The Battle of Cowpens (1781)

Above:  I said goodbye to Steve and left Charlotte in the morning, then headed east, crossing into South Carolina, and spent most of the day at the Cowpens Revolutionary War battlefield.  In the afternoon, I headed back east and camped that night at Kings Mountain State Park.

I said goodbye to Steve and left Charlotte on a sunny Sunday morning, with his packed lunch firmly in hand.  The weather wasn’t “steamy” (this being late October after all) but it certainly was humid. 

My first stop on this fine day was about an hour away at Cowpens Battlefield, where my strategic advance a few days earlier had been successfully repulsed by the crafty, retreating rangers, who were heading home at 5 p.m.  This time, however, I shifted my battle strategy, altered my tactics, and arrived several hours before closing time. 

As I mentioned in my previous entry, Cowpens was the site of an important victory for the Americans over the British in January 1781, just nine months before the end of the Revolutionary War.  I’d wanted to visit this site ever since I was little, reading about it when I was growing up in California.  The American troops here prepared for the advancing British cavalry by forming up a series of battle lines, with each line firing a few times and then retreating and reloading.  It was a brilliant strategy and the Americans won the battle, which proved to be an important turning point in the war.  Cowpens, by the way, was so-named because it was an enclosed clearing where colonial farmers grazed their livestock – literally a “cow pen.”

I walked into the  Visitor Center, stamped my National Park passport, then spent 45 minutes reading the displays and watching a short movie that described the battle.  Then I went outside to the now-tranquil and bucolic Cowpens battlefield, where I walked around for a couple hours, learning about the battle and trying to envision the advancing (and then retreating) British troops and cavalry.  The park was quiet and peaceful with just a handful of visitors, even though it was a Sunday.  I've posted a panorama photo of the Cowpens battlefield here.

I greatly enjoyed my visit to Cowpens and left in mid-afternoon, then drove for an hour back in the direction of Charlotte and camped that evening at Kings Mountain State Park, just inside the South Carolina border.  It was a nice campground tucked up in the hills, complete with a friendly ranger who opened the office after she saw me pull up after-hours.  It was very pleasant with the weekend crowds thankfully gone.

From Charlotte to Cowpens


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