General Daniel Morgan knew his opponent. Lt. Colonel Banestre Tarleton was overly aggressive, particularly in pursuit of undisciplined militia. Morgan used this knowledge to trap Tarleton’s forces in hilly cow pasture.
The Battle of Cowpens turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in the South.
Just as we got to our horses, they overtook us and began to make a few hacks at some, however without doing much injury. They, in their haste, had pretty much scattered, perhaps thinking they would have another Fishing Creek frolic, but in a few moments Col Washington’s cavalry was among them like a whirlwind, and the poor fellows began to keel from their horses without being able to remount. The shock was so sudden and violent they could not stand it and immediately betook themselves to flight. There was no time to really, and they appeared to be as hard to stop as a drove of wild Choctaw steers going to a Pennsylvania market. In a few moments the clashing of swords was out of hearing and quickly out of sight.
By this time both lines of the infantry were warmly engaged and we, being relieved from the pursuit of the enemy, began to rally and prepare to redeem our credit, when Morgan rode up in front and, waving his sword, cried out, ‘Form, form, my brave fellows! Give them one more fire and the day is ours. Old Morgan was never beaten.’
We then advanced briskly and gained the right flank of the enemy, and they, being hard pressed in front by Howard and falling very fast, could not stand it long. They began to throw down their arms and surrender themselves prisoners of war. The whole army, except Tarleton and his horsemen, fell into the hands of Morgan, together with all the baggage.*
*James P Collins, Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier, reprinted in Commager & Morris, The Spirit of Seventy-Six, (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1958), 1156.