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Lugoff-Elgin High School students help restore history

Posted: November 17, 2016 5:36 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2016 1:00 a.m.
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Four students (pictured right) spent fifteen minutes tugging and twisting to get this section of the palisade out. After failing to remove the section, they attempted to use shovels. The gentleman with the handsaw in his hand finally sawed it out. Pictured above is a portion of the palisade.

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Camden’s Revolutionary War Site’s palisade wall – which is a wooden fence as defense mechanism -- was built in the 1970s to represent the fortified border of 1780-81 Camden.  On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 200 Lugoff-Elgin High JROTC students helped take down that wall. 

Historic Camden Executive Director Halie Brazier said over 300 feet of wall was rotting in some areas; some areas were leaning and some had hurricane damage. She also said it was a safety hazard for visitors because simply leaning on certain parts could make that portion of the structure fall.  

Brazier assured that historical value will not be diminished. 

 “Some of the wall will be left standing as well as signs explaining the history of the wall and fortified town,” Brazier said. “We wanted to carry on the history of the materials in that wall as an important part of the museum’s property, but repurpose it in a way that will provide even more use and interpretation for the site.”

Here’s a little Camden history for readers: British forces under Lord Cornwallis occupied the town of Camden for 11 months from 1780-81. They built the palisade wall as well as several redoubts (forts made of earth) to protect the town, and their encampment centered at the Kershaw-Cornwallis House. 

The students came out on Wednesday and Thursday, and Wednesday’s second block class is the featured class in the story. 

Elyse Monyette, site coordinator, was out there working with the students, and aided in organizing the wood into good and bad pieces. The wall, built in 1975, has some pieces that are in better shape than others. These will be repurposed to be used in the reconstruction of the southeast redoubt this coming spring. The pieces that were a bit worse will be used in the redoubt reconstruction also; however, they will be used as reserve if needed or in places that do not need the most pristine pieces, she said.

Lugoff-Elgin High School JROTC has often helped the war site with similar projects; this particular activity is for their leadership assignment they do yearly. 

According to a Historic Camden press release, “Because of the museum’s small staff, using community volunteers like the JROTC was important for the labor, cost, and planning of such a large undertaking. JROTC students will learn about leadership, delegation, planning, engineering, and volunteerism through this project.” 

On top of that, bulldozers may harm the pieces of the fence, but students should have a much gentler hand on the wood, Brazier said. 

“Each year we plan a service learning project,” said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Ray McDowell with Lugoff-Elgin JROTC. “This was perfect for the students because they learn while out in the community. They understand they should give back to the community without wanting anything in return.”

Monyette added on: 

“While out there, you see the leaders instantly- you see teamwork instantly and they take instruction well from each other.” 

Patrick Bugger, senior at the school, gave the military definition of leadership. 

“Leadership is the ability to lead, guide and influence others in such a way to accomplish a mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation,” Bugger said. 

One student leader compiled everyone into groups to take down the palisade , the student then assigned a leader in each group, and that was when teamwork came along. 

The students were not allowed to use power tools (drill, chain saw, circular saw). For wood pieces that were hard to get out, they utilized hand saws, elbow grease, mallets and hammers. As the students worked together without argument, with words of encouragement, an individual could see the palisade coming down quickly. 

“ROTC is not a class… we’re a family,” Bugger said. 

Brazier, Monyette and McDowell said the kids will actually come back next semester to erect the redoubt since they will store the wood until then. 

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