On Sunday, April 23rd, 2023, I had the opportunity to walk the Cowpens Battlefield with a group of interested folks, led by the always amazing historian and speaker, Mr. Durant Ashmore. The day was beautiful, cool, crisp, sunny, and no bugs!
I arrived early enough to take in the short informational video provided by the National Park Service. There is a nice Visitor Center at the site. My previous visits have been on days when the Visitor Center was closed, so it was great to be able to see the displays and to watch the movie. We spent a couple of hours walking the Battlefield Trail – far longer than the battle itself lasted.
The Battle of Cowpens Monument was erected in 1932. The War Department Monument is a granite shaft 32 feet high and 7 feet square. The base of the monument is 11’4″ square and is also made of granite. On the north face of the monument at a height of 25 feet there is a seal that is approximately 3 feet in diameter. There are inscriptions on the north and south faces of the monument and commemorative plaques on the east and west faces.
(Source: Cowpens National Battlefield National Register Nomination Form.)
The courtyard around the monument features tiles commemorating other important battles, these three are just a sample:
On the way, we passed through a rivercane restoration area. Rivercane thickets played a crucial role in this battle. Rivercane is a tall perennial bamboo type grass, that can crowd out other growth with it’s shade, resulting in what is called a canebrake. The canebreaks were thick enough to make it almost impossible to navigate through.
It is one thing to tour the battlefield, taking in the informative signage – but there’s no comparison to being led and learning from Mr. Durant Ashmore. Mr. Ashmore is a well-known, highly respected historian, lecturer, and all-around expert on the Revolution in South Carolina. He he even owns a battlefield site in Laurens County. His interpretation of the events is mesmerizing, and being on site brings it to the next level.
Monument to the Washington Light Infantry of Charleston, out on the field, below. The story of the monument itself is an interesting one. The monument was erected by the Washington Light Infantry in 1856, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Revolution. The infantry was originally named in honor of George Washington, but it known more for Col. William Washington, the cavalary commander. The spot was chosen as being on or near the spot where Tarleton’s Dragoons tangled with William Washington’s cavalrymen.
Inside the base of the monument are ensconced some relics – an account of the Battle; a roser of the Light Infantry members responsible for construction of the memorial; and a brick and some water from Eutaw Springs (another battle Col. William Washington had a hand in).
The monument was originally on private land. Spartanburg ladies (like no force on Earth) got together and purchased an acre, and had the iron fence erected. This was the first commemoration at Cowpens.
Sadly, vandals stole a golden eagle that was part of the memorial. It has never been located.
Some views of the old Green River Road, where Tarleton approached, and of the surrounding countryside.
The permanent Cowpens page for this site is here, please visit:
Cowpens National Battlefield
There are resources listed at the bottom of that page.