CAMDEN, S.C. – On August 16, 1780, Revolutionary Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates moved his men into South Carolina with the intent of forcing British Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis to relinquish control of the colony. While the effort may have been valiant, the British army utilized modern strategies and quickly forced the American position to collapse.
More than 230 years later, re-enactors dressed as soldiers, merchants and craftsmen delivered an explosion of history with old cannons to bring the Battle of Camden back to the future. The Battle of Camden is held annually on the first weekend in November.
For Jake Rudolph, an Air Force veteran from Camden, the annual event is a family tradition.
“My first event, I was two days old, marching in a parade with my mom carrying me on her back. So, I was actually born into this hobby,” Rudolph said.
As Rudolph cleaned a relic rifle with other reenactors, he continued to recollect his journey. “My parents and grandparents started back in the Bicentennial back in 1976, So when I came along in the mid-nineties, It was just a natural progression.”
Lugoff-Elgin High School freshman Jonathan Slade played a variety of instruments for the battle, encouraged by his father to participate in the battle.
“I played the fife out in the battle, and we marched around,” Slade, 14, said. “It was kind of chaos.”
While the battle may have helped shape South Carolina’s future, 18th-century craftsmen built the structures that developed communities.
“I have a series of planes here that show you how they made and built trim, and different moldings, doors, windows, and corners for houses,” said Tom Haus, a woodworker from Camden who has attended each year since 2008.
As re-enactors marched, rode on horses and shot blanks at each other, hundreds gathered to watch.
History has a way of bringing us back year after year.
Haus, 75, said he plans to be back next year. “As long as I can get up out here with my tools, I’ll do it.”
Lugoff-Elgin High School student Jonathan Spade played different instruments for the re-enactment of the Battle of Camden.
Jake Rudolph has been participating in the re-enactment since his mother brought him to one as an infant.
Tom Haus explains 18th century woodworking techniques to spectators at the Battle of Camden re-enactment.