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Preservation of the Battle of Camden

MapEight miles north of the town of Camden is the battlefield where American forces suffered their worst field defeat of the Revolutionary War. On August 16, 1780, the Continentals and militia under Gen. Horatio Gates ran into the British forces commanded by Gen. Charles Cornwallis in the longleaf pine forest of the sandhills. Despite the valiant fighting of the Maryland and Delaware regiments commanded by Baron de Kalb, the untrained, ill-equipped militia were no match for the professional British Regulars and the militia lines collapsed.   The British Legion fell upon the fleeing militia, leaving the road to Charlotte littered with abandoned gear, dead horses, and dying soldiers.   General Gates took flight, never stopping until he reached Charlotte that night, 65 miles away. For in depth information on the battle, go to       

Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) and the Katawba Valley Land Trust negotiated an easement with Bowater Inc. in 2000 to protect 310 acres at the core of the battlefield from development.   The next year a coalition of 20 federal, state, and local agencies and non-profit organizations formed the Battle of Camden Council to formulate a plan to preserve the Battle of Camden site.   PCF agreed to act as the administrative and fiduciary agent for the BOC Council. Grants from the American Battlefield Protection Program to PCF provided the means to conduct archaeological and historical research and the development of a preservation plan.

Since then we have purchased the Bowater property and 161 acres from Crescent Resources. Both acquisitions were funded through the SC Conservation Bank. The Daughters of the American Revolution transferred the 6 acres they had been protecting since 1907 to PCF such that we now have a 477-acre battlefield under permanent protection.

A large grant from the National Park Service – Save America's Treasures is being used to:

  • Restore the viewshed and terrain to the conditions at the time of the battle in 1780, i.e. a longleaf pine forest
  • Conduct archaeological research to locate and protect graves and cultural resources
  • Provide curation of artifacts for protection and display to the public
  • Conduct aerial photography and develop a digital system of topographic data
  • Construct walking trails and provide interpretation signage for the public

The forest is being returned to longleaf pine, archaeological research has uncovered over 1000 artifacts from the battle, and over 3 miles of hiking trails have been built.   Interpretive signs along the trail have been installed and a podcast developed to help bring the story to life. 

The goal of the Battle of Camden Council and PCF has been to establish a public battlefield park under the auspices of the National Park Service or SC State Parks. Legislation for the former and negotiations with the latter are ongoing.

The Archaeology of the Camden Battlefield: History, Private Collections, and Field Investigations by Steven Smith, James Legg, and Tamara Wilson may be downloaded by clicking here.

To download the Battle of Camden Podcast, click here


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Battle of Camden Podcast