Battle of Camden
Date: 16th August 1780
Place: South Carolina, United States of America
Combatants: British and Germans against the Americans
Generals: Major General Lord Cornwallis against Major General Horatio Gates
Size of the armies: The British comprised 1,500 hundred regulars and 500 militia. The American army comprised 1,500 Continental troops and some 1,500 militia.
Rather than wait at Camden, Cornwallis began probing north. Late on August 15, the two forces made contact approximately five miles north of the town. Pulling back for the night, they prepared for battle the next day. Deploying in the morning, Gates made the error of placing the bulk of his Continental troops (de Kalb's command) on his right, with the North Carolina and Virginia militia on the left. A small group of dragoons under Colonel Charles Armand was to their rear. As a reserve, Gates retained Brigadier General William Smallwood's Maryland Continentals behind the American line.
In forming his men, Cornwallis made similar deployments placing his most experienced troops, under Lieutenant Colonel James Webster, on the right while Rawdon's Loyalist and Volunteers of Ireland militia opposed de Kalb. As a reserve, Cornwallis held back two battalions of the 71st Foot as well as Tarleton's cavalry. Facing off, the two armies were constrained to a narrow battlefield which was hemmed in on either side by the swamps of Gum Creek.
Map of the Battle of Camden
Map of the Battle of Camden

The Battle of Camden:
The battle commenced in the morning with Cornwallis' right attacking the American militia. As the British moved forward, Gates ordered the Continentals on his right to advance. Firing a volley into the militia, the British inflicted several casualties before surging forward with a bayonet charge. Largely lacking bayonets and rattled by the opening shots, the bulk of the militia immediately fled the field. As his left wing disintegrated, Gates joined the militia in fleeing. Pushing forward, the Continentals fought vigorously and repelled two assaults by Rawdon's men (Map).
Counterattacking, the Continentals came close to breaking Rawdon's line, but were soon taken in the flank by Webster. Having routed the militia, he turned his men and began assaulting the Continental's left flank. Stubbornly resisting, the Americans were finally forced to withdraw when Cornwallis ordered Tarleton to attack their rear. In the course of the fighting, de Kalb was wounded eleven times and left on the field. Retreating from Camden, the Americans were pursued by Tarleton's troopers for approximately twenty miles.

At the time, Camden was defended by 1,000 soldiers under the command of Lord Rawdon. Gates was marching toward Camden because it was located on the main road leading south from Charlotte and because it was one a key community in the interior of South Carolina. Gates established a campsite six miles north of Camden in an area known as Rugeley's Mill. There he was joined by 2,200 militiamen from North Carolina and Virginia, most of whom were untested in battle.
When informed of events in Camden, Gen. Cornwallis, in Charleston, marched inland with 2,000 men to reinforce Lord Rawdon. He arrived there on August 13. On August 16 the two armies confronted each other six miles north of Camden

Read more at Suite101: **The Battle of Camden: A Major British Victory Threatens the American Revolution** ****

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American Forces Commanded by
Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates

Killed & Wounded
3,700 est.
1,000 est.
1,000 est.

British Forces Commanded by
Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis


Conclusion: British Victory

Battle of Camden
Battle of Camden

Aftermath of Camden:
The Battle of Camden saw Gates' army suffered around 800 killed and wounded and another 1,000 captured. In addition, the Americans lost eight guns and the bulk of their wagon train. Captured by the British, de Kalb was cared for by Cornwallis' doctor before dying on August 19. British losses totaled 68 killed, 245 wounded, and 11 missing. A crushing defeat, Camden marked the second time an American army in the South was effectively destroyed in 1780. Having fled the field during the fighting, Gates rode sixty miles to Charlotte by nightfall. Disgraced, he was removed from command in favor of the dependable Major General Nathanael Greene that fall.
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