The Four Horsemen of the visioned Apocalypse rode white, red, black, and pale horses symbolizing the military horrors of conquest, violence, famine, and death. The four-day Revolutionary War Cavalry Conference horsemen rode gray, Chickasaw red, partisan brown, palomino, black and white horses demonstrating courage, vigilance, force, and determination. Saturday's field lessons and cavalry charge on the Cowpens field highlighted the powerful, destructive force of the disciplined trooper mounted upon a military horse in the American Revolution. More than any previous SCAR conference, the boldness, strength and theatricality involved with this military instrumentality of the horse exuded forth among us.
The horsemen's pounding earth was further grounded for attendees by the two days of in-depth, shared research and stirring presentations of 20 professional and amateur scholars. Wofford College, the South Carolina Historical Society and Cowpens National Battlefield saddled-up with SCAR to make this charge in November 2007 a most memorable and enlightening educational experience. Participants learned, questioned and debated martial equestrian sciences and period arts through featured command personalities, cavalry tactics and uses of the horse in specific battles and campaigns, as well as for reconnaisance and raiding. The welcome hall looked like a backcountry rendezvous: part tackshop, studio, artifactual collective, saddlery, commisary, and horse-trading exchange.
It served to flavor our one-on-one gatherings, small-talk and purchase of books, pictures and paintings. From the first day through the fourth, 18th century leather was never far from our nostrils. We began to have an understand of horses, the command of cavalrymen, the recruitment of dragoons and partisans, the equipping and feeding of horse company, and the hassles and honor of independent commands.
Because of Wofford's generous hospitality, embodied in Charlie Gray and Doyle Boggs, over 100 troopers thoroughly enjoyed outstanding fellowship, entertainment and scholarship in first-rate accommodations. Book-ended by rides to Ninety Six to hear an SCAR guided to the Star Fort by way of Blackstock's Plantation where experts John Allison and Mike Burgess explained how Gen. Thomas Sumter’s combined Georgia, North and South Carolina militias stopped the raid of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. At a quick stop by Musgrove’s Mill Interpretive Ranger, Brian Robson, explained the dynamics of this important Patriot victory where the combined Carolina and Georgia militias stopped a British army during the lowest point of Patriot morale. We visited the site of Lt. Col.
William Washington’s one-sided victory over Georgia Loyalist militia at Hammond's Old Store. We traveled by way of Cedar Spring, SC Patriot militia Col. John Thomas’ camp where he was warned of a planned British ambush by the legendary heroic ride of his mother, Jane Black Thomas from Ninety Six. We visited the understudied Battle of Thompson's Peach Orchard - Wofford's Iron Works where George Fields took us cross-country to this beautiful site on Lawson’s Fork.
Prof. Gregory J. W. Urwin gave the conference’s keynote presentation: “’There Is No Carrying on the War without Them’: The Continental Light Dragoons, 1776-83”. Prof. Urwin is an author (The United States Cavalry: an Illustrated History and seven other military history books), SCAR contributor, reenactor, military historian, and The History Channel contributor. Urwin serves as a Professor of History at Temple University; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy at Temple University; General Editor, Campaigns and Commanders, University of Oklahoma Press, and is a Fellow, Company of Military Historians. Prof. Urwin, though sick with the flu, rendered a stirring overview of the Continental dragoons, their organization and combat contributions to the Patriots’ cause. His briskly paced keynote address was delivered at Friday’s dinner at the Piedmont Club accompanied by ample visual illustrations.
Leading off the lecture portions of the conference were Scott Miskimon whose paper, “Col. Anthony Walton White and his Defeat at Lenud’s Ferry” and Michael Scoggins who spoke on the “Mounted troops in the Southern backcountry”. The moderator, Patrick O’Kelley, stirred the discussions between Dr. Lee McGee, who presented his thoughts on “William Washington operated as clear patterns of 18th century European cavalry practices and how he came to know how to do that” and Dr. Mark Danley, who discussed “the role of cavalry forces in eighteenth-century British strategic thought and operational art." Moderator Prof. Rory Cornish lead the discussions with Dr. Jim Piecuch who told the controversial story of “The British Black Dragoons” who operated out of Charles Town in the latter days of the war and Todd Braisted who humorously looked at “Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe and the Queens American Rangers.” Kicking off Saturday morning, our eye-opener was Dr. Robert A. Selig who spellbindingly explained the bad boys’ behavior of “Lauzun’s Legion at the Battle of the Hook at Gloucester” and Charles Price who discussed "Cavalry Operations at Eutaw Springs: A Novelist's View". Price was followed by an engaging description by John Hutchins of the “Fight at Poundridge.”
Displayed at Wofford were book, map and antiquarian book vendors; miniature dioramas depicting important battles; book-signings by our presenters; artifact and ephemera displays; and opportunities to discuss your theories and questions with the presenters and colleagues. Informative presentations, fellowship and great entertainment were had by the attendees.