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who enlisted the troops, organized them, marched them to the battlefield and with them won the victory.
Isaac Shelby, the first and the sixth governor of Kentucky, one of the most remarkable men the State ever had as a citizen, was on the day of the battle of the Thames in his sixty-third year, having been born December nth, 1750, near Hagerstown, Maryland. He died at his home, "Traveler's Rest," in Lincoln County, Kentucky, July 18th, 1826.
He early went to West Virginia as a land surveyor, and was a lieutenant in the company of his father, General Evan Shelby, and fought in the great battle of Point Pleasant on the 10th of October, 1774. This great battle, lasting from sunrise to sunset, was fought at the juncture of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, and the Indians, under Cornstalk, abandoned the ground under cover of night. Here Isaac Shelby received his first experience and taste of war.
He came to Kentucky in 1775, and remained in the wilderness without bread or salt for twelve months. In his absence in Kentucky he had been appointed captain of a company of militia by a Committee of Safety, in Virginia, and from 1777 to 1778 he was engaged in the commissary department of the army.
In 1779 he was elected a member of the Virginia Legislature and commissioned a major by Thomas Jefferson. He had command of the guards sent by the State to protect the commissioners who were running the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. By the extension of that line Shelby's residence fell within the limits of North Carolina, and a new county, Sullivan, having been established, Major Shelby was appointed colonel for that county. In 1780 he returned to Kentucky, located and secured land which he had previously marked in 1775.
Intelligence of the surrender of Charleston having reached him, he left Kentucky and returned to North Carolina, where he immediately organized a battalion of militia, and with Colonels Sevier and Clarke captured a fort in the Cherokee territory commanded by Captain Pat Moore.
Shelby's successful aggressions on British posts caused Ferguson, of the British army, to make many efforts to surprise and capture him. He later, on the 19th of August, 1780, was engaged in the battle of Musgrove's Mill in South Carolina, where he inflicted a loss upon the British of sixty-three killed and one hundred and sixty-three wounded and captured, while the American loss was only four killed and nine wounded. He escaped by a most extraordinarily perilous march, distributing the footmen among the horsemen, who each took a footman behind him in order to hasten their journey. They marched thirty-six hours without stopping to take refreshment.
In September, 1780, Shelby proposed to Sevier and Campbell to march across the mountains into North Carolina and attempt the capture of General Ferguson by surprise in the night. While the command was given to Colonel Campbell, the credit of the enterprise really belonged to Shelby.
The battle of King's Mountain, October 7th, 1780, was one of the turning points of the Revolutionary War. The militia with their rifles attacked Ferguson with his British soldiers on the top of King's Mountain. They killed Ferguson and three hundred and seventy-five of his men, and captured seven hundred and thirty. This extraordinary venture was made by riflemen untrained in military tactics, who had nothing to guide them but brave hearts, steady nerves, and trusty rifles. It saved the cause of the Revolution in North Carolina.
The legislature of North Carolina presented Shelby with an elegant sword, which, however, was not carried into conflict until the time when Shelby was about to lead the troops in the battle of the Thames. It was presented to him shortly before his departure on that expedition. He served with Marion and with General Green in South Carolina and North Carolina with most distinguished success.
In 1782 he was elected by the North Carolina Legislature as one of the commissioners to settle the preemption claims along the Cumberland River and lay off lands allotted to the officers and soldiers of the North Carolina line, south of where the city of Nashville now stands. After performing this service in the winter of 1782-3, he returned to Kentucky in the following April, and remained until the end of his life.
It is one of the curious facts in connection with Kentucky history that at the period of his death, forty-three years later, he was the only individual in the State of Kentucky residing upon his own preemption.
He was a member of the convention held in 17871788, as well as of that which formed the first Constitution of Kentucky in 1792; also a member of the Senate of Kentucky, and was named as the first governor of the State in 1792, and inaugurated in Lexington June 1st, 1792. His patriotism and his wise judgment in the support of the principles of the Federal Government in the Northwest would alone render his name immortal. Now, when threescore and six years of age—thirty-three