Lesson Plan

The Battle of Cowpens: The Journal of James Collins

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
Language Arts, Revolutionary War, Social Studies, Sports
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
NC: Soc Stud: 4th 12.1-12.2; 8th 4.2, 4.5. ELA: 3rd 2.01, 2.05, 2.06, 2.07, 4.10, 5.01-5.08; 4th 2.01, 2.02, 2.05, 2.06, 2.07, 2.08, 5.01-5.09; 5th 2.05, 2.06, 2.07, 2.09, 5.01-5.08. SC: Soc Stud: 3.2.7, 4.1.7, 8.2.6. ELA: 4th II-A; 8th I-L; IV-B, F; V-A


GOAL: To help students gain skills in understanding a primary (original) historical source, i.e., a journal as it relates to the Battle of Cowpens.


  • The student will contrast a primary source with a secondary source.
  • The student will abstract and summarize selections from the primary source.
  • The student will describe insights gained into the battle.
  • The student will discuss the importance and pitfalls of primary sources.


James Collins was a 17-year-old South Carolinian who fought with General Thomas Sumter and other militia leaders after the fall of Charleston to the British. He kept a journal in which he wrote of British destruction, and battles leading up to the Battle of Cowpens. His account gives great insight into the battle, Daniel Morgan, his attitude toward the British, and the hardships of the militia. Probably his best account is that of the militia line as they got off two volleys and retreated in the face of Tarleton’s attack.



Additional Resources

Roberts, John M., ed. Autobiography of a Revolutionary War Soldier (James Collins). Ayer Company Publishers, Inc.: North Stratford, New Hampshire, 1989. Originally published by Feliciana Democrat, Printers, Clinton, Louisiana, 1859.


Last updated: April 14, 2015