Commander William Earl Fanin, Class of 1945, Capstone Essay Contest
In January 1781, a scratch force of American militia, dragoons, and regulars met the infamous "Butcher" Tarleton and his veteran regulars and Loyalists in battle in the wilds of northwestern South Carolina at Cowpens—and achieved one of the most remarkable victories for the young American nation during the Revolution.
The cold January morning air bit at the column of red-coated soldiers making their way through the forest. It had been raining for several days and they were miserable. They had been without food for two days and had managed only four hours of sleep the previous night. Up ahead, a rifle shot rang out and another soldier fell to the harassing fire that had been ongoing for several hours. A squadron of dragoons clattered by, their drawn sabers flashing in the early morning light as they pursued the unseen shooter, but they soon returned empty-handed. The men grumbled and pressed onward.