Saturday, July 04, 2015

William Ranney, "The Battle of Cowpens."

This painting, by William Ranney (1813-1857), considered one of the foremost American painters of the early nineteenth century, depicts an incident in the Battle of Cowpens, which took place on January 17, 1781 in western South Carolina, near the location of present day Spartanburg. In the painting, "an unnamed black soldier" on the left fires his pistol, "saving the life of Colonel William Washington" (a second cousin once removed of George Washington) on the white horse in the center.

I'm not sure of the title of this painting, or where it now resides. It was completed in 1845, no doubt based on accounts of the battle available to Ranney.

Cowpens was an important victory for the Continental Army, as it set back the British attempt to consolidate their earlier successes in the South--they had earlier captured Savannah in Georgia and Charleston and Camden in South Carolina--and helped to clear the way for the victory at Yorktown later that year.