Camden, Battle of

Camden, Battle of

▪ United States history
      (August 16, 1780), in the American Revolution, British victory in South Carolina, one of the most crushing defeats ever inflicted upon an American army.

      After the fall of Charleston, South Carolina, to the British in May 1780, the American general Horatio Gates (Gates, Horatio) marched upon the British stronghold at the town of Camden with a force of 1,400 regulars and more than 2,000 militia. With his army weakened by hunger and dysentery, Gates was surprised north of Camden by a British force of 2,200 troops under Lord Cornwallis (Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess and 2nd Earl, Viscount Brome, Baron Cornwallis of Eye). At the first attack, the untried colonial militia fled, and the regulars were soon surrounded and almost wiped out.

      Though only 324 British were killed, the Americans suffered more than 2,000 casualties and lost large amounts of military supplies. While enhancing the reputation of Cornwallis, the battle ruined the career of Gates, who was replaced. The victory opened the way to a subsequent British invasion of North Carolina. The British stopped a second American attack on Camden under General Nathanael Greene (Greene, Nathanael) on April 25, 1781, at Hobkirk's Hill, but, worn down by colonial guerrilla harassment, they burned and evacuated the town the following month.

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