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Cowpens National Park

Cowpens National Park

The British advanced in a trot, with beating drums, the shrill sounds of fifes, and shouts of halloo. Perhaps the army was already ruined, and Greene’s strategy of attrition was working. Since Congress had not offered him a promotion to go with the new command, Morgan declined and remained a civilian.

Cowpens, South Carolina

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It became known as the turning point of the war in the South, part of a chain of events leading to Patriot victory at Yorktown2 The Cowpens victory was won over a crack British regular army3 and brought together strong armies and leaders who made their mark on history. Such victories boosted Patriot morale and blunted British efforts, but, bywith stalemate in the North, British strategists again looked south.

They came south for Glacier National Park To Great Falls Mt number of reasons, primarily to assist Southern Loyalists5 and help them regain control of colonial governments, and then push north, to crush the rebellion6. They estimated that many of the population would rally to the Crown. InBritish redcoats indeed came South en masse, capturing first, Savannah7 and then Charleston8 and Camden 8A in South Carolina, in the process, defeating and capturing much of the Southern Continental Army9.

Such victories gave the British confidence they would soon control the entire South, that Loyalists would flock to their cause. Conquering these population centers, however, gave the British a false sense of victory they didn’t count on so much opposition in the backcountry Conflict in the backcountry, to their rear, turned out to be their Achilles’ heel.

The Southern Campaign, especially in the backcountry, was essentially a civil war as the colonial population split between Patriot and Loyalist. Conflict came, often pitting neighbor against neighbor and re-igniting old feuds and animosities. Those of both sides organized militia, often engaging each other. The countryside was devastated, and raids and reprisals were the order of the day.

Into this conflict, General George Washington sent the very capable Nathanael Greene to take command of the Southern army. Against military custom, Greene, just two weeks into his command, split his army, sending General Daniel Morgan southwest of the Catawba River to cut supply lines and hamper British operations in the backcountry, and, in doing so “spirit up the people”. Tarleton was only twenty-six, but he was an able commander, both feared and hated – hated especially for his victory at the Waxhaws.

His refusal, tradition says, of offering no quarter, led to the derisive term “Tarleton’s Quarter”. On January 12,Tarleton’s scouts located Morgan’s army at Grindal Shoals on the Pacolet River12 in South Carolina’s backcountry and thus began an aggressive pursuit. Tarleton, fretting Cowpens National Park heavy rains and flooded rivers, gained ground as his army proceeded toward the flood-swollen Pacolet. Soon, he intersected with and traveled west on the Green River Road.

Here, with the flood-swollen Broad River14 six miles to his back, Morgan decided to make a stand at the Cowpens, a well-known crossroads and frontier pasturing ground. The term “cowpens”15, endemic to such South Carolina pastureland and associated early cattle industry, would be etched in history. The field itself was some yards long and just as wide, a park-like setting dotted with trees, but devoid of undergrowth, having been kept clear by cattle grazing in the spring on native grasses and peavine There was forage17 at the Cowpens for horses, and evidence of free-ranging cattle for food.

Morgan, too, since he had learned of Tarleton’s pursuit, had spread the word for militia18 units to rendezvous at the Cowpens. Many knew the geography some were Overmountain men who had camped at the Cowpens on their journey to the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Morgan moved among the campfires and offered encouragement; his speeches to militia and Continentals alike were command performances. He spoke emotionally of past battles, talked of the battle plan, and lashed out against the British. His words were especially effective with the…

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Others believe it is an English corruption of the original and described not only the Native Americans of the region but also the waxy-looking haw and “hawfields”, shrubs, either Black Haw vibernum prunifolium or hawthorns crataegus linnaeus prominent in the region. Morgan used the militia well, asking them to get off two volleys and promised their retreat to the third line made up of John Eager Howard’s25 Continentals, again close to yards back. He knew how to motivate them even proposing a competition of bravery between Georgia and Carolina units.