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Revolutionary War Site Camden Archives and Museum

The Camden Archives and Museum maintains an extensive, diverse collection of artifacts and local historical and genealogical records. The Archives and Museum is recognized throughout South Carolina and the Southeast as having one of the best research libraries pertaining to genealogical research. It houses a diverse collection of books, microfilm, maps, files, periodicals and general reference materials which will aid visitors in their research for ancestry. We set forth a policy of primarily collecting material which pertains to the north-central section of South Carolina formerly recognized as the old Camden District. This area today encompasses several counties including Clarendon, Sumter, Lee, Kershaw, Lancaster, York, Chester, Fairfield and northern Richland County. The South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution Library and the South Carolina Society Colonial Dames XVII Century Library are housed are also housed in our building. Camden was an important trading point for goods from inland headed toward the coast of South Carolina. As such it was an important outpost for both the Continental Army and British forces during the Revolutionary War. Something went terribly wrong for the Americans at Camden. Camden was an unparalleled American disaster. The battle began in the early hours of August 16, 1780. The American commander, Horatio Gates, had placed his militia units in the line of battle directly opposite the British regulars. The Brits got in first licks, firing a volley and then charging the American militia forces with bayonets fixed. The militia took off running. Gates also lit out on his horse. He didn’t stop until he was in North Carolina, 60 miles away. I wondered: did the horse survive? Baron Johann DeKalb, who led some of the American soldiers in the battle, was wounded and captured. He eventually died in British captivity. The defeat was so complete that American forces withdrew from virtually the entire Georgia colony, except for a few backwoods raiders. The town of Camden remained a fortified British camp until 1781. The site of the battle is preserved, along with some of the original fortifications and other buildings from around that period and a bit later. Along one side of the grounds were the remains of the palisade, a wall of logs sharpened at both ends, with one end driven into the ground. When the Brits occupied the area, in 1780 and 1781, they built a continuous wall of these logs around the central part of the town, which then consisted of about 80 buildings. The palisade was the inner defense line and was held by them until they evacuated Camden in 1781.