Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site - an informational signboard titled “Camden - Strategic Key” in a park setting. The signboard is located at the beginning of a dirt path that leads towards a white building in the distance. The path is bordered by a wooden fence on the right, and the area is surrounded by grass and scattered trees under a clear blue sky. This suggests the location could be a historical site or outdoor museum.
Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site - Reproduction town wall with Kershaw/Cornwallis in the distance.

Historic Camden – Field Report

For more about Historic Camden including its history and everything you need to know to plan your visit, check out our Camden Revolutionary War Site Page.

Since Monday August 16, is the 241st anniversary of the battle, I decided that now would be a good time to visit the Camden Revolutionary War Site and the nearby Battlefield.

Camden Revolutionary War Site

I arrived at the Revolutionary War Site site just outside of town right as it opened. There were a few people already there, but most were part of a class field trip. Like most sites, the crowds show up on the weekends, and this was going to be a hot day. So that could explain why I didn’t encounter more people.

The parking lot is fairly large, but there aren’t any lines on the pavement. So you just have to park where you can. There are a few picnic tables in the parking lot, but more throughout the site as well.

The site itself is where the British were encamped in 1780 duding the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. None of the buildings date to the Revolutionary period, a couple are from just after the Revolution, but most date to the 19th Century.

Small white house with a half porch and windows in front a sign above the door reads "Office and Gift Shop"
Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site Office and Gift Shop is locate din the Cunningham House built in 1835.

My first stop was the Office/Gift Shop located in a house that dates to 1835. The entrance fee is $5 and they have daily guided tours for an additional fee. Since I wanted to explore on my own and didn’t want to wait for the tour to begin, I opted for just the standard admission.

Right next to the Gift Shop is a reproduction of a 19th Century blacksmith shed. The forge is fully functional and is fired up for special events throughout the year. Under the shed are a pair of 18th Century cannons that were used in the Battle of Camden, and abandoned by the British when they evacuated the town in 1781.

Two canons one complete with wheels the other just a barrel on a pair of wooden planks
Pair of 18th Century Cannons Under the Blacksmith’s Shed

Starting on the dirt path that runs around the site, the first stop is the McCaa House and the Craven House on the other side of the path. Both are historical, with the McCaa House dating to the turn of the 19th Century and the Craven House dating to 1789 just after the Revolution and is the oldest building on the site. Craven House is also used as an Exhibit Gallery and the McCaa House is set up like a tavern. Both buildings were closed up and since I wasn’t on the guided tour, I couldn’t get in.

white single story house with a half porch in the center of the front and a dirt road leading past
McCaa House dating to the turn of the 19th Century is re imagined as a tavern at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.

After a bend in the path, I got my first look at the Kershaw/Cornwallis house on the hill. The original house was burned during the Civil War, so this is a reproduction based on descriptions, old photographs, and archaeological surveys. The house sits on a hill, but there are more things to see before I get to the top.

historic white wooden house seen from the front with a simple full porch and no windows - the door is in the middle of the wall.
The Craven House built in 1789 is one of the oldest structures at the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site.

At the bend in the road is a reproduction of the wall built by the British in 1780 to protect their garrison at Camden. It’s here that the first car passed me heading up the path to the main house. I hadn’t realized that the dirt path I was walking on was really a road. Instead of going back for my car, I decided to finish the trail on foot. It isn’t very long, and had I driven, I would have missed lots of little sights.

large two story house with a field in the front and a dirt road curving to the left
Historic Camden Kershaw-Cornwallis House From Across the Common

From this point, the trail is mostly in full sun, so sunscreen is a must. It meanders up the hill with signs pointing out how the field in front of the Kershaw/Cornwallis was used as a parade ground by the British and muster point by others. It passes the first of the reconstructed redoubts, or fortifications, as the path turns to directly approach the house.

large two story house with stars leading to full porch grass and red crepe myrtles blooming
Historic Camden Kershaw-Cornwallis House From the Rear

The interior of the house is part of the guided tour, but later I was able to sneak in when I found the doors open. A guide was telling a group about how Camden had become a field hospital and POW Camp after the battle. Both the front and the rear of the house have large porches with staircases leading up. The front looks out on the common, and the back has a small green area between the house and a gazebo.

