The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Cowpens
Battle of Cowpens

The Battle: Fighting Continues
It was now 7:45 A.M. and while the British raced across the battlefield, the Americans had begun to form up at a position that Brig. General Daniel Morgan had indicated. When the British were within thirty yards, the Americans turned and fired. The British charge was brought to a halt. Lt. Colonel John Eager Howard then ordered a bayonet charge. The proud British regulars were so surprised that they threw down their weapons and either fled or fell to the ground and pleaded for mercy in the face of the charge.

Though calls for "Tarleton's Quarter", a reference to the Battle of Waxhaws, ran along the American lines, General Morgan made sure such brutality did not happen. Lt. Colonel Howard observed that the British artillery still fired away and ordered the pieces taken. After a fierce defense from the British gunners, the artillery was silenced. Lt. Colonel William Washington and his cavalry had finished driving off Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton's dragoons and now assisted in rounding up the fleeing infantry.

The militia under Andrew Pickens had now come around the right and were attacking the Scottish Highlanders. Howard wheeled his Continentals around and they attacked the Highlanders on the left which left them double-enveloped or double-flanked. Lt. Colonel Tarleton attempted to rally the retreating infantry to no avail. He then sent orders that the 200 mounted British Legion come up from reserve and aid the Highlanders. They did not comply. He then galloped across the field to personally order them into the fray. His horse was shot from under him. Tarleton was then given a horse by Dr. Robert Jackson, who had ridden to his commander's aid. Jackson then tied his handkerchief to his cane and walked to the Americans. He identified himself as a surgeon and offered his services, which were excepted.

Lt. Colonel Tarleton found his British Legion unwilling to join the field and they instead fled into the woods leaving Fraser's Scottish Highlanders alone on the field. They fought on until several men from Elijah Clarke's Georgia militia led by Major James Jackson charged into the Highlanders. Jackson seized the regiment's colors, then lost them. He then pushed on and made Major Archibald McArthur his prisoner. Lt. Colonel John Eager Howard then called for surrender. The Highlanders grounded their arms and McArthur handed his sword to Andrew Pickens.

Lt. Colonel Tarleton did not give up. Forty British regulars of the 17th Light Dragoons still remained on the field. Tarleton led them and fourteen officers who also remained in an attempt to recover the artillery. Lt. Colonel Washington's cavalry intercepted his charge. Washington sighted Tarleton and ordered a charge and took off after Tarleton, but in the din of battle, his order was heard by only a few. He soon found himself in advance of his cavalry. Tarleton and several of his officers turned and engaged Washington.

While engaged with one of the officers, Lt. Colonel Washington broke his saber at the hilt. As the officer prepared to deliver the killing blow, Washington's black body servant rode up and shot the officer in the shoulder. Another British officer swung at Washington, but Sergeant Major Perry parried the blow. Tarleton himself swung at Washington, but Washington blocked it with his broken sword. Tarleton then fired his pistol, but only managed to wound Washington's horse. Tarleton then fled the field. It was now 8:00 A.M. The battle had lasted one hour.

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