's Mountain. It can be said that he was a part of the action that was the turning point of the struggle for American independence. The victory at King's Mountain was not only a great military victory, but it also greatly strengthened the morale and will power of the entire American loyalist cause.

Let's also look at Robert Sevier, the individual. He was a pioneer of the American westward movement. He was a family man, a landowner, a responsible citizen, who was as concerned for his neighbor as well as his own. He was active in government, military and civic affairs. He was 31 years old and was just budding into the prime of his life. With such potential for an active and productive life, he once again volunteered for a dangerous mission. Why? His nephew, James Sevier, characterized him as a prudent man, a stranger to fear, zealous in his country's cause and service. But perhaps the philosophy of Robert Sevier can best be expressed in the words of another great American, Patrick Henry, who said:

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

ODE TO ROBERT SEVIER

Robert Sevier, Robert Sevier --

A Patriot, a pioneer,

He wanted freedom from British hands,

He wanted to explore more western lands.

A sturdy young fellow, full of bite,

Captain of a company, ready to fight,

His country always willing to protect,

Liberty for all, his lasting object.

To the British he would not yield

And he could often be seen on the battlefield.

A great hero, there is no doubt!

A lover of freedom, he sure shooed them British out!

Beth Gibson*

June 1971

  • Daughter of J. S. G.

Age 11

REFERENCES

John Haywood, The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee, originally published in 1823, reprinted by the Tenase Company, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1969.

J. G. M. Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee, originally printed in 1853, reprinted by the East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1967.

Lyman C. Draper, King's Mountain and It's Heroes, originally published in 1881, reprinted by Continental Book Company, Marietta, Georgia 1954.

Anon., Article from a Knoxville, Tennessee Newspaper on Valentine Sevier, Sr., John Sevier and Robert Sevier, dated February 1, 1908 (Copy given, to J. S. G. by Margaret P. Crosby).

Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families, Volume I, The Lookout Publishing Company, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1918.

Mary Hardin McCown, Captain Robert Sevier, D. A. R. Magazine, p. 141, 142 and 161, February, 1952.

Cora Bales Sevier and Nancy S. Madden, Sevier Family History, privately printed in Washington, D.C., 1961.

George C. Mackenzie, King's Mountain, National Park Service Historical Handbook No. 22, Washington, DC, 1955, Reprinted 1961.

Robert Sevier

Birth Date: 1750

Birthplace: North Carolina

Volume: 156

Page Number: 228

Reference: Roster of soldiers from N.C. in the Amer. Rev. Comp. By D.A.R. of NC. Durham, NC. 1932. (12,709p.):46, 484

AGBI for Robert Sevier -------------------- 3.  CAPTAIN ROBERT SEVIER, b. 1749; married Kesiah/Keziah Robertson; died of mortal wounds received at the Battle of King's Mountain, October 16, 1780.

Parents

  • Valentine Sevier "The Immigrant" born in London, England approximately 1702 & Joanna Goad

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Capt. Robert Sevier's Timeline

1747
1747
Rockingham, Rockingham, Virginia, USA
1774
1774
Age 27
1777
1777
Age 30
Wattauga Settlement
1780
July 8, 1780
Age 33
Greene, TN, USA
October 16, 1780
Age 33
Kings Mountain, NC, USA
October 25, 1780
Age 33
Tennessee, USA