Camden: Defeat and Destruction | The Southern Campaign

[SHOUTING] [GUNFIRE] The Battle of Huck’s
Defeat at Brattonsville encouraged the
Patriots to push back against the British invasion. Most of the Continental
Army in South Carolina had surrendered at Charlestown. So a new contingent
of regular troops from Maryland and Delaware was
sent to help defend the south. These men gathered at
Charlotte, North Carolina. Gentlemen what
is best to be done? Is it not too late now
to do anything but fight? [MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: General Horatio
Gates was the leader of the New Continental Army in the south. He was known as the
Hero of Saratoga, one of the biggest Patriot
victories in New York state in 1777. His second in command
was Baron Johann DeKalb. Gates’ opponent was Lieutenant
General Charles Earl Cornwallis who had been appointed
by General Clinton to lead the southern
campaign when Clinton returned to New York. By this time in the war, there
were many different types of uniforms for both sides. Continental Regulars, like
Buford’s soldiers at Waxhaws wore standard blue uniforms
and were issued muskets. Militiamen, on both
sides, like those who fought at Brattonsville wore
comfortable everyday clothing, rode their own horses,
and carried rifles. In the back country, if they
were loyal to the crown, militia men often wore
green sprigs in their hats. Whig, or Patriot, militia
used white scraps of paper to identify themselves. Of course, the British
army wore red coats and were sometimes
called Lobster Backs. They were frequently
joined by special units, such as the Scottish
Highlanders. British provincials
where American loyalists who enlisted in
the British army, like Turnbull’s
Garrison at Rocky Mount. They wore red or green uniforms. In the Revolutionary
War, cavalry units were typically referred
to as dragoons. Some loyalist
dragoons wore green, like Tarleton’s British
Legion or the Queen’s Rangers. American dragoons
wore green also, or sometimes white,
blue, or other colors. Artillerymen, on both
sides, wore blue uniforms. The cannon was known as the
Queen of the Battlefield. Both sides at the
Battle of Camden used [INAUDIBLE] artillery. This cannon here is a
reproduction, full scale, of a British light 6-pounder
It was a field cannon. It was the largest
field cannon used during the American Revolution. If you look at it, it’s
a pretty good size. It took six to eight
horses to pull it. Each one of these canons had
a crew of at least 14 men. This had an effective
range of about 300 yards. Not real accurate, but it
was a line of sight shots. NARRATOR: Field guns in
the Revolutionary War fired cannon balls,
grapeshot, or sometimes canisters filled with rocks,
broken glass, or anything that could wound a man. Most Revolutionary War
guns were 3-pounders, which meant they fired three
pounds worth of ammunition. 6-pound guns could
do more damage, but were not nearly as mobile. The Battle of Camden
was the largest battle in the south up to this point. In the Rev War, the Americans,
as well as the British, were using what’s
called linear warfare. The idea was for men to stand
very closely bunched together. If the cavalry or dragoons
began to flank you to the left or the
right, you could take a portion of your line
and turn it to face them, all the way to the
point of forming a box. NARRATOR: Another
reason the men stood close together was the
inaccuracy of their muskets. A lot of men firing at once
offered the best chance of a successful volley. At some point, the
order might be given to fix bayonets and advance. Bayonets. Slow and easy to the front. NARRATOR: The army that held
the field was considered the winner of the battle. General Gates’
Continental Army was joined by a large number of
North Carolina and Virginia militiamen. They marched south towards
the strategic British outpost of Camden, South Carolina. Meanwhile, Cornwallis’
army was headed north. Neither army was ready to fight. The Continentals were
exhausted, the British were ill, both sides suffered
from lack of provisions. At about 2:00 AM,
under a bright moonlight, both armies silently
collided with each other. At first light, both
sides opened the battle with a fierce cannonade. NARRATOR: The armies
had fanned out across both sides of the
road to for battle lines. General Gates positioned
the militia volunteers on his left wing. This was a mistake. Directly across from them
were some of the best British regular troops. The inexperienced
militiamen weren’t prepared for what was coming. CHARLES BAXLEY: When you shoot
at a British Infantry Regiment, they don’t run. You do hit some of them, but
every time somebody falls, someone else stands. They march in
order with bayonets coming in your direction. That was enough
for the militiamen. Many, many of them
put down their weapons and took off and ran to
the north and the east, most of them without
firing a shot. GARRET WATTS (VOICEOVER):
I can state on oath that I believe my gun
was the first gun fired, notwithstanding
the orders, for we were close to the
enemy who appeared to maneuver in contempt of us. And I fired without
thinking, except that I might prevent the man
opposite from killing me. I confess I was amongst
the first that fled. The cause of that,
I cannot tell, except that everyone I saw
was about to do the same. NARRATOR: The
Continental soldiers on the east side
of the road also faced the attacking British. CHARLES BAXLEY: A gap
develops between the Maryland 2nd and the Maryland 1st. Lord Cornwallis,
he sees that gap, behind him, Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton himself
would lead a troop through the break in
the American line. George Hanger,
Tarleton’s number two, would go around, get in
behind the Americans. Once soldiers on horseback,
with long heavy swords, get behind you and
you have bayonet toting British trained troops
in front of you, it’s all over. NARRATOR: Tarleton’s legion
chased the fleeing Patriots and destroyed their supplies. CHARLES STEDMAN: The
road for some miles was strewn with the
wounded and killed who had been overtaken by the legion. The number of dead horses,
broken wagons, and baggage scattered on the road
formed a perfect sense of terror and confusion. CHARLES BAXLEY:
Tarleton wrote later that his men fought and killed
and captured people all the way to Hanging Rock. He said that he had to stop,
because his troopers’ arms were literally so fatigued
from swinging the sword, they could not
lift their swords. NARRATOR: The Battle
of Camden dispelled any optimism the
back country may have had after Huck’s Defeat. CHARLES BAXLEY: It was
a complete and total American disaster. [MUSIC PLAYING]

3 thoughts on “Camden: Defeat and Destruction | The Southern Campaign

  1. I don't understand why in The Patriot, I don't seen any Cavalry unit of US army, or even the Artillery for firing support

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