American Battlefield Trust Donors Weekend

From Tom Holtz

I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Annual Donor Thank You Weekend from the American Battlefield Trust February 11-13 in Columbia South Carolina. This is an annual event sponsored by the Trust as a show of appreciation for their significant donors, who they call Color Bearers. This year’s event consisted of a Friday evening reception at the State Museum, followed by two days of battlefield tours. The tours available were Old Camden and Hobkirk’s Hill, Eutaw Springs, Musgrove’s Mill, Blackstock’s and Congaree Creek. selected the latter three. Musgrove’s Mill took place on August 19, 1780 between Patriot and Loyalist militia and provincials resulting in a resounding Patriot success. This was a prelude to the meeting of many of the same forces at King’s Mountain. I will not go into details of the battles as complete information is available on line; I will comment on some of my observations. Musgrove’s Mill is laid out in two parts: the British camp on one side of the Enoree River and the Patriot position across the river to the north. The Visitor Center is at the British camp and you must drive a few miles out of the State Park to get to the Patriot position where the battle was fought. Some key take-aways from this visit were the importance for control or destruction of the various mills along the rivers. These served as sources of food for both armies. Another is that the site they have selected to interpret the Patriot defensive line is not the actual position. The actual position lies further north and is privately owned and not accessible. Blackstock’s Farm took place on November 20, 1780 very near Musgrove’s Mill. It is located on a ford of the Tyger River. This was an engagement between Patriot militia leader Thomas Sumter and British leader Banastre Tarleton. We were able to walk the battlefield under the guidance of John Allison, battlefield archaeologist. To actually see the ground and the imposing defensive position taken by Sumter greatly contributes to the understanding of events. Of note is that the British force consisted of Tarleton’s mounted Legion and the 63rd Regiment of Foot, also mounted to enable speed of movement. The battle was also a significant Patriot victory with a running pursuit of the retreating British in which Sumter was seriously wounded. About 50 acres of the pursuit area of the battlefield are not owned by the State, but they feel confident they will acquire them in the future. On Sunday, I chose to visit the Battle of Congaree Creek which took place just a few miles outside of Columbia SC on February 15, 1865.The tour was hosted by local historian and archaeologist Dean Hunt. I had never heard of this action, but there is an extensive two mile walk through the battlefield owned by the City of Cayce. This is one of the several delaying actions against Sherman’s advance from Savannah through South Carolina and into North Carolina. The Confederate entrenchments are still very much intact over two miles. Also on the same site is the location of a Revolutionary War action involving Harry Lee and also the remains if a 1700’s fort. The American Battlefield Trust was high lighting The South Carolina Liberty Trail. This is an effort to preserve and develop many Revolutionary War sites in South Carolina.This was a most enjoyable and rewarding experience in so many ways. Thank You American Battlefield Trust and Artist Preservation Group.
Tom Holtz

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