Do the words “Battle of Cowpens” bring stirring images of freedom to your mind?Are you caught up in heroic visions of the struggle for liberty on the battlefield?Cow pens – a place where cattle graze – how is that not inspiring to patriots today?
No?Well, you’re not to be faulted for a lack of enthusiasm for the name given to the rather mundane and plain location. But despite the name, the Battle of Cowpens (memorably honored by the Cowpens Flag) was one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary war.This battle was so decisive and important to the direction of the war that Lord Cornwallis reportedly leaned upon his sword until it broke when he heard the news of the American victory over Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton. After struggling for many months, the expertly won American victory at Cowpens set the stage for the next win at Guilford Courthouse and subsequently Yorktown where Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans.
It is no wonder Cornwallis was so stunned. The aggressive Tarleton was feared in the colonies for his rather ruthless tactics and despite his methods, he was a force for repeated British success.But at Cowpens, Tarleton met his match with General Daniel Morgan who successfully defeated 1,000 of Tarleton’s well trained men leaving just under 200 who were not killed or captured in the battle.John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, remarked about the event:
“Seldom has a battle, in which greater numbers were not engaged, been so important in its consequences as that of Cowpens.”
Morgan’s tactics at Cowpens are considered some of the most original in the war; his use of the varied types of troops, terrain, and battlefield tempo were expertly coordinated and planned under a high degree of pressure.The distinguished American general used a pincer or double envelopment maneuver, the only double envelopment of the war, joining the ranks of other famous military leaders such as Hannibal and Alexander the Great who also used the tactic with success.
The Cowpens Flag itself cannot be linked directly to the Battle of Cowpens with any degree of certainty.Legends and historical lore give the association more weight than provable facts.It is impossible that the physical flag in possession by the state of Maryland today flew at the battle due to the age of its construction. However, it is possible that a version of the flag was flown that day by William Batchelor who served with the 3rdMaryland Regiment or parts thereof.At any rate, early 19thcentury tradition ascribes the unique 13 star arrangement flag, similar to the Betsy Ross flag, to the Battle of Cowpens.
We are happy to offer the Cowpens Flag in our patch collection as a stirring reminder of a decisive American victory, a tribute to American ingenuity and tactical brilliance.