Thursday 26th. After viewing the british works about Cambden I set out for Charlotte. On my way—two miles from Town—I examined the ground on wch. Genl. Green & Lord Rawden had their Action. The ground had but just been taken by the former—was well chosen—but he not well established in it before he was attacked; which by capturing a Videt was, in some measure by surprize. Six miles further on I came to the ground where Genl. Gates & Lord Cornwallis had their Engagement wch. terminated so unfavourably for the former. As this was a night Meeting of both Armies on their March, & altogether unexpected each formed on the ground they met without any advantage in it on either side it being level & open. Had Genl. Gates been ½ a mile further advanced, an impenitrable Swamp would have prevented the attack which was made on him by the British Army, and afforded him time to have formed his own plans; but having no information of Lord Cornwallis’s designs, and perhaps not being apprised of this advantage it was not siezed by him.
Cambden is a small place with appearances of some new buildings. It was much injured by the British whilst in their possession.
After halting at one Suttons 14 M. from Cambden I lodged at James Ingrams 12 Miles farther.
Camden became an important outpost for the British army when it occupied South Carolina after the fall of Charleston in May 1780, and much fighting occurred in the vicinity during the ensuing 12 months. About 2:30 A.M. on 16 Aug. 1780 a British force under Lord Cornwallis and an American one under Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, both advancing to attack the other at daylight, met by accident in the pine woods north of Camden. Cornwallis, although hampered by swamps on either flank and Saunders Creek less than a mile to his rear, deployed his troops, and at dawn British regulars attacked and routed the Virginia militia at the east end of Gates’s position. The battle rapidly became a full-blown disaster for the Americans despites a courageous stand by Maryland Continentals under Johann Kalb (1721–1780), the Bavarian-born French army officer known as Baron de Kalb in America. Kalb, mortally wounded in the fighting, was buried at Camden. On the way out of town today, GW paused “a few minutes” at his grave (Md. Journal [Baltimore], 17 June 1791; BOATNER  description begins Mark Mayo Boatner III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York, 1966. description ends , 159–70, 570–71; BOATNER  description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 456–58).
The fortifications that GW viewed in Camden were built by the British after the battle of 16 Aug. 1780. Incorporated into the defenses were Joseph Kershaw’s stockaded house, the local jail, and the town’s powder magazine (BOATNER  description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 458–60).
The battle between Nathanael Greene and Francis, Lord Rawdon, the young acting commander of British forces in South Carolina and Georgia, occurred 25 April 1781 at Hobkirk’s Hill, a sandy ridge where Greene camped with his army to await reinforcements and supplies after finding Camden’s defenses too strong for the force that he had on hand. Rawdon in a daring move assembled all available troops in Camden and made a surprise attack on the American camp about 10:00 A.M. on 25 April. Although several Continental units broke, the 5th Virginia Regiment held, enabling Greene to make a short orderly retreat. Rawdon, having failed to destroy the American army, abandoned Camden on 10 May. The British, Greene informed GW 14 May 1781, “left . . . with great precipitation after burning the greater part of their baggage and Stores and even the private property belonging to the Inhabitants. They also burnt the Gaol, mills and several other buildings, and left the Town little better than a heap of rubbish” (MiU-C: Greene Papers; BOATNER  description begins Mark Mayo Boatner III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York, 1966. description ends , 503–8; BOATNER  description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 458–59).
William Loughton Smith of Charleston found Camden when he stopped there on 9 May 1791 to be “a pretty town of about seventy houses and some very good buildings,” but at the site of Gates’s defeat, he noted, “the marks of balls against the trees” were still visible (SMITH  description begins Albert Matthews, ed. Journal of William Loughton Smith, 1790–1791. Cambridge, Mass., 1917. Reprint from Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 51 (1917-18):20-88. description ends , 75).
Jasper Sutton of Lancaster County, stepfather of John Chesnut, settled near Granny’s Quarter Creek about 1757. In 1790, according to the census, he held 17 slaves. James Ingram of Lancaster County lived near Hanging Rock, a geological landmark south of present-day Heath Springs. The 1790 census credits him with 3 slaves (SALLEY  description begins A. S. Salley. President Washington’s Tour Through South Carolina In 1791. Columbia, S.C., 1932. In Bulletins of the Historical Commission of South Carolina, no. 12. description ends , 27–28; HEADS OF FAMILIES, S.C. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: South Carolina. 1908. Reprint. Salt Lake City, 1978. description ends , 23, 25; KIRKLAND AND KENNEDY description begins Thomas J. Kirkland and Robert M. Kennedy. Historic Camden: Part One, Colonial and Revolutionary. Columbia, S.C., 1905. description ends , 366; BOATNER  description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 478).