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"Lost and Found Unearthing Brave Souls in Camden, S.C." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2024 5:12 p.m. PST

"Just north of Camden, South Carolina, the landscape transitions from bustling urbanity to scattered homesteads and expansive longleaf pine forests. On August 16, 1780, this region on the edge of the prehistoric Atlantic Ocean now known as the Sandhills was the setting for the turning point of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, the Battle of Camden.

After Charleston fell to the British on May 12, 1780, the hero of Saratoga, Major General Horatio Gates, arrived in the South with plans to replicate his victorious campaign in the North. Gates marched for Camden to capture the outpost there. Meanwhile, Major General Baron de Kalb and more than 1,000 Maryland and Delaware Continentals were marching south from Morristown, New Jersey, on orders from General George Washington. Things were about to get serious in Camden and Gates' troops were severely compromised. Food rations were nearly non-existent. His soldiers foraged on green corn and green peaches, a decision that caused them to be "breaking the ranks all night [as they] were certainly much debilitated…"…"

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Bill N20 May 2024 7:56 p.m. PST

The number of casualties reported is too high, and probably relies too much on British reports from shortly after the battle.

Gates reported that by the end of August 700 Continentals had rejoined the army. That number included the Continentals that Gist was able to lead from the field. We are also told that Stevens was able to gather about 600 of the Virginians. For their casualty numbers to be correct that would mean that only 300 other militia, North Carolina as well as Virginia, were able to escape.

Or approach it from the other side. There were supposedly 206 wounded Continentals removed from the battlefield by the British after the battle. A further 24 unwounded Continental officers were captured and the known dead include 162 Continentals. Add those known casualties to the Continentals who returned to the colors and the total Continentals is at 1100 men. That figure equals the bulk of the supposed Continental strength at Camden.

Then there is the prisoner problem. Sources putting American casualties close to 2,000 usually claim about 1,000 men were captured. We know from The NC Return of POWs from Camden of 164 NC militia, wounded and unwounded who were captured. Add in the unwounded Continental officers, and the wounded Continentals and Virginia militia and that accounts for 400 men. If we assume 2/3 of the unaccounted for prisoners were Continentals that means POWs plus known killed Continentals comes to about 800 men. So where do the additional killed and wounded Continentals come from, and how does Gates have 700 Continentals available at the end of August?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2024 3:51 p.m. PST

Many Thanks…


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