I grew up in northern Ohio/northern Indiana, raised by parents who had also grown up in the Great Lakes region of the Midwest. My husband, however, grew up in South Carolina, a child of southern parents. As we get ready to head south, this time to a town just north of Mobile, Alabama, to visit his extended family, I am again pondering the differences in how we were taught history as children.
Of course, we were taught about the Civil War just a little differently. I got that part right away. But two major wars that came before the Civil War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812, have some significant differences, too. That I wasn’t prepared for, but I am enjoying it as I learn. When we were in South Carolina this past Thanksgiving, for example, I talked my in-laws into a trip to visit to two nearby national military parks: Cowpens and King’s Mountain. Battles of the American Revolution that I had never even heard of were fought here, and helped turn the tide of the whole war in America’s favor. The battles to the north in New England and the Mid-Atlantic colonies had brought about a stalemate, and the capture of Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1780 had left the British with a false sense of security about that colony as well. But the patriots had an advantage on top of Kings Mountain (as most armies on top of mountains have on those coming from below), and were able to defeat the British in October 1780. A few months later, Daniel Morgan famously ordered the rag-tag patriot militia-men to fire three times, and then they could leave the army to return home. The result was a victory at Cowpens, and continued victories for the Americans that eventually led to the final battle at Yorktown.
I’m sure I learned about those battles somewhere in my northern history classrooms, but they somehow got lost amid Lexington and Concord, Valley Forge, and Sarasota. Walking the trails with my husband and his parents that are just a little over an hour from their homes made that “other” part of the Revolution come to life. And, as a northerner, it was a treat to spend the day after Thanksgiving not battling snow and ice and shopping traffic, but enjoying the great outdoors and our balmy 70 degrees.