|Daddy's school goes on a field trip|
|Written by Rob Peecher|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011|
The sign said: “No visitors beyond this point,” and another sign attached to the first said, “Trail closed for your safety.”
I stepped past the barrier and kept going. My middle son,
Nathan, walked with me out through the patches of snow on the
“Don’t look back,” I told Nate. “Just keep walking like you’re supposed to be here.”
It’s hard to tell an 11-year-old anything, so as soon as I told him not to look back he kept turning around to see if the park rangers were going to yell at us.
They didn’t, though my wife and father (who were not as adventurous and decided to remain behind the signs) heard them debating whether or not to call us back.
On Saturday, Daddy’s
To mark the 230th Anniversary of this turning-point in the American Revolution, there were dozens of re-enactors at the battlefield. They gave camp life demonstrations, cavalry charge demonstrations, musket firing demonstrations and even some boys in blue coats demonstrated firing a cannon. Of course, Gen. Daniel Morgan brought no cannons to Cowpens, but historical accuracy sometimes falls to the wayside when there’s an opportunity to shoot off a really cool gun.
As we walked down the
In the confusion of battle, the Continentals misunderstood
an order to turn and face the 71st Highlanders. Instead, they
started an orderly retreat. Morgan rode to the front, reorganized his army and
along with the militia they rolled up Tarleton’s left flank. Then
Tarleton tucked tail and ran, and he was one of the few British to make it out of Cowpens. Most of those who were not killed were captured, and Daniel Morgan had achieved something rare on the field of battle. Morgan had managed to roll both of his enemy’s flanks in a total envelopment.
They were tough men 230 years ago.
Morgan himself had fought for the British in the French and Indian war. Driven by that spirit of independence that led to the American Revolution, Morgan had punched a British officer. His punishment was 500 lashes. The story goes that the drummer counting out the lashes miscounted and Morgan only received 499 lashes. Legend tells us that Morgan delighted in telling the story and claiming that the British owed him one more lash.
Also during the French and Indian War, Morgan was shot in the back of the neck. The musket ball crashed through his jaw, knocking out a couple of teeth, and exited his left cheek.
Tarleton was well hated among
Washington and Tarleton engaged in hand-to-hand combat. One
of Tarleton’s dragoons nearly killed
It seemed beyond ridiculous to me that we’d come so far to visit the battlefield where men like this fought for independence only to be prevented from venturing out onto the battlefield because of a little snow and ice. Slipping on ice is nothing compared to being shot in the back of the neck.
So I ignored my own safety and the warning sign. I threw
caution to the wind, and I actually walked through patches of snow to read the
markers, see the monument to
According to Thomas Young, a private in the
Young tells us that this is what Morgan said: “Just hold up your heads, boys, three fires, and you are free, and then when you return to your homes, how the old folks will bless you, and the girls kiss you for your gallant conduct!”
It’s that gallant conduct, 230 years later, that brought us
Up to this point, Cornwallis in the South had been largely
successful. But at Cowpens he was to lose a third of his army. Two months
later, at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in
Shortly after this, Cornwallis would give up the Southern
Campaign and take his army to
The Battle of Cowpens lasted less than an hour, but it determined the course of human history.
I enjoy these fieldtrips for Daddy’s
That’s why I’m so excited that this year also marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. It’s good that my children enjoy their history fieldtrips, because over the next few years I expect they will be going on lots of battlefield tours.
Rob Peecher is editor of The Oconee Leader and will be giving lectures on the other side of “No visitors beyond this point” signs at battlefields all over the Southeast in the coming years.
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