The Revolution Overseas
The newspaper above is dated April 3, 1781, and is a copy of the Edinburgh Advertiser. In the paper is an account of the Battle of Cowpens where American General Daniel Morgan defeated the British army. Well, at least it should, but you see the article is very non-committal to the actual facts and calls into question Morgan’s so-called “victory”. With Scotland being a part of British Empire that kind of reporting is not that huge of a surprise. As the events in America reached other nations in Europe their reactions were wide and varied.
In Poland, there was a single newspaper and it leaned heavily pro-American. They used the “American” version of events and called out the British for their “brutality”. They also took the time to publish all the rebels manifestos and introduced their radical ideas to their own people.
Russia had two newspapers at the time, one run by the University of Moscow, the other the Russian Academy of sciences. They both took a more balanced approach to the war and didn’t take sides.
In Swede,n the Revolution was used to extract reforms from the regime of Gustav III.
Switzerland came out as very pro-British.
In the Italian province,s there was a strong pro-American bias but many of the newspapers leaned pro-British.
Spain favored the Americans out of self-interest. Their hope was an American victory in the war would allow them to take a greater share of the Atlantic that used to be their pond. This feeling eventually led them to join the war on the American side.
And most interesting was Portugal. A long time British ally that took the extraordinary step of suggesting to the Crown that the Americans should have their own parliament.
One thing was for sure, the world saw the struggle in America through many various lenses but they all awaited the results with bated breath.
A Continental Soldier (Kind of)
At the Cowpens Battlefield, they have this display set up as you see above. It lets you take a musket to your shoulder to “see what they saw”. From there you can get a good idea of the terrain on the battlefield that day in January of 1781.
At Cowpens, the American forces were made up of a mix of the regular Continental Army, and the militia. Or State troops as they were called. The Continentals were made up of units from Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. They had all seen a lot of action. In a lot of ways they were the cream of the American army and were allowed to head south due to the general stalemate that was going on up north. Combined that with the fact that they were led by General Daniel Morgan and back up by a number of equally well-seasoned militia troops, it is really no wonder they carried the day.
- A few interesting things about the Continentals that fought that day.
- Their average height was 5ft 6in (Which is what the shadow figure in the picture stands at.)
- Their musket weighed 10 Pounds
- Each piece of lead shot they carried weighed approx 1 ounce.
- The weather on the day of the battle had a temperature of 55-65 degrees with a wind that would reach 10 knots.
We have looked and will look again at the battle from a tactical and strategic view. For just a second thought we should put that wooden replica up to our own shoulder and think what it must have been like to stand there.
Washington Light Infantry Monument At The Cowpens
The National Battlefield Park at The Cowpens in South Carolina is a kind of serene place. The terrain is not the same as when the battle was fought there back on January 17th, 1781. Still, you can get a good sense of the land. When you are on the battlefield itself there is not much in the way of monuments. A stark difference compared to other battlefields.
The one exception out on the field is the Washington Light Infantry Monument which is pictured above. Fairly simply, not real gaudy, the pole in the center was topped with a brass eagle. Inside the base are several artifacts. A vial of water from Eutaw Springs (location of another battle later in the war). A brick from a house at Eutaw Springs. A handwritten account of the Battle of Cowpens and a roster of the members of the group that dedicated the memorial.
One of the first monuments dedicated to a battle from the American Revolution in the South, it was built in 1856 by the Washington Light Infantry a South Carolina militia regiment formed in 1807 and named for General George Washington though eventually it would become more closely associated with William Washington, the General’s cousin and a very important Continental Army commander in the war, especially the Southern Campaign.
Built at a time when the nation was starting to come apart, the monument was dedicated on the 75th anniversary of the battle, a move that some hoped would serve as a reminder of the common cause that brought the people together during the revolution. Considering what happened in South Carolina just a few years later, it didn’t really have the desired effect.
The British Army In The Colonies
The plaque above is part of small monument outside the visitor’s center at the Cowpens National Battlefield. Look back through the site and you will see some articles about Cowpens itself and some of the actors, but this plaque is a reminder that there are always two sides that fight in a war. For the British Army serving in America during the revolution, it was not all fun and games.
At the opening of the war the British Army numbered around 45,000 men scattered across the globe. The army at the time was not supplied or staffed and in the decade since end of the French & Indian war was arguably in decline. It should also be noted that a number of the troops were stationed in Ireland that was pretty much always in an active state of rebellion. (Thanks guys!)
This was the force that would be needed to face off against approximately 3 million unruly colonists three thousand miles away from their home base. It was simply not enough. While efforts to recruit more men were put into overdrive, they needed backup. This backup would come from the German states. German mercenaries, numbering about 30,000 would be used both in the colonies. They would also be used as garrison troops in other British possessions to free up regular troops. These two forces were joined by close to 20,000 American Loyalists.
By the end of the war approximately 4,000 British and 2,000 German soldiers were killed. By comparison the American battle casualties number about 7,000.
It is easy to pick sides during a war, especially when the war is from our past. It must never be forgotten that the other side was fighting for its own reasons. Seeing that plaque is just a reminder of that.
Big Ol’ Grasshopper
What you see above is one of the biggest grasshoppers you will ever see! This six pound cannon, called such because of the weight of the projectile, is a recreation of the small and relatively light model used by both sides during the American Revolution.
This particular one is at the Cowpens Battlefield park and is based on one that the British used during their attack on the Americans under General Daniel Morgan. This model was used a lot by the light infantry on both sides and though it lacked the punch of some of its larger brethren, it could often turn the tide of a battle but firing solid shot, canister or basically anything that would fit down the barrel it was deadly, especially at close range.
So, why was it called a grasshopper?
When moving the cannon into position the crew would often use two long poles that connected to axle. With these poles they could push or pull the piece up and down hills and over rough terrain. It maneuvered much easier than the larger cannons. These poles would be removed once the cannon was in its final position. While they were in they provided the cannon with unique appearance. I tried to find a photo of the cannon with the polls in place, but that is a little elusive. So I will provide the next best thing.
That is about what it would look like, Except, you know, as a cannon and not an insect. At some point we will go over the story of the Race for the Grasshopper that happened during Cowpens. Stay tuned.