Brant Gaede Posted July 5, 2011 Share Posted July 5, 2011 (edited) This negative view of American courage and fighting abilities was largely owing to the performance of American militiamen during the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years' War, as it was known on a worldwide scale), which ended in 1763. American farmers were not enthusiastic, to say the least, about being dragged from their homes to fight the French in Canada, so many of them either deserted or played dead during battles, such as the Battle of Quebec in 1759. These actions led British commanders, such as Major General James Wolfe, to spread the word that cowardice was part of the American character. (The 1992 movie, The Last of the Mohicans, provides an excellent account of this problem.)In short, the British parliamentary hawks did know their history, but they read it wrong. Hubris took precedence over commonsensical facts about human nature. GhsGeorge:Exactly. Some of our colonial leaders did learn from the French and Indian War, for example, the infamous/famous [depends on which end of the musket you were on] Major Marion, the Swamp Fox, and like: Most heroes of the Revolution were not the saints that biographers like Parson Weems would have them be, and Francis Marion was a man of his times: he owned slaves, and he fought in a brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians. While not noble by today's standards, Marion's experience in the French and Indian War prepared him for more admirable service. The Cherokee used the landscape to their advantage, Marion found; they concealed themselves in the Carolina backwoods and mounted devastating ambushes. Two decades later, Marion would apply these tactics against the British.Read more: http://www.smithsoni...l#ixzz1RFA8mRxRAdamMel Gibson's character in The Patriot was supposed to be a blend of Francis Marion ("The Swamp Fox") and Daniel Morgan, who designed the brilliant tactics at the Battle of Cowpens. Indeed, the final scene in that movie was supposed to be the Battle of Cowpens, but it was so ineptly done that audiences unfamiliar with the Battle of Cowpens had little or no idea of what was going on. Morgan, who was commanding a force composed of both militia and Contintental regulars, came up with the following plan: Unlike some American commanders, who denigrated militiamen for not standing up to savage British bayonet attacks after they had fired their muskets, Morgan positioned the militia in front of a hill and told them to fire two, possibly three, rounds at the British dragoons (led by the hated Colonel Tarleton), after which they were to turn and run over the hill. The British dragoons, figuring that this was more American cowardice, broke ranks and pursued the militiamen -- but once they got over the hill they were greeted by rows of Continential regulars, who mowed them down. This was a stunning defeat for Tarleton's crack dragoons -- who were, in effect, the special forces of the British army. GhsGeorge:Correct. The article I linked to above, makes your point about Gibson's portrayal in the film, explaining that:The 2000 movie The Patriot exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend for a whole new generation. Although Francis Marion led surprise attacks against the British, and was known for his cunning and resourcefulness, Mel Gibson played The Patriot's Marion-inspired protagonist as an action hero. "One of the silliest things the movie did," says Sean Busick, a professor of American history at Athens State University in Alabama, "was to make Marion into an 18th century Rambo." THE BATTLE PLAN Morgan surveyed the area in and around Cowpens as his forces were making camp for the night. In the evening Morgan personally talked to all his troops and commanders and made sure they succinctly understood his battle plan. The first line would be made up of all militia and his orders to them were to allow the British to come within killing distance and fire two volleys, aiming for the British officers and sergeants. They would then go to their left and right and retreat back and join the second line of militia, commanded by militia Colonel Andrew Pickens. The second line would fire three rounds and then fall back while reloading. Then both the first and second lines would combine their firepower with the third line of Colonel John Howard's battle hardened Continentals. Lieutenant Colonel Washington and his cavalry would be out of sight behind the knoll. At Morgan's command sometime after the first line had retreated and the second line was about to fire, he would dispatch the cavalry to come around on the left and the right flanks of the British. Thus the British would be forced to not only defend their front, but also their flanks. Morgan told all the men to get a good night's rest and have a good meal for the next day they would do battle with Tarleton's British Legion.The Wikipedia article on this battle is a must read. It was one of the decisive battles of the war leading inexorably to Yorktown and the most brilliant tactically of by either side. The war's most important American victory was at Saratoga. Also of supreme importance was the successful retreat from New York City to New Jersey.--Brant Edited July 5, 2011 by Brant Gaede Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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