The early morning hours of 17 January 1781 were cold and damp as Brigadier General Daniel Morgan’s wing of the southern army prepared to fight. They had reached the Cowpens the day before and were rested and well fed. Coming to meet them was part of the British army under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Drawn up in a single line of battle, Tarleton’s legion was met first by fire from sharpshooters, then from militiamen, and finally from Continentals. The militiamen were under orders to fire three volleys and fall back to the Continental line. When the British reached the third line their numbers were shrinking but they still had enough to attempt a flanking maneuver. As Morgan’s lines fell back he ordered them to do an about face and fire once more before chasing the enemy with bayonets. By the time the engagement was over “complete victory” belonged to the Americans. Upon receiving word, Nathanael Greene, the Commander of the Southern Armies, drank a toast to Morgan’s army and fired a cannon salute.
Young, Elizabeth D.
Saber and Scroll: Vol. 5
, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.apus.edu/saberandscroll/vol5/iss3/4
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