Camden Battlefield Revolutionary War soldiers to be honored, reinterred

March 30, 2023

April 20 – 22, 2023 events offer opportunities to pay respects

The South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust released the schedule of events for the Camden Burials, April 20 – 22, 2023 for the reinterment of the remains of fourteen Revolutionary War soldiers excavated in the Fall of 2022.

“Honoring these heroes in a respectful manner and ensuring the permanent protection of their remains is the mission of this effort,” commented Doug Bostick, CEO, South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust. “Over a period of three days, the public will have numerous opportunities to participate in the ceremonies and pay their respects.”

The weekend of events begins on Thursday, April 20, as the remains of the fourteen Revolutionary War soldiers will be escorted back to Camden. The public is invited to honor these soldiers by assembling on the procession route.

The procession will pass through Main Street in Columbia to the State Capital on Gervais Street. After a brief pause it will continue to Fort Jackson where current Army members will be waiting to pay respects. Past Fort Jackson the cortege will pass by each public school between Fort Jackson and Camden, including the Camden Military Academy. The final stop will be at the Historic Camden campus.

The remains of the soldiers will lie in repose at the Kershaw Cornwallis House. The public is invited to pay their respects starting Thursday evening at 6:00 PM through midnight Friday. Thursday evening from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM, the Revolutionary War Visitor Center will host a panel discussion with Dr. Mattie Atwell, James Legg, Dr. Steven Smith, and Dr. Bill Stevens about the project and what the forensic and archaeological study has revealed.

On Friday, April 21, reenactors will be assembled to honor the fourteen soldiers at a living history camp at Historic Camden. From 10 AM to 8 PM the public is invited to visit the camp and interact with the reenactors. On Friday evening, the heralded US Army Old Guard will offer a public concert and a narrated demonstration. The event is free, however, prior registration is required.

Beginning early Saturday morning, April 22, the funeral cortege will leave Historic Camden and make its way to Bethesda Presbyterian Church. The public is invited to follow behind the cortege and walk the route. The funeral service will begin at 11:00 AM outdoors at Bethesda Presbyterian Church. Attendance at Bethesda is limited to Patrons, due to space.  At 3:00 PM the Burial Honors Ceremony will commence at the Camden Battlefield. The battlefield ceremony is open to the public, but due to space limitations prior online registration is required.

The Camden Burials Project is the result of a significant historic discovery at the Revolutionary War Camden Battlefield. The Trust, acting on behalf of Historic Camden Foundation, contracted with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina to excavate a number of bodies of Revolutionary War soldiers killed in the August 16, 1780 Battle of Camden. A team of archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, along with biological anthropologists from the Richland County Coroner’s office and the University of South Carolina unearthed the skeletal remains and accompanying artifacts of 14 Revolutionary War soldiers.

“These young men demonstrated their allegiance in an intense battle for liberty. They are truly America’s first veterans,” said Doug Bostick, CEO, South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust. “We have a responsibility to honor their sacrifice by ensuring their remains are protected in perpetuity and their stories of bravery are shared.”

Based on preliminary field examinations, the team believes that twelve bodies are Patriot Continental soldiers from either Maryland or Delaware, one is likely a North Carolina Loyalist, and one served with the British 71st Regiment of Foot, Fraser’s Highlanders.

Bostick continued, “When these young men marched into the darkness on that summer night in 1780, they did so out of love for their country despite the consequences that may befall them.  Our intent is to lay them to rest with the respect and honor they earned more than two centuries ago.”

The City of Camden has partnered closely in the planning for the weekend of events. “The City of Camden is deeply honored to host this once in a lifetime event,” remarked Alfred Mae Drakeford, mayor, Camden. We very much appreciate all that Doug Bostick and his SCBPT team are undertaking to honor our Revolutionary War heroes in such a moving and respectful manner.”

The public can support this effort by registering as a Patron and donating through the website. Patrons enjoy reserved seating and transportation to and from all the events on Saturday, April 22, as well as seating at a “thank you” dinner theater event on Saturday night.

Check out the Camden Burials website for further information on the events April 20 – 22, and an in depth look at the project.