Last year, as our guests on the inaugural Revolutionary War: Road to Yorktown Tour were walking the Camden Battlefield, a team of archeologists were in the midst of unearthing the remains of 14 Revolutionary War soldiers from the battle. Historian Rick Beyer was sworn to secrecy about the dig — they didn’t want the word to get out before they were finished — but the group actually passed quite close to where the bodies were found.
Adam Parker of The Post and Courier wrote two fascinating and moving articles about this remarkable discovery. The first one, “America’s first veterans: Archaeological dig at Camden battlefield turns up human remains,” provides details about the archeological dig and the soldiers who were found. It also recounts the history about the Battle at Camden, a major defeat suffered by the Americans in the early stages of the British military offensive in the South.
The second article, “Remains of Revolutionary War fighters honored at Camden battlefield,” covers the ceremonial military tribute that was held for the men in South Carolina in April.
America’s first veterans: Archaeological dig at Camden battlefield turns up human remains
By Adam Parker, November 11
CAMDEN — The bones came out, one by one, lifted from the earth by experienced hands, wrapped in foil and labeled, until the entire skeleton was liberated from this shallow gravesite.
The coroners laid each package in a box. Someone unfurled a Maryland flag. Doug Bostick, executive director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, offered words of thanks to the team.
“It’s so surreal,” he said of the find, “and real.”
Then his colleague David Reuwer voiced a loud cheer.
“Hip-hip …” he called.
“Hoozah!” came the collective response.
“And for them, hip-hip …”
The box containing the remains of this Continental Army fighter from Maryland was carried slowly, in procession, to a nearby car as everyone gathered on this old battlefield stood respectfully, hand upon their chest.
Remains of Revolutionary War fighters honored at Camden battlefield
By Adam Parker, April 24, 2023
CAMDEN — It’s a rare day that the remains of 14 Revolutionary War fighters receive ceremonial military tribute in South Carolina.
But on April 22, the bones of soldiers who died in the Battle of Camden just north of the Midlands city were returned to the battlefield where they fell. Hundreds gathered to honor the fallen.
At least 12 of the men can be considered among the United States’ first veterans. One was Native American, perhaps from North Carolina and likely fighting on the Loyalist side against the Continentals. Another was a British Highlander of the 71st Regiment of Foot.
A team of archaeologists from the University of South Carolina will continue its work at the Camden battlefield, preparing it for public access and identifying an appropriate place to create a cemetery where 13 of the 14 remains soon will be reinterred.
Travel with Rick Beyer on the Revolutionary War: Road to Yorktown Tour
Join Rick on this amazing historical and cultural journey from Charleston, South Carolina, to Yorktown, Virginia. You’ll visit famous battlefields such as Cowpens and King’s Mountain, as well as lesser-known but crucial spots like Camden, Ninety-Six and Blackstock Plantation. Among the highlights is an afternoon spent in Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum where the colonial era comes to life before your eyes.