Battle of Cowpens Facts

Battle of Cowpens Facts
The Battle of Cowpens was fought near the town of Cowpens, South Carolina on January 17, 1781 between a Continental Army force led by General Daniel Morgan and a British force led by General Banastre Tarleton. The battle was part of the Carolinas campaign during the American Revolutionary War and proved to be important not only in the Southern Theater of the war, but in the late stages of the overall war. After a series of defeats in the south, the Americans were desperate for a strategic and psychological victory in the Southern Theater. The American forces outnumbered the British by about 2,000 men to just over 1,000 men; but the British were a bit better experienced and battle hardened. Morgan used his numerical superiority to his advantage by luring the British charge into a pincer movement, which happened to be the only one employed on a mass scale during the war. The result was a decisive American victory: more than 100 British were killed, nearly 300 were wounded, and even worse, around 700 were capture, many of them officers.
Interesting Battle of Cowpens Facts:
Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) served as a rifleman in the British Provincial forces, but joined the Continental Army when the war began. He distinguished himself in Quebec and Saratoga, but retired due to politics. He reenlisted in 1780, was promoted to general, and was sent to the Southern Theater.
General Nathaniel Greene was Morgan's direct superior in the Southern campaign.
Tarleton (1754-1833) was considerably younger than his American counterpart, but no less experienced. He participate in several successful British operations, including the capture of Charleston in 1780.
The battle came about when Tarleton was in pursuit of Morgan, who was leading a foraging and harassment operation for Greene.
The heart of Loyalist activity, and a center for British military supplies, was a community and fort in South Carolina known as Ninety Six.
The official size of the American force was around 1,000 Continentals, but it was further augmented by Patriot militias from surrounding colonies to bring the number to about 2,000.
Both the British and Americans had dragoon units. Dragoons were soldiers who rode horses, but dismounted when they fought.
Despite having a numerical advantage, Morgan knew that since half of his force were militia, they were somewhat unreliable. To mitigate problems that militias often caused, such as fleeing, he placed his force between two rivers, making it difficult to retreat.
Morgan then placed his weakest troops in the center, knowing that the strongest British troops would attack them with a full charge.
Morgan placed his stronger troops on both flanks.
As the British attacked, the American center gave way in what the British believed was a full retreat. The British then made the mistake of charging deeper into the American lines.
The American flanks were then able to converge on both sides and envelope the British troops. Many of the British were too tired to continue fighting and surrendered.
Morgan's pincer movement was classic and developed much as the Greek's did against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.


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