The Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781, was depicted in the movie The Patriot.
It involved American General Daniel Morgan having a line of militia fire into British General Cornwallis’ and Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s dragoons, regulars, Highlanders and loyalists.
When the Americans hastily retreated, British Colonel Tarleton, known as “The Butcher,” gave into the temptation to pursue, only to be surprised by American Continentals waiting over the hill, firing at point-blank range.
In the confusion, the Americans killed 110 British and captured 830.
The Battle of Cowpens is widely considered the tactical masterpiece and turning point of the war.
General Daniel Morgan met up with American General Nathaniel Greene, and they made a hasty retreat north toward Virginia.
Cornwallis regrouped and chased the Americans as fast as he could, burning extra equipment and supplies along the way in order to travel faster.
Cornwallis arrived at the Catawba River just two hours after the Americans had crossed, but a storm made the river impassable, delaying the British pursuit.
Cornwallis nearly overtook them again as they were getting out of the Yadkin River, but rain flooded the river.
Now it was a race to the Dan River, but General Nathaniel Greene again made it across before the British arrived.
British Commander Henry Clinton wrote:
“Here the royal army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over, who could not else have eluded Lord Cornwallis’ grasp, so close was he upon their rear.”
In March of 1781, General Washington wrote to William Gordon:
“We have…abundant reasons to thank Providence for its many favorable interpositions in our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.
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