he bloody butcher"
is what colonists called
British Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
He let his dragoons bayonet and hack hundreds of surrendering Americans at
Buford's Massacre during the Battle of Waxhaw, May 29, 1780.
In January of 1781, 26-year-old
Colonel Banastre Tarleton
1,200 of Britain's best troops,
consisting of British dragoons, regulars, highlanders and loyalists, in a day-long, non-stop pursuit of the Americans.
American General Daniel Morgan
led Colonel Banastre Tarleton into a trap --
the Battle of Cowpens
, JANUARY 17, 1781.
The Americans took a stand at two low hills with the Broad River behind them, leaving them no opportunity to retreat.
Seeing this as a tactically foolish move,
British Colonel Tarlton
gave into the temptation
the Americans without doing any reconnaissance.
This scene was depicted in the movie,
, in which Mel Gibson's character Benjamin Martin, is a composite portrayal of the fiercest Carolina fighters:
-Gen. Andrew Pickens
(nicknamed "the Wizard Owl");
-Gen. Francis Marion
(nicknamed "the Swamp Fox); and
-Col. Thomas Sumter
(nicknamed "the Carolina Gamecock").
, without allowing his fatigued troops to catch their breath after their exhaustive day long march,
ordered a headlong attack upon the American militia.
American General Daniel Morgan
his line of militia fire twice
into the charging British cavalry, then quickly retreat around a hill.
dragoons were now at a full gallop, charging toward the American position.
discovered that behind the militia was hiding a
wall of 400 battle-hardened American Continental soldiers
, with their rifles leveled.
The American Continentals stood immovable and fired at point-blank range.
Over 100 dragoons were hit and fell from their saddles.
militia which had retreated circled around
and appeared on the other side of the hill to attack
Tarlton barely escaped.
In the confusion,
110 British were killed and 830 captured.
Captured British officer, Maj. McArthur of the 71st Highlanders commented that "he was an officer before Tarleton was born; that the best troops in the service were put under 'that boy' to be sacrificed."
The Battle of Cowpens
is widely considered
the tactical masterpiece and turning point of the Revolutionary War.
Get the DVD Vol. 1- Miracles in American History (Episodes 1-10)
British General Cornwallis
was told the news, he was leaning on his sword -- and leaned so hard the blade snapped
abandoning his slow supply wagons
so he could pursue faster.
General Daniel Morgan
hastily retreated north, meeting up with
American General Nathanael Greene.
They raced to get out of
South Carolina, across
North Carolina to the border of
Virginia, where was the Great Dismal Swamp--over 100,000 acres of dangerous wetlands which would prevent British pursuit.
Cornwallis regrouped to chase the Americans
as fast as he could, discarding his slow and cumbersome supply wagons.
Cornwallis arrived at the
just two hours after the Americans had crossed, but a sudden storm made the river impassable, delaying the British pursuit.
The British nearly overtook the Americans at the
, but again rains flooded the river slowing the British.
Now it was a frantic
race to the Dan River.
The local historical marker reads:
"Boyd's and Irwin's ferries to the west were used by
Nathanael Greene in his passage of
Dan River, in mid-February, 1781, while
Cornwallis was in close pursuit."
General Nathanael Greene
quickly got the Americans across the
then another storm and flash flood ended the British chase.
British Commander Henry Clinton wrote:
"Here the royal army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over, who could not else have eluded Lord Cornwallis' grasp, so close was he upon their rear."
Having discarded his supply wagons in the desperate chase,
was now at a logistical disadvantage.
General Nathanael Greene
recrossed and fought against Cornwallis again at the
Battle of Guilford Court House
, March 15, 1781.
was shot in the right hand, causing the loss of two fingers.
Though the British technically won that battle, their heavy losses of over 500 killed or wounded, and their failure to capture American supplies, contributed to their subsequent defeat.
Badly needing supplies for his army,
was ordered by
British General Henry Clinton
to move his 8,000 troops to a defensive position where the
York River entered Chesapeake Bay, and wait for British ships to come to his aid.
Marquis de Lafayette
were successful in their efforts to persuade
French King Louis XVI to send ships and troops
to help the Americans.
French Admiral de Grasse
left off fighting the British in the West Indies and sailed 24 ships to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where he arrived just a perfect time to fight in the
Battle of the Capes.
Admiral de Grasse successfully drove off the 19 British ships which were trying to evacuate Cornwallis' men.
De Grasse's 3,000 French troops
General Rochambeau's 6,000 French troops
division as they marched to Yorktown.
There they joined General Washington in
trapping Cornwallis against the sea.
French troops also joined the ranks of:
-General Benjamin Lincoln,
-General Baron von Steuben,
-General Modecai Gist,
-General Henry Knox and
-General John Peter Muhlenberg.
17,000 French and American troops surrounded Cornwallis.
On October 19, 1781,
and the Revolutionary War was effectively over.
Yale President Ezra Stiles wrote, May 8, 1783:
Who but God could have ordained the critical arrival of the Gallic (French) fleet, so as to ... assist ... in the siege ... of Yorktown? ...
Should we not ... ascribe to a Supreme energy ... the wise ... generalship displayed by
General Greene ... leaving the ... roving Cornwallis to pursue his helter-skelter ill fated march into Virginia ...
It is God who had raised up for us a ... powerful ally
... a chosen army and a naval force:
who sent us a Rochambeau ... to fight side by side with a Washington ... in the ... battle of Yorktown."
wrote to William Gordon in March of 1781:
We have ... abundant reasons to thank Providence
for its many favorable interpositions in our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us."
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