Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Roaming in the Rain at Cowpens

A couple of days after my King's Mountain walkabout, I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the Cowpens National Battlefield. This time though, Sarah and Dallas accompanied me.  I didn't think we'd be able to make the trip, because we had several errands to run that day.  But we managed to complete finish our frantic running around and make it to the Visitors Center an hour-and-a-half before closing time.  And unlike my trip to King's Mountain--a light rain was falling.
The monument at the Visitors Center bore plaques listed the American forces...

...and the British ones involved in the battle


Since we were the only ones in the Visitors Center, the park rangers offered to start their fiber-optic map program outside the scheduled times.  The show used lights on a map to illustrate the course of the battle and the entire Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.

After the show we stepped out into the rain and on to the battlefield trail. 

Half of the path was over the old Green River Road...

...which both forces straddled when they deployed.
Here's a the view on the Green River Road from the rear of the American position, looking towards the British.
The battle was fought just over three months after King's Mountain (17 January 1781).  So visiting the park at this time of year gave me a good impression of terrain and weather conditions at that time, although it appears the day was clear, but colder.

I was surprised how substantially forested the battlefield was.  I expected a more open field as I've seen depicted on maps.

Here's the area where the American skirmishers stood. 

We didn't see any Redcoats, but we did come across some wild turkeys. 

Shortly after turning off the Green River Road, we came to the spot where Banastre Tarleton...

...and William Washington crossed swords...

...or at least came close to doing so (historical accounts vary).

The trail looped back toward the American lines...

 ...and the maps along the way illustrated different phases of the battle.  Above, the British surge forward expecting another easy victory over a rabble of militia.

Cannons were highly prized, even the two small Grasshopper Cannons Tarleton had at his disposal.  Unfortunately for Tarleton, neither gun remained at his disposal after the battle.  There was a 3-pounder replica in the museum, while a metal silhouette sat out in the field.  I think this was near the spot one of the Grasshoppers was captured.
The Washington Light Infantry Monument:

Another surprising feature of the battlefield was how relatively flat it appeared to be.  The terrain didn't appear as rugged as I imagined from looking at maps like this...

But looks could be deceiving.  Sarah, Dallas and I were out on a leisurely stroll, albeit in a light rain.  We didn't force-march all night, being deprived of rest, food and water, like Tarleton's men were.  Nor did we have to assault enemy-held positions.  Any advantage, no matter how small, could be decisive in a fight.

Near the end of our walk the clouds thinned a bit and I attempted to capture the battlefield at sunset.

When we returned to the Visitors Center, the park rangers offered to show us their short historical film before they closed.  We took them up on their offer and after the film, nosed around the small gift shop.

 The museum and gift shop were smaller than the one at King's Mountain, but still worth devoting some time to look things over.  We left the park with less than 15 minutes to spare before they closed.
Cowpens is certainly a battlefield worth visiting, or in my case--revisiting.

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