Cowpens, a post village in Spartanburg co., S. C, near the border of North Carolina, near which the British under Col. Tarleton were defeated, Jan. 17, 1781, by the Americans under Gen. Morgan. In the latter part of December, 1780, Morgan occupied the country between the Broad and Pacolet rivers, and Cornwallis despatched Tarleton with 1,100 choice troops, with two pieces of artillery, to force Morgan either to fight or retreat into North Carolina. Tarleton reached the Pacolet on the evening of Jan. 15. Morgan had intended to dispute the passage of the river, but being inferior in cavalry retired toward Broad river. Tarleton pressed on in pursuit, and on the morning of the 17th came up with Morgan in an open wood known as Hannah's Cowpens, being part of a grazing establishment belonging to a man named Hannah. The American troops, about 1,000 in number, were drawn up in two lines, the first composed of Carolina militia, with an advance corps of volunteer riflemen under the command of Col. Pickens, and the second of Maryland regulars and Virginia riflemen under Lieut. Col. Howard. In the rear was a reserve of cavalry, consisting of Lieut. Col. Washington's troop, 80 strong, and about 50 mounted volunteers under Major McCall. The British advanced to the charge, receiving an effective fire from the American riflemen, who in obedience to Morgan's orders fell back upon the first line.
The latter stood firm until within bayonet thrust of their opponents, when they also fell back upon the second line. Col. Howard attempted to change his front to the right, the order for executing which was misinterpreted into one for a retreat, and the whole line was thrown into some confusion. At this moment Morgan ordered them to retreat to an eminence behind which the cavalry were posted. The British rushed forward in some disorder, when they were met by a charge from Washington's dragoons. At the same time Howard's troops facing about gave them a volley of musketry, which was followed up so effectively with the bayonet that in a few minutes the British line was broken and put to flight. Tarleton, with a small band of horsemen, made a precipitate retreat, hotly pursued by Col. Washington. The British loss amounted to 300 killed and wounded, and between 500 and 600 prisoners. The Americans had 12 men killed and 60 wounded.