How do we remember events like the Battle of the Cowpens?
Cowpens National Battlefield is a significant American historical site corrupted by its modern role and the community around it. When I visited Cowpens I found myself unable to connect myself to the carnage that occurred their during the Revolutionary War. Unlike other battlefields I have visited during my lifetime, Cowpens was presented not as a Hallowed ground but a site of American exceptionalism. The activities I watched and participated in, the Overmountain Watch reenactment, historical presentation by the Park Ranger, and the Sons of Liberty, focused on the heroism and plight of the American soldiers. This information is important to know when considering Cowpens historical significance, however several key elements were ignored. First, the historical presentations at Cowpens scarcely acknowledged the horrors of war. The emphasis on the American’s victory and skill in doing so, ignores that two thousand men died there and that war itself is an atrocity. In fact, I almost felt as if the violence that won independence in the Revolutionary War was being lauded. Secondly, although the presentations noted the contribution and sacrifice of minority groups such as African-American slaves and indentured servants, there was no commemoration to them on the battlefield and in no mention of their role in the parade for American exceptionalism. This is a disrespect to the practice of history in that it refuses to celebrate the full truth of the battle and sacrifice and leaves today’s marginalized people distant to this event. Finally, the Park is too ingrained in its modern local community. The curators of the Park seemed proud of its history and stressed its importance to the surrounding community. The influence of this community on the park is evident, the Park’s identity shifted from a place of historical significance to a place of local pride and a cauldron for the brewing of nationalism. This corrupts not only its role as a historical site but it again ignores the Hallowed nature of the ground. My final impression of the Cowpens National Battlefield as a whole is that the Park is mislabeled as a site of American Pride, rather than a Monument to the sins, shortcomings, and violence of humans as a species.
“Cowpens National Battlefield, Chesnee.” TripAdvisor. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60779-d269062-Reviews-Cowpens_National_Battlefield-Chesnee_South_Carolina.html.