Lesson Plan

Ranger-Led Tour Readers’ Theater

The climax of the Battle of Cowpens with the British clustered in the bottom left corner, facing the Continentals, who are lined up.

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
3.RI.7, 4.RI.9
State Standards:
SC 3-3.2, 3-3.3, 4-3.3, 8-2.5 
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.


Who were the different Patriot troops in the Battle of Cowpens?  What are some of their personal stories?


The Battle of Cowpens was a turning point in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. General Daniel Morgan commanded a mix of troops that included regular Continentals, dragoons (cavalry), and local militias. Morgan’s unique plan for the battle used the strengths of each of the troops in order to beat the British. His understanding of the strengths (and weaknesses) of his troops allowed him to complete a double envelopment, the only time this has been accomplished on American soil.


This lesson is intended to be used on the battlefield at Cowpens as a part of a ranger-led tour.


This reader’s theater is for elementary school groups to read as a supplement to a ranger-led tour of the battlefield. Each student will have at least one part to read in order to put themselves into the Revolution and the Battle of Cowpens. There are parts for 47 readers. Smaller groups will need students to read more than one part. All of the characters in the reading were actual participants in the battle according to Bobby Moss’ collections of pension records. Note: The places where quotation marks are used are actual quotes from the participants. The rest of the conversation is a fictional account.

Download Ranger-led Tour Reader’s Theater

Lesson Hook/Preview

It is suggested that students watch the film, “Cowpens: A Battle Remembered” at the Visitor Center before going on the tour and using this readers’ theater.


Step One: Assign roles to students using the lanyards that are available at the park. Distribute copies of the readers’ theater script to each group of 4-5 students.

Step Two: Go on the tour and read the sections of the script as instructed by the ranger. 

Step Three: It is suggested that students watch the fiber-optic map display after the tour in order to get a bird’s eye view of the battle. 


American Revolution - The American Revolution was a political upheaval that took place between 1765 and 1783 during which colonists in the Thirteen American Colonies rejected the British monarchy and aristocracy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain, and founded the United States of America. 

Continental – American regular army during the Revolutionary War. These soldiers enlisted and served for long periods of time. 

Dragoon - a mounted infantryman usually armed with a pistol and saber 

Cavalry – part of military that serves on horseback 

Militia – a body of citizen soldiers. These soldiers served for shorter periods of time and were armed with their personal weapons – usually hunting rifles and knives or tomahawks. 

Musket – A large caliber smooth bore gun used by the regular soldiers on both sides. 

Rifle – A gun with rifling in the bore. This allows for longer shots and greater accuracy.

Southern Campaign – Second part of the American Revolution fought in the Southern Colonies.

Assessment Materials

Post-Visit Assessment

The 3-part assessment consists of multiple choice, matching, and short answer questions.

Post-Visit Assessment

Cowpens National Battlefield 

Part 1 – Multiple Choice. Circle the letter for the choice that best answers each question.


  1. When did the Battle of Cowpens take place?
    1. December 17, 1781
    2. During the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.
    3. During the American Civil War
    4. Both a and b.
    5.  Why was the field where the battle took place called cowpens?
      1. Because it was near the town of Cowpens.
      2. Because Daniel Morgan didn’t really know the name of the place.
      3. Because it was used as a graving land for cattle.
      4. Because it was owned by a man named Cow.
      5. Who was the leader of the Patriot troops?
        1. Banastre Tarleton                                           c. George Washington
        2. Daniel Morgan                                                 d. Andrew Pickens
        3. Who was the leader of the British troops?
          1. Banastre Tarleton                                           c. George Washington
          2. Daniel Morgan                                                 d. Andrew Pickens



Part 2 – The Troops – For each statement, tell whether it describes the militia(M), the Continentals (C), or the dragoons/cavalry (D).

  1. _____ Were highly trained soldiers who had served for most of the war.
  2. _____ Were trained soldier who fought on horseback.
  3. _____ Were men who were used to hunting and protecting their families and only served for short periods.
  4. ____ Were armed with pistols and swords.
  5. ____ Were armed with individual hunting rifles and sometimes knives or tomahawks.
  6. ____ Were armed with Brown Bess muskets fitted with bayonets.


Part 3 – Short Answer

  1. Why was the Battle of Cowpens such an important battle in the American Revolution?









  1. If you had lived in the time of the Revolution, which type of soldier would you like to be? Why?


Post visit assessment for the Ranger led readers' theater

Download Assessment

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: October 27, 2016