This is a review from our study trip to Cowpens, SC. We visited for a special program featuring the anniversary of The Night Before Kings Mountain.
The Night Before Kings Mountain special program was unlike any other experience I’ve had before, especially since I’ve always experienced historical and educational settings in a Northern perspective. I was born and raised in Chicago and do not remember learning about The Battle of Cowpens or the Battle of Kings Mountain as crucial turning points in The American Revolution. The major ones I learned about in school were the Battle at Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Saratoga. Overall, the information presented to us about the Battle of Kings Mountain and Battle of Cowpens became somewhat cheapened by their over glorification of their overdrawn reenactments, movies, and stories.
The use of gunshots and fanatical patriotism throughout the storytelling of the two battles was jarring. Every time they would shout out a patriotic sentiment, although it was a reenactment, it reminded me that there does exist people that truly do subscribe to the America-loving, gun culture society. The children from the living wax museum also presented their characters in a way that reinforced gender roles, with the women being characterized as defenseless and oblivious. Abigail Adams declared that “she doesn’t understand all [that’s going on with the war].” Whereas Captain Morgans had a triumphant nature when he stated that the “ladies will kiss [the men] on the cheeks after their victory.” It’s important to see these narratives to learn from them in order to avoid these narratives from becoming manifested in modern society. And the conclusion of the program, when watching the reenactors all line up to shoot in the air at the end, somewhat sickened me instead of invoking feelings of patriotism.
Moreso, the lack of diversity in the stories they told — and reenactors themselves– prevented this historical and educational experience from being inclusive and objective. If it was not for Davidson’s students, the audience for this event would have been even more limited and less diverse. This program was targeted to a certain audience and to hear Ranger Slaughter ask who has ancestors that fought in the Revolutionary War reinforced this for me. Ranger Slaughter continued to discuss strong, genetic ties to the Revolution, which made me feel further isolated from what it means to be a true patriotic “American,” because although I am American, my paternal grandparents are from Poland and my maternal grandparents are from China. This is why the education was demonetized for me once the bias of the storytellers was brought into the picture.