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Historic Camden War Site to host Revolutionary War Field Days

Posted: October 24, 2013 5:23 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Be it known that the 43rd annual Revolutionary War Field Days will be held at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site on November 2-3. Field Days are a panorama of life during the Colonial and Revolutionary War eras that’s entertaining to both families and history buffs.

The gates will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each days and parking is free. Daily admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors over 62 and military, $4 ages 6-12, and free under six. A family package of two adults and three children under 12 may be purchased for $20. Group rates for 15 or more are available for school groups, tour groups and scout troops (please call 432-9841 to arrange).

Food concessions will include Heritage Antiques Mall’s famous barbecue, Pizza Hut fare and sausage and hotdogs. Comfortable clothes and shoes are recommended and pets are not permitted.

Visitors are encouraged to stroll through the military camps. The British camp located near the Kershaw-Cornwallis House on the uppergrounds is a reconstruction of the house commandeered as headquarters by Lord Cornwallis. Both regular and provinicial British soldiers will interpret life in garrison similar to what the Redcoats experienced at Camden from June 1780 to May 1781.

At scheduled times each day, members of the artillery crew will demonstrate the firing of a field cannon. At other times, garrison distaff (women and children) will show how to cook southern victuals over an open fire using cast iron cauldrons, spiders (frying pans with legs) and replicas of other 18th century cookware. A demonstration on how to dye textiles with natural ingredients, such as strawberries, beets and flowers, will also be presented.

For those who want to learn about the 30,000 German soldiers, known as "Hessians," who the British hired to fight the patriots during the Revolution, the Southeast Redoubt near the Kershaw mansion will serve as the Hessian camp. The camp is hosted by the Grenadier Company of the Regiment von Bose, the elite Hesse-Cassel unit who wore tall miter caps emblazed with a rampart lion. Historically the Hessians were not stationed at Camden nor did they fight in any of the local battles. They did, however, distinguish themselves at the 1780 Siege of Charleston.

A visit to the American camp on the lower grounds will offer insights into life on the campaign trail for the Continental army and militia. Nearby, a bustling civilian camp will showcase skilled craftsmen and tradesmen, such as the blacksmith, woodworker and pewter smith. Others will demonstrate 18th century skills, from hide tanning to women’s tasks of soap making, cooking and weaving.

At 1:30 p.m., the roar of the cannon will announce the daily skirmish. The action will unfold in the big field behind Historic Camden’s office and visitors will be asked to position themselves on the office side of the dirt road. As the battle mvoes forward, spectators are encourage to follow the troops.

Essentially the engagement will be a war game with the winner determined by the tactical knowledge and skills of the commanders rather than the known outcome of a historic Revolutionary War battle. This skirmish format is a major departure from Historic Camden’s battle reenactments of yore whereby at least one of Camden’s battles was interpreted at each year’s event (Battle of Camden or Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill). The only rule of engagement will be commanders must use historical battle maneuvers from the Southern Campaign, preferably from battles and skirmishes fought in the Camden area.

Tentatively scheduled at 3 p.m. both days will be a lively fife and drum mini concert performed on the steps of the Kershaw House. To the right of the house on Saturday afternoon, all ages can play Colonial games at 3 p.m., followed by the popular kids’ enlistment into the King’s Army at 3:30 p.m.

Thanks to the efforts of Walks with Horses, a Native American from Maine’s Micmac tribe who lives in Lugoff, Historic Camden has a Native American Medicine Wheel located near the Southeast Redoubt on the upper grounds of the museum.

Originally, ancient indigenous people built medicine wheels to use for rituals, healing or teaching. Various types of stones or rocks would be laid on the ground in the shape of a wheel with spokes that led from a center stone to an outer ring of stones. Today’s medicine wheels, often known as "sacred hoops," may vary in design and alignment, but they continue to maintain an important place in Native American spirituality.

All proceeds from Revolutionary War Field Days 2013 will benefit Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, whose mission is to discover, protect and interpret things pertaining to early Camden, particularly the Revolutionary War era. The museum is governed by the trustees of The Historic Camden Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and annually receives some funding from the City of Camden and Kershaw County.

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site is located at 222 Broad St., in Camden. For additional information, please call 432-9841, e-mail hiscamden@truvista.net or visit www.historic-camden.net for an event schedule.

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