5 Things You Should Know About Cowpens, 1781

No, we’re not talking about the cleaning or actual up-keep of pens for cattle. We’re talking about another battle from the American War For Independence.

Unlike the other battles we’ve discussed this month, Cowpens was fought in the South. The Southern campaigns of the war are often overlooked or glazed over in the history books. Why? My theory is because George Washington didn’t fight down there, and the history isn’t quite as clear as “Redcoats vs. Patriots” because there’s guerrilla fighting, turncoats, loyalists, and…oh, that’s right – the war didn’t go in the Americans’ favor until the very end in the Carolinas.

However, Cowpens is right there in the ending of the campaign. (Spoiler: It’s an American victory!) And it’s a turning point in the war which will force the British Army to return north. And one of the American commanders was from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia which is one of my favorite regions to study – so without further spoilers, let’s discuss five things you should know about this battle. Continue reading

1862: “Mud Took The Military Valor…”

…We encountered one of the most powerful allies of the enemy, particularly during the winter and spring campaigns in Virginia, – MUD. No country equals a Virginia road for mud. We struck it thick, and sometimes knee-deep. It was very “heavy marching.” The foot sank insidiously into the mud, and came out again reluctantly; it had to be coaxed, and while you were persuading your left, the willing right was sinking as deep. The noise of the walking was like that of a suction-pump when the water is exhausted. Continue reading

What Happened to General Cornwallis?

“What are some myths that are popular in our views of the American War for Independence?” I asked my brother when I was outlining this series a few months ago.

“Well, we think the British soldiers were sort of monster-like. And we don’t have much respect for their generals. What happened to Cornwallis after Yorktown, anyway?” was the answer I got.

Now, I’m patriotic, and I love my country. (So, don’t tar ‘n feather me for the next statement.) I like to look at both sides – their views, military, politics, and leaders – when I’m studying a war. And, yes, that means I found some interesting things about British soldiers during the 1770’s. Oh, and Charles Cornwallis was the not as bad a guy as we’ve all heard. And he didn’t return to England in irreparable disgrace. Continue reading