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Battle of Cowpens

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Battle of Cowpens

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After the revolutionary war, the Continental Congress awarded General Daniel Morgan a gold plaque for his victory at the Battle of Cowpens, which took place in January 1781 in South Carolina. Morgan's outnumbered troops routed the British dragoons under Colonel Banastre Tarleton, known as "The Butcher" or "Bloody Ben" for killing his prisoners.

In 1845, painter William Ranney recreated the scene in oils, probably from a traditional retelling or from an account of the Battle of Cowpens recorded in John Marshall's biography of George Washington.

According to Marshall, "a waiter, too small to wield a sword" saved the life of a relative of George Washington during the battle. Just as Lieutenant Colonel William Washington, leader of the patriot calvary, was about to be cut down by a sword, the black man "saved him by wounding the officer with a ball from a pistol." Ranney depicts the unnamed man as a bugler astride a horse, as Morgan and Washington battle three British soldiers.

Image Credit: South Carolina State House

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Related Entries:
American foot soldiers, Yorktown campaign
George Washington crossing the Delaware River by Sully
George Washington crossing the Delaware River by Leutze
Portrait of a black Revolutionary War sailor
Free black Patriots

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