small_the-battle-of-cowpens-sc-1781As the 232nd anniversary of the battle of Cowpens approaches, I picked up a copy of A Devil of a Whipping, the Battle of Cowpens. It was an easy read with some interesting info. Here are a few points:

  • During the Revolution, muskets were called firelocks because they generated their own fire, hence the later term firearm.
  • Both sides increased musket lethality, if not accuracy, by issuing buck and ball cartridges containing one large ball and at least three smaller (.30 caliber) balls.
  • By 1871 both sides deployed rapidly, (abandoning the slow, steady approach march) by closing the distance as quickly as possible, often with sizable gaps between men. This change in tactics was a response to American rifle fire and British artillery.
  • British artillerist John Muller recommended ricochet firing because it saved powder and was more dangerous. After the first ricochet, a ball might bounce another 400 yards and still injure men waiting in reserve.
  • American General Daniel Morgan issued a password and countersign ‘Who are you?’ Answer ‘Fire.’ Reply, ‘Sword.’ Similarly, D-Day’s password and countersign was ‘Flash.’ Reply, ‘Thunder.’
  • Sentries on horseback were called ‘videttes’

Next week I’ll post some tidbits about the battle itself. After that I’ll post photos and video from the anniversary celebration. I hope to make a few contacts that would be willing to guest post.