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Historic Camden to host 40th Revolutionary War Field Days

Posted: October 12, 2010 4:49 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2010 5:00 a.m.

If you are into 18th century warfare, are a history buff, or just want to enjoy a special day with the family, you won’t want to miss the annual 40th Revolutionary War Field Days on Nov. 6 and 7 at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.   

This November’s award-winning field days is extra special because it is also the 40th anniversary of the 107-acre outdoor museum complex.

“Historic Camden opened its doors to the public with great fanfare 40 years ago,” said Joanna Craig, the museum’s director.  Since then some 800,000 guests from all over the world have visited the appealing heritage tourism attraction. Embracing the museum’s slogan to “spend a few peaceful hours where the British spent a rough year,” they leave with a true appreciation of Camden’s important role in the Revolution and the forming of our nation. “So often they extend a big thanks to the people of Camden and our trustees for preserving and sharing such a ‘jewel,’” she said with pride.
As with past field days, acrid-smelling smoke from field cannon (three and six-pounders) and flintlocks will permeate the air when the crowd-pleasing daily battle unfolds at 1:30 p.m.  Tactics from the Battle of Camden will be depicted on Saturday, followed by a British military court for patriot prisoners.  Tentatively, the siege of Charleston is scheduled for Sunday, then a cannonaded Farewell to Fallen Comrades. 

Each day the event will open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The daily admission will be $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and military, $4 for children ages 6-12, free for those under six, and $25 for a family package of two adults and three kids under 12. A group rate is available also (contact 432-9841). Lunch fare will include offerings from Fatz Café, Pizza Hut and Mae Frances’ Burgers & Dogs.  On-site parking is free, but no pets, please!

Military units, mostly infantry and artillery, from all over the Southeast will pitch their canvas tents on the very grounds occupied by Lord Cornwallis’s army in 1780-81.  

British re-enactors portraying both regular and provincial (loyalists) units will be stationed near the reconstructed Kershaw-Cornwallis House, which served as Cornwallis’ headquarters. Several of the companies (23rd, 33rd, 64th regiments of foot, Royal North Carolina, and infamous “Bloody Ban” Tarleton’s green-jacketed British Legion) will represent the highly disciplined, seasoned soldiers historically stationed at the garrison and victorious at Camden’s battles. A visit to their camp will stress life in garrison. Periodically, the artillery camp will fire an 18th century-style mortar using tennis balls to show the loft of the trajectory that enable mortar bombs to explode up to .8 of a mile behind enemy lines.

Camped in the Southeast Redoubt will be the German Grenadier Company of the Regiment von Bose, known for their tall brass miter caps embellished with a rampant lion.  The Company fought with distinction at the Siege of Charleston and surrendered at Yorktown in October 1781. Generically known as Hessians, the Germans were among the European professional soldiers hired by King George III to fight in America. Tentatively planned on Sunday is a Hessian Church Parade (Church Service) at 10 a.m.

Encamped on the lower grounds will be various Continental and militia units representing General Washington’s Continental Army of 1780. At the onset of the war, most American troops were undisciplined and poorly trained. They were clueless as to how to properly march in columns, fight in lines or move quickly from one formation to another.  Prussian Army drillmaster Baron von Steuben changed all that at Valley Forge in 1778.  Slowly, he transformed the Americans into professional soldiers that would fight gallantly during the Southern Campaign.  Guests are encouraged to visit the units and learn about life on the campaign trail and the role of the distaff (camp followers and families).

Be sure to stroll through the Civilian Camp nestled between the historic houses. Skilled craftsmen are hard at work and civilians demonstrate some of the skills of the period. Lots of hands on activities are offered.  Nearby, the one and only Signora Bella, an 18th century Italian street entertainer, deftly performs feats of wonder on the slack rope and Rolla bollo.
Events scheduled at the Kershaw-Cornwallis House after Saturday’s battle include a Period Fashion Show and the “1781 Partisan Warfare” roundtable discussion presented by four students from Kennesaw State University and sponsored by the Colonel Joseph Kershaw Chapter of the American Revolution. On Sunday morning, visitors are invited to attend an 18th century Anglican Church service at 10:30 am in the basement officiated by Rev. Joel Osborne   Daily the mansion will be open for guided tours and Camdenite David Reuwer will present “Meet Joseph Kershaw, Founding Father of Camden” each morning and afternoon on the front steps.

On Saturday morning or afternoon, kids will want to visit the McCaa House to hear the riveting story of 6’6” Peter Francisco (aka 5th great-grandson Travis Bowman), the “Hercules of the Revolution.”  After the battle, colonial games and enlistment in King’s Army are offered in the field to the right of the Kershaw House.

Don’t forget to visit the “shops” on Sutlers Row. The merchants offer everything from period clothing and accessories to jewelry! The Historic Camden Exchange Shop located in the Cunningham House offers a nice assortment of books, souvenirs and Camden-related merchandise. 

For information, call 432-9841, fax 432-3851, e-mail, or visit  Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site is located at 222 Broad Street, Camden, SC  29020, 1.4 miles from Highway 521 North/Camden from Exit 98/I-20.


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