The Win in the Southern Campaign: Cowpens, Jan. 14, 2012

Some of the Crew, warming in the sun

Battles can be classified as wins, losses and draws. Cowpens was certainly a win, strategic and brilliant in its scope. On January 14, hundred of people gathered to celebrate this win and honor the brave combatants at Cowpens National Military Park near Gaffney, SC.

This is the first time I was at Cowpens but felt I knew it as I’ve read so much about the battle and the place where it was held. The day was beautiful, very cold but clear. We had  a decent showing from the up-country: Chad,  Mel, Ronnie, me, Mike Coon, Travis Southers, Tim Massey, Mike and Illiana Mankin. Retha and Ken Reece and Cindy and Harry Jordan came in mufti, too.

The wreath laying ceremony was very impressive. Several DAR and SAR groups were represented and each bowed in front of the monument and again on the battlefield itself . The DAR was  responsible for the monument and helping to raise the status of this park and each year, both groups take an active part in keeping the memory of this battle and those who participated in it alive. The superintendent of the park is very encouraging of living history (as ours is) and it showed in the variety of the demos and how he was so heartfelt in welcoming all who came.

Wreath Laying

Battle plan of Cowpens, Jan. 17, 1781Behind the visitor's center and before the battlefield itself, there is a large field. Reenactors from all of the military groups that fought had their own areas. It was interesting to see the various living history demonstrations but especially look at the various uniforms, Brit, Scot, Continental and other. There was a big gun demo, a volley and a calvary demo. The calvery demo consisted of putting a cabbage on a pike and slicing it with a saber at full run. It occurred to me that the dragoons made a lot of slaw, but I wonder how frightening it had to have been for infantry to be on the recieving end of a sharp, long point.Our friends, the South Carolina Rangers , who have done so much to support the May Seige, were camped near the back trees and when members weren't taking in the sights, they found those friendly faces and warmed themselves by their fire.

When it warmed up a little, Mike, I, Cindy, Mel and Retha walked the battlefield itself. I’ve been to several different battle sites up and down the Thirteen Colonies and in all of them, I’ve sensed the echo of distant guns, of resounding struggle. In some places like Saratoga, Gettysburg, the Carillion, Antietam, one can almost smell the blood and dung, hear the screams. At Cowpens, Doug Walsh said that the weather was identical to the day- cold but sunny, so clear, each remaining leaf cast a shadow. When I looked up and down the historic road, stepped (literally) in the footprints of a soldier, strolled up and down the rolling hills, visualzing the battle plan, I had absolutely no sense of this place as being a battlefield. I could clearly see why Morgan picked this particular place to make his stant. I could see the importance of militia. Anyone who sees “The Patriot” , the last scene, gets a sense of Cowpens. What I felt in this place, was an overwhelming  peace, a great place to raise children, a quiet place to walk. I guess there were some really happy spirits there, though none of them would be British.

After we left the Park, We all went closeby to a little greasy spoon that Ronnie called the “dishpan restaurant”. They serve delicious food, country style, in dishpans . I never saw such big servings! They served the salads in washtubs, for goodness sakes!

Ronnie was the chauffeur we went on a little history tour on the way back. One very interesting thing was to find Chad’s great grandfather’s (10 generations back) grave. I couldn’t tell you where it was near but it was a solitary grave in a grove of woods at the side of a cow pasture. Mel went on “Find-a Grave dot com” to get an approximate location but it was a local lady who pointed the way. It was exciting to see the connection between a living man and a distant ancestor who fought in the war. From there we drove to Gilbert town, stood in the field where the militia camped.We stood before King’s Mountain, looked up to see the hill they climbed and where Ferguson is planted. Finally , we visited Britton’s Church cemetery, established in 1768- man, you talk about some old plots there.  I kept wishing I had rice paper and charcoals!

It was snowing when we went over the mountain late that night but Oh, what a fabulous day it was!

(Doug Walsh, Tim Massey and Retha have terrific pics of this event on Facebook. These pics are theirs)

Chad wrapping his molars around a monster burger- and this was the junior version.

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