Historical Influence

Sweetgum leaf and ball
Sweetgum leaf and ball

“The battle field [sic] was almost a plain with a ravine on both hands, and very little under growth [sic] in front or near us.”
- Thomas Young

Although there were many "cow pens" in the Carolina piedmont area, this one in particular stood out as a rallying point for American Continental soldiers. Cowpens at the time of the battle contained much larger trees than it does today, with little to no understory. These large trees included the white oak, sweetgum, short-leaf pine, and various red oak species. It was said that a man could ride his horse with his arm fully extended upward and still not touch any tree branches. The field and lack of understory in the forest were a result of cattle grazing. Cattle were brought to the cow pens to feed on the native cane species and the pea-vine (most likely one of two Desmodium species still found today on the battlefield).

The cane brakes on the battlefield also played an active role in slowing down the British troops' advancement toward the Continentals.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Cowpens National Battlefield
338 New Pleasant Road

Gaffney, SC 29341


(864) 461-2828

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