Battle of Camden
American forces under General Horatio Gates faced a larger force of British soldiers under the leadership of General Charles Cornwallis at this location on August 16, 1780. Many of Gates' troops had not yet been trained, leading to a rout of Gates' force and a major defeat of the Continental Army. The British victory affirmed their control of the Carolinas.
Backstory and Context
British forces under Lord Cornwallis were expanding their control of the South, but American forces hoped to counter this trend under the leadership of General Horatio Gates, considered by many Americans as a hero following his victory at Saratoga. General Gates instead of moving his troops in a semi-circle, as his senior officers recommended, he moved straight through hostile territories. Gates’ inexperience at commanding an army showed in his placement of the troops. Gates placed the militia men in the front line and some of his most experienced regulars in reserve. (1) By placing his militia where he did, they would face the more seasoned British regulars. Another one his mistakes was that he put his command group well to the rear, where he could hardly even see the action on front line. The British commander, General Cornwallis, placed himself in the front lines. As the left flank of militia collapsed the right flank with the Regular Continentals held their ground until they were over running with British. (2) General Kalb was killed while trying to reassemble his men and launch a counterattack against the British. The battle lasted only an hour, and, in that hour, the American troops suffered tremendous casualties as an estimated 900 men were killed or captured during the battle.
Maass, John. The Battle of Camden, August 16, 1780. U. S. Army Center of Military History. September 07, 2009. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.army.mil/article/25637/the_battle_of_camden_august_16_1780.
(1) Buchannan, John. The Road to Guilford Courthouse. New York, York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1997.
(2) Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution. New York, York, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011.