Then, the dragoons of the right British flank ran in a “beheading charge”, to ruin the militiamen’s rush, pushing them up. And that in their flight, already in panic, run over and dissolve the formations of the line of regulars. Morgan sent his orders to Washington with an assistant. The American dragoons advanced from their waiting positions near the right hill and, forming two shock lines, charged on the right flank of Tarleton’s dragoons, destroying their formation. Her troopers turned into a fugitives’ tumult, escaping individually from the rebel sabers. The sight of the British dragoons altered the militiamen. And Pickens and Morgan had to use thoroughly to retain their officials. And in order that them achieve that the militiamen were calming down, were recovering and forming in their companies and battalions in the rear slope. While this happened, the British line was coming at the close distance of combat with the last rebel line. This developed with an fire exchange. The British line hesitated and descended to reform. They had successively charge against 3 rebel lines… Then, Tarleton insisted with his infantry reserve: the Highlanders’s battalion initiated his march to attack the enemy right flank, trying to run over from there all his line. Little later, a militia’s company of Virginia at the end of this line was moving back and turning towards right, seeking to refuse his flank to the Highlanders and to receive them abreast. Morgan received then messengers of Pickens from the rear slope, indicating him that his militiamen were ready. Morgan ordered them to go round the defense position towards his right and attack the British who were in front to the Continentals‘ right flank.
The British line was advancing, for the fourth time and without any rest, already unconnected and turned in a crowd. Though the men were attacking, they were physic and mentally exhausted and had lost a too big number of officials and NCO. Without realizing it, the British were beaten and mature for a forceful counterattack. The cavalry of Washington prepared to charge on their right flank, from his waiting position. Meanwhile, the rebel regular infantry was receiving the British with another volley from approximately 27 ms. of distance. It was a devastating blow for the British, who stopped dead, stunned. The lieutenant colonel Howard gave his order to the men: «bayonet charge». The American dragoons also were charging with their sabers over the units of the right British flank. In this occasion, the British dragoons, placed behind, did not intervene, simply they dispersed and fled towards the forest. The remains of the British light infantry, the line infantry of the Legion and of the 7th regiment moved back dispersed and running, and were stopped and got prisoners by the Washington’s dragoons. In turn, in the rebel right flank, the militias of Virginia and the regular were facing the Scotch battalion of the Highlanders. For their part, Pickens’s militias in closed formation appeared surpassing this position and attacked them on flank and rear. Overwhelmed by this ungrateful surprise, the Scots hesitated in their lines, but continued the fight. The British cavalry reserve, the dragoons of the Legion, commanded by Tarleton in person, came in aid of the Highlanders. But, a volley from the militiamen of Pickens, took away the spirits from them and, already without expectations, they turned round and fled. The Highlanders were surrounded, except for their right flank, and to avoid destruction, mayor Mc Arthur gave up his sword. Only remained useful and in their positions the British gunners. Then, Howard’s infantry assaulted the pieces and beat them. Washington tried Tarleton’s pursuit, without result. Everything was finished.
Analysis and Lessons from Cowpens’s Battle.
Morgan’s falls were 12 dead and 61 injured men, equivalent to 7% of his force. The British had 110 dead and 830 prisoners, of which around 200 were injured, that supposed 85% of their force. And they also lost 2 regimental flags, 2 artillery pieces, 800 muskets, 35 load wagons, all the instruments of their music band and approximately 60 black slaves. Tarleton in his later memories declared: «some unforeseen fact (happened), that could throw the terror between the most disciplined troops and to resist the better thought plans». To this the experts call “surprise” and is an effective multiplier of the combat capacity applied.
In a small battle and of little more than one hour of duration, we see how a commander, at 24 days of his definitive fall because of rheumatism, could extract from the weakness and the lacks of his troops, renewed «forces», successive useful «combat capacities». And he recreates at his insignificant measures a small Cannas, without been he an Aníbal… Without the characteristics of his men had changed nothing at all. And so well he does it and so brave, direct, obstinate and sure is his arrogant enemy, that the results overcome his expectations and the orders received from General Greene. As Morgan was only trying to reject the intense pursuit that the impulsive British was submitting him.
In Cowpens, Morgan used the successive retreat of his slightly effective forces of free shooters and of the militiamen’s first line. It was logical and expected. Nevertheless, a regular force that moves back, without coming to the close fire or to the near threat of the bayonets, appears as a trick. The militiamen were stimulated in their moral and in their survival instinct. And no impossible emotional or an effort over their training and aptitudes were asked them, which generate some strong mental tension and enervation. This is going to be sufficient to seriously harm the assault and shock capacities of Tarleton’s regular infantry. And, in addition, without his «epaulettes» and NCOs noted it, since the regular troops were advancing on militiamen’s lines, which were behaving as was expected from them, that is to say, avoiding the shock and moving back. Tarleton launches, sure of possessing a remaining potential, being based on his comparison man to man. His linear logic is crushing. Nevertheless, after the second or third successive assaults, the best men suffer a general weariness: they get careless, their combat moral becomes neutral, have fallen too much officials and NCOs and their vulnerability is at maximum. The attackers have exhausted their combat capacity, though they continue instructively advancing.
Of this phenomenon also Sun Tzu treats. «He chooses his men and they take advantage the better possible of the situation«. Li Ch’uang comments this way: «The brave can fight; the prudent, defend itself; the wise person, advise. The talent of anyone is not wasted» and Chang Yu says: «Then the real method, when it is necessary to give orders to men, consists of using the greedy and the idiot, the wise person and the brave and in giving everyone the responsibility that are convenient for them in the situations. Do not entrust to the people tasks that cannot fulfill. Do a selection and give everyone responsibilities adapted to his qualities». «The one that bears in mind the situation, uses his men in the combat like who makes roll trunks or stones. Since it is in the nature of the trunks and of the stones to be in balance in a firm soil and to roll in an unstable soil. And if they are squared, they stop and if they are round, roll «.
After using them successively, without exhausting or allow that they are swept or come in panic, Morgan does not reject his men. He is incorporating them in reserves, with the moral grown by the effort supported over the regular British. he does not exhaust their potentials, but preserves and recovers them, recreating reserves. Though it is a question of little trained troops, they have a combat capacity applicable and operable on the enemy. The brigadier prevents that the shock or the depletion affect the inferior capacity of his men. Morgan avoids the wear, but uses it to the maximum against his enemy. The result would be less manifest and showy, if Tarleton had given rest and rotation to his different battalions. With it he would compensate very much it and might act more effectively on his opposite, using his reserves. This possibility presents a wealth-producing perspective of the holistic, global vision, of the treated phenomenon.