The Rifle in the American Revolution

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by Enfield58, Nov 12, 2019.

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  1. Nov 17, 2019 #21

    Enfield58

    Enfield58

    Enfield58

    40 cal - b

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    That was Nathaniel Greene's intention from the time Washington put him in command. Greene's goal was to make the British pay dearly for every square inch of ground they captured. The British, on the other hand, hoped to swell their ranks with loyal colonials who loved their king. That doesn't happen when you go into an area to win someone's hearts and minds but steal their livestock to feed your army and house your soldiers in your house just a few feet from your teenage daughter's bedroom.

    Had CNN been around back then, they would have said that the colonists were losing the war and the Nathaniel Greene was an incompetent general.

    Back to Mrogan and Cowpens. He didn't select the position because of any tactical advantage. He was forced into it by trying to get away from Tarelton. When he was handed a bunch of lemons, he made lemonade.

    I'd like to know how many of the Overmountain Men reinforced Morgan at Cowpens. These were season riflemen who knew how to employ irregular tactics. There were 1,000 of them at Kings Mountain against the same number of British and Loyalist troops. As Morgan had about 1,000 men in total at Cowpens, we obviously know that there weren't that many Overmountain men as there were at Kings Mountain.

    Kings Mountain was the classic set-piece battle with an even number of forces with terrain favoring the defender. Yet, taking advantage of the terrain for cover and concealment, the attackers managed to inflict over 300 casualties. There were Loyalist riflemen at Kings Mountain. I don't know how many were there but I doubt there were enough, as the numbers show, to inflict enough carnage on the attackers.

    Ferguson, prior to Kings Mountain, wasn't subtle in warning the Overmountain men to lay down their arms. He had sent a message to them stating that if they didn't lay down their arms he was going to ravage the countryside, burn their homes and hang their leaders. These backwoodsmen didn't need to listen to any other motivational speakers from their side.

    This is another example of how much psychology can factor into the outcome of a battle. The Overmountain men weren't just fighting for a new form of government. They were fighting for their families.

    Again, back to Morgan; he knew about the prior battles that the Overmountain men had fought in. He knew that he could rely on them. And he knew how to employ their skills at precision rifle fire.

    I'm running out of time but would like to explore more about Kings Mountain.
     
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  2. Nov 17, 2019 #22

    Artificer

    Artificer

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    First on King's Mountain. It was Cornwallis who actually had Broadsides published and widely distributed/posted, promising the families of the Overmountain Men would be "Put to Fire and the Sword," if they joined or supported the Patriot side. Corwallis' intent was to scare the Overmountain Men from joining the Patriots. Actually, it did just the opposite, it sent the Overmountain Men into a FURY.

    It is difficult for us today to understand just how much of a threat "being put to Fire and the Sword" meant, but everyone back then understood it to mean Cornwallis threatened they would murder the children, wives, parents and every person suspected of supporting anyone of the Overmountain Men who might come out. It also meant they would loot anything they wanted and that included the livestock. What they didn't want or couldn't take, they would kill and burn everything else to the ground.

    Since there had been so many real atrocities committed by the Loyalists vs Patriots of the South and Vice Versa (Our first Civil War), the Overmountain Men believed Cornwallis and his Loyalist Allies would do it, even though Cornwallis probably only meant it as a threat and would not have actually carried it out. Still, the Overmountain Men believed it and they came down with Blood in their Eyes. Actually, I'm a little surprised they didn't kill every last Loyalist prisoner they took at King's Mountain. (Major Patrick Ferguson was the only British Soldier at King's Mountain, all the rest of his troops were Loyalists.)

    As to how many of the Overmountain Men served at Cowpens w/Morgan, I don't believe anyone really knows. Most of them were not there, as many had gone home and some stayed in the area around King's Mountain as a "guarding/blocking force," the way we would describe it today. Some claim as many as 2 to 3 hundred Overmountain Men made it to fight at Cowpens, but they don't document it and that figure seems way high. Some claim less than 100 and maybe less than 50. Personally, I think that more realistic from the research I've done.

    Oh, there are also two main stories on how Morgan chose the battleground at Cowpens. One says Morgan had seen it and kept it in his memory as he ran the British under Tarleton ragged. The other was he was looking for a site like that while running the British ragged and when he found it, he decided to make his stand there. Either way, Morgan chose the site of the Battle that would best fit the tactics he intended to employ.

    Gus
     
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  3. Nov 18, 2019 #23

    dgracia

    dgracia

    dgracia

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    Regarding why the same tactics didn't work well for Greene that Morgan used to decimate Tarleton's force at Cowpens.

    The main reason that it didn't work nearly as well is because Greene did not have his lines set up close enough to support each other like Morgan did at Cowpens. The first line primarily contained Carolina militia with little, if any, experience. As they were instructed at Cowpens, this militia was also told to take two shots and fall back. Problem was they had to fall back too far. Nonetheless, they did manage to bloody the Brits a bit with their fire before falling back (actually scattered in no particular order). There were also some riflemen in that line and they headed to the flanks to snipe from there. In the meantime the main force of riflemen were coming around the Colonial's left flank and ran into an engagement with Hessians there, so they did not really impact the main battle at all.

    The second line at Guilford Courthouse was primarily composed of Virginia militia, the bulk of whom had served as regular soldiers of the line. This force caused huge problems and casualties for the British as the second line was in a wooded area and these militiamen were well experienced in fighting in such conditions. Eventually the fighting came out on the other side of the woods where the third line was arrayed along a ridge. Due to the inability of the Brits to see where all their force was, the Brits on the colonial's right side of the line came busting through first. Rather than wait for the rest of the British force to arrive, draw up battle lines and strike in force, this regiment attacked immediately. They were repulsed and their commander was killed.

    Meanwhile the rifleman who were out on the left flank were left on their own by Lee's cavalry that was supposed to be supporting them. They were pretty well wiped out by the Brits after the cavalry left.

    Back at the main battle, all the British forces had arrived by now and were fully engaged. Was a bit of a stalemate right up until Washington's cavalry came flying out of the Colonial's left flank behind the Brits and started obliterating the Guards regiment from behind. That is what triggered Cornwallis' order to fire grapeshot into the melee. He knew he would kill many of his own men but needed to break it up as the cavalry was cutting them to pieces.

    After busting up that melee, the entire line engaged and started pushing forward from the center. The Maryland 2nd Regiment that was made up of a few new folks, but mostly battle-hardened veterans held the center. They collapsed at the first attack and fled the field. Greene ordered a retreat at this point using the road behind his right flank and protecting his retreat with a small rear-guard force.

    The British had won the field but lost over 1/4 of the southern army doing so. They also had burned their supply train of wagons before the battle in an effort to move quickly and close with Greene at Guilford Courthouse. So they started heading for the coast without any supplies (about 200-miles away or so) and none of the expected support from the locals.

    Greene tried to follow them and harry their retreat but soon after turned south and went through South Carolina fighting numerous engagements. He lost most of the engagements but was able to cause enough damage to British forces that they were no longer a viable force in the Carolinas. British Prime Minister Lord North commented upon learning of the British Victory at Guilford that another such victory would lose the war for Britain.

    Shortly after Cornwallis returned to Wilmington, Virginia where he was reinforced and then took up a position first in Gloucester Point. He was then directed by General Clinton to move to Yorktown and was promised reinforcements by ship from New York. That did not go as planned, and instead he surrendered his army of 8,000 men at Yorktown.

    Twisted_1in66 :thumb:
    Dan
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2019
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  4. Nov 19, 2019 #24

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

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    I stopped reading the article right after the b.s. about rifle shooters needing steel short starters.
     

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