American Guerillas Part Three: The Old Wagoner’s Revenge
In the year 1780, South Carolina was in the grip of violence and turmoil. On December 3, 1780, General Nathanael Greene assumed command of the southern department from General Horatio Gates. Gates, the hero of Saratoga, had struggled in the Carolinas most notably at the disastrous battle of Camden. The Continental Congress relented to General Washington’s preferred commander: Nathanael Greene. Thus, Greene left his post at West Point and traveled south.
General Greene had a series of challenging decisions in front of him. How was he going to rebuild a nearly destroyed army? How was he going to recruit and train his forces to eventually challenge General Cornwallis? The task ahead of him was daunting. In the face of overwhelming odds, he made a militarily unorthodox decision: He split his army.
In command of the other half of his army was General Daniel Morgan, a brawler from the Virginia backcountry. Morgan was a veteran of the French and Indian War. He was captured and held as a POW after the failed invasion of Quebec. He later distinguished himself as one of the heroes of the Saratoga campaign. In January 1781, Morgan was also faced with improbable odds. As he commanded General Greene’s “flying army”, Cornwallis sent Lt. Col. “Bloody Ban” Tarleton to pursue Morgan.
On January 17, 1781, General Morgan made a stand in a local cow pasture in northwest South Carolina. We know this location as Cowpens. It was here that Morgan achieved one of the most tactically brilliant victories in American military history. We know Morgan as the “Old Wagoner”, but he could just as easily be called the American Hannibal. Check out part three of the series and learn more about what happened at the Battle of Cowpens!
Also, check out the MP3 link.
American Guerillas Series
Check out the previous episodes.
- American Guerillas Part One: War in the Carolinas
- American Guerillas Part Two: The Sword of the Lord and Gideon
Sources and Further Reading
- A Devil of a Whipping
- William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader in the War of Independence
- The Road to Guilford Courthouse
- Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life
- Kings Mountain and Cowpens
- Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution
- South Carolina and the American Revolution
- To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan
- The Cowpens Staff Ride and Battlefield Tour by Lieutenant Colonel John Moncure