The Jetmakers | Perry's Saints | Thrilling Incidents In American History | Prev | Next

Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


THE British under Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton, numbering eleven hundred men, with two field-pieces, on the 17th of January, 1781, came in sight of eight hundred Americans, under General Morgan, posted at the Cowpens. The ground was by no means favourable for defensive warfare, leaving the flanks unprotected, and cutting off retreat by a deep river in the rear. Yet, under all these disadvantages, Morgan firmly awaited the arrival of his adversary, with the determination of giving battle. His army was drawn up in three lines, -the first composed of militia, the second of continental infantry, and a third, constituting the reserve, of Colonel Washington's cavalry, and a company of mounted militia.

As the armies hung on the verge of battle, Morgan rode among his troops, praising the unshrinking firmness with which they had sustained so many battles, exhorting them not to let the present one diminish their fame, and reminding them that they were fighting under a leader never yet defeated.

Scarcely were the words of that fiery appeal spoken, when the enemy came bearing down with irresistible fury, sweeping the militia before them and rushing forward to charge the regulars. Undismayed by the repulse of the militia, this little band bore up against the impetuous surge, and received the shock with unshrinking firmness. A terrible conflict began. Spurning their dead and wounded beneath their feet, the British drove on with the bayonet, charging and recharging with fearful rapidity. But, animated by the gallant Howard, the continentals bent forward to the blow, and wrestled with overpowering numbers, until they were completely outflanked. Morgan then ordered a retreat to the cavalry; and though in full range of a superior enemy, the whole line effected the movement in the most perfect order. By this means the flanks were relieved and a new order of battle formed.

Considering this retrograde movement as the precursor of flight, the British line pressed on with impetuosity and disorder; but with a rapidity truly astonishing, Howard's troops faced about, and discharged their pieces full in their opponents' faces. Stunned by this unexpected shock, the most advanced recoiled in confusion. At that critical moment Howard rushed on them with the bayonet. Wild rout and uproar took the place of pursuit. The advancing reserve sbared the fate of the main body- everything broke and scattered beneath Howard's terrible charge.

Meanwhile, the militia had rallied, and been attacked by the enemy's cavalry; but, at the same time, that the continental infantry charged the British line, Colonel Washington, with his dragoons, charged their cavalry. Hurled forward by this impetuous officer, our horsemen burst like an avalanche among the British, trampling horse and rider in the dust, and hurrying the others before him in full gallop. In a few moments they were crushing down ranks of their own army, that were fleeing before Howard. Then Morgan rallied his militia, and, shouting above the din of battle, drove down amid the disastrous rout. Urged by the sense of their sufferings from that very army, the Americans hurried to vengeance, with shouts of exultation. The clashing of bayonets, the thunderings of cavalry, the ringing of sabres, and noise of victory, pealed far and wide along those solitary plains; while in every direction, swords and bayonets and drums, and horses, and dead and dying, were strewed in utter confusion. Still the flight continued, and behind it the thunderings of pursuit, until the exhausted victors could no longer pursue. Washington followed Tarleton twenty miles; and, on one occasion, when separated from his command, was in imminent danger from three dragoons, who made a combined attack upon him. By the assistance of a soldier he drove these off, after receiving a wound in the knee.

In this decisive action, the Americans lost about seventy men, of whom twelve only were killed. The British infantry, with the exception of the baggage guard, were nearly all killed or taken. One hundred, including ten officers, were killed, twenty-three officers and five hundred privates were taken. The artillery, eight hundred muskets, two standards, thirty-five baggage-wagons, and one hundred dragoon horses remained with the victors.