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Cowpens National Battlefields

Battle of Cowpens Monument

Cowpens Battlefield is named for the land used by Colonial settlers here to pasture their cattle. The park offers visitors a 1.25-mile Battlefield Trail walking tour, a 3-mile Loop Road for motorized vehicles, and a 2-mile Cowpens Nature Trail.  Also on site is the log Robert Scruggs House, which dates from the early 1800s.

Major General Nathanael Greene set the Cowpens Battle in motion by splitting his army to send the exceptionally talented General Daniel Morgan to engage the British troops under the command of the hated Banastre Tarleton, renown for his butchery. Although outnumbered, Morgan was able to bolster his forces with a substantial number of local militiamen as well as backwoods veterans of Kings Mountain, whose skill with long rifles gave them a decided advantage.

On January 17, 1781, the assembled patriot troops met the enemy in a pitched battle on the fields of the Cow Pens.  After sharpshooters had halted a British advance and picked off two-third of their officers, a fierce and somewhat confused battle ensued which featured firing at point-blank range and a bayonet charge that left the British staggered.

In less than an hour, the battle was over and Tarleton’s troops had suffered a crushing defeat, although Tarleton himself was able to escape. Along with Kings Mountain, this second major Southern victory for the patriots in less than four months surely helped pave the way for Cornwallis’ surrender of British forces at Yorktown later in the year.

Trails Through the Battlefield

Explaining the Battle Plan

Robert Scruggs House