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Eutaw Springs

July 2024
1min read

Many readers rapped our knuckles for a serious gaffe we committed in the August, 1975, issue, where we said that the Battle of Eutaw Springs was fought in North Carolina. It took place, of course, in South Carolina. The most eloquent rebuke came from Sam P. Manning, who, as a South Carolina state representative, was chiefly responsible for having Cowpens—the site of Daniel Morgan’s setpiece victory over “Butcher” Tarleton—named a national historic site. He is now working for similar recognition for Eutaw Springs. After correcting us on our mix-up about the state, Representative Manning went on to say that he thought our illustration, which showed the Americans drinking and looting toward the end of the fight, did them a grave disservice:
The picture is unfair to the brave men who fought and died at Eutaw Springs. It does not convey in any sense the valor, the courage, or the sacrifices of the men who fought in this battle, which was probably the hardest-fought of the Revolution. If General Greene had lost at Eutaw Springs, it is doubtful that General Washington would have risked victory or defeat at Yorktown. It is interesting to note that John Adams wrote that the significance of Eutaw Springs was of equal importance to Yorktown.

The Continental Congress awarded a gold medal to Greene in honor of Eutaw Springs. It was one of six gold medals struck in Paris under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin during 1785-6 to honor significant actions of the recent war. The largest medal was given to Washington for the retreat of the British from Boston; the second largest went to Greene for Eutaw Springs. The presentation of this medal to Greene is one of the eight scenes from history on the bronze doors of the United States House of Representatives.

At Eutaw Springs both the Continental soldiers and the militia served with great gallantry. Soldiers from at least eleven of the thirteen states fought in the battle. (Among them was Greene’s orderly, a free black man from Maryland, who gave his life and was cited for bravery by Greene.) Over forty counties in twenty-one states are named in honor of the heroes of Eutaw Springs.

Your painting exaggerates in caricature one scene at the end of the battle but leaves out its meaning. Other paintings that AMERICAN HERITAGE has produced for other battles of less importance portray valor and patriotism; Eutaw Springs, one of the great battles of the war, deserves no less.

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