We went down to Camden, SC, for the annual reenactment of
THE BATTLE OF CAMDEN, AUGUST 16,1780
Suddenly out of the quiet came a sharp challenge, an interchange of scattered shots, and then loud huzzas of challenging troops. The van of both armies came together at 2.30 o'clock in the morning on the Sutton farm, which was about 8 miles from Camden, just north of the ford over Gum Swamp. The British Legion cavalry dashed ahead to overcome by surprise and shock whatever might block their path. Armand's cavalry stood the charge for only a moment. The flanking columns of Infantry, under Armstrong and Porterfield, were prompt to get into position, from which their fire took the Legion cavalry in the flank, causing its precipitous retreat and the wounding of its commander. Meanwhile Colonel Webster was moving the British front division into position, and it was not long before the four companies of light infantry and the Twenty-third and Thirty-third Regiments were posted across the road, forming a wall behind which the Legion cavalry could rally and the remainder of the army halt in safety and recover from the surprise of the recounter.
In the first clash between the two advance parties the wounded in Armand's legion retreated and threw the whole of his corps into confusion. The corps recoiled suddenly against the front of the column of Infantry behind, creating disorder in the leading brigade, the First Maryland, and occasioning a general consternation throughout the whole extent of the Army. But this confusion in the main body was of no consequence, as the advance guard of light Infantry bravely and effectively held the ground in front, thereby providing time for the various organizations in rear to reestablish their poise. Lieutenant Colonel Porterfield, in whose bravery and judicious conduct great dependence was placed, received a mortal wound in the first rencounter and was obliged to retire, but his Infantry continued to hold their ground. Musketry fire was exchanged for nearly a quarter of an hour, when the two armies, finding themselves opposed to each other, ceased firing as though by mutual consent to determine upon the next move.
The prisoners taken by each side during this scrimmage soon informed their captors of the true condition of affairs. Cornwallis was assured by both prisoners and deserters that the whole of Gates's army was marching with the intention of attacking the British at Camden. From them Cornwallis learned that the force confronting him was far greater than his own. From one of the British who had been made a prisoner Colonel Williams obtained the startling information that five or six hundred yards in front lay the whole British Army, represented as consisting of about 3,000 regular troops, commanded by Lord Cornwallis in person. Each side was as much surprised at the astounding information as was the other. The situation least expected to arise that is, to encounter the opposing army on the march and in the dark had become a fearful reality, requiring the exercise of prompt and heroic qualities of leadership on the part of each commander were he to save his command from destruction and turn surprise into victory. Day, light was fast approaching; by half past 4 o'clock the dawn of the coming day would bring the armies within view of each other. But little more than an hour was left in which to deploy the troops into battle formation.
The Battle of Camden, the worst American battle defeat of the Revolution, was fought on August 16, 1780 nine miles north of the museum. Nearby, General Nathanael Greene and approximately 1,400 Americans engaged 950 British soldiers commanded by Lord Francis Rawdon on April 25, 1781. It was a costly British win and forced the Redcoats to evacuate Camden.
Man explains how the trade was done and what was traded.
The two horses used during the reenactment, a huge shire horse and a trough bred standing behind
Woman roasting over open fire. It smelled really, really good.
Same two horses with the Kershaw-Cornwallis house in the background.
Practicing Fife & Drum before the real show starts.
Old lady sitting on a bench resting.
The majestic shire horse.
A few "British" were rounded up and taken as prisoners.
British soldiers reloading after a volley of musket fire.
Very nice, well done reenactment. It was a little chilly from the overnight frost, but people showed up in droves regardless. The participants in the reenactment evidently slept in their tents Fri-Sat-Sun. Hope they stayed warm. I highly recommended watching this reenactment. It gives you a lot more insight into what happened, and how people survived.