Andrew Pickens and the Battle of Cowpens
- January 12, 2015
- / Tara Bradley
- / Post Tags
There was a sharp chill in the air on the morning of January 17th, 1781 as British Lt. Colonel Tarleton and his troops were quickly advancing toward Cowpens, South Carolina. They were approaching just as Brig. General Daniel Morgan expected. Morgan had carefully chosen the location for the skirmish and had sent word ahead for militia units to assemble at Cowpens. Many of the militia men who gathered were familiar with the geography, a definite advantage. After several weeks of planning and maneuvering, Morgan and his troops, made up of Continentals and backwoods militia, were ready to stand their ground.
Before Tarleton and his men were to overrun the patriot troops, Andrew Pickens’ and his soldiers arrived as reinforcements at Morgan’s camp. They were to play a pivotal role in defeating the British troops because Morgan decided to give Pickens command of the militia. He directed them to hold their ground while firing two rounds and then to withdrawal and regroup to help defeat the enemy. The beginning of the battle was crucial as Andrew Pickens’ and his militia of approximately 300 men lulled the British into a false sense of security by feigning retreat. Tarleton and the British troops charged ahead with a frontal attack and were met with a well prepared double flank, causing the British troops to become overwhelmed, brake ranks, and retreat.
The Battle of Cowpens was an important victory and a critical turning point for the Continental forces in the South. Andrew Pickens was able help define the outcome of one of the most pivotal battles for the Southern Campaign. He believed in taking a stand for freedom, even if it came to facing the British army alone with his militia. For Pickens’ brave and honorable actions at the Battle of Cowpens, he was presented with a sword by the Continental Congress. The governor of South Carolina also promoted him to the rank of Brigadier General in the state militia. It would be years later that Fort Pickens, located in Pensacola, Florida on Santa Rosa Island, would be named in honor of Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, a soldier and hero in the American Revolution.