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Sunday, January 15, 2017

236th Anniversary Battle Of Cowpens Memorial Service & Celebration

Gathering at the Cowpens National Battlefield Visitors Center around the US Monument for the 236th Anniversary Memorial Service & Celebration of the Battle of Cowpens.

On Saturday, January 14th, despite a forecast of early morning showers (which never came), this blogger set out for Cherokee County, South Carolina to attend the 236th Anniversary Celebration of the Battle of Cowpens -- one of the more significant battles of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolutionary War

I arrived about twenty minutes till ten at the Cowpens National Battlefield and made my way to the memorial service sponsored by the South Carolina Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), SC Daughters of the American Revolution, and the SC Children of the American Revolution (CAR). 

Several hundred descendants of American Revolutionary War soldiers and veterans from across the United States gathered for what was a lovely memorial service which included SAR and DAR members from both Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, and others. This service was followed by an outstanding parade of period uniforms and waving flags as they reenactors and SAR members marched from the visitor's center to the Washington Light Infantry Monument located on the battlefield site itself.


This young Junior Ranger was asked to help preform a very important task by the SAR.
The Washington Light Infantry - a militia company from Charleston, SC - erected this monument on the 75th Anniversary of the battle fought here. The monument sits on the site where the final stages of the battle was fought just after sunrise on Wednesday, January 17, 1781.
It is one of the oldest monuments dedicated to the American Revolutionary War.

Following the memorial service, I took the battlefield loop trail and read all of the interesting trail markers telling what took place and where. Being a student of history I've read the accounts of this battle many times over from both sides, but still you never know when you might learn something new and interesting.  

Also, it is always a humbling feeling walking the grounds were so many fought and died so long ago. Battlefields have ghosts -- and no I don't necessarily mean in the spectral sense, though some would argue otherwise. I mean that you can feel the sense of importance in certain places, especially when you know what went on there. It is a humbling experience for those who appreciate it and the impact the battle would have on establishing an American nation.

You can look at the ground, largely unchanged from the way it was over two centuries ago (though many of the trees that were there are long gone and replaced by younger ones) and imagine the fear that must have went through the minds of the Carolina militiamen standing behind the trees, or the Continental soldiers from Maryland and Delaware standing in line facing off against British invaders in red and green coats marching toward them, bayonets fixed and pointed. You could even imagine being a young British soldier, marching in perfect formation, but also afraid and fighting so deep inside unfamiliar backcountry territory so far from home.

On the way back I then took in the displays and outstanding presentations put on by the living history reenactors. The following photos show some of the best ones. 

A reenactor wearing the white and blue uniform of the 3rd Continental Light Dragoons.
The reenactor in green in the far right wears the uniform of the British Legion Cavalry.
A reenactor wearing the blue and red uniform of a Maryland Continental Regiment.
Continental Army reenactors in period attire.
Delaware Regiment Continental Army reenactors.
Display of period tools and weapons by reenactors of the New Acquisitions District Militia.
Pennsylvania & Kentucky Rifles of the type largely used y the Whig (Patriot) militia forces in the SC backcountry during the Southern Campaign of the American Revolutionary War.
A reenactor of the 4th Royal Artillery Batallion (British).
Yep, the Royal Artillery did wear dark blue coats rather than red army coats.
Reenactors wearing the green uniforms of the British Legion Infantry.
The tartan (Black Watch or Government) trousers worn by this reenactor are historically accurate to the uniform worn by members of the 71st Regiment of Foot (Frazier's Highlanders) during the Battle of Cowpens, though many wore the standard brown winter trousers for British regulars.
British Legion & Highlander reenactors mingling.
Note the Black Watch (or Government) kilt worn by this reenactor.
According to historical records, the 71st Regiment of Foot largely stopped wearing the kilt after the first year in America due to the climate and lack of proper resupply, opting instead for tartan trousers, or the regular white (summer) and brown (winter) trousers of the British Regulars -- though I imagine that a few still stubbornly held onto tradition.
Continental soldier with short artillery piece.
It should be noted that the Continentals did not have artillery pieces at the Battle of Cowpens.
This piece was present for display and educational purposes only.
A member of the Sons of the American Revolution wearing a militia reenactment jacket.
Black American men (both slaves and free men of color) fought on both sides during the American Revolutionary War with distinction. Their motives largely depended on personal choices, loyalties, and (in the case of slaves) promises of freedom from either side.
Continental artillerymen with a 3-Pound Grasshopper field piece.
During the actual Battle of Cowpens the British force had two of these small, portable cannons manned by members of the Royal Artillery. 

Before I bid farewell to the battlefield, I took the time to stop at the US Monument again and read the inscriptions on the granite and the brass plaques detailing the accounts of the battle and the men on both sides who fought there so long ago. 

As always I hope that y'all had a good time and enjoyed my photographic account of this event. As always safe travels y'all!

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