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"Cowpens Terrain" Topic

20 Posts

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18th Century

860 hits since 27 Mar 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 1:26 p.m. PST

I've been watching hours of YouTube videos of the Cowpens battlefield, trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak.
I've also looked a hundreds of photos and poured through several books, looking for terrain mentions.
Babits mentions that the area had been cleaned of firewood when the Over Mountain Men camped there right before the battle of Kings Mountain. He also writes that the battlefield was devoid of any sort of bushes, but gives no explanation why. He does mention two different sources for that.
We also know that it rained for several days prior to the battle and that it misted that morning. However there are no real reports of mud puddles or wet ground affecting the fighting.

I'm working on basing Triplet's Virginian Continentals and Tate's Virginia Militia, which was loaded with Ex Continentals. These will joining their Delaware/Maryland brothers on the main line at Cowpens

What I've come up with is knee high, winter wildgrass, mixed with scattered, white topped, weeds and various undergrowths.
I took some pix of the first stand. This is a WIP and I'm looking for comments or corrections

Has anyone visited the battlefield or have knowledge of the terrain?

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Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 1:53 p.m. PST

That's a right scary and scruffy looking band of varmints! grin
The Old Wagoner would love them.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 2:09 p.m. PST

Looking nice!

There's a solid write-up of the battlefield in True for the Cause of Liberty: The Second Spartan Regiment in the American Revolution

The author walked the field and includes photographs, details how a lot of earlier accounts do not fit the actual topography as it was at the time.

Ashokmarine28 Mar 2018 3:37 p.m. PST

I live about 40 minutes from it. What questions do you have?

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 4:06 p.m. PST

Been there several times – one thing to remember, as
battlefields go, this is TINY ! When you consider
the actual ground covered by the infantry of each side,
t'ain't much.

Add the (relatively few) mounted troops of each side and
the area they'd cover and it is still small.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 5:58 p.m. PST

Ashok, Is that an accurate representation of the ground on the battlefield?

Captain Avatar28 Mar 2018 7:28 p.m. PST

I have been to the battlefield and took part in the 225th re-enactment. The one thing you have to remember is that the battle took place in January, so the grass would be more a yellow and green and would not have any clover or anything along those lines as the bases depict.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 10:58 p.m. PST

Why would grass be yellow or green in January? It would be that dead blondish, pale color from less sun in winter.
In fact, I am using two blends of a color called "Wintergrass". I'll stick with this color.

That's not clover, it's weeds.

Durban Gamer29 Mar 2018 3:46 a.m. PST

Exceptionally nice paint jobs and basing. Agree, don't change a thing on this great recipe! Looking forward to your AAR when you game the battle!

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 5:12 a.m. PST

Yup, that looks like superb winter grass to me!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 5:52 a.m. PST

I'm looking in my back yard, admittedly in Pennsylvania.
Looks OK to me.

Sudwind Inactive Member29 Mar 2018 10:19 a.m. PST

Getting the colors right is nice, but to me the key too that battlefield are the subtle rises and slopes on that battlefield.

Rawdon29 Mar 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

I spent most of a day at the field last year in February. The grass would not be knee-high at the time of the battle. FWIW I would also say that it is much more brown than green.

The field is naturally well-drained on both sides and is not the clay found in much of the South, so I would expect that it was not muddy despite the earlier rains.

I can't explain why, but I have seen numerous comments from experts that prior to cultivation, much of South Carolina was not conducive to natural tree growth, with numerous savanna-like fields.

As Sudwind says, the terrain has a subtlety that is very hard to capture on a tabletop. Although the fighting area is flat to most intents and purposes, there are still some rises and hollows that are just sufficient to make infantry difficult or impossible to see from several hundred feet away.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 12:31 p.m. PST

At the time, it was native grasses that would be about waist high, not the mown parkland of today.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 2:57 p.m. PST

According to several sources the landscape has changed over the years. Springs and rivulets have dried up and changed the land. Where the Continentals were stationed would have had higher grass than the open meadows. Just my opinion.

Bill N30 Mar 2018 7:34 a.m. PST

Figures are great looking as always Bill, plus they appear to be based so they can be used for wargames. Last time I was at Cowpens was so long ago that I believe most of the battlefield may have still been in private hands.

42flanker30 Mar 2018 4:40 p.m. PST

One clue to the denseness and height of herbal vegetation in the vicinity, as well as the lack of woody shrubs, might lie in the name- Hannah's Cowpens.

bandrsntch30 Mar 2018 4:42 p.m. PST

Photos from my trip to Cowpens in 2012: link

Terrain looks flat,but is deceiving. There are small undulations that can make it difficult to see the whole length of the battlefield. Not a lot of vegetation on the field, but I don't think the present condition is exactly like it was. As it was used for grazing cattle, the undergrowth was probably similar thought. I understand the edges of the historical battlefield were more marshy than today, hence the straight on approach of the British rather than any flanking maneuvers.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 6:27 p.m. PST


Look at the tall grass in this painting.

Babits mentions that the 71 st Highlanders "threw down their arms, while others lay down in the TALL (My caps) grass".
I went through the Babits book pretty thoroughly and I only found one mention of the length of the grass.

Ashokmarine04 Apr 2018 9:24 a.m. PST

Yes sorry for the late response. Your grass looks accurate to me.

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