Cowpens National Battlefield - 2009

Updated: 05/12/09


The 845 acre Cowpens National Battlefield is nine miles northwest of Gaffney, South Carolina. The site of one of only a few successful double envelopments in history. This battle is recognized by historians as one of the most important of the American Revolution. The Patriots, commanded by General Daniel Morgan, outfought a more experienced British force under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.

When the two forces clashed at the cow pens on January 17, 1781, the British infantry and dragoons outnumbered the Colonials, comprised of Continental forces from Maryland and Delaware and militia units from the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia.

General Morgan, a brilliant strategist, divided his troops into three consecutive lines. The first two were meant to engage and slow the enemy, then fall back, leaving the brunt of the fighting to the more seasoned troops in the rear. The plan worked. Within an hour the Colonials sent the British regulars into a disorderly retreat.

The name comes from the fact that the Cowpens was a frontier pasturing ground on the road to a ford across the Broad River six miles away. The area was well know to the locals.



The gate is made up of silhouettes of a battle.





As usual, we checked out the visitors center first.






This U. S. Memorial Monument was erected in 1932.








An exhibit in the visitor center has a fiber optic map and audio presentation tracing the troop movements during the battle. And one that traces The Southern Campaign from the capture of Savannah by the British in late 1778 to their surrender in Yorktown in October of 1781.











The audiovisual presentation, "Daybreak at the Cowpens" was extremely well done. Giving the viewer an good  description of the military strategy that allowed the Colonials to win this battle so resoundingly.






Exhibits told the story . . .






The museum has authentic Revolutionary War weapons and a full-size reproduction of a British 3-pounder "Grasshopper" cannon on display.






The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake  coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the snake is the legend "DONT TREAD ON ME". The flag was designed by and is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden.








One exhibit explained the parts of a Brown Bess.







One area of the visitor centers was for children. There were toy replicas for them to pretend to be in battles during the Revolutionary War.







In the lobby of the visitors center, the various uniforms were displayed.























The Battle of Cowpens . . .








The grounds offered both a driving loop tour road and a walking tour. The walking tour is necessary to really understand the battles.


The three-mile loop road around the perimeter of the battlefield features wayside exhibits, overlooks with short trails to the historic Green River Road and the battlefield.


A 1.5-mile self-guided Battlefield Trail walking tour begins and ends at the rear of the visitors center. Sites of major action are marked by exhibits along the trail. The historic Green River Road along which the battle was fought is part of the walking trail. It is the only portion of the original road that still exists.





There is a South Carolina State Park available for camping adjacent to the National Battlefield.

There were a lot of people walking and riding bicycles. You are cautioned at the start of the loop road that you share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and other modes of transportation.





The Battlefield Trail is an easy walk. We have posted information and photographs of the major battle sites.


Sword Clash on Green River Road . . .






The British Army . . .






Sharpshooters . . .







Killin' Distance . . .







The Continental Army . . .









Washington Light Infantry Monument . . .











The Calvary . . .





Protection and Spirit . . .






Morgan's Flying Army . . .










At the Battle of Cowpens the British losses were staggering; 190 dead, more than 200 wounded, and nearly 600 captured. Also captured with the British were a number of German mercenaries and slaves. Colonial losses were 24 killed and 104 wounded. General Morgan's unorthodox tactical masterpiece had indeed "spirited up the people," not just those of the backcountry Carolinas but those in all the colonies.



Though not avid students of history, this park offered us interesting information. We gained a greater appreciation for our forefather's struggle for independence from England.

There is no admission charge to enjoy the park. You could easily spend three hours at the visitors center and on the grounds. Bicycling is a popular activity on the loop road and a picnic area is available.


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