The Top-Five list included Larry’s 1998 book A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. The list appeared in the July 2, 2021, issue of The Wall Street Journal and was selected by Dr. John Ferling, Professor Emeritus at the University of West Georgia, author, most recently, of Winning Independence.
Larry does a lot of work behind the scenes at Civil War News—including making sure the hard-copy version of our ECW newsletter looks good every month. We wanted to join in giving him a shout-out for this recent recognition.
About Devil of a Whipping:
The battle of Cowpens, fought in South Carolina on Jan. 17, 1781, is overshadowed by other clashes in the Revolutionary War, many of less importance. But Lawrence Babits argues that Cowpens, an engagement between two small armies that lasted less than 40 minutes, was in fact a turning point. Not only was it crucial in restoring America’s sagging morale, but its impact on the British army was immense. No battle in this war featured more colorful commanders. Banastre Tarleton, the 26-year-old former law student who commanded the British Legion, was the most feared and hated enemy leader in the southern theater. Daniel Morgan may well have been the Continental Army’s best leader of men. Like most of his soldiers, became from a hardscrabble background and knew how to motivate his troops. Cowpens, Mr. Babits argues, was Morgan’s “tactical masterpiece.” The book reveals the gore, valor, and savagery of a battle that cost Tarleton close to 90% of his men and ended with the British commander running for his life. Cowpens, Mr. Babits concludes, ushered in a new phase in the war-one that ended nine months later in the even great British disaster at Yorktown.
For more information on Larry’s book, visit UNC Press.
Lawrence E. Babits, Ph.D., has experience in military and maritime archaeology. After earning degrees at the University of Maryland (BA, MA) and Brown University (PhD), he taught at Washington and Lee University, Armstrong State College, and East Carolina University. He retired as Director, Program in Maritime Studies, East Carolina University in 2012.
He was the McCann-Taggert Lecturer for the American Institute of Archaeology in 1995 and named a George Washington Distinguished Professor of History, by the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati (2000), and a Fellow, by the Company of Military Historians (2007).
His publications include a great many book reviews, papers, and reports including, “Fort Dobbs on the Carolina Frontier,” “Archaeological Investigations at Causton’s Bluff, Chatham County, Georgia,” and “Chesapeake Bay Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Maritime Battlefields.”
His books include “Long, Obstinate and Bloody” The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (co-authored with Joshua Howard), University of North Carolina Press, 2009; Fields of Conflict: Battlefield Archaeology from Sparta to the Korean War (co-edited with Douglas D. Scott and Charles Haecker), Potomac Press, 2006; From These Honored Dead – Historical Archaeology of the American Civil War (co-edited with Clarence R. Geier and Douglas D. Scott), University Press of Florida, 2014; and Maritime Archaeology – A Guide to Theoretical and Substantive Contributions (co-edited with Hans Van Tilburg). Plenum Press, 1998.
From 17 June 1963 until 16 June 1966, Babits served in the US Army’s 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry (Gimlets) during tours of duty in Munich and Berlin. After completing service as a Sergeant E-5, he went “on the road,” traveling between England and Afghanistan on the local economy.
Babits has been a military reenactor since 1961 interpreting periods as diverse as 1585 and the Vietnam War, but primarily as a “rear rank private” in the Revolutionary and Civil War’s First Maryland Regiment. He served as a crewman aboard the U.S. Brig Niagara from 1996 to 2004. He has shot competitively with crossbows, matchlocks, flintlocks, percussion, and cartridge weapons.