As dawn broke on August 16, 1780, the hungry, footsore Americans under General Horatio Gates were shuddered alert by the tell-tale crack of a British Brown Bess musket. Before them, British regulars and militia under the overall command of General Charles Lord Cornwallis guarded a key supply base at Camden, South Carolina. Believing he outnumbered the Redcoats two-to-one, Gates rashly chose to attack. In reality, his effective strength of roughly 3,000 weary Continentals was easily matched by the 2,230 rested British veterans awaiting him. The Redcoats made quick work of inexperienced troops on Gates’ left flank. On the right, veteran Maryland and Delaware troops made a good show of resisting the enemy before they too bent under the weight of the British onslaught. When the fighting was over, roughly 900 Continentals were dead or wounded and another 1,000 had become prisoners of war—in one of the worst military disasters in American history.
The Civil War Trust now has the opportunity to preserve 278 acres of the Camden battlefield. Thanks to Federal and State matching funds, we are able to save this land—valued at approximately $1 million—for just $200,000, a $5-to-$1 match. Help us tell the story of America’s first citizen soldiers by saving this key piece of American history.