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Battle of Camden

From Academic Kids

The Battle of Camden was an important battle in the southern theatre of the American Revolutionary War. On August 16, 1780 British Forces under Lt. General Charles Cornwallis routed the American forces of Major General Horatio Gates about six miles north of Camden, South Carolina. American Forces numbered 4,100 of which about 3,000 were fit for duty, as opposed to 2,239 in the British force.

Contents

Background

The threatening situation in the Carolinas alarmed Congress and Washington and measures were taken to protect the distressed section. Before Cornwallis could be brought to bay he was faced successively by four antagonists--Generals Gates, Greene, Lafayette and Washington. They found in him the most capable and dangerous opponent of the war. Greene called him "the modern Hannibal." With Lincoln's surrender of nearly all the continental soldiers in the south, a new force had to be supplied to meet the British veterans. Two thousand men, mainly the Maryland line, were hurried down from Washington's camp under Johann de Kalb; Virginia and North Carolina put new men into the field, and the entire force was placed under command of General Gates.

Battle

Gates marched towards Camden, S.C., and on the 16th of August encountered Cornwallis near that place. Each army by a night march attempted a surprise of the other, and fought a confused skirmish at Waxhaws. The next morning, both armies drew up face to face. Gates placed De Kalb's troops on his right flank and the militia on his left, and ordered De Kalb forward. Cornwallis, meanwhile, sent his right flank forward as well, and Gates' inexperienced militia fled. The British regulars wheeled around and flanked De Kalb.

Gates was utterly routed, and fled the field. The reputation he had won at Saratoga was ruined on the occasion by over-confidence and incompetence. De Kalb was killed in the action. General Greene, standing next to Washington as the ablest and most trusted officer of the Revolution, succeeded Gates. Cornwallis marched leisurely into North Carolina, but before meeting Greene some months later he suffered the loss of two detachments sent at intervals to disperse various partisan corps of the Americans. On the 7th of October 1780 a force of 1100 men under Major Patrick Ferguson was surrounded at King's Mountain, S.C., near the North Carolina line, by bands of riflemen under Colonels Isaac Shelby, James Williams, William Campbell and others, and after a desperate fight on the wooded and rocky slopes, surrendered. Ferguson himself was killed. On the 17th of January 1781 General Daniel Morgan was attacked at Cowpens, south-west of King's Mountain, by Colonel Banastre Tarleton with his legion. Both were leaders of repute, and a most stirring action occurred in which Morgan, with Colonel William Washington leading his cavalry, practically destroyed Tarleton's corps. Despite the weakening his army suffered by these losses, Cornwallis marched rapidly through North Carolina, giving Greene a hard chase nearly to the Virginia line.

Aftermath

American casualties were 683 killed, wounded, and captured with another 50 missing, and included the loss of General Baron de Kalb. The Americans also lost most of the supplies currently in the Southern Department, and all of its artillery. British losses were 68 killed, 245 wounded, and 11 missing.

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