BATTLE OF COWPENS
The Battle of Cowpens was a turning point for the American forces in their southern campaign. After they had lost multiple fights in South Carolina (Charleston and Camden), it was important for both morale and strategy to get a decisive win against the British in the South. After the defeats, Major General Nathanael Greene, who was the commander of the American’s army in the south decided that a change was necessary as he ordered to separate the Patriot troops. With smaller armies, they became easier to feed and allowed for a chance to make the Redcoats fight a two front war. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan lead 1000 troops with the intent of hitting the British from the back. In response, Banastre Tarleton of the British lead 1,100 Redcoats and Loyalists to meet Morgan, setting up what would become to be The Battle of Cowpens.
The Battle occurred on January 17th, 1781. After winning multiple battles, confidence was high for the British army, and that turned out to have an adverse effect on this battle. Tarleton had his men initiate the fight as they charged the line where Morgan had his troops aligned. The instruction for the Colonists was to entertain the idea of a fight, by firing two rounds, and then retreat. This was where the confidence of the British came back to bite them. They saw the retreat of the Americans as just that, a retreat. They felt like it was the American forces surrendering the battle. Because of this, they pursued the forces without a regard for it being a trap. The Americans were ready as they lead the Redcoats into a perfectly positioned American army that unleashed a concentrated amount of rifle fire followed by a charge of the cavalry who were sent in to cut the British off from retreating and the return of the militia that decimated the British. It all happened so suddenly that the Redcoats and loyalists were at a loss of how to proceed. A perfectly planned strategy by Morgan was executed without fault by the troops lead to the demise of the British forces in the South.
Although Banastre Tarleton escaped the battle, it was a clear and decisive victory for the colonists. More than 800 casualties were accumulated by the British forces while the Americans surrendered less than 100. This was a massive victory for the American army. In a war that was so dependent on morale and confidence of the nation, having a dominant performance on the lines was hugely important for the belief that they could win this war. Morgan would later reflect on the battle saying “It was a devil of a whipping!” Overall, it was more than just one victory. The British forces had begun to wrest the southern colonies away from the American side, but this victory effectively stomped on the Loyalist position.