In the fall of 1780, George Washington appointed General Nathanael Greene to command the Continental army in the South. From North Carolina, Greene sent a portion of his men under General Daniel Morgan to harass the British in western South Carolina.
Greene’s strategy when he went to the south was to split his command. He knew If he took his entire army up against Lt. General Charles Earl Cornwallis, they wouldn't stand a chance. He hoped Cornwallis would do the same and divide his own force.
Cornwallis did exactly as Greene hoped and sent Lt. Colonel Barnastre Tarleton to chase after Morgan's army.
Tarleton met Morgan's men on January 17, 1781 at the Battle of Cowpens.