side view of large porch with columns along railing and stars leading to green lawn
Historic Camden Kershaw-Cornwallis House View from Back Porch

Moving past the house along the trail, I passed the second and larger of the replica redoubts. It’s mostly just an earthen fortification surrounded by a small trench that acts like a mote. Wooden pikes placed along the outside complete the structure. It’s very similar to the Star Fort at Ninety Six, but the Star Fort is original.

unpainted log cabin with stone chimney and stone pillar foundations wooden steps and railing leading to door
Drakeford House dating to 1812 is one of several homes depicting life in the 19th Century.

After the second redoubt, the path makes it’s final turn to head back to the start. Before that, it passes by the brick reconstructed foundation of the town’s powder magazine and a reproduction of a Colonial Era brickyard. There are also two more historic homes on this part of the trail. Both date to the 19th Century and were relocated here from other parts of Camden.

Near the brickyard, there’s a short nature trail. It starts alongside a pond filled with water lilies and loops back to the powder magazine. It’s short, but just passed the river, the trail was a little overgrown with lots of ant hills. I decided to turn back instead of risking stepping in a fire ant mound. In fact, I was seeing anthills all over the place in the open grass. As much as people walk through the grass to get to some exhibits, it pays to watch your step.

Camden Battleground

Sign that reads "Battle of Camden National Historic Landmark"
Historic Camden Battleground Sign- Don’t turn here, keep going for another half mile to the battleground parking lot.

After finishing at the Revolutionary War Site, I made my way to the Camden Battleground about 8 miles away. The drive took me from one side of Camden to the other and then to the outskirts of town.

About a half mile from the actual site, I pulled over when I saw a large sign for the Battleground and an interpretive sign looking out over a field. While this is part of the battlefield and along one of the trails, the main parking area with trail maps and kiosk with more information is just ahead.

Short gravel road with small stone monuments on left and wooden kiosk in distance
Battleground pull off and trail access with two monuments and and information kiosk in distance.

Arriving at the site, the parking area is small with room for less than a dozen cars. There’s no sign from the road, like the spot a half mile up, only a roadside historical marker. A couple monuments and the information kiosk are on site as well.

West Battlefield Loop

pine needle covered trail through the woods.
The West Battlefield Loop runs through the pine forest across the road from the battleground parking lot.

The temperature was already up to over 90 degrees by the time I arrived, but the trails are all short, so I decided to go on at least one. I chose the West Battlefield Loop with it’s start across the highway. The trail runs through the pine woods and has four interpretive signs along the way. At first the trail is covered with pine needles and a little hard to make out, but for the most park I was able to find my way around. The back half of the trail is easier to make out, but the area around the final turn is a little overgrown. I completely lost the trail for the last 50 feet, but I just walked across the road back to the parking area.

East Battlefield Trail

Even though it was still hot, most of the trails are wooded, so I decided to go on the other two interpretive trails. The East Battlefield Trail would lead down to the sign where I had stopped earlier and then the Great Road Trail would lead back to the parking lot. The two trails together are just over a mile, but if I had been paying attention, I would have started on the Great Road Trail.

Sign with drawings only readable text is "Gate's Disgrace" sporadic trees in field beyond sign
Interpretive Sign along the East Battlefield Trail.

My problems started before I even got started. The sigh for the Eastern Battlefield Trail was missing. I started down what I thought was the trail and sure enough, about 100 feet in, I hit the first interpretive sign. I followed the trail to the next interpretive sign and that’s where the trouble really started. According to my map, I should cross a dirt road and the trail would pick up directly on the other side. But there was no trail directly across the road.

I found several paths through the woods and eventually found a directional sign for the trail that I followed a ways only for the trail to look like it ended. At that point I gave up and turned around. When I got back to the directional sign I saw earlier, it pointed down a trail for the return trip that I hadn’t used earlier. Eventually, that trail hit a dirt road and not seeing anymore signs, I turned left to head in the general direction of the highway. Turns out that this was the same dirt road where my problems started, and I was able to pick up the trail back to the parking lot.