Here, Lawrence Babits provides a brand-new interpretation of this pivotal South Carolina battle. Whereas previous accounts relied on often inaccurate histories and a small sampling of participant narratives, Babits uses veterans' sworn pension statements, long-forgotten published accounts, and a thorough knowledge of weaponry, tactics, and the art of moving men across the landscape. He identifies where individuals were on the battlefield, when they were there, and what they saw--creating an absorbing common soldier's version of the conflict. His minute-by-minute account of the fighting explains what happened and why and, in the process, refutes much of the mythology that has clouded our picture of the battle.
Babits put the events at Cowpens into a sequence that makes sense given the landscape, the drill manual, the time frame, and participants' accounts. He presents an accurate accounting of the numbers involved and the battle's length. Using veterans' statements and an analysis of wounds, he shows how actions by North Carolina militia and American cavalry affected the battle at critical times. And, by fitting together clues from a number of incomplete and disparate narratives, he answers questions the participants themselves could not, such as why South Carolina militiamen ran toward dragoons they feared and what caused the "mistaken order" on the Continental right flank.