I was fortunate enough to go on a great field trip this past weekend, starting at the Revolutionary War Visitor Center, in Camden SC. The group was led by Mr. Durant Ashmore, who provided the group with great historical background and guided our tour. Mr. Ashmore provided the map below, this is the route we followed.
The Visitor Center is a must. Free of charge, with great displays, information, and dioramas. After spending time at the Visitor Center, we caravanned up to the Camden Battlefield. We then met up at the site of Buford’s Massacre, where we shared a moment of silence.
Mr. Ashmore kept everyone’s attention with historical tales of “Bloody” Banastre Tarleton, whose infamy was sealed here, with “Tarleton’s Quarter”. As the story goes, there was an attempt at surrender, and no quarter was given. Whether or not this is the whole story can be interpreted many ways. Tarleton himself stated that his hose had been shot out from under him, and his loyal men, thinking that he had been attacked under the guise of surrender, went berserk.
Buford’s Massacre – The Battle of Waxhaws
We got to hear more about one of my favorite commanders, Lt. Colonel William Washington. I learned about what a “Quaker Gun” is, as well as a good lesson on tactics.
“Colonel Henry Rugeley was a Tory officer who owned the plantation, Clermont, thirteen miles north of Camden. A popular trading post, similar to a general store, the site contained an impressive house and barn. It was known locally as Rugeley’s Mills or Rugeley’s Fort after he declared support to London. The fort consisted of Rugeley’s barn, built of strong logs, with loopholes cut in the walls, surrounded by a strong abatis and ditch. A platform was erected inside for a second tier of musket firing. Rugeley was inside his fortified home base with Major John Cook, seven other officers, and 104 Loyalist militia when Washington approached the fort on December 4. Using muskets, Washington found that to take the impregnable fort he needed artillery, something he did not have. He conceived and executed shaping a “Quaker gun,” a giant pine tree cut into a log-shaped imitation of a field piece. After blackening one end and hoisting the log onto wheels, the Americans brought it up in military style for full view of Rugeley’s forces. Pretending to prepare to cannonade the fortified barn, Washington appeared and warned the garrison of it’s impending destruction. Rugeley promptly surrendered the post with the officers and the rank and file enlisted, totaling 114, as well as the 90 muskets, 14 horses, and 4 wagons they were keeping inside. Under arrest, Rugeley’s forces were eventually paroled while Rugeley’s fortified barn was burned down.”1
At the crossroads between Camden and Charlotte. We learned that the site at the State Park indicating where the battle was fought may not be all that correct.
I am grateful to Mr. Ashmore for leading this group. I look forward to many more trips in the future
- Source: American Battlefield Trust