The Turning Point of the War: The Significance of the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina's History

The Battle of Cowpens, fought on January 17, 1781, near Thicketty Creek, South Carolina, was a pivotal American victory in the Revolutionary War. This confrontation further weakened British attempts to wrest the southern colonies from American control and became known as the turning point of the war in the South, as part of a chain of events that led to the Patriots' victory in Yorktown.2 An impressive example of military prowess and skillful leadership, the battle was fought on a 500-square-yard grazing pasture and resulted in a devastating defeat for the British Army. The interior of South Carolina proved to be Britain's undoing. The colonial population there was divided between patriots and loyalists, and the territory was essentially immersed in a civil war, with one neighbor against another. Both sides organized militias and participated in armed raids and reprisals.

In this hostile arena, General George Washington sent Major General Nathanael Greene to take command of the Army of the South. Greene, just two weeks into his tenure, divided his forces and sent Brigadier General Daniel Morgan southwest of the Catawba River to cut off supply lines and hamper British operations. Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, driven by British success at Camden and other victories, aggressively pursues American General Daniel Morgan's forces through South Carolina. Confident that his 1,150 men will continue to succeed in the South, Tarleton pursues Morgan without knowing how many men Morgan actually has by his side. Morgan, however, is well aware of the strength and location of his enemy. He prepares his 1,065 men for battle and after Cowpens, Cornwallis gives up his efforts to win in South Carolina and pursues Greene's force in North Carolina.

He defeats Greene at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March, and then retreats to Virginia to rest and recondition his tired and exhausted army. Washington seizes the opportunity to trap and defeat Cornwallis in the Battle of Yorktown, which is the last major conflict of the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Cowpens was crucial because it wiped out royal authority in North Carolina and delayed a full-scale British invasion of the South. It also produced an enormous moral boost throughout the Continental Army and was a crucial step in securing the South for American patriots. On December 21, 1780, 600 men under the command of Brigadier General Daniel Morgan were sent to occupy positions between the Pacolet and Broad rivers in South Carolina. In 1779-80, British redcoats arrived south en masse, first capturing Savannah7 and then Charleston8 and Camden 8A in South Carolina, in the process defeating and capturing much of the Continental Army of the South. The ability to conquer the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina was essential to exhaust the economic resources that supported U.

S. forces in New England. On January 12, 1781, Tarleton's explorers located Morgan's army at Grindal Shoals on the Pacolet River12 in the interior of South Carolina, thus beginning an aggressive pursuit. He received incorrect information that Morgan was planning an attack on the British fort at Ninety Six, South Carolina. Located near Kings Mountain State Park in Piedmont region of South Carolina is a 19th-century living history farm which offers camping, picnics, hiking trails, equestrian trails, two fishing lakes and more. The Southern Campaign (1778-178), which took place during the second half of the Revolutionary War was a mix of strategic battles and guerrilla warfare in Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina.

As an adult he commanded a South Carolina militia brigade at Cowpens which was a decisive victory for Patriots. As Tarleton's forces charged, the South Carolina militia attacked Tarleton's left flank and Washington's cavalry attacked right flank creating a double envelope (Pearson 200).However in lowlands of South Carolina British soldiers freed enslaved workers which was greatest source of labor and income for Southern planters. The term cowboys15 endemic to those rangelands would go down in history.

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