IntroductionOn the 17th of January of 1781 an important battle of the American Revolutionary War took place just north of the town of Cowpens in South Carolina. The Battle of Cowpens was a very important victory for the Americans in their fight for independence from Great Britain; in fact it was the beginning of the end for the British in this war. Just why this battle was so crucial and how it started a series of events that would lead to defeat for the British in the American Revolutionary War is listed in the interesting facts below. This information is written for both kids and adults.
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Battle of Cowpens Quick Facts
- The Continental Army forces in this battle were led by Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.
- The British forces in this battle were led by Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
- The number of American soldiers involved in the battle is in dispute. General Morgan, in a report on the battle, claimed his force numbered about 800 while some historians believe the American force could have been as high as 1,900.
- The British forces at the Battle of Cowpens was approximately 1,150 soldiers.
- The estimated casualties for the British were 110 dead, more than 200 wounded, and 500 taken prisoner; compared to only 12 killed and approximately 60 American soldiers wounded.
Interesting Battle of Cowpens Facts
- Banastre Tarleton and his British soldiers had been pursuing General Morgan and his American forces in South Carolina when Morgan decided to make a stand near the Broad River near the town of Cowpens.
- General Daniel Morgan is due a lot of credit for the American victory at the Battle of Cowpens. His excellent decisions started with the selection of the battlefield. He selected an open field which he predicted the aggressive Banastre Tarleton would launch a frontal assault. Morgan was correct and planned for this type of attack accordingly forming three lines which took turns cutting down the British as they attacked.
- General Daniel Morgan understood his own men and how they would react and perform under certain circumstances. An example of this is that he positioned his army between two rivers which made retreat impossible. Although most commanders would consider this a mistake he did it to prevent the inexperienced portion of his force from retreating in the heat of battle.
- By the morning of the battle the British were exhausted from hours of marching over rough terrain; they were also hungry due to depleted food supplies.
- January 17th of 1781 was bitterly cold morning and just before the sun rose the British attacked the American defensive positions. As General Morgan anticipated it was a frontal attack and the overconfident British commander kept ordering more of his forces to attack despite heavy casualties.
- After inflicting heavy casualties on the British General Morgan ordered a bayonet charge. This surprised the British and many ran and some surrender. The Americans captured the British cannons.
- The American's bayonet charge was shortly followed by well-timed flanking maneuvers around the British left and right flanks which crushed the British forces. Colonel Tarleton fled the field.
- The Battle of Cowpens had lasted a little over one hour and was an overwhelming American victory.
- The Battle of Cowpens was an important victory for the Americans. It damaged British morale while boosting the morale of the Americans. This significant battle also caused the British to lose control of South Carolina and move further north where they would be defeated 8 months later at the decisive Battle of Yorktown in Virginia